In our Parting Shot series, readers share their experiences of expat life in Hong Kong. Here, British expat CATHERINE COOPER shares her story of living in, and leaving Hong Kong, and why it’s hard to say goodbye to what has become her much-loved home.
I was nine years old and at boarding school when my parents came to see me one Sunday afternoon to tell me we would be moving to Hong Kong. I cried. Not tears of sadness but tears of joy. You see, I’d been born in Hong Kong but had left at the ripe old age of five months. So I had no memory of my home. We had a wonderful seven-plus years in Hong Kong as a family and, when my father had to relocate back to the UK, I cried again. This time they were tears of immense sadness. What a childhood and education Hong Kong had given me. What memories. What adventure!
After moving back to the UK, I accepted my fate and settled down to life in Blighty. But my brother had returned to Hong Kong and started a family, and when his second daughter was born it made sense for me to return too, which I did some 17 years after leaving as a family.
Now I’ve been living in Hong Kong for 13 years, and I continue to call it my home. In those years, I’ve watched my nieces grow up, and I’ve waved them goodbye as they departed for the US. I’ve made the most amazing friends, some who are still here and others who have also had to move on. I’m lucky enough to have met my amazing husband here and very sadly watched him battle with cancer and depart this world. I’ve adopted cats, had lodgers, travelled for work and travelled for pleasure, visiting Japan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Lesotho, Mauritius, China, Vietnam, Australia, America, New Zealand, France, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Macau, Singapore and, of course, the UK. All those countries were stunning in many ways, but it was always so wonderful to come home.
Yesterday – and, I’ll admit, this morning too – I found myself crying again. I’m in a regional role and I travel for work; I’ve been spending a lot of time in Singapore. Yesterday, my Employment Pass was approved, which means that in 33 days I will once again be saying goodbye to this amazing territory I call home.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about moving to Singapore. Being there will allow me to blossom in my role and really make a difference. I love the fact that it’s never truly cold (even if it does dip to 21 degrees on occasion), and I already have some friends there so I know I will be fine. But Hong Kong has been and will always be such a very special place to me – births, deaths and growing up as both a child and as an adult. It has given me love and heartbreak, but all the while caring for me and giving so much more than it could ever take away. Goodbye, Hong Kong. I will miss you! (But I will be back!)
Like this? See more in ourLiving in Hong Kong section.
Subscribe to Expat Living magazine now so you never miss an issue!