Monday, February 4, 2013

The Final Week

Annie and I in the lobby of our swank hotel
My last week in Hong Kong, my oldest sister and my mom made the trek overseas to visit. My sister’s journey was considerably shorter than my mom’s. Ann currently lives in Seoul with her husband, Sang Jun, and they have a baby on the way. 

My plan was to meet them at the airport, but plans went slightly askew when my return flight from India was cancelled two hours before my last exam, and 12 hours before I departed for my 19 day journey across Southern India. After several stressful hours, I managed secure a flight back to Hong Kong…two days later than originally planned. I was convinced my mom who not a newbie at world travel would be fine navigating her way to the hotel in a foreign city without me. Apparently she was not amused and mentioned more than once, “I’m glad at least one of my daughters could meet me at the airport.” Despite her trepidation, Ann and Mom did just fine without me. They found their hotel, saw Victoria Peak and Hong Kong Park, and even successfully navigated the MTR. I arrived the evening of their second day and immediately scolded them for overpaying for food. They had a lot to learn. 

My plan for the seven days we had together was basically to boil down my entire semester into one week. My goal was to make Ann and Mom love Hong Kong as much as I do. By Ann’s third day, she was sold. She loved the family atmosphere, the greenery, and the warm weather. Mom took a bit longer to come around, but I think she got there. 

Tai Po Dim Sum
I kicked off the “Semester Summary” with Dim Sum in Tai Po. This may be one of my favorite places to eat in Hong Kong (and one of the cheapest).  It’s not exactly a tourist attraction, and the old Cantonese men and women who sit with us for breakfast always get a kick out of our attempts at using chopsticks. The pork buns aren’t the best I’ve ever had, but when you’re stuffed after a meal for only 18hkd, you’ve got little to complain about. After the filling breakfast, I took them on an abbreviated tour of campus - seven months pregnant isn’t exactly conducive for wandering the mountainous campus of CUHK. Thoroughly determined to show them that New Territories and Kowloon have just as much to offer as HK Island - where they had spend their first few days - I did force them to do a bit of walking around Mong Kok to see the Bird Market and Ladies Market. Ending the evening with some tasty Chinese food at Mr. Wong’s, we headed back to the South side of the Island for the night. 

Last look at Central Campus
The next day, Mom was feeling a bit under the weather, so Annie I went to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens on our own. Ann, who has been in Korea for over a year, craved some Western food and with a stop into the Flying Pan, a 24-hour breakfast diner in Central, we satisfied it with waffles and pancakes. I think this meal really solidified Ann’s fascination with the city. “You mean you can get Western style food whenever you want?” I think Ann regretted such a short trip, but no less than I did as I most likely won’t see her again until she visits the States in (hopefully) September of 2013. 

After ditching Ann at the airport, Mom and I spent the remaining days crossing off the Must-Do’s on Mom’s Hong Kong list. We hit the 10,000 Buddha’s Temple, the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Tsim Sha Tsui for a sunset, the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, Symphony of Lights, the Star Ferry, Ozone Bar: the highest bar in the world, and the Mid-Levels escalators.  I even walked her through Lan Kwai Fong for a taste of the night life. 

Just takin' a breather
Sprinkled  between these stops that successfully showcase just how many people live in Hong Kong (7 million is a lot no matter how you count it), we hit some places less frequented by the general populace. We did attempt the hike up to Lantau Peak. Even after a semester of running hills, I wasn’t prepared for the hundreds of stairs leading up. I quickly realized why the hike was advertised as not for the faint hearted. I fell into the pace of counting my steps and asking for a break every 100 or so. Mom was a champ, leading the whole way. Indian food was our reward. Chungking Mansion - a building that exemplifies globalization - is the best place for Indian food in all of HK. After spending three weeks in India just a few days before, I was an expert at ordering. We took a day trip out to the beaches of Sai Kung. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t manage to ruin our lunch of delicious sea food and rice.

Indian Food - Never could remember the name of this restaurant. 
My last day in Hong Kong - though depressing because it was goodbye - was without a hitch. We went to Tai Po one last time for Dim Sum, Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin, an open air restaurant in Central which I had been to previously in the semester, and topped off the evening with Take Out Comedy: Stand up comedy, Hong Kong style. After a week, my mom was able to catch most of the jokes about the city, and I was able to explain the ones she didn’t. This day really encompassed what I love about Hong Kong: the food, the culture and the people. 

We had a wonderful week and by showing Mom all my favorite places and how I spent my semester, I realized how much I’m going to miss it. I truly fell in love with the city and the people I met there. On the flight back, I caught myself flipping through my passport, trying to ingrain the memories that accompany each stamp. Hopefully, this isn't the end of my collection. 


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