In preparation for a possible return to Hong Kong this summer, I’ve decided to walk down memory lane to my first trip to Asia three years ago in 2009. It was the first time my parents went back to Hong Kong in 20 years – they had not returned since the year I was born. We spent a total of four weeks in Asia, with a trip to Thailand and Macau. Although I’m not a fan of the humidity, I loved Hong Kong. It was the first time that I went on a trip and felt like I was returning home. Growing up, I was told stories about my parents’ childhoods in Hong Kong. I was often curious about the history of Hong Kong (British colony until 1997). I longed to go to the place where the East met the West. I also really wanted to see a former babysitter of mine and close family friends that I hadn’t seen in at least ten years. Long story short, my dream came true the year I turned 20. My biggest regret on this trip: not properly recording the places we went to and the things we did. My biggest mistake on this trip: losing the camera that I was using in a HK taxi on our second day there. Hence, all the photos from the trip were taken by my sister or my dad.
City view from the Peak.
昂坪360 (Ngong Ping 360)
Walking up the steps to the 天壇大佛 Tian Tan Buddha. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo but this Buddha is huge. It’s a bronze statue at the top of a very long flight of steps, which my dad and I conquered together as my mom and sister waited at the bottom. The view from the top is amazing too. I think the experience of walking up those steps and thinking of how many people have walked up the same steps was what made me really excited. I saw little kids and grandmas, tourists and locals all walk up and down those steps. I’m sure to some of them the Buddha probably has some spiritual significance. The experience itself was spiritual for me.
寶蓮禪寺 Po Lin Monastery. I’ve always seen them on TVB shows. But to see a monastery in person is very cool. I love Chinese culture, architecture and art. And I don’t think I’ve seen as many golden dragons in one place at once. I would definitely love to visit other monasteries in Hong Kong.
香港迪士尼樂園 Disneyland Hong Kong
Very Lilo-and-Stitch themed, which made me pretty happy – as you can tell. Stitch is one of my best friends. We are very chummy. I’m just trying to figure out what they call him in Chinese… 史迪仔 (I looked it up on the Disneyland Hong Kong website). Basically, sounds just like Stitch. Anyways, I’ll be honest and say that I will return to Disneyland Hong Kong, despite the fact that there’s not much to do. It’s very small compared to Walt Disney World in Orlando (another Travel Diary in the making) but for someone who grew up immersed in the Disney culture, it’s still Disney, it’s still a magical kingdom where dreams come true.
Usual sight in Hong Kong: the sea of people. This reminds me of a story that my uncle likes to tell. When my aunt went on a trip to Hong Kong with him, she seriously asked her relatives, “Where’s Chinatown?” I am not kidding you. Little did she realize that Hong Kong itself is Chinatown. China itself is a huge Chinatown. Leave it to my aunt to ask such a hilarious question. But in addressing the chaotic and people-populated city of Hong Kong, I have to say that I was a little overwhelmed. I get nervous whenever I’m in a huge crowd and Hong Kong – especially at night or at tourist locations – is a huge crowd. Since I am considering spending a few years in Asia, I should probably learn to adapt and get rid of my anxiety.
Fireworks! One of the best parts of that day, despite my usual opposition against fireworks (global warming). But I think it had more to do with the medley of songs they play during the performance. Brings up all those childhood memories. And I cried. Yes, that’s right. I teared up during the fireworks at Disneyland.
Shaved ice. So good. One of the things I’m definitely looking for when I go back. This dessert was first introduced in Taiwan, before making its appearance in Hong Kong. I’ve been waiting years here in Toronto, hoping that it would come over here like bubble tea did. But it hasn’t. There is shaved ice here but it’s not the same. I want my Taiwan/HK shaved ice.
Finally, I can’t wait to see all of you again. Three years is too long. Of course, the plus10 years before that were even longer. But I think the longing is stronger since I’m old enough to realize how much you guys mean to me.
Despite having stayed in Hong Kong for almost a month, I feel like I haven’t even explored the tip of the iceberg that makes it such a vibrant city. I definitely have to return and this time, bring my own camera and not lose it in a taxi again.