Ahhhh… it is official. Or, well, I am official anyhow. I traveled to Macau, S.A.R. this weekend to get my Hong Kong visa validated and now I am… valid, I guess. It is actually only a step towards becoming official, the next step is applying for my Hong Kong ID (that ever-elusive smart card!) at which point I will be able to get, among other things, a Hong Kong bank account, cable television, long distance phone service, and PRAISE BE TO WHOMEVER…. internet access at home.
Macau was a nice change of pace from Hong Kong and was quite the place to be for the beginning of the Golden Week, National Day. It is the oldest European colonial outpost in Asia I think, unless the Dutch were down in Indonesia earlier, now I can’t remember (who needs history? All I know now is D is for DOG!!) Macau has a distinctly different flavor than Hong Kong- you know the Brits aren’t known so much for their artistic flair like those more Mediterranean Euros. There are beautiful Catholic churches in various states of grace or disrepair; heinous casinos everywhere (apparently Macau is the region’s Vegas… pretty weak if that is true…); impressive forts; gorgeous Chinese temples; great restaurants serving Macanese food… “fusion” of Chinese and Portuguese; and terrific beaches. Or so I freaking hear.
I went to the island with two of the British teachers I have been running around with. And I use the term “running” in a metaphorical sense. If I have not mentioned it before, it is hot as Hell over here, though it has been cooling down and I hear the humidity has only been in the 80 ange. On Macau, it is very similar in clime, noticably drier, but still… H-O-T. Now these lovely ladies will not wear shorts. Ever. Bear in mind they are 23 and 28. Young ‘uns. They say they do not have the legs for shorts. So, in short [ha ha ha] they are always too hot to do much when we are outside. This meant that we went from airconditioned place to airconditioned place while we were in Macau. And, even though it was one of those set-ups, like everyone can do whatever they want, it isn’t really ever like that. I had two things I wanted to do/see on Macau. 1) The finale of the International Fireworks competition that has been running every Saturday since September 3 and was wrapping up with a National Day Blow Out and 2) Hac Sa beach on one of the islands. Neither were to be. Our Hong Kong bound ferry coincided with the fireworks show, but not from the correct side of the harbor, and getting to the beach was too far to walk. I did get to see the ruins of the Church of Saint Paul, which is probably the most famous Macau landmark, though no one wanted to do the climb with me. Also, found a couple of great little coffee shops, in a very Euro tradition and tried the sickest (sick in the gross way) cookies ever – almond cookies with pork and seaweed. Yep, that is right, and they make ’em like that on purpose, they love ’em. I guess the good news is that it is only an hour ferry ride over and I will get a chance to go back to see the rest so it is all good in the end… I have to keep reminding myself that the one sure thing I have is time. Anyhow, the visa was validated and that was the overriding issue, so cheers to that.
Today I had my first (finally!) tutoring session. It was really, really cool. Right after work I went straight to the Yau’s apartment in the Lok Fu Public Housing Authority (Americans should take a lesson on how to do public/subsidized housing from the Hong Kong government… though they too are having some issues as of late, the actual housing is FAR superior.) My “client” is Viki Yau and she is a Primary 5 student. She is very cute and a relative adult compared to my everyday students. I helped her with her homework, and I will be damned if I didn’t start to question my English as the Brits have been doing for weeks. You should see the stuff she has to do. The grammar and phonemes. I mean, she has to learn all these symbols for sounds which I have never even seen! English is one messed up language. The hour flew by, and next week she wants me to stay for an hour and a half and is going to pay me more (yay!) It was a great experience to get to hang out with her family… and I left with cash in hand, so who can complain about that? It reminded me of what I did for countless hours at my last job after school with kids, (only now I am getting paid) and the familiarity was comforting.
I have been trying to revel in the small pleasures of life in Hong Kong these past few days. I have had a lot more time to myself and while that can be hard (for me anyhow) I have been really trying to pay attention to the little things that make up my days. I have been doing a lot of reading (just finished a book called “Shanghai Baby” by Wei Hui which was banned/burned in China but was a very interesting novel) and writing, and thinking (here is where the trouble always creeps in!) Some of the little things that make my days brighter here are… getting a smile of recognition from the local shopkeepers; hearing my name in the grocery store and turning around to see one of my kindergarteners waving furiously and showing their English teacher to their brother or sister; going to pick up my pictures at the Fotomax and upon realizing that I do not have the receipt, having the clerk tell me not to worry, she knows me; ultimately it is nice to be blending in a bit more, I mean as much as someone like me will blend in here. For a girl who wrote a thesis on constructed invisibility, it is an interesting concept. I struggle with standing out too much… but on the other hand, I miss not getting the kind of attention I was used to at home. Maybe it just shows on my face that I am here to try to figure shit out (I think there is a look that goes with that state of mind), and so peple are letting me do that. Still, it can get lonely, especially when I hear about how the people I have left behind at home are moving on in their lives without me.
And in the end… it can be a heartbreaking world. When you realize that there are somethings, and maybe some people, you can never have in your life the way you want to have them it is heartbreaking. So you have to remember all those little things that make up a life and a day and a person. The news is terrible, Indonesia, George W. Bush, Typhoon Longyang, New Orleans, Iraq, George W. Bush, the USSC… and so you have to look to the little things. In some ways I feel like I have lost everything, including my mind over here… and then I get the best compliment I have ever received when my friend tells me that she hopes that if nothing else I realize that I am fabulous enough to make it anywhere I want… how fucking GREAT to have the friends I have, even the one who broke my heart. In the midst of it all, in spite of sadness, and dealing with moments of complete dispair, today was still the best day I have had in Hong Kong… so far.