Wednesday, April 13, 2005

now that was a trip

Saturday morning
We taught English Club before heading off to Taipei. We were teaching emotions, and it was actually a lot of fun. One of the activities was acting out sentences using various emotions. The one we did as an example was "Is this your dog?" Hope played the dog, and bit me, got run over by my car, chased aroudn the room, and of course patted on the head. But then we got to the emotion "hungry" and both of us just cracked up at the though of hungrily asking a potential owner "is this your dog? (or can i eat it)"

Taipei
We had a long train ride and then a taxi ride to Amy's house. The cab driver on the way was a little odd. He asked us if we had babies. When we said no, he was like "why not??" and we were like uhhhh we're not married. His advice was to find a nice man in Hualien and have some babies... oh dear..

We went to Page One, an amazing bookstore in Taipei 101, and I bought Desiring God by John Piper and A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado. Those should keep me busy for awhile!
Later we met up with a bunch of wonderful people for dinner at Chilli's. It was so great to see friends again, no matter how briefly I had met them last time. We had a long wait to get into the restaurant and spent quite a long time in there. I got a chicken quesadilla mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Hong Kong
Well this should make up the bulk of this post! We met at 6am to ride to the airport. Our flight was through Thai air. We waited in line to check in and took turns going to get our money changed into Hong Kong dollars, which looked very interesting... Their money is even more colorful than the new Canadian bills, and some of the coins are scalloped around the edges...




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As I was making my way back into line I had to duck under one of the dividers since Hope and Marcus had moved ahead, but I wasn't able to regain my balance quickly enough and ended up falling on my face... it wasn't even 7am.... anyways, things did get better from there, though I had a few more ditzy moments.
Here's a picture of Marcus and I on the plane... well half of me... sorry I'm a bad photographer! (or I just have short arms):




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The flight to Hong Kong took about an hour and a half, after arrival we went to buy our ticket for transportation to and from the airport, which was HK$100 almost 1/4 of the money I had changed over! I changed NT$ 1500 and got about 370 Hong Kong dollars, which is almost 60 dollars Canadian. Anyways, things did get cheaper after that, thankfully. We arrived in Hong Kong proper and using the guidebook purchased from Page One the night before, tried to find our way toward the main bus terminal. It was a little bit difficult to get around at first. Interesting to note that they drive on the opposite side of the road here (just like in England). This was important to remember when crossing the street and frightening at times when riding the bus. As we turned the corner I'd see a car careening toward us on the wrong side of the road! We got to ride a double decker bus, and of course sat in the top! The view was amazing, we went past Repulse Bay, a really beautiful beach area that is another famous landmark.

We went to Stanley, since everyone told us it was one of the best places to go, especially for shopping! Well we did do a lot of shopping there, and I found some great gifts as well as some fun things for myself... now i just have to make it to the post office.... there's not much room left in my closet for all the stuff I have to mail!!!! Stanley was quite crowded and there were a lot of foreigners there, more than I've seen in one place since I left Canada, I'm sure!
Here's a picture of the street and of Hope by the sign:

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We had dim sum for lunch which is like a Chinese appetizer platter. It was ok, though it is probably better somewhere else.

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We kinda ran out of time, so we didn't get to go up the Peak, but that will definitely be first on my list if I ever go back! Of course, if I ever go back, hopefully it will be for more than 1 day!! We went back to the main bus station and finally asked someone about a strange phenomenon we'd been observing...

As we walked around Hong Kong there were thousands of people just sitting everywhere, on mats, on pieces of plastic or cardboard. They sat in groups of 4-12 eating lunch, playing cards and doing a variety of other things. We couldn't imagine why so many tourists would do this, but didn't really understand why, if they lived in Hong Kong they wouldn't have these get-togethers in their homes.... seriously though, they were lining the sidewalks... finally Marcus asked someone what the deal was and she told us they were all workers (maybe mostly Thai, Filipino etc.) for whom Sunday was their only day off!

With our remaining time we just walked around a bit more and rode the famous Star Ferry.
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So we finally returned from Hong Kong around 10:00pm. Whew what a trip. I really liked Hong Kong, though I wouldn't want to live there. It's quite different from Taipei, there is more foreign awareness maybe and a large foreign community. We weren't stared at for a whole day! We heard all kinds of languages and accents. We tried to speak Mandarin to many of the shopkeepers and they didn't understand us...interesting eh? Well Cantonese (and not Mandarin) is the official language of Hong Kong, and also they were probably not expecting us (as non-Chinese people) to be speaking Mandarin, so they were trying to figure out what English word could possibly sound like what was coming out of our mouths....

Another interesting thing was that on the bus I was listening to the people behind me speaking in Mandarin and I could tell from the differences that they were from Mainland China and not Taiwan. There are a few differences in accent: in China they will add an "er" sound to the end of some words (I think this is especially if they end with -an or -o). Also in Taiwan, the retroflex (for the TESL nerds out there) sounds, or the sounds with the tongue rolled back are more relaxed which can cause some confusion: so instead of shi bu shi (is it or not) they say si bu si... the zhi becomes a z (hence our initial confusion over some of the last names zang vs. zhang) and four and ten (shi and si) are only distinguished by which tone you use... bad for foreigners who aren't totally listening for the tones yet! Anyways, I digress...

I'd give an inventory of what I bought but that would ruin all my suprises! I did get a couple of sarongs for myself. We were looking at chinese dresses but couldn't quite find the right sizes... we're thinking of getting some made... :D
Oh yes, before I conclude my stories of Hong Kong, I should relate the stupid moment of the day! We were quite tired, having returned to the airport after a long day of walking around in the humid climate of Hong Kong, and having gotten up so early (my excuses...) and were getting dinner at "Popeye's Chicken" or something like that that both Marcus and Hope have heard of (I'm not sure if Canada has this chain). We had talked about sharing the 8 piece meal, but then decided to just get our own things... I wanted to get chicken strips, but as I was ordering them there was some confusion... see apparently I ordered the 8 piece meal... though I have no recollection of saying those words... so I was really confused when the lady asked me what I wanted for the second drink... eventually Hope let me know that I had, indeed ordered 8 pieces of chicken... I hastily changed my order, though I still didn't end up with chicken strips... I got 3 pieces of chicken... it was ok.. too greasy for my liking though... ANYWAYS, we had a good laugh over that one.
Here's a couple more Hong Kong pictures for fun:
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And Home...
We caught the 6:45am train back to Yuli on Tuesday and then taught classes in the afternoon and evening... I was asleep before 9:30....
oooh yeah... and within 10 minutes of being back in Yuli, I crashed on my bike again!! :( It was my fault, but also the fault of the bike... see it hasn't really been the same since my last accident... the steering's a little off and the brakes aren't too great. I had my heavy bag stuffed in the basket which didn't help matters, and as I was turning the corner I kinda wiped out.. no blood this time, just a couple of big bruises and an unrideable bike.... the thing is... they didn't fix it that well last time... so i don't have two much faith in taking it back to be fixed.... at the moment I've borrowed and extra bike from someone... i think i'll ride that for awhile.... while I was walking to class today a man offered me a ride, which was really nice, but i don't normally take rides from strangers (i learned that in like, kindergarten~!), so I declined.

Shang Gang hen hao wan! which means Hong Kong is really fun!

1 comment:

  1. Wow...that sounds like an exciting trip! I've never been to Hong Kong, but I'm looking forward to going there for a retreat next year :).

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