So its been awhile since I posted anything, it was a busy few days and at the moment at least, things don't appear to be on the verge of getting less busy. I've been settling into my floor pretty well, I've now met most of the kids living around me, and a few of them are in some of my classes, so I'll be seeing them fairly often. That's enough of an intro though, here's the journal as it was written:
It’s been a busy few days. Friday we got a good group together to go have lunch with Uncle Chanwa’s son, Bobby (he goes to school in Boston, but was home for winter break). He brought a few friends, as did I, so it was a nice meeting of cultures. We ate at a Japanese place near campus that, in addition to being quite good, was also really cheap (about $4.25US for miso soup, dumpling ramen, tea, and some sushi). Friday night we went over to University Hall, then went down to Lan Kwai Fong. It was a late one. Saturday morning I woke to Elliott tapping me on the arm at 8:30 saying time to go on the tour of HK. The tour itself wasn’t great, we went to a bird market, a nice observation deck of sorts that looked out onto the bay, a few temples, and a wetlands area that was more or less some ponds and tall grass. If nothing else, you can’t beat an 8 hour, full day tour for $20US approximately. We also made friends with the tour bus driver, Mr. Wong. He’s never Wong, he’s always Wight, that Mr. Wong. After the tour we headed to the Freshness Burger. After that I headed back to Lee Hysan to shower up, then went back over to U-Hall around 8:00 to watch the Manchester United match which was starting at 11:00. We hung out on the patio with some people until the match, at which time Ben and I headed downstairs to watch it on the bigscreen. We were unable to find the match on TV, unfortunately, so we ended up getting a crappy live-feed via Ben’s computer. I ended up having to leave at halftime, as the security guard said that at midnight all guests must either check in and stay the night or leave. Watched the 2nd half on my laptop back at Lee Hysan. Sunday was a bit of a slow paced day, Elliott and I went into Central for him to get his octopus card, then we called up Ben to see what he was up to. He came over to Lee Hysan and we all took a long walk down to the sea, where we found the “Cyberport”. It is, more or less, a relatively high-class shopping mall located right on the South China Sea, with a large dog park/sports area. It was pretty cool, there were some nice views, but it wasn’t quite as spectacular as its name might suggest. We headed back to Lee Hysan around 5:00pm, and just sort of hung out for the rest of the day. Monday I got up and mulled around for a bit before heading to class at 2:00. Before class I had lunch with Elliott and our friend Roald from the Netherlands. After class Elliott and I went and bought a good amount of fruit just for a change of pace. We decided that Monday night we’d get a few people together and go see the light show down in Kowloon. Essentially, all of the skyscrapers on the Hong Kong skyline have crazy patterns of lights on them that are constantly changing, timed to music. It was about 15 minutes long, and it was absolutely spectacular. The HK skyline is definitely the most impressive I’ve ever seen, and this was my first time standing a good distance away and just staring back, it was beautiful. We took the Star Ferry back to the island, which was only about 7 minutes or so. Tuesday was brutal, I was at the university from 9:00am until 6:00pm. I had class from 9:30-11:30. After that, I met up with Elliott and we got some lunch. I then had class from 3:00-3:50, Economic History of Hong Kong. It was hands down the most interesting lecture I’ve had since I’ve been here, we discussed estimates of the GDPs of various regions of the world dating back to about 1750, and some of the charts we were looking at were pretty awesome. After that I went to my first lesson of Mandarin (or Putonghua, to be more correct, I’ve been told it’s basically Mandarin but I certainly wouldn’t know). It was a pretty mentally taxing 2 hours, but I was able to understand a decent bit after about 45 minutes, and by the end of the class I seemed to have some grasp of the structure of the language. I also seemed to be the only student who wasn’t translating the sentences from Mandarin to English word for word, as opposed to the general idea of the entire sentence, which led to a decent understanding of what was going on. I guess I got that ability from studying other languages, perhaps, I have no idea. Tuesday we went out to a “black and white” party in Wan Chai. The party’s theme was to only wear black and white, so I wore a white collared shirt, black shoes, a bright red Manchester United tie, and my purple LSU pajama pants. It was a bit of a late one, but I don’t have classes Wednesday, so no problems there. Additionally, Tuesday night I was forced to miss the Manchester City-Manchester United match, which was starting promptly at 4:00am local time. I just didn't have it in me to stay up until 6:00am. Perhaps I was better for it, as they lost 2-1 (with both City goals coming from that scumbag Tevez!), but the 2nd leg of the Carling Cup match at Old Trafford should be all the more interesting because of it. I woke up Wednesday and Elliott and I headed over to University Hall to just hang out on the balcony with Ben, Rafael (perhaps misspelled), Divian, and Henry. We also made some plans for Chinese New Year, and it appears that the only really cheap airfare will be taking us to the Philippines, so that could be interesting. The airfare is roughly $150US round trip, so you really can’t beat that. Friday night we’re having a floor dinner at a Japanese restaurant, should be pretty cool. I’m hoping that most of the conversation is in English, but I’m certainly not holding my breath on that, nor would I put money on the fact that it will be. This weekend we’re planning on going out Friday with some of Cindy’s friends who are here from New Zealand, then getting up early Saturday morning and taking the ferry to Macau. Monday is the first high-table dinner of the semester, formal dress required, and we’re all going as a floor. Should be pretty cool. Uncle Fred is returning from the mainland tomorrow, so I’ll likely do lunch or dinner with him and Uncle Chanwa tomorrow or Friday. Other than that, I’m also getting the itch to return to Italy this summer after the semester is over, only for a short while (probably 2-3 weeks or so). That would only be an option if the airfare is quite cheap (which at the moment it is, I could fly HK-Rome for about $450 and from Rome-Chicago for about $500). Given the fact that I’d already be paying at least $700 for a one way back to Chicago from HK, it would certainly be worth looking in to. If anyone asks, I need to brush up on my Italian before heading back to ISU and Italian 116.01.
Fun fact of the day: from my experience here, Australians pronounce “h” differently than Americans. Rather than saying HKU as just aych kay you, they say haych kay you. Interesting life lessons learned here in HK.