Hidden Parks and Egg Tarts in Hong Kong

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When I was gearing up to travel to Hong Kong for the week off work for the Spring Festival (also known as the Chinese New Year–these holidays all have several names which can be extremely confusing), I would tell co-workers and friends where I was headed. Every time, they would exclaim, “Ohhhh shopping!” To which I would respond by shrugging and saying, “I guess I might do some shopping…”

As soon as I arrived in Hong Kong, I understood why the majority thought I was set on retail therapy. I could not walk a single, overcrowded block without running into a mall. It was heavenly. And also very dangerous for my wallet. Instead of whittling all of my time away in Zara and H&M, I made a point to wander outside and see things that I can’t find in Beijing.

The humid, salty sea air and the ferry boats that shuttled both tourists and local commuters alike were special treats unique to Hong Kong. I enjoyed every second of the lush, green parks crammed in between skyscrapers and traditional food like dim sum with a new Australian friend.

I met up with a friend and native Hong Kongian (totally made up word) who accompanied me to The Victoria Peak and mouth watering sushi. I also spent time with my roommate, Katie, who was visiting her uncle in Hong Kong on her way back the The U.K. It was a bitter sweet way to end our adventure together as roommates.

While my 9-person dorm was less than ideal for rest, I found my holiday as relaxing as ever and Hong Kong is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

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Enjoying a traditional Hong Kong meal of Dim Sum

A dragon dance in the mall for CNY. Rub his nose for good luck!

Ferry ride

Ferry ride

Tram ride

Tram ride

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Taking the Peak Tram to the Victoria Peak

Taking the Peak Tram to the Victoria Peak

Victoria Peak & astounding views

Victoria Peak & astounding views

Trying egg tart for the first time

Trying egg tart for the first time

Drum decorations

Drum decorations

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Glass floored cable car to see the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

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People burning incense for prayers at the Po Lin Monastery

People burning incense for prayers at the Po Lin Monastery

Discovery Bay on Lantau Island with Katie

Discovery Bay on Lantau Island with Katie

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The Journey Begins

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My trip began in a flurry of events. But that doesn’t even seem to cover how chaotic it felt at the time. I was so grateful to be able to be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s wedding. On top of being the most enjoyable and emotional wedding I had ever experienced (thanks to some tear-jerking, yet laugh inducing speeches), it was also a mere two days before I set out to Vancouver to meet with the marketing director.

Vancouver’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places ever did not disappoint. Due to the spectacularly sunny yet mild weather (which I hear is actually rare for the city) and dynamic aspect of the sky-scraping buildings paired with mountains towering in the background, I decided I want to live there someday. Seriously.

While touring the city with the marketing director, we stumbled upon about ten gigantic bean bags the city had lined in the middle of a street open to the public and closed to traffic. I definitely didn’t take them as seriously as a woman curled up for a legitimate daytime nap, but the randomness made me fall further in love with Vancouver.

After my three-day stay, I was off to Beijing! I realize now that there was no way to mentally prepare myself for this 11-hour flight.

I’m sitting here now with numbness spreading through the lower half of my body, incubated in the stench of the large sweaty man next to me, and feeling faint from a fever that’s approaching. I started to feel like this was a mistake and began second-guessing the whole trip. Maybe a bit dramatic, but this flight sucks. After some thinking, it’s clear how much I need this trip. Earlier, I had met an Irish guy at a gate for one of my flights who astounded me; he was from Ireland, had gone to Africa to study, traveled frequently to Europe, and had found his way to Vancouver where he currently resides. Though I completely declined meeting him for a drink, feeling like he may skin me alive and wear me as a suit, he made me think of how much world I really have left to see.

I know, at times, the trials of this trip may not seem worth it, but I’ll need to remind myself of how much I need to explore the world and other people in order to feel like I have gotten all that life has to offer.

Like a random Canadian friend I made in a Vancouver bar said, “when you’re old and decrepit, you’ll look back on this and be like, ‘I went to f*cking Beijing!’”

Pretty insightful, eh?