Hong Kong Chronicles, # 18, 19, 20

It is currently Sunday evening in Hong Kong.

On Friday, I took the ferry to Hong Kong Island and walked around. The first thing I did was walk along the waterfront. There are a lot of ferries that go to the outlaying islands. My next visit, I will stay longer and visit some of them. I’m learning not to try to do it all in one trip. I visited St. John’s Cathedral, which was very peaceful. It was built in 1849 and is the second oldest building in Hong Kong. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945, it was changed into a club and much of the original fittings were taken out. I spent some time walking around Hong Kong Park. I was going to take the tram back up to the peak for the day picture, but the line was too long. I didn’t feel like waiting! In my time here, I have learned that the best way to cross busy streets is by using the subway and was able to navigate around without getting turned around.

While I was walking through Exchange Square, I came across a bunch of men glued to a TV. It turned out that they were watching the Australian rugby team play. It was unexpected and funny to hear them groan and cheer. I have since learned the rugby world cup is going on right now.

As I venture in this area, I realize that there are some cultural differences at play. People don’t cover their mouths when they cough, and I find myself pursing my lips and nose all the time. My sister used to do this, and I hated it. I feel like yelling cover your freaking mouth. Yuck, yuck, and yuck! People also freely pick their nose. I don’t mean the flick across, I mean digging for gold, which wouldn’t be so bad if a tissue was used. Also, the concept of personal space seems to be missing. A few times, I wanted to elbow folks in the stomach. Seriously, get off me. LOL. The concept of forming an orderly line seems to be lost and people try to cut. They then get offended when called out. They don’t understand or didn’t know were already there. Um, no. Get to the back of the line. Finally, there is a lot of spitting, which is so gross. Oh, and a lot of smoking. Double gross.

When I was in the park, I was thinking about this trip and how I didn’t plan anything. Normally, I have everything I want to see outlined with cost and notes like days closed. For a long time, I contemplated going to some island and being a vegetable. It would be great to take two vacations. One vacation that is all planned and outlined, and I do my running around and one that is just a sit on the beach vacation. I’ve also been thinking about life balance and trying to determine what it is exactly. I keep trying to figure out what having it all looks like. How do you balance family, career, etc? Everything has a cost and I guess how much cost am I willing to sacrifice to have it all especially seeing as I have no idea of what it means.

I keep meaning to mention the gambling ship that is docked near my hotel. The ship goes to international waters and people gamble in high stakes. Alice said that a lot of the Chinese think that life is a gamble so why not. There is also this really nice hotel called the Peninsula Hotel. I think Alice said it starts at $10,000 HK a night. It’s an 8 to 1 ratio HK/USA so even with the conversion it’s pretty pricey!

After Alice got off work, we caught the ferry to Macau. It’s about an hour away. Macau is 200 years older than Hong Kong. In the 1500s it became the first European enclave in China. It was under Portuguese rule for 450 years until being give back to China in 1999.

The fist thing we did was eat at a restaurant that was Portuguese / Macanese. I love the Portuguese buns. Yummy. We walked around the casino area near the Wynn and MGM. There are so many lights. The weather is warmer in Macau.

We stayed at the flat owned by Alice’s family.

Saturday, we did some sightseeing. We went to Senade Square. St. Dominic Church, the Ruins of St. Paul’s, and Museum in Monte Fortress. St. Paul’s was built by Jesuits who arrived in Macau around the 16th century. The church was built between 1602 to 1640. In the 18th century the Jesuits were forced out of Macau. The building was turned into barracks, and it was destroyed by fire in 1835. The only part that is left is the façade. The church was originally called Church of Mater Dei (Mother of God). Next to it is the Na Tcha Temple, which was built in 1901. It was supposed to illustrate the harmony amongst faiths as east and west met. We also walked around some side streets with Alice’s Uncle George. I felt like I saw where real people lived and shopped. Oh, and we had some more yummy buns for breakfast. I had two. One warm with just butter, which I think is the best way, and one warm with butter and Spam.

We also went to a Buddhist Temple for a ceremony for Alice’s nanny who was also her great aunt. Alice’s mom and brother met us and her uncle. I had never seen the service before. The priest said a prayer, and they prayed and offered food for her and some other stuff. I felt privileged to witness the ceremony.

I also got my first glance at China because it was across the river. I didn’t realize it was so close to Macau. The region in China I saw was the Pearl River Delta.

I loved the long bridges that connected the difference parts.

We also went to the City of Dreams Casino and saw a pretty cool dragon show called Dragon’s Treasure. It was well done and felt very real. There were times when it felt like a dragon was looking right t me. There were also times when it felt like we were moving down or up depending on the direction. I allowed myself $20 HK dollars to gamble, which is less than $3 USD. I played twice. Once before the show and won $2+ HKD and then after the show and lost it all. Between this and Vegas, I am down $11. I don’t believe in playing big, but I think it’s fun to play the slot machines.

Today, Sunday, we went to Shenzhen, which is located in China’s Guandong province. We took the rail. The ride was around 40 minutes.

I was offered watches, purses, jewelry, clothes, electronics, etc. People called us “missy” as they tried to get us in their stores. Some were aggressive, and it’s like no.

I did see the funniest pair of undergarments for men. They were basically designed like an elephant and the penis goes in the trunk part. It was just too funny not to mention.

People were like spitting in the mall and smoking in the mall. Gross. It was good first glance at China. There is still more I want to see. I’ve always wanted to see the Great Wall. My visa is multi entry and good until September 2012 so who knows what could happen in the next year.

Also, China was country number twenty that I’ve been too. Some coworkers and I are all trying to reach the goal of visiting 100 countries. My preference is to spend at least a few nights (3 is ideal) in each place. I would rather spend quality time in each place than go for quantity.

My passport has gotten a lot of action as I have been in and out of Hong Kong several times.