Hello there. See Long time, no write! I hope that everyone is keeping happy and healthy. I realise that may be a stretch given the events going on internationally but fingers crossed that this will soon be a bad memory and a lesson learned. What an atrocious start to the year of the rat. And I thought the year of the pig was a challenge.
And speaking of rats, I must apologise for being a rodent myself in disappearing over these past months. My poor blog has been neglected but not for lack of care or thought.
There has been a lot going on in Koala Girl’s world recently and inevitably my beloved blog became entangled in that web (pun intended!)
Unfortunately 2019 was quite eventful for this marsupial – I repatriated back to Australia!
Repatriation- am I the only one who hates that word? For me it’s up there with “moist”, “Brussel sprouts” and the phrase “nom nom nom”.
While I can’t really give a very detailed explanation, (don’t worry, I’m not on the run from the Law or anything!), my novel had an unexpected plot twist that has excluded me from staying in Hong Kong any longer. And while I consider myself a flexible and resilient character in the book of life, my book review on this last chapter is that it sucked and I want a refund! Ha!
I’m still adjusting to life back down under – hence my procrastination (or outright avoidance) in writing this post.
Most people reading this would know I have a great affection for Hong Kong. And honestly, if me taking the time and effort to write about my muse in the form of this blog is not enough evidence of that, I’m not sure what is! Because of this, I do seem to be asked about relocating a lot.
One question I hear on repeat since returning – did you come back because you missed home?
Short answer, No.
Long answer; It’s true, I did experience times of homesickness as any one who is familiar with my blog would know.
There are times though where life is so not rosy and it was during these times that I was craving the familiarity of home. Being 8000 kilometres away can complicate some issues as well as escalate any feelings of stress, loneliness, anxiety or grief that you may be feeling, even though they may not have been caused by expatriation specifically.
This koala has a heart after all. Maybe one day The Wizard of Oz can give her a brain to think with too! Ha!
The amazing thing about being in Hong Kong, was that even on the worst days, I still felt grateful for being there because I knew living abroad was not an experience that everyone will get to have. I was also acutely aware that being an expat meant that my time in Hong Kong had an expiration date and being conscious of this made me feel like I needed to soak everything up while I still had the chance. Of course this made even the simplest day to day moments a bittersweet experience.
The truth is that when life was good, I relished being overseas. Even when things were mediocre, being abroad was a nice distraction from it all. Hong Kong has an addictive energy that can hypnotise and suck you in. Whether the Hong Kong bubble is a negative or positive influence depends entirely on the person, but for me once I got my groove, Hong Kong felt like a good fit- invigorating, safe, comfortable and inspiring.
Another question I have gotten was whether I came back because of the political issues affecting Hong Kong right now.
That’s a hard no!
When I left, the protests were just affecting weekend traffic. I never for a second anticipated what it would escalate into. In fact, when I realised I was coming back to Australia, I felt nervous since at that point I felt much safer in Hong Kong, and admittedly that has not changed much since despite the conflicts.
During the thick of it, I sat watching news reports with a heavy heart from my couch in Australia. I listened to friends observations, fears and frustrations over what was happening around them. I poured over Facebook and online newspapers, reading articles trying to understand what was going on.
Feeling worried for a city that I cannot even call my home anymore, a place where I have given years of experience to but ultimately I am still just an outsider and foreigner. Such a strange position to be in.
I don’t know if it’s possible to have loyalty for a place but if I had still been in Hong Kong, I would not have scurried back because of the conflict and tensions. I’d still be there patiently hoping that peace and stability may be found. Perhaps I’m a glass half full kind of koala in this regard, or just hopeful, but despite the issues in the city, Hong Kong has been good to me for many years and I don’t forget this because of the complicated situations the city faces. I’m kind of stubborn like that.
Having said this, I do sit and ponder the timing. Not really a believer in coincidences – you may call it fate, destiny, the universe and I’ll call it God- I can see a silver lining to the situation given both the security issues involving the protests and the consequences of the ongoing Coronavirus threat. Looking at it from this angle gives me some hope that the past year has served some sort of positive,yet to be revealed purpose in the book of Koala Girl. Some day’s are harder than others and perhaps it’s a naive view on life, but I’ll take that right now in the uncertain climate we live in.
So where does that leave a blog about an Aussie living in Hong Kong If she is no longer living in Hong Kong?
Good question. A question I have asked myself a million times.
