The Best Congee I’ve Ever Tasted

Today, I woke up with that horrible feeling of a stuffy nose, sore throat, and cold symptoms. Perhaps it was also due to the temperature contrast from China to HK, but to be honest I attribute part of it to the stuffiness of the room. I dragged myself out to the shuttle bus only to see it drive off before me. Great start to the day. 😦

I ran into Vincent & Alyssa at the minibus stop, so we bused it together to campus. Then Alyssa & I walked to Management together, only for me to find out I forgot to complete the personal information sheet that was due. Thankfully, it wasn’t actually collected yet :). I just kind of zoned out and surfed the web in class, until we found our assigned groups. Everyone in my group is a local HKU student, so I’m kind of excited to work with them and get to know them.

I went to the Global Lounge and chilled there to wait for K to get off class. Unfortunately by the time he arrived it was 12:30, which left us merely half an hour before my 1pm class. Therefore, we munched on curry buns/croissant, and I started to feel even more under the weather.

I really like the professor for my 1pm Marketing Class. His name is Baniel, and he is super super nice, cool, and funny. He is also super chill, and likes to crack harmless jokes with HKU male students about their girlfriend status. Pretty adorable! He’s like yea no problem lah, if you get da C+ then you got a problem la. I give 75% As & Bs. Oh btw you don’t exactly have to buy the textbook. So awesome! I feel like Professor Robinson’s BA 106 Marketing has prepped me super well for this class, so it should be pretty easy and enjoyable for me.

I walked to East Gate and minibused it back home, and immediately collapse in bed. From then until 10 30…I was basically delusional and alternated between napping, drama-ing, and sniffling miserably. At 10:30, I received a call from K to come out.

He was so sweet and got me congee! 🙂 It was seriously the tastiest congee ever. The congee itself was pretty tasty, but the fact that it was delivered with love from my amazing boyfriend made it the best congee ever. 🙂 It totally made my day, and made me feel better. Hopefully this cold will run its course soon and that I won’t get anyone around me sick. I also hope I will develop some antibodies to survive the semester….

M

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Mellow Mondays

Today, I slept in until 11. From then til about 2 45, I lazed around watching dramas, and completed a bunch of errands.

K and I met up shortly before 3 and set off for Central. Lunch at my favorite Tsui Wah was amazing as usual. My curry pork chop, Egg White almond tea, Bo Luo Yau, K’s steak penne, and classic milk tea = I was in heaven!!!
We went to IFC to admire their lovely perfumed bathrooms with square toilet seats…lolll. Then we ascended the millions of escalators to reach the IFC Rooftop. It was gorgeous! I can only imagine how beautiful and calming it would be at night. We set off for an interesting adventure to complete the day. Lots of exploring and not much commentary, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Me vs. HK

We decided to hop on the MTR and get off at a random stop. We picked North Point, and proceeded to get some herbal Chinese drink with perceived health benefits. Blegh, but placebo effect or not, I feel just a bit more healthy. Just a teensy bit.

We strolled through a very local street market, and decided to hop on a ferry to Kowloon City. Little did we know, we ended up in a huge residential area. We got snacks at the supermarket and played a match of the floating table pucks. I pwned K – 7 vs 2!

Pika Pika Chiu!!

We hopped on the next bus we saw and ended up on Mody Road, in Tsim Sha Tsui. We stumbled upon the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and Avenue of Stars just in time for the 8 pm Symphony of Lights. It was truly dazzling! We had a lot of fun walking and taking pics.

Symphony of Lights 1.30.2012

Potatoheads at Avenue of Stars

Oink! Meet my twin. My boyfriend is my personal pro photographer!

Jacky Cheung!

 

We stumbled upon 1881 Heritage, an extremely upscale mall/plaza, and then chose to explore Beijing Road. We ended up at ISquare, where Adrienne, Vincent, K & I were at last time! Here I am, feasting at Toi, Hokkaido Rice Pizza. Really delicious meal 🙂 Today was a good day! Tomorrow, school will start up for me again at 10:30. Woot Woot!

Pirate Boo

Menu of Yummy Foods

M

A Chinese Chinese New Year

This past week in China, with extremely limited internet connectivity, extremely cold weather, and extremely lovely memories with K & my family, has been incredible. Facebook & WordPress were both blocked in China, and the limited internet I had access too wouldn’t work with the Berkeley VPN. Therefore, I saved up my daily entries for a day by day breakdown. I want to capture, chronicle, and cherish these memories forever.

China January 2012 ❤

Saturday, January 21st

K and I enjoyed a pleasant flight, and arrived at Hangzhou Xiao Shan airport a little ahead of schedule. After passing through customs successfully, we were a little taken aback to walk out and not see my aunt or her boyfriend Hairy Cow. I felt extra screwed since I didn’t have their contact info, and my dad wasn’t pick up. We walked around aimlessly trying to locate my aunt, until 30 minutes later she strides through the door, looking as young as ever. A few minutes later, Hairy Cow (HC) struts in. They scoop up our luggage, and off we go to the car. Holy moly…China is COLD! It was about 2 degrees Celcius out the door.

     The drive to our apartment in the mountains was about 50 minutes. It felt pretty weird for me, since I have never been to China in the winter. In my mind, China has always symbolized hot, humid, full of people and mosquitoes. It was interesting to see distant snowcapped mountains and feel the freezing wind lapping against my face as I got off the car.
     My aunt had already made preparations for K to live in my apartment on the 7th floor, and for me to stay with her at their 11th floor flat. We were greeted by my black cat Mimi. He definitely got plumper, and his fur has become so luscious and pretty! K fell in love with him, and kept playing with Mimi. All of my previous summer memories came flooding back. 🙂
     We passed out, and woke up early to head into the city. HC took the scenic route, taking us to see several water dams in our area. The views along the way were beautiful, natural, and very authentically China. Aside from creeks, ancient-style Chinese architecture, and foggy mountainsides, we also passed by farm villages and witnessed low-tech rural life at work. Our first stop was the scenic Zhejiang Provincial Hospital’s VIP Room 6, where HC’s father resides. At age 97, Grandpa Shi is a living miracle. He can still walk nimbly and keep a conversation, recalling his director days. He was so cute, telling me and K that we need to go swimming and lose weight. He also gave us red envelopes! 🙂
     Then we drove to my grandparents’ place, where I was reunited with my adorable grandparents and sexy dad!!! They were as adorable as ever!!! K gave them the gifts he prepared, and we received more red envelopes. $$$ and happiness!!! Hehe jk! My dad and K also had a long deep chat to get to know each other. I’m not quite sure what they talked about, but it was really cute. After spending some quality time with my grandparents and eatting dinner, we headed back to the mountains (about 35 miles away from the city). The mountains are known for the clear quality of air, and symbolize a more natural, organic way of living. For my health conscious aunt and HC, it is a perfect fit even if it means they need to drive pretty far when they want to go out.
Sunday, January 22nd. New Year’s Eve! 
      Today was a day of feasting. We woke up early to head to my grandparents. When we arrived, only my dad was home. He was doing “qi gong”, and looked super cute/funny. K and I went to find my grandparents, only to meet them halfway. My grandparents, 92 & 87, are SO cute <3. They are so healthy too, maintaining an active lifestyle by playing pingpong at least 1.5 hours every day. We reconvened at home and prepared for a full day of feasting and meeting the family. Our transportation there was rather exotic…My Hairy Cow uncle drives a 5-seater Honda CR-V, and we had 7 people. Therefore, they took out the spare tire and devised a ghetto “7 seater layout”. My aunt and I sat on wooden benches and cushions in the trunk, facing front so it looked like we were sitting on another row of chairs. It was a ride to remember.
     We had a big lunch of 17 attendees at Zhang Tong Bing Guan (Appreciation Hotel). I was so happy to see everyone healthy and happy with holiday cheer, and hugged my cutie grandparents from my mom’s side, my other aunt and uncle, my uncle’s sister and her family (Ma Chun Auntie), along with their parents. I introduced K to everyone, and everyone remarked how we looked like each other! Of course, K & I collected more hong baos! 🙂 My auntie also got me my absolute FAVORITE cucumber flavored Lays chips. They are AMAZING. I was ecstatic! The lunch was filled with great food and conversation, and K marveled at how all of the grannie & gramps generation looked so young and healthy. He could not believe that my aunt and Hairy Cow were respectively in their 50 and 60s! Its true, they are super young-spirited and have got mad swag!
     After lunch, we headed to my other grandparents house and snacked some more. Then we decided to walk it off by exploring Hang Zhou’s old scenic streets. Its funny since K told me his ancestors were important in the Song Dynasty. My hometown Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Song dynasty. I guess we go way back then 🙂 That afternoon was a particularly heartwarming experience for me. I walked hand in hand with my dad on my left and my boyfriend on my right down the beautiful streets of my hometown in China, talking and laughing. How precious is that? Although it was freezing, I was so happy and felt all warm and fuzzy inside. My dad seems to really like K, and told me to stop being mean to him.
     HC and Auntie met up with us, and we decided to check out Mao Yuan Cang, Hangzhou’s most famous eyeglass retailer. My aunt got glasses for K and I, and then decided to get a pair for HC and herself. We got an eye exam, and my eyes improved a little! The glasses will be available to pick up 2 days, so we’ll see how I like them.
     Soon it was time to head back, so we headed back to my grandparents house to give K a small tour of where I spent many summer days in the past. Unfortunately, my grandpa from my dad’s side wasn’t feeling too well, so we decided to head to Zhejiang Hospital and do a little swapping. We needed to pick up Hairy Cow’s dad anyways, so we picked him up and dