For logistical purposes, I've been here at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport for the past seven hours and will need to wait another two before I am scheduled to board my flight back home. This is really weird for a variety of reasons.
- I've observed that Chek Lap Kok has this eerie slowdown that occurs between 2 and 5 AM. Most of the terminal is motionless because it is either vacant or there is the occasional sleeping traveler sprawled out across some seats. So I can see somepeople--but they're not moving. This also seems to be a peak time for the cleaning staff, who have dawned their vacuums and ride-along shampoo machines.
The airport has most of its restaurants concentrated in one centralized food court. The only ones open between 2 and 5 AM are the fast-food restaurants that in fact never close, and they offer a pretty limited menu during those hours. One restaurant, a Hong Kong based chain called Cafe de Coral, had an empty menu boardand its monitor menus were switched off. That didn't seem to stop about 10 people from queuing and ordering food. How strange.
- Being stuck here for a total of nine hours is strange and sad because I am in this limbo between the country that I'll called home for the past four months and the country that my passport says that I belong to. I really love Hong Kong, I'm going to miss the city a lot and I can't wait to come back. However this feels a little bit like a tease as I am technically still in Hong Kong, though I'm trapped in its (admittedly nicely designed) glass airport.
I am just finishing up another one of the most hectic weeks that I've experienced while abroad. On Tuesday I had my final final-exam and then Wednesday and Thursday were filled literally back to back with goodbye meals and outings with friends. I got back late from dinner on Thursday night and still needed to wash some clothes in preparation for my trip the next morning--so I stayed up to do a load of laundry. By the time my clothes were dry and folded it was 5 o'clock in the morning and I was to meet my friend at noon to go to the airport. With a couple of items still left on my to-do list, I skipped sleeping on Thursday night and pulled an all-nighter.
To back track a little bit, in the beginning of the semester I met my friend Sesley when we both joined the CUHK English Debate Team. She had mentioned that she was from Beijing and invited me to come visit sometime. I took her up on her offer and here I am. After we both finished our finals, I headed to Beijing with Sesley when she returned home for her Christmas break. So we just got here today, actually tonight to be specific, after our flight was delayed on the tarmac for 2 hours do to malfunctioning guidance equipment.
After landing and collecting our baggage, we meet up with Sesley's parents and headed over to KFC for a quick dinner. For some reason, Hong Kong and China seems to be obsessed with KFC and they are far more prevalent than in the US. I hadn't been to one in Asia until this evening and I have to say that the spicy chicken sandwich that I had wasn't bad.
Once we were done with dinner, her parents drove us back to their home in on of Beijing's many suburbs. I dropped off by belongings in the guest room before we headed over to the living room to enjoy some tea. Upon sitting down on one of the couches, I saw one of the coolest tea sets sitting on the coffee table (tea table?) in front of me. Pictured above, it was a wooden serving area about the size of a large cutting board with a built in drain that drained into a bucket beneath the table. Off on another table was an electric kettle that Sesley's father was heating water in. Once boiling, he poured the water into a tea filled tea pot to let the leaves steep. Conscious of the timing, the taste and temperature of the tea, he "washed" the small shallow tea cups with the first steeping to bring the cups up to temperature and bathe them in the taste of tea. As he said of course, the tea is best when hot so there is no sense pouring it into a cold and unconditioned cup. The tea was also strained and filtered multiple times before finally served.
This is China so naturally the teas that I tasted were phenomenal and delicious. I tried a couple of black and green teas, all prepared slightly differently and with different water temperatures. The photo you see to the right is the final green tea that I tasted which was prepared as an individual serving instead of as a shared pot. The tea making and talking went on for a couple of hours and it was a really lovely time to bond with Sesley and her parents.Read More
As usual, I am incredibly busy. I was in Beijing last weekend and I'm still combing through and editing the photos from the trip. However in the meantime take a look at a snack that I ate tonight: Black Forest cake and Taro cake from the Hong Kong bakery chain Maxims's Cakes.Read More
So much for posting more often. For now, take a look at the view from the roof of my dorm. The body of water is called Tolo Harbour.Read More
It's been two weeks since I've written anything here--and that's two weeks too long. I thought I would break the dry spell with a post about food.
