Long Distance (Family) Relationships

Just said goodbye this evening to my parents before they fly back to HK tomorrow. They’ve been living there for almost a decade, and yet I still haven’t quite got used to saying goodbye to them. Weirdly it’s just got worse as time goes on. I struggle to not well up when saying goodbye. It’s always awkward, and looking at my dad always sets me off – he’s the one who’s also welling up. Then comes the awkward shoulder grip and pat that’s loaded with emotions as we force smiles that are a mix of happy of having spent time together but sadness to be separating again.

They brought us over here in ’96 to help enrich our lives and give us a unique opportunity that many kids in HK would never get – for that I will always be grateful. But it has caused a difficult conundrum when they moved back to HK and we stayed here. Trying to navigate familial bonds when your parents are a 12 hour flight away and 7/8 hours ahead (depending on time of year) is difficult at best, painful when you or they are going through harder times where other families may band together, we don’t have that luxury. I hate that word is even somewhat applicable.

It certainly forced me to become self-reliant in a sink or swim fashion and that is something that I identify as a fundamental part of my personality. But still I want to acknowledge the pain that come along with this process.

In a bittersweet way, the distance does make the time that we spend even more precious. But until next time, I will go back to being the island that I am.

HK – some words and thoughts

Sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight to the Philippines leaving HK yet again. I’ve lost times of how many times I’ve been through this airport. Being born here and growing up abroad has always been a bit of a somewhat conflicting experience. There are two very strong cultures at play but I’m proud to have both within who I am.

I’ve always viewed Hong Kong, as with many places with a tempestuous past, as having many different facets. You have the colonial part of HK island, there is the modern super rich side and the what I experience the most, a slightly more modest life led by the indigenous residents. There are many things I’ve missed out on having never really lived there. But I did see something that really troubled me yesterday. There is a smaller quite popular island called Lamma island. You can get there by a 20 minute ferry from Central and it offers a bit more of a slower paced rural escape from the city. In the past when I visited as a girl and teenager, it was some residential flats and buildings in the middle of wilderness. On this visit, it has changed so much and not necessarily for the better in my opinion. There were a lot more tourists, western as well as Asian. So much so that the narrow walkways were a nightmare to walk on. There were also quite a few new additions to the high streets and catering establishments that shocked me. Western bar/restaurants that serve brunches and have a mostly western clientele, an Irish pub, a pizza restaurant, an incredibly posh hotel that wouldn’t look out of place on the French marina. There was even a building that hosted a cafe and a co-working space. Some of the local shops now sold sea salt flavoured cookies and baked goods, there was even a bloody churros stand!! The traditional stands selling douhua (a sweet dessert thing made with tofu) and some of the more traditional restaurants still remain, but it leaves me wondering if they’ll last. I’m all for diversification but like a lot of places in Thailand that sold avocado on toast and Belgian beers, it leaves you wondering whether the loss of cultures through tourism and migration is a good thing.