Hey guys! Sorry for the extended wait!
Everything has been CRAZY since I came back, but with good reason! Aside from graduating, taking a few extra classes, and getting back into my work routine, I've also started working again and just had my wisdom teeth pulled a few days ago. On top of that, I have a mega-ultra-super-exciting surprise that I've been devoting a lot of my time and attention to, but that will have to wait until the final details have all been ironed out. ;)
All I'll say for now, is that I never expected so many wonderful things to happen in such a short amount of time!
But that's not what you're here for, is it? ;D
Without further-ado, I present to you post one in the China Series: an introduction to Hong Kong!
HONG KONG: Arrival and the Gist of it All
― 香港 ―
Hong Kong was our point of arrival. In order to 'ease us into a new environment,' we began our orientation here. Hong Kong is an incredible mix of Western and Eastern culture. Despite the fact that most people around you speak Cantonese, there are English signs and announcements wherever you go. It's not difficult for a person who speaks English to get around the city with ease.
It's also a beautiful, exhilarating place! There are sky scrapers and modern looking buildings at every turn, with efficient subway and bus systems so you can easily get wherever you need to be. And, of course, the food is phenomenal ;)
My first day I actually had to spend the night in the airport! It wasn't horrible--I just rented a space in one of the airport's lounges. We were staying at the Wu Kai Sha YMCA camp as a group, but unfortunately they locked their gates after midnight. Since my flight didn't land until 11pm, there was no way I would have made it through customs AND the hour+ bus ride to the camp. Regardless, I slept peacefully enough, enjoyed a breakfast (though the ham tasted more like horse than pig), and set about wandering the terminal until a few other students and our group leader showed up. The nice thing about this? I got to watch the sun rise on my first day in Hong Kong, and it was BEAUTIFUL.
Eventually I met up with a few of the other students who were scheduled to arrive that morning, and the lot of us joined our group leader on a double-deckered bus headed towards camp! It wasn't very crowded so we got to sit on the top level right in front of the window, and enjoy the sites around us!
The camp itself was really nice. Because of the greenery and its close proximity to the sea, it is actually used as a popular setting in films and television! Every day we would take our meals at the cafeteria (at least one, that is--sometimes we would find restaraunts or visit our favorite bakery for meals) and attend our orientation class sessions in a classroom provided by the camp. We learned a lot about how to mentally prepare ourselves for the things we would encounter in China--but of course, no one is ever mentally prepared for these things. You can have all the knowledge of a subject in the world and still not be entirely prepared ;)
One of our fun adventures within the first day or two was visiting the 'wet market.' These are markets which sell fresh goods and produce--the 'daily necessities.' It was full of all kinds of smells and was packed to the brim with people, but it was certainly worth exploring!
As I mentioned before, Hong Kong has a very efficient bus and train system. While the train was our preferred form of transportation for its convenient times, locations, and ease of English, we did manage to completely pack a city bus on our way to the Sha Tin Mall one day! We boarded at one of the first stops, but one kind gentleman got off the bus for all sixteen of us to pile in and perfectly fill all the seats. We felt so bad for him, but he was perfectly accommodating! In the end, it was almost like a personal chauffeur service--the bus driver was unable to make any additional stops because there were no seats left for other passengers!
The area we stayed in was particularly quite and beautiful, but there was a mall and close station nearby for getting on the train. We were also right next to a gorgeous board walk which I spent many an hour walking along, enjoying the scenery and listening to old men croon their wives in old songs. It was perfect and made me feel like I was finally there ❤
Stay tuned for the next China post! Post two will be a continuation of Hong Kong and will focus on the 'downtown' areas. If you have an interest in traveling there, I hope you'll check it out! ❤