A Home Away From Home

You never really realize how much you miss home until a family orientated public holiday rolls around. There is something about spending your first holiday alone as a 20-something year old (though I bet it’s the same at any age), that really gets to you. After having spent 21 Thanksgivings at home with my family in Chicago, it was an entirely different feeling to have to celebrate one without them all. Even relatively newer traditions, like the one I have with my best friends from elementary school (#Cantysquad), I find myself missing immensely. Even though I had considered I would be spending the holidays without my family before I came, I never could have predicted how hard it would hit me until the day I skyped my family on Thanksgiving while they were all around the dinner table and I was at work. Something about that seemed entirely too surreal, not being able to be by the people you love most and the people you have spent all of your major holidays with.

Halloween was possibly the easiest to handle. Having spent the last four years partying studying diligently at UIUC, Halloween was a holiday to be reckoned with. While I knew I wouldn’t exactly miss my family back at home for this, I didn’t expect missing a whole other kind of family; the ones I made for myself at school. The people who were there for me everyday for four years slowly but surely became my second family; people I could rely on no matter what happened. So coming up on a holiday like Halloween, which UIUC and my college family does to perfection, I couldn’t help but think Hong Kong had no way of competing. Between the frat parties our freshman year to the late nights on tables in bars our senior year- UIUC won Halloween. There was also something great about having people to do costumes with- something that made it entirely too easy and fun. From freshman year slutty occupations to cowgirls and cabaret girls to gangsters with toy guns to tigers (and leaving a trail of orange body paint that is probably still all over that apartment to this day)… you could say we had Halloween in the bag.

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To be honest, I thought there was no way Hong Kong could even compare to those times. Sure, it is an incredibly city, but so was Chicago and as well as Champaign, with the right people. So here comes this holiday that I genuinely love, and I was dreading it. I was dreading coming up with a costume, figuring out what to do and especially, figuring out how it would be without the main people I have shared it with for the past 4 years of my life. I had this idea in my head that it had no way of comparing… and boy was I wrong. Halloween in HK is something everyone should experience in their lifetime.

I decided I wanted to go as piñata. Partially because I really had no idea what else to be and also because pinterest kept throwing the idea back to me. So I bought a cheap dress from H&M (basically my go-to store here— the amount of things in my closet from there is ridiculous) and started gluing on streamer pieces. I had it stretched over a chair…. but forgot to stretch the top part as I was gluing. Thank goodness for an incredible roommate who is willing to reach up into your dress and pull it down to make everything fit as it is supposed to. Being a piñata was probably the most fun I have had with a costume. Although I started off the night like this:

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By the end I was just in a dress with little pieces of fabric here and there. I didn’t really take into consideration what dancing would do to my dress… nor did I consider that people would pull the streamers off for fun. For anyone who wants to try the piñata costume, it is a lot of work but definitely well worth it. Somehow, I still managed to keep the hat on, by some miracle:

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Halloween in Hong Kong was an absolute blast, and even that is putting it lightly. Almost everyone I worked with was out in LKF, basically this large area that has a ton of bars, and drinking and having a great time with one another. Everyone genuinely loved being together, and that made the experience that much better. We danced, we laughed, we made fools of ourselves, and it was fantastic. The amount of ridiculous photos I have from that night still make me laugh to this day, and I can’t help but be grateful for this incredible experience in this city that I was starting to doubt just a little bit.

That doubt and homesickness slowly crept in again this past week.

I have never been a person to stay put in one place for long. I absolutely love the thrill of the adventure. There is something about going to a new place that makes me incredibly happy. My mother will be the first to tell you that staying put has never been my forte. Which is why a year in Hong Kong didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Sure I would miss a few holidays, but it would be fine. We all have to grow up sometime right?

Apparently, my brain had an entirely different idea. All day Thursday, more anything, I wanted to somehow develop the ability to teleport home so I could just go and be with my family for Thanksgiving. I never even thought it would be a holiday I would miss that much, until it was something that only a few people here really heard of/participated in. Everyone usually associates Christmas and such with the image of a big happy holiday that is so family orientated, and up until this Thanksgiving, I had the same idea. It wasn’t until I could’t be there with my family that it really hit me how much Thanksgiving actually meant.

That’s why I can’t help but be incredibly grateful for the people I have met here and who came together to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Most of them had never celebrated, and some had never even seen a turkey that large before (basically the size of a standard turkey that we have every year). We catered a meal (this whole no oven thing is really getting to me), rented out my buildings clubhouse, and spent Thanksgiving together. Between the absolutely amazing food, the incredible company, and of course the stellar karaoke (if you haven’t seen my snap story yet, do yourself a favor and watch it), it actually became one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to be able to see my family and close friends from home, but apart from them not being there, it was a pretty damn near perfect Thanksgiving; I don’t think anyone could have found better company for Thanksgiving.

