When most people think of Hong Kong, they picture an overpopulated city filled with skyscrapers and too much traffic. While they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, this city has much more to offer visitors and expats alike. If you happen to be or was an expat in Hong Kong, or are just curious about what life might be like living in this beautiful concrete jungle, then Frank Wingate’s tale of 22 years of expattery in Hong Kong might strike a cord. He shares his funny, bizarre, and often relatable stories of life in Hong Kong in the book “Poxy Chicken”.
After living in Hong Kong for three years myself, I could probably write a trilogy on all the beautiful, bizarre, and mind-blowing (in both good and not-so-good ways) things I’ve seen and experienced in Hong Kong. Though it seems my experiences differ from Frank’s, since, after all, he was in HK from 1978 to 2000 when HK went through the handover, followed by many other changes. Despite this, there are a handful of similar experiences both Frank and I have had.
I found it interesting to read about his initial years in Hong Kong as a teacher, since I’m also teaching here. Though we were both in different school settings, we both certainly appreciated the students’ work ethic and behaviour, which is drastically different to the majority of students we were used to teaching back home. I find it so interesting to hear about other teachers’ experiences in HK (if you’re a teacher in the city, I’d love to hear from you!).
His talks of being invited to fancy dinners and being the least fancy one there also had me laughing, as the majority of expats in HK are either teachers or are mainly in business/banking/finance. I once went to a comedy show in HK and the comedian asked the audience to raise their hand if they were a teacher. Apart from myself there was only one other person who raised their hand, upon which the comedian goes, “how does it feel to be the least successful people in the room?”. While I took no offence and actually found it quite funny, I did have an answer: personally, it feels great (especially when I can leave work at 4:00 pm)!
Frank goes on to talk about being a part of the HKFC (Hong Kong Football Club), trying various Chinese food (such a brave soul to eat and actually enjoy chicken’s feet!), encounters with the women of Wan Chai and beyond (I tried my best not to judge too harshly here, but as a western female expat in HK, it was rather difficult not to), and the cloud that came over the city after Tiananmen Square.
“Poxy Chicken” offers readers a glimpse into expat life in Hong Kong during the 80’s and 90’s. Though, at times, it felt as though the author omitted a few details and wrote rather simply, it must have been difficult to fit over 20 years worth of stories into 200 pages!
If you’re interested in taking a trip down memory lane with Frank Wingate’s “Poxy Chicken”, then you can order it on Amazon.