beats shopping in Sweden. The thrills of happiness that kick in with each new purchase are vivid reminders that I can be a rather materialistic person. It’s not an innate sort of materialism where I sit at home daydreaming about new things or spend hours looking through catalogs and websites. It’s a materialism that is thrust upon me by shops and advertisers: I don’t have the desire until I am in a mall. Kind of like when you aren’t hungry until you smell/see a delicious BLT. Of course, my clothing hunger at the mall could be a result of store starvation in Stockholm.
Stockholm is generally an expensive city to live in. It made 19 on a list of the world’s most expensive cities (though the pricing seems off, in my opinion.) I don’t know how many cities there are in the world, but 19 isn’t a great position. Number 2 on the list is neighboring Oslo. But, prices aside, I don’t find Stockholm to be a shopper-friendly location. It just doesn’t have the variety of stores that can be found in other international hubs and capitals. (Lack of variety goes for food shopping as well). I will admit, though, if you’re ever in need of an H&M, Stockholm is the place to be.
Stockholm also houses NK, an expensive department store which always has awesome storefront windows. For Christmas this year, they were decorated with various Santa scenes, like this one:
But enough about Sweden. I’m in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, and holds the number one slot for amount of skyscrapers. So, when I flew in and arrived at the apartment on an (suburb?) island called Discovery Bay– 20 minute ferry to Hong Kong island – I was pleasantly surprised by the natural beauty. Mountains, beaches, and general greenery abound on DB. Oh, and Disneyland. That’s here too.
All in all, my experience of Hong Kong has been a strangely familiar one; a mesh of my life experiences. Once again I’m in a land where foreigner is written on my skin (in Sweden I try to keep my mouth shut as long as possible to avoid the label). I’m being reacquainted with the mild, humid winters that I miss. I’m eating meals that are laid in large dishes and shared by the whole table (albeit this involves me fumbling with chopsticks, instead of the Arab method of tossing it in with your fingers). The outdoor markets seem Middle Eastern, as does the bargaining. The crowds and apartment living are Egypt, the shopping and buildings are Dubai, the weather and beaches are Oman, Disneyland is California, and the shoving without apologizing is Sweden. The monopoly money is Hong Kong’s, as is the island hopping.
Unfortunately I have not been here long enough to get a good grasp of Hong Kong. Cultural attitudes, social issues, passions, and values – these I do not understand. I don’t know what it’s like to walk through the city alone as a girl here. I don’t know my way around, or what food not to eat off the street. I’m not used to being “just acquaintances” with a city. I feel fickle. I don’t know if I’ll call.