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My super cheesy update comes to an end with just a big thank you for the wonderful people I have in my life- both in Hong Kong and back home; people who make spending holidays away from home a lot easier and who make karaoke way cooler than it will ever be :P.

Broken knees and theme parks

I apologize that it has been such a long time since my last post, but it has all been entirely too hectic of the late. I had my first experience with Ladies Night a week or so ago. For those that don’t know, Ladies Night isn’t actually just one night; it is actually several nights in several different locations in which women get to drink for free. Yup, absolutely free. One more time, free-ninety-nine. Think about how dangerous that is in general, and then think about how dangerous that is for someone like me.

Needless to say, it was an experience in itself. We had a two day public holiday (celebrating National day-ironic considering all the people protesting against China) in which we did not have work. Knowing that I could never do a Ladies Night and make it to work fully functioning the next day, this was the perfect opportunity to experience Ladies Night. I was fully aware that I could semi-die and have the rest of Thursday to recuperate. Perfect plan. Until I took a step off of a bar (no, not a bar table, an actual bar- yeah, I’m that girl) and landed straight onto my knee. When I tell you my knee was swollen and bruised- that would be the understatement of the year. But of course did that stop me? Nope. My knee was probably the size of a baseball and purple to boot, but do I let that ruin my night? You had damn well better believe I didn’t. Instead, we all found a bar open what I have to assume is all night- conveniently called Dusk till Dawn (I think?), and danced away until dawn. The MTR stops running around 12:45-1 AM ish, and starts again around 6 am. So if you are already out around 3 and having a good time, somehow it makes logical sense to continue dancing and be merry until the MTR starts running again.

Don’t get me wrong- I had a great time. I danced and drank and danced some more. They played songs that I could sing along to and dance along with- it was great. We stayed as a group, got Mcdonalds at 6 am, and then took the MTR home. Let me paint you the lovely image that I was at 6:30 am on the train. In last nights dress, make-up that was probably all gone and gross from dancing all night, and bruises all up and down my legs, basically limping home, as the sun was coming up. Even my doormen couldn’t help but laugh as I walked through the door- I was quite a sight.

Now, if I had just gone home like any normal and sane person after falling and iced my knee- I probably would have been fine. Instead, I stupidly decided to spend my night dancing and ignoring my knee- and I am still paying the price for that. I had a grand total of 5 massive bruises all up and down my legs. I had to wear pants to work everyday so I wouldn’t scare my kids with how bad my legs looked. Somehow I managed to fall in a way that not only bruised my one knee, but also bruised the back of it, and my thigh on my other leg as well as both of my shins. Yup- I was a mess. My knee was so purple that it was almost black and so swollen I could barely walk. I couldn’t make it to the hospital to get it drained because getting to the hospital would require walking, and that wasn’t an option. To this day I still live in fear that something will knock into it because its still bruised, however it has been fine until I had the brilliant idea that spending all day on my feet at Ocean Park would be wise.

Yup. Not so much-currently re-swollen and being iced as we speak. Would I do it all again though? You betcha. Ocean Park is almost like a milder form of Six Flags in terms of rides- but the setting of it is SO much cooler. It has two parts basically. One at the bottom of this mountain base that has aquariums and a panda enclave and all this cool stuff. Then you take a cable car up to the top, and you get to the area that has a ton of awesome rides and such. The cable cars were a trip on their own:

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HOW COOL IS THAT?! And so you will look over at one side and you have rides and awesome roller coasters and you look over the other side and you see this:

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Talk about stunning. So anyways, the rides were fun and all but clearly have nothing on the Raging Bull or Superman back home. Honestly though, that made it that much easier to go on. As someone who is horribly terrified of roller coasters/scary things, me willingly going on a ride is a pretty big deal. I kept telling myself “I survived Raging Bull, I can survive this.” I actually enjoyed the rides quite a lot. My favorite was probably the hair raiser that took you over the side of the mountain and you had the sea on the other side; not that you noticed any of that as you were flipping and turning along. For reference, Raging Bull:

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HairRaiser:

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Quite a bit of a difference- especially in scenery, however fun nonetheless. This place had super fun rides that took you upside down and all around. I also quite enjoyed the swings because, lets be honest, I’m secretly 12 years old. There is no better feeling than the ones the swings give you. It’s almost as if you are flying through the air if you close your eyes and spread your arms out. I absolutely loved it.

