When I land in a city I love, I feel nervous.

March 25th, 2014, 9am

When I land in a city I love, I feel nervous. My countenance turns eager as I try my best to drink in every second, knowing it can’t last forever. After the raw nerves settle, I become thankful for the sweet days I have and do my best to see, to experience, and to pocket away gems of inspiration for the future. A few weeks ago, I experienced this when I travelled to Hong Kong.

To me, Hong Kong is magic. The energy, the attitude, the frantic pace of the city will forever be charming. In most cities, I appear impatient, always trying to get ahead a little faster. “Don’t people know there are things to do, places to see?” I joke. There’s no need to explain this to residents of Hong Kong. Whether waiting for the exit escalator at the MTR station or simply walking down the street, they are the ones challenging my usually most-aggressive walking style and veering me out of the way. It’s a nice feeling, meeting a global counterpart.

In an unfamiliar city, there are certain aspects that are grounding. No matter where I am in the world, I always find inspiration in skylines. Their vast, expansive nature always awakes feelings of wonder in me. Little surprise then after a meeting in Tsim Sha Tsui that I couldn’t resist walking across the road to the Promenade and staring across Victoria Harbour at the tiny lit-up boxes on the Island’s skyscrapers. Powerful lives and ideas packed together so densely. I wondered, what was being created at that very moment? Perhaps the joy of cities can be encapsulated as places where anything can happen. Cities are places for dreamers, both young and old.

With its past few decades shaped by a posh aunt and a rising superstar mother, Hong Kong has a fascinating East-meets-West, old-meets-new sophistication. It is a hot spot for global talent—an intense workplace and crazy playground at the same time. From the bright lights housing MNCs near the Harbour to the antique roads housing budding creative talent in Sheung Wan, the city feels successful, adaptable and ever changing. The entire world is eying the East and Hong Kong feels like the ideal 21st century city.

I sat on one of the many benches lining the Promenade pondering this and watched professionals, joggers, and couples zip by, living and loving their lives. Surrounded by the buzz of traffic, lulled by the junk boats across the Harbour, it was a bit of serenity in the busy, competitive city. As much as I tried to memorize the moment and every detail of the skyline, I knew it was futile. Yet for a few moments, I concentrated hard. I paid attention, noticed how buildings and people were affecting the way I was feeling, and tried to understand why.

When visitors experience a scene, they might find extraordinary what locals find ordinary. Is this not the beauty of travel, of sharing culture and seeing familiar scenes with fresh eyes? For me, the best way to experience a city is to release inhibitions and simply feel without worrying about judgment. As I marveled at the green hills of the New Territories peaking behind the skyscrapers, my eyes caught a flashing light. “Design Your Life,” said a flashing Samsung advertisement across the bay. The promotion for a GALAXY Note 3 was a good reminder that all are capable of creating their dream life in their dream city.

When I visit a city I love, I realize there is magic in the nervousness because it means I dare to hope.

(These thoughts were first posted on OpenBrief).

Christine said thanks.

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Jennifer Lien

Works, plays and dreams with words. Twitter and Instagram @lienje

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