One of the greatest things about food culture in Hong Kong, in my opinion of course, is the afternoon tea set. I am not sure if this occurs in all of her majesty's former colonies, or if it is specific to Hong Kong, but from roughly 2-5:00 PM during weekdays restaurants and cafeterias advertise a snack special. In most of the canteens/cafeteria's around campus what they'll typically offer is a snack food and drink for a set price which is slightly discounted from the price you would pay at the peak meal time. So for example, today I went and got a honey chicken wing with fries and a Coke for HKD 14 (roughly USD 1.80). It was pretty good, but what I like the most are the portion sizes. I am the kind of person who likes to snack between meals, and
sometimes most of the time a bag of chips simply won't do. What tea sets offer is the perfect amount for a mid-afternoon snack. I suspect restaurants advertise these to draw in business during an otherwise lull in the day, and I am a fan.
More and more relevant posts coming soon! I've been busy and I want to share.Read More
It's that time of the semester again, when review sessions dominate my schedule and professors send out review guides. That's right, exams are back and here to stay for the next 10 days.
And then I realized that no one outside my immediate family actually knows what exams I have, let alone what courses that I'm taking at CUHK. So let's do a quick refresher, shall we? I'm taking five courses, all which count for three credits. If you haven't done the math already, that's 15 credits. Oxy will translate this as 16 credits--a standard course load--one I get back in the spring. In no particular order are the courses that I'm taking:
- Puthongua Level 1 -- Application of Vocabulary & Grammar
- Puthongua Level 1 -- Oral Skills Practice
- Financial Accounting for Economists
- Economics of Transition
- History of Traditional Chinese Thought
This has been a busy week for school this was my first full week of classes since mid-September. Typhoons and public holidays have produced occurrences like Wednesdays off and 5-day weekends, but no more. This week my classes are finally back in full swing and this coming Thursday I will begin my first of three mid-term exams. Needless to say, I have a lot going on.
Between re-pacing myself for classes and preparing for exams in the coming weeks, this weekend provided a nice breather to have some fun. On Saturday morning, my friends and I headed over to a restaurant in Mong Kok for a delicious Hong Kong style breakfast: Dim sum. We ordered a ton of delicious food and there were buns and dumplings galore. I tried to capture as many photos as possible, but I got a little carried away in the eating--it all looked and tasted so good! I also was trying to limit the number of times my greasy fingers came into contact with my new(ish) camera. Take a look at what we ate in my newest album: Dim Sum for Breakfast.Read More
Last Wednesday was the Chung Yeung Festival, a holiday remembering the deceased. As it was a public holiday, there were no classes on that day. Some friends and I decided that it was a beautiful day to go hiking, so we did! We headed over to Hong Kong Island to meet up with a local friend and soon climbed our way through Dragon's Back, which Time Magazine called one of the best urban hiking trails in Asia. We all had a lot a fun and saw some great sights, click here to see my photos from the trail. The trail is aptly named as we were literally walking along the spine of hills and mountains with incredible views on both sides.
The hike wasn't too difficult but it certainly built up our appetites. Following our excursion we boarded a bus and headed over to Cinta-J in Wan Chai for some delicious Filipino cuisine. Back in Los Angeles, my school sits in a neighborhood with a large Filipino community and a healthy amount of Filipino restaurants--though I'm embarrassed to say that I have never been to one. That will all change when I return as I was introduced to a bunch of great new dishes and am hungry for more. Check our what I ate in the gallery below.
First, let me say that I understand that writing about Steve Jobs may not seem completely relevant in regards to my studying abroad in Hong Kong. However those who know me intimately understand my love of the computing and technology industry, so Jobs stepping down from Apple and ultimately passing is are two issues that touched me greatly. Let me warn you now, this is going to be a long post but I think it's a good read.
I hadn't gotten that much sleep over the past few evenings but I finally had some late classes on Thursday morning--so I slept in. As anyone who has ever slept for 10 hours straight knows, it can be difficult to eventually get up and get out of bed. Groggily I opened the lid of my Macbook and checked Facebook before I got out of bed. Seeing a slew of "RIP Steve Jobs" statuses was quite a shock and woke me up immediately.
My grandfather passed away last Valentines Day after living a full and beautiful life. He was a doctor, a caring man and one of the most loving individuals I have ever met. Because I was away at school on the other side of the country, it was very difficult to grieve with my family members at that time. I love him, I miss him and I will always remember him. I want to make very clear though that the death of a family member is a far more personal and a completely separate issue than the death of a public figure. The two are incomparable. But the death of Steve Jobs strikes a little bit closer to home, I feel like I've lost a friend.Read More