Last night I went to see the England vs Germany game with Lily (who is from England), Jacky, and Kevin. We wandered around Lan Kwai Fong which is the bar/club district in Hong Kong looking for a table since we didn’t want to have to stand to watch the game. Eventually we ended up at a place called Bulldog’s which was reminiscent of an English pub.
The past week I’ve been out to two different bars but since I don’t drink, I’ve just been trying a variety of different mocktails. Yesterday I had a virgin Pina Colada and Gunner while the boys and Lily drank beer and mixed drinks. I’m glad that the friends I’ve made here respect that I don’t actually consume alcoholic beverages and haven’t tried to pressure or coerce me to do so.
Now due to the fact that Lily is English, the group of us decided to cheer for England along with her. Even though the team we were rooting for lost and we had to try to make Lily smile afterwards, it was fun to watch the game together. The bar itself was packed and even the bartenders would pause in the middle of pouring a pint to see what was happening on screen.
Afterwards, Lily had to get home since she works a full time job but Jacky, Kevin, and I didn’t particularly want to go home yet. We ended up going to the Causeway Bay area in search of either bubble tea or an open movie theater. Mind you, it was around 12:30AM by the time we got into the area so I had doubts about whether or not a cinema would be open at this time. Of course, it wasn’t open even though we were hopeful for it.
Instead we wandered around the Causeway Bay area for an hour trying to decide what to do and eventually stumbled into a McDonald’s. That spontaneous stumbling ended up with us staying there for about 4 1/2 hours chatting/debating/laughing over a whole plethora of things. From politics, future goals, conspiracy theories, to persuading Kevin why laptops > iPads. It was a nice way to spend a night/morning since we just decided to stay there until the MTR opened again at 6am. Not to mention that these guys are the only ones who don’t have work or summer classes so I’ll probably be spending the majority of my time with them. It was nice bonding but I’m sad that it’ll be hard to visit them once I come back home.
I didn’t get home until 6:30am but I’ve decided that I want to watch the sunrise from the Peak before I leave Hong Kong. Trying to see it around huge buildings just isn’t the same.
Hong Kong karaoke places are seriously lacking in their English music selection but I didn’t expect a lot to begin with. I found the absence of popular Backstreet Boys songs rather saddening but the plethora of Beatles songs made up for that!
I’ve only been to karaoke once before in Toronto and I didn’t enjoy it all the much then. However going with a large group was a lot of fun especially when singing duets or group songs! We also won a huge inflatable pimp hand and an umbrella due to some World Cup promotion that the place was running. I’m definitely not one to turn down free items!
Earlier in the day, Sharon C and I went to the Natural History museum and checked out the qipao (cheongsam) exhibit. It showed the evolution of this iconic piece of Chinese clothing through the 20th century. They had a section with modern takes on the qipao by fashion designers and they were breathtaking. I would’ve worn any of those in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately I was unable to go through the entire museum in the afternoon but Sharon and I made plans to go back. Although she is only free to go on weekends since she has an internship here and works 5 days a week. A lot of Hong Kong’s attractions close at 6PM and since she gets off at 5PM, it leaves little to no time to check them out at night.
Looking forward to the England vs. Germany game tomorrow night as I’m watching it with the gang again! After karaoke tonight a group of them went to go watch the USA vs Ghana game at 2:30AM but I declined staying out that late. Sad I’m missing out on more adventures, but I need rest too!
I spent the afternoon with Geoffrey, Tim, and Jacky walking around Mong Kok today since a couple of them were looking for shoes and shorts. We hit up Fa Yuen Street (aka Sneaker Street), Nathan Road, and Langham Place mall. Jacky and I were both looking for Madcatz TE sticks but unfortunately I couldn’t find any PS3 ones as all the stores were sold out. He was looking for an Xbox compatible one for his friend so he had way more luck. They had the white one as well as the limited edition Super Street Fighter Stick. I also saw the newest HRAP stick going for $3000+ as well as the new 4G iPhone for $9500+. Ridiculous amounts of money.
We stopped by a Mos Burger in Langham Place which has fried rice cakes for buns instead of regular bread ones. I wanted to try one but unfortunately a lot of their rice burgers have a peanut sauce spread on them and I didn’t want to risk it. The guys said that it wasn’t too spectacular though. After that, we went for the shaved ice desserts again and apparently they have English menus! I never thought to ask for one before. Silly me.
