Sadly, I haven’t been posting as much as I should’ve, but now that I actually have ideas for what I’m going to talk about, I think I can keep up for the rest of the semester! I was thinking lately about what things I would like to do before I leave for the States, but then I realized I needed to figure out what things I have done first. My mind just has to be organized to get any good thinking done! So, within, and in later posts, I shall list a few of the experiences I’ve had while living here in Hong Kong, things I’m proud of or not so proud of. Maybe I’ll even forget a few details!
Let me begin by saying that there’s a benefit to getting lost. It allows you to forget about time for just a little while, forget the things you have to do, because let’s face it: You’re lost. Probably ain’t gonna make it to whatever appointment you had set up. So, walk around and enjoy yourself! Every now and then, everyone needs to experience this lack of time-keeping, to just step away from their busy lives and take time to let their minds wander without worrying so much about the minor things in life.
Most of the time, I don’t want to visit an unfamiliar city without a local because I’m afraid of getting lost, but I’ve come to realize, after getting lost in two rather large cities, and through other experiences, that it’s a great time to relax and explore. Plus, you usually remember the cities a whole lot better after getting lost in them! One was Mong Kok. The other was Tsim Sha Tsui. Now that I’m a bit more comfortable with the idea of getting lost, and communicating with the locals, I have a few other cities in mind to possibly get lost in!
Speaking of “other experiences”, apparently I haven’t talked about my little communication fun here on my blog. Since I’m feeling a bit lazy right now, and not wanting to repeat myself again and again, I’m going to go grab my description from something else I wrote.
“… my favorite experience had to have been when I was trying to communicate with a vendor at a street market. Most people are caught by surprise when they hear you speak English, and though they may know some, at times it can be difficult for them to come up with the words, and often they’ll tell you they just don’t understand. This vendor sold leather-bound books he made himself, and I absolutely love those kinds of journals. I had never been able to afford one that was handmade back home, and so I was amazed at the prize he gave me when I asked.
The journal had no indication of its origins, no seal or name or anything, so I wanted him to sign it. Problem was that he didn’t understand the English, and I didn’t understand the Cantonese. But, unlike some people I’d met, he didn’t shy away. In fact, he sat there with me, and we both seemed rather determined to figure out what the other meant. Eventually, I did get him to sign it, in Cantonese, and he was able to ask me how to say my name. Mostly, we just used hand movements and body gestures, because that was the only thing we both could somewhat understand.”
As you might be able to guess, this is one of those moments that helped me get to the comfort zone I used to shy away from. I was always nervous about trying to communicate with someone who spoke another language, even Spanish, which is something I’ve been taking classes for, for four years. Like the locals speaking English, I’m afraid of messing up while speaking Spanish, since I haven’t legitimately spoken it in a real conversation before. Now, I feel I’ll be perfectly fine with just walking over to the Spanish shop next door to where my mom works and trying to talk! I’m not scared of it anymore!
In relation to the previous experience, I’ve also bartered with people at the open-air markets, which is a whole new thing for me. You know, there’s an art to bartering. There really is. I certainly haven’t mastered it, but I got a taste of the uncertainty, and the thrill, and that makes the whole experience worth the embarrassment or nervousness I felt. Understanding the highs and the lows, the average price of an item, and especially being aware of the other prices being offered can greatly help you when you’re bartering. Also, you have to be firm, and don’t be embarrassed if they decline your offer. The concepts don’t seem to change. You just have to alter your strategy depending on the product and the vendor.
Oh, and for those of you who know me personally, I did try new foods, as you may have read earlier on in my posting. I may not have enjoyed most of those foods, but I still tried them, and being as picky a person as I am, I’d say that’s an accomplishment! My favorite happens to be the spaghetti. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but firstly, they don’t put the same sauce we do on it. They have something else on it, some sort of flavoring that makes the noodles kind of slippery. Don’t know what it is, but I do like the taste, and I like noodle. They were the first noodles I had that I really enjoyed!
And although I don’t want you to necessarily think I’m complaining, I have to say something about some foods I’ve tried. Two, mainly. First, there’s fried noodles, and fish. The fish were on top of the fried noodles, and they were smothered in some sort of … stuff, which migrated down to soup up in the plate with the noodles. Now, my friends know I’m very sensitive to food textures, and this was a texture CLASH. Crunchy noodles, which were generally flavorless and was completely new for me, with clear-white-ish goop that seemed like snot, well, that’s just NOT a pleasant combination for me.
The other one is nachos. Yeah, yeah, yeah, some of you have heard me shpeel about nachos before, but seriously, this one’s different. They weren’t even nacho chips! They were Doritos! With COLD cheese on them! Not even nacho cheese! I can’t say this is a problem on their part, because I suppose it’s normal for them, but for me, I was freaking out a little when they brought it to me. Inside, of course. I tried them anyway, but dang, I just couldn’t take it. My mind was still trying to wrap itself around the idea of Doritos and whatever kind of cheese that was.
Another thing I’ve tried is a new clothing style. The styles are quite different here. I mean, not drastically, but enough! The shirts are baggier. The combinations are more varied. I really don’t know how to explain it all, as I’ve never been a fashion person. However, I can say now that I’ll probably be coming back home with some interesting additions to my wardrobe. I can also say that I much prefer their shirt styles here. They’re very interesting.
Last but not least in this particular post, I would like to mention something that is personally important to me: learning a new art style. I’m taking a class on Chinese Ink Painting. It reminds me of watercolor painting, but still rather different. It’s difficult for me to understand sometimes, because the technique is something I’ve never really experimented with before. It’s new, and while it’s hard for me to work with the new technique, it’s a lot of fun, and besides, simply learning a new art technique is always great, because then you can combine techniques to create new artworks!