With it being October and this close to Halloween, Ocean Park had a lot of Halloween-esque activities. There were scary and awesomely dressed people walking all around for your entertainment. I met this guy- aka new boyfriend:

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This got much creepier at night when they would come up to you and scare the crap out of you for fun. They also had haunted houses that were terrifying. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big baby. I can’t do scary movies without a hand to hold and something to cover my face when it gets to scary. Haunted houses? I need someone in front of me and someone behind me so I can hold both hands and be protected on both sides. None of that changed here. We all went through the haunted house holding hands and screaming together. Honestly, I may have laughed more than I screamed as I watched people in front of me get terrified. Not that it helped seeing where the people were jumping out of- I still screamed and hid, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It got to the point where the very last person I actually pointed at and screamed “NO, I KNOW YOU ARE THERE, YOU CANNOT SCARE ME.” Pretty sure I got a good chuckle out of him, but I definitely made my point haha.

Anyways, on top of rides and haunted houses and such, they also had awesome aquariums set up. Now I have a deep love for elephants. If I could run away and live my life on an elephant sanctuary- I would be the world’s happiest camper. However, penguins are taking a close second in my heart. I mean, look how adorable:

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Meep. They are the cutest little things. Watching them waddle all around gave me life.

Anywho, all that exploring was as brutal as it was enjoyable so I spent most of today teaching and being exhausted, and now I am finally catching up on my shows (mildly too terrified to watch American Horror Story on my own) and icing my knee like the broken person that I am.

Sorry (not really though) that this is so long.

– Broken but enjoying every minute of it.

Beach Bums and Democracy

It’s amazing the amount of love and safe wishes I have gotten this past week from family and friends due to the protests happening in Hong Kong, and as much as I appreciate it, I am not the one who needs it. For those who don’t know, Hong Kong is currently home to a movement called Occupy Central and something more recently labelled the Umbrella Revolution. Now, I don’t claim to know all the sides of this, nor do I claim to be a pro on the topic. I am far from it. What I do know is this. Hong Kong and China exist in something that they call “one country, two systems.” This means that when the UK handed Hong Kong to China, the main government in Beijing allowed Hong Kong to have certain freedoms that are not allowed for mainland Chinese people.

These rights include things such as freedom of speech and freedom of press (this is also why I am allowed on Facebook in Hong Kong, but in China I would not be). Beijing stated that in the 2017 elections, Hong Kong would be allowed to chose their own leader as opposed to just one Beijing appointed. Recently, Beijing has seemed to back out of these agreements and stated that it would allow Hong Kong to vote for their leader, however the list of candidates would be vetted by Beijing, and ultimately the person in power would be someone who is pro-Beijing. For this reason, the people of Hong Kong are angry (and rightfully so). Mainly people are worried that China is trying to slowly but surely incorporate Hong Kong and take away the freedoms which have been allotted to the people of Hong Kong and not those of China. The people of Hong Kong are protesting peacefully for democracy, which in this day and age, I personally feel as if they have every right to.

However, as peaceful as these protests have been, the Hong Kong police responded with an unusual amount of force, wearing militia style gear, carrying militia style guns with rubber bullets, and even using tear gas on peaceful protestors. The protestors are using goggles, masks, and umbrellas for protection against the tear gas, but some have still been injured in some of these clashes. The protestors have even been seen having their hands up in the Ferguson-protest style of “hands up don’t shoot” (hitting a little close to home). Despite the injuries and the use of unnecessary police force, the masses keep coming, and keep fighting (peacefully) for a cause that they believe in.

I am by no means an expert on this subject, and I am fully aware that there may be details I have gotten wrong. However, these are some of the things that I have stumbled upon as I spend more and more time researching the topic and speaking with friends who have been inside the protests. While Hong Kong has been my home for a short time, it holds a pretty special place in my heart. Despite the grumbling and moaning that I do occasionally, these people are some of the best in the world. They have every right to protest peacefully for a cause that was promised to them and to fight for something they believe in with every fiber of their being.

As a person who has grown up in a place with a fairly decent amount of freedoms allotted to me, I can’t imagine what it is like to fight for something like this. I am not naive enough to believe that the American government is perfect, I know that is far from the truth; however, I am given choices that allow me to have some sort of voice in my future and my future leader. I am given the opportunity to choose. That is all these people are fighting for: a chance to be able to choose their own future, a chance to participate in that decision making process. That is why I choose to wear my yellow ribbon in solidarity with those fighting for this cause. I believe these people are fighting for a just cause, and I only hope that the conflict is resolved peacefully.

