Haidilao is an experience.

Finally went to Haidilao after only ever having bought their hot pot soup bases to have at home. We were a little hesitant as it’s Covid times, but reading the reviews, a lot of people spoke favourably of the protocols there.

To be frank though I don’t even want to talk about my experience. I want to talk about what Haidilao stands for in China.

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This is Hong Kong

Hello all,

yellow-ribbon

Seeing the happenings in Hong Kong is giving me such mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m disgusted by how China is invading Hong Kong’s democratic rights. On the other hand, it moves me to see everyone joining hands in protest.

This isn’t what we were promised when Britain handed us over to China in 1997. “One Country, Two Systems” was the belief that we had stood by, understanding that while we were a part of China, our rules of capitalism were to remain untouched while they practiced socialism. The head of Hong Kong (the Chief Executive) is selected by the people, and we choose who we would like to represent us.

It’s amazing how years of Hong Kong social studies and history schooling rushes back as I watch the events in my other home unfold. It’s unfair, and I’m glad we’re taking a stand, like we have done before throughout history. I desperately wish I was in Hong Kong so I can join the protests, and stand alongside fellow citizens who want our freedoms. I feel as if I’m helpless to fight for my own cause, and others are doing the battle for me. But in the end, I’m thankful for everyone who has been rallying to protest.

The student uprising is commendable. These people are young, yet they’re organizing in order to fight for their future. Everyone’s using what skills they have to help the cause. I’m moved to see the adults join in as well as the protests started to include other demographics. People are taking days off work to support the crowds, choosing to volunteer and give out water or medical supplies.

While there are people who fear the instability brought about by these protests to Hong Kong’s economic front, I really do hope they see that in the long run, it’s worth it. This is our freedom on the line. This is our fight. This is Hong Kong.

– Karen

Soles don’t just happen

I am currently still on “vacation” in Hong Kong.  Vacation being in quotation marks because I’m actually interning at a company—which requires me to jump around between our Hong Kong office and our office in China.

The place where I work is a manufacturer of gloves for many companies. Some brands include Wal-mart, Nike, Volcom, Lululemon, Target, J. Crew, The North Face—just to name a few. I was very surprised because I didn’t know that they had such a huge portfolio, but I’ve been told that many other glove manufacturers have folded, causing more and more business to be brought to the place where I work.

Anyway, the other day, I got to visit a place in Dongguan that makes molds for shoe companies. I can’t say it was life changing, but it did put things in perspective.

Sure, I knew someone had to have made the soles for the sneakers we wear, but I never went as far as to think about the people who make the molds for the rubber to be poured in. It seemed silly that all this time, I thought soles just magically happened.

Inside the factory, they had designers who were all in an office space, designing 3D molds for shoes. Then in the production area, we observed molds being made in simple ways (by hand or closely watched by a technician as a machine did its work), as well as really high tech ways (where a metal plate was set in a huge sealed machine, and the design was carved into the plate automatically).  A lot of water was used to cool down the metal, as well as clean the area of the metal that they were working on. There were also people in an area of the factory that inspected the molds, and people making small changes to molds by hand.

When we walked outside to get back on our car to leave, we caught a glimpse of the river that ran through that part of the city. It was jet black. We suspect that it probably had to do with the mold making company—but curiously, there was still a lot of plant growth everywhere. I’m still not sure what that black stuff in the water was.

So no, soles don’t just magically happen.