Last night, as the protest escalated through the night, the police shot tear gas into the crowds in order to clear the roads. Before this, I was still fairly indifferent to the strikes and protests that were happening. I admired the protectors for fighting for what they believe in but as an outsider, it was not my place to take a side. After witnessing this unfold though, I stand with the Hong Kong people. For their future, they are fighting for democracy. A lot of people still stand with the status quo believing that it's best to leave things as they are. Things will only get worse though if we don't make a stand today. Slowly the media is being censored and soon even the democratic government in place now, will be replaced. I fear for such a future for Hong Kong even if I am only an exchange here for a semester. That's why I too will go and make a stand. It might not mean much but I want to show my support for the Hong Kong people.
Out of the 5 classes I am taking here, one of them is Creativity and Chinese Painting, I really wanted to take ceramics but I wasn't allowed to, so I decided to take this class instead. I know I'm supposed to be majoring in business and everything but I also want to try things here that I won't have an opportunity to try elsewhere. I am so excited for this class. I've done a bit of calligraphy when I was small but Chinese painting is something new to me. Today I went to buy the supplies for class. Some of this stuff was actually quite expensive. I had to get 3 different types of brushes. The most expensive one was HKD$170. I can't remember but I think the tip was made of rabbit fur. Point is, even amongst brushes, there are so many types and sizes. That's just one row of the many brushes that I saw today. Below are my art supplies. The white tube holds rice paper. The bamboo roll that looks like a sushi roller is used to hold the brushes. The white package is a goat fur blanket used to soak up ink. The black box is this fancy Japanese imported ink that's supposed to be easier to use. There's a flower palette and more colored inks. The last 3 are different types of calligraphy brushes.
So these pictures are actually from the Orientation night the first week I came here. I just couldn't find them till now. That's almost everyone in my hall. And underneath are the girls from my hall. I've grown to really love these people and Soong
With barely any sleep, we got up really early in the morning and JW and I started our adventure to Lantau Island. We were really tired but also really excited at the same time. This would be our first legit Wednesday series exploration. We transferred trains 3 times and finally made it to Tung Chung. There we headed to the cable car station.
We bought the sky-land-water package. So basically we got to go up the mountain on a glass floored cable car. The package also included a bus ride to Tai-O Fishing Village and a boat ride there.
It was actually kind of scary going up because it was really foggy. This would later turn out to be a good thing because the sun seems so much hotter in Hong Kong. We were so excited looking down though. The landscape view was gorgeous and there were two baby toddlers sitting with us in the same cable car.
Mehehe, first picture of us in the cable car. I'm not scared of heights but I avoided looking down at the water for too long because my head started getting a bit dizzy.
This is going to be a long post so click over there to read more >>>
After a long day of class on Tuesday, Holy decided to bring JW and I to Tin Hau for ramen and dessert. Tin Hau is pretty close to Causeway bay and it is literally filled with amazing restaurants. Just walking down the street, I was determined to come back and try as many as them as I could. We went to get ramen at BB Ramen. I love ramen. Not the instant ramen, but the real japanese ramens. This place was seriously awesome. When you went in, you had a sheet and you could basically construct your ramen, from the broth to the toppings. I chose the pork shoyu because I like the traditional taste. and it came topped with pork, scallions, mushroom, and japanese styled egg. Mine was so rich in flavor. It was a bit heavy on the palette but since I was starving it was perfect. I actually like the richness of the broth because I have a tendency to lean towards more savory dishes. Holy got the squid ink which was surprisingly light and refreshing and JW got the black pepper which was really spicy (at least for me). I love this place. Next time I'm coming here, I'm going to try the pesto ramen hehe :D
It was intense because the instructor went so fast and he spoke only in cantonese so I was having a hard time following along sometimes. It felt good to move though and by the end of it, I had worked up a good sweat. I can't wait for future dance classes. XD
Motivated partially by the hall dinner and mostly by our growing disgust of canteen food, JW and I have decided to start making some of our meals by ourselves. Another reason, is actually that minor case of food poisoning that I got from canteen food but that's another story. We wanted to eat healthier so we went to the market and bought fresh veggies, fruit and eggs and cooked! The dish on the left is chinese kale, pork and scrambled egg. The one on the right is stir-fried onions, eggplant, tomato and mushroom. It was so simple but we were so happy because the food wasn't oily or fatty and we were actually eating vegetables. I didn't know I missed veggies so much till today. So happy, full and clean-feeling~
Everything here is dorm-made by us. One of my favorites was the scrambled eggs with prawns. It was really flavorful. Another one I really like was the chopped up pork meat with salted duck egg. We actually bought pieces of pork and chopped it ourselves. The coco-cola chicken wings were also amazing because we bought tofu-puffs and put them in to soak up the sauces of wings. There was even a korean fushion dish, dukbokki. We were all so full and happy by the end of it and there was still so much food left. Shoo happy X3
Overall I had a great day and night with my floor mates. Everyone is so friendly and open. HKBU is definitely a very inclusive school. The culture here is amazing because people are so willing to go out of their way to make you feel at home. Like I tell JW all the time, I'm so glad I chose HKBU.
