Monday, August 29, 2011

Holiday Week Part 1: Hong Kong

Since my contract at the school began with the month-long summer term, I was able to have a vacation without working here for very long. My first holiday (I have three more: in December, January and April) was a wonderful, memorable time and with this and the next post, I’ll be describing it as best I can.

On Monday, I went with my fellow American colleague Dan to Cheung Chau, an island south of Hong Kong Island. Cheung Chau is only a forty-five minute ferry ride away from Victoria Harbor, but it’s about as different from bustling HK Island as possible. CC is a fishing village, home to about 30,000 people and zero cars. The only motorized vehicles are ambulances that look like ice cream trucks. The pace of life is very slow and the whole island has an easy going feel to it. We didn’t do anything truly amazing, just walked around, admiring the natural beauty. A highlight for me was turning a corner and seeing a pristine beach and jumping in the water seconds later. Not to mention, the delicious seafood and the extremely friendly waitress and cook at the restaurant.
Cheung Chau Harbor
Life's a beach
Busy traffic on Cheung Chau's main street...not

On Tuesday, I journeyed out on my own to Stanley, a popular tourist destination on the south side of HK Island. All the skyscrapers and commerce are on the north coast, so much like Cheung Chau, it was a nice change of pace. However, Stanley didn’t feel like going back in time like CC did. Stanley has one of the most famous markets in Hong Kong, and for whatever reason, this didn’t thrill me that much. I’ve now been to many Chinese markets and I kind of get the point now. There’s a lot of random stuff for sale and vendors are griping at you to buy it. But Stanley also had a beautiful beach and there was a park that I particularly enjoyed. It’s rare to ever be outside and completely alone in Hong Kong, so I took advantage of that by filming some videos with silly commentary about the flora and fauna I was filming. For personal enjoyment only.
Murray House in Stanley, the oldest colonial building still standing in HK
Natty roots
And this is why the tourists come

Wednesday and Thursday were days to hang out with friends. I’ve mentioned this before but one of the best parts about my school is working with and spending time with my fellow teachers from Hong Kong. I went to Dim Sum (lunch) with a whole slew of them and watched my first Cantonese movie in a Hong Kong theater, called Overheard 2. Fortunately, there were English subtitles but the movie was still confusing. I’d call it a stock market gangster action movie, if you can imagine that. Later that night, I went to a hip-hop dance performance with one of our HK teachers, Sharman, who’s a hip-hop dancer herself. It was truly incredible, despite not always being my musical cup of tea. The Hong Kong kids can really dance! And the next night, I met up with Mennie, a HK teacher who just moved on from my school after five years working here. She took me to an excellent Chinese restaurant near her home in Diamond Hill.
Hong Kong women love taking photos for Facebook even more than American women

As much as I love spending time with my compadre Westerners exploring this city, there’s nothing better than spending it with real local Hong Kong people. It makes me feel more like I’m becoming a real resident here and not a tourist, jumping from sight-seeing area to sight-seeing area. Speaking of which, that’s exactly what I did this weekend in Taipei. You may now move your eyes a couple centimeters down.

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