After eating lunch today with my aunt, I retired back to the apartment and took a nap because I only slept 5 hours the night before. There is a construction site right beside my building so it gets noisy around 7AM.
Earlier in the day I had texted Edwin’s friend Ern to see if he wanted to hang out today. He told me that he’d call around between 2:30-4PM but by the time 4 o’clock rolled around I still hadn’t heard from him. I decided to go out to walk around on my own this time.
I chose to walk over to the Ladies Market street which is an outdoor market similar to the one I went to with Edda the other day. I didn’t like this market as much as I did the one on Fa Yuen (flower garden) road. The quality of the products being sold wasn’t as high and there were even more counterfeit goods here. I was however amused to see a couple lingerie booths which sold novelty underwear such as elephant trunk thongs for men. I was tempted to pick a couple up as joke gifts for friends but I felt rather embarrassed even entering those stalls.
After wandering through this area, I made my way over to Langham Place again because I wanted to take a picture at the top of the mall. (16 floors is pretty impressive!) I never actually got that far because I receieved a text from Ern saying that he might not be able to meet with me because he was at Langham Place with a friend of his. Speak of coincidences eh? I called him to let him know I was in the same mall in case he wanted to meet up and so we did.
Ern, his friend Joyce, and I walked around Langham Place for a bit and chatted all the way. The two of them went to school together in Hong Kong so that is how they knew each other. It seems as if all the people I’ve been meeting lately are friends of friends and have never met before in real life. Way to hook me up with “strangers” guys! However the people that I’ve met have all treated me really well. I keep worrying that I’m intruding too much in their lives though.
After Langham we went over to the arcade located near Mong Kok station. I was disappointed to see that there were no Tekken or SCIV cabs there but there were plenty of other games! Unfortunately I couldn’t snap too many pictures because there were quite a few people there. Ern played a game of SFIV while Joyce and I watched on and I would’ve gotten in on the action were I more competent at the game. We then walked around the mall upstairs which is chock full of cute tiny stores selling women’s clothing. It felt like a mini version of Pmall to be quite honest.
Finally we split up after exploring the mall because I had to get back to the pharmacy to eat with my aunt and uncle. Amy #2 once again cooked a great meal and it was nice to eat with them in the store despite the table being squished into a tiny corner. It was nice eating dinner with them because I had an opportunity to practice more Cantonese! I did get laughed at once in a while for poor pronounciation or for mixing up the words but it was all in good fun. I really hope that by the time I leave for Canada, I’ll have a better grasp of the language.
Ughhh I somehow accidentally deleted almost this entire post while trying to edit in pictures. I have no idea how it saved it like this either. I don’t feel like retyping the entire entry so I’m just going to shorten it. Bullet points ftw!
Today was a day of many firsts. I met up with a complete stranger to hang out with her and her friends. I rode Hong Kong’s subway system (MTR). I took a ferry ride over to Lantau Island. I went out and about in a foreign city without having my family around. I had minimal anxiety today and no panic attacks even though I assumed they would occur.
The MTR here is pretty gdlk. If you were to compare the MTR vs. TTC, it would be like having Charizard vs. Blastoise. Even though you’d think Charizard is at a disadvantage, he is just badass enough to pull through and blow you away. And boy, was I surprised at how awesome the MTR is.
For starters, the stations are spotless. This is due to the fact that no food or drink is allowed in any of the areas where you pay to be in the station. So not on the trains, the platforms, etc. The platforms are entirely encased in glass so it prevents that annoying gust of wind that accompanies the train when entering the station. I was so happy to see that the handles you can hold onto when standing on the train are comfortably within reach for me. Thanks for considering my short asian stature MTR!
The most interesting thing I noticed about the trains is that there are no invidual cars. The train is just one long compartment so you can walk down the entire length of it. When I noticed this, I just wanted to start a game of tag or something. Perhaps conduct sprinting races. Oh the possibilities!
Continuing on, we met up with 4 more of Alida’s friends and then boarded the ferry that took us to Discovery Bay. DB is located on Lantau Island and is about a 20 minute ride from Hong Kong Island. The only way to access DB is by ferry or by bus. According to Lily, residents of DB aren’t allowed to own cars so the air here is supposed to be much cleaner than in HK Island or Kowloon.