Not sure what the plan is for tomorrow but it was a nice way to spend a Friday afternoon. For some reason, I always find myself more at ease when hanging out with guys and often I do get called “one of the boys”. Not that I mind, but it would be nice if someone saw me as a lady despite all my “male oriented” interests. I am still a female you know.
This afternoon after having lunch with my aunt and uncle, I decided to spend the rest of the day at the pharmacy since I didn’t have any other plans.
I had the opportunity to chat with the pharmacist Vivenne a little more. She speaks both English and Cantonese fluently having been born in Hong Kong and studied in England. I also chatted a little with the new employee at work whose name I don’t actually know yet. He was friendly enough and I think I held up my end of the conversation well enough with my basic command of Cantonese.
Most of my time however was taken up by giving out change to customers since I’m still unable to answer their questions or point them towards the products they are looking for.
At one point in the afternoon, my uncle handed me $1002 and said that the total cost for the customer’s purchases were $992. I handed him back $10 in change but he told me I was wrong and gave the customer $1000 instead. Afterwards I had to prove to him through a calculator that I had actually given him the correct change! For a second there, I doubted my mathematical abilities but in all honesty, that isn’t that unusual. I’ve never been a math person or a science person for that matter. Way to fail as an Asian right?
Due to my “injured” neck the other day, I cancelled my plans with my friends to go to Lantau island today. Instead I slept in and went for lunch with my aunt Linda at Festival Walk Mall.
We spent the afternoon walking around the mall together and checking out the stores. There was one large bookstore there which sold English books but they were rather overpriced. At one point in the day we sat down near the ice rink and just watched people skate. There were a couple little girls who couldn’t have been more than 6 years old who skated extremely well. A couple older guys were also practicing jumps and spins in the middle of the rink as well so I was thoroughly entertained.
While we were watching, a young girl fell over and hit her head on the step. I was surprised to see how quickly the mall security came over to help the mother and her daughter as the head wound was bleeding quite profusely. A young man who worked in a hospital (as far as I could overhear from the conversation) also quickly came over and used some tissues to compress the bleeding. The security guys all wore earpieces and used radios to call in some first aid workers in the mall to have a look at the girl to ensure that she didn’t have a concussion. No wonder I feel so safe in Hong Kong when aid is given so quickly.
Tonight before going out to dinner, my aunt and uncle picked up Linda and I to go for a drive around the city. We drove up north into the New Territories and up Tai Mo Shan mountain. The roads here had tight curves and only two lanes so it reminded me a lot of Initial D. There were even guys on motorcycles who would wave to my uncle and he would slow down so they could pass us.
We stopped near the top of the mountain and a viewing platform and from there I could see the city lights. On one side I was able to see Kowloon and on the other I was able to see into China. It was a really lovely view and I would have enjoyed it much more if it weren’t for the mosquitoes. We only stayed long enough for me to grab a few quick shots and then went back into the car and descended the mountain.
As we continued driving, my family acted as tour guides and explained to me what we were driving past. On Tai Mo Shan mountain, there were a couple abandoned apartment buildings. Apparently they used to house military families from the UK and from China. Now some of the smaller buildings are used to house some of the local families.
In fact, the majority of the people living on or around the mountain are those native to the area and lived here long before it became part of Hong Kong. As we drove up, down, and around the mountain, I could see that many of the houses were rather old. There was even a small “downtown” area with a couple restaurants, a convenience store, and a market area for the residents to buy their supplies. This was the closest to a “small town vibe” that I’ve felt while being in Hong Kong.
For dinner we drove to an area called Yuen Long which is located to the North West of Kowloon. According to my family, the houses in the area are larger than those in central Kowloon like where I’m staying. The supermarkets, stores, and restaurants are also a bit cheaper so it’s a popular area to live in despite it being on the outskirts of the city. There were a lot of “dai pai dong” or outdoor restaurants in the area but we didn’t eat at any of these. It was really hot a humid out tonight so we chose somewhere that was air conditioned instead.
The restaurant we went to is apparently rather popular because the head chef and owner used to have his own television show. This was evident to me when I saw the huge line up when we got there. We had to wait about a half hour before we could get a table.
