Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fall Weather vs. Fall Weather

It finally feels like fall here in Hong Kong — what might that feel like, you ask? Average temps in the mid-80s (Farenheit) and MUCH lower humidity between 40-60% versus 80-90%.  That reduced humidity makes a huge impact, and I will admit that I feel a kind of fall “chill” from that reduction!

I am about to head to the U.S. for a fall visit, stopping through San Francisco and points West before landing in home sweet home NYC, and I seem to have forgotten what “true” fall weather is like.  I had a quick look on the internet and am frightened at the thought of temps ranging from the low 50s and no more than the low 70s! Yikes!

That’s more like “winter” to me now!

Year 3 Hong Kong Highlights

Further to my annual review, I thought I should post some of top Hong Kong experiences in Year THREE. These are all experiences of mine in Hong Kong:

(1) First Lantau Hike Ever – My friend Phil is a frequent visitor to Hong Kong. He’s a traveling salesman of sorts (he sells this high-tech x-ray diffraction device), and is responsible for sales in Asia, so it’s no wonder that he’d be in and out of Hong Kong frequently. Phil is a nature lover, so whenever possible I take Phil on a wonderful Hong Kong hike to show him HK’s gorgeous natural side. The mountains on Lantau are something else, so I’d always shied away from hikes on this island. But on one of Phil’s visits, decided that we were safe in numbers and we proceeded from Keung Shan all the way to Tai O.

(2) Tai O and the Pink Dolphins – On that very hike we ended up in the historic fishing village of Tai O, where I saw the stilt houses and even mudskippers. Best of all – we got on a HK$20 speedboat and saw the famed pink dolphins of Hong Kong!

(3) Dragon Boating! I’d always heard of dragon boating, but never done it. Joining a bigger firm has a variety of benefits – the biggest would be corporate team sports, and dragon boating is big in HK!

(4) Learned How to Swim! My greatest accomplishment in HK yet would have to be learning to swim. I joined the very affordable swim classes offered by the Law Society Recreation Programme and with a very patient instructor and the wonderful public pools of HK, where entry is just HK$19, finally finally learned to swim!

(5) Karoke HK Style – Another byproduct of joining a larger company in Hong Kong is group karaoke! I had karaoked in HK before, but only with expats. This time I experienced it with a mix of people, including HK locals. And so I heard lots of Canto/Mando-pop and learned how to play the dice game – a classic karaoke accompaniment in HK.

(6) Hairy Crab! I also finally got to eat this seasonal cuisine last Fall – which is the season for hairy crab. What makes it special is the yellow stuff. Not sure what that yellow stuff is though. It may be a Shanghai delicacy, but HKers go crazy for the stuff.

(7) Four Seasons Dim Sum – to carry on with the food highlights, I’d have to say lunch with my sister and newly-minted brother-in-law at the famous 3-Michelin starred Chinese restaurant at the Four Seasons, Lung King Heen, was a top experience of the year.

(8) Tried Wakeboarding – the key word is TRY. Wakeboarding is all the rage in HK, and everyone loves waking in the summers. I finally tried it, and learned it is not for me! I may now know how to swim, but water torture is still water torture to me!

(9) Bruce Lee on the Avenue of the Stars – for a big touristy thing, it’s odd that it took until now to see Bruce Lee (and others) on the Avenue of the Stars. But oh well – it was good fun that I can check off here in year 3.

With 9 being an auspicious Chinese number – I’ll leave it at that. Those were some top experiences in Year 3. Let’s see what Year 4 brings (thought 4 is an unlucky number in Chinese!!).

Another Anniversary! Year 3 In BRIEF Review

Happy belated anniversary to me. I can’t believe that I just let September 2 come and go and completely forget that that date marks my THIRD year in Hong Kong! How time is flying – to the point that I don’t even notice it! I wonder if the fact that I don’t feel anything special means that I’ve finally come to a place in Hong Kong where it is my (current) way of life and there is nothing to really celebrate.

I never exactly celebrated the years I was in my hometown New York, or even Boston — though I mainly believed Boston was limited to the years I’d be there for school. So is forgetting to celebrate another year in Hong Kong necessarily a bad thing? In any case, I’d still like to reflect on my third year in Hong Kong (gosh, that means I’m on my way to a fourth now!):

Travels: In contrast to my first year in Hong Kong, I spent a lot more of my travels on visits to the US. According to my records – 47 days in the US! However, that time was not all spent in NY with family – as I made trips to DC, Virginia, and attended weddings in Puerto Rico and Chicago. I revisited Taiwan before my sister repatriated to the US, and also visited China. I don’t think I went to Shenzhen as much as I did in years 1 or 2, but I revisited Beijing for the first time in 6 years and saw a new city – Nanning, where I attended a local wedding. My highlight trip of the year would have to be my big Easter trip to Indonesia (with a stop in Singapore). There I tried scuba diving for the first time in my life – and must highly recommend snorkeling or scuba diving in Amed, Bali. I also summitted the very daunting Mt. Rinjani on Lombok. It was most certainly a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget. Even though high water levels in the lake did not allow us to complete our 4-day hike, we at least were allowed the main event of making it atop the volcano. (I really should have done a travelogue post on this!)

Work: I started my new(est) job during this year, and am about to hit that anniversary in a few short weeks. I have really enjoyed working as a Hong Kong solicitor and have constantly been in awe of the differences in US practice and HK/Commonwealth law! My work is truly international here, and I really do feel lucky to be working in such a wonderful environment.

Personal: I try not to get too personal online anymore, respecting the privacy of those who are close to me, but no doubt, the longer you live in a “foreign” country, the more personal strains can tug. This has been made more evident with the first marriage among my siblings this past year, health issues with another family member, as well as more babies born in my circle of closest friends. Being far away when these big important things are happening affect me deeply, but atleast I can report to having grown still more this last year in Hong Kong, learning more about myself.

So what’s next? I still can’t be sure. It seems each year I’ve been in Hong Kong has brought about great experiences and huge personal growth. Any goals? I think I need to organize my travels a bit better, and aim to hit more must-sees in the region – including Cambodia and Southern Vietnam, Southern Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, and hopefully also Korea and Japan. Admittedly, Korea and Japan are not high on my list, because I think I’d visit those sites from the Western hemisphere, and I’d like to find less traveled spots that are more readily accessible from here – like perhaps Guizhou or Sichuan, Mongolia, Burma, etc.   I also need to find a way to see my friends and family more – but how with these competing travel goals? (Will none of my friends/family come travel with me to these sites then?)

Stay tuned… onward on year FOUR!

Hong Kong and the PARAlympics 2012!

While the Paralympics is often overshadowed by it’s big brother, the Olympics, I am pleased to say it is regarded quite highly in Hong Kong. Hong Kong bested its 3 Olympic medals by 4 times with TWELVE Paralympic medals, including 3 in wheelchair fencing! In contrast, the U.S. got 98 Paralympic medals, 6 shy of its Olympic medal count. China came out on top in the Paralympics 2012 with a whopping 231. I’m not sure why Hong Kong does so much better in the Paralympics vs the Olympics — is it because of strong funding and support for the Paras? Luck? History? Not sure — but I think all nations should want their Paralympians to do as well as their Olympians, and I have to admit, I’m a bit disapopinted that the US did not do better in the Paras! Knowing how important funding is for competitive athletes to succeed, I can only draw the conclusion that the US does not support their paralympic athletes enough. But go Hong Kong — that’s a wonderful result, and hopefully you’ll do even better in BOTH the Paras and Olympics next time!