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Expat life in Hong Kong: The story of a frequent flyer

By: Kelli Shoemaker

We asked our readers to share their stories about any aspect of expat life in Hong Kong. Here, Kelly Shoemaker talks about her experiences as a frequent traveller.

Miles, miles and more miles!

In the last month, I’ve travelled about 29,000 kilometres. Those kilometres translate into:

• seven take-offs;
• seven landings (thank goodness!);
• one flight cancellation from Hong Kong to Los Angeles;
• one flight delay from Washington DC to Kansas City;
• 2,805 minutes up in the air;
• three charley horses;
• four viewings of The Greatest Showman;
• three books;
• one dinner with two college roommates;
• two days with my parents and sisters;
• 24 hours with a best friend;
• ten days of missing my husband and my dog; and
• twelve seatmates, including a federal marshal, a rabbi, one Hawaiian moving to DC (poor guy), a reverend, two Americans going on their first cruise around Asia, a young couple with well-behaved twin babies, an older woman travelling with her friends for their first “autumn break” (not sure if she meant their age or the season) to Mexico, and another couple who spoke no English but smiled understandingly when I used charades to indicate I needed out of the seat row for a bathroom break.

Expat life in Hong Kong – frequent flyer

 

A new perspective

Travelling, while a privilege, is exhausting and takes longer to recover the older I get, not to mention it throws my body into a tailspin for days. And we won’t even discuss my closet and the fact that my luggage will remain partially packed for five days. But I do it for those hours with the people I love – and, as an added bonus, find myself spending minutes with people that I discover I like. These people rarely look like me, talk like me and hardly ever think like me. They are fascinating. They have stories and experiences and names and cultures that unfold before me like a rich tapestry of sounds and colours and textures I’ve never experienced together before.

Living an expat life can feel like you’re living in a vacuum. But as much as I talk about my distaste for “people-ing”, I’m grateful for these interactions, planned and unplanned, that force me to see a new perspective, to get outside of myself and my self-imposed walls.

Don’t let the news media’s fear-mongering or social media arguments over politics fool you. It’s a big, small world out there and people are still looking for positive moments to share – be it sharing the armrest on a 16-hour flight or sharing your hard-earned knowledge on an expat Facebook page. You never know when your journey will inspire another to step outside of their box. And just think, you could be visiting them on your next trip.

Tell us a tale and win $1,500

Here’s your chance to get published – and make some money at the same time. We’re looking for 500-word written contributions on any funny, poignant, practical or even controversial topic that touches on expat life in Hong Kong. Simply email your stories in a Word document to editor@expatliving.hk and we’ll consider them for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

 

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section

Your guide to Wong Chuck Hang

What it’s like to live in Hong Kong

Are you looking for a job in Hong Kong?

This article first appeared in the December/January 2018/19 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.