I’ve been in Hong Kong two weeks as of tomorrow, which seems a little crazy since we’ve done so much in such a short time, but it’s already going by quickly.
As Hong Kong has a subtropical climate (read: HOTTTTT) we made it a priority to go to the beach.
On the bus to the beach:
For about 50-75 cents US you can take a bus pretty much anywhere since Hong Kong Island is relatively small. I found this picture that puts it into perspective a bit compared to Manhattan.
Hong Kong Island is about 1/3 larger area-wise, but the majority is undeveloped because of the mountains.
Anyway, back to the beach.
It was fairly crowded, but the beach itself was amazing. There were even a few little floating docks a couple hundred feet out that we swam to and just vegged for a while. Also for the record, that’s probably the furthest I’ve swam in a few years. Just in case, there was a life guard floating around in a mini-catamaran with an umbrella, and in bright red letters on the side was “FOR LIFE SAVING ONLY” so we didn’t bother to say hi. Also for some reason there was no real beach-type food, just a little pizza place, so I ate a small pizza by myself in the 90 degree sun. A little hot, but this was my first pizza since being in New York (for the record, New York has the best pizza in the world…so far at least).
After baking in the sun for a few hours, we headed up to Stanley Plaza, a multi-level shopping/multi-purpose center. I’m saying multi-purpose center, but this place was really bizarre and had EVERYTHING. There was an American grocery store, a few banks, lots of shops, a row of restaurants on the water, and an outdoor mini-ampetheater complete with little misters to keep you cool. Fortunately for us, there was a baby concert going on so we stopped and watched for a few minutes, thinking about how creepy it was.
Someone rented out on the open spaces for a birthday party, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The only thing was the party was for a dog. Seriously.
I wonder if he/she knew it was his/her birthday?:
Also, in case you walk from your beachside pad with your dog, there are dog parking spaces strategically laid out around the facility your maximum dog-parking convenience. It makes sense, but is just weird to physically see. What happened to just tying the leash around a poll?
A group of us, some local and some international, made it out to Ocean Park (basically Sea world on steroids). We rode some roller coasters, gawked at some massive fish, and ate some questionable (as-usual) amusement park food. The park is actually positioned about 200 meters above sea level with views of the surrounding beaches. Two of the roller coasters we rode were basically on the edge of cliffs, so dropping down and going through a few loops was that much more of a rush.
The park is situated on two sides of a mountain, but to get from one to another, you have to take a tram or a gondola. The tram went through the mountain, but the gondola went right over it with some amazing views.
HKU is right on the edge of Kennedy Town, a less ridiculousy-modern, more Cantonese-speaking part of town, so we walk down the hill frequently to grab food or hang out.
A garage in Kennedy Town:
More obligatory food pictures:
K-Town is cheap and close, and Hong Kong’s culture really shines through here. Many shops are tiny “mom n pop” type places, but are right next to chains like McDonalds, KFC, and 7-11s. Many people don’t speak English, so I break out my pointing at picture skills to show what I want at restaurants. A few times people haven’t understood me and I’ve gotten something completely different, but that’s okay too. Still trying to be less picky and just eat it if it’s on my plate, but still no seafood…
Saw outside a dim sum place, reminds me of California:
Since I’ve almost exclusively been eating local food, I get really REALLY excited whenever I see food from home. Someone from a bar recommended a pizza place in Kennedy Town that actually has pretty good pizza, so I ate another whole pizza for lunch yesterday and it was amazing. Even McDonalds feels a little like home, and I never go to McDonalds in the US.
The feeling of constant unfamiliarity and not being able understand any Cantonese is sort of normal for now, but coming across something familiar is a really great feeling. I totally understand why many international students stick together at Bentley, or anywhere, since you instantly have something in common (speaking English is pretty big). At the grocery store today I spent $8 US (cue mini heart attack) on my favorite cereal, but again, mainly because I got really excited about seeing something familiar from the US. And honey bunches of oats with strawberries is an awesome cereal to begin with, anyway.
Not too shabby for Hong Kong pizza:
HKU Medical Campus
I grabbed lunch the other day with one of the first people I met on campus. Marco (sounds familiar…) is a local student and has friends in the medical school, so we grabbed a bus down Pok Fu Lam road to the campus.
We were able to check out a bunch of labs, including ones with rats and other animals, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the animals being dissected. I can take apart computers pretty well, but not so much with anything alive. Some of his friends were doing research on childhood cancer, and we were able to see a bunch of experiments in progress.
No idea what this does:
As working in the medical field is most likely very stressful, HKU students and staff are fortunate enough to have their campus RIGHT ON THE WATER, it was amazing.
One of Marco’s friends said people come outside to de-stress and grab some air, which almost makes me wants to become a doctor here. Oh wait, I’m a little squeamish and can’t stand the sterility of a hospital, forgot about that…
Last night a massive group of people (everyone on exchange at HKU??) bought tickets to the highest bar in the world, Ozone at the Ritz in the International Commerce Center across the bay in Kowloon. I was debating on bringing my real camera, but ultimately decided against it. Phone pictures are only so good, but the view from the 118th floor was incredible, especially from the open-air section of the bar.
Being almost a half a kilometer in the air was an experience and every other skyscraper (except the IFC on HK island) didn’t really look like a skyscraper anymore in comparison. The juxtaposition between the modern buildings and lush mountains in the background make Hong Kong’s skyline one of the most beautiful in the world, and seeing it from here was spectactular.
Add/drop here has been quite the experience between trying to get into classes and seeing if Bentley will approve them. For the classes that have been approved, it’s evident that Hong Kong is an international city just by looking around the classroom. In one of my classes the professor went around and asked everyone their name and home country, only to hear people from 15-20 countries around the world. Of course the majority are still from Hong Kong and mainland China, but the number of exchange and non-local full time students was a surprisingly large chunk of the class. It’ll make for interesting discussions since 1/3 of our grade is based on attendance and participation, and I definitely learn more from this model than everyone’s favorite cram and exam model.
The weather is cooling down a bit (still pretty hot and humid) and the 2nd week of classes will hopefully go smoothly, but somehow we already have 2 days off coming up next week for Mid Autumn Festival http://bit.ly/PbRmrn.