I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to spend some time with my family today. Over dinner my aunt Amy was telling me a little more about my family history and said that perhaps the next time I come to visit, she’ll take me to see my great grandfather’s village in China. I’d really love to learn more about my roots because I never really had a chance to talk to my great grandparents. I was too young the last time I came to Hong Kong so I barely remember them. I only have this faint memory of me being in a hallway with my great grandmother at the end sitting in a chair. I never even had the opportunity to meet my great grandparents on my mom’s side because they both passed away before I was born.
I hope that one day I’ll have a chance to visit the village where my great grandparents on my dad’s side are from. Apparently we own two houses there that aren’t in use right now. I’d also like to see the village where my great grandparents on my mom’s side are from as well. According to my aunt Amy, the two are quite close to each other!
So tonight we went out for dinner and dessert because it’s Valen’s last night in Hong Kong. Geoffrey suggested we go for Indian food so he, Valen, Sharon C, and I decided on that for our meal.
The Indian restaurant was located above a mall in an area which looked like an apartment complex. To be honest, I’m pretty sure they just renovated a couple apartments into a restaurant because we took the stairwell downstairs and ran into residents throwing out trash. So although the retaurant looked rather cheap, the food was pretty good! Not as great as some places that I’ve been to in Toronto, but I didn’t exactly have the highest expectations going in due to its location.
After that we went back to Mong Kok to meet up with Sharon C’s friend Tracy who is working on her Masters here in Hong Kong. We all trooped over to the shaved ice restaurant for some dessert! Apparently the waitress recognized Valen and I but I’m not surprised. I’ve been there 3 times in the past 2 weeks!
Tonight I tried out the mango which was really good. It came with tapioca balls, lychee jelly, and strawberries. So far, I think this one is my favourite out of the three I’ve had. I think I’ll go for the watermelon or green tea next time!
After eating, Geoffrey had to leave us but Tracy and Sharon C wanted to check out Fa Yuen street. Valen and I tagged along on their shopping trip and we both made fun of a lot of the “fob fashion” along the way.
Sadly we had to part ways soon after. I hope that Valen has a safe trip home and perhaps we’ll see each other sometime in Toronto! (At least he drives!)
So asides from the MTR (subway) and the KMB (double decker buses) there are also smaller buses referred to as “mini buses”. These vehicles only carry 16 passengers and there is no standing room at all. I took my first ride on one today with aunt Edda (auntie 7) to go shopping this afternoon.
As we traveled to our destination, she explained to me that there are two different types of mini buses. There are the green mini buses which are government owned and follow established routes. Now the other mini buses are the yellow ones and the vehicles are owned by private owners. Essentially, the people driving the buses are those that own them and there are very few regulations regarding how and where they drive.
Since they have no regulated routes, essentially the front of the bus picks a location to head in and then when you board the bus, you can ask where to be let off. Or if you don’t do that, you have to shout out your stop yourself. Payment can be made as you get on or off the bus as well and the driver chooses how much to charge. It’s a little more expensive than taking the MTR or the KMB but it is much faster. So fast that there is an electronic counter that is visible to all passengers and keeps track of how fast the mini bus is going. If the driver speeds up past 80 km/h then an alarm goes off warning the driver and those in the vehicle. The mini buses are rather infamous for their high speeds and are well known because late night drunkards often take them from HK island back to Kowloon. This ain’t your average vomit comet.
This afternoon aunt Edda and I went shopping in these series of mini malls. They are all connected by covered walkways that are above busy streets. Of course, all the shops in these malls are once again “P mall” styled where only a couple people can fit in at a time.
One thing I noticed is that I really dislike the Asian aesthetic when it comes to shoes. Quite often they are over embellished with fake rhinestones, beads, and studs or are overly feminine with ruffles and lace. I prefer much simpler practical shoes that I can wear on a daily basis. I was however, to pick up a pair of navy shoes with a kitten heel for about $32CDN. For some reason, I also gravitate towards looking at clothing with lace on it first. I guess I really like lace.
That’s where I’ll be for 5 days in July! Too bad it’s a tour and I won’t be able to have much time to wander about the city on my own. I’m sure that sometime in my life, I’ll go back and have more time to do the things I want to do.
I sort of wish I didn’t have to go back for one more year of college. Even after 2 weeks in Hong Kong, I know for a fact that I want to travel as much as possible before I settle down. Maybe I’ll join in on the SWEP program after I graduate or find contract work that lasts a few months here and there. I know that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what I’d like to do in this lifetime and what I’m capable of. Right now, the possibilities are endless.