How did four and a half years go by so quickly? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself. I’m still not sure of the answer, but go by they did, and now, like all good things must, my time in Hong Kong has come to an end. Last Tuesday I boarded my Shanghai-bound train in Hung Hom, and my life as a mainlander began.
I know that having been in Hong Kong four years already, another three would make sense in order to get my hands on that precious Hong Kong permanent resident card. But three years can seem a long time when it stretches out before you, especially when you’re thirty-three and on the verge of not being objectively “young” anymore. So when it came to the crunch, there was never a question of waiting it out for the sake of waiting it out. I gave up my apartment, bought my train ticket, and Shanghai seemed as good a place as any to continue the adventure.
It was always going to be somewhere on the mainland I’d be heading after Hong Kong. It’s been my intention for at least the past two years. And let’s be honest, where else in the world is as exciting as Shanghai at the moment? It’s just that the more time you spend in Hong Kong, the harder it is to leave. Or, to put it a better way – the easier it is to stay. The trains run on time, the streets are safe, and whether you’re a shopper, a clubber, a foodie or photographer – and especially if you’re a photographer – you come to fear that anywhere else just won’t measure up.
But sometimes life can get too comfortable. Sometimes it can get so comfortable that one day you wake from your slumber and realise ten years have passed without you doing even half the things you imagined you would at the start of it all. “Letting the days go by, water flowing underground”, and all that. There are no second chances to do what you should have done. So with the words of Mark Twain ringing in my ears, I got out while the going was good. I’ll be trying not to look back at the harbour and lights with too much of a heavy heart. But for now, there’s a new city waiting for me to discover.