When I was back in the US, people expectedly asked me what the best things about living in Hong Kong are. My usual answers were incredibly cliché, such as, ‘it’s such a vibrant city’ or ‘it’s surrounded by tons of great travel destinations’ or ‘living there is so freaking convenient!’ Though I get tired of repeating these statements, they are all very true and I try not to take them for granted. However, one really special part of being here that I don’t usually mention is being a host to my friends back home.
Just this morning, my high school/middle school classmate Evan departed Hong Kong after spending a week tramping about the SAR. He and our mutual friend Henry left for a trip exploring the Yunnan Province in southwest China and if I didn’t have work up until Chinese New Year, I certainly would have joined them. Having Evan here was splendid, both in playing tour-guide for him, and being able to converse about the very different lives we lead. He is currently between stints working for the conservation corps in the great American West. After Asia, he’ll be headed to Kalispell, Montana to do some work clearing non-native plants species from various trails and such. Pretty different from helping teach Chinese six-year-olds in one of the densest populations on earth.
Since I moved into my current apartment nearly a year ago, I have hosted four high school classmates (one more next month) as well as my parents. For those of you curious BHS kids, that’s Henry Atkinson, John Leatherman, Luke Jensen, Evan Stewart and soon to be Cosmo Smith. All but one of those five people was on their first trip to Asia, and for most of them, visiting me and having free accomodation were among the biggest draws for coming to Hong Kong. When I first planned out my move to Hong Kong a year and a half ago, I never thought about this. But by having a comfortable residence here, I’m hosting people who may otherwise not have been particularly motivated to visit this region. Since I’ve come to firmly believe in the importance of exploring the world, it’s quite rewarding to know that I play a part in facilitating my friends’ journeys.
Of course, travelling is expensive and peoples’ lives are busy and twelve-hour plane rides are not fun. I realize all of that. But. It’s not common to have a friend in a world-class foreign city like Hong Kong inviting you to visit. There’s no time like the present, especially if you don’t have a major job/school commitment or kids yet.