I have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong.
First of all, it is like immersing yourself in a bucket of sweat during the summertime. It is unbearably hot and you are extremely close to a million different smells and people at any given second. I don’t think New York City is as lively or as nearly dog-eat-dog as Hong Kong is. Hong Kong is a place of extravagant luxury but it is also very rough. My mom frequently told us that she was glad she didn’t have to raise my sisters and I there.
I’ve been to Hong Kong four times. I went once as a child, once as a teenager, and two times as an adult. When I was a child, I saw it as a shopping mecca. People who live there often treat it as such. Maybe that’s just the culture of my family or the culture of the upwardly mobile middle class, but everyone who has been to Asia knows that shopping is insanely better over there than in the US. Many trends start in Asia so they seem to be on the cutting-edge of things, design-wise.
The second time, it was en route to Thailand with my entire family. I already knew at a young age that I would never live in a big city because of uncomfortable it was to have five people crammed into a tiny apartment. My mom grew up with an even larger family in an even smaller apartment. Sometimes I look at her and wonder… how?
I returned twice as an adult, with my mom. Each time, I felt my freedom and got to explore the city. But a part of me still loves when I get to follow my parents around. They have family on all corners of the city. When I’m alone, I don’t have the language skills to be as social. I also don’t have the connections. It’s sad to think about the wealth of connections that will be lost if my parents aren’t around anymore. My mom’s dad is number nine of nine children. She is still connected to every single one of them and their children. I will need to actively preserve the ones I have already established.
Do all children of immigrants have this exchange?
Mom: Remember ____? He’s my fifth cousin’s second son on my dad’s side.
Fifth cousin: Oh I remember you!! I saw you when you were just a baby! (Proceeds to list facts about myself I wasn’t aware my mom was sharing)