One thing I always found joy in during my time abroad was Koala Girl In A Panda World. I started quite timidly, not really sure if I should even bother and was conscious of not wanting to be a try hard writer, who has more confidence in her writing abilities than she has talents. While now I do think that I am a try hard writer, I’m ok with this since for me writing is therapeutic- not something I profit from financially. You get what you pay for I guess! Kidding.
I have loved sharing my experiences and life in Hong Kong. Not because I love the sound of my own voice but I just really enjoyed talking about Hong Kong. It was so nice to hear feedback from some locals when they realised what is so unique about their city after they read about it through an outsiders observations. And I have always hoped that if one person sees my posts and feels inspired to visit Hong Kong, I’d be happy.
For an introverted, conflict hating koala with sensitive tendencies, blog life feels like a big stretch out of the comfort of my gumtree at the best of times. I have however been blessed by readers that have been friendly, positive and encouraging. I have even developed friendships with some incredibly interesting people that I would not have crossed paths with otherwise. And for that I say, Thank you Koala Girl!
Certainly over this past 12 months I have seen a lot of things change and have felt a sense of loss while pondering the future of this blog. It felt unfair to think I may not have that opportunity to do something I really enjoyed any more because of the change in my circumstances and it even challenged my sense of identity; Is there any thing special or exceptional about being a koala girl in a koala world?
Ugh. Deep. Moving on.
One thing I know however is that even before I was a koala girl in a panda world, I was koala girl who loved a panda world! I already had an interest in the Hong Kong culture and though the reasons for that interest has changed somewhat, I still have that curiosity as you can take the koala out of the panda world, but not the panda world out of the koala! And it’s for that reason my little koala heart tells me that I can keep writing. I have so many stories about HK in the memory banks & I know many Hong kongers who are as interested in Australia as I’m interested in Hong Kong, so I endeavour to share both. I realise that’s not really what people signed up for initially when following my blog but as creative as I am, I could never fabricate my existence and I can’t go back, so this is as good as it will get, sorry! 😂
Last thoughts. In reflection, I take heart in knowing that I at least ticked one significant thing off my life’s bucket list by living in Hong Kong . Granted, I lived there on the coat tails of another person, but it takes courage to voluntarily move to a completely different culture for an extended period of time.When I said yes to relocating to Asia almost 4 years ago, I made a purposeful decision to leave my life, my life’s plans and all things comfortable in Australia for what I thought to be the greater good.
In the end, can I say it was the greater good to have lived there?
I faced at least 5 significant challenges in my life coinciding with my stay in Hong Kong. These quandaries would have proven difficult to the best of people. Would things have turned out differently If I was not based there? With somethings, definitely not, it is what it is. With other things, yes, I strongly believe so.
While sometimes I regret making that move to Hong Kong, ultimately I remember that I would have missed out on a lot of fulfilling experiences and I would not met some incredible people who I know will be faithful, lifelong friends! It’s a complicated thing to ponder with no clear answer.
As for life, Hong Kong has moved on as time waits for no koala! It was like I never existed, that I was never there. Just an insignificant blip in the history of a city. A jaded view yes but In the short time I’ve been away, it has changed so much. I feel like I know the city but do I really know the fragrant harbour now since it has had so many different experiences since I left, events that I cannot possibly fully comprehend?
But having said that, I have changed too. You cannot live have certain experiences and remain the same, for better or worse. Living overseas is definitely one of those experiences. And honestly, isn’t that what the journey of life is supposed to be?; the changing, growing and getting better as a person with each year you are here? Other wise, what’s the point?
So Hong Kong, I say farewell. Though you are a world away, you still dwell in my thoughts. Before you were my home, you were my escape, my happy place. For a time you represented a life long dream – to live overseas. And it will be those happy, optimistic thoughts I will try to focus on. Some people say, it is better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all. While I usually wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment, I can say for me it totally applies to my time in Hong Kong.
Until next time, please stay safe everyone! Be kind to yourself and others. Plan that dream holiday for next year (Hmmmm, London? New York? Paris? Hawaii? South African safari? Nope, it has to be Disney Land. The happiest place on Earth.) Read lots of blogs, no! Write a blog! Watch cat videos on You Tube. Sing Karaoke. Bake a cake.Eat a cake. Find your happy place. Practice gratitude so fear does not win out.
Add oil friends. We will be ok! Koala Girl 🐨