Category Archives: Hong Kong

7 Days of Landscapes Photo Challenge – Day 7: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak HK
View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak HK

If you combined London, New York, ancient China and Bladerunner, you would get a city almost as incredible as Hong Kong.

quiet late night neighborhood shops - reminds me of Bladerunner
quiet late night neighborhood shops – reminds me of Bladerunner

Gleaming towers, full of shops that sparkle, red double-decker buses passing you on the main streets. Modernity like a decorative lace edge to a complex brocade of vast history.  Glass towers next to decades old buildings, both surround spectacular temples.

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Wong Tai Sin Temple HK
Wong Tai Sin Temple HK

The narrow streets and alleys, tucked between those shining towers, lure you into a different, yet just as wonderful world. Even when the alleys are packed with people streaming from one destination to another.  Market streets overflow with bargains, treasures, junk, essentials and baubles.

HK side street
HK side street

Restaurants set up under umbrellas and tarps,  on sidewalks, dimly lit by street lights and the glow of your cellphone.  You’ve had to wait in the shelter of a nearby door way, or under your own umbrella, for a seat to become available.  But the crowded tables tell you the food is worth the wait in the rain.

Market alley
Market alley
Unassuming alleyway
Unassuming alleyway
Unexpected kitchen
Unexpected kitchen

Chinese bakeries, almost hidden, are running out of stock as you stand outside.  You realize if you don’t get in there RIGHT NOW, you won’t get any of the coconut mango mochi. Not getting freshly made coconut mango mochi, when you knew you had the chance, would make you cry yourself to sleep that night, and kick yourself for days. So you walk in, point to the glorious pillows of coconut mango mochi, and politely let the shop keeper know that you will take all that remain.  All of them.

To appreciate my deep and abiding love for coconut mango mochi, imagine a food item you ADORE.  You love it so much, that you kind of want the world to know about it.  You want your friends and loved ones to taste the glory of that exquisitely delicious morsel.  You love your friends and family – you really do!  But, if you gave one of your precious morsels away, it would be one less experience of your precious….So, If you are ever with me when I buy coconut mango mochi, and I give you one, you will know that I really do consider you a true and worthy friend.

People ask “Where is your favorite place you visited?” It is always a hard question to answer, but Hong Kong may be my favorite.  I got all of the above amazing experiences, plus made some beautiful friendships.  There is just something about friendship that makes every experience that much more powerful and fulfilling.  I really do feel as if I have a brother and sister in Hong Kong…but that is a subject for a different post.

Back in 2014, in May, I spent a couple of amazing weeks in Hong Kong.  I recovered from “The Best Italian Pizza, from a Mexican Restaurant, in all of South East Asia” – (This will turn into a link as soon as I write the post!) Most of the time I felt like I was swimming through the streets, it rained so much.  I walked for days through the rain.  I learned that I had to have a different definition of self beauty in 100 percent humidity.  I was humbled by my flipflops.  I was raised up by beautiful friendship.  My heart is full when I think about Hong Kong.

The last photo of my post is of my HK metro pass…it is so freakin cute, and I’m saving it for the next time I get to HK.

HelloKitty metro card/device

FB Black & White 5 Day Challenge: Day 3 Hong Kong Kowloon Hallway

5D CHALLENGE HK Kowloon apt hallway BW_

Here is Day 3 of the Black & White Challenge!

I lived many places during my Sabbatical, and this is the hallway of one of them.  I was finding it challenging finding a place to stay in Hong Kong, and tried out Couch Surfing.

I stayed with a very generous and wonderful woman.  She shared the flat with her young daughter, and a German fellow, that had been in China for a long time, and was renting sleeping space.  The space was so tiny, even including the toilet and kitchen areas, that the generosity of allowing me the sofa made me feel a powerful gratitude.  The sofa was half my length, but gratitude made it a wonderful two nights sleep.

 

Friendships made while Surfing Couches and flying from Singapore to Hong Kong

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Often people ask if I’m traveling to find myself. I, happily, really like who I am. I also know who I am. It is because I know myself that I choose, or perhaps feel driven to travel.

I absolutely love the people in my life, and my home. I also deeply love experiencing other ways of life and making new friends when I travel.

Traveling for an extended time is an amazing experience, and challenging, too. Unless you are in a single place for at least a month or so, it is hard to make new friendships, and not to be looked through by shop keepers. Even when you are quite comfortable with your own company, it can occasionally be a bit lonely.

So far, I’ve used AirBnB for most of my lodging. The idea is that people rent out a room in their home or entire flat, and thus have some cultural exchange. Many times it has been a wonderful experience. A few of the times the rentals were run by a rental company, and not very personal. I don’t enjoy those as much. As I was planning Singapore and Hong Kong, most were agencies or hostels, not homey. So, I tried something different.

I just experienced Couchsurfing for the first time.

Couchsurfing is a online board that people can use to find travelers to Host or Couches to Surf. There is no expectation of payment, just cultural exchange, help around the house, or maybe a small souvenir from the Surfer’s home. Or even just conversation.

The process is like this:

  1. Go to Couchsurfing.com and create a profile.
  2. Start a search on where you want to visit, and look through the Host profiles, and see what is a good match. See if your interests mesh, do they have something to share that would be meaningful to you? Do you have something to offer to teach, learn, share with them?
  3. When you find a Host that looks good, send a CouchRequest to them and see if they offer to Host you.

There are all kinds of people in the world, and it is the same in the Couchsurfing world, too.

My first Couchsurfing experience was great! Weizhen, my Host in Singapore is a great person, and we had wonderful conversation about Massage Therapy, which I practice, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which she is practices. She picked me up from the metro stop and we went to dinner. She asked what I liked, and chose the place, and I treated. I think she was planning on treating, but I beat her to the register.

After dinner and great conversation, she took me to her clinic, where I slept in the treatment room on a massage table. I’ve slept many a time on my own table, and on more uncomfortable beds, so I slept well.

She returned the next morning, and when she found out that I was having some, shall we say, “abdominal discomfort of the travelers variety”, she gave me a consult and prescription of Chinese herbal medicine. THEN, she said when I return to Singapore in a couple if weeks, return to her and she will provide a treatment for another issue (was also diagnosed by a TCM practitioner in NH, USA).

As I write this, I’m flying from Singapore to Hong Kong. I “kind of” have a second Couchsurfing spot lined up. My next Host’s English is loads better than my Chinese, but seeing as I only know how to say “Hello” and “Thank you”, that isn’t saying much.

My seat mate is a woman from Singapore named Lillian. We are having wonderful conversations, and she has been brainstorming on possible options for who she knows who could host me. Her thoughts are so generous! She insisted on buying me a muffin and coffee! If our schedules allow, we may meet for coffee while she is in Hong Kong, and she offered to take me to dinner when I return to Singapore.

A day or so ago, I was feeling not so good, and like a stranger every where I went. (Cuz I am – LOL). I thought hard about what I wanted from my experience, and wished to find warmth of spirit and to feel cared for, and like magic, I was gifted with these people.