I live in a small Hong Kong apartment – 450 square feet, barely enough for me to walk around once I set up a big clothing rack to dry my laundry. I have shifted my bed to the living room ever since I spot molds in the bedroom walls. Humidity is a big issue in Hong Kong, especially during winter. My landlord clearly loves IKEA and adores white coats of paint.

The building has two security guards rotating on a 12-hour shift. They smile at me whenever I get home and, sometimes, we engage in small talks. Let’s see, by now I know that they earn around HKD8,000 every month and have an off-day every week. It is not a lot of money, considering that the amount is less than my rent in Hong Kong. Some people say that it is not difficult to make money in Hong Kong. I guess it depends on the group of people that you are looking at. Most locals do not seem to have it that easy. I laugh to myself whenever I come home late at night, noticing how they manage to make themselves comfortable enough to fall asleep in that small space. On days when I feel wicked, I let go of the heavy metal gate fast just to jolt them up from their sleep with a loud bang. I justify by thinking that, “hey isn’t it their job to stay awake?” Clearly, a long day out in Hong Kong does great damage to my sanity.

A dead body was found on the 8th floor a few months back. I’m not sure what exactly happened even until today. If it was Singapore, I’m sure the media would have rushed to have a piece of it (ok, pun not intended) and the community will probably start discussing on how unsafe the country has become. However, here in Hong Kong, no one seems particularly anxious about it, except me. I couldn’t sleep for the next few nights. By the way, it wasn’t me, I swear.

A few years have just whizzed past me and I find myself slowly falling in love with this tiny Hong Kong apartment. It really isn’t comparable in any ways to my parents’ much cheaper yet bigger public housing in Singapore. I recall the days of house-hunting, where almost every house that I have viewed is either too small, too rundown or simply too expensive. A 600 square-feet service apartment in Mid-Levels (Central district) costs HKD18,000 per month. A 450 square-feet non-service apartment in Wan Chai (slightly off Central district) costs HKD12,000 per month. With that amount of money, I could have paid for the monthly instalments of a private property in Singapore. Yet, with my tenancy agreement due soon, I dread moving and secretly worry whether I will find another apartment in Hong Kong that is at least similar to this.

Now, is this embracing a local culture or is that merely an instinct to survive and adapt?

I’m still figuring that out.

Originally published on Ski’s personal blog. Read the original here.

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About the author

Ski Yeo is a Singaporean who is currently living in Hong Kong, with a strong passion in both travelling and writing. She promotes local travel, encouraging people to know a country for what it really is, beyond the usual tourist attractions.