Thursday, February 25, 2010

Missing Some Conveniences of Home

I don't feel like taking 2 hours to write a play by play of my 10 day vacation to The Philippines for the Chinese New Year, so here are some highlights:

1)Snorkeled with whale sharks in the wild, no cages. it was incredible
2)Snorkeled a World War II wreck
3)Ate dinner at the home of a Filipino
4)Slept on the beach
5)Saw a sunset from on top of a mountain
6)Hiked with a group of locals through the jungle
7)Swam across a jungle river and cut my foot (which may now be infected)
8)Slept in a hut
9)Fit 13 people on a tuk tuk
10)Played sand football with locals
11)Ate a semi-hard boiled chicken fetus (
12)Broke a window with a dart

Overall it was an awesome 10 days.

Upon returning to Hong Kong, I encountered (and continue to encounter) a mounting list of inconveniences. Firstly, the humidity here is getting rough, especially given the dorms don't have the A/C going yet. This leads to a phenomenon that I've only experienced at LSU when the power was out for a week after hurricane Gustav, that being, that the walls are more or less "sweating", for want of a better word. Basically there's lots of water condensing on the walls of the dorms. This leads to towels not properly drying after showers, books to be a bit moist, and for the air to be generally unpleasant. Also, I've been pretty ill lately, with a cough, unbelievably runny nose, and occasional vomiting. Luckily I've got a doctor's appt. tomorrow morning. Another inconvenience that I've encountered is the fact that I'm paying for all my meals and transport within HK, which is starting to add up to a good bit of money. While I've still got plenty of money to travel and such, its nonetheless a bit difficult (although certainly also a good learning experience) to be paying for all my own stuff. Overall though, as I said, its a good learning experience, as I'll be graduating soon enough and will then be doing the same thing. Had a midterm last night that went very well, Theory of International Trade. Took me about 19 minutes, and it was pretty easy. Today we gave a presentation in MNC, which went well also. This coming week, while many (and by many I mean basically all) exchange students are going to the "Full Moon Party" in Thailand, a huge party on the beach. Elliott, Benno, myself, and a fair number of others decided against it, and are likely just going to stay around Hong Kong for the week off, with a potential day trip to a spa in Shenzhen planned. The Philippines took quite a bit out of us (as getting anywhere in that country involves a 5 hour bus ride), so we decided against another 9 days of living out of a suitcase. We're also considering a trip to Guangzhou or Taipei just for a couple of days. Other than that, as I said, we've got next week off, so it'll be a good week of resting up a bit for the next couple months of school. Also of note, found out while in The Philippines that I was awarded the Outstanding Junior in International Business at ISU, $300 and, more importantly, a plaque. Pretty cool stuff. Also, had one of the best kebabs I've ever had in Manila (better than the ones in Istanbul), and it cost a whopping $1.50 or so. Another interesting point about The Philippines: Their largest bill is 1000 pesos, or roughly $22US. However, upon getting my first 1000 peso bill, I encountered the massive inconvenience of the fact that no one in the entire country can break a 1000. You literally had to try 5-6 different places, or buy something for like 500+ pesos to break a 1000 bill. A bit aggravating. That's more or less all I have to say for the moment. It's still a bit possible that we decide to go to Thailand tomorrow, but I'd very much doubt it.

Interesting fact of the day: My most expensive meal in The Philippines was about $5

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Blaine Curcio Megapost- Update from the Last Week