I am in so much pain right now.. I can't even...OTL
My muscles hurt so much from my fingers all the way to my feet. I worked out way too much these last few days. On top of that, there was dance and volleyball practice too. It hurts even to walk now. All I want to do now is just lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling.
I did go out though. For lunch and dinner lolz. JW wanted sushi so we walked all the way to Lok Fu for it. What I learned was that, I was in no condition to be outside and that walking downstairs actually hurt more than walking upstairs. But we got sushi and tea eggs YAY~ I love Hong Kong just cause takeout sushi is so cheap here. A box of sashimi costs like USD$3. In the states, a box that size would cost about maybe $15-20. We come here so much that even the cashier recognizes us. But then again, a lot of people seem to remember us when we buy food there. HAHA
We also got tea eggs from a legit herbal tea place. If you went into the store, you could see bowls of herbal tea sitting everywhere. The tea eggs would be simmering in a pot of tea and other herbs. They're soooooo good >_< I've always loved tea eggs but they just seem to taste better in Hong Kong. The cashier was really nice to us. Again.. I think she remembers us cause we've come to her store a few times already. The food was def worth the walk, even with all the pain.
So this is actually a food post if you haven't realized yet.
For dessert, we had the cake we bought this afternoon from the canteen. Weekends are our cake days. We really wanted to get cakes from Panash because they're so good. But we took a risk and bought them from the canteen. We got the mango mousse cake and the german cheese cake. The mango mousse was good but I hated the german cheese cake. There were raisins in it... That's just wrong... I wouldn't go back to the canteen for cake. I don't regret getting it though because it's fun to try new foods. Sometimes there are hits and sometimes there are misses. That's just how life is. XD
YAY TO VOLLEYBALL. Okay, so I might have a slight obsession with volleyball. I wanted to join if there was a team but since there wasn't a girl's team for this semester, I joined the next best thing, which was Hall Volleyball. It's kind of like our intramural vb back at home because guys and girls play together. Instead of playing as a club though, you play with people who live in the same hall as you. I met a lot of new friends today and it was nice playing again after so long. I wish we played some more though. Sometimes I hate being a girl because that means people just assume that you're small and weak. RAWR. I need to be more active.. Honestly it wasn't even much of a workout for me today...
Last night was the first dance club meetup. It didn't help that I was late because of a gym introductory course (which I'm actually sore as heck from right now). I rushed over there as soon as I could but they had already begun. It was fun though. Something really common here are O-Camps & O-nights where you build friendships and team bonds with people in your group through games and other activities. For me though, it was the first time I experienced something like this. I had a really great time during the games and the group dance. Our group danced to Timber and it wasn't a hard dance to learn but my chinese wasn't as great as I thought.... When they said right left right left left in Cantonese, I got so confused because I couldn't remember which word was right and which word was left.... OTL moment. I seriously need to fix up my Cantonese. (on a side note, I also need to learn to read and write Chinese hahahha....) But overall it was a great time. I met a whole bunch of new local friends and that was pretty amazing. Just dancing together with them felt awesome. Can't wait to dance with them again.
I can't even describe how much I love this song.. especially at this moment...
