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Revisiting Hong Kong

December 2022

Hong Kong is my home. Well, one of them. Though I only really lived there for a year and a half, the city has been so influential on my life, to the point that I often say I would move there if it was an independent nation off the US coast somewhere. Political turmoil and distance from all that I know (including timezone challenges) are truly the main reasons keeping me from moving there, else I'd be there in a heartbeat. The city has so many opportunities and it's absolutely gorgeous.

For those who don't know, I was born in Hong Kong, but my family moved to the US when I was very young. Understandably, as Hong Kong isn't really a place I'd want to raise a child either. My dad's family stayed in Hong Kong, and over my life we visited there often -- nearly every year until the pandemic, and this holiday was my first time back since 2019. Being there often meant it kept in my consciousness and ended up shaping into what felt like one of my homes.

When I visit, everything feels familiar, walking around feels natural. It feels like there's never a lack of things to see and places to be. You can take the train anywhere, or a tram for a more leisurely time. Back in the US, I find myself longing for the ease of mobility that Hong Kong provides. I find myself longing to be able to blend into a crowd, undetectable and unworried. I long for the atmosphere where the public and private realms merge, where a train station filled with people and stores leads into a network of floating walkways between buildings that take you to work without ever stepping foot in an often-harsh outdoors. I long for the architectural beauty of massive housing projects, and constant iterations on designs to create new skyscrapers. I long for a place where suburban sprawl is so consolidated into towers that the nearby natural landscape remains untouched besides by narrow van-width paths, quaint fishing villages, and peaceful monasteries.

Hong Kong is a beautiful city. Though my most recent trip was wrought with the fear of a positive COVID test after my Mom, with quite poor timing, got sick, it reminded me of what I love about a city and set the framework for my goals as my architectural education continued in the following months. I'm not certain when my next visit will be, but I'm sure its influence will be ever greater than before and I await it with all my being. Till then.