Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's not the Destination, It's the Journey

Jeff turned 21 recently. What did he want to do for his birthday?  No, not some dinner at some swanky restaurant or a trip to Disneyland Hong Kong. Jeff wanted to go here:
Just what does it take to get there?  Let's have a look, shall we?

Yea, it was a good thing we love the ocean or else we probably would have beaten the Birthday boy up.
Oh wait, we did.  But only out of love because we had a fun fun day!


What is a signal 8?

Last Tuesday, I awoke to the sound of a distant alarm.  It sounded like a cross between a fire alarm and a construction one.  I thought it weird but was distracted because of the gray skies staring out at me from my windows. (I <3>

Boarding the bus was a strange experience because there were no seats to fight for, no lines formed; there were just not that many people traveling.

Fortunately for me, right as I got under the shelter of my classroom, the rain began to pour, the wind began to blow.  Within minutes, there was a mini flood on the floor.

I was so confused as I have never been caught in the middle of a typhoon while going to school before. I asked my classmates, "what do you do?"

Here is further proof of HKU's poor administration system. No one knew. Some guessed that you would stay home if the typhoon is signal 8. When asked how I would get my hands on that information, they said to watch TV. What if I couldn't get to a TV? Online, but no one knew the website.

I go home early because I was afraid the buses would stop running later on in the day as it was rumored that we were going to hit a signal 8 typhoon.  

I get home and this was the destruction that greeted me.

Nonetheless, we at R.C. Lee Hall had a high table dinner to get to. So off we went to eat a better than usual dinner and mix and mingle with other fellow residents.  Outside, it may look like this...
But inside the safety of Bayview restaurant, we were having a grand ol' time checking each other out all dressed in black...

After a far too long speech by the warden and hall introductions (5 hours total!) We headed back to our beds, soaked and tired.

The next day, I still wasn't sure how to check whether I was going to class or not. Some lucky students had emails sent to them by their faculty telling them to stay home but I had not gotten anything from my faculty.  So I phone them.  Because no one picked up, I assumed that I would also have the morning off.  However, when I messaged a friend and found she was going to class, I got worried and called the specific department my class was under.  Turns out I did have class!  And only 10 minutes to get there!

Hong Kong University's lack of clear communication irks me to no end. It's hard enough being in a foreign country and not speaking the language but as a school, you should have some responsibility in informing us important, public messages. (Like...oh, say...a typhoon?)

Big Buddha

If you've ever been on the road to or from the Hong Kong International airport, you've probably passed by this Hong Kong landmark.  One Sunday a couple of weeks ago, (the weeks just fly by like flies here!) we climbed many a stairs to stare at this beauty.  It was swell.  I would have more to say but I'm kind of behind on posts.  So, greetings from Hong Kong from the Big Buddha and I!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Temple Street

Hong Kong has shopping EVERYWHERE. No matter which corner you turn, which sites you visit, which MTR stop you get off at, there are shops galore.  

Temple street is the most well-known night market in this shopper's paradise so of course it was time to pay a visit and see if the place lived up to its title.  

We started the night off with a delicious seafoody meal in an outdoor restaurant.  
It was there that we enjoyed receiving live (still squirming!) seafood...
...turn into dead seafood...
...turn into food in our mouths.  Yum yum!

After came time to browse and bargain.  
In our case, it was to get yelled at by vendors.  For bargaining, for touching the merchandise, for breathing, for stopping at their stalls. We got yelled at for everything.  It was not a very pleasant shopping experience, I must say. Instead, we walked away with only a poster each to decorate our rooms.  How's that Titanic one working out for ya, Jenn?

We also caught street karaoke players crooning their hearts out to canto songs and fortune tellers lining the streets, eager to tell you what your hearts desire.

Or in my case, rather something my heart didn't desire to hear.  Basically, the tarot card reader we went and told my friend and I that we were going to be "bored and unhappy and miserable"(her exact words!)  for the next six months of my life because no matter how many guy friends I have, they will all not be the one for me.  If I flinged, they'd be flung.  As if!  I don't need a guy to be happy.  (Whoa, that sounded so "independent woman" there)  In fact, for the past couple of weeks, I've been proving her predictions wrong.  Fun and happiness can be had with or without your soul mate.

So that was Temple Street.  Not really worth the hype. Though I did thoroughly enjoy the companionship of Jeffrey and Jennifer.  Us three J's had a blast during dinnertime.  It was one of those goofy, heartfelt, genuine dinners where all three parties just really got along.  I don't think I had laughed so hard in such a long time.  Everyone else must have been so envious of the fun we were having or assumed we were drunk.  Cheers to more great dinners!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

They're out to get my Blood!

I took a little nap today, hoping to rejuvenate my spirits and instead, woke up to find these monstrosities on my face.  
And on my arms.
You don't even want to see my legs.

Macau: Go Big or Go Home

I guess we went home.  

After an astounding, unbelievably lucky stroke of winning round after round of "Sic Bo" (a die game where you basically bet on whether the dice will bee a large number or a small one), I came up so strong that I became cocky about my spot-on predictions that I dropped-and lost-$200 within 2 minutes.  Undeterred, the next day, I was determined to make back my money. That day never came but we did have a blast exploring Macau, the gambling capital of the world.  

losing all your money in a hotel called "Wynn" is no fun.

The Portuguese part of Macau

Chitchatting by the ruins of St. Paul, or rather, what's left of it (which is just a single wall)

We really loved the dancing dragons.

They always said imitation is the best form of flattery.


