I spent years living it up in the heart of Hong Kong Island before making the big move to Narnia last month. Oh, whoops, did I accidentally type Narnia? I meant to write Clearwater Bay, although there’s really not that much difference is there? They’re both eye-poppingly beautiful and about a million miles from everywhere.
When you pop out some offspring in Hong Kong, moving to a place like Clearwater Bay is a bit like wearing maternity jeans when you’re pregnant for the first time and still know what dignity feels like… we swear we never will, and then, there we are waddling down the street in waistband jeans unsure whether to laugh or cry (in fact, I wrote a post about this whole thing once). But I digress. Where was I?
Oh yeah, in Narnia. Sooner or later, many of us Hong Kongers will succumb to the eventuality of moving to Hong Kong’s Narnia for the sake of our children. (Note: In this case, Narnia is anywhere in the New Territories, further from town than Stanley, or anywhere you have to take a ferry to get to. Okay, maybe even Stanley.) It’s for the sake of said children that we do it (at least in my case), because why the heck else would you want to live a million miles from anywhere if it weren’t for more bedrooms to stick mini-humans in, a garden or rooftop for unending kids’ birthday parties, cleaner air and pretty beaches to spend the afternoon at instead of a mall? It’s got some pull for childless couples too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a tough sell against the buzz and convenience of HK Island.
‘Convenience’ isn’t a word in the Narnia dictionary. The first few weeks I was here, I was a total fish out of water (while actually surrounded by water). “Why the heck am I living in Narnia?!” I wanted to shout. “Where are my three Starbucks, and my four Watsons, and my twelve 7-Elevens, and my thirty dry cleaners?” As I sat there contemplating driving ten minutes to a mall to buy a stick of gum as it poured rain for weeks, I wanted to reach back in time to our moving day and slap my smug face that was still living on Hong Kong Island.
But then, something amazing happened: a phenomenon of nature that changed my outlook completely. A few clouds moved and the sun came out. Like an uprooted kitten unsure of its new home, I poked my nose out of our new front door and gave the fresh air a little sniff. I bundled my son into the car seat (people drive in Hong Kong’s Narnia – it’s an actual thing), and took him to our local beach. And then I coated my toes in warm sand while he tried to eat some and looked at this:
THIS. Just a three-minute drive from my front door. (And Narnia scores!!! – Sorry, been watching too much of the World Cup.) Afterwards, I took my sandy kid up to the country park to have a sticky-beak at the lush greens, and polished the afternoon off with some shopping at my uber-relaxed beachside supermarket.
That night, as Brady slept in his new bedroom the size of a small continent, friends came over and we had drinks on our rooftop, the balmy summer air hugging our shoulders as we wiled away evening just as we would in a crowded bar in Central (except without the crowds and Central). There was no fight for the taxi home – I just skipped down the stairs and was in bed sleeping faster than you could say, “Let’s go to Wan Chai – yeah, that seems like a reeeeally good idea right now, woo hoo!”
And, as I woke up the next morning, hangover-free, I smiled and wanted to reach back in time to our moving day and bear hug myself. Well, gosh darn, this Narnia place is nice. And life is good here. Central who?