At home in Hong Kong
When we were in Japan we had to stop in Hong Kong as part of our travel itinerary to our following destination, Thailand. Truthfully, I wasn't too thrilled because just like Japan it's known to be expensive and I felt like I'd rather spend that money in another travel destination, most importantly because I had fallen in love with Japan and I knew nothing could top it.
But as it often happens, I was proven wrong. We rented an very cool place with Airbnb, though it was pricey compared to what we had been paying for other rentals, but it was an affordable price for Hong Kong. We stayed in a 'mini apartment' in a neighborhood that pleasantly surprised us in every possible way, directly below from our apartment building there were public basketball courts, a soccer field, and a volleyball court, where I eventually made friends who were senior citizens who practiced Tai Chi there, and where we could see children and adults alike making use of those areas to play from dawn to dusk. I can't begin to tell you the happiness those areas gave to our family, there was also playground equipment for children there which they didn't use much because they played soccer for hours on end with new friends they made, playing basketball with each other and they also spent time exercising with us.
Let me go back to what I mentioned about my senior citizen friends. For some reason, I was always drawn to wanting to learn Tai Chi, I see it as an art form, as something easy and difficult at the same time, requiring our concentration derived from our interior chi, just like it was shown in the Kung Fu Panda series. So that first day we were there, I got up and I looked out the window and saw them practicing Tai Chi in one of the volleyball courts, I immediately ran downstairs, I ran down all those stairs leading from our apartment to the ground floor, to ask if I could to join them. They said yes, and also said that the next available class was in the morning hours of the day we were leaving. So I felt so happy to be able to experience this. The kids and Artur came along with me to class that Monday morning, it was superb, it was a difficult class, but I was happy to have been able to have such a longed for experience.
In a nutshell, what we loved the most was to stroll down the streets of the neighborhoods, and ours was such a special neighborhood. There was a coffee shop, a bakery, a super cool restaurant, a tea house, a yoga place, and a clothing store, all on the same block. But just two blocks away, we found a "jewel" of a place, tucked away on a hidden street, there it was, an antique store. I love antiques and anything vintage, I often think that I was born in the wrong era when it comes to fashion preferences. There it was: a kimono I'd dreamt of displayed in the window, I went in, browsed through the whole store and asked to know the price, which wasn't crazy expensive but it wasn't in our budget, not even close. During our stay in Hong Kong I walked by that antique store every day, to the point that you could say I became friends with the woman who worked there, I tried everything in that store, but that kimono was my favorite item. The Sunday before we left I visited the store one last time, because it closed on Mondays. I asked Artur, 'what should I do?' and his wise response was not to say anything at all. Deep inside, he knew that I couldn't spend that money in a kimono, because after all, when would I wear it? for what kind of occasion? I was able to overcome my anxiety, my deepest desire to acquire it, and to his disappointment and mine, I didn't purchase it. Instead, I bought a ring that I love and I wear every day. The kimono and I were made for each other, but perhaps if it's meant to be, it will be so in another lifetime.
Our days in Hong Kong were days of strolling down its streets, browsing through vintage stores, games played in the public courts of our neighborhood, mornings spent eating breakfast out on the terrace, in some ways Hong Kong reminded us of our days in Buenos Aires, and this was the feeling particularly when after ten years of not seeing my friend Dave, we visited him and his family who live in Hong Kong. Seeing him again after so long was amazing, and this time around we each had a family. We had met while working at Vail during the winter season and we became incredible friends. Dave visited us in Argentina, and I visited Australia, but seeing each other in Hong Kong was totally unexpected.
I was surprised by Hong Kong, it's a city where I could see myself living. We had a wonderful time there, and its people were warm and welcoming, like we needed it to be.
PS: The kimono eventually found me in New Zealand, in another vintage store. It wasn't the same kimono, of course, but it was love at first sight, and this time around the price was within my budget, we often times think that there won't be another opportunity coming our way, but then not only do we get another chance, we might find that the opportunity that comes along a second time is even better than the first one.