I grew up in Hong Kong and until 2003 my family was based there full time. Hong Kong has always been where I feel most at ease. But more than just home, Hong Kong is a vibrant city with lights, and food and public transport. There are vast expanses of forest (over half of Hong Kong is parkland mainly because it is too steep to build on) and beaches that could compete with Thailand or the Caribbean, there are cheap shopping deals and rat-warren like markets next to New York style streets filled with designer brands. Hong Kong has restaurants where meals can cost more than a down payment on a house and restaurants where you can eat your fill for the cost of a Canadian bus ride. There is always something to do and people around, and yet when you know where to look you can find solitude and calmness.
Now I live in Ottawa, a city which claims to have one of the highest quality of lives anywhere in the world, and I would have to agree. Everything I love about Hong Kong is missing here in Canada's Capital - and yet I love it for that. I like the cleanness, the consistency, the calm quiet and the pace. I love the hidden gardens and fresh water features throughout the city. I love being able to bike around the city or walking home from work (even in the middle of summer) and I love seasons that go from gray to green in a few fast days. Here in Ottawa, I can slow down and take time to just watch the world slowly go by or I can be on the skihill 30 minutes after I leave work!
So what is the best city in the world? Well - I suppose it depends on what you are looking for and I think this changes over time. I lived in Toronto for about 7 years and for that point in my life, it was a great city. The question for me is when will Ottawa no longer be enough and will I ever make it to Hong Kong. If I am truly to live a life of no regrets, I have to go back - I have to live the rush of uncertainty, and yet there are qualities about Ottawa that I am loath to give up. So right now, I am going to focus on how lucky I am to not only live here, but to have the choices on where to live.
To find out more about Ottawa, join Jane's Walk (May 7 & 8) and explore this great city on foot for the weekend - www.janeswalkottawa.ca. To find out more about Hong Kong, buy me a plane ticket and I will play tour guide (references available - I speak more Chinese that you would guess!)
Fun fact: Hong Kong has 7+ million residence in a land mass a third the size of Ottawa, ON