In two years of living upon a tiny blemish on China's chin, I've fallen in love with two places. They're both called Hong Kong.
These two places are the same, yet different, and they whir in a perpetual spin of romantic contrast.
I've come to think of Hong Kong as a living, evolving, tangible yin & yang. In case you don't remember yin & yang, it's that circle of white and black swirls that I once scratched into my fourteen-year-old twig arm as fake tattoo. Even though I had no idea what it meant at the time, looking cool was priority number one in high school.
In Chinese philosophy, yin & yang is literally the circle of life... it's based on two opposing yet inseparable forces that compose all the world's natural dualities (male and female, night and day, good and evil, etc.)
Have I lost you yet folks? I assure you I haven't been smoking anything (not to my knowledge anyway).
I find Hong Kong is composed of countless natural yet opposing dualities. This city breathes yin & yang.
The climate is both tropical and temperate: stinking hot in summer and chilled to the bone by Siberian winds in winter.
It has one of the highest-density populations on earth, yet its stunning harbour splits it like a blade and wide open space floods in.
In many ways, Hong Kong is still as British as it is Chinese: not only within its beautiful colonial relics, but in its Western-style values and economical structure.
In Hong Kong, world-class luxury brands share a bed with cheap-as-chips market stalls touting fakes and junk.
Here you'll find some of the world's finest restaurants; and some of the grubbiest, roll-your-sleeves-up food halls this side of India.
This city thrives on a snappy 'time is money' pace, yet has one of the most spiritual and peaceful cultures on earth.
I don't quite know who to be in Hong Kong: the stilletto-heeled, rooftop-bar hopping princess with the latest Gucci handbag, or the haviana-wearing bargian-hunter chewing on a roasted pork stick and sipping beer from a bowl in a side alley cafe. Perhaps both.
There is no single convention in Hong Kong... you be whomever you wish to be, on whichever day you wish to be it, and this city's tolerant heart will find a place for you.
There's my girl.