Most of the information I have gotten is from this article, which offered me a pretty great explanation of what was going on, and probably does a lot better at explaining everything than my ramblings did: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/28/6856621/hong-kong-protests-clashes-china-explainer

I highly suggest reading it. Meanwhile, as I appreciate all the well wishes and hopes for safety, send them towards the people who really need it; for the people who are camped out in areas over the city, the people who have had tear gas thrown at them and have had to deal with unnecessary force in order to prove their point. Send your support to them, because I know that’s what I will be doing.

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On a much much lighter note, I have finally visited a beach in Hong Kong, and I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was. No offense Lake Michigan, but you’ve got nothing on Hong Kong and Shek O beach. The beach itself was so wonderful, and the water was ridiculously warm. I can’t even begin to explain how fantastic it was. I could probably spend the rest of my life as a beach bum and be perfectly content. I don’t think I need anything more in my life than a beach, some sand, and a little bungalow; a fruity little drink in a pineapple couldn’t hurt either 😉

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Let It Goooooooo

My Elsa drawings for my kids have gotten so on point lately, because all my girls always want me to draw her (I am just kidding- it’s still pretty terrible but they seem to enjoy it). It amazes me how much of a trend Frozen STILL is. I had a class of 8 boys ranged from 2-5.5 years old, and they decide that it is time to sing “let it go” at the top of their lungs, TOGETHER. It was quite honestly perfect and the most hilarious moment I have had all week. I couldn’t even stop them to continue the lesson because it was just so entertaining to watch a group of all boys belt out Let It Go. I didn’t have the heart to tell them no, so instead I let them sing for a bit and even sang along with them; probably my favorite class for the week. Hopefully you all saw my snap chat story, because even though I couldn’t record the actual singing that even made my center manager come by and burst out laughing, I did catch them again as they were leaving and singing :).

I haven’t got anything new or exciting happening, just some random fill-ins of my life at the moment. 🙂 Currently I have decided to be mildly healthier than I have been for the past month (all of the pringles….), and I have started running in the mornings. Waking up at 6 am has been kicking my ass thoroughly, and even today at work I was a walking zombie; that is until I got my coffee and then I was practically bouncing off the walls- there is never a happy medium. Coffee on a near empty stomach is never a good idea. Helloooo jitters. But  anyways, I have actually been pretty dedicated and have made it for the past 5 days. To make matters even better, I have been hitting the gym after work as well. I have discovered that the bicycle machine is super easy to do while I am browsing 9gag (thank god for wifi extending all the way to the gym), so my workout feels easy peasy (despite it not actually being easy and also kicking my butt by the end of it).

I couldn’t possibly take all the credit for actually getting myself out of bed every morning. I am the farthest thing from a morning person. My bed and I have a very loving and consistent relationship, especially when the air conditioning is on. There is nothing more enjoyable than laying and cuddling in my sheets for forever. Thank goodness for 13 hour time changes and an ever amazing best friend who texts me everyday at 6 am (5 pm her time) and makes sure my butt is up, out of bed, and getting ready for a run. Is your best friend as amazing as mine? I don’t even need an answer for that, because clearly the answer is no. 😛 (thanks Abbikins)

The view isn’t half bad either. I have found my own personal LSD to run by. run

It’s not quite Lake Michigan, but it’ll do. There is a bike path and a running/walking path, and a lovely bunch of people there every morning. The best part is the constant motivation that I am given. If I ever feel like quitting or just start to slow down for a bit, someone who is by far older than I am and way more in shape passes me up and I have to think “if they can do it, you had better try”. Then I give up hope again and I see an old man speed walking with his cane in hand and realize I have absolutely zero excuses. So, hopefully this lasts…

I also made guacamole today, and for those that don’t know, I have a pretty (un)healthy obsession with avocados… like it’s kind of intense how often I could eat them. As far as obsessions go, that’s a pretty great one to have. But still, it’s a problem. So anyways, I brought some guacamole to work and everyone tried some and seemed to think it was some of the best stuff. I even got told I was wifey material because of it, because I’m good like that *brushes shoulders off* 😛 haha.  To be honest, I think it has more to do with people not having had guac in a long time, than mine actually being really good. Or I am just fantastic at making things 🙂 duh. Not to toot my own horn, but I made a pretty fantastically yummy dinner tonight…

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I mean… where’s the ring on my finger?… hehe. In all honesty I also have a pretty huge obsession with rice. I may or may not have had it for the past 4 nights in a row. This is partially because I love it and partially because every time I make rice I make enough to feed an entire family of 8 with room for leftovers. I try to make less and every time it still seems like I made more. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN!?

