Monday, July 5, 2010

Living the Life in Hong Kong

After my time in Vietnam, Hong Kong was pretty much 9 days of luxury. Through my dad, I had arranged to stay with my aunt Adele and uncle Bernard (my mom's brother) in their apartment in Jordan, a pretty convenient/touristy area of Kowloon. It turned out however, that their place was quite crowded (my cousin Kelvin had come back for the summer) and so I actually ended up staying in a hotel just a few doors down from them. It was really lovely, because I got to have a lot of privacy and freedom but they were just steps away.

Let's be honest. I spent most of my time eating and shopping. Sometimes with relatives, sometimes on my own. I spent time with aunt Adele, Uncle Bernard and their daughter, Adele (her name is actually Catherine but she likes to go by Adele!), who is 4.5 years old. She is incredibly smart and polite, and it was lovely to meet her. She has a really vivid imagination, and seems to have a strong moral code already. Adele and Bernard are very busy (he is a popular doctor there, and they are putting together a huge charity event) but they graciously made time to see me. We had several meals together, and even spent a day in China (just across the border, in Shenzhen). I was really humbled by their generosity and kindness.

I also spent some time with my Aunt and Uncle on my dad's side, and my cousin Milly. It was wonderful seeing them too. I have actually seen them quite a bit because they are the parents/sister of my cousin Michael, who lives in LA with his wife Valerie and kids Brian and Sabrina, and whom I spent quite a bit of time with while I lived in LA. In HK, I had some great meals with them (memorable pineapple buns, egg tarts, dim sum, and Thai food) and went up to Victoria peak with my aunt and uncle. (I will talk more about the food when I post photos, I promise!)

I was also able to see a friend from grad school, Mo, and his wife Qiao Bing while I was in HK, which was great. Mo was also a psych grad student at USC, where he met Qiao Bing (a grad student in Social work). She is now a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and he is working on some market analysis for his old advisor's husband. Small world! We had a dinner and a lunch together, and they showed me around the university which is a bit north of the city, on a hill, and quite beautiful. How fun it was to see friends in such a different context!

On my own, I did a little sightseeing - some temples, a nunnery, a pink dolphin boat cruise from Lantau Island. I guess I don't think of HK as much of a sightseeing place, more a center of commercialism. I'm sure that's unfair, and maybe I have some bias because I have been there before (last time was in 2005 for my grandfather's funeral). But don't get me wrong - I was happy to mostly just shop and eat this time around! It was pretty much exactly what I wanted after Vietnam. I'm not sure what it says about me - probably just that I like to shop - but I think in Vietnam because the country is much more poor, I felt funny spending money. In contrast, in HK where every mall has a Louis Vuitton, it felt much more... normal. Expected, even. Not that I spent THAT much money, but it was definitely fun to look! People would ask if I missed Brian or wished he was with me, and I would say, honestly, if he were here (in HK) with me, it would be a much different trip. I.e., not nearly as much shopping (but probably more eating!) and more sightseeing. That wouldn't have been bad at all, but I was really enjoying the trip I was on!

A note about food - I ate well in HK but it was definitely not on the level at which we attacked food in Japan. I guess because I was eating with relatives most of the time, I didn't really seek out specific places or even necessarily types of food. I had lovely Chinese pastries though (bakeries are all over the place, and everything is good!), several dim sum meals, and plenty of street snacks (fried squid tentacles in a paper bag, curry fish ball skewers, and pan fried noodle sheet rolls, to name a few). Oh, and probably the best wonton noodles I've ever had - chewy, toothsome, flavorful. So good.

By the end of my time in HK I was definitely ready to come home, but I also knew that I would miss the life of luxury I had been living! It certainly helped to know that I was coming home to my summer off and that I wouldn't have to go to work anytime soon, but it was a bit of a hard transition! Of course, it has been great reuniting with Brian, continuing to settle in to our new apartment, and seeing Chicago friends. Also, preparing for the next adventure in Eastern Europe!

Thanks for sticking around for the trip report on Vietnam and HK. I'll post when I FINALLY insert photos into the posts.

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