Sitting pretty at home on Hong Kong’s Southside

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This article originally appeared in Expat Living Magazine.


Justine Campbell is something of a veteran expat, having lived all over Asia. Now ensconced in a new home in Chung Hom Kok on Hong Kong’s Southside, she talks everything from Japanese cuisine and the hidden messages in art, to a special dog called Mintie.

You’ve chosen to live in Asia for over half of your life: ten years in Japan, stints in Thailand, Indonesia and India, and almost nine years in Hong Kong. What keeps drawing you back to the East?

From early on, there was something about the Orient that fascinated me, and today my Asian friends joke that I’m sometimes more Asian than they are! Growing up in Sydney in the 1980s, everyone was given the choice of studying French, German or Japanese at school, and I chose to study Japanese, eventually completing higher qualifications in the subject in Australia and Japan. I went to work for BMW in Tokyo and the longer I stayed, the more deeply I fell in love with the country. My husband Shaun is currently Managing Director of the Hong Kong Langham Hotel, and many of our stints in Asia have been due to his postings in various hotels – they’ve all been fascinating, but I’m particularly passionate about Japan. I speak fluent Japanese, I’m an expert when it comes to sushi, and everyone in our family adores Japanese food: in fact, I’ve just arrived back from a trip with a 50kg suitcase of tofu, rice balls, seafood, drinking yoghurt, miso soup and seaweed! We bought a house in Niseko four years ago, and we spend a lot of time there as a family: we all love it.

The eclectic style in which you’ve decorated your Southside home in Chung Hom Kok certainly reflects the time you’ve spent living in different cultures: which pieces are your favourite?

It’s true there are pieces of furniture from a host of different countries: opium chairs from Thailand; an antique cabinet from San Cabo in the US; a dining table we originally bought in Australia for our warehouse apartment and shipped over – it’s constructed from recycled railway boards! There are also a good few pieces from Hong Kong, including bedside cabinets I found at Bowerbird, and a beautiful table in the living room from Red Cabinet.

My favourite pieces, though, are the artworks – I love art, but it has to have a special meaning for me, and every painting in the house speaks to different experiences, places or periods of my life. The artwork in the hall by the front door, for example, is a kid dressed up, with a peg on his nose and a rubbish tin on his head, but everyone sees something slightly different. You have to look at it really closely to work it out, but the message behind the painting is to remember the inner child! In the living room, above the sofa, the Chinese characters carved in wood are symbols of the heart and the crane: the thrust is that no matter what happens in your life, and the storms that come your way, the crane and the heart must remain strong.

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