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Life in Hong Kong: 5 things I wish I’d known

Life in Hong Kong can be hectic and we can sometimes forget to take a step back and enjoy all that it has to offer. Here, we chat to Hong Kong rugby player Benjamin Rimene about his experience living in Hong Kong, and what he wishes he had known when he first moved here!

#1 Opportunities are endless

I’m originally from New Zealand, but gave up my Kiwi and British passports in favour of Hong Kong, so I could play rugby at the Asian Games. It made sense at the time, but having a Hong Kong passport now is opening up even more exciting opportunities. This year, the Hong Kong rugby team has a chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. That would definitely be the crowning achievement of my career!

#2 Prioritise the important stuff

When I arrived in Hong Kong, I was working full-time and playing rugby at the weekend, so Saturday nights were definitely a celebration, and there’s always someone happy to join in the fun! But once you turn professional you realise that if you go overboard on a regular basis, you can’t train and perform at the expected level. My absolute priority now is rugby. The training is pretty intense: running, exercises and gym work four or five times a week. It’s also true that as you get older, it takes much longer to recover from those late nights!

Benjamin Rimene
Benjamin Rimene

#3 Don’t take no for an answer

“Cannot” is a commonly used expression in Hong Kong: for some people, if it doesn’t feature in their prescribed rule book, it can’t be done… even if it makes complete sense to you! I’ve been told to stop practicing on empty rugby pitches, for example, because I haven’t booked them in advance! It can be frustrating but there’s generally a comic side – and with a little gentle negotiation, you can usually find your way to a mutually agreeable solution.

#4 A change is as good as a rest

Hong Kong can start to feel small if you’re here all the time, so it’s lucky that travelling within Asia is easy and relatively cheap. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali and Japan are all easy hops from Hong Kong, and I’ve also been fortunate to travel as part of the rugby team to South America, North America and Europe. Next stop: hopefully Tokyo 2020!

#5 Give it a fair crack

A lot of people leave Hong Kong before they properly experience everything this amazing city has to offer, so I think it’s important not to timeline your stay. When I first arrived in 2009, I didn’t even realise there were beaches or open spaces! A bus, taxi or junk can get you to a beach in less than 20 minutes from Central, and there’s some beautiful nature and so many outdoor activities going on outside the city. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here – but I’ve got no plans to leave!

 

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section

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This article first appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.