I am truly not one for spontaneity…
…Yet, for about four days straight, I have found myself walking through the streets of Hong Kong with a group of girls by my side, a dessert in my hand, and wonder in my eyes.
My newfound friend Ashley, as pictured below, asked me to hang out with her and some friends after a Wednesday class session. I’d only had one class with Ashley, so I was completely honored to spend some time getting to know her and her friends. Before hopping on the subway, we stopped at a fried chicken stand about a five-minute walk from school. I wasn’t feeling chicken at the time, so I bought a waffle with butter vanilla sauce and…peanut butter?! Yes, peanut butter. I watched the woman drizzle it on, but when she handed it to me, it didn’t click that this peanut butter sauce is the same thing that makes me swell up and get hives. I took one bite, and my theory was confirmed. It was indeed peanut butter.
But huzzah! Luckily, one of Ashley’s friends was willing to eat my perfectly good waffle and she even paid me for it, because she felt really bad about the situation. (I very much appreciated the extra subway fare.)
After walking around The Ladies’ Market, where ladies sell high-end handbags, toys, shoes, water-shooting speakers, and stuffed animals, we found Holy Ground: the biggest Forever21 I’ve ever seen in my life! It is four floors of aesthetic goodness, but unfortunately for the men, they have a tiny section in the back. This store is definitely dedicated to the ladies. It has everything an American F21 would have, plus more. Including stationary, pillows, hats, backpacks, shoes, and pool toys. My mind was blown. I was amazed. AND, there’s also mini escalators that take you through the store! I love Hong Kong.
Forever 21 was fun, and while the girls swung their shopping bags in delight, I was starting to get worried about how we’d get back to the residence halls. Long story short, my red-haired friend and I were too tired to wait on the free university shuttle that transported us from downtown to the residence halls. We would’ve had to wait 2 hours and ride 40 minutes. So, instead, we rode two public buses–one to a sketchy station in the middle of a roundabout–back home, and arrived about an hour earlier than our friends. I was so happy to get back at a decent hour because I had an 8 a.m. class the next morning!
The day after, I shared a “family dinner” with three other new friends and watched Rush Hour 3 in my friend Alex’s apartment. This was totally not planned but beat watching Pacific Rim at the university (an Orientation Week event). We are definietly not Master Chefs, yet somehow we pulled it together. Our cozy meal of beans, corn, mashed potatoes, and strawberry ice-cream brought our friendship together in ways I could never imagine. I am so grateful to have friends that love to cook and chill together.
On Friday, after more orientation events that included free bubble tea, cotton candy, more ice-cream, crepes, and a talk about course-sequencing, I texted Alex again to see if he was available. He was, and we decided to take on Sham Shui Po. We walked a few blocks, sweated our faces off, and settled for good ol’ McDonald’s because we were desperate and couldn’t take out cash from the ATMs. Then, I snapped this photo, we went into this weird corner store that sold really cute and affordable notebooks alongside toy guns and dish soap, we were awestruck over a number of cute dogs in the area, tried to walk through a park, but couldn’t find the exit, found another park where we saw elderly fit women working out their thigh muscles, and talked on a bench under a street lamp. It was a great night.
If your professor sends you to a shady photography gallery in the middle of an unexplored city with rivers and chain-smokers, don’t fret. It’s normal. Yesterday, I rode the subway out to Wong Chuk Hang to visit Blindspot Gallery. There, it was an Alice in Wonderland-themed exhibition that explored what the meaning of reality was–or is. There were photographs of time progressions, videos, paintings, drawings, and free cupcakes. My favorite part was hands-down the free cupcakes, but I felt far from suave as a cruised through the intelligent crowd of established artists and their friends wearing a Calvin Klein sweater and ripped shorts. Stuffing my face was sugary perfection, I studied the art, praised the heavens when my professor counted my attendance, and skidattled out of the sketchy gallery. Lucky for me, there are two more fieldtrips back to this gallery. (Hopefully there will be cupcakes.)
I took this shot in the bathroom of the gallery. I loved the way the light hit the windows. Below, is a little office space. It sits in the front of the garage right before the gallery.
Just before heading back, my friend and I snuck into a Chinese temple. (I didn’t photograph anything, out of respect, but it was beautiful. There were candles burning and we saw people stopped to pray in front of the Buddha. We tiptoed around the temple to find many fishtanks, oriental rugs, and gold sculptures. We even peeked into a sunroom to find a ton of shoes lying around, as the patrons of the temple prayed in another room. There was a small fountain with a huge golden Buddah on top that my friend couldn’t resist taking a picture of It was a spiritual experience that I will never forget. Before we went back on the subway, I took this shot. I can’t get enough of the architecture here!
Thank you so much for reading.
(*I finally have wifi, so you can check out my Instagram posts of my adventures here!)
-hello ninety seven