Well, I had my first Hong Kong Holiday this weekend…. The Mid-Autumn Festival, which was very cool for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that we had today (Monday) off.
The past week has been interesting and I keep reminding myself that as things change so much in such short amounts of time… imagine what it will be like in a few months, or in the spring, or whatever.
Life in the neighborhood continues to get better and better. Life at work continues to also improve as I adjust to what I am actually doing in a kindergarten setting (not so much it turns out.) As I get to know the other girls who are working with my agency I realize that they are probably more transient friends rather than the permanent type and I imagine as we get more and more entrenched in our Hong Kong lives those relationships will see big changes. It is fascinating to see how everyone brings their own issues on the road with them, and how diverse they all are (myself of course included.)
The apartment is coming along nicely and even though I now have photos in digital format to share, I do not have a computer to make it happen. My latest neighborhood glee is how cheap it is to get laundry and dry cleaning done. You know what they say, it’s the small things.
I did some of the more touristy things this week like go to Victoria Peak… It was as beautiful as it looks in all of the photos (it is the vantage point of almost all of the cityscape photos of Hong Kong.) The bus ride up the hill was a total adventure… The majority of the busses are double decker and I have taken to sitting in the front seat on the top level as I think I mentioned last week, but it made for a positively thrilling ride up the hill… much lurching and pulling over to let other vehicles pass and random, immediate stops.The bus is a strange fusion experience, as so much of life here is. On one hand, I am riding in a nice, clean, new bus. On the other hand if I close my eyes I could be careening around mountains on Crete or the Sierra Madre in Mexico.
Have kept on trying different places to eat and have yet to be disappointed (in the food anyhow, I am getting disappointed in my bank balance and no sugar-daddy on the horizon!) It is really fun to get out and see different parts of town and try new places. Not so many chain restaurants here and that is all I had to choose from at home… not that I am comparing or complaining… of course.
The Mid-Autumn Festival at school was a riot. I learned how to make mooncake from a four year old… And as I know I have mentioned… mooncake is a little sketchy, but I ate it anyhow. The kids were basically having a carnival all day so I got to take a bunch of pictures of them… hopefully I will be able to be share them with you sometime in this millenium.
I bought lanterns for my apartment so as to take part in the festivities… I am quite partial to celebrations of the Fall Equinox and surrounding time. The festival night itself saw off and on torrential rain but the moon was full up there… somewhere. We went to Kowloon Park to see the huge lantern display there and it was really… big. And pretty too, though the lanterns that are people-shaped are a little disconcerting. It was still light when we arrived and we were all drenched in sweat so we went to a little bar whose name escapes me at the moment to cool off and partake in a Festival toast. It was this funny little place, very local and no one was there when we arrived… it was cool and dark and then the Manchester United-Liverpool Soccer (football… whatever…) match came on so we watched that for a while. The Brits know all the players by name and scandal, but I gotta say, after an hour of watching with no scoring, my American appreciation for sport was evaporating. So, we were off to the park. By this time all the lanterns were illuminated and the rain had passed. It was fun to see all the people out and the kids running around covered with glowstick neckalces and the like. A festival of light, you know? We got to spend a very nice evening in the park. I just wish I could post the photos. Soon I hope.
Then I had a really traumatic experience… well sort of. I went to McDonalds. I would like to say, for the record, it was not my choice or desire. I swore I would not go in one of them (they are everywhere…) but there I was. The french fries taste exactly the same as anywhere else. I guess that is good. The lighting was as abrasive as any other McDonalds as well, so I guess that is good also as they seek to meet their goal of world-wide homogenization.
After leaving Tsim Sha Tsui around 11:30pm to head home I jumped on the train and came over to the park by my house. At midnight there were still families and people everywhere. The lanterns here were much more traditional and using (the now very illegal) candles instead of battery lights in them. Dangerous and pretty. Isn’t it interesting how often those two things go together? So, I had a midnight stroll through the park and the moon came out. Big and huge and full. It was really beautiful.
I am really enjoying being able to walk around on my own and feel safe here… regardless of the time of day. Of course, common sense always prevails, but my little part of Kowloon City is so friendly and lively. It is a big change from homw where people seem so much more involved in their own interior worlds.
Today I met a couple of the girls at the SoHo Bakery and had a bagel and cream cheese which was a welcome treat… and pretty good too. Then we headed to one of the outlying islands… Peng Chau. It was like being in another country. It was HOT and quiet and to my knowledge, no cars. There is a little community of people who live out there, I am not sure exactly what they are doing… but it was seriously the total opposite of Central Hong Kong from where I caught the ferry. It was a forty minute ride out (on the slow ferry – only 20 minutes coming back on the fast one..) I got to walk around and see a tiny Hong Kong town which, like my neighborhood, has a very signifiant Thai population as well.
After seeing pretty much the entire island we found a little bar called the Forest Bar, which is run by a British expat and his wife, where we had delicious pad thai, spring rolls, and cold beer. It was a really great little place that I will return to… it was the type of bar that my friend Matt would absoltuely love… small, personal, and REALLY cold beer. It was a perfect afternoon.
And so now here I am… at Pacific Coffee so that I do not have to deal with the smoking gamers at the internet facility downstairs from my apartment trying to synopsize my HKG experience before the timer rings and I have to leave the computer.
I have some new things on the horizon as well… my friend Rob who flies for Cathay Pacific will be in town at the end of the month and I am going to get to meet up with him… I am starting tutoring this week so I will be working with some older kids and that should be cool… I am going to finally meet my parents’ friend Rodney who has lived here for years and is currently renovating his place on Lamma Island… and I am going to get to meet a myspace friend in person here (Sumlaam) which I am really looking forward too……..
All in all, life in Hong Kong continues to be intersting and satisfying and thought provoking. I guess there’s not much more I could ask for.