Life Across the Border: Inwardly “Facing China”

My blog these last four years chronicled life from Hong Kong “Facing China” – my home is a few miles from the border. My last job required frequent travel into China. At last count I had 85 visits in the last 20 years. But in August all that changed. I now work full-time across the border. I’m inwardly “Facing China” from Shenzhen.

More soon on the role, the company, the culture, the learning. For the moment I want to hone in on the changes so you can put them in context.

My new job is 20+ miles north of the border with Hong Kong. With border crossing, it takes 1.5 to 3 hours to go from home to work. That’s too far for a daily commute. So like many men and women, I work Monday to Friday in Shenzhen and return for weekends with my family.

On Monday at 7:00 am it's quiet. On Friday at 7:30 pm it's a different story.
On Monday at 7:00 am it’s quiet. On Friday at 7:30 pm it’s a different story.

I investigated briefly the housing options nearby my office. The problem is the rent, deposit, utilities, furnishings, food and more are more than I can handle. I’m in year 25 of a great relationship and don’t have the wherewithal to manage solo. So I choose hotel living.

Even then the hotels nearby weren’t designed for Western clientele. The design and amenities are basic – exceptionally clean yet spartan. Affordable yet far, far from homey. And I’ve never wanted to live across the street from work.

Today I call the Sheraton Futian home. It’s a business hotel with excellent facilities – gym, restaurants, nearby shopping, great transport, etc.

I do miss my family however it allows a week-long focus on a new role that is large and demanding. More on that next?

For now, I wanted to provide a heads-up. The perspective has changed. The distance is 20-30 miles, but it’s another country, another culture, another city, another political regime.

And so far, “Facing China” from the inside is fascinating.

Nicolas Malinowsky is a French artist who works as a graphic designer within the ill-Studio, a Paris-based studio.
Nicolas Malinowsky is a French artist who works as a graphic designer within the ill-Studio, a Paris-based studio.

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