We walk out of the small, peaceful, air-conditioned comfort of our Airbnb accommodation and immediately we were hit by a blast of hot air from the street. Not even 5 minutes into venturing out and I break into a sweat. I see people on the street, busy with their smart phones or hurriedly walking, trying either to get to the bus stop or to make it to the train station to get to work. It is a normal weekday yet the streets are filled with people –locals and tourists alike, and it makes me wonder how it is on weekends. At night, the scenery changes, not so much with the lessening of people, but with the sparkly LED lights and flashy billboards advertising the latest come on. People are trendy on the streets, and it almost feels like a crime to not be fashionable in this side of the world. Keren and I gleefully stare at and observe people and the way they dress, because we think it’s cool people are so trendy and can almost get away with everything they wear.
Inside the MTR, everyone has their heads down on their phone screens. The lady beside me plays Pokemon. The man on my other side was busy playing another game. Across me, two lovers were whispering to each other’s ears. Beside them, a woman holds tightly on the handle and closes her eyes. It is yet another busy day in Hong Kong. Within minutes, the door opens and we alight. Everyone walks in order. People going out to the left, people coming in to the right. Rushing? Go the left side of the escalator and walk briskly. There was a moment during one of our MTR trips when it felt like I was in a bubble. Things moved in slow motion. I saw a relentless crowd of people rushing, their faces all looking tired and weary, walking very robotic left and right steps. I snapped out of it when Keren motioned for us to make a left to our exit. We needed to cross to the other side, and so when the light turned green and signaled for us to cross, we crossed briskly to the other side.
Everything felt rushed and controlled. There was just no time to pause in this busy environment. To the people of Hong Kong, time is money, and every minute counts. To escape the concrete jungle, we went to two public gardens built in the middle of a residential area in Kowloon — Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. It is shocking how completely different the feel of this place was compared to the bustling cosmopolitan city. Here, we relished and enjoyed the tranquil landscapes and the gorgeous Oriental architecture and gardens. We stayed idly, took pictures, sat down, and I realized that for the most part of this short vacation, we have been walking to and fro. Something so common as sitting down felt like a prized commodity or a luxury we have overlooked. It was still humid when we went here on our second day, but I much, much prefer this than having to battle it out with the crowds on trains and buses.
Why don’t people sit down? Why is everyone always rushing? How do people unwind?
I came to the conclusion that your environment plays a big part in shaping and molding you and your outlook in life. It was a very materialistic culture and I got the impression that here, you work to spend. How do people unwind? They shop. They go to the streets and buy here and there. Everything around suggested a quick purchase. It really felt like money was so disposable in this part of the world. The trendy get ups suggested people have the luxury to keep buying and buying new clothes. And to be honest, while I enjoyed our quick trip, I felt almost nauseated by the materialism and the worldliness of it all. And I wasn’t even in Korea or Japan yet.
What drives you on a day to day basis? What do you work for and where is your life heading to? Thoughts of eternity filled my mind throughout my stay in Hong Kong and I didn’t want to miss the important lessons the Lord seemed to be impressing on my heart. The world wants to keep getting, keep spending, keep striving. There is little time for rest in a world filled with so much activity and pleasure. Set your heart, then, on the truly important and lasting things: People, relationships, and God’s Word. Do not let the desires of the flesh crowd out the important and essential desires to living: a daily, quiet commune with God, a daily seeking of your purpose, and an intentional way of reaching out to family and friends.