So today we went exploring in Wan Chai. It's a stop on the blue line of the mtr and it's 2 stops from Central. JW and I had no idea where we were going and we thought we'd just walk around. We saw a lot but it felt kinda pointless because we were just walking around in circles without any idea of what we wanted to see or find. We passed by an underpass where we saw aunties hitting pieces of paper. It's the chinese equivalent of the voodoo doll and it's supposed to bring bad luck to the person you "hit."
I was so happy to get out of the wet market, I was literally gleaming with joy. We decided to continue exploring the smaller streets and we found a street food shop. The waffles looked pretty good so we ordered one and we also ordered 2 skewers of shumais. I have never tasted shumais like that and honestly they tasted pretty floury and without much taste. The waffle was pretty good. The guy was really nice and made us a fresh one instead of giving us the ready made ones. So that's the waffle up there and inside it's filled with a peanut sauce, condensed milk and sugar. It was so sweet and rich. It's definitely one of the heavier waffles I've had. We were so tired at this point but we decided to check out toy street and a restaurant that was recommended by Holy, 鳳城小食. It's a pretty famous local restaurant around there. There was no english menu so I had to actually order in cantonese. They're famous for their porkchop buns so we ordered that and we ordered soup noodles. It would've been nice if there were seats there, but since there wasn't we just got everything in takeout and came back to chill in our dorm. We were almost back when it started pouring. By the time we were back, we were drenched but it was fun running through the rain with the food. Good times.. =3
Then we headed over to LKF, the expat bar zone. We went at around 8pm and the place was the cleanest I'd ever seen it. It wasn't terribly crowded and we could actually talk to each other without yelling. We were headed up the street towards this restaurant and bar called Lily and Bloom. They were having a wine tasting and we just wanted a nice place to sit down and have a drink.
I absolutely loved this place. Everything about it was just perfect. The lighting, the ambiance, the music, and even our server. She was from Germany and she was the friendliest little woman ever. She also suggested some really great wines for each of us personally. We started off with a sparkling wine before moving on to the white wines which are my favorite.
It was an eventful night and definitely one of my favorite nights here. It was nice and relaxing just sitting and chatting over a drink instead of hitting the clubs on the lower levels like the other exchange students. Cheers to a night of good food and company~
This is the first typhoon I've witnessed since I got here. Right now it's a Number 3 Warning Signal but it's supposed to get to Number 8 by 11 tonight. Hopefully what that means is that there won't be class tomorrow. Though I would be kind of sad because I haven't had a single Tuesday class yet since I got here. The only class I'm actually looking forward to is tomorrow, Creative Chinese Painting. At the same time though, I'm kind of lazy and I just want to sleep in all day tomorrow. But anyways back to the sushi. At 7, I had the most random craving for sushi and I definitely did not want canteen food again. So I made my way over to Lok Fu plaza to buy sushi. I also bought these cold chicken wings and some grapes. Ironically, the grapes were more expensive than the other two combined. By the time I left though, the wind had picked up. It was pouring pretty hard and the gusts of wind were erratic and heavy. Walking back, I was just praying I wouldn't get hit by lightening because I really wanted the sushi. Not sure if the sushi was worth walking into a typhoon for though. Right now the wind is howling like crazy and I hear a lot of people screaming outside.... and I'm bundled up nice and cozy in my bed.
10:50 pm : Typhoon Signal 8 is officially hoisted
After we saw the monkeys, we moved on to Sham Sui Po 深水埗. It is an area in Hong Kong known for its electronics market. Everything was so cheap and anything you will ever need or anything you didn't even know you needed can be found here. There is an underground mall filled with stores like this. You would see phone chargers, adapters, cables, sound systems, and even tvs just dangling from the ceilings. There would be multiple models and colors to choose from and best of all, everything here is considerably cheaper than prices in actual stores. Normally tourists wouldn't come here because there aren't any famous sites in 深水埗. Since only locals come here, prices are always extremely cheap. I needed to buy a portable charger and there were so many to choose from. I ended up getting this pink one for 99HKD$ which is dirt cheap by American standards. It's pretty and it holds a 10,400 mAh charge which means my phone won't ever die from now on.
