Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lantau Island

Yesterday, Liana and I decided to explore Lantau Island and finally see the “Big Buddha.” We got all the way to the Island riding the MTR and then headed right around the corner from the station to get in line for the Ngong Ping Cable Car ride. This was a 25-minute ride over beautiful scenery up into the mountains. (Your computer screen isn't dirty, it was the glass window =)The 85-foot high Tian Tan Buddha statue appeared in the distance and we were soon back on solid ground and ready to explore. After some spaghetti, which was delicious by the way, we followed the crowd and started ascending Buddha’s steps.

My final paper in a “history of architecture” class entailed researching "ascendance" in both the ancient and modern world. I was definitely aware of the effects of such a grand staircase while I was the little tourist climbing up. Besides the function of being stairs, there was aesthetic and religious meaning embedded in the journey.

The view from the platform at the back of the statue was stunning. The South China Sea was in the distance, and little islands appeared in the haze as the horizon faded into the sky. I had one of those moments where everything sort of stops, and I just stood there and took it all in. Truly Beautiful.

We also went to the Po Lin Monastery and checked that out, but I can’t really think of anything to blog about for that stop…

When we were ready to return to Tung Chung on the cable car, the line wrapped through the street and a sign at the end said, “approximate queuing time from here to boarding--60 minutes.” We got in line and pretty soon after a guy walked by with a sign for the express line, where you volunteer to stand up for the whole ride. The wait time was 5-10 minutes!! After a wee bit of coercion I convinced Liana that it would be totally worth it, and it was!

We didn’t get a chance to go to Tai O, on the NW side of the island. This town is famous for being a fishing town with a bunch of stilt houses. So, we have a reason to go back to Lantau Island!

As a small edit to a previous blog...there are no llama's on Lamma Island. I spelled it like the animal =D

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The year of the ox

My friend Celia is one of the student ambassadors for HKBU who picked international students up at the airport, and helped us feel welcome. She sent a text to some of us yesterday, and it reads:

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! “Kung Hei Fat Choi” is a phrase that we use to say to each other most frequently in the new year, it means “Hope you can be rich in all aspects”, now I give this phrase to you with my best wishes =)

So there you have it, “Kung Hei Fat Choi.” If you fold your hands together in front of you and raise them slightly up and down while saying the phrase, you can pull it off. Traditionally, little children are given small red packets with a newly minted coin inside. I was given two!! Although, my coins were chocolate=)

Last night I went to the Chinese New Year parade. I read online that a front row viewing requires a 2-hour early arrival! My group got there about 1.5 hours before the parade, and I was in about the fourth row, give or take some elbows. By the time the parade started, there was a sea of people and I had been standing on the same little square of concrete for what seemed like a very long time. My last memory like this was when our 43rd President stopped in the Troy square and said hello during his “four more years” campaign. After an hour and a half of parade viewing (we are at 3 hours here folks) Whitney was ready to call it a day AND talking about herself in third person. Crowds have never been her favorite way to pass the time.

The parade started from the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and ended up at the New World Centre, which she was directly across from. Ok, ok, I’ll stop that. There were some cool drummers that marched by, and quite a few interesting floats and such.

Tonight continued the festivities with fireworks near the harbor. Again, there was quite a crowd, but not as crazy as the night before, since people weren’t pushing to see. I am still not used to the aggressive ways of the city. People walk straight towards me and I feel like I am always getting out of their way. Some has to yield or there will be a collision!

The rows behind me at the beginning of the parade.

Herding into the MTR station after the fireworks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The museum and the black hole

There are no classes this coming week due to the Chinese New Year holidays! I’m hoping to do a bit of traveling and go on day trips to Macau, Lantao Island, and maybe Ocean Park to see the pandas!

Today marked my first museum visit in HK. The Hong Kong Museum of Art had collections of Chinese fine art, Chinese antiquities, Contemporary Hong Kong art, and a gallery of Chinese painting and calligraphy. After getting in for the student price of about 3 US quarters, Liana and I headed to the fourth floor and worked our way down. It was interesting to see things from the Tang, Qing, and Shang dynasties. This art museum was very different from ones I have been to in the past. There were no impressionistic paintings and no Mark Rothko or Picasso to be seen. We enjoyed soaking up this different sort of history and culture.

I must admit we weren't all that thrilled by some of the modern art. Sometimes, it takes a special kind of person to really appreciate strange sculptures, and a dark room with eerie music and a film of a tiger walking around on all four walls. Oh goodness. There was one room in the modern art exhibit that really struck me though. The walls, floor, and ceiling were white, and there was a bit of a “black light” glow in the room. The only thing on a wall was at the far end, and was a dark tunnel looking sculpture that extended inward past the wall, ending in a small dark hole. I felt like it was sucking me in--a rather strange feeling. Plus I wanted to stick my hand in the hole; I wonder if any museum patrons have tried.

Check this out--I am getting technologically savvy and putting titles right by the photos =)

The Museum-go figure..

A street view-notice the 7-eleven, they are everywhere!

