Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two months in: a birthday reflection

Four years ago on my birthday, I was new to Korea, setting up our home and getting used to a

new school, not to mention a new culture and language and landscape and opportunities.

Now, as I turn forty eight, the same can be said about Hong Kong. "Life is an adventure"

seems to be the mantra these days. I would not have foreseen that five years ago!

So the forties have held much more adventure than I could have anticipated. Then again, there

is something quite quotidienne about life, nonetheless. That is good, too, I have found. There is

something comforting and relaxing about the everyday, and when it is gone, one misses it.

But I suppose my readers are less interested in the mundane routines that are developing here

and more interested in the notable, exciting moments of being an expat in Hong Kong.

Let me start with spiders and heat and humidity. Once we were settled in our apartment

enough to venture forth,
we discovered that it really is quite hot and humid

here in the summer. I mean hot and humid, even for a Mid western Wisconsin girl. But we

held our own, showered more often, and did like the natives by carrying our own shade! An

umbrella! (In the Victorian Age it would have been a parasol, I know!) All good, except for the

spiders, black and yellow and as big as my hand. Found in abundance, even three and four

webs in a single tree! It is hard to get a good picture of them as they camouflage themselves

quite well. And you might think, "so what, how often do you run across these things

anyway?" The reality is EVERY DAY. This is because I like to go on walks on paths through

the county park system or down to the beach.
Pretty much wherever there is a tree there is

a spider. Not poisonous, I am told. Good. On some of the more narrow paths through the

mountains the trees - and therefore webs - are quite close. Lucky for me I am nearly over my

phobia! So I am doing okay. But if I ever walk into one of the webs and get a spider on me, you

can bet I will be saying "so long" to Hong Kong! Okay, a bit of a hyperbole there, but still!

More recently we have had a few adventures outside our immediate vicinity. One of the

quintessential Hong Kong experiences to have is to go on a junk trip. This is a party boat Hong

Kong style. The HKIS. Community kindly organized a trip just last week. Awesome! The boat

picked us up at the pier close to the school about 330 pm and took off for five hours of floating

and swimming.
We started with the lovely lush landscapes of the southern side of Hong Kong

island. Pretty soon we were in the middle of the shipping lane with as many as ten cargo ships

visible in our immediate area at any one time, then to a remote beach of lama island, we think,

then at dusk we headed to port in the Central District just as the famous laser and light show

was going on between skyscrapers on Hong Kong island and Kowloon. So, the ever changing

views were spectacular, but the company and hospitality on the boat were just as noteworthy.

What a joy to continue making new friends over drinks, hours d'oevres and dinner (steak,

salmon, chicken entres).

A few days later more socializing and with a different group. This time with the Church of All

Nations hiking group. We headed to Lamma Island by ferry, about a 35 minute ride for two

dollars US. This was our first time. Lovely! The island does not support motorized vehicles so

everyone is walking or biking. First, we walked past many little shops and eateries that I would

love to back to exploring. Next we headed up the paved path to the top and then down the

mountain, a very doable trek, although a bit hot.

 Thanks, umbrella! Finally, we ended

up at the seafood restaurant area where we ordered many amazing dishes to share with our

new friends, family style you could say, it really Chinese style.

Tonight I am anticipating a lovely dinner out with my family to my favorite restaurant in our

nearby town of Stanley. Chez Patrick! Best French restaurant since France. Yum.

Other notable events have been the wonderful opportunities to see friends made in Korea. I

guess one of the advantages to being in Hong Kong is that we are at a hub for travel in Asia.

What a joy it has been to eat, drink, hike, and catch up with friends upon several occasions

already. We look forward to many more visitors.