December in hongkong

“Cause all of the stars have faded away, just try not to worry, you’ll see them some day”

Stop crying your heart out – Oasis

I guess this is going to be my last post about hongkong. It’s strange to think how this exchange semester didn’t turn out the way I expected it to be. Before I went on exchange, people simply told me that exchange is the semester that you don’t have to study and you can just play and not be bothered about grades. So I packed and left home, feeling excited but not expecting too much from it at the same time. No one warned me about the painful goodbyes.

I’m already back in Singapore for a month and school is getting intense but I’ll find time to write in here. Somehow this hongkong episode still doesn’t feel like it has ended yet. Maybe because it ended so abruptly with people embarking on their different travels so it makes me feel that I’ll see them and listen to their stories in the near future. Fact is even though a month has passed by, I still feel that they are part of my routine, my everyday, my life.

December 2012 was a month of saying goodbye, it was very emotional, at times painful, to have to say goodbye to so many lovely people and to have to accept how faraway we are going to be from each other. The month was made doubly intense because of the examinations and we had to somehow juggle between studying/ sitting for the examinations and spending time with people. Because we knew that we were running out of time in hongkong, we stretched each day to its fullest. It was tiring, fun and very precious. I think I lived my last month in hongkong like a local with the karaoke, the shopping malls and food. 🙂

1. Karaoke (1.12 and 2.12)

I went for karaoke sessions with two different groups of people on back-to-back days.The first was with the Spanish girls and many other people at the Circle Tower, Causeway Bay. It was Eva’s last weekend in hongkong so she was determined to make it a blast. I don’t remember singing much that night, I remember catching up with people whom I haven’t seen in a while, hugging and laughing.

Whatever songs I didn’t manage to sing on that night, I certainly had more than enough time on the next day to sing them. I went for a 5-hour long karaoke at Neway outlet, Cheung Sha Wan with Jennifer, Chizuru, a Japanese exchange student I met on the Guangzhou trip, and Kay from California. It was fun, I have no idea how we managed to last 5 hours because we were not too familiar with the song names. We sang a mix of English, Japanese and a couple of Chinese songs and so I got to practise my rusty Japanese a little, 流れる季節の真ん中で/ ふと日の長さを感じます…

2. Shopping malls

In December, many shopping malls (yes, including those in hanghau) put up fancy Christmas decorations to try to attract shoppers. Langham Place in Mongkok with the big plush toys is my favourite. I wonder where are the plush toys now, I hope that they are not at the landfills :(. I remember that they put up a couple of big fake white trees and they actually deployed staff to stand there and make sure that no one stepped on those trees. On one occasion, we asked one of the staff to help us take a group photo and she rejected us and the reason she gave was that she had to look after the trees. We couldn’t believe that there was a job just for this so we stood and watched how she reminded people to stay off the trees for the next 10 minutes.

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According to the locals, the shopping mall that puts the craziest Christmas decoration every year is Harbour City at Tsimshatsui. So I checked it out with Jennifer and Chizuru one night and indeed, it was pretty crazy and it felt like it was one of the major tourist attractions in hongkong. The walkway into the shopping mall was nicely done up (the theme for 2012 was Alice in the Wonderland) and there were many people standing around taking photos. When I saw this, I couldn’t help but to think just how many people this money spent on the decoration could otherwise help.

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3. Food

When we went out in the last month in hongkong, we had a lot of food and we ate as if there’s no tomorrow. I guess we all wanted to remember hongkong in the same way:)

a) Dim Sum. (15.12 and 22.12)

I went with Jennifer, Chizuru and Chizuru’s friend, Annie, to Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world, for a dim sum feast on Chizuru’s last day in hongkong and we ordered close to everything on the menu. I really love the pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, I could eat it everyday if not for the long queues. It was funny because we poured the wrong sauce over our cheung fun and it ended up having a very weird taste and a very kind old lady seated next to us made the effort to explain the different sauces to us in English. I remember us laughing a lot over this, life was good ,whatever sauce that was.:)

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On my very last day in hongkong, I had dim sum as well but this time round, it was in the chinese restaurant at HKUST.  I was eating with the spanish girls and many other people so we really had a lot of food on the table. I remember I was holding a siew mai with my pair of chopsticks and somehow the siew mai dropped onto the floor. I commented that I was losing my asian identity and Eva said, “You’re becoming spanish!” and we laughed. I really miss moments like this. When something like this happens in Singapore, people would say, ‘ aiyo why you so cui?’ (= why are you so lousy?) And to that, the only natural response is ‘I don’t know’ and the atmosphere is different.

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b) Wanton Mee (20.12)

We had two rounds of wanton mee for dinner that night and the funny thing was that two wanton mee shops were located pretty much just across each other at Central. I was with Jennifer, Sylvia, Lex, Weijun, Kay and Mary Kate. I love how spontaneous things were done, there wasn’t a need for online polls or doodle. Someone just has to suggest something a day or two before and people just get together and go.

I remember in the first wanton mee shop, we wanted to join the tables and sit together. The angsty owner then came and stopped us and told us seriously that even superstars were not allowed to move the tables in his shop. Seems like the arrangement of tables in his shop has something to do with fengshui.

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c) Sushi (7.12)

I went with Jingying and Sylvia for the half priced sushi at sushi one, Hang Hau. I remember we had to queue an hour before we could get in but it didn’t feel that long because we entertained one another with stories while waiting. The sushi was very good, probably because the seafood in hongkong is fresh. I remember that a dish that we ordered didn’t come so we asked the manager to check our order. In the end, she took another table’s receipt and insisted that we did not order. So we spent a great deal of energy arguing that the receipt she was holding onto wasn’t ours. Luckily Sylvia speaks good Cantonese. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what it was that we ordered but didn’t come but I remember the heated argument quite vividly, and I’m almost certain that half the world away, the two of them remember this as well.:)

d) Indian food (16.12)

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Even though I’m a Singaporean and I eat quite abit of Indian-Muslim food, I have never eaten authentic Indian before so this was a first. I went with Lauri, Henrik and his family to Jojo’s Place at Wanchai. It was not the easiest place to find but it was a nice, fairly quiet restaurant and I must say that the curry was one of the best I have ever tasted.

e) Pizza (22.12)

I would never have thought that I would fall in love with pizzas in hongkong. For my last dinner in hongkong, I went with Constanza to our favourite Paisano’s Pizza at Saikung and we did what we always like to do – order the pizzas that is not on the shelf and wait for them to make the fresh pizzas for us. I love and I miss the experience of having a conversation over pizza with beer in the small pizza shop.

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