It’s now been just over two years since my 9 weeks living in working in Hong Kong over the summer of 2013. It seems as good of a time as any for a little recap of what a typical day living in Hong Kong was like! I’ve talked before of why and how I managed to go to Hong Kong for a couple months of work. You can read about that here. Today i’ll talk about what an average day was actually like.
Of the 51 countries and the numerous cities I have been to now, Hong Kong is still very much one of my favorites. I love the (controlled) chaos within the city. It’s a very busy and hectic city but it seemed controlled enough that is was manageable and didn’t really ever seem to inconvenience me. It’s not an uncontrolled mess like New Delhi, for example. I loved how easy it was to get around by public transit, restaurants and supermarkets were very accessible, the Octopus card makes your life so easy and I love the fact that Hong Kong is one of those cities where old meets new. Sure there are lots of new buildings and high rises but walking around certain parts of the city you can suddenly come across old Chinese temples nestled among the urban sprawl.
Hong Kong is basically made up of two parts, the island part and the mainland part. When it comes to where you live, choose one of the two. The island living puts you closer to the downtown/financial district and in the more upscale community. Great if you have a high paying job and can afford the lifestyle that comes with living there. However, more people will be living off the island since it is more affordable. We didn’t have to arrange our housing, it was all set up and paid for us. We lived at a place called The Nest. Basically you can think of it as a hostel with either single rooms or two-person shared rooms as opposed to say a 6-10 bed shared dorm room in typical hostels.
The Nest was located on the 5th and 6th floors of a building in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong near the Prince Edward MTR station. There was no elevator so needless to say move-in and move-out days were difficult dragging your luggage up and down all of these flights of stairs. Other than the stairs I quite enjoyed the Nest. It was a nice little place where everyone sort of came together, hang out and bond as a group. The rooms were small with just enough room for two single beds, a small ikea-like closet and room to lie our suitcases on the floor and that was about it. Each room also had its own washroom attached too which was nice. I also felt safe here because we were located right across the street from a police station.
Our rooms were located on the 5th floor of the building. The 6th floor (also the top floor and part of The Nest) had a kitchen area with a cooktop stove and fridge as well as a communal area with a couch and TV. Just outside this area there was also a roof top garden area that looks out over the city with some nice views and a great place to relax and hang out on the HOT summer evenings.
Overall I really enjoyed The Nest and would certainly stay there again if I am ever back in Hong Kong for any kind of length of time.
Yeah I know, it’s got a rather funny name but this unique invention makes living in Hong Kong so much easier. It is one card that you can top up with money and then use that card to pay at most restaurants, supermarkets and when getting on the MTR or public transit buses. It’s so nice having this one card to pay for things rather than having to carry cash or credit with you all the time. Also it works on RFID technology so to use it you simply tap it on the pay terminal and off you go. It’s definitely an invention I wish was adopted throughout more of the world!
Commuting in Hong Kong, like I mentioned above, is very nice, efficient and convenient. The MTR (subway/metro) can easily take you to most of the main areas of the city that one would normally need to go to. If you need to go elsewhere, the buses also operate many routes making getting around the city super easy. Eating/drinking on the MTR is not allowed which is why you will find it so clean. Also it is very rare that you ever find any kind of delays of the subway cars. They come on very regular intervals so you only ever need to wait a few minutes to catch the next subway car.
It is also VERY cheap, especially by western standards and considering how efficient it is. If you pay via an Octopus card, a single ride will generally cost you anywhere from about 4 HKD (about $0.50 USD) to around 50 HKD (about $6.5 USD) for longer journeys across the city. If the extent of your ride is confined to one line, a ride will generally cost you from 4 HKD to about 10 HKD (about $1.3 USD) for that ride on the line. To pay, simply tap your octopus card on the pay terminal when entering the MTR station and tap it again on the way out. The system will figure out how far you traveled between taps and deduct the correct amount from your card. If you don’t tap when leaving, the maximum amount is deducted for that ride so make sure you tap out.
There are also an abundance of taxis in Hong Kong with very cheap (by western standards), metered, rates to get you around the city. I only ever used a taxi a couple times in Hong Kong but each time only set me back a few times. Definitely not as expensive as one would cost here in Toronto.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Park
The whole reason I went to Hong Kong was to work at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP). This park is basically a giant incubator for startup companies to get started. They provide resources such as office space, lab space and funding to help foster innovation, entrepreneurship and bring new companies and jobs to the Hong Kong region. It is a great initiative for sure and definitely something I wish Canada would undertake more of.
The HKSTP is a beautiful place, very clean and very modern. The facilities are very nice and I can honestly say it is the nicest place I have ever worked! Most days I left the Nest at around 8AM and the commute to work took nearly an hour. I would have to take one MTR line and two buses or two MTR lines and a bus to get to the science park. The nine of us who went to Hong Kong together typically went to work together and would arrive at the HKSTP for a 9AM start.
We usually took lunch at around 12 or 1 PM and would all meet up in the food court of the main building and sit outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and beautiful surroundings. The HKSTP had many fountains and well landscaped areas throughout. It made for a very beautiful and relaxing place to enjoy the lunch break. The work day typically ended at 4pm at which time we would make the hour commute back to The Nest and then either spend the evening together there or head out for some fun.
Hong Kong is one city where it seems you can always find something to do no matter the time of day or night. We even went to the midnight showing of Pacific Rim when it was released and coming out of there at 2AM and walking back to The Nest, the city was still a hive of activity even at that time.
Temple Street Night market
The Temple Street Night Market was one popular place to go in the evenings especially if you wanted to go get some cheap electronics or souvenirs to take back home. This market starts at 2PM (but most vendors don’t usually set up shop until 4PM) and runs until midnight. The market doesn’t hit its prime until after dark though when it gets really busy with people.
Lan Kwai Fong (LKF)
Another great place to spend the night is in Lan Kwai Fong. This is an area of Hong Kong on the island near the downtown/financial district. LKF is the big party area of the city with tons of bars and clubs to dance the night away.
I ever only spent a few nights here since most weekends we were out of Hong Kong travelling somewhere but still, it is definitely a fun place to be and lots of other foreigners and expats here too!
Hong Kong still remains one of my favorite places in the world to live and if I was offered a job there again, I would move back in a heartbeat.