People are always asking me why I chose to write Sunset Survivors and what inspired me to take an interest in Hong Kong’s dying industries. Some braver people even question why I – a gwei mui – might be the right person to write such a book. And it’s a fair question! My answer is this: Even though I look Caucasian, (I’m actually Eurasian but I look Caucasian) I believe that sometimes it takes a slightly outsider’s point of view to see what is so special and unique about a place. For many Chinese Hong Kongers, who have grown up with Chinese culture all around them, they might not be aware that some of the uniquely Hong Kong things they do or see are interesting, because for them, it is just normal. The food they eat, the way they eat it, or the way they celebrate a wedding perhaps, are just standard procedure so it doesn’t seem like a topic of great interest.
Having grown up in Hong Kong to a Chinese/Portuguese mother, and a British father who has lived in Hong Kong since 1961, I feel like I have a different perspective on the city – of someone who grew up in a family of mostly western practices and values but who was exposed to lots of Chinese cultural customs and traditions too; we celebrated Christmas with turkey and Christmas pudding, but we also had hotpot on Christmas eve and collected lai see at Chinese New Year. Perhaps it is this mixed upbringing and my parents’ eagerness to integrate me into Hong Kong culture that makes me feel like I can help other westerners get to know more about Hong Kong identity and tradition too. I hope I can build a bridge between western and Chinese culture and make it more accessible to more people so that we can all better understand and appreciate each other in our home.