Posted by: Sam Olsen | June 4, 2012

Back from Blighty

I’ve just returned from an extremely flying trip to the UK – I didn’t even have time to see my family. But it was long enough to note some of the differences that only an expat would notice.

Wide pavements. Oh, the bliss of having space to amble without bumping into someone every two seconds. Hong Kong must have some of the narrowest sidewalks in the civilised world and it doesn’t half make it hard to walk around quickly, especially when you have 7 million people in your city, each one of which likes to dally…

Purposeful walking. Given that there are so many of them, you would think that Hong Kongers would appreciate the importance of keeping the walkways clear. But no. Getting around Central sometimes feels like being in a mass pinball machine. In Britain people tend to walk in straight lines and with purpose, which takes a lot of the stress out of perambulation. This takes on more relevance when the air is not 100% saturated with water and evaporating sweat.

Cool temperatures. Dr Johnson once said that “When two Englishmen meet their first talk is of the weather”. Yet Britain has some of the most boring meteorology on the planet, so it makes not much sense for the nation to be so obsessed. It is the equivalent of Belgians greeting each other with a discussion on their legions of the famous. But this mediocrity is good as it makes a pleasant change to the jungle-like climate that we suffer in Hong Kong’s summer.

Chatty cabbies. To be fair, Hong Kong taxi drivers are probably quite talkative too but their English isn’t as good as a Cockney so they tend to remain rather quiet with us in the back.

Not so common in Hong Kong any more.

Union Jacks. Hong Kong no longer has the British flag flying above non-hotel buildings so it was quite nice to see it fluttering en masse. Things were slightly skewed by the Jubilee of course. What excellent timing on my part to be back in Britain for the Jubilee – an event that a patriotic Briton would not like to miss.

Fields. On the train up to Montrose it was a real pleasure seeing proper fields again, rather than rice-paddies or expanses of tropical foliage.

Old friends. Although we are lucky enough to have a very nice bunch of pals out here, it is good to see the oldies again.

Talking of which, massive thanks go to Sarah and Basti for a fantastic wedding – what an excellent night. Congratulations to you both, and of course to Her Majesty on her 60 year rule. Here’s looking forward to S&B’s diamond jubilee…

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