Today marks 2 years, 2 months and 22 days living in Hong Kong. After two jobs, three flats and a few hundred massages later, I’ve finally learned how to have balance and happiness on this tiny island I call home.
- Simplify Life
- Make It Easy
- Recharge Often
- Explore Locally
- Utilize Every Minute
Simplify Life- This makes sense, right? Anytime I attempt to make one of my favorite dishes, I end up having to run to several grocery stores (I’m talking from Central all the way to Stanley) just to buy ingredients! And then there’s carrying the groceries home, putting them away in my tiny refrigerator and nonexistent food pantry, cooking, followed by washing dishes… by hand. I’ve learned it’s cheaper, easier, faster, stress-free and typically taste just as good, to eat out! I used to enjoy grocery shopping and cooking, but with convenient-store-sized grocery stores and small kitchens without central air conditioning, I don’t anymore. Simplifying life, for me, means removing all the stress and hassles of trying to maintain unimportant daily tasks from my past (surrender) and adjusting to a new way of living.
Make It Easy- Stepping outside my building for a Starbucks or a fantastic meal is a true luxury for this Texan, where back home every thing is miles apart. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to get out of my hood from time to time. Walking to the MTR, maneuvering through the countless escalators and crowds of people, just to have an enjoyable Sunday breakfast in TST at Kitchen in the W Hotel, seems to almost defeat the meaning behind the means. Taxis are cheap, I know this, but for the longest time I thought I was better off saving my cash and walking or MTR-ing. I was wrong. I have learned the less time I spend commuting the happier I am. (A dry shirt also helps with the happiness barometer, so it’s a win/win all around) For just a few bucks a day, taxis make life easier.
Recharge Often- I live on an island. My entire existence rarely takes me further than 1-3 miles from home. Which is probably why HK residents travel more than most people. It’s not that we hate our city, it’s just so small we get bored with it. Due to being
a little caught of guard left unconscious for three months by an outrageous tax bill, I fell short in this category last Fall. But now that the tears have been wiped away, my hand is no longer shaking from writing that check, I’m ready to get out of this bubble! I’ve always said the best thing about Hong Kong is Bangkok. Even if it’s for one night, checking out from time to time is a must.
Explore Locally- Even though I traveled to HK for years before moving here, I never really had much time for sightseeing. Obviously, after living here for two years, I know HK fairly well. But I still haven’t done some of those “touristy” things, like taking a double-decker bus tour or spend a day at Ocean Park or dinner on the floating restaurant. Getting out-of-town is nice, but I need to recharge locally too.
Utilize Every Minute- I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but I don’t like getting massages. Let me explain. When I first moved to HK, I easily had two massages weekly. They’re inexpensive and extremely accessible, so I thought why not? Over time I found, similar to going to an afternoon movie, I feel guilty for wasting my day away in a dark room. Utilizing my time outdoors makes me happier.
These, of course, are all pretty minor things. But, I’ve learned adjusting isn’t about dealing with or suffering along the way, but rather changing my ways and expectations. Preparing King’s Ranch Chicken (a favorite dish from home) is doable in HK, but not practical. A new habitat should mean new habits. I finally get this. Trying to live similarly to my old life in the states is just too exhausting and problematic. Making nice with my surroundings and local offerings is key is living in happiness.