Saturday, March 28, 2009

Visitors in Hong Kong

This past week has been quite different from the usual; Jordan and Luke were in HK!

On Sunday evening, Liana went with me to the airport to meet J&L. They got octopus cards for riding the MTR, and then we headed to their hostel in Tsim Shau Tsui so they could get checked in. They stayed in the Chung King Mansions on Nathan road, near quite a hustle and bustle of activity and a few minutes walk from Victoria harbor. Liana and I went inside with them, and lets just say we both vowed to never set foot in that place again! I’m glad Luke and Jordan felt safe, and I’m glad they made it through the week without getting anything stolen. I’m sure they will include some more detail about their hostel experience in their blogs, so I’ll just mention that there were hawkers on the lower level harassing people to buy tailored suits or handbags, and crazy packed elevators that only hit the even floors or the odd floors. eek. My roommate, Yuen, lent them an extra phone for the week (since the bandwidth is different here) and they just had to pick up a local sim card at 7-eleven, so that worked out great.

On Monday, I decided to skip my international business class and go to Lantau Island with J&L. I hadn’t missed a single class, and it is a lecture class that sticks closely to a power point, so I wasn’t too concerned. The big Buddha was hiding in the mist, but he said hello for a few minutes here and there. While on Lantau we hiked the wisdom path, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve done so far in HK. The wooden poles are laid out in the shape of an infinity symbol, and it seemed mysterious with the fog. We also stopped by the Po Lin monastery (pictured above), and then took a bus down the mountain to the fishing village of Tai O. There were stilt houses, old bridges, and some great views from the pier!

Tuesday rolled around and I went to class, and then Liana and I met up with J&L to head to Sha Tin and see the temple of 10,000 Buddha’s. Overall, that place was weird. Too many statues and too many Buddha’s--strange indeed. Next we went to Diamond Hill to see the Nan Lian garden and Chi Lin nunnery. I mentioned in a previous post that I missed the nunnery last time. Well, funny story, I got a little closer this time by reaching the area out front with lily pads, but the nunnery closed at 4:00 and it was 4:30. Maybe next time—third time’s a charm?

Liana and I parted ways with J&L and headed back to campus for a group project meeting, and then scheduling classes for next fall in BG. The minute my time slot opened up I added 3 with no problem. I had to email the head of the accounting department back home and request that he have his secretary add me to my fourth class, since I’m in the last pre-requisite right now and it isn’t registered in the system at the moment. To send some good PR out about Bowling Green, he responded to my request and had me enrolled in the class within 45 minutes of my email. Sigh of relief! I’m really looking forward to the layout of classes next fall. I start every morning at 9:30 and then I’m finished with class at either 11:30 or 12:45. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Ok, next day…Wednesday. After my class I met J&L at their MTR stop and we took a bus to Aberdeen and then a ferry to the Jumbo Floating restaurant for dim sum. This is a must for visitors, and we had a fun time trying to figure out what food corresponded to what we actually ordered. With the way “dim sum” works, basically 3-5 small portions come for each item that is ordered, and then everyone at the table shares the food…very traditional style of eating in the eastern parts of the world. After Jumbo, we went to Central and ended up getting visitor’s passes and going up to the 55th floor of the International Financial Center 2! It was pretty funny getting into the elevator we were directed towards, because the only buttons to pick from were G and 55. Apparently that is the only option for people not in business attire =). The view was towering over most of the other buildings around, and there was a little library and lots of info about the money and banking system in HK…pretty interesting stuff.

I'm the last door on the left..

Wednesday was an eventful day. After the IFC2, we headed to my campus and Luke and Jordan checked their emails in the coffee shop, and then we left for Kwun Tong and dinner with the Ralee’s. I’m glad they got to meet my HK “family”, as I have come to think of Bro. Rodney, Sis. Grace, and the kids. We got extreeeeemly authentic food, as Sis. Grace actually went out in front of the restaurant and pointed to the live seafood in buckets, which eventually ended up on our table.

What day comes next? Thursday? J&L spent most of their morning traveling around and visiting places like Stanley market and the Jade market, and I stayed around campus and did some essential schoolwork and went to class. Liana and I met up with them and we saw the Light show from the harbor, and then my friends Brendan and Kelly met us and we walked to Ebeneezers—my favorite Indian restaurant here…(well the only one I’ve been to).

Neither Liana or I have class on Fridays, so we all met up fairly early and went to Lamma Island for a good hike. We took the ferry for about 30 minutes and then started hiking with a loop from Sok Kwu Wan. When we got back to where we started we took the path towards the other side of the island--Yung Shue Wan. It was sprinkling for the first half of the hike, which was kinda nice, but then the rain picked up! I’ve never had a problem hiking in my Chaco sandals, but I now know that hiking for a long period of time when they are completely soaked can lead to a blister on the top of my foot...that’s gonna last for at least a week.

toxic tide from algae or dinoflagellates. I Learned about this in Marine Bio, don't eat the shellfish!

