Marie: Miles of Happiness
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Hong Kong, etc.
I’m a French expat who decided to go see the world in 2012 and move abroad. After six months road-trippin’ in New Zealand, I went back to South France for a couple of months, then to Paris for work. Afterwards, my boyfriend found a job in Indonesia, so we moved to Jakarta for a few months. Later that year, I moved back to France. In early 2014, we finally decided to settle down. We got married on the 4th of January, and took a plane to Hong Kong on the 5th! This is where our home is now.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
After years traveling & designing, I found myself with tons of boxes filled with souvenirs and creations. It’s time to share all that! Blogging appeared as the perfect medium to express myself, meet great people and share my two passions in life: art + travel. As such, Miles of Happiness is a travel & lifestyle webzine, livened with my illustrations.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Yes I do! I spend a looot of time writing about my adventures, and I recently wrote a post about the day I jumped — the day I decided my life had to change. It was so good to think back of that decision that changed my life.
As we’re talking about Hong Kong, I’d also recommend checking out my illustrated journey in Hong Kong and my 9 reasons not to come to Hong Kong for a stop-over.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Hong Kong differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
There is a real culture shock. The pollution, the crowds, the ride in the crazy minibuses... But honestly, I think Hong Kong is one of the easiest Asian cities to live as an expat. It can be as foreign or as familiar as you make it, depending on the lifestyle you chose. You can have your Chinese experience, and then end up in Soho, hanging out with Western faces, drinking your mojitos while listening to commercial music.
Compared to my expat experience in Jakarta, Indonesia, it’s really, really cosmopolitan.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Hong Kong? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
It took us less than two months between the day we decided to move and the day we landed in Hong Kong. We were absolutely not prepared. But prepared for what? Coming from chaotic, over polluted, super noisy, messy Jakarta, Hong Kong was the dream!
I think every experience depends on your past ones. We were super excited to move there. And I wouldn’t change anything; our first months in Hong Kong were thrilling!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I do it all the time on my Facebook Page!
There’s a particular one I have in mind... When we first arrived in Hong Kong, we lived in a serviced apartment in the New Territories (far from the city), and I remember I took a bus and asked the driver “the city center, please”. I looked at me with big eyes, probably wondering from which planet I’d come from...
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Hong Kong?
- Read the 9 reasons blog post I mentioned earlier to discover all the opportunities that awaits you in the 852!
- Take time to adapt to the city. We first loved the city, then, when summer came, started to HATE it, then loved it again... We realized we just needed some time to adjust our habits. It took us a while to feel at home here, but after a year, we found a good life balance.
- Prepare yourself to TRAVEL! Hong Kong is a fantastic base for travel lovers. We can be in Japan, Thailand or China in less than four hours! Every long weekend, you’ll see your friends & colleagues traveling around — and you’ll get the travel bug too!
How is the expat community in Hong Kong? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Here’s the exciting part: Hong Kong is FULL of travelers and expats. Lots of people are just passing by, or living for two years then leaving... That means everybody is open to meet new people! You can’t get bored when you have drinks with Australian, Portuguese, English, Chinese, Austrian and American people at the same time! It’s awesome.
Also, there are many great ways to meet people here. Networking events, meetups, expats website...
How would you summarize your expat life in Hong Kong in a single, catchy sentence?
Is that life REAL or am I about to wake up and realize I was just dreaming?