Sunday, January 24, 2010

Macau, Finnish People, Shark Fin, Pig Stomach, and "The Netherlands???"

Tom Petty wrote a song a few years ago on his album “Highway Companion” entitled “Big Weekend”. In this song, he talks about “crossing every border with nothing to declare”, “going to hit the bars”, and “jokes in your language not coming out the same”. This past weekend involved all of the following, and then some. Friday afternoon after classes I headed to U-Hall to hang out with the guys over there. What happened there can only be described as once-in-a-lifetime. We hung out there for a bit, and as we were leaving for LKF, we passed by a bit of an alcove near the door of U-Hall. Inside, from what we could see, was some huge religious ceremony with about 50 people, with incense, offerings, and roast pig. We walked in, and found ourselves in a once-a-year ceremony. Essentially the people here (most of which were students) were praying to their ancestors, leaving out fruit for the dead, and roasting 3 enormous pigs. We were invited in (and were the only Westerners). We all decided to partake in the ceremony, which included lighting incense sticks and bowing to their shrine. We also had to write our names on some sort of banner, and while everyone else had written theirs in Chinese, we all wrote ours in English. Perhaps a bit sacrilegious, but eh, cultural immersion can get sketchy like that sometimes. We then sat down among these 50 or so Chinese and ate some roast pork and some wonderful cake (which was actually kind of like a bit firmer version of jell-o) that was prepared by a woman who has worked at U-Hall for over 50 years. We ended up staying for about an hour and a half, it was definitely one of the highlights of HK so far. After that we went out to LKF and sort of mulled around for about 4 hours, before deciding (at Henry’s recommendation) to hit up the “3:00am Dim Sum place. For those who aren’t familiar with this (which included myself about 48 hours ago), Dim Sum is somewhat similar to Latin tapas, basically a bunch of people get together and order relatively small portions of like 30 different things. The reason this place in particular is called the 3:00am Dim Sum place is because they don’t open until 3:00am, and close at noon. We didn’t know how to get there, so we got a cab and said “3:00am Dim Sum place”. The guy knew exactly what we were talking about, and took us right there. The place defined hole-in-the-wall. It was maybe 500 sqft. of eating space, and was absolutely jam packed with Chinese people. We got a big table (9 of us) in the corner, and ate one of the most glorious meals of my life. Absolutely incredible, we all had a bit of everything for about $4US. Got back and went to bed, given that I’d need to be up at 8:00 for Macau.

Saturday morning we went to Macau. It was a real good group, myself, Elliott, Lexx, Oliver, Cindy, and Rob. We got there and walked around the town for awhile before heading to the ruins of the Cathedral there, which was destroyed by an earthquake a few centuries ago. Took some good pictures there before heading up to an observation deck sort of thing, which offered some awesome views of Macau. We then headed back into town, before going to the most spectacular building I’ve ever seen (and if I may toot my own horn, I’ve seen a good deal of spectacular buildings), the Venetian Macau. With 3,000 rooms, a mall, an enormous casino, and countless other amenities, the Venetian is truly the pinnacle of the casino world, a city within itself (kind of written like an advertisement, that was). Anyway, upon arriving at this Mecca of the gambling world, I was a bit disappointed that I was able to exercise the self-control to not sit down at a poker table, however given the negligent amount of sleep I’d had it would have just been a terrible idea. After prying my eyes away from that glorious sight, we went upstairs to the food court for dinner. After dinner we went over to the Gran Lisboa, where we were planning on just catching the bus back to the ferry. However, the girls had to use the bathroom, and on their way there they encountered some absolutely spectacular artwork that had been carved out of ivory, jade, etc. We spent a good 15 minutes looking at all these magnificent carvings, which was one of the highlights of the day. After that we headed back to HK. After I got back to the dorm, I called up Ben to see what he was up to, and he said they were at a housewarming party being thrown by Henna and her boyfriend, Ville. I headed over there and was met outside by Raphael, who showed me upstairs. It was a decent little apartment, although given the crowd it was a bit warm. I was “initiated” into the party, if you will, by having a drink of some sort of Finnish (Henna and Ville are both from Finland) liquorice-liquer. Not bad, but eh. As the party continued we decided at 3:00, we’d head to the 3:00 Dim Sum place again. This time we went with Oliver, Cindy, Ben, Alan, Henna, and Ville. So we did. I ate very little (bit sick of it by that time), but did have the nerve to try pig stomach. It was actually pretty decent. It did, however, get me sick a few hours later, I think.

Sunday I got up and hung out for awhile, then headed to U-Hall to meet Divyan, Henry, and Raphael to go to Mong Kok (Kowloon side) for a bit of shopping and sightseeing. We headed over there and had lunch (which included shark fin), before heading out to shop a bit. Raphael bought some pretty awesome shoes, and Divyan bought an F.C. Barcelona hoodie, but other than that we didn’t really buy anything. We walked around for a good few hours before heading back to HK Island. Should be an easy enough week, I’ve got an assignment due in Theory of International Trade that could be quite easy.

Additional news, got an email the other night (or day in Illinois I guess) from Dr. Varner inviting me to apply for a paid internship in The Hague, The Netherlands. €700 per month salary for a 10 week internship. Certainly not great, but not bad either, and they’d be paying for airfare and accommodation. I hate to be so optimistic, but I think I’m the forerunner, as Dr. Varner approached me regarding this internship several months ago before she let other students know about it, so that’d be pretty decent. It would, however, force me to put the SA internship on hold, but given the absolutely massive difference in cost (SA airfare would run about $2,000 and I wouldn’t be paid, Netherlands would be like $700 and I’d be paid roughly $3,000 during the 10 weeks), it seems that The Netherlands is a better option. Also, it sounds like more rigorous work and more prestige in the job, which is better for a resume I guess.

Fact (s) of the day: Macau is the most densely populated independently governed area in the world, with roughly 50,000 people per sq. mile. 0.6% of Macau’s residents speak Portuguese at home. Not all Australians like vegemite.

Sleep update: I still haven’t slept through an entire night since arriving in HK

No comments:

Post a Comment