What made me write this book?
This is a question that I am asked many times over.
I have been an expat since 1994. As such I picked up many stories, whether they involved me or if it was through banter in a bar. And I have always been a fan of the mantra that everyone has a book in them. Fortunately for me I probably have about five books in me. However for my first book, Being Stripped Naked, I chose to focus on my life in Hong Kong and my travels around the Asian countries, whether it was for work or leisure.
Being an expat in Hong Kong, especially during the run up to the change from a British colony to the Peoples Republic of China in 1997 gave me a great insight into what life as an expat was like.
During my early days as an expat in Hong Kong I would mix with mostly other expats who were there to live the dream. As the handover, as it was called, drew closer many expats started to get restless and left, believing that Hong Kong would change inexorably. However the reality was that while some things did change, Hong Kong stayed very much the same.
I was in the New Territories building a major road and bridge link from the border between Hong Kong and China that terminated in the Central District on Hong Kong Island. I remember people questioning me if it had been designed to take account of loadings from the tanks that would inevitably arrive as China “invaded”. I never found the answer to that question, however the tanks did not come rolling down the highway in the way many people expected. It was a relatively easy transition. The only visable indicator that something had changed was to the Prince of Wales Barracks, which had the English wording removed and replaced with Chinese characters.
And so by 1997 I was well and truly in love with Hong Kong, a real Asian romance! Although I would caveat that with the counter argument that at times I would have got on a plane and left. But then again is that what love does to people? Drives them mad but with a certain amount of dependency?
The other thing that I have found about being an expat is that is it exciting. Sometimes very exciting. I grew up watching James Bond movies and wanting to be that character, the agent who travels the World visiting some amazing locations. I sort of took on that persona, that traveller inside me coming out. I also believe, like James Bond, the lifestyle that I have received from being a British expat I would recommend to anyone. If you have an adventurous strike, an open mind and a thirst for different cultures it can offer a person something very special.
So coming back to the original question “why did you write the book?” I hope it serves as an inspiration to people who are considering a life as an expat. While you don’t have to go around killing people for a living it certainly makes your life a lot more interesting and provides a feeling of fulfillment that you may not receive by staying in your own country. And if you need any more convincing, please read this article from Entrepreneur.
I will leave you with a saying that has stayed with me since I first started my travels back in 1992: “It is better to try and fail than do nothing and succeed”.
Please enjoy reading “Being Stripped Naked” and I look forward to receiving your feedback.