Lesson 1: Where to sit??
My story begins on the 1st of September... ...when the time arrived to invade the foreign lands and to conquer the minions of China... s'cuse me I mean of course Hong Kong...and to sit on the throne of power... (What nice fantasies^^)
Well the seat I got was exactly as described by the airline company "economical" in the plane that took me to the previous British colony on the eastern side of the Pearl River Delta.
12 hours chained down direclty in the middle of all the other unfotunate ones who likewise lack the financial support to afford a place in the business or even first class and enjoy the wonderful service with peanuts and personal entertainment^^
Of course this is far from being a tragedy the real torture started just after all had been served with the delicious provisions provided on board. It was than that the two Finnish crony's decided to pass out on their flight by consuming vast amounts of cheap wine offered (of course for free) on the plane.
And when I finally left the plane on the 2nd of September I was overfilled with joy to move my aching limbs and get away from those guys^^ Fortunately my luggage was neither torn nor broken and so I moved on to meet my buddy, Ivy and her friend Christine, the first local people I should meet at this side of the world.
Lesson 2: Payable Seafood!
It seems that the former colonisation also left its marks in this respects. Here the „Seafood card“ goes under the name of Octopus but is compared to the Oyster multifunctional. You can pay with it in shops and restaurants as well as for your daily transportation. Very convenient this little thingy's. That's why Ivy and Christine dragged me distinctly to get one, since you can buy them directly at the airport. And off we went to catch the bus 21 that ought to bring us to Hung Hom station, the nearest bus stop to the students hall of residence.
In total everything here is functioning with cards. The whole Hong Konese world seems to be kept together with cards only that you have to Beep whenever you want something. There is a card to enter the students hall, a card to open your door, the students id card that you have to hold on thousands of card readers in order to be granted access to facilities such as library, sportshall, training stuff and games. I wonder who invented this sort of doing things..hm..
Lesson 3: How to eat?
There is a lot to say about the habits regarding to food here therefore I'd like to concentrate for now only on the actual consumption of food and will certainly address all the other points as I go on recording the differences of the Chinese culture compared to the European life style.
On my first day shortly after we arrived at the students hall Ivy and Christine invited me to have lunch with them. Of course they treated me to Chinese food in a small restaurant not far away from here. We have been accompanied by my roomie Meggie (who happily welcomed me in our room just minutes ago), her friend Alice and a German guy (Christine's buddy whose name I forgot already )
As it is common knowledge in Europe that the Chinese share their food with each other there were no surprises in this matter. Beyond it I really appreciate this habit since you are not forced to eat the one thing you ordered especially if it does not match your taste but there are diverse options from which you can choose freely and without any obstruction. Certainly some people might find it unhygienic cause every diners' sticks touches the „communal“ food but thats culture for you^^The greatest impression on me made the way Christine served the food to each one of us, picking out the best pieces and paying attention that everyones bowl is full whenever it got emptied. As I was explained later on, this is the more formal behaviour and that usually everyone can serve himself like I did later on this day with some 10 other exchange students for dinner.
1: bart (17.9.07 22:35)
2: Shu-lin (18.9.07 15:42)
Lesson 4: How to keep cool?
The heat is unbearable even in September with over 30° and air humidity of around 80% you feel like your body is constantly wrung out (whereby I was told that now it is „colder than usual“ what makes it even worse). The first few days I was sweating from just sitting around. It wasn't possible to move without dripping wet and everytime you breathed in you felt like absorbing the whole atmosphere around you^^
Just imagine a jellyfish that ran aground on the beach..lying there and slowly dying from loosing all its fluids...this is exactly how I felt, absolutely disgusting^^
At this point you start to observe and think about any option that might keep your mind from taking its heels. Basically the Hong Konese waste a lot of energy on the airconditioning in any place that has 4 walls and a ceiling and is considered to be a public area. That is, everywhere^^ Which means that if you want to stay cool you have to place your body either in a shopping mall, a restaurant, a public toilet or any other public building that you can find. In the end the body gets used to exactly 2 contrary climatic conditions, either hot or cold^^
Of course taking a shower is another option and a very effective one especially because it takes so long for the hot water to arrive at the ninth floor that you usually decide to enjoy it cold cause you are to impatient to wait until it gets warmer. And than you open up the two little windows in your room and tear open the door as well so a light draft is created cause you have to pay for aircondition (pay with your students ID card, I'd like to add) in your room. Bying a fan seems not reasonable cause a lot of people have been complaining, that those things got broken already after some days of usage.
So you keep exposing yourself to everybody who goes up and down the floor and of course stares at you and your room. But hey, you feel better and it is for free so you think..what the fuck, I can endure it for another 4 months^^ In the end Meggie and I decided to put the AC just before we fall asleep, that is for about 30 minutes our room gets freacking cold, like a fridge so that you put yourself under the blanket and the morning after when you wake up you feel sticky and slimy cause all the sweat that arose after the AC stopped working had nowhere else to go^^ But the sleeping matter is just another story and you still have the cold shower in the morning^^
1: Symon (20.9.07 12:53)
Lesson 5: Whats that mat?
As I have mentioned before the sleeping issue is just another story that needs to be told in order to acquire some basic knowledge about the differences between Chinese and European people. Of course we all sleep with our eyes shut and our conciousness being somewhere else but until you get there you are constantly thinking about the surface that should give you the confidence and convenience to do so.
Of course now I am used to it but the first days were just horrible. When we finally went to sleep I found out that my „mattress“ does not even deserve to be called a „mat“. It rather reminded me of the mats that we usually use for training purposes in the sports course at school. You know those blue things the schools use for gymnastics..Well its nearly the same, just harder^^ And when I found out that the bedsheets package, which I bought from the hall reception earlier that day, also didn't include a pillow I nearly went mad. I put up with this trial for exactly 2 days until I finally bought the most comfortable pillow in the world At least this where my thoughts when I put my head on it for the first timeLater on Meggie explained to me that she is also not satisfied with her „mattress“ but for a different reason..that is, she percieves it as being too soft as usually she does not use one at all. The people in Mainland China mostly sleep on wooden planks without any falderal. Amazing isn't it.. I just hope that when I'm going to visit her at her home in Wuhan, that I won't have to sleep on some kind of table..In this case I'd rather prefer a place in the garden or something^^ But I'm kinda looking forward to it, cause this is also culture.
Well, basically I think that now is a good point to conclude the lessons on the general impressiones I encountered when I arrived in Hong Kong. So I can move on to describing the things I did or participated in during my nearly three weeks stay here. Of course I will add some general information whenever it is appropriate..so enjoy the further stories. From now on I will also include some pictures, so you won't have to read that much^^