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Get to know a Neighbor: Desmond Chung from Hobart to Hong Kong

Get to know a neighbor is a segment here on which takes a view through the looking glass at an individual's story and their current life in Hong Kong.

LH: Please introduce yourself.

DC: Hello, my name is Desmond Chung, I hail from Hobart, in Tasmania, Australia

LH: What makes you special?

Well, I'm not necessarily sure if this makes me special, but people I meet often remember me because of the fact that I was born in South Korea and then I was adopted to a Chinese family in Australia.

LH: That's a pretty interesting mix of cultures, do you find that there's a particular place or culture that you identify with? Or even gravitate towards?

DC: Hmmm, I couldn't say in particular, but someone once told me that I am a "very Asian guy, with very western tastes".

LH: Please elaborate...

DC: I guess culturally at home I was raised in a Chinese household, I lived in an inter-generational house, with what used to be very strict parents. Except the things that captured my imagination and cultivated my taste in things are basically all western things. Hollywood, Rock & Roll, Rap... Haha I mean I grew up watching Stanley Kubrick films, warping my Dad's Beatles & Fleetwood Mac vinyls whilst eating meat pies.

Desmond at one of the house parties he so sorely misses

LH: So what are some of your hobbies & interests:

Movies & Music are two of my first loves, but I think meeting new people is something I very much enjoy doing, and then just talking to them about movies and music.

LH: What are your favorites?

DC: Eyes Wide Shut, Heat for films and for music, Fleetwood Mac, Jay Z and Prince.

Desmond back in Tasmania with his sorely missed friends

LH: So what brings you to Hong Kong?

DC: A girl, and it's quite funny as when I say this to women, they always give me high fives and tell me "there's no better reason" and throwaway crap like that (laughs). But when it comes to telling guys, they are always like "you sure dude?" "you're a better man than I am" and the classic "she must be fucking hot".

LH: But we hope you've found things to do to keep yourself busy over here

DC: It's always an interesting thing to come over for one particular purpose and find that there are other things that give my time here new meaning. Well first thing are some of the people I have met here, I have a fantastic small close-knit crew of friends that really care about each other and like me most of us are expats. But I've been interviewing with companies that I had only dreamed of working in and even though so far I haven't had any solid offers, it's giving me a lot of hope that Hong Kong is a place where there is a metric shit-tonne of opportunity.

LH: Have you been here before?

Well actually this is the third time I've come over in the past 18 months but before that I think the last time I was over here was in 1996. So it kind of feels like virginity the sequel coming to Hong Kong.

LH: What are some of the things you miss most about home (Tasmania)?:

DC: I miss steak, haha, for the life of me I haven't been able to find a place which does a good medium rare. Uhm, I also miss my friends & family, they are a pretty large part of my life back home, I also miss the big house parties in Australia the thing is here, there is a lot of barhopping, Karaoke nights and drunken 7/11 meetups which have all been a great experience don't get me wrong but house parties are some of my fondest memories back home. I also miss the space! For the love of god, when I was just a student every share-house I was living in had a huge backyard where we could always just invite friends over to shoot the shit and have casual barbecues & drinks. And my handsome Labradoodle Milo.

LH: So what is the biggest difference between your new found friends and your ones back home?

DC: Well it's the mannerisms and all the private in jokes that we have for each other, which is all good because these small things take time to cultivate. But also I think the way we talk to each other, my friends here are always very polite, very well mannered whereas back at home the first thing my buddies would say to greet me was "Sup c**t?". I guess in Australia there's a very big culture of giving everyone as much shit as you possibly can but also in a very endearing way. And in a weird f***ed up way I really miss it. I also miss knowing who lives next to me, I literally don't know any of my neighbors...

LH: So apart from hitting the bars and getting blind drunk, what else have you been doing in Hong Kong to keep yourself busy?

DC: Well I've been doing quite a lot freelance work for different companies here, but also have been dedicating a lot of time to volunteering & looking for other work as I had previously mentioned.

LH: What's the biggest culture shock that you have had so far?

DC: Hmmmm, okay, so I'll just be upfront and hopefully I won't offend too many people with this. I think the biggest shock I have had here is how many local Hong Kongers that I have spoken to around my age that seem to actually detest Hong Kong and Asian culture.

LH: Please elaborate...

DC: Well It's because at home, I think my parents are very traditionally Chinese, the strict upbringing, the emphasis on family & familial obligations, making appearances, saving face etc. Which is a hard thing to do as an ethnic minority in a western country, I mean keep this in mind, my Father's side of the family have been in Australia since the 1850s, it's not by luck that our traditions have survived even through the 'White Australia Policy'. So that shit is f****ng hard to hear when I've got people telling me that they themselves are "so un-Asian" and how they are "so westernized".

LH: Do you have any specific examples?

DC: Like I meet individuals that like to be the only Asian in their group of friends to be 'special'. And it's kind of shitty because from my personal experience they are often looked down upon as they are always agreeing to everything that their group of friends say and often lack the audacity to disagree with something, all in the name of fitting in and keeping an appearance. But hey, that's just like my opinion dude.

LH: What have been your best experiences in Hong Kong so far?

DC: All the friends that I have made, we have this odd tradition of going to the IFC roof garden and filling an old baby bath tub with a myriad of spirits and soft drinks and creating a kind of 'punch' and letting the night progress from that point. Also going to various social events to meet new people and just immersing myself in the city and the culture.

Living the party life in Hong Kong

LH: Anything specific?

DC: Well my friend once forgot his keys to his apartment so we climbed the scaffolding from the rooftop of his building 25 floors up down to the 18th floor window to get in, whilst it was raining. That was a lot of fun, and in turn it made me feel super manly and impressive.

The view from the 25th floor while scaling the scaffolding

LH: To top it all off do you like Hong Kong?

DC: I love it, Iove the crowds even though they move at a glacial pace, I love the atmosphere it's so busy all the time and I love the people. Hong Kong is the shit, probably my favorite city I've been to it's between Tokyo, Hong Kong & Taipei.

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