Ski Yeo, our regional contributor from Hong Kong is a Singaporean who currently runs a Hong Kong walking tour business, where she shows her guests the local sights and scenes of Hong Kong. In today’s post, Ski talks openly about a situation that many people who live abroad (and don’t too!) can relate to: the pursuit of greater passion in our lives, which often can be found by gaining the perspective that stepping outside your home culture can bring.
Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?
I live in Hong Kong. I am from Singapore.
Life in Singapore was so good that I’ve felt that I’ve gotten way too comfortable. Everything was very well-planned by the government and the societal norms: get a good education and secure a good job. Probably a few years later on, it would be time to get married and have kids. Then you spend the rest of your life getting busy with your children and then looking forward to that occasional travel period.
I guess as time passes, I realize I didn’t really want to be part of this cycle. I woke up dragging my feet to work. Weekends didn’t seem particularly exciting except for the fact that I could sleep in late. Changing of jobs didn’t help (as it all boils down to what makes you happy). I wondered, do I really want to be doing this for the rest of my life?
Coincidentally, during that period, I spoke to people who have great passion in their lives. You could see their eyes sparkle whenever they talk about something that they love to do! I wonder why I wasn’t feeling that way and hence decided that it was time to change something.
To know myself better and what I really want to pursue in my life, I took my bags and went off to Hong Kong. I had a one-year break, where I did a lot of self-reflection, read a lot of books, met people from all walks of life, appreciated the small things in life and then figured out my plans, i.e., the things that I really want to do and will make me happy in life.
If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why.
It would be the Chinese culture. It’s difficult to change – from the food that I eat, to the values I have, the superstitions that we believe in, etc. It would be clear that I’m still inherently very Chinese. Respect and harmony is important, and so is the importance of family.
If I have kids, they will be associated with the Chinese culture as well. That being said, I hope to bring them a more global perspective, recognizing that the world is definitely beyond them.
Why did you decide to become a Pocket Cultures contributor?
To share what I know about the cultures in Hong Kong. As a pleasant surprise, living away from home has allowed me to appreciate the small little details that people tend to miss out when they travel.
In my opinion, travelling is not merely about taking photos with the most popular tourist destination or heading to the shopping malls to get the best deals. That’s just a part of it. For me, what matters more is the understanding of a country for what it really is and the bulk of it lies in the culture that the citizens have created. What are their lifestyles like? What do they do on a daily basis? That’s real travelling for me, and that’s what I wish to share through Pocket Cultures.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
Everyday, I wake up to make friends with my guests from all over the world. I go on tours. Sometimes we hang out for 4-hours a day. Sometimes 8. Sometimes for a full 12-hours. By the time I get home, I reply to emails, read some news, and then get to sleep.
What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?
For Hong Kong, it has to be the great accessibility. It is so easy to get around to anywhere, and there is a good balance of city life and nature parks. The worst part of living in Hong Kong would be to have to deal with the bad air pollution.
What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?
Jason Y. Ng – As I see it. It’s a rare find. Most books on Hong Kong are directory listing for malls, restaurants and tourist attractions.
What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?
It is a country of strong contrast – old versus new, east versus west, etc.