Around The World Before 30!

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I moved to
Hong Kong, China.

My Life Story in a bursting Nutshell
Growing up I was an expat’s kid so moving was the lifestyle that I lived. I was born in San Francisco-California, studied in British, Portuguese and Canadian international elementary and high schools in Hong Kong for a few years, exchanged to Shanghai-China during university and interned there for a short while, completed my studies at Fayette-Iowa and worked in Zhuhai-China.

There’s also some in between working for Israeli diamond trading, Malaysian/Singaporean company, my golf event management days, turning down a chance to work in Hollywood but I want to keep it simple and humble.

OH!! One more thing, despite ALL my experience – I’m a kid born in the 80s. I am still relatively young! SHOCKER!!

The reason for moving here was
I was teaching English at an international school in Zhuhai (next to the Vegas of Asia – Macau) and was about to renew my third contract. I was getting very comfortable when I thought to myself – “There’s got to be more to life, right?”

Then, right about that time, a previous supervisor from a community organization started a new venture to assist English speaking children with learning difficulties in Hong Kong. She needed someone with my background with a bubbly personality and she asked if I was interested to jump on board.

I thought about it for a week because that would mean I had to leave my current life (my cat, my boyfriend, my friends, everything that I established in within 2.5 years). Despite all odds I answered YES because I believe that life is not only about you but the people around you.

In pursuing your passion in life, you are bound to put aside things and relationships that don’t quite fit in the picture. (Thank you, Howard)

In pursuing your passion in life, you are bound to put aside things and relationships that don’t quite fit in the picture. (Thank you, Howard)

We all have God-given talents and hidden strengths yet to be discovered, shared and utilized to its maximum possibility. We all co-exist with a purpose to be here, now. I know my purpose do you know yours?   (I was turning into a TED talk speaker, there.)

Being an expat, saying goodbye to friends is inevitable. We usually celebrate at London Lounge (My Lovely Zhuhai Expat Girls)

Being an expat, saying goodbye to friends is inevitable. We usually celebrate at London Lounge (My Lovely Zhuhai Expat Girls)

If I were to describe my current city in one word, that would be
“Overwhelming!!”

There are nineteen districts and at least five out laying islands each of them are unique with their own cultures and traditions.

The first thing a new expat needs to know when moving here is
Get a job and everything will fall in place – housing, health care, insurance, pension plans and friends.

The language issue
Cantonese and English are this city’s official languages. I learnt how to speak Cantonese in America because my grandparents (Mom’s 100% Chinese side) always spoke it to me.

Since I moved here I stopped
Saving coins for buses and public transportation because you’ll get something called the OCTOPUS card. Once you top it up, you’ll be able to pay for almost any public transport in the city (does not include taxis).

Since I moved here the new thing I stared doing is
Explore Cafés and Restaurants with my friends that are constantly traveling in and out of Hong Kong. We always need a quiet and comfortable environment to catch up for hours.

Because I am exploring cafés and restaurants constantly; I needed to balance my life with exercise and going to the Gym at least 2 to 3 times in a week is a must!

My biggest lesson learnt was
It’s okay to bargain! It’s a whole new culture here. Bargain in the wet market over vegetables, bargain over clothes in a private shop, bargain over pet food… it’s OKAY!

Some weird habits at the locals
In the afternoon, if you pass through any public park – you’ll see a lot of old men sitting around in circles surrounding two Chinese Chess players. They are very quiet until someone makes a great move then they cheer like someone made a goal in the World Cup.

My biggest cultural shock was
Since, I my grandparents (dad’s side & 25% Asian Indian) lived in Hong Kong traveling to HK was inevitable when I was young. The cultural shock I had then was why are their people everywhere at every time of the day?

My funniest / weirdest / scariest experience was
I was renewing my passport with my friend at the American embassy on Garden Road.
We were sitting on nicely lined chairs in rows. Other people were there waiting in an unbearable silence, too. I was so bored and I whispered to my friend – “I wish there was music, here”.  Then, one of the three guys sitting in front of us turned around and winked at me and asked me to wait for a minute. He took out speakers and an mp3 player from his backpack and played music. I think it was a Marvin Gaye tune. When he was done setting the music, he asked “Is this better?” with a big smile. I blushed and answered “Much better, thanks!”

What I miss the most from home is
Chilling in a large living room with family and extended members just talking with tea and snacks on the coffee table.

In Winter, you’re my furry warmer.

In Winter, you’re my furry warmer.

I got Cuddleton from a pet store in Zhuhai. You captured my heart and I hope you’ll continue to be a strong and healthy cat.

