Living like a local… well, at least I’m trying to. I’ve been in Hong Kong for about a month and a half now, and I think I really am becoming one with the culture here. Although I’ve made friends with many international exchange students, I’ve also met many full-time, local, and non-local students and residents here. Some I’ve met through school and some I’ve met through church. Each individual has contributed to my time abroad, truly making this “big” place feel small and certainly helping make this place feel like home.
Last week I went to get hot pot with four wonderful women who live in Hong Kong. These ladies have become mentors to me, people I can call on or text who encourage me and include me in so many awesome things! If you don’t know what hot pot is, the best way I can describe it is Asian fondue, although maybe fondue is European hot pot (insert emoji with hands up and shrugging shoulders)? Regardless of which came first, I would say it’s equally delicious and probably quite unrelated. The place we went was called Nabe One. There is a buffet style counter with different vegetables, pastas, fish cakes, and some rice; a drink station with ice, a soda machine, tea (hot and iced), and coffee; a soft serve ice cream bar; and then the meat. So you pick your base to cook everything in. We chose a tomato based broth and a coconut milk and papaya base. We then were given plates of meat: pork, chicken, beef, you name it. Once the bases are boiling you place your food in them and wait for them to cook. The meat is sliced so thin that everything cooks fairly quickly. There also is a sauce bar where you can create your own sauce, my sauce was sesame paste, soy sauce, and chili sauce (Jon, if you’re reading this you might have died if you ate this, but the sesame paste was so delicious). This dinner was where I met one of my newest friends who lives in Hong Kong!
Something I would like to share which is quite random regarding my local living post, but every person you meet, you meet on purpose. I am convinces of this. Not only is networking important, but one person could lead to another who could lead to another. I also am convinced we are all connected in some way to every person in the world, but that would get us even more off topic. Anyway, keep in mind that every time you meet a new person there is a story that goes with that name.
Back to local living. On Monday, after class, I met my friend in TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) to take a walk on Avenue of the Stars. We actually met in Hung Hom which is a different stop, but it also is part of Avenue of the Stars. We met around 3:30 PM so I was expecting many people to be at work, but to my surprise there were so many people taking a walk along the harbor here. I guess in a city of 8 million people that shouldn’t be surprising. After walking around, we decided to take a ferry to Central from TST. It was only HK$3 each way, so we figured why not. Once we got to Central we grabbed a snack to eat at Shake Shack, even though this is an American restaurant, I had never been. 10/10 recommend the “That’s My Jam” concrete! IT WAS DELICIOUS!
We eventually made our way back to TST, walked around a bit, watched the skyline light up and watched some fishermen fish then headed towards Jordan. For dinner my friend took my to a fusion restaurant. They had Mexican food, Indian food, pizza, and Thai food. We got the butter chicken and lamb saagwala with white rice. Again, 10/10 would recommend.
I’d like to say that I have successfully mastered the transportation system here in Hong Kong, but I did get off at the wrong bus stop on my way to Sai Kung. In my defense though, the student sitting next to me on the bus called the bus stop for me and I guess he read the stop wrong. No need to fret though, I just hopped on the next bus that stopped at the stop I was at and I was on my way again to Sai Kung. I also realize that many of these names have little to no meaning to many people who haven’t been to HK, but each place I’ve mentioned represents something different and someplace different for me and probably many others in Hong Kong. I’ve found areas in each of the main parts of HK that I’ve gotten very familiar with. There are three main areas in Hong Kong – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and New Territories. Most of my time is spent in Kowloon, then Hong Kong Island, and then New Territories.
As my friend and I were sitting on the MTR heading home, she invited me to go dragon boating with her later on in the week. Of course I said yes! Now, mind you, I had absolutely no idea what dragon boating entailed. I knew the boats were made of wood and there was typically a drum to keep pace and a dragon head at the front of the long, slim boat. My friend informed me that we would be the only females with a group of middle-aged to older men. What a wonderful challenge I thought! As I mentally prepared for what I had gotten myself into, I began asking some of my friends what they knew about this sport. My pal, Lewis, asked me if I would consider myself athletic. I told him that it’s been sometime since I’ve actually worked out or participated in sports, but I’m a quick learner. He wished me luck and said I should be fine. With this, I was nervous yet excited.
So, what was the outcome you might ask? DRAGON BOATING WAS AWESOME! Intense, but awesome. My body is still sore. My entire body. The only part of me that is not sore is my head, but neck down I swear I have new muscles I didn’t know existed in the human body. Dan, one of the men on the team and also a dive instructor, was coaching me as we were on the water and he told me that I was doing so well and he was surprised it was my first time. “Most people take 5 or 6 practices to get to your level.” I feel it today though. Although I look forward to continuing with them. They were so inviting and helpful! Anthony, one of the other men on the team told me that my stroke was “very nice and that I had great form.” Maybe I found a new hobby? While dragon boating, I got to learn some Cantonese as well! We also saw some bioluminescent algae!
So not only have I “mastered” the MTR system and some of the buses, I’m learning some of the local language (counting in Cantonese), I’m participating in dragon boating, AND I downloaded the Chinese Pinyin keyboard. The only thing I can type so far is “Hi – 你好” which is pronounced “ni hao” and “Thank you – 谢谢” (pronounced xie xie) in Mandarin. I realize that Mandarin is not the main language in Hong Kong, but hey you’ve got to start somewhere. Also, this week has been super rainy, which I don’t appreciate, but it hasn’t been too bad.
Classes are going well. I had my first midterm last Monday and have two more in then next three weeks.