Sorry not sorry that this entire post is basically about running and food. My adventures have not been that exciting as of late. But knowing me- that’ll more than likely change soon. My roommate, who seems to think I have this ability to drink obscene amounts of alcohol (and survive) all because of my Ukrainian-ness, has so graciously volunteered me to join our friend for his birthday to do the 10 shot challenge. Now while I am not currently game for death, we all know what happens once there has been alcohol in my system (que the night with all of the ukrainian vodka…. and basically senior year of college as whole- I’m a mess).

I am also feeling slightly deprived of my shopping stores. Lately I have become addicted to H&M, mainly because its so cheap and partially because there are so many close by. At home, the closest H&M stores were either downtown or at Old Orchard, so it was near impossible to get to. Forever 21 was where it was at. Here, the Forever 21 has almost 5 floors jam packed with things, and by the third floor I am overwhelmed. I have no idea how people do this, but I get to the third floor and I have my hands full with like 30 different items… and people are strolling around with one shirt. HOW?! I may or may not have a problem.. (you should see my closet- meep). But anyways, I miss my stores with easy accessibility to everything I need. Target, how I miss you Target. It’s funny how you can take something like a store for granted until you don’t have it anymore. Do you know how nice it is to go to one place for all of your needs? To be able to get some article of clothing, food, shoes, furniture, kitchenware, electronics, etc. all in one place? It is so surreal to me that something like that is not really a thing here.

To end this on a great note, I took a buzzfeed quiz about which woman character I would be in a movie (I blame Maggie for this), and buzzfeed decides this. It could not have been more accurate with description, this is me to the T (sorry Alia, spot is mine now :P):

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-Yours truly, the sass-queen 😛

Macau

I have only  been sea-sick once in my life. My mom on the other hand gets sea-sick all the time, so that severely limited the  vacation plans we could ever do. But anyways, I was in Belize, and we basically spent the entire time out on the water exploring the reefs. For the most part, I was fine. None of the different boats made me feel sick until we got onto this one little speedboat one. I thought I was dying, I kid you not. Even getting into the water did not help me. My stomach kept turning and my body just was not having it. I had to swim back to the boat early and just laid on the boat, because even though it was swaying, there was something solid below me so my body slowly re-adjusted.

Getting on the boat to go to Macau, I got that same “I might die” feeling once again. This morning the water was ridiculously choppy, so this boat was just swaying back and forth and up and down, and it was miserable getting on. Im talking everyone was just falling into each other and stumbling all over the place just to get to their seats. It’s like we were all a bunch of winos trying to find our way home… everyone stumbling over each other and grabbing hold of each other for support. I thought I was done for. A 55 minute right in that water with these waves? Meep. Luckily for me, it was fine as soon as the boat started going, so I didn’t have any issues, but boy was a worried for a little bit.

My trip to Macau was quite interesting to say the least. It is said to be like the Vegas of Asia, because it is where all the casinos are legal. This place was so pretty, and the casinos looked awesome! This one is probably my favorite and definitely one I will visit when I’m not quite as broke:

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I didn’t take this (obviously my camera skills are not THAT good), but the one I took didn’t come out well so there’s that :). Its called Hotel Lisboa and it seriously looked AMAZING, even from the outside, and it has a casino attached to the outside.

Next I went and explored Saint Dominic’s Church, which was quite pretty and wonderful to get to see from the inside.

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I got to explore the area and just basically followed the mass horde of people. And when I say mass horde, I mean that to the fullest extent of the word. You were pressed against people on all sides and just basically shuffled along until we got to where everyone was going. Which ended up being Saint Paul’s Ruins:

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and this obviously also called for some selfies:

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Couldn’t quite get myself all in (really should invest in a selfie stick haha), but there ya are :). There is an assortment of interesting and weird restaurants and stores all along the sides. There was one lady cutting up slabs of meat and everyone was taking pieces… I have no idea what I tried, but when in Macau right? Hahaha, it was quite an interesting thing to try, but I don’t know if I would recommend it, or even if I would take an entire chunk like some people were buying.

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I spent my time just roaming around that area; bought myself a pretty sweet shot glass thats has gold plating (had to add to the collection of course) and some more postcards! Yay! So if you didn’t get one before, and would like to get one now, hit me up and I’ll send one over 🙂 Or maybe I’ll just bombard my favorite people with some until I get letters back 🙂 You guys know who you are-be prepared.

