Well, looks like America finally got rid of me. I’m out, and I’ve somehow found my way over to Hong Kong (told you I could make it onto the plane mom, jeez). Needless to say, this place is amazing. The skyline is stunning, the food is cheap and delicious, and the people are friendly and do their best to ignore how much of a tourist I am.
That said, here are several pictures/accounts from my first two weeks in this city. It’s going to be very difficult to write about this in short-blog form, but I think I can do it.
The first week consisted of me, along with 11 other Tufts students exploring Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories. When we arrived, most of us didn’t know each other, now we’re the best friends ever. Seriously. The best. And look how cool we are.
On top of that, we had the incredible Yip family, Derrick, Vera (Mrs. Yip), and Henry (Mr. Yip), leading us around the entire time. Oh? What’s that? You haven’t met the Yips? Then I’m sorry to say that you have not yet lived. Derrick is a late-twenties lawyer who knows everything about everything. Vera is a professor at HKU and is the sweetest and most helpful person ever. And Henry (also a professor) is one of the coolest and most down to earth people ever.
Dinner my first night was an extreme surprise. “Oh man, I can’t wait until the sweet and sour pork comes” I thought, tired from a long day of seeing Hong Kong. Then, all of a sudden, a plate a chicken feet is plopped in front of me. Stunned for a second, I realized where I was and said to myself “That’s right, this isn’t Rose’s, time for some real food!”. Delicious plates of things like fully roasted pig and chicken (head’s attached), boiled water spinach and broccoli, and large, white fish followed. I’m not sure if Vera expected us to be shocked, but the entire group dove in and devoured the food.
After that, we started to hit up everywhere in Hong Kong. And I mean everywhere. From Kowloon and the New Territories, to Stanley Beach (Daniel Madwed’s new favorite place in the world) and Lantau Island, the 12 of us + the Yips explored the depths of Hong Kong.
One of my favorite places that we went definitely had to be Mong Kok. Apparently, it’s considered to contain the second densest human population on earth (it’s like the time square of Hong Kong).
We also did a ton of shopping, something Hong Kongers absolutely love to do (they sort of consider it a pastime, and you’ll find cheap knockoff brands place right next to the real thing). I tried to buy a tie while I was in Mong Kok, but got yelled at and pushed out of the booth by a storeowner when I wouldn’t go above 10HKD (about 1USD). Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to go back later.
What really shocked me about Hong Kong was the wealth here. I expected to see 2nd-world China, and while there are some very poor places, there are also some unbelievably wealthy locations. Being from Silicon Valley, I’ve seen some nice cars in my time, but the number of Ferraris and Porsche’s I’ve seen here is INSANE. Stanley beach is one of those locations where the ultra rich go. Think of a nicer San Diego with bigger mountains + in a tropical rainforest. I was actually just there earlier today getting my tan on.
Victoria peak is also another location where the rich live. While some parts are a little touristy, other parts have giant mansions with ridiculous views. It seems to be where the ultimate Asian capitalist lives.
In addition to the first night, the Tufts group has also tried some very interesting cuisine. The markets here sell a lot of roast meat, various types of eggs, and stinky tofu (which ALWAYS makes me lose my appetite, that stuff smells horrible, though I’m sure it tastes great). I also had some interesting Southeast Asian food, including SOME OF THE SPICIEST CHICKEN VINDALOO I’VE EVERY TRIED IN MY LIFE.
There’s tons more I’d like to talk about, but there’s only so much I can say in one post. On to week 2!
Week 2 was the start of class, so I wasn’t able to travel as much, but I started to meet lots of local and international students. All of my classes so far are cool, but my favorite two have to be a) Intro to Buddhism and b) Computer Architecture. I want to say my computer architecture class professor is the “Ben Hescott of HKU” (people who are going to Tufts right now will get that) because he’s unbelievable. On top of that, my intro to Buddhism professor is a casual monk who says things like “Life’s a B***h, then you die…again!”. He’s also teaching me meditation this semester, so that’ll be interesting to see if I can sit still for that long.
On top of that, I’ve met a million international students. I went hiking today, and out of the group of 12, I was the only American. I’ve met people from Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Belgium, France, England, Scotland, you name it. We love to compare accents, and our impersonations of each other are hilarious.
I’ve also met a lot of local students. Tracy and Charles (who chose their names after NBA players - Tracy McGrady and Charles Barkley) are two guys on my floor who are from Northern China. I spent 3 hour chatting with them last night, and we’re playing pickup basketball later this week!
As for the places I did travel in the past week, I was able to make a stop at two places (I have no class Wednesday and Friday). The first was an unbelievably hike with some international students I made friends with (4 undergraduates and a bunch of PhDs). We left at 8:30AM and came back to our dorms around 6:00PM after a long hike in the New Territories (a location just outside of Hong Kong). It traveled through some cool rainforest and ended with an awesome view of Hong Kong.
Besides this, I went to a place I’ll title the engineers dream: Sham Shui Po! It’s a subway stop in Kowloon and has SO MANY ELECTRONICS. Flashing lights, toy robots, soldering irons, 1970s sound equipment, you name it, they have it. I went berserk in this place as you can imagine, and I’m going to be buying parts for a project of mine later on.
Anyway, I’m having a great time in Hong Kong, and I don’t regret a minute of being here. In the next month I’m planning to travel to Taiwan, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand, and Singapore. I even talked to a Norwegian guy today who just finished visiting North Korea. Don’t worry mom, it’s $2000 a trip, so I won’t be going for now.
Until I post again!