We finally made it to the place where a ferry runs back to HK, and we were completely drenched! Liana was the only one with an umbrella; the rest of us just had “water resistant” rain jackets. We were famished so we decided to stop at McDonalds after the ferry ride (they had already experienced enough traditional food at this point). When Jordan was waiting in line a worker came right up behind him and put a “wet floor” sign up by the small pool of water that he was creating. Oooops…hahahahaha, what are ya gonna do.

We all met back up later that night for a trip up the Victoria peak tram to see the city at night, but all we saw was mist…again, what are ya gonna do. I have to admit, I was a little jealous saying goodbye and knowing they would be in the US a day later. I enjoyed having company, and I know they got a cultural experience in the city where the east meets the west!

Bank of China on the left

Peak Tower

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Westerners and Diamond Hill

Say hello to my friends! Jerusha is seven and her brother, Joshua, is six. They speak English with each other and their dad, and Cantonese with their mom. (She speaks wonderful English, too) We can’t forget Mandarin though, Sis. Grace’s cousin is teaching the both of them this third language! To clarify--Mandarin is the official language in the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and Cantonese is the Chinese dialect used in Hong Kong. I’m impressed by all the bi-lingual/ tri-lingual children and adults.

The Ralee family (I go to their house for church) asked how I felt about being so different in appearance from most of the other approximately 7 million people in the city. It is interesting, and the curious looks definitely come my way, especially when I am farther from a tourist attraction or the college campus. How do I feel about it? Hmm..nothing really defined. The only time I even think about it is if I'm alone, which is basically only on Sundays. I catch mostly older people eyeing me inquisitively, and they have every right to think, “Huh, wonder what she’s doing here.”

To throw in a bonus fact, since this post is leaning towards the details--Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with an overall density of some 6,303 people per square kilometer. (Taken from the US Department of State) Wow.

Ok, back to the original topic. The family has been to the US, Ohio actually, and Jerusha has good memories and a pen pal. During our conversation over lunch she sighed contently and said, “I love westerners.” Her dad was cracking up, we all were, it was just so funny the way she said it.

minibus stop after church

I stopped at the Nin Lian garden in Diamond Hill on the way back today..and apparently managed to completely miss the attached Buddhist nunnery. The pamphlet I picked up was in Cantonese, and by the time I actually looked at it I was around a couple bends and twists in the path. I knew there was a nunnery from a sign near the MTR, but I didn’t know the bridge at the top of the "picture" led straight to it until after returning to campus. Go figure. So that ones back on the list.

very man-made but still serene

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ebeneezer's Kebob

For starters, Indian food is delicious. Amar India and Jeet are my favorite restaurants. For those not from around the Dayton area/not familiar, both of these restaurants are owned by the same family and are equally delicious. So, that being said, I was happy to read reviews of Indian restaurants in HK, and try something new. Ebeneezer's Kebob may be the best food I’ve had since arriving in Hong Kong…except it was a little spicy!

Liana and I got off the MTR at Central, took exit D2, and turned left. It only took a few minutes to find the open front, hole in the wall, Indian restaurant! I ordered my favorite, chicken tikki masala, and Liana ordered a “wrap” something or other. She is extremely intelligent, and she fit the word “mild” into her order. I, on the other hand, was expecting the spiciness to be bearable. Now I can’t remember whether I order a level two or three spiciness back home, on a scale of five. Hmm, probably a two..

It was really casual dining, where they call numbers and you return to the counter for the tray, and sit on a stool at one of the high tables. I think most people choose the take-out option. For a split second I thought, “wow—this tastes exactly the way I expected it to.” And then it hit me, I am burning…Aaaahhh! After putting out the initial fire, I cautiously tried again..

Here’s the part were things got out of hand. I was wiping a tear from my eye, when Miss Liana said “Oh No.” She sticks her shoe out from underneath the table and says, “Look.” Her lovely white tennis shoe had a new decoration, an orange spot. These shoes have a history, and in the middle of the new spot, there is already a smaller brown mark from another mishap this semester involving chocolate ice cream. At this point I was crying, trying to swallow rice, and laughing hysterically. She needed a tide-to-go pen.

Since we were already at Central on Hong Kong Island, we decided to kill some time at the IFC Mall, and stay for the eight o’clock Symphony of Lights show from another perspective. The skyline is more impressive when looking towards HK Island, but it was neat to see what the Kowloon side looks like across Victoria Harbor.

Here are some pics from the day:

This is called a junk

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thai fruit carving

Every Tuesday night there is a Thai fruit carving class right in my dorm. Basically, it is equivalent to a "residence life program," as we call them in Bowling Green. I didn’t make it last week for the tomatoes, or the week before when the apples transformed into swans. When I saw a picture of the swans, I decided to show up for class!

Here is what we did--carnations out of carrots. It seemed that the people with the thinnest slices of carrot had the best results. Mine sort of fell apart after I took a picture, but it was a hoot!