Hong Kong is Wonderful, But...

It's been almost four years since I first touched down in Hong Kong. It was my first time in Asia and I didn't know a single person in the whole city. My time here has been wonderful, but I will be moving on in June.

Hong Kong has been an almost perfect city to live in as an expat. It is safe, exciting, and beautiful. And everything works! Seriously, it's the most efficient and highly functional city I have ever visited. There is a healthy balance between city and nature. The food scene is like no other, and there are so many fun events and happenings to choose from any day of the week.

Four years ago- first time in my new classroom

All of this being said, there has been one thing that was a bit of a tension point for me these last few years. I have never been to a more materialistic place in all of my travels. Hong Kong has been eaten alive by consumerism. Whole neighborhoods are dedicated only to shopping. Malls take up city blocks and weekends are quickly eaten up by shopping sprees.

Families and couples bond over shopping; I often see couples on dates around town that consist purely of taking staged photos of each other dressed to the nines. The malls here set up photo opportunities so families can take pictures with their favorite characters decked out in all their new purchases.

New movies set up photo opportunities all over town
It's a fun picture, but are we actually making memories?

The obsession with looking good and having the newest flashiest things can make Hong Kong seem quite shallow sometimes, or soulless. You can dig and find an artsier, alternative scene, and there are down to earth people here, but that isn't so obvious at the onset.

Consumerism is king here. When first graders come to school with the newest iPhones, I think that is a problem. When people are obsessed with looking good and sporting the newest and hottest items, real authentic connections suffers. Priorities here feel skewed. Everyone walks down the sidewalk staring into their phones rather than being aware of their surroundings. I know this happens in other cities, but people here walk down the sidewalk while watching TV on their phones. C'mon!

On a recent hike from Tai Tam to Quarry Bay

There are some real humanitarian issues in Hong Kong- the wage gap is ever increasing, landfills are overflowing, and refugees are treated atrociously. But it's hard to care about any of that stuff or make time for it when every Saturday afternoon is spent in a department store looking at pretty things. People seem too distracted by new clothing, gadgets, and accessories to notice that their neighbors are suffering or their ecological footprint is ever expanding.

I'm not sure the values here align with my own, and it's been difficult sometimes to find motivation to be a better person. Hong Kong has certainly inspired me to dress well and to get fit, but I want a little more out of the city I live in.


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