#joaninHK2013: Reflection

It’s crazy to think that it’s already been a week since I last blogged, but the nature of my visit to HK didn’t warrant frequent blogging to document things as I did in Taipei. My week-long stay in HK was 50% spending time with  family and friends, 40% shopping, and 10% doing touristy things. Tonight is the last night we are spending here, and I am definitely looking forward to returning to Vancouver, in more ways than one! That is not saying that I did not have a good time though, because I did.

Hong Kong is truly a unique city, where old and new coexist symbiotically. All over the city, you see old, stained buildings with protruding air conditioners juxtaposed against new, shiny glass office buildings and malls. The bus systems are old but convenient and intimate (you have to call out to the driver to request a stop), and the MTR system is well-developed and quick to the pace of a HK lifestyle. There is an abundance of street markets where you can barter with the shop owners for a bull’s horn comb or a few dragonfruit, as well as modern supermarkets and convenience stores to run your everyday errands. Just a half hour drive away from the busy city core, you can get to many fishing towns which are still very active and undeveloped.

Grandma <3

Grandma ❤

The best part about this trip was seeing my family over here, especially my grandma. The last time I saw her was over 2 years ago, and she is much different and much unchanged at the same time. This time I spent time with my 85 year old grandma, she is more frail and weak, less in tune with her memory and hearing, but still has the same fiery personality that I remembered. I wish that I could spend time with her more often than every couple of years, but living halfway around the world, I can be content with knowing that she is well taken care of by my aunts, uncles, cousins, and her neighbours.

My mother’s old highschool and work friends have all been so gracious, and we have not been without activities during our stay in HK. Auntie R took us shopping and eating at 又一城, Auntie D invited us over to her place for hotpot to celebrate Christmas, Uncle K not only picked us up from the airport but drove us to see places away from the bustling city, and a hoard of my mother’s old highschool friends (who they insisted I called them by their first name only or 姐姐) took us out for lunch. We are so lucky to have so many people spend time with us, and I’m sure that my mother is especially happy to see all these familiar faces.

Mmhmm

Mmhmm

The shopping never fails to disappoint me in HK, especially the street markets on 鴨寮街 (Apliu Street) and 花園街 (Fayuen Street). There, we pretty much swiped every stall for their phone cases, cute things, and more random cute things. My allergic rhinitis started after we went to those busy and congested areas, but it was all worth it. The malls also had some pretty awesome amazing deals. G2000 and Giordano are among my favourites, as well as Uniqlo, which we visited at least 3 times at different malls. I stalked up on winter coats x2, sweaters x4, work pants x2, and leggings. 東薈城 (Citygate Outlets) also has a whole new floor for shoes, and I bought a pair of Dr. Kong flats and a pair of Geox flats, as well as a pair of adorable bunny flats…all work appropriate. All in all, I had a pretty satisfying retail treatment period.

I’ve definitely gotten fat from this trip, despite all the walking, and my favourite meals are definitely breakfasts at the local cafes, and any meal with a HK style milk tea. I was unfortunately hit with a bout of GI upset near the middle of the week, but I recovered in time to enjoy my last few days.

On Saturday, my mom’s old work friend, Uncle K, drove us away from the city to visit fishing towns and sight-seeing spots. This is the beauty and diversity of Hong Kong; it’s sometimes hard to believe that a short 30 minute drive can remove you completely from the crowded, hazy, busy city to the quiet, fresh-aired, leisurely suburban-rural areas. We visited 清水灣, 布袋澳 ( Po Toi O “Sack Bay”), 西貢 (Sai Kung), and 流浮山 (Lou Fou Shan). These fishing towns are very much still full of activity, with Sai Kung becoming more and more busy as a tourist attraction, and Lou Fou Shan continuing to be fruitful in oyster farming. Walking down the street of Lou Fou Shan and seeing all the seafood stalls, neighbouring seafood restaurants, and golden oysters on bamboo baskets left out to dry, it would be quite the hellish experience for those who find the fishy smell revolting. I, on the other hand, don’t mind it at all, and it was definitely an olfactory and visual party. A pitty I couldn’t have a tastebud party as well, but I couldn’t risk worsening my bowel issues and ruin the rest of my trip.

from Sky100

from Sky100

We also paid a visit to HK’a newest landmark, the ICC, world’s 5th tallest skyscraper. We went to the very top, Sky 100 Observatory Deck, and luckily it was quite clear that day so we could easily see quite far and admire the city. The elevator that goes to the very top has no stops in between, and took around only 30 seconds to complete the trip. I’m sure that the night view will also be lovely, but either way, it is definitely worth it to visit Sky100 at least once when in HK, as it offers a one-of-a-kind perspective of the city.

This has been a very nice trip and getaway from residency, but I am now more than ready to be back. I didn’t realize how much I missed my dad and brother until we spoke over the phone today as we were packing up our room. I miss white food (there! I said it!), I miss my friends, I miss work, and I miss Vancouver. It’s funny how I always feel at home whenever I come back to HK, but I’ve realized that my heart lies in Vancouver with all my family, friends, and life there. It’s been a great time in Asia and we have enjoyed such hospitality in both Taipei and HK, but I can’t wait to be back home. 🙂

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