Decorations for the Chinese New Year

Monday, January 19, 2009


My brother inquired about a photo I took of some citrus fruit on Llama Island, and I didn’t know what it was. Well, at the store I saw a package of them (labeled Kam Quat) for sale. I figured I would try it for $11.3…and before you think I am an extravagant spender, remember this is HK$. It’s equivalent to about $1.46 US after conversion. I still have sticker shock--$100?!! Oh, that’s about 13 bucks.

The interesting thing is that a friend told me to eat the peel. Apparently, it is so thin that it doesn’t have that strong taste like an orange peel. After washing the fruit in water we are allowed to brush our teeth with (but are advised not to drink) I gave it a try. I can affirm that eating the entire thing is pretty good. As far as the water situation goes, there is a purifier in the lounge on each floor—so I’m set for liquidation.

On a different note, I learned today in International Business that Coca-Cola translates in Mandarin into two symbols, which mean “delicious” and “makes you happy.” The sound is roughly ho-how, ho-low. This was a fantastic brand name to choose and a great marketing scheme when created. Most brands get lost in translation.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Symphony of Lights

Last night, I went with a few friends to the Avenue of The Stars promenade, on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. At 8:00 PM every night, there is a laser light show across Victoria harbor called Symphony of the Lights. I really enjoyed being by the water, seeing the twinkling lights on the buildings, and watching the show. Plus, we stopped and got coffee, which is always delicious.

This morning, I got up at 8, packed a lunch, and got on a bus with a group to Central, where a boat took us to Llama Island. Don’t get my wrong, I love roller coasters, but the rocking of the boat from side to side messed with my equilibrium. I was feeling a bit nauseous, but was soon distracted by the beauty around me, and feeling better. We perched on some rocks near the water for a while, and then hiked over to the south side of the Island. It was only about 50 minutes of hiking, and the views out over the water were simply breathtaking. God sure has a knack for beauty.

It was nice to see a different side of Hong Kong today; there are a lot of “faces” to experience. I’m referring to things such as the college campus, crowded and busy city streets, the fancy upscale malls, the financial and business district, AND the nature. I’m assuming you know me if you are reading this, so you’ll know that the crazy “nightlife” is not on my list.

On a different note, I am excited to learn how to knit mittens. I can follow patterns with crochet, and knit pretty basic stitches, but mittens?? That’s for the pros. Fortunately, Liana is just that. We went to a shop on the 14th floor of a building the other day, and there were rows of “ceiling to floor” shelves of yarn. My Grandma would love this store. I have purple yarn sitting on my desk, just waiting to fulfill it’s calling.

Lets see, the photos include Llama Island, the symphony of lights, and the yarn store.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Here's a picture of Jackie Chan's studio, and a picture from a footbridge near campus!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let the semester begin

Culture shock is setting in. I got up super early to add a class in Academic Registration, all the way on the other side of campus. Before this, though, I needed approval from the dean’s office of the business school. I got there at 7:55, and found out the office opened at 9. Finally, at 9:07 they told me to turn in my papers and come back in an hour. I replied “I’ll wait right here.” After that whole fiasco, I was told it would be ok to walk in late on the first day, so I headed to class and sat in the 2nd row, to the sound of a professor speaking in Chinese, and a room full of students that went “ooooh (because of the language thing)”

Mr. Wong asked if I was in the right class, switched to English speaking, and asked if I had the notes off of “moodle,” which is like blackboard back home. I said no, and some kind person passed an extra copy down to me. Cost accounting then carried on to a review of production budgets and direct materials usage..blah blah blah. I liked the class, but I didn’t have my calculator when we did examples. During the break (3 hour class) he asked if I would mind switching to his Tuesday section, since other international students would be there. I didn’t mind at all—as long as he force added me, because there were no spots left. He seemed to think it was worth it, so he could speak in Chinese on Mondays. This means I get to re-do the entire class tomorrow.

Ok, so class number two. This was international business, and others from my home university were enrolled as well. We sat near each other, and tried to pay attention to the professor, with the overwhelming sound of murmuring coming from ALL the rows behind us. Apparently, people here don’t mind whispering during the entire class. I thought I was coming to a culture that would pay attention and be quiet during lectures. I rested my hand over one ear, and turned the other to catch the lecture. We were all getting frustrated, to the point where I was about to laugh. I had to dig my fingernails into my palm to counteract the “laughing in a socially unacceptable situation” feeling. (Just like choir back in high school =) Anyways, I will be migrating to the first or second row for the rest of the semester.

As you can tell by this point, absolutely no exploring took place today. I am collecting things I will laugh about in the future.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

First day on the MTR

Today was really fun. Liana and I (we are pals now) ventured out into the city in search of power adapters. She had researched a place on HK Island that sells a bunch of computer/technology type stuff, and let me tell you, there was a bunch! We hopped on the MTR after hesitating because it looked full. Well, let me tell you (again), it was not full yet. After us, at least 5 more people jammed in. I felt like a sardine. Fortunately, we were off soon to transfer to another line. I have decided that underground transportation systems are the niftiest thing ever. Whoever engineered the first one was a genius.

After purchasing a second adapter, we went to Kowloon, where we stumbled upon a beautiful park in the city. There was a man wading around in the pond, and fishing leaves into his net. It looked like a fun job.