Finally, I got to experience someone asking me to take a photo with them. I was just strolling on by, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a woman stopped me on the stairs and asked me to take a photo with her. Obviooooously she was just extremely captivated by my beauty, so I agreed 😛 But as soon as I said yes, ALL of her friends jumped in and wanted to be in the photo. So naturally I made them take one on my phone too haha. It was a lot of fun, and definitely a different experience.

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And I finally got my visa stamped, meaning I have the official go ahead to work in Hong Kong until next year 🙂 YAY. It’s real haha. I can’t help but think about how incredibly blessed I have been with this entire situation. Being an American, there are a lot of negative connotations that come with that title, and I can understand that. For the amount of good that some Americans do, there are so many that do bad things. However, being an American gives me the opportunity to get to travel to many different places on just my passport, which is incredible. It amazes me that some people don’t even realize the amount of places they can go, and how much of the world they can see. It also amazes that some people don’t want to see the world. I’m not talking about the people who physically can’t do it, I get that there are financial, emotional, physical, etc. reasonings for not being able to travel, and that I am incredibly lucky, but I also know there are people out there who are perfectly content in their own bubble of a town and don’t want to see anything beyond that. There are also people who wish they could travel, but there are places that aren’t open to them as easily as they are for people with an American passport. As much as it sucks, some places require visa’s and paperwork or a very limited stay (30 days vs. 90) and I realize that this puts me in an incredibly lucky situation. I am not saying it isn’t possible for someone who isn’t American to have the same experience, I am just saying that I am fully aware that my birthplace opens doors for me that are a lot easier for me to walk through than other people who have to work a little harder for it. That is why I can acknowledge just how blessed I am to be given the opportunity to be here and to travel as much as I can, while I can. There is so much of this incredible world that I want to see, and I can’t imagine staying put in one place for long, especially considering I have something that allows me to travel extensively. So here’s to seeing the world and filling out the visa stamps as much as possible in the back of my passport 😉 (Because I know you all not-so-secretly just want all of those pages filled out as well).

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Comments and Ponderings

Tourist season in Chicago is probably my worst nightmare. Anyone who is from there knows exactly what I am talking about. All you want to do is go downtown and stroll to the beach or go to Watertower, and you are constantly blocked every which why by massive amounts of tourists. These people take it upon themselves to walk as slow as humanly possible, in spread out lines so you can’t even cut around them, and decide to stop randomly without any type of notice so that everyone crashes into them. I realize I am stereotyping a whole collective group of people and that not everyone is like that. I also realize that I have been that person as well, so I am being slightly hypocritical. I get it, Chicago is a pretty sweet place. I would want to stop in and take in all the sites as well. But to walk with complete disregard for people around me? Really? There is just nothing more irritating than that. Maybe it’s just slow walkers that make me mad, I haven’t figured it out. I think I am just naturally used to walking quickly when getting from place to place, so walking at the slowest pace possible is mildly foreign to me.

This is why Hong Kong people occasionally make me angry. You have those people who will walk in front of you, and turn every which way so there is no way around them, BUT THEY WILL WALK AS SLOW AS POSSIBLE. Or the people who amble along taking their sweet time, and here I am running to catch a train because its 6:30 and I am EXHAUSTED and want to get home. Basically.. this is me everyday:

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There is nothing I can do or say, because I am entirely too passive aggressive to actually tell people to get out of my way or move them out of my way. So instead I just evil eye everyone until they get the memo and move. But then you have those people who are also in a rush, and no one seems to be going fast enough. I’m talking like they are running at full speed towards the MTR or god knows what else, and have no qualms about shoving you out of the way, AND THEN THEY DO THIS: (I didn’t make these, they just keep popping up randomly and pertaining to my life)

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…… are you joking? So the minute you get in front of me, AFTER YOU SEE ME SPEED WALKING, you slow down and go as slow as possible?! That’s like the people who cut you off when you are in the left lane of the interstate, and then proceed to drive the same speed at the person in the right line (two lane roads to Champaign-brutal). That kind of stuff drives me insane. If you know you are a slow walker/driver, STAY ON ONE SIDE. Please, don’t walk as sporadically as you possibly can and make it impossible to move around you. There’s millions of people walking around, this makes life extremely difficult.

