Now that I am working I am no longer an observer of Hong Kong life but I am an active participant. Hong Kong is a city packed with locals and foreigners committed to working extremely hard to improve their status and the health of their bank accounts. One in seven people living on Hong Kong island is classified as a high net worth individual and their wealth is evident every single day from the countless designer shops, the flash cars and chauffeur driven people carriers, the luxurious properties and the sharply dressed business men and women. It is difficult not to be sucked into aspiring to owning that Cartier watch, dressing in head to toe Chanel, clutching a Hermes bag and wearing genuine Louboutins. Now that I am working here, I realise that these things do not come without certain sacrifices.
The population of Hong Kong works hard. I thought agency life in London was tough and often we had to rearrange our personal lives to get things completed to deadlines set by demanding clients. Hong Kong is London on speed. I have never had to learn so much - including cultural differences, the asian market, and the company's way of doing things - while at the same time just getting on with business, juggling a number of different demands and hitting challenging timelines. I see more of the office and my colleagues each week than I do of my husband. However, this is the reality of working in Hong Kong. If you want to improve your status and earn the money, you have to put in the hours. Nothing will be handed to you on a plate and it is a competitive market - if you aren't prepared to do it, someone else will be.
The issue with working the long hours is that you have to have a way of letting off steam and releasing the stress. Suddenly the endless bright flashing lights advertising foot massages and the numerous lavender scented pampering spas make sense. At the same time the rows and rows of bars lining the escalator no longer appear to be sociable hangouts for the weekends but more like a daily provider of medicinal support.
It has become clear that this is a 'no pain, no gain' culture. Without a doubt the money is here and Hong Kong offers the opportunity for you chase your dream, but you will have to work hard for it. I found a blog that sums up my current feelings towards Hong Kong rather well:
"What’s the great lesson that this culture and these people seem to be teaching me? Push harder? Run or get out of the way? Eat or be eaten? Maybe Hong Kong is trying to tell me that the world waits for no one and if you want to be a part of it, stay on top of it – stay in the line. Or does it say that all of this insane pressure lands you the same place as everyone else – wanting more?"