Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekend Review: Sept 6-7 2008

A Reunion

I went with my Mom to see her childhood friend, whom she hasn't seen since leaving Hong Kong. I asked if they recognized each other after all these years, and they said it wasn't physcial appearances that sparked recognition, but something they felt when they saw one another. The three of us went for yum cha to celebrate. Although I couldn't join in on their conversation, I enjoyed watching them catch up on old times.

My Cantonese lesson of the day:
Ngo ho bao -- I'm very full (and I was after after all the dim sum!)

View of Buddha from the Ngong Ping 360 cable car on Lantau Island

1 Gravity-Defying Cable Car, 1 Very Tall Buddha, 268 Steps, 1 Old Fishing Village, 4 Souvenir Magnets = 2 Very Tired Lantau Island Sightseers

We spent the day doing sightseeing on Lantau Island. After a speedy subway ride, we took the Ngong Ping 360 cable car up the mountains to the Po Lam Monastery and Tian Tian Buddha. We enjoyed sweeping views of the mountains, where hiking trails are plentiful and development has not yet taken hold. The giant Buddha proves a great workout for building strong legs. I'd like to see Rocky run up these steps! We ate lunch at Tea Garden Restaurant, where I enjoyed a fried taro root cake shaped like a fish, and really really good tea. Then it was off to Tai O fishing village, a remote area so vastly different from modern Hong Kong. We walked through the markets selling all types of seafood. I enjoyed seeing how they dry the fish, some of them being salted and dried in backyards next to laundry.

mmmm fried taro root!

A family alter at a doorstep in Tai O

Drying fish...and laundry!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hello, Hong Kong!

My first view of the mountains from Hong Kong Airport.

After 15 hours, 4 airplane meals, and 2 stuffed suitcases later, I have finally arrived in Hong Kong to begin my Fulbright grant year! My mom and I landed in the Hong Kong airport this evening, glad to be finally off the plane and on land again! This is my first time in Hong Kong, and for my mom it's her first time back to her childhood home after decades away.

Here are some of my first impressions of the city (in my delirious sleep deprived state):

It's multi-culturalism. All signs and announcements are made in both English and Cantonese. My mom talked to both airport workers in both languages, and she started giving English lessons to the taxi driver, who wanted to improve his English. She taught him the following:
  1. "Pay me first, I will wait for you."
  2. "Bi-racial." (the taxi driver said he calls racially mixed people "mixed pots." We taught him this other term)
  3. "Racial discrimination" that was a hard one for him to say!
  4. "Can you help me look for the number?"
She was even able to haggle the price down, maybe because she helped him so much! Cars also drive on the opposite side of the road due to Britsh colonial influence. One big surprise for me was finding a Pret A Manger, an organic sandwich chain I frequented in NYC, inside the airport!

Really really tall buildings. All the buildings are like skyscrapers, very different from a lot of the low rise 6-story buildings of New York. They are beautiful at night when all the lights are on.

Hot and Humid! That's the weather forecast for the rest of the week. Our air conditioners even have an extra feature to cope with it.

Tomorrow it's off to university to get acquainted!