I have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong. My experiences there are always full of extreme highs, followed immediately by lows. Ocean views and ant bites. Ice cream licks and scurrying rats. It’s a bit of a long story, and you might not understand even if I told you.
Regardless of my feelings towards the place, when I landed and was back in the airport, it was apparent: this city wasn’t done with me, yet. Or maybe it was me who wasn’t done with this city. Whatever the case, I was back there again. Halfway across the world, where I had never necessarily expected to return to. And it seemed to be just as I had left it.
Only colder. This trip was much more chilly than I remember the last one to be. There was no sweat on my brow this time around. The only things wet were my shoes from all of the rain. Yes, I remember those rainy days. Apart from the chill in the air, Hong Kong in the rain also hadn’t changed.
It’s not one of those cities that are nice to visit in the rain. No, quite the contrary. Walking with an umbrella in Hong Kong is sort of like taking your life into your own hands. It becomes a shield from more than just the rain. It’s protection, all right. But, mostly from those other millions of people crammed into a space with you who, of course, are also walking with umbrellas pointed, but not always towards the sky.
This was a good initiation for Darby, who’s never been here before. “If you can survive Hong Kong in the rain, you can survive anything,” I tell her. Mostly, because it’s true.
She’s the whole reason I’m finding myself here again. A place that’s so foreign, yet familiar. It’s strange to feel distant and close all at once, isn’t it? If she doesn’t know yet, something tells me she’ll come to know what I mean by this.
I was more than happy to experience coming here with her. Having her by my side made even old experiences new again. In some ways, a lot has changed for me since I last visited four years ago. I’m not in the same place in my life as I was before, but I’m still the same person. So, the stares, the umbrellas and the smells still got to me, just as they always had.
Thankfully, I’m also still able to laugh at myself, which I’ve come to find necessary when visiting this place. Nothing ever goes completely according to plan, but that’s part of what makes traveling here so great.
I remember my last trip being completely unexpected in every way. A second tour of this city proved similar. The last time I left Hong Kong, I was fully prepared to never come back again. I still feel the same way. As I took off in that plane, I knew Hong Kong was Darby’s home now. It would probably never feel like home to her. At least, it never did for me.
I hope she finds her own unique experiences and develops her own relationship with the city. I know now, that my relationship with Hong Kong will forever remain the way that it was. Some things never change, and that’s definitely true for me and this city. Hong Kong, if I never see you again, it was nice getting to know you. You and me, we’ll always have this inexplicable bond, whatever that may be.