Back in July I reviewed Jonathan Fenby’s memoir Dealing with the Dragon: A Yearin the New Hong Kong. The subject of this post is also a memoir by a Westerner who spent a year living and working in that city. But this memoir is a bit different. Whereas Fenby served as editor of the South Morning Post newspaper and spent his time wandering the city’s corridors of power and rubbing elbows interviewing the local movers and shakers the author of Hong Konged: One Modern American Family’s (Mis)adventures in the Gateway to China recalls the adventures of him and his wife as the they try to navigate the challenges of living in Hong Kong with three young children. The result is a book that I found to be a bit short on substance, but long on laughs.
The most humorous parts of the memoir are those dealing with the Hanstedt family’s encounters with the local cuisine and the author’s surprise when his formerly picky children suddenly develop a new-found appreciation for local delicacies like fish ball soup, chicken feet and the like. Handstedt also recalls his oldest son’s adventures at a local grade school (a not so “top flight” school which seemed to attract the slightly troubled children of foreign residents) and his attempts to avoid being bullied. Taking advantage of Hong Kong’s close proximity to not just China but East Asia as a whole, Hanstedt’s memoir also covers the family’s travels in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed to learn that this is more a book about parenting than an in-depth look at Hong Kong’s culture and society. However, I wasn’t be too disappointed because I found Hanstedt’s memoir to be a fast-paced and well-written book. It also made me chuckle out loud a number of times. Therefore, while Hong Konged wasn’t everything I wanted it to be it definately made me laugh. And that’s never a bad thing.