Its been a long time since I've posted anything here, over a week, so here's a post updating the week that was. Friday class got cancelled, which was really nice, so Thursday night of last week was good, we went out to Lan Kwai Fong before Raphael decided to propose that we hike Victoria Peak to watch the sunrise. So we did. Hiked up around 5:00am, got there about 6:00am, and watched the sun come up over HK. It was a bit foggy, but still very cool. We ended up finding a chair earlier in the night at LKF, and decided to take it with us up the 2,000ft. peak. We trammed it down at about 7:15, got to Central and went to McDonald's for breakfast. I got back around 8:00am, woke up around 11:00am and went to get my mainland visa. Friday afternoon/evening we hung out at Uniersity Hall, and ended up playing Monopoly Friday night before calling it a fairly early one. Saturday during the day Elliott and I went with Riley, an American from Vermont (goes to Tufts in Boston) to the eastern part of Kowloon, and did a roughly 8km hike through some mountains in Kowloon, including Devil's Peak. The hike was all along the Wilson Trail, and we got some awesome views of Hong Kong. Saturday night we got a good group together and headed to LFK, before going to the Kennedy Town docks to hang out and look out at the bay. Sunday I got some laundry done and sort of mulled around before heading to University Hall for the Manchester United-Arsenal match, starting at midnight local time. United won 3-1, good times. Monday I woke up pretty early, went to class in the afternoon, then went to my first "tutorials" as a HKU student. Essentially a tutorial is when you go to a classroom with a relatively small group of students and the TA and review class materials. It was pretty intense, as the local students were really, really, involved in the conversation, and were more or less fighting over the right to answer questions. I provided a few answers that I felt were more insightful than theirs, and the TA seemed to agree, as she gave them a good bit of attention, so I wasn't too far behind. Monday night Elliott and I decided to hang out in the cul-de-sac in front of our building and do homework. Essentially, we live in a cul-de-sac with 3 residence halls around it, so we just sat there with our desk chairs and laptops doing homework and chatting with all the people that we know who were coming/going from Lee Hysan/RC Lee/Wei Lun halls. We got a good deal of work done, and called it an early night. Tuesday was a rough day of classes, as it always is, with 9:30-11:30, then 3:00-6:00, including the last 2 hours being Putonghua, which is incredibly taxing mentally. After class we headed back to Hysan and had some dinner, then sat out in the cul-de-sac and finished the hw from Monday night. Again, got to see a good number of friends and just sort of hung out. People generally thought it was pretty funny that we were just hanging out in the street, but we've sort of embraced the image of eccentricity so its alright. Wednesday was a pretty good time. Ben, Henry, Cindy, Raphael, and I decided to go to Cheung Chau Island (, as none of us have classes. We ended up doing a lot of hiking, including going quite literally off the beaten path when we walked along a really rocky area out to a cliff, which was pretty cool. We headed back to Hong Kong Island in the evening. After a shower and change of clothes (hiking causes people to sweat, as it turns out), we all headed out to Wan Chai for dinner. We were supposed to meet some people there around 8:00, but we didn't get there until about 8:30. Upon arrival we called the people we were meeting, only to find out they hadn't left their hall yet. We ended up just eating by ourselves then meeting them later at the place they were eating, and sort of hung out with them for a bit. It should also be noted that I'll likely never return to Wan Chai. It was undoubtedly the seediest place I've ever seen. We left there around 10:00 and headed back to Lee Hysan. Thursday was a rough day of classes, with class from 9:30-10:30 then 2:00-7:00. After class we had a magnificent dinner with Marije from Amsterdam. We went to the Wellcome market (grocery store) and bought a bunch of vegetables and a bit of ground beef and some pasta sauce, and made some excellent pasta on her floor of Lee Hysan. After that we went up to the roof to hang out with a few people. It was a relatively early night, without a whole lot of highlights for the most part. Friday I went to lunch with Cindy, then she came to mine and Elliott's class. Note on Cindy: She's a New Zealander who's boyfriend Oliver (also from NZ) is going to school at HKU for a semester. She's still on their "summer break" so she's living here with Ollie for 3 months or so. Consequently, she doesn't have class or any other real obligations during the day, so while Oliver is at class she's bored enough to come to mine and Elliott's Theory of International Trade class. Afterwards we headed into Central so Cindy could get a pair of pants I think, and so that I could pick up my China visa and Elliott could get his phone fixed. Friday night I ended up up going to Macau with Madlien, Rachael, and a group of Austrians. It was a good night, made about $700HK at the poker tables. The next day I was more or less the tour guide of Macau, though the weather was awful so we couldn't see much. We headed back to HK around 5:00pm. After that I headed to UHall for a bit, then went back to Lee Hysan to have some dumplings with Madlien, Rachael, and Dominick. After that I met up with the UHall boys to go to Chunking Mansions ( to have some Indian food. It was a pretty seedy place over in Kowloon, but it was definitely an experience. After that I was planning on meeting with with Madlien, Rachael, and the Austrians to go to the "night market" on Kowloon, but it was too close to the United match, so I just headed back to UHall with Ben and Elliott to watch the match with some people there. 5-0 win over Portsmouth, excellent result. That brings us to this morning. It's raining out quite a bit, is very windy, and is just generally unpleasant. I'm doing laundry and writing this, while preparing to finally start reading up on the Philippines (we'll be leaving Thursday night/Friday morning at about 1:00am). Should be a fairly uneventful week for the next few days. More to come later in the week.

Internship Update: Still no word from either, completed my app for The Hague last week (with some help from Madlien to "Europeanize" it), and should be hearing about South Africa sometime relatively soon. Updates will be posted as they're heard