After arriving we ended up going to lunch at a restaurant called “Ebeneezer’s”. While the name does seem to imply that the portions will be stingy, the food here was pretty good. You can’t really go wrong with a chicken gyro!
Once we finished eating we walked around the outdoor crafts show. Unfortunately it started to pour rain shortly after we began to browse so we had to wait about an hour until the rain let up to continue looking.
Cutting this recap short because: 1) I’m still a little annoyed at how more than 2/3 of this post dissappeared earlier. 2) I’m falling asleep at the keyboard.
Overall it was a fantastic day and I had a lot of fun meeting new people and wandering around Discovery Bay. I definitely still need to to adjust to the humid weather here and be prepared to tote an umbrella with me from now on!
Here is my account of day 2 in Hong Kong (Jay, learn to count).
After eating breakfast, reading some of that monstrous book, and taking a nap, I went to dim sum with my family at the mall nearby. God I wish I had a camera with me, dim sum here is far superior to anything I can get in Toronto. More variety too! My Auntie Seven (aka Edda, she is uncle Mike’s youngest sister) and her son joined us as well.
After eating, our group split up and Edda and I went shopping in the Mong Kok district. This area is popular with both locals and tourists as there are outdoor markets where everything is dirt cheap. I don’t think I saw anything over $20CDN here and that includes items such as dresses, shirts, shoes, jeans, jewellery, etc. The only downside to shopping here is that there are no change rooms so you have to just make educated guesses about whether or not it fits you. However even if it doesn’t fit, it’s not like you’re blowing a lot of money on these clothes anyway! Despite having difficulty navigating my way through the crowd, I had a great time here. (Good thing I’m not claustrophobic!)
Edda taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know about shopping in HK. For instance, if you see something on the rack, you can go and ask a salesperson to see if they have any new ones in stock. That way you can purchase a product that hasn’t been touched by hundreds of cheap asians and tourists. Often shopkeepers will cut off clothing labels so that customers won’t know where the clothes are coming from (especially with sample sale sizes). It was also great to see her haggling with some of the shopkeepers. She encouraged me to try so I could practice my Cantonese, but I’m pretty sure the salespeople can tell from my poor accent that I’m a noob. I’ll just get white taxed instead of getting any bargains. I’m really happy I got to spend the afternoon with her though, I was able to practice my Canto and expand my vocabulary.
After the outdoor market adventure, we wandered over to a mall called “Langham Place”. God damn, the malls here are beautiful but this one in particular blew my mind. I believe there are 15 floors and at the top of the mall, there is a viewing area where you could look down and see straight to the bottom. Again, I regret not having a camera with me so that you internet folks can share in my experiences too. Unfortunately the stores here were rather pricey so I just window shopped. I didn’t have a chance to check out the arcade but I’ll go another time! It is only about a 10 minute walk from where I’m staying anyway.
That about sums up how I spent my day. Tomorrow I’m meeting up with Jay’s friend Alida to go to a craft fair over in Discovery Bay. It’ll be my first time taking the MTR (Hong Kong’s subway system). I’m glad that I’m meeting up with her first otherwise I’m sure I’d get lost!
I better start toting around an umbrella as typhoon season is starting. Hopefully the weather will be nicer tomorrow because it was raining pretty hard tonight.
PS. I apologize if my grammer, spelling, and whatnot is off. Pretty tired after walking around all day and I’m still jetlagged.
I meant to write this entry up last night but the lack of sleep that I got on the airplane finally caught up with me.
Despite the fact that both Hong Kong and Toronto are considered to be both modern urban cities, there are still quite a few major differences. Most notably the fact that this city is crowded. I’m not exaggerating when I say that people are packed like sardines in the apartment buildings here. Everywhere you look there are buildings towering over you. Everywhere you look there are people walking along the street. Toronto feels so quiet in comparison.
I also have to remember to look right first instead of left when crossing streets as the street system and cars here are modelled after those in the UK. Ignoring everything I learned about street safety in Kindergarten is going to be difficult.
Honestly, the thing I’m having the most trouble with is the currency. Right now the exchange rate is about $1CDN = $7.5HKD. While out at lunch with my Aunt Linda yesterday, I got a little bit of sticker shock when I saw that the meals were priced at $42! Needless to say, I’m going to have to ensure I have my iTouch on me at all times to do quick calculations when purchasing things.
