This is Hong Kong

Hello all,

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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

Being grandparent-less

Hey all,

So I was going through some pictures from my recent trip back to Hong Kong and the strangest realization struck me. To be honest, this wasn’t the first time this happened to  me. I came across a picture of my cousins and I with my grandma. And I sit there thinking “Aw, that was nice, I really have to meet up with my grams more frequently next time I go back to HK.” But then I suddenly realized that she passed away last month.

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It’s felt surreal, and it still seems like she never died. The same thing happened to me in HK when I walked into my cousin’s apartment. I saw the black and white photographs on the red Chinese offering altar of my grandparents (on my mom’s side), as well as one of my aunts, and realized that all these people were no longer with us. Standing there, I felt sadness wash over me again. I couldn’t help but relive the moments of when I first found out they had passed away.

It may have to do with the fact that I’m all the way on the other side of the world, but you would think that one would remember that they are now grandparent-less. However, I think it’s amazing that I have managed to forget about their passing. My interactions with them in the past, and how unique they are help me to keep them alive in memory. I guess with time, their image will fade, but in the meantime, I just wish that this could happen without getting me all depressed.

While we’re on the subject of my grandma’s death, I really must bring up how my dad said goodbye to her. He couldn’t make it back to Hong Kong in time, so instead, his brothers and sisters set up a Skype call for the two of them in her dying moments. Now I’m not saying that a Skype call is at all the equivalent of being there, but it was because of the technology that we have now that he was able to say goodbye.  My dad actually saw her heart monitor stopping, and was able to mourn with the rest of his siblings. Although I’m a digital native, I sometimes have a fear of technology, but when I see something like this happen, it makes me rethink my standing on the topic.

– Karen

Goodbye Hong Kong– Till we meet again

And here I am, my last night in Hong Kong again. How many times have I had last nights here? Too many to count. But like all the other times, there will be people I dearly miss.

I do have a few more posts on this trip to Asia, but I will most likely post them at a later date. But for now, I guess I’ll just blurt out a few thoughts.

For one, I know that although I’m not saying goodbye to Hong Kong forever, I did say a very permanent goodbye to my grandmother. She’s my dad’s mom, and the last grandparent I have. She has cancer, and although she’s still hanging in there, I know I won’t be able to see her in the flesh anymore. It’s weird seeing your headstrong and ever critical grandma get reduced to a hunched over little lady, relying on a cane to hold herself up. It pained me so much that the first time I saw her after coming back, I felt tears well up in my eyes. Time can be so harsh.

In happier news, I spent the last month doing an internship. My cousin also works in the company I interned for and he was the best! He was a cousin that I never saw much of as he was in Australia during the 5 years I was in Hong Kong, and then when I moved back to Canada, he came back. Anyway, it was one of the most fun months I’ve had in a very long time, as well as an enriching one. I will make a post on what I’ve learned, because I want to make sure I have it down in writing somewhere. I don’t want to forget the first time I worked in another country!

Asides from the great food, I also enjoyed seeing my family. Most of my mom and dad’s brothers and sisters live in Hong Kong, so every time I come back, I get to see all my aunts and uncles, as well as my cousins. This time, I came back taking the title of Auntie to one of my cousin’s daughter! Yup, I’m definitely growing up. It really sucks that I still cannot say goodbye to everyone without tearing up, but I guess that’s just something that’ll follow me for the rest of my life.

I really wonder when I’ll be back again. But one thing’s for sure: it will feel like a million years no matter how soon I return. And once again, I must say goodbye to my second home.

Japan was as hot as heck.

Once upon a time, I said I’d document my Japan trip. But during the trip, it was just days and days of not getting enough sleep due to us having joined a tour. That required us to wake up early each morning (despite sleeping late each night), so that we would have enough time for the activities they had lined up for us.

So I guess here’s the whole trip blurted out in one blog post! I’ll try to keep it short!

Firstly, it was really really really hot during our visit to Japan. When we went to the hot springs, it was 40 degrees Celsius in our part of the country. If you’re going to Japan anytime soon, don’t worry—it’s not always like that. We just happened to visit while a typhoon was passing by, so the air was very stagnant. Anyway, the Japanese have air conditioning, but the national law limits the maximum at which they can set their air con to 27.5 degrees. Which sounds like a typical summer day in Vancouver. What annoyed me most was that it wasn’t as if they didn’t have the proper technology, it’s just that they couldn’t turn the air condition any lower. But I guess Japan is a very environmentally friendly country. As tourist, we also had a hard time sorting our garbage into the appropriate garbage bins as they sorted their trash quite precisely. Props to them for being so advanced in their thinking…kinda sucks for us because we weren’t used to it!