Classes start on Monday, so I am sure these posts are going to appear less frequently. I’m only adding one class in the drop/add period, which will bring me to a total of 12 credit hours. I had hoped for 15, but it will be nice to feel less stress while in such an incredible location. (Yes, I could add a random class; No, I don’t want to). Most accounting classes here are too “China specific” it seems. This means that my final semester will consist of 18 hours, 12 of which are accounting classes. I suppose it will be neat to see all of the subject matter run together. I’m trying to think positive here. Maybe I will sleep on my textbooks and hope for some osmosis.

Anyhow, I am going to call it a night. There are no textbooks yet!

Photos include Kowloon Park, a city street(can't remember which one), and the Wan Chai MTR station.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tour of HK

What a day!

All the international students met this morning at 9:15, boarded 3 busses, and headed to Wong Tai Sin Temple. We were told that many people go to the temple twice a year, once to ask the gods for something, and once to thank the gods for granting their requests. There were people carrying incense above their heads, and kneeling in the temple. My friend Kelly and I were a bit concerned that someone was going to light our hair on fire, but that crisis was averted thank goodness.

Next, we went to the jade market, which was really neat. I bought a bracelet for about $5 US after practicing my bartering skills. It was crazy seeing rows and rows of booths selling jade products. Everybody was ready to sell something, and sharing the price on their calculators. It kind of caught me off guard when one guy just said hi and sat there. I wanted to buy something from him, but I’d already made my purchase.

We left the jade market and headed to the peak, which was quite a view. I will most certainly be going back to the peak for an evening view sometime. (not alone--don’t worry =) It’s so nice being in HK for a few months, because I don’t feel rushed to get all the sightseeing packed into a week. After snapping a bunch of photos we were off to Aberdeen, to take the restaurant shuttle boat over to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant for Dim Sum. I believe this is the largest floating restaurant in the world. It was amazing on the outside AND inside. Again, I want to see this place at night.

After this, we went to Repulse bay and walked on the beach for a bit. I snapped a photo of Jacky Chan’s house on the side of a mountain! The last stop was Stanley Market, a must for tourists. I got a red and gold Pashmina (scarf) and a change purse for the mass amounts of change that seems to be accumulating in my bag. My friend Ao Siqiao from Mainland China wanted an English name, so Kelly and Brendan suggested Austin and it stuck.

I’m gonna call it a day on the blogging, because this is getting rather lengthy!

Oh, tricked you, I have one more thing to share! So, supper tonight was interesting. Liana and I ordered food, and I picked fish filet or something similar to that. Little did I know I would get A FISH-scales and all. We could not stop laughing because Herb (the fish) was staring at her across the table. This required the use of a fork rather than chopsticks, but he was pretty tasty! Ok then, that is all!

Photos uploaded in reverse order...Bay by Stanley Market, a few of us at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, Shuttle boat, View from the peak (note the IFC2 where batman appeaered), and Wong Tai Sin Temple!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fuji Apple flavored mentos

That's right, I picked up fuji apple flavored mentos AND grape mentos at the store today. Who knew such a thing even existed!

The flight to HK was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing. A bunch of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU-commonly referred to as BU) students picked our group of 9 students up at the airport and took us to "BU." We've been in orientation for the last 2 days, and tomorrow is a tour of the city-woohoo!

Last night I went to a supermarket with a few other students, and that was definitely a new experience. As soon as I picked out a pillow and pillowcase, a woman gave me a slip of paper and took my stuff away! (I think they get commission) Then I had to pick a bedspread, and I knew it wouldn't match the pillowcase that had disappeared to the counter. I proceeded to the counter intending to take the case and go find a new one--that was plain confusing. After much description using gestures and made up sign language (on my part) she relinquished the pillowcase into my hands. I can now rest in peace (pun intended =) as everything matches.

This evening I went to a mall called Festival Wok with my new friend Liana. All I can say is wow. The walk was about ten minutes from campus, and the mall was incredible. We were on a mission to get Octopus cards for riding the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and cheap cell phones and a sim card. Our mission was accomplished pretty smoothly, with the sim card coming from a little 7-eleven booth on the street. I also got a sweet denim skirt from H&M out of the trip. The mall was massive with seven stories and a gazillion escalators. We finally got used to the escalators going up on the left, until one of them was randomly the opposite. Whoops, we nearly had a crisis!

The first pic is of the crazy escalators, and the second was taken from my bedroom window.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Angel

This little angel is making its rounds! In 1998, Laura Smith gave the angel to Allison DeHart before she left for studies in Cambridge. Allison gave it to Beth Beane before she went to Yellowstone for a summer, and Beth passed the angel on to Dana Voris (now Leonard) when she studied in London. Next, Dana gave it to Amy Beane when she studied in New Zealand, and Amy gave the angel to Rachel DeHart when she did an internship in Washington DC. Just tonight, Rachel passed it on to me with a sweet note of encouragement about my travels. Thank the Lord for wonderful family, friends, and the presence of heavenly angels in my life. I’m leaving early Monday morning for Hong Kong. I’ll update when I get all settled in.