Speaking of which, I had the opportunity to work in my aunt/uncle’s pharmacy last night. I (re)met my uncle Mike’s brother who is named “Uncle Five” since he is the 5th born child in their family. I just called him uncle though! He remembers me when I came to visit Hong Kong when I was five years old but I have no recollection of him. In fact, I don’t really recall anything from that trip.
They joked to me that I had to work for my room and board which I am perfectly fine doing! I’m sure that by the time I leave, I’ll know my numbers really well since I was giving out change and whatnot. However I had to keep deflecting questions from customers because my Cantonese still isn’t quite good enough yet. I think it’s because my vocabulary is on par with that of a primary school student.
I’m pretty sure this entry is rather messy, jumbled, and doesn’t flow well but I blame it all on my restless sleep last night. I’m still not used to the hot, humid weather here and I realize that much of the wardrobe I brought with me isn’t suited for this type of weather. Have to go buy some cheap summer clothing here! Going to go and eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast and read more of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Overall, my first flight without my parents went quite well. Surprisingly well in fact. I had minimal anxiety and no panic attacks whatsoever so I’m pleased with how things are going so far.
I was pretty impressed with the plane itself when I first boarded it. It was one of the newer ones which has mini television/entertainment screens in the headrest on the seat in front of you. So I had the opportunity to finally watch “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (one of my favourite childhood books) and “The Blindside”. Unfortunately I got really drowsy towards the end of FMF so I don’t really remember what happened. As for the Blindside, I won’t lie, I shed some tears. Luckily for me, the cabin had dimmed lights so nobody saw!
The plane laned in Hong Kong at around 4:20AM and it was the smoothest landing that I’ve ever experienced. I hate the “feels like your stomach is plummeting to the floor” feeling which is why I avoid roller coasters like the plague. No G-Force feelings here though!
Went through immigrations without a hitch and my uncle (I forget his english name. I feel terrible.) was there to pick up my Aunt Amy and I. I have to say that the car ride to my Aunt Linda’s apartment was one of the best that I’ve ever had.
I had the chance to see Hong Kong right when the city was waking up so I saw the sunrise over the various hills and bridges we drove along. The scenery was beautiful and I wish I were either: A) Eloquent enough to describe it in a way that does it justice B) Had a digital camera with me
Sadly I do not possess either so make do with Google.
The best part of the car ride is when we finally entered Kowloon (the mainland portion of Hong Kong) and the car suddenly came to a standstill. I turned so I could see outside the windshield and all I saw were a bunch of half naked sweaty men! As hot as this could’ve been, they were mostly middle aged men so don’t get all excited. My uncle explained that these workers work throughout the night unloading and loading the fresh fruit onto trucks for fruit stores located around Hong Kong. I loved how these men didn’t give a shit about the traffic they blocked and just ambled along at their own pace pushing around fruit. So yes, 5AM in Hong Kong I witnessed at least 40 half naked sweaty men hauling fruit in the middle of the street.
Finally arrived at my aunt Linda’s apartment, I took a nap, showered, and am now here writing this up. Going to go visit my aunt Amy’s drug store which is about a minute’s walk away and then go for lunch. What I wish I had most right now is someone to go exploring Hong Kong with! For now, I’ll stick to walking around this neighbourhood to see what there is to see.
So I never update Tumblr and only 3 people follow me. I use twitter way more often as a means of notifying people of things that are happenning in my life. However I’ll probably update this more now that I’m flying to Hong Kong tomorrow night.
It will be the first trip I’m taking on my own (without my mother or father) so I’m a bundle of nerves. At least I made sure to get a double dose of my anxiety medication just in case!
Despite all this, I’m looking forward to going to HK because I haven’t been back since I was 5 years old. To be honest, I don’t remember anything from that trip so I’m really counting this one as my first trip. I could ramble on more about this right now but I should sleep. I have a hectic itinerary for tomorrow!
Morning: Pack up everything 2pm: Leave for work 3-8:30pm: Work 9:15pm: Arrive home and double check that I have everything 10:30pm: Leave for the airport 1:30am: Flight leaves Toronto
Trying not to freak out about it too much, but I actually am. I hope things go well tomorrow!