Our new series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. Here, we meet JANET WALKER, whose working days stretch from teaching drama to kids to trying to spot the region’s famous pink dolphins.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Yorkshire, up north in the UK.
What do you miss about it?
Rolling hills, fresh air, tea shops, craggy coastlines…
Tell us about your expat “trail”. When did you first come here? Where else have you lived?
We arrived here with a backpack in 1996, after 15 months on the road – prior to that, we taught English in Japan for six years. We thought we’d stay here a year or two…
Is Hong Kong “home”?
Absolutely – but not like it used to be.
What do you do here, work-wise?
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
Weekdays during term time I’m at school, sorting costumes, doing lights and sound for assemblies, supporting recorder classes – the list is endless; and often spend my lunchtimes fielding messages from Faust and Dolphinwatch. On Saturday mornings I have a kindergarten drama class, and on Sundays, and weekdays outside term time, it’s dolphins – if we have a good trip in the morning, I’ll spend the afternoon editing photos and video and updating our social media.
What have been the surprises and challenges of doing business in HK?
Dolphinwatch doesn’t really fit into any traditional categories – the travel and hotel industry didn’t know what to make of us for a good few years. It was hard to get support and in that sense the internet has been great. Much of our custom comes from word of mouth and people finding us for themselves.
What neighbourhood do you live in, and why did you choose it?
South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau – we originally lived in Aberdeen because it was cheap and I love being by the sea. And once our daughter was born we wanted more of a family area with space for kids to play, so we moved across Aberdeen harbour.
What are some of the things you like most about your neighbourhood?
I love my view (and the amazing sunsets!) out over Lamma and all the way to DB on clear days. We have great little community here, and the last few years we’ve had the MTR which has been life-changing!
Describe your home to us in three words.
Small, cramped, cosy!
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
Reading and endless knitting. I have a great knitting group that meets weekly. I also love theatre and panto – both as a spectator and performer.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: What is your favourite …
- Casual restaurant? Shanghai 3-6-9 in Wan Chai – very casual and great dumplings!
- Date night restaurant? Indian, Mexican… no particular favourite…
- Bar? I miss a lot of the old pub types – Dickens Bar in the Excelsior, The King’s Head in Causeway Bay; mostly these days it’s the FCC bar.
- Local food? Anywhere with good xiao long bao!
- Thing to do with visitors? Walk, walk, walk – Hong Kong is an amazing town for just wandering, and it’s very safe. I like going to the street markets, Sham Shui Po, Wan Chai, older areas – and dolphin watching!
- Thing to do with kids? Dolphins (again)! I’m not a fan of theme parks; I love the beaches and the outdoors, Kadoorie Farm, the islands.
- Nearby holiday destination? So many to choose! But we have a good friend who runs AquaMarine Diving in Bali, so we go there more than anywhere. It was a little sad last time, as most of the long-term staff had left our favourite old hotel. But we’ve been going there over 20 years so it’s not surprising.
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