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Posts Tagged ‘travel in asia’

Can you believe it’s already 2011? The holidays passed by so quickly, but they were filled with good times, good food, and good laughter as always. This year, I was the designated “family holiday card designer”, so I created a collage with some of our travel photos from this past year. We did quite a bit of traveling: my younger sister Danielle volunteered in orphanages and schools in Burma and Thailand over the summer, my other sister Dayna worked in a medical clinic in Honduras, and my older sister went all around Costa Rica. It was a snippet of our year in review!

Hopefully everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday season. December updates are coming soon….but for now, a holiday card from my family to yours!

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The view of the harbor in Hong Kong

The view of the harbor in Hong Kong

It’s been a little bit over one month since I bid farewell to the California sunshine, the overwhelming traffic on the freeways, and the eclectic mix of people, places and things in Los Angeles. In its place, I encounter the heat and humidity – mixed with typhoons and torrential downpours of rain, the daily usage of the MTR and taxis, and the swarms of people invading your space no matter if you like it or not. Although Hong Kong is a huge, bustling metropolitan city, it is a stark contrast to that of Los Angeles. But just as I love living in Los Angeles, I love living in Hong Kong also – but for different reasons. It’s truly a wonderful city filled with bright lights, vibrant energy and a unique culture.

With that said, from my short time here, there are many observations – cultural, societal – that I’ve come to understand. Living in a new city is completely different than visiting a city – a very personal and real experience.

People are extremely efficient
In America – or in California, at least – people live life at their own pace. Some do things in a scurry, others have the So Cal “laid back” vibe. But in Hong Kong, everyone is so efficient and things are done in the quickest, most productive way possible. This seems to save time, money and energy. For instance, when people walk – they walk with a purpose. In the MTR, people walk from one train to another train – and they look focused on their destination. No dilly dallying, they cut to the chase. We Americans – as i’ve noticed – walk slowly and “stroll” to the next destination.

Get used to the MSG, oil, and “others” in your food.
If you live in Hong Kong, you must get used to the massive amounts of oils and MSG included in your food. You can’t escape it – everything is soaked (or so it seems) in oil. When I first arrived, I had pounding headaches because of the food. However, you do get used to it because, well, you have no choice. In Los Angeles, people seem to be more and more health conscious and eat foods with very little oil, MSG, and extra “added” ingredients. You don’t see too many things drenched with oils. But here in Hong Kong, anything goes. (But I also assure you that the food is wonderful!)

A city that never sleeps?
Even at 11 p.m. at night, swarms of people fill the streets. Food vendors are selling their delicacies, tea houses have youngsters socializing, herds of people are shopping in every store. It’s easy to accidentally think it’s 6 in the evening when it’s close to midnight – that’s because people are still out wandering the streets! You will rarely see this in Los Angeles, New York or Japan. Maybe Las Vegas, but that’s a whole different story.

People are more conservative
In California, if you wear shorts, a tank top and sandals, it is normal. In Hong Kong, people will know you’re a foreigner. People here – and in most Asian countries – dress significantly more conservative than their Western counterparts. Almost all women cover their shoulders, and wear longer length shorts and pants. They tend to layer alot – layer shirts, sweaters, etc. People will stare at you if you’re dressed “revealing” – by their terms, that is. Also – people do NOT wear sandals. Those are considered “peasant,” so if you’re wearing sandals they also know that you’re most likely a foreigner. But in California, everyone wears Rainbow sandals – it’s a no brainer.

Transportation like no other place on earth
In Hong Kong, there are several forms of transportation: MTR (similar to a subway system), taxi, double decker bus, public light bus, double decker trams (the ONLY city in the world with this), ferry, and of course – walking. Where on earth do you have all of these options? New York – no. Tokyo – no. You can live in Hong Kong and never drive a car. It’s so simple and easy to get everywhere and anywhere in Hong Kong.

Pedestrians do not have the right-away
One important thing you must get used to is the fact that pedestrians do NOT have the right-away. Taxis and cars will not stop to let you walk across the street – even if it’s clear that you’re about to jolt across. Therefore, you must be safe, and always – i repeat ALWAYS – look both ways before crossing the street. The other day in Causeway Bay, a woman was hit by a car and was transported via ambulance to the hospital. Of course, there are few hit and runs because cars have nowhere to speed off to.

Be prepared for: heat, humidity, rainstorms and typhoons
The weather fluctuates a great deal here. It is generally hot and humid, but here and there a massive downpour of rain will occur – with a few lightning showers here and there. And be prepared for typhoons – there are three levels: 3, 8, 10. When it is level 8 or above, everything is shut down: no work, no transportation, no school, nothing. Everything is closed down.

Walk, Walk, Walk!
Sometimes I wonder why everyone is slim here in Hong Kong. It’s a city of non-stop eating: restaurants, tea houses, street food, dessert shops, you name it. But why is everyone so slim? It’s gotta be the walking! If you live in Hong Kong, you’ll walk everywhere – it’s just a part of the culture and lifestyle of Hong Kong. Everything is so easily accessible because of transportation. In America, we drive everywhere! We drive to the mall, try to find the closest parking spot available (because we hate walking), and then proceed.

Snapshots from the city (more to come later!):

Stanley Bay

Stanley Bay

Another view from the Harbor

Another view from the Harbor

IMG_2438

Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island - One of the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha in the world!

Dinner with friends at Rice Paper. Sitting outdoors, overlooking the harbor.

Dinner with friends at Rice Paper. Sitting outdoors, overlooking the harbor.

...And the food.

...And the food.

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