OHHHH and we also went to a really local store called Wai Gay. They're most famous for their noodles with pork liver. Since I couldn't bring myself to eat that, we ended up just getting waffles with gaya and milk tea. Even those were pretty good. I'm still finding the whole sharing a table with random strangers thing a bit strange. But then again, when we're in a local place, we do what the locals do. They must be really famous for their noodles because they have 3 stores open almost right next to each other on the same block...
After we finished shopping at 深水埗, we went back to Holy's place near Lok Fu to have dinner. We had hot pot!! There was so much food on the table that we couldn't even finish. The best thing though was that everything was extremely fresh. The prawns were still alive and jumping and so were the clams. The meatballs and fishballs here are so much better than in the U.S. The texture is more bouncy and the flavor is so much sweeter. I even tried things I've never had before. I had deep fried fish skin which is exactly what it sounds like. You can either eat it as it is or soak it in the hot pot soup for a bit before eating. I also had these rolls of bean curd that you soaked in soup for 2 seconds. I didn't even know they existed before but they were so good. They were so soft and flavorful after soaking in the soup base. We were so full by the end of the night and there was even soup. Homemade soup is still the best thing ever. Yet again, we are so grateful to Holy and her family for their hospitality. They are seriously the most friendly people alive and their entire family is so warm and inviting.
Today, Holy's dad brought us to Monkey Mountain. The monkeys there are borderline domesticated. You can walk right up to them and they won't run away. A lot of families bring their children there. They also bring a lot of food with them to feed the monkeys. You can literally hold out some food and the monkeys will walk right up to you and take the food from your hand. The first monkey I saw only had 3 legs. One of his legs was probably bitten off in a fight.
Personally I don't like how unafraid the monkeys were of humans. Apartment buildings were built directly across the street from this mountain. According to Holy's dad, these monkeys will often times climb into people's homes looking for food. Because there is such a limit on space in Hong Kong, they are developing more homes into the mountains. This reduces the amount of space, these monkeys have to live. At the same time however, because people are feeding these monkeys, their population has also increased significantly. With more monkeys and less space to live, all they can do is fight for dominance. In the end, the monkeys are ultimate victims of urbanization.
That's my new DIY project up there. I like to draw in my spare time and what better way to use the free tote HKBU gave us. So my goal is to draw the places I've visited. I know there's no way I can draw every place I've been to. What I can do though, is draw all the major places. Hopefully by the end of the year, this entire bag will be covered with landmarks from all over Hong Kong.
For dinner today, I got Viet food. I was trying to decide between a cold noodle and pho. In the end I chose pho because the picture looked really good. Clearly it didn't come out as the picture and I really regretted that I got this. Last year, I had food poisoning from eating pho. I got really sick and after that, every time I would try to eat pho, my body would try to reject it. Psychologically my body would tell me to puke it back out. Thank god, I didn't puke it out but by the end of the meal, I was feeling a bit nauseous. I think this is the last time I'll be eating pho ever again.
I woke up early today and got out of bed all happy and looking forward to a new day =D
Okay, that's a lie.
This morning was pretty miserable. I had gotten back at 3 something last night because there was a Babson meetup in LKF. I kept waking up and I skyped Brian for a while so I might have gotten 2 or 3 hours of sleep total. Early this morning though, my dad's friend called me and told me he was at my school. I just blinked for a while before I realized I had totally forgotten I had made plans to get dim sum with his family. So I rushed out of bed, took a quick shower and ran downstairs. My head was feeling pretty messed up but I put on a smile and greeted my "uncle."
He was so nice. He brought me over to his place and his wife gave me some ginseng soup that she had made earlier that morning just for me. That warmed me down to my soul hehe. I talked with his father for a while because their family was really close to my dad. It was nice hearing about their exploits when they were young. Then they treated me to dim sum at the Homantin Plaza nearby. They treated me so kindly that I was taken aback. I didn't really know how to respond when they told me to come by more often for dinner and soup. I just nodded and smiled.
