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Posts Tagged ‘asia’

Halloween 2009 in Hong Kong

Crowds, crowds, and more crowds. If you’re planning on celebrating Halloween in Hong Kong, most people head to Lan Kwai Fong to take part in festivities. Unlike most nights here, you’ll see people of all ages from young children to teenagers to adults. Here, they come to people watch, marvel at elaborate costumes, and simply take part in this fun holiday.

But beware! The crowds are enormous. You won’t be able to mingle freely around the area. Instead, the police set up barricades and people are herded into the area and out of the area. There are SO many people cramped together that it almost seems like we’re a herd of sheep. Last year, it took us about one hour to walk through the area. Lan Kwai Fong is a great area for people who have never experienced Halloween in Hong Kong, but it’s quite hectic! My friends and I went to Lan Kwai Fong, then headed over to Wan Chai to meet up with our Japanese and Korean friends. It was much more low-key, but still very fun!

Cats for Halloween!

 

Entering Lan Kwai Fong

As you can see, there are so many people crammed together to walk through the area.

 

Some people dressed up as Jabawokeez, a popular dance crew from the United States

A mother wanted us to take a photo with her children

Another fun event around this time is the Ocean Park Halloween Bash. Ocean Park is a normal theme park, but during the month of October, they transform it into a Halloween-themed area with spooky mazes, special on-stage shows, and monsters, goblins and scary creatures are all around the park trying to scare you. It’s a fun even that only comes to Hong Kong one time during the year!

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There’s something special about the language of basketball. You don’t need to know fancy vocabulary. You don’t need to speak with perfect grammar. Heck, you don’t even need to know how to connect nouns and verbs. All you need to know is this: basketball has no language barriers. It’s a sport that transcends all words or phrases. It’s simply a level of understanding that speaks far louder than words themselves.

That's me in the middle with two teammates

A few of my teammates

It’s something that I learned during my time on the New Asia basketball team at my exchange university in Hong Kong. From the moment I walked into the gymnasium for tryouts, I had no literal means of communication. The coach and players spoke to each other in Cantonese, and here I was, the lone American who didn’t know a speck of their native tongue. The other girls approached me with a nervous smile, not knowing how to talk to talk to me. The coach, unconfident of his English-speaking abilities,spoke to me through the team captain who knew bits and pieces of English. It was a situation that I had never encountered before. How can I be on a basketball team if I don’t even know what the players or coaches are saying? Will I make the team? If I do, how will I communicate with everyone?                                                                                  These were the questions running                                                                            through my head.

Action shots!

Coach talking in a team huddle

Well, the coach put me on the team, and we began our practices leading up to the league games. During practices we would sit in a circle and Coach would discuss plays on offense and defense. One of the girls would sit next to me and try her best to translate, but let’s just say a lot of things got “lost in translation.” Coach would ask: “Do you understand?” and i’d simply nod my head, and he’d continue talking in Cantonese. At first, it was overwhelming because I would literally be sitting in a 20 minute meeting not knowing a clue what was being said! Just imagine watching a foreign film with no subtitles. It’s difficult.

The New Asia basketball team. Can you spot me?

But as time continued, I started to realize that I could understand Coach. Basketball is a universal sport…no matter if you’re playing in America or Hong Kong. You talk differently in America, but you don’t play basketball differently. It’s all the same. It requires hard work, patience and dedication. I had played basketball my entire life, so it was just a matter of getting into the flow of things. I began focusing on the diagrams and pictures he’d write on the whiteboard. I’d watch his hand movements as he spoke and was able to understand. Most importantly, the more I practiced with my teammates, the more comfortable we became with each other. We would communicate through facial expressions and hand gestures. I realized that if you play with your absolute 100 percent effort, things naturally feel comfortable…just as if I were playing back at home in the states.

My team ended the season in second place in the league. I ended the season with a realization that basketball has no boundaries. Sure, I may not be able to talk to my coach or teammates, but I can play with them. Basketball is a universal language that knocks down all barriers and unites people together…no matter what corner of the world you may come from.

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After a one month hiatus, I am back and ready to update everyone on my travels during December! It was quite a busy time for me. In early December, I went backpacking with three other study abroad friends to Vietnam and Cambodia. It was by far one of the most amazing and exciting times of my life, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all! Right when I came back from my backpacking trip, one of my best friends Amy, and my sister Dayna visited me in Hong Kong for 4 days. I took them around “my” city – the place that i’ve grown so fond of – and we ate delicious food, and shopped till we literally dropped! Then, my sister and I met up with my family as we went on a 10 day tour of China. We visited Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai. It was a very culturally enriching trip filled with great memories!

All of this and more will be documented soon on my website…so please hold on! In the meantime, i’ve got a few photos from my trip to share with you all.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia:

Rene and I at Angkor Wat (sunrise):

The four of us with Cambodian children:

Cruising down the river in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam!

Climbing the Great Wall of China on Christmas Day:

Visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors/Soldiers in Xi’an, China:

Full updates to come!

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