And THEN there’s those people literally give zero shits. They will shove and move you and do whatever it takes to get to where they need to go. Maybe I should start throwing elbows? Because really, that seems to be the best course of action lately. Or maybe I am just very easily irritated, I’ll leave that up to you guys to decide 😛

Another thing I’ve picked up on also has to do with transportation. When it comes to the MTR, people will cram on there like sardines, which is normal for me. I need to get where I need to go as soon as possible, so you had better believe my butt is going to squeeze into that tiny spot and get onto the train to get to work/get home. No room? We make room. That’s how it was done back at home, and that’s how people do it here as well. Sometimes I am amazed by peoples’ abilities to cram into one train. I’ve seen some pretty crazy cramming abilities, but this takes it to a whole new level haha. Even I’m not brave enough to squeeze in sometimes.. mainly because the doors here don’t seem to give a shit whether you are on the train or not.. those suckers are closing. So if you get stuck in between them, you had better hope to god some kind soul is going to be there to help you out. I’m so used to the doors opening back up automatically if something/someone is caught in between them (which made for really annoying early morning train rides to school when people would just hold the doors open), so the idea that they won’t is kind of scary.

But then you get to busses, and its a completely different story. I’m so used to piling on busses, regardless of whether there is room for you. You are going to stand racks on backs with everyone around you, and become reaaaaallly close to the people who are around you. Personal bubble? Not a thing. But here? You can only get on the bus if there is an actual seat for you. No one here stands on the bus. At least not on the ones I have been on. It might be entirely different in the actual city, I have yet to experience that. But my bus driver will quite literally close the door in your face and drive away (not that that’s a new experience *Champaign bus drivers cough*) if there are no places for you to sit. It’s mildly disheartening. Most of the time I walk to and from the MTR station, but occasionally, I’m exhausted and would just love a bus ride home… sucks to suck I guess? Time to wait for the next one.

On a final note, I FINALLY had real chinese food, and boy was that a shit show. The amount of times I have tried to use chopsticks (those who have had sushi with me- you kn0w), is surreal. Each time, I am taught how to use them over and over again, and each time I forget (I also have this same problem with poker- I can never remember how to play, even though I’ve even taught at least 7 million times). So here we are, on a work outing to this decently nice Chinese restaurant with what seems like pretty authentic chinese food…. and I have no idea how to use my chopsticks. So I am slyly very obviously spearing my food with my chopstick like some kind of savage, looking around like a typical Westerner for a heaven sent fork- no such luck. Eventually I got the relative hang of it, but I am pretty sure I spent most of that lunch laughing than I actually did eating. The food was pretty decent, and I had dim sum for the first time (pretty tasty- it had curry which generally I don’t find too tasty but I actually quite enjoyed). Of course my favorite item that I tried was the chicken wing- typical American. But seriously- they were Buffalo Wild Wings level (without the sauce, so I guess not THAT good- but still pretty good). I almost wish someone could have recorded my attempts at eating with chopsticks- that would have been a real life. I also just noticed I have been spelling “chopsticks” like the word “chopstix”- AKA THE CHINESE FOOD RESTAURANT WE LIVED ON DURING COLLEGE- wah. someone take me back?

But in all seriousness, it was a pretty good lunch, and hopefully by the end of the year here, I will have a much better hang on Chopstix chopsticks…I make zero promises though.

The actual final note, I am beyond excited to go to an English bookstore, or to get my Hong Kong ID so I can get a library card (having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!! No? Anyone?..). I’m not even sure if they have English books there (probably not with my luck), but I was just informed of an English bookstore, and I can’t wait to go. I’m like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to books. Meep. This is basically my life.

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Also, my family is cuter than yours… 😛 miss them to pieces.

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One Month Down!

(This is a long one, sorry, bare with me) Just 11 more to go! 🙂 Except really, whose counting. So far its been a wonderful experience, so I am sure the next 11 months will be nothing less. Currently, I am hanging out at my apartment as tropical cyclone Kalmaeigi makes its way to China. While Hong Kong isn’t getting the full effect, we are getting some intense winds and little drizzles every now and then. I am kind of loving it to be honest, mainly because I have never been through anything worse than a massive snowstorm (spring break ’13- I’m looking at you).

Hong Kong has tropical cyclone warning systems that let people know exactly where the weather is at, to make sure you aren’t caught off guard. It’s pretty sweet, except I am getting notifications about hot weather on the daily (as if we would be getting anything besides hot weather) as well as rain warnings everyday (it has hardly rained…). But when a cyclone is coming, they have a system that starts with T1 and that just means it might come to your area, its a little far away so it won’t be too bad and there are some strong winds. It is basically standby mode. This was issued last night. T3 comes next (I’m not entirely sure why the numbers skip but they do). This basically consists of strong winds that are between 26-30 mph. Still not so bad, but it’s kind of where it all starts. That was issued this morning. T8 is the next one and thats when shit hits the fan. If a T8 is issued, we would be expected to leave work within a half hour to get home, as the train systems shut down within two hours of a T8 warning. The wind speeds can reach up to 73 mph, and they want to make sure people are home and not stranded somewhere outside. T8 is kind of the warning letting you know that a T10 is coming, which is basically the storm pulling out the big guns. T9 comes after T8 though and then once it hits T10, its a full blown hurricane, which is both scary and so cool at the same time. Currently, we are still sitting in T3, but just received an alert telling us that a T8 will be issued on or before 10:30… so that should be fun. You should hear the wind whistling around my skyscraperlike condo apartment.

