Yeah I'm alive. I made it all the way to HK without a mishap. Not even a bit of turbulence. Flying through the cumulonimbus clouds above Lantau Island was interesting though. It actually causes the plane to shake. I didn't expect that :P
Anyway, a family friend (I call him uncle, because that's the Asian way XD) picked me up from the airport and drove me back to his place so I could have a place to sleep for the night. I am really grateful for all of that. Also, the fellow volunteers at St John Ambulance in his spare time, so that's +infinite respect from me. His job gives him a lot of spare time, but still. I suspect many wouldn't spend at least part of their abundant free time in such a manner...
He also shouted me dinner and then lunch the next day. OMG HK has ASIAN fast food. Decent guk ju pa fan in less than 5 minutes from Cafe de Coral. Mind blown. And the mango & pomelo drink was great. All quite cheap as well. McDonalds is also so much better in Asia! Cheaper and tastier. I can actually see the chicken in my burger, and is actually succulent! Like they promised in their descriptions and advertisements! Which means McDs back home are all one big lie with their fake shit... Some people complain and say you can't see what's in Asian food, which somehow makes it dodgy. But it's kind of funny how it's actually the Westerners with the questionable food this time.
So first impressions... It's like having subtitles everywhere. It really is. Some parts of this place remind me of Bankstown, and some places look much nicer. And such lovely views... So much greener than my university and the area around it. And again, the food is so cheap and delicious!
The Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel is very nice, but like most HK hotels it has no free wifi. Uncle has been kind enough to lend me his pocket wifi (which he says he does not use at all) with a small quota that I can use to maintain sanity and keep in touch with my friends - I mean study :P
The other participants in the program are pretty cool. I like most of them. They're obviously smart people and we all share a similar finance background, so we can relate to each others' suffering. But really, they're awesome. And if I think ahead... it kind of sucks that we come from everywhere in Australia. Except WA.
One other guy comes from my uni, but we don't really talk... Then there's also this other fellow that actually knows what RoosterTeeth is! Outside of conventions like RTX, finding someone else who follows such a niche thing is like hitting the jackpot. He was wearing the Tower of Pimps t-shirt, which made me realise that I had a fellow fan in the program :D - "MARK NUUUTTTTT!!!!"
Ahem. SO! What have I done so far?
On the first night after checking in, I met up with the others and went down to the Ladies' Market at Kowloon. 90% girly stuff, but I did find some teaware. I haggled a bit over a gaiwan and four cups, but obviously my haggling skills are not good enough... I will do better next time. I plan to go to The Best Tea House Co. in Tsim Sha Tsui to look for good tea and other teaware to bring home :)
We had a one-day tour around HK... Wong Dai Sin, Stanley (nice markets), Repulse Bay (with trees in the sand... Seems legit.), Aberdeen and Victoria Peak.
Wong Dai Sin was interesting. Very crowded and humid though - "a free sauna from Hong Kong" as described by Jack the Tour Guide. I prayed to the deity for funsies and moved on. Then in Stanley I got a nice seal with my English and Chinese name on it, a kickass dragon shirt and some souvenirs for some of my friends back home. I'll get something for the rest of you eventually, so do not fret :P
And besides that, mainly dinners and bars. The others have gone on a pub crawl and betted on horse races, but I did not partake in such activities. Around that time I also became quite ill, so that was an iron-clad reason to stay in.
And today, on this fine smoggy day in Hong Kong, I'm staying in because I was not terribly keen on the Lan Kwai Fong Beer and Music Fest... It didn't sound that great from my roommate's brief description, but I wish I had researched it for even one minute, because it actually does look kind of fun. But alas, I do have a presentation to start working on, so I shall join my comrades to have fun some other time.
When I travel in Hong Kong, it's like I entered bizarro universe. Everything is very familiar and yet not quite. Well, the food is very familiar but the public transport is much better and everyone speaks Cantonese. Also, there are helpful English subtitles on literally everything!
I think a tiny part of me was expecting to be helplessly flung into an alien world where everything I knew would be violated. Well it is not so alien after all. I'm still in the same universe, and the same physical laws hold so I should be just fine. And it is one of the safest places to travel to, so in all likelihood I will survive unscathed.
Anyway, that's all from me for now. I'll write more next week and chuck in some photos here. I'll have some more time to update when the silly presentations are over...
I'll see you later!