What I realized here, is that local HK people are extremely hospitable and kind to their guests. Holy, my suitemate, is the best example of this. She invited us to her family's mid-autumn fest dinner and we were treated really kindly by her family (previous post). Now, this family whom I barely knew through my dad was also treating me equally as kindly. I was perplexed by this cultural difference so I decided to do a bit of research. It turns out that once Chinese people view you as a guest, they will do everything they can to make your experience warm, especially if you're a foreigner. I am so thankful to these people because they have truly gone out of their way to make me feel at home in Hong Kong.
Here's some more information about Chinese Guest & Host Customs
Today has legit got to be my laziest day ever. So after we got out of class, my roomie, JiWon (JW from now on) and I were feeling like complete bums. So what we ended up doing was eating microwavable meals and ramen for dinner. It was kinda fun. I learned that XO sauce flavored ramen tastes better than spicy beef ramen (though JW thinks the opposite). Yay for exotic ramen flavors in Hong Kong lolz. We also had dragon fruit for dessert. The inside was blood red and JW got kinda creeped out because she never had them before. They weren't as sweet as the ones I had before, but I was definitely feeling a lot cleaner after eating that dragon fruit.
~Fast Forward: had to watch Memento in the library because of class & then came back, decided we wanted to gym but in the end didn't because we were too lazy (it's alright though, cause I already went once in the morning), so I ended up showering and then skyping Brian for a bit~
After doing the face masks though, I started having these really weird cravings to snack. I really wanted potato chips all of a sudden but everything's closed at this hour. And for some reason, I ended up on instagram which made me even hungrier.
Here's one of the pictures I saw. For those who know me, they'll know I have a weak spot for salmon sashimi and avocado. After I saw this, I just got really hungry, like insanely hungry. I WANT TO EAT THIS SO MUCH RIGHT NOW, LIKE I CAN'T EVEN. So I decided to make my friends suffer with me, and sent this to make them hungry as well.
The day after mid-autumn fest is a public holiday in Hong Kong. No SCHOOL!!!
So I went out on a boat trip with some new friends I made in church. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was out but it wasn't like really hot. We got to TST piers and got on the boat. I had no idea where we were going but they drove 40 mins until they came to the outskirting islands of Hong Kong. The water and air was cleaner, which is saying a lot for Hong Kong. They parked the boat a little off the coast and we just had fun on the water all day. I tried banana boating for the first time. It was hilarious because we kept flipping and never have I ever tasted water so salty in the states. I also learned that jumping off the second story of a boat hurts like crazy. It was fun though and by the end of it, my face was sunburnt. We came back and ended the day with more Gong Cha bubble tea, for a day well spent out on the open waters.
Yesterday was mid-autumn festival!! It's a holiday to celebrate the full moon and there's always plenty of moon cakes around this time. This year as so different from the usual. My suitemate Holy invited us to her home in Cheung Chau, an island 40 minutes away from Central by ferry, for a family meal. It was so fun and the food was really good too. Her entire family was there so it was noisy but happy at her home. There were little kids running around while her grandma who was in her 80's brought us food. What was most amazing was that she had cooked everything herself and there were over 20 dishes on the table!! There were fresh prawns, abalone, and 2 different types of fish because people still fished on the island. My favorite was the fish. I had never tasted fish so sweet and soft before. There was chicken, duck, pork and beef in different dishes. It was simply amazing. When we finished there was still so much food left but we just could not eat anymore. I would've taken a picture of the food but it seemed rather inappropriate. I can still remember the tastes though. My roommate and I were joking about how this was probably going to be the best meal we'd have in Hong Kong.
I thought it was kinda sad though because instead of playing with traditional lanterns, all the local kids and teenagers were instead playing with glow sticks and LED toys. I know it's fun for me because I am a tourist and I'd never played with them before. It's just I find it a bit of a shame that western cultures are slowly replacing traditional customs.
That's us on her rooftop eating mooncake and fruit. I think all we did was keep eating non-stop and we honestly couldn't stop because everything was so deliciously amazing.
BUDA: Baptist U Dance Association
The day before yesterday was the club fair and I wanted to join sooo many clubs but I realized I wouldn't have enough time, energy or money for all of them. You actually have to pay membership fees for clubs here but thank God they're not that expensive. I decided to finally join a dancing club. I've always wanted to but I never had the guts to join one or I never had the time to. Most of it was me making excuses though. The thing I love about study abroad is that you get to be a freshman all over again. You get to try new things and it's okay if you mess up horribly. At the end of day, it's all a beautiful experience and memory.