As awful as it is, I am mildly excited to experience this. Having seen nothing worse than some bad thunderstorms/snowstorms, this is an entirely different experience. If a T8 hits, people are not expected to go to work, so we would essentially get the day off… which would be great if tomorrow wasn’t already my day off. If only the storm had waited till Wednesday to hit… I realize I am being a huge baby haha. But in all seriousness, I’m hoping it won’t be too bad, but I am excited to go through it 🙂

We also celebrated my one month here (okay so really it was just me celebrating my one month, no one else actually cares lol) and went to Victoria Peak, which has the most stunning views of the city by far. You have to take a tram to get up there, and you are basically pressed against your seat on the vertical ride up. The views were spectacular though, both night and day:

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And of course it called for some selfies:

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Obviously my camera doesn’t give the pictures justice, but I promise the view was amazing. We also (stupidly) decided a hike down a steep pathway would be a great idea. We wanted to see the sunset, which was supposed to be incredibly gorgeous, and probably would have been! But the hike ended up being much longer and farther than we thought it would be. Even going down was difficult, as it was pretty steep. AND THERE WERE THE BIGGEST SPIDERS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I am entirely to terrified of spiders. I’m talking like, will run screaming and my dad/roommate/friend/anyone that isn’t me has to come get them out of my sight.. THIS THINGS WERE MASSIVE. Here is a photo a friend of mine took of one:

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LOOK AT HOW BIG THAT IS. THAT’S THE SIZE OF MY HAND. Nope. No thank you Hong Kong. I’m over it. But so anyways we get to the bottom and then make the trek back up.. as the sun is setting, and it was hard brutal to put it nicely. I am walking with my roommate because we are taking it slower and everyone else is a good 5 minutes ahead of us. Let’s talk about how I am terrified of the dark.. and it’s me alone with my roommate with woodlands surrounding us on both sides.. yeah. panic. Even running through the forest preserve when I had two of my guy friends who (hopefully) would have kept me safe, I was a chicken shit. Walks at night? Terrified. (oddly enough I am never afraid to walk home alone after a night out or coming home from the library even after 7,000 crime alerts- my brain is weird).

So here we are, walking by ourselves with these massive spiders on either side, bats flying above us (I never actually saw one, was just informed that they were there), and creepy sounds coming from all sides (again, could have just been my stupid brain messing with me). We are dripping sweat. Im talking like buckets full. I know, great image. But it’s beyond hot and there is no breeze when you have woodland surrounding you on all side. Plus, lets be honest, an uphill climb? Not my thing. Not quite anyones thing unless you are one of those freaks that enjoys that kind of torture (Just kidding more power to ya). My roommate freaks out because she feels something touch her leg…. realizes its just sweat dripping down her leg (yeah, THAT’S HOW BAD IT WAS). I am ready to call it quits and just lay down on the side somewhere and call it a night.. and then we see a biker. This poor soul is pushing on through on his bike. I have NO idea how he was doing it, but there he was. I kind of almost wished I had a bike. As he passed us, he turned around and goes (in the creepiest voice mind you): “It’s getting too dark for you two to be out here”…….. PANIC. You know that surge of energy marathon runners must feel at the end as they see the finish line (I’m assuming that’s a thing? If its not, whoops. Lord knows I’m no marathon runner), thats what I felt. I was in sheer panic mode thinking we need to get the eff out of there because something was going to jump out and get us.

Thankfully nothing did and we made it out safe and sound, but we also made a pact to never do anything like that again haha. At least until the next time we want to see something beautiful ;).

I’ve also discovered that other people’s accents (pretty much Kerry’s accent) is rubbing off on me. I find myself saying things like “that was so hectic” and “the queue is so long”… things I never in my life would have said haha. So we will see how much this vocabulary expands with my addition of South African slang :P. I’m also super excited because I sent out 11 postcards today to people back home. If you don’t get one, clearly I don’t love you enough. Except jk I just don’t have enough postcards or people’s addresses. So send those on over so I can send postcards and such.

Also… if some kind soul could send me ranch sunflower seeds, I will be forever in your debt. #deprived.