Monday, 16 September 2013

On Leaving Hong Kong

After 11 years in Hong Kong, I’m leaving. Why? Do you really want the short list? Okie dokie.

1. Work visa.

Immigration making me jump through hoops, interrogating me as to why I’m ‘still here’, what my long term plans are, and why I keep hanging around. The 5 years’ of previous work visas (and the student visa I had before that, to spend time at the University of Hong Kong to learn their language) apparently don’t mean much to them. They know the rules better than me; if I’d stayed another 2 years on work visas, I’d have my permanent residency and would no longer need them to check into the minutiae of my life and track my every move. So why are they refusing to give me a renewal? They say it’s something to do with new guidelines for non-local applicants. Basically, Fuck knows and Fuck cares. I’ve had enough of being told to jump and shuffle and move and hang on their every word. Especially when they stamp in 150 new residents a day - from the mainland. Who have no skills to bring to Hong Kong, other than being able to spit in the street without effort, or hold their child above a public rubbish bin so they can shit into it. And no, I’m not even joking. I wish I were. So does most of Hong Kong, I think.

2. People.

Don’t get me wrong - every PERSON I know is nice. But it’s not a person we’re talking about - it’s PEOPLE. PEOPLE are annoying, rude, oblivious, inconsiderate and a bunch of fuckers. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shoulder-rammed off the pavement by someone just HAVING to get through before the world ends; how many times I’ve been jabbed in the eye with the edge of an umbrella because hey, no-one gives a flying fuck what they do with the implement they’re in charge of; how many times people have pushed arms, legs, knees, hands, fingers, phones, bags, private parts into my back, front, side, wherever it’ll fit, because they NEED TO GET IN THIS MTR CARRIAGE RIGHT NOW even though there’s another one in 2 minutes’ time; how many times this has happened on buses; how many times people have assumed I don’t know what they’re saying in Cantonese and tried to over-charge me at a market stall; how many times I’ve been openly stared at until I wave cheerfully and say hello; how many times people have hawked and spat out of their flat windows, which are right outside my flat window so I get a front-row seat to the delightful noise. It goes on. But not for much longer.

3. Weather.

I’ve put up with the humidity and we got along, albeit in a kind of love-hate relationship that really tested my patience at times. But I’m from Anglo-Saxon Viking stock, at least since the Doomsday Book. I’m not built like a bird without my own winter insulation. So fuck this weather. Enough is enough. Sometimes battling on against something isn’t the right thing to do.

4. Work.

This is pretty much universal, but this particular aspect is special to Hong Kong. Basically, to get a work visa in Hong Kong, you have to prove you have a skill that other, local people don’t, so that you’re not nicking their jobs. Fair enough. This means I’m an English teacher. Want to do something else? Tough. I knew this when I came here. The fact that I’ve been doing it on and off for 11 years and STILL don’t have permanent residency just pisses me off all the more. It’s not even what I want to do for a living. I know something like 5% of people in the world can actually say they’re doing the job they want to do. But 11 years in a career I really don’t care for kind of takes the piss. But I can’t do anything else; it’s the only reason I’ve had as many visas as I have.

Which brings me to reasons to stay:

Aside from friends, and my archery (which was just starting to get really, really important, in a competition-entry kind of way), there’s just one thing I will miss about Hong Kong: the internet. Getting up to 200MB a second when you’re up and downloading stuff, never mind normal browsing, is something I’ll never be able to get used to. However, once I’m back in the UK and TV shows are actually shown on the TV, I won’t need such fantastic bandwidth anyway. At least not so much.

And that’s it. After spending 2 hours in Immigration this morning, being told I’m pretty much being deported without the police being involved, I’m ready to leave tonight. Except I have things to do - tax settlement, MPF collection (which is quite a sizeable amount), archery equipment (I need a proper case to check it in freight on my flight).

If only Immigration had, I don’t know, TOLD ME that I’m supposed to leave literally the day I get my change of status to someone who hasn’t overstayed due to Immigration telling me to wait for an outcome rather than go out and come back in as a tourist (automatic 6 month visa there). Perhaps then I would have known not to buy a flight for 30th October, and made it 30th September, instead. If only they’d TOLD ME the procedure when they informed me they were actually following a procedure, and maybe most of the problems I’m going through right now would have been avoided. You do not want to know the words that were coming out of my mouth as I left Immigration tower this morning. I don’t think the air turned blue, I think it choked and died.

So, in summary: fuck this place. Let them be overrun by mainlanders. Who cares. When they’ve finished ejecting everyone who isn’t ‘Chinese’ from the country, no-one will care anyway. They don’t have oil, or gold, or earth metals, or water. All they have is electronic banking. Who’s going to miss them when they get swallowed up? Not me.

That’s it. No peach and lube. Not for anyone. I’ve lost the capacity to give a fuck. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m really not - and I know it’s not even my fault. I wasn’t always like this; society MADE me like this.

If I was feeling a bit sad about leaving Hong Kong before, I’m abso-fucking-lutely raging at the way I’ve been treated by Immigration now.

Fuck it.


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