I got Cuddleton from a pet store in Zhuhai. You captured my heart and I hope you’ll continue to be a strong and healthy cat.

Whenever I get home sick, what I miss is
Fresh smelling laundry just hanging on a peg line fastened with wooden peg clips being blown in the wind in our grassy backyard with wild flowers growing off the red picket fence.

I go home as often as
…I can! For at least 2 weeks to 1 month.

I keep in contact with my friends and family (Skype? Email? Phone? Other way?)
Via Whatsapp family group. We text everyday and leave live text messages. It’s sweet and sucks sometimes because one time my dad sent me a picture of an adorable squirrel unzipping his bag in a part at 3AM… I was like “WHAT THE HECK!!” in an angry tone but the a second later in another tone “That’s so cute!”

My favorite dish/local food is
This is a super hard question to answer since Hong Kong is the world’s “Food Paradise”. I think a great dish that I love and that can represent Hong Kong… is not a dish it’s a drink called PANTYHOSE MILK TEA.

There are plenty of apps to help you find where to eat what but there’s nothing like walking around and coming across something you’ve never seen before. (High Street Café)

There are plenty of apps to help you find where to eat what but there’s nothing like walking around and coming across something you’ve never seen before. (High Street Café)

Hong Kong has too many Michelin restaurants but you’ll find your favorites. (HK Style – Milk Tea)

Hong Kong has too many Michelin restaurants but you’ll find your favorites. (HK Style – Milk Tea)

My favorite places in town are

  1.  Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong – huge shopping mall, a lot of food diversity with a bookstore with a café
  2. Rose Café, Causeway Bay – its located right behind Sogo in an old building but the interior is super vintage. They have board games and serve pasta there.
  3. Parks and Gardens, Art Galleries and Museums – Central and SoHo District
  4. The place I call home! Where I live is sort of semi-suburb but just a bus ride away to civilization.
Sometimes you need mother nature to entertain you. Find a local park to spend an afternoon at. (HK Park)

Sometimes you need mother nature to entertain you. Find a local park to spend an afternoon at. (HK Park)

I get around the city by
I always tell my friends and relatives that stop by Hong Kong. Where ever you are in Hong Kong just find the MTR (Metro Transit Railway) in the district you’re in and you’ll be fine!

Street fashion?
People are generally in tighter clothes here. I am not sure why they like to emphasis how slim they are here. I am a curvy woman and I love rocking my curves! When I shop I go to Gap, H&M, Zara, Abercrombie and Forever 21 in Hong Kong – I’ll find something that wraps my curves just fine.  Sometimes maybe twice in a year, our friends have clothes swap gatherings – you can start that, too!

Sometimes you buy too much or invest in pieces you don’t need – trade them off! (Natalie’s Clothes-Swap House Party)

Sometimes you buy too much or invest in pieces you don’t need – trade them off! (Natalie’s Clothes-Swap House Party)

My view on people:
People that speak loud are not rude or angry. In fact, they are being friendly and warm.

Being an expat
If you tell people you’re an expatriate – you are a professional and you have a set of skills that follow you that you can contribute to the place you relocate to and you would like to be as actively involved in the city you are in as possible. I believe I bring that!!

In 5 years, I see myself living in
At the moment, I have no clue whatsoever.
Let’s see where God takes me! 🙂

Avatar photo

Esther L. was born in San Francisco, California to a UC Berkeley alumni mom and a Clinical Psychologist/Forensic expert dad that made occasional appearances on newspapers, radios and television. Despite her dad’s dream for her to be a Lawyer or a Doctor – she cultivated a love for all kinds of Arts and enjoyed teaching in particular. She is the eldest of two younger brothers; one is soon to complete their Media & Communication bachelor and the other works at an international Airport.

She likes traveling on a budget particularly to the sunny hemispheres, being a phone-tographer and posting her daily happenings in an artsy manor on her Instagram for the public’s viewing. Her taste buds are in luck when she takes them out for a fusion brunch and dipping them in some rare coffee catching up with long-time no see friends.

Although her boyfriend from a different species (A Ginger-colored Cat called Maobu Cuddleton) lives as far as a 70 minutes ferry boat ride away from her with someone that was once her so-called significant other – her love for cats and furry creatures and animals (not insects or reptiles) never faded… someday she’ll shelter cats again or maybe the same one?

Her near future plan is to be happy and bring happiness to those around her, collect passport stamps as she soaks up the sunshine from different shores and live a life full of purpose.

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