Hong Kong wasn’t a place I thought I’d ever visit. Let alone call home. Initially, the plan was one year. It would be an experience. You know, like an extended family vacation in a far away land but with grocery and household lists added to the search for souvenirs. Oh. And a first marathon.
There I was. Kissing forty. Mom of two. Daughters. Both under the age of eight. A highlighted-hued, ponytail topped woman who’d never set foot in Asia let alone train for something instantly striking me as way too ambitious on the way to grocery shopping that first morning. All well before I became aware of the fact our new hometown was dubbed “The Graveyard of Marriages”, domestic help was expected to walk behind an employer, and monolithic China was moving fast and furious to show each and every resident the promise of one party, two systems was no longer in anyone’s best interest. Wait. Did I mention a husband who spent the vast majority of his days and nights under the roof of a factory hundreds of miles away?
An ordinary life superimposed onto an extraordinary backdrop provided an unexpected education about a city unlike any other in a very memorable way.
It’s the Hong Kong you won’t get to know through the most thorough of destination city guides or even catch a glimpse of following the fullest and most researched of travel itineraries: solar calculator-fueled bartering in all kinds of markets (whether it be for fresh fruit, stickers or turtle food), impromptu conversations with very patient taxi drivers unwittingly thrown into the mix of an attempt to try to perfect one let alone the eight other tones of Cantonese, navigating motherhood in a nanny-central playground, tackling an always beyond packed public transportation system highly concerned with the spread of influenza and infant formula smuggling, ignoring expected and assumed infidelity, and training for a first marathon where there’s only one middle-aged, woman runner for miles and miles.
Run, Big Lady, Run is how I ran Hong Kong.