I obviously didn’t read the pamphlet outlining our tour very well, because I wasn’t aware that we were going to a traditional hot springs until the day before leaving for Japan. And by traditional, they basically mean everyone’s in their birthday suits when soaking in the springs. Of course, they separated the males and females, but it was very awkward. And it didn’t help that this one random lady decided to sit in the changing rooms as you stripped down. Anyway, my mom and I chose to go down to the springs at around 11pm since it is less likely to be crowded at that time. Smart move on our part because we only had to see three other naked ladies.

Mount Fuji was okay. I mean, it looked like any other mountain.

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But public transit on the other hand…

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Now that’s something to marvel at. It seemed as if there was no limit as to how many people they could squeeze into the subway. Reminded me of that Youtube video showing people in Japan getting squished into trains—they even had professional train squishers. The different railway lines were also very difficult to get a grasp on. If you don’t believe me, just try Googling Tokyo’s subway map.

One of the things I looked forward to most on this trip was Tokyo Disneyland! Despite the heat, we still spent the whole day running around the park, trying to get on as many rides as possible. Many of the queues were okay in length, ranging from around 25-45 minutes per ride. We would go on all the rides with short queues, and then decide if we really wanted to wait for the longer ones. The Monster Inc. Ride and Go Seek ride took an hour and a half to queue for, but that was the last ride we went on, and was the only ride that took us more than an hour to get into. We also go Fast Passes for several rides along the day.

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It was Tokyo Disneyland’s 30th anniversary while we were visiting, so Cinderella’s castle was decorated accordingly! I must say that the night parade—Dreamlights—was very beautiful! They turned off many of the lights in the park (or at least the lights in the streets where the parade would pass through), and the floats looked amazing!

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During my stay, I ate lots of great food! We had sashimi (I fell in love with shrimp sashimi! The huge ones that is.), abalone, premium beef, and FRUITS! They were amazing. Japanese peaches are heaven itself. You actually have to use a bowl when eating their peaches because it’s super juicy. Our tour guide told us that Japanese people remove the skin of the peach first (it’s actually really easy because the peaches are quite soft) before eating them. I just ate them whole.

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Since we lived in downtown Tokyo, I couldn’t ignore the bright, dazzling arcades that lined the streets. I spent a lot of coins on those games where you try to clamp a plush doll or toys. I was trying to get this fat cat for ages, and then gave up after spending a few hundred yen. But then this one guy comes along and gets it on the first try. I was very disappointed, and decided to just throw in my last 100 yen and randomly clamp at the new cat they put in, and for some strange reason, I manage to get a hold of it! Trouble is, if I bring it back with me to Canada, it can make for quite an annoying luggage.

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I’m missing quite a few bits and pieces in this post, but sitting here, these are the highlights that I remembered most. I had a lot of fun, but was exhausted. The heat didn’t help. On the last day of the trip, I actually said “I can’t wait to go back to Hong Kong to cool off.” That was a line I never thought anyone would say.

I’m currently working between Hong Kong and China. It’s tiring travelling back and forth, and I’m learning lots! Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a post soon about my adventures in Hong Kong!

Until next time!

– Karen

First blog post from Asia!

Hey everyone!

This is my first blog post from Asia! I mean, I used to live there and all, but I didn’t blog back then, so this is exciting!

I’m back in Hong Kong, and the heat is killing me. It’s already better in terms of humidity and heat due to the typhoon that’s passing by here, but believe me, in terms of Vancouver weather, it’s actually like roasting in hell.

I will be heading off to Japan next week for 5 days, before coming back to Hong Kong for my internship. My summer job will require me to travel between Hong Kong and Guangzhou in China, which should be interesting! Hopefully, I’ll have time to blog about all of this! I find that blogging really helps me to retain my experiences and memories, so if I’m not lazy and can get good wifi, I shall blog away!

In the meantime, have a picture of me eating noodles in a bag in Hong Kong. I won’t bore you with my 60000 other food pictures– at least not in this blog post!

Noodles in a bag is a thing over here.

Noodles in a bag is actually a thing here.

– Karen