When you leave somewhere you have lived or even just stayed for a holiday there are usually regrets. I wish I had just spent one more day doing that, I wish I had seen that, I wish we had gone back to that great place. When there is five months between when you know you are going and when you will actually leave – especially when for four of those months you will be work free with time on your hands, there are not many excuses to have any regrets.
I have a few – would have loved to have done one more girls weekend in Bangkok, would have loved to visit Foot one more ‘last’ time, have one more ‘last drink’ with lots and lots of people, finally go to da Domenico after many aborted attempts (Feb 2010 I am there), done more travel in China / Asia while I was living there but that would be a given no matter how much I had already done.
By and large though I don’t have too many regrets – as soon as I knew I was going I started writing lists of things to do before I leave. Well more post it notes that went up on the wall in the study – so I could review them whenever I passed by.
I have thrown them out but I wish I did keep them, I can only remember some of the things now but there was a good 15 post it notes in at least three different colours (that’s the important part, different colours 😉 with 5-10 items on each. Fair enough, a lot of them were the names of restaurants and bars to go to for either the first time or the last but they should count right up there with some of the other items
– walk one stage of the McElhose trail – lets not get excited and do the whole 100kms – doing the 50kms for Greenpower for the last two years is enough but I couldn’t leave without trying just one one section, luckily or not it was a monkey rich environment, excellent preparation for South Africa. Tick
– hike Dragon’s Back one last time to admire the view, which is all I did as I forgot to pack the camera that day. Tick
– go to the China Shop – on the ‘dark side’ and fossick through the rooms of china piled up so high and so deep and snap up some never to be repeated bargains. Tick
– visit Shenzhen again and again – picking up all the essentials, copies of all my favourite clothes, R4 chips for the DS’s to enable ongoing game upgrades, a collection of designer handbags to impress my possible new friends to be, sort out some viewing activity as apparently television in South Africa is worse than HK (you were right there people). Tick Tick Tick
– wander through the streets of HK taking photographs to capture my memories forever – OK well I mainly did this on the island side so my memories may be biased, but there were a couple of visits to the other side. Tick
– Take a ride on the Big Bus that is a staple sight in Hong Kong, the open topped bus with the tourists and their enormous camera lenses to capture the world of HK that way – all very nice until you find out it is USD37 / @ HKD290 for one adult ticket – for someone who pays HKD5 to get home from town on the green minibus this is sacrilegious (come on people I definitely caught that mini bus once or twice). I had lived there for six years, I didn’t need the Big Bus to drive me around the streets, so what if it had digitally recorded commentary in eight languages – I would rather spend it on jelly shots at Al’s Diner (you can get at least five jelly shots for that) and I probably did. Not ticked
Make a list – check it twice, stick it on the wall and update it regularly –saves disappointment and grief – you may overdo it but you won’t under do it – that’s for sure. There is really no such thing as too many ladies lunches, quick drinks, dinners with friends, big nights or foot reflexology sessions in my opinion – or at least there wasn’t between March and July 2009 for me. My friends were always fabulous and active participants – willing to accommodate any and all of my ‘last’ agenda items.
2009 may have been the year of the farewell in Hong Kong – the GFC hit the Asia financial centre hard, in the past when people were made redundant they would generally take the risk and stick it out for 3-4 months, pick up another job and then kick on from there. This time it seemed different – there were people who had been out of work for much longer and HK is not a cheap place to live when you are generally a well-paid expat. Rent for starters, add to that school fees (if there are children involved) and other living expenses and the uncertainty of what was happening financially in the world, people weren’t as willing to take a risk and use some savings to stay a bit longer and find a job. Hong Kong wasn’t doing as badly as financial centres elsewhere though – those from London and New York visiting couldn’t believe that any night of the week all the bars and restaurants in the SOHO and Lan Kwai Fong areas were still packed reservations still required! However by Hong Kong standards it was quite tough for the expat community who were used to quite a cushy life. As well as the people who were made redundant leaving – there were those who took this as a sign that it was time to start thinking about moving home – being settled and stable in their own home countries, as well as the normal churn that happens every 2-3 years when people move roles within their organisations – it made for a lot of change. Every week there was someone new who you would know who was moving away or going ‘home’ wherever that may be. I was a fan of this process – all these people leaving that weren’t me – yet. Yay! However as more and more left and more farewells were made the date for our move came ever closer and we had to plan our own farewell drinks the reality started dawning.
The best thing to do in this situation was ignore it – which I pretty much did. However we did need to find our very own special venue for drinks, which my husband left in my hands, as he was already in SA. I decided the best thing to do was trial a few bars. If I was in my 20’s this would be known as a pub crawl – however as someone in their 30’s this was more a bar review event. One Friday night two of my wonderful friends and I set about very seriously reviewing the bars that we attended that evening, sampling drinks in each one and even requesting sit downs with the managers on call to discuss the prospect of a future function at their establishment, after the fourth venue I’m not even sure they were taking us seriously- really! The photos from that night are well – under lock and key for the most part, there are quite a few lovely ones of us sipping champagne and interesting looking cocktails that we can show and even a few of us in the Balalaika freezer, mangy fur coats and all, but from there on – not so many to share. I think the final number of bars reviewed was around 10 with the final decision being the second one we went to – those other 8 were just for fun!
The night of our farewell drinks came and we had a great night – husband flew into town for a week so we had scheduled it so he could attend – it’s just the polite thing to do right? Inevitably as is the case in HK some of our nearest and dearest couldn’t make it – and while disappointing on the night and I still wish they could have been there, in the big picture it didn’t matter so much as we had a chance to farewell these friends on a number of other occasions, quite a number. Planning is key!!
The final result of the festival of farewells? Lots of wonderful memories, very few regrets and an amazing amount of photos as well – some that may never surface in public.