people on pedestrian lane

A Hong Kong Ding-Dong

So I just got back from a 2-week trip to Hong Kong. A quick ding dong to say how do you do. I was there to organise several things related to my license that needed sorting.

It was the first time I’d gone back since I left my former lover in difficult circumstances over a year ago.

It was a very interesting experience indeed. What I thought I’d feel about the place turned out to be quite different.

There’s no question I’ve missed Hong Kong. Hand on my heart, she is without a doubt the more exciting dynamic city (sorry, Singapore).

If you are visiting the region and are torn between which, I strongly recommend Hong Kong (despite everything).

But, of course, I live in Singapore for a reason. That’s because Hong Kong broke my heart.

Still, I thought with normality having resumed, the love I once held might be rekindled.

Yet my predominant emotion was one of indifference. It wasn’t overly negative per se. I just didn’t feel much of anything for the place anymore.

While everything seemed normal on the surface – while everything looked like it was before covid and the security law were enacted – I couldn’t help but feel the air of the place had changed.

A city that has been through so much.

And when you looked closely enough, you could see the scars. Many people are still wearing masks out of fear. A considerable number of former bars and restaurants have closed down.

Then there was the general feeling among my friends and family who still reside there. While happy to see the back of covid, there is no question a sense of loss has taken place.

It’s possible, of course, that I might have been projecting my own feelings onto the place. Maybe it’s simply me that’s changed? Irrevocably.

This raises an interesting question. Does it even matter?

Imagine having been in an abusive relationship. One where you repeatedly mistreated. Does it matter if that person is better now? Does it matter that they’ve changed their ways?

Sure, it’s great for them. But does that change how you feel? Can it?

As I reflected on these thoughts on my return flight to Singapore, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s possible to fall back in love with a place. Or whether, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

It certainly didn’t feel like I was leaving home. On contrary, it was the first time since we started living in Singapore that it felt like I was coming home.

That was, at least, something to smile about.

8 thoughts on “A Hong Kong Ding-Dong

  1. I visited Hong Kong in 1995. I can’t imagine the changes it’s been through since then. I understand how you feel. We lived in Palm Springs, CA for close to 30 years and moved away. When I return, I feel an indifference to a place I used to love.

    1. 1995 – those were the glory days. It’s been something of a slow decline since then – one that’s accelerated over the past 5 years of so. The security law they enacted during covid was the final nail in the coffin in my eyes. The day HK officially (if not officially) became China.

      It’s funny how our emotions almost seems to run out after time. Indifference wasn’t something I was expecting but there you go. Thank for sharing. 🙏

      1. I had never been to anyplace as busy and exciting as Hong Kong in 1995. I thought I’d experience sadness and a huge emotional response spending Christmas week in my old home town of Palm Springs. I didn’t expect indifference at all!

  2. The film “The Seventh Seal” by the great Ingmar Bergman would tell you a lot about what he calls “the test of coming back to a place that you used to call home” (something like that, I analysed the film during my studies at the university a long ago 😀). Interesting insight David!

  3. The whole notion of “place” is one that intrigues me. I think it’s not the physical location so much as the feeling you have while being there. It’s hard to recreate that feeling again because you’re older now and your circumstances have changed. There’s a kind of “chemistry” that develops between you and the place. The admixture is never going to be the same again. There are several places I’ve lived and would like to return to, but, like you, I think I’d feel mostly indifference now. Thanks for such a nice piece. I hope things are going well these days.

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