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.