100 days in Hong Kong

August 6th marked 100 days at Project Worldwide and my life in Hong Kong. I mark 100 days not as any presidential goal or date by which I am supposed to achieve anything but simply as a nice round number and opportunity to document the early days and first impressions. I have been moving around a lot in the last five years and been looking for that place where I can apply the best of my experience with a bunch of like-minded people whist continuing the life journey with my family. For visual entertainment I have also created a 100 day one second per day video. 

So, let’s start with work. It is almost everything I expected, everything I was told to expect and a few surprises along the way. The highlight has to be the close-knit small Project team and the vast remit we have to administer, manage and support all of the APAC offices, as well joining the dots across the global Project Worldwide network. Then you have the office with views across the harbour and constant source of distraction as the weather and climate change hour by hour with streams of traffic passing below. We have days when it is so clear and sunny you can see right across Kowloon and over to the other islands and then, on other days like today, as the dark heavy rain and typhoon come across you would think the Dark Lord is coming over the bay with his army. 

I start each week juggling 3 or 4 projects sometimes leaving one behind through the week to focus on a new one that appears, all making the work load interesting and lively. I have had the pleasure of visiting Singapore, Sydney and Auckland offices, pitched and won a project for the Hong Kong office and only just beginning to get myself known to the global team on first name terms without having to check the contacts database. Let’s remember also that it was only 18 months ago that I gave up my working life in the UK running my own company answering to my corporate and agency clients. I always knew I wanted to get back to large scale agency life, just needed to be patient and wait for the right place to hang my hat. 

Life in Hong Kong has been a stark change from my 2018 Shanghai experience and certainly a bigger change from life in the UK. Hong Kong proves to be the urban jungle and life in a 15thfloor, three bed apartment in Happy Valley needs getting used to and this is also the first year that Vaani and I are both living abroad together away from our family network. I am looking forward to discovering more art, culture and the close-knit community I am used to, but I am sure this will come with time and with the growth of my own professional and personal network. It is great to be living in a hot country, out exercising regularly, swimming in the sea almost every weekend and eating some great vegan and vegetarian food of all cuisines across Hong Kong. Some food highlights have to be mentioned such as Motorino in Wan Chai, Woodlands in Kowloon, Classified, Veggie One and probably the best Indian restaurant food and service I have had is at Chaiwallahs in Central. 

I mentioned swimming in the sea, but the downside has to be seeing so many great beaches polluted with so much rubbish, packaging and man-made debris, it is awful running along the beach ready to dive in only to realise it is full of rubbish, as if the cruise ship passing by just emptied its bins out. 

My daily routine consists of a short tram ride with 5 stops down to the office. Happy Valley is centred around the Islands main horse racing course which is also complete with the Hong Kong Football Club and many spaces for outdoor exercise and activities.  

The neighbourhood is filled with a mix of locals and mainly expat families living a pretty comfortable lifestyle with shops like Ikea M&S, Tesco’s, Zara, H&M all on our doorstep. 

I cannot write this without mentioning the political climate of pro-democracy protests and the relationship Hong Kong has with China. I was out on the streets for the first rally weekend and the mood was so good with people of all ages, abilities and cultures. So much to say on this subject but having only just got here three months ago I can only imagine that the closer we get to 2047 the future does not look good for those living here who do not accept or even want China to have full control, let alone make any strategic changes to the rule of law. I have seen first-hand how the troubles are affecting and informing decisions made by corporations about their future strategy and presence in Hong Kong. It will ultimately damage the lives of people who live, not those that come and go with all the benefits the world has to offer. I quite like it here and certainly plan on sticking around.

My pitch to anyone considering a move, do it and do it now, it’s never about being out of your comfort zone and it’s never too late to do something different. You will be surprised at how normal it is and how the grass is rarely greener on the other side, just different. What can possibly go wrong when you have Ikea and M&S by your side.

Now for the one second per day video. I tried to keep the shots accurate to the days they represent but have to admit I had to do a bit of back filling. In here you will see clips of everything from my daily tram rides in and out of work, visits to the Wednesday night racing, plenty of travel, flights and food. I am glad that I do not have to remember to do this every day anymore. 

You know where to find me, please do drop in for afternoon tea if you are passing through Hong Kong.