As much as I love Chinese food, the American girl in me was really craving some good ol' fashioned Western cuisine. And no, not the kind that Cafe De Corral tries to pass off nor the kind that McDonald's reliably shells out to millions of customers each day.  The Portuguese part of Macau (the part with the historical significance and lack of casinos) really brought it.  We dined at "Resturante Vela Latina" and walked away filling full-if not fighting with the pesky dwarf in our tummies-if you catch my drift. (And it's not a very fragrant one).

Janice and I were delighted to find CHEESE on our menu. WE LOVE CHEESE!

My most delicious African Spring chicken-a Portuguese specialty.  Sides include french fries and actual fresh vegetables?  HEAVEN...

Among the other dishes ordered included fried rice baked into a pineapple and amazing chicken/fish topped with cheese.  They even served their rice in the shape of a heart! What's not to love?

Good food, good company, good gambling...I can't believe I went to the Asia Las Vegas before I did the real one.  Anyone want to plan a *surprise* welcome back party for me in Sin City?  ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A purchase of a "Prayer is the Key" token at my campus bookstore spurred my roommate and I to a two hour discussion at our local coffee shop. It was the type of scenario I had always dreamt I would have in college; sitting in the local coffee shop, discussing life, hearing different ideas being said about the world, expressing my own ideas.  I just never thought that it would be about my spirituality.

For the last year, I have taken steps toward enriching my spiritual side and investigating the workings of believing there's a higher being who created us, is guiding us.  I've gone to my friend's Friday night bible studies and discovered that there exists Christians who dispel previous stereotypes I have had of the group.  I've had many a chats and talks with my Christian and non-Christian friends and family.  

I've been lucky to have been touched by God and have felt a life with him.  Because this world is constantly craving labels for everything, I suppose the label I would have to give myself at this moment of my life is "spiritual" but not Christian.  I'm not because I haven't yet fully given my faith to Jesus Christ yet and until I do so, I do not want to go around pretending to be someone I don't think I completely am yet.  However, I can say that he has brought me fulfillment, a sense of peace and a sense of belonging that I had never felt before.  

I'm not very eloquent at expressing my beliefs.  I've come to discover this when having my talk with my roommate.  She, a staunch atheist, would ask me questions that I'd blubber and stammer to explain.  "It's just a feeling," I'd say.  "What is this feeling?" she'd ask and I'd be stumped again.  Sometimes I got what I was trying to express across and sometimes I think she understood but a lot of the times, I would just get frustrated because we were completely having an "apples and oranges" conversation.  Sometimes she said very unbelievably snobby and naive things that made me all the more realize what ignorance can do to someone.  I tried my best to explain my current situation to her and to talk to her about what changes I've undergone in the last year but I don't think she would even have a tenth of an idea of what I'm talking about until she can experience it for herself.

I was very grateful for our talk because it made me realize all the more ignorant I still am about God.  I still have so much more to learn, so much more changes to go through.  Perhaps next time when I talk to my roommate, I would be able to clearly explain to her my spirituality.

That's also why I haven't posted anything about my journey with God in here until now.  I've never really known what to write and how to say it.  

Now back to that pesky little conversation starter of a prayer key.  I think I'm at the point in my trip where I'm getting really home-sick. I never thought it would happen to me since I've stayed here for a bit before, have had family here and am such a nomad but I got hit with the bug.  I'm trying to bide my time with constant phone calls to home and reading a lot but nothing's been really helping.  I just wanna go home and hang out with my grandparents.  Hence, I pray that everybody at home is doing well and will only get better. I pray that I get over my homesickness since I will be here for four more months no matter what and that I just cherish the time I have here while it lasts.  I pray that I will strengthen my relationship with God and that he will guide me as I truly live alone for the first time in my life. (Aunts and cousins who live ten minutes away do not count!)  I pray that I will stop missing you, you and especially you so much.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kowloon/New Territory Tour

Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed off on a tour of that "other" island of Hong Kong: Kowloon.  

Hong Kong is divided up into two sides; Hong Kong Island which is full of rich people, the finance center, and big city life.  The Kowloon side is full of bigger space, more average Joe's (I say average because Hong Kong overall is very well off) and cheap shops and eateries.  

Because Hong Kong University is located at Hong Kong Island, we went over to the other side to check out how they live.  
Our tour was conducted by this annoying and booooring tour guide who would turn the most fascinating stories into a snooze-fest.  It would be okay but she kept expecting us to pay complete attention to her (which was impossible because, SHE'S BORING) and when we didn't, she would call us out.  Lady, this is not class, this is not a lecture, we PAID for this tour. We'll talk if we want to! (Ok, that sounded mean but she really was mean and boring) 

First stop was at Yuen Po Street's local flower and bird market.  We got a taste of some pretty local flowers...

and then flew over to the array of colorful and noisy birds.

One even came home with me. I named him Oliver. Oliver MacArthur. =)
It then started to rain.  Fitting because the next stop was Wetlands museum, where we immersed ourselves in the scientific and national geographic of Hong Kong.

My final destination (I say "my" because even though the tour bus headed onto Tsim Sha Tsui, I left early to eat dinner with my family) brought us to the Wong Sai Tin Temple.  

It was a very beautiful and peaceful place but completely touristy.  Sigh...when I was in Europe, the churches and cathedrals there were also completely run over by tourists.  This place as well. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Overall, a very productive tour. I got to see a lot of the parts of Hong Kong that I had not seen before when I came two years ago.  I missed the next day one cause I slept in but no worries, Four months of discovering this place will leave me a pro in no time!