Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hong Kong

Hong Kong tickled my senses with its disparate nature and breadth of things to do/ see. I went island hopping, gondola riding, museum touring, and mountain biking. All this was caped by a thought-provoking lecture on the H1N1 virus.

I was impressed by the tall buildings and the streams of well-dressed capitalists but deeply bothered by the Filipino plight and the grittiness of Kowloon. I discussed all this with Laura over several wonderful rounds of dim sum and Tai cuisine. Having lived in Hong Kong for almost a year, Laura was more insightful then I.

We arrived at the conclusion that most Filipinos are women who are used by their families as export labourers. They go to Hong Kong and elsewhere on two year work visas hoping to save money but the money they send back are often used up by their families instead. Hence, there is a cycle of working and trying to save. One Filipino women told me that she has little prospects of rising in the Hong Kong society because she will always be a second-class citizen; Having worked at a hostel for 3 years, she has watched it grow and blossom. Yet, when the owner looked for a new manager, she was not considered. Instead they hired a 9-5 Chinese guy and she works 5-9 for half the pay. I suppose such disparities are everywhere...

On another note, whilst Hong Kong main islanders prosper, people on the Kowloon side seem to look on with envy. I noticed a great discrepancy between the two sides on my museum tour. People in Kowloon gawked and stared while those in Hong Kong hurried to their respectable businesses. It was shocking how chaotic Kowloon felt and how metropolitan Hong Kong was.

Overall though, I left with a favorable impression of Hong Kong. Never have I see and place with better public access and health awareness. It seems that the arms of Chinese censorship hardly touches this area and prosperity is the name of the game.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Macau was beautiful...a sharp blend of European architecture and Asian history. I met a photographer from the Philippines there and together, we took a walking tour of the island. I ended up in Taipa where I got to see Cirque du Soleil. I almost cried...not because the show was so good but because I realized just how much I've missed the performing arts...please don't let me live without it again.

Macau itself, however, is being eaten up by the gambling/tourist industries. Most of the citizens I met agree that though salaries have increased, their standard of living has decreased. In fact, the gambling industry isn't doing so well (work on several to-be casinos have been suspended till a future date). In addition, with the current swine flu scare, even the tourist industry is suffering. I do have to commend this small island though on its preventative measures; most people were wearing face masks, hand sanitizers are everything, and even holy water has been drained (instead, there is a notice telling citizens that no holy water will be used until the global health crisis subsides).

It will be very interesting to see what happens to this SAR region...will the old be somehow preserved as part of the new or will the nation be swallowed by capitalism?

Monday, May 4, 2009

An Old Woman

The last few days have been a whirlwind of events. I flew to Shenzhen, rode a bus into Hong Kong, flew to Taiwan the next morning, and now I'm back in Hong Kong (and set to go to Macau tomorrow).

In Taiwan, on our first day, we met an old woman who held her grandson with one arm while pointing us to our destination . She'd later symbolize Taiwan for me; gentle, independent, fiercely protective, and steeped with history.

Initially, I was impressed by the conscientious nature of the citizens; people who follow marked lines when waiting for the subway, passengers who gently reprimand each other for chewing gum on the's as if I entered a more gentle form of China (one my fear-ridden, distrusting self found somewhat hard to accept). Yet, it was a welcomed relief.

For once, I was sure my questions would be answered politely. In fact, people in Taipei went out of their way to help me. Case in point: on my way to Danshui, a middle-aged woman suddenly stopped me to fix my dress (apparently the bow on my bodice was lob-sided).

As for the island itself, I think diverse is the best adjective I have to describe it. In four days time, I saw beaches, oceans, mountains, cities, and much more. Amongst my favorite are the hot springs in Beitou with Bonny (at which I got a nasty sunburn), the mountians of Yangmingshan National Park (where I got way too close to a geyser), fisherman's wharf at Danshui, fireflies in Eastern Taiwan, and random escapades with Laura (from which I got a 4GB memory card for $20).

However, like all places, Taiwan does have it's flaws: the biggest being the incessant stares we got. I'm going to assume in the future that I got a lot of stares because I'm just that beautiful but I think they've never seen a girl with pink shorts and sunburned shoulders to match.

Overall though the good far outweighed the bad and I feel that Taiwan is truly a romantic place for the future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Word of the Day: Eleemosynary

I moved into my new apartment. The nice thing is it is closer to school and the community is very much like old China. The bad thing is, I don't know anyone and my apartment scares me. I feel more alone in it then I've ever felt on my own....perhaps this will improve.

I also don't have internet at home so I'm typing this at school (at an ungodly hour). This means no more pics till I go back to the US :/

On another note, I've taught 18 hours in the last two days (no one should ever teach that much). My voice is almost gone but I hope it is all worth it cause I'm leaving for Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Taiwan today. I'm excited and I'll write more when I get back

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Valley

The amusement park (like all of China) is defined by it's large crowds but it has a particularly vicious nature. People nonchalantly cut in front of each other and sweat lingers like the acrid smell permeating the air. Though I'm thankful for the experience, I hope to never do it again. The four hour wait for one ride completely dissolved my desire to do much else for awhile...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Goes Down Must Come Up?

Things are looking better:
1. James found me a new apartment and I'm gearing to move out Sunday
2. My nasty cough has capitulated James to give me a morning off today "to rest"...and I have to say I needed it.
3. I'm going to Beijing on Saturday with three of my the amusement park...we'll see how that goes.
4. Tomorrow is test day where I give oral exams to my students...all I have to do is ask questions so it will be an easy day...perhaps I can finally rid myself of this cough.