Saturday, December 25, 2004

Much has happened in the past week and sorry for not blogging… but here goes part of it!

Rather than blog for the sake of chronological order, I’m just going to blog about the past two days because it’s relatively fresh in my memory; I’ll get to the rest eventually, I hope. =p

My siblings arrived in HK on the night of the 17th. The 18th was taken up by our cousin’s wedding. On the 19th, I went to service at the Evangelical Community Church (ECC), which included seeing Bonnie, Freddie, and Vonne:

Afterwards, I went immediately home to meet up with my family to go to the airport for our 5-day Fuk-kien province tour. So I’ll talk about the tour later… but we arrived back in Hong Kong late on the 23rd. The next morning, of course, was Christmas Eve.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

The weather in Hong Kong has been about 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. =) So warm weather coupled with the fact that we all got off a flight late on the 23rd, Christmas Eve felt kind of weird and premature; it didn’t feel like Christmas Eve at all.

This is the first time my siblings have been in Hong Kong, and because of the tour, the only time that they actually had to walk around the city was before our cousin’s wedding banquet in Causeway Bay for a couple of hours. So we did a lot of shopping on Christmas Eve in the daytime, in time for a Choi-side family dinner that was planned in advance. My aunt arranged for us to attend a “snake” night [seah-yeen] that is organized every year by a union. So we had dinner in the union headquarters (there were about 13-14 tables there), and we occupied a full table.

It was great fun – the organizers had a lucky draw of which 4 members of our table won. The prizes were very normal everyday products (we won socks, tupperware, hand-cloth with other fish soup cooking bags, and a vacuum-seal bag) but I thought it was a great idea to create a fun atmosphere.

The “snake” night means that we ate snake… we started off with THREE bowls of snake soup. As usual with multi-course Chinese dinners, due to my relatively slower eating pace, it gets to be stressful, and this was no exception. The snake soup was great, nonetheless. =) And then a number of other dishes that had snake in it. One of the dishes, the snake was chopped up and fried (not the best pieces because the meat would have already gone into the soup). But in this dish, my cousin found a surprise… can you guess what it is?

She initially thought it was the tail of the snake. However, the conclusion was that the snake carried a fetus and it was an unborn snake – even worse. =p

Of course, the evening couldn’t end without a live snake for pictures, and also tasting of snake wine, plus a few individuals got to taste the gall bladder, arguably the most expensive part of any snake. Here’s my sister, who was quite squirmy even just to be the photographer, so it’s quite incredible that she held it. I chickened out in the end. =p

Christmas Eve in Chinese is called [ping on yeah / ping an yea] (Night of Peace). Ironically, it’s one of the rowdiest nights of the year – the MTR (subway) ran through the entire night.

My family was no exception – near the end of the evening, the idea of going to Shenzhen, China sprang up. The idea was fuelled by my aunt (from Toronto), who was due to fly home on the 28th so she wanted to make one last trip there before leaving. However, I (with my siblings) was also to meet up with the UW HK people at Tsim Sha Tsui that night (one of the most happening places in Hong Kong), so I planned to head to Shenzhen after meeting up with them. Mind you, it was around 10:45pm when I stepped out of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station.

It turns out that an estimated 500,000 were in Tsim Sha Tsui that night. Of course, my siblings and I joined the crowd for a bit, as I was to meet the bunch of UW HK people there. The Hong Kong young crowd just likes the crowds. People were just in Tsim Sha Tsui to be with the crowds… it wasn’t moving. So I didn’t end up meeting up with UW HK people, because I couldn’t find where they were, and we were just trying to *move*. Eventually, we found our way to transportation and got home at 12am. [Thank God – we caught the last train going north.] The last bus to my uncle’s in Tuen Mun (where the rest of my Choi extended family were gathering to go to Shenzhen) was 12:28. Still had enough time to pack and catch the bus.

My mom didn’t like the idea of rushing from the very start, and we had a Yam family dinner to catch the next day (Christmas), so we would only have a few hours to shop in Shenzhen. So despite the major rushing and still even being able to make it, I was a good girl and decided to stay home that night. Although, if we went, the story potential was great, illustrating extreme maximization of time, not to mention crazy spontaneous plans on Christmas Eve not just by me, but by my extended family!.

Staying home, however, I did end up getting some quiet time, which caught up with me when we were rushing home – there were carollers outside of the subway station on the way home, which was a very timely reminder. Christmas is HUGE in Hong Kong – Christmas music everywhere… Santa hats everywhere… life-size Santa mannequins that dance rock-and-roll everywhere [I actually find them quite freaky]… the true meaning of Christmas in the birth of Jesus Christ is lost. Increasingly in all places now, I guess.

So I am very thankful that I got to have that bit of quiet time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas Eve on this [ping on yeah]… definitely difficult to experience in this City of Life.

Now for Christmas Day… =) But later; you’ve read enough if you’ve read all of this!!

Merry Christmas!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam. =)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hey hey!

Quick message from the province of Fuk-kien in China -- we're on a "cultural" tour for a few days and will return to Hong Kong tomorrow. No, there's no fried rice here.. just... simple foods. =p

My cousin's wedding was great... great to see a lot of my family together. Holding a wedding in Hong Kong is somewhat more complicated because practically no one has a car -- so getting around in formal wear is arranged by the organizers and/or people aren't *that* dressed up.

Also, the fashions in this year are dresses that resemble drapery, with a lot of furs... fur collars, fur shawls... you name it. =p

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hong Kong - City of Life - Day 2

*Yes*! No jet lag!

No caffeine either -- so was tired here and there, but guess it's for the better that I get used to it...

However, there *are* 34 Starbucks locations in Hong Kong now! 4 years ago, there were only 5!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Hong Kong, City of Life – Day 1

Just got in not long ago! It's great to be back, although still kind of feels surreal that I'm here... The last time was about 4 years ago!

I left yesterday in a rush at 5:00am (didn't expect to leave that early =p) with no sleep... which I think is generally a good tactic to beat jetlag. However, the travel time was LONG. We stopped over in Chicago and in Tokyo, and although the layovers weren't too long (1.5 hours in Chicago and 2 hours in Tokyo – we were delayed), the wait times weren't too bad overall, considering the number of delays experienced lately...), the total travel time came to about 24 hours! Guess that's the price to pay in return for a cheaper ticket. So basically, for the past 24 hours, I have been sleeping, waking up to eat, and sleeping again! I feel fat!!! [Although I *did* end up studying for a little bit, while watching Catwoman...] I guess my point was, hopefully I get to sleep tonight after sleeping for the past day, in order for my efforts to beat jetlag to work. If travel time was 15 hours, I would be fine!

In Chicago, I enjoyed my last North American peppermint mocha from Starbucks for the year. [Apparently, they *are* available year-end, just promoted around Christmas time... but that's dangerous to know.] I need to see where the Starbucks are around HK... because I'll be dying! I can't stand the HK style coffees, and don't know if I can wean off of coffee in 3 weeks. At least, this will be good practice for lent, which I intend to do again for coffee. When I did work term here, I actually stopped drinking coffee except for social reasons!

Anyway, I'm off to bed -- and if I can't sleep, I'll work on the Pharma SRM! =P [I really did intend to work on it on the plane.]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Rush... rush... rushing to the airport...

Will be blogging from Hong Kong -- assuming I can find a connection!