Saturday morning: My roomie and I drag ourselves out of bed at 11am... eat the leftover cake from the fridge and try to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Groggy as we were, we knew we wanted European food so we headed to the only European cafe we knew of in the area. It's called Euro gogo and the interior design and music did have an Italian cafe kind of feel. But it was definitely Chinese with all the people rushing around and talking. Even the food seemed to have a bit of a Chinese touch. So we ordered the Spaghetti with pesto, hawaiian pizza, and mushrooms stuffed with cheese and bacon. The mushroom was hands down the best. They were so juicy and the cheese was so good..... The pesto was interesting... lololz... It's definitely very different from the pesto I've had before, like very different. The only thing similar was that it was green. The taste didn't even taste like basil but nonetheless it was good in its own way. The pizza was pretty bland. The ham was very chinese and the cheese didn't have much flavor to it. I love mozarella but that was the most fail pizza I've eaten in my life. I think that will be the last time we'll be attempting anything European for a while.
After the interesting Italian food, we had the weirdest craving for gong cha. Gong Cha is this really famous taiwanese bubble tea chain that sells the best bubble tea in HK. So as spontaneous as we are, we hopped on a train all the way to MongKok specially for bubble tea. Then we got lost. Google maps told us to walk in circles and the store wasn't even there. I was clearly pronouncing the name of the place wrong because I just got blank stares from the locals when I asked for directions. Finally we found the place but not after we'd walked circles in MongKok, passing by the ladies' market twice. It was worth it though. Best bubble tea in the world. There are so many flavors to choose from and you can even pick your own amounts of sugar and ice. What's better was that right next door was a street food store. We ended up getting fishballs and hot cakes. Then we just stood on the sidewalk and ate our food like locals. We were sweating like crazy but it was worth it. It is so true when people say that getting lost is the best way to get to know your way around.
At night, I met up with a friend at TST which is right opposite Central, the financial district of Hong Kong. Every night at 8pm on the piers, you can look across the harbor and see a light show called Symphony of Lights. It's one of those must see tourist locations. The buildings light up along with the sound of music and there are like lasers and stuff. It was pretty cool except it was starting to get a bit cloudy and when it gets cloudy in HK, you cannot see anything at all. Honestly it wasn't that amazing. Considering Central is already quite bright, the extra lights didn't stand out that much. It's one of those experiences, you have to see once but going a second time really isn't worth it.
Since it was pretty late at night, we decided to just eat at TST. TST is the HK equivalent of 5th avenue in New York City. All the high end brands have a store there and the place is ironically filled with a lot of mainland tourists out shopping. Mainland tourists are actually a problem for the HK people because they drive up real estate prices, and costs of living (similar problem in NYC). There was actually a protest to mainlanders recently at TST where locals threw food at mainlanders coming out of brand name shops. Even though I don't agree with such actions, I do believe something should be done about the situation because it is getting harder for the average locals to get by on their lower salaries. I remember hearing that the average HK person can't really save up money because most of their money goes into paying rent. It's quite sad actually...
Okay, tangent over. So we went to TST for food. The great thing about HK is that under every mall is a food court with every type of cuisine you can possibly imagine. We had taiwanese food for a change and also fried dumplings (which reminded me of Tina haha). There was sooo much meat but then again, Chinese cuisine in general tends to have a lot of meat. That or it's fried in a lot of oil. I could feel my cholesterol going up but the food was pretty good for fast food. There was even soup to finish the meal. This actually made me miss home food quite a bit because my mom makes the best soups.
At TST there is an old European plaza called 1881 Heritage. The architecture is traditional European and the place is so romantic at night. It's designed to take the shape of a boat and there was a huge mast going up next to the tree tower in the middle. The whole place kinda looks like a fairy tale castle. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought that way because as we were walking around, we got to witness a Model photo shoot and a Wedding photo shoot all within an hour. I definitely want to come here again <3
Asia | Hong Kong
NYC to Boston to HK
Babson Class of 2016
Work Hard | Play Hard | Sleep Hard |
~ I love the beauty in details~