First of all-- the aspect of Hong Kong that I've most appreciated in my short 42 hours here has been the fact that I've found a people who love their carbohydrates as much as I do. Heaping piles of fried noodles, pork congee (basically mashed rice stew), and dim sum (assorted dumplings with mashed lord knows what inside and seaweed-wrapped rice balls with beefy goodness inside) ... at 7am? can't go wrong with that breakfast of champions. oh yeah, and accompanied by coffee thicker than the tar Pants makes when he uses a scoop of grounds per cup of water.
Jac, one of the WSC leaders who will be traveling with us for the first week or so, has done a really great job of compacting what I would consider DAYS worth of sightseeing here into about 16 hours between yesterday and this morning. He's done the Hong Kong scene enough to know the best places to see, the best times to go, and the best ways to get there. Super efficient, although when (yes, mom, not if but when) I come back I'll have barely any clue how to ever get back to anywhere we visited.
Seriously though, Hong Kong = AWESOME. Whoever dubbed Paris the city of lights clearly had never visited Hong Kong and looked out over the Hong Kong Island skyline from Kowloon Peninsula. It really puts any large
city I've ever visited to shame. They even have a nightly laser light show, which isn't all that impressive but it's hard to top the already incredible skyline. We definitely made sure to hit up the night street markets and I picked up a pair of Kanye glasses for less than 6 bucks. completely impractical, but perfect for the photo ops. those have already come out multiple times during our adventures.
Jac has done a really great job in making everything really applicable to our experience as well-- at first I didn't really understand how Hong Kong could be an additional training site. One of our main stops around Central District on Hong Kong Island was a shopping centre run by predominantly Filipinos-- a hotspot for poor Filipinos to come and work, many for years at a time, and send money back to their families. Many of the young women we met that were working there had multiple young children back home that they had not seen for upwards to three years. Ridic. They even had PNB Remittance Centres (Philippine National Bank) in the complex where they could go to send their paychecks straight back to the Philippines. Ridic again. Another stop was a Doaist Temple where even just walking up we witnessed a woman throwing piles of red and gold embroidered papers into an incinerator.
hoi?! later learned it was temple money she had purchased to burn and send up to whatever ancestors of hers she wanted to appease... either they were high rollers or she'd done something really big to piss them off because she was burning TONS of this stuff. Crazy amounts of incense, candles, ritualistic prayer mantras, and instruments to wake up the ancestors to hear their prayers. Flashes of scenes from Mulan definitely kept running through my head.
Alot of the rest of the day yesterday was spent wandering around the streets and definitely on Hong Kong Island I
felt like we were in one huge botanical garden. They're super big on maintaining the right shui (seriously, i'm not making this up) and so even heavily-trafficked streets are still lined with all kinds of crazy shrubbery and perfectly groomed plants lining every pedestrian bridge. Seriously, every turn had a cool photo op. Our last stop this morning was in Kowloon Park where alot of locals go for Tai Chi sessions and we were too late to see the mass crowds but there were definitely some cute old men still there. I've definitely discovered that my strange obsession with the geriatric population still stands cross-culturally. of course. Hong Kong has definitely grown on me but I'm excited to finally get to the Philippines and figure out just exactly what the heck I'm doing this summer! Just one more plane ride!!