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December 8, 2008

Hong Kong diary

By Spear's

An ex-pat living in Hong Kong told me last night that they knew what Superman must have felt after leaving Krypton, coming to Earth and discovering he was all-powerful.

O’ar Pali

An ex-pat living in Hong Kong told me last night that they knew what Superman must have felt after leaving Krypton, coming to Earth and discovering he was all-powerful. If this sounds like crazy talk to you, then you have not met the ex-pat community out here – not that they are crazy, mind you, just different.

Unlike you and me, they not only manage to have a life outside of the office, as Hong Kong truly is a city that never sleeps, but thanks to the favourable pound to Hong Kong dollar exchange rate, they have everything handed to them with a bow of gratitude.

To give one a very rough idea, the average cab fair around town is around 25 to 40 HKD, that is around £2 to £5 and a live-in maid will cost you close to £500 per month, compliments of the Philippines.

On my first night in Hong Kong I met a couple of friends for a drink at the Key Club (HK’s equivalent of Annabel’s but don’t expect the same standards – the place is small, unimpressive and the members are, well, different).

We just had our drinks delivered when a man in his forties turns around and unexpectedly asks “Do you know what the top five best things about Hong Kong are?” No, I am not kidding. This rather drunk, semi-bald man then proceeds to explain that he is a third generation ex-pat and that he feels he can speak with authority when he says:

Number 1: Hong Kong asks you to find out what you want to do with your life.
Number 2: No peer pressure.
Number 3: Two chances for failure.
Number 4: You get to figure out what you want to do and get funding like that (click of a finger).
Number 5: Once you get the money, you find your honey. (At which point he waves hello to a rather attractive blonde sitting at the bar – “That’s my wife, she is Swedish.”)

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Sounds strange? Then you have never been to Hong Kong. Tonight I witnessed a wedding reception in a shopping mall. When I looked shocked someone explained that it was considered to be a very good restaurant. I am sorry, I don’t care what culinary delights the restaurant holds, do you really want to send out a wedding invitation with instructions – make a right at Prada, walk straight down past Zara, it will be in front of you, right next to Max Mara.

Hong Kong is a city of many abnormalities where on a Sunday (their day off) domestics will picnic not by the water or at the park, but on the concrete pavement, where there are a hundreds of clubs, but every night the question is the same – Mint or Privé, and where people will walk around wearing SARS masks in the street, but every restaurant, bar and club is a smoking venue.

Not that I am complaining, mind you. In fact I am trying to decide on whether or not I intend on ever going back to the Western world. After all, the weather is warm, the service is like nowhere else, everything is cheap, and it is the only Asian city I can think of that is run by ex-pats. Oh, and did I mention that the ex-pat girl to boy ratio is 1 to 7?

My advice is: If you are a woman and urgently need an ego boost, buy yourself a ticket and come here for a couple of days. You will go back home feeling like you are the next Angelina Jolie.

Personally, I know I could do with a few more days out here.

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