Life Changing HK Pre-Trip: More Than a Bank Account - Caucasian - CycleBlaze

May 13, 2024

Life Changing HK Pre-Trip: More Than a Bank Account

We just survived another 5-day fake holiday on the Chinese mainland from May 1-5.  These holidays are fake because you have to work a Saturday and/or Sunday before or after the holiday to make up for it.  Long story short, this practice takes away the benefit of having a longer holiday.  Not only that, planes and trains are packed, hotels are booked solid, and prices go up 5x since that's when all the masses travel at once.  So you can't really go anywhere meaningful or have a much needed rest. 

Somehow we managed to find a way not to work the Saturday on May 11.  This meant it was the best time to fly to Hong Kong for the weekend and take care of some business.  Since this was also right after the so-called "May holiday", very few people were now traveling.  The plane was less than half full and the hotels in HK were at steep discounts, up to 50% off.  Well that sure beats a 5x price increase!

Taking advantage of this, the plan was to go with a colleauge and help him open a bank account.  I had done this myself many years prior and helped several others over the years since.  This time again it was a success!  In the end he got his account and we both got a lot more than we bargained for.

Splashing out on a taxi
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View from the hotel room. In all fairness you can see how HK is not exactly bike friendly
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Royal View Hotel
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If you had the money, this would be a great place to live. Large house by the beach and servants at your beck and call.
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Thanks to his unique worldview and some very interesting conversations that we had on the trip, I came to expand my own view of geopolitics and managed to distill some key takeways.  One is that the western media isn't entirely fair when it comes to China.  This doesn't mean the media is wrong, or that my stance is somehow changed.  It's just that based on our conversations and looking at more facts, the situation is more complex than I realize.

I then tried to understand what China and the US have in common and it is actually quite staggering.  Despite the very different political systems, people are pretty much doing the same thing:  chasing after money, driving cars, accumulating clutter, and generally running around in a meaningless rat race.  Although the political situation in China sucks rocks and is getting worse by the day, it is not much better back home.  That's the reason why both of us left, we were tired of the life there and not getting ahead.  For a time China was a respite from the West, now the BS is rapidly catching up over there too.

For how much these countries preach about how bad China is, and rightly so, they also have government over-reach.  After all, just look at covid.  We came to realize that covid was a global test about how far governments could go to control their citizens.    

Long story short, there is a need to make some life changes and find a third alternative, that is somewhere else not in China nor my home country.  We're talking Plan B, Plan C, all the way through to Plan F.  If at all possible, not a large city.  City life over time is burning me out.  At this stage of life I want more freedom and more time spent outdoors for the pre-retirement plan.  Somewhere more peaceful and less frenetic, basically a transition out of the pointless rat race.  But unfortunately or ironically, the cash you can bank from the rat race is necessary to get out of it.

That said, we both agreed it makes no sense to burn bridges.  This is also in line with my vision to find some alternative place to life and work but still maintain ties with China.  This could mean for example a long-term business visa.  In other words, to find a new base somewhere else but reach some sort of a compromise with China to still go back and forth.

It goes without saying that Hong Kong made me exhausted and this happens with every trip.  It is a combination of the crowds and the high prices.  Combine that together, we felt we got nickeled and dimed to death.  This is unfortunately classic Hong Kong.  People are constantly watching their money, calculating this, measuring that, and every tiny little thing costs something.

At the hotel for example they rationed out breakfast coupons and it was one per meagre portion of a meal.  Not buffet style.  If we wanted more food we had to pay for it.  Restaurants and bars were completely out of the question.  We either had to eat at McDonald's and 7/11 or else stock up at the supermarket and ration out the food.  We ended up doing both.  There were also examples where stores made up ridiculous policies such as they wouldn't give an extra cup and spoon at McDonald's despite us ordering two coffees.  Whereas I would have just accepted this crap, my colleague was more assertive and challenged this and other policies.   He eventually succeeded.  This inspired me to do likewise in the future.   

Because of all that I figured it would be unwise to consider living and working in Hong Kong.  Even if you could make triple digit salaries, the stress would be just unreal and it would drive people mad.

Next weekend trip will be Japan.

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