China

China

At first glance, Hong Kong might appear to be just another sprawling modern metropolis that revolves almost entirely around technology, corporate business, and the global financial market. Little do first-time visitors realise that there is plenty more below the surface. For those eager to get off the beaten path and explore the hidden side of Hong Kong, these are some of the most fun and intriguing sights and activities in this modern city-state. Wander the walled villages The city's sleek, iconic skyscrapers reveal little about Hong Kong's rich history and culture. For that, visitors need to visit one of the…
This is not a joke. I was playing a little I Spy with one of my classes and this is how they manage to play it not feeling any discomfort or awkwardness. It actually describes just how people are in this country. Really, really blunt and direct (when it comes to others), not thinking about emotional consequences. Although at the same time, half of the time it doesn't make any sense when they say something. Because A. their English is average, B. they just are totally not direct at all. This is a world with al lot of contradictions. Once…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Friday, April 23, 2010) March 29, 2008 Bok Sa Town, Toishan, China Yesterday, I hoped to find the village of my great grandfather, Ma Bing Sum. I had thought he was from the village of Gong Hao. But it turns out that Gong Hao isn’t a village; rather, it’s a small district of many villages. Our hotel's owner, Mr. Wong, knew of one village where a 99-year-old man still lives, and he suggested we go there, in the remote hope that the man might have known my great-grandfather. It seemed unlikely, as…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Thursday, April 22, 2010) March 28, 2008Overseas Chinese HotelBok Sa Town, Toishan County, Guangdong Province, China In the town of Bok Sa, I'm not merely one of the few foreigners: I'm the only non-Chinese foreigner. As such, I've become an instant celebrity. Last night, our plump, smiling, short-haired, crooked-toothed waitress explained that many Overseas Chinese come here from America, but they all speak Chinese and they all look Chinese. That's why the people in this town keep staring at me, not quite as often as people stared the last time I came…
Normally Hong Kong is not perceived as a cheap holiday destination. However, it can be. Budget travellers from around the world come to Hong Kong to get a new stamp in their passport, explore the city and surrounding it hills, get a Chinese visa or to change flights because Hong Kong airport offers cheap flights to most destinations around the world. It is a busy Asian financial centre, developed by British and then passed over to Chinese. Both cultures, as well as others, have left clearly visible marks in the architecture and culture of this place. With $100 Hong Kong…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Tuesday, April 20, 2010) March 26, 2008Hong Kong I wanted a “hearty” breakfast. Fiona Zhu wasn’t familiar with that word, so I said, “I want to eat a meal that will make me feel full and make me strong… so I can walk all day.” She still seemed at a loss, possible because I also said I wanted to eat what locals eat. Finally, I mentioned jook, a rice porridge usually served with bits of meat and vegetables. I’d never eaten it before, but it was something my Uncle Roy had told…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Sunday, April 18, 2010) March 26, 2008Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong Yesterday morning, Fiona Zhu and I ate breakfast at a noodle shop. I ordered rice noodles with pork in soup. I expected little bits of pork, and was disconcerted to see an entire chop in my bowl. It was tasty, although I could see why some people think Cantonese food bland compared to Szechuan or other, spicier regional cuisine. Our waitress also brought us a pile of steamed Chinese greens. The bitterness was a sweet reminder of childhood, when Chinese food…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Saturday, April 17, 2010) March 25, 2008Anne Black Guest House/YWCAKowloon, Hong Kong I have no idea what time it is, only that it’s still a dark time of morning and few cars are passing on the usually busy streets of Kowloon, eleven stories below. I feel a fragile safety in my tiny cocoon of a room, about 10-by-8 feet, with a shared bathroom across the hall. It’s much like a college dorm room: clean, tiny, sterile, with two small twin beds and a sink, behind an anonymous door at the beginning of…
(Originally posted on the Girls Trek Too blog, Friday, April 16th, 2010) March 23, 2008United Flight 869Somewhere over the Gulf of Alaska I’m flying in a jet bound from San Francisco to Hong Kong, 30,000 feet above the Pacific, taking the same journey my great-grandfather took 100 years ago on that same ocean’s surface - in reverse. When he left Victoria Harbour for San Francisco in 1908, he couldn’t have guessed that one of his many descendants, a woman who never met him, would be able in the space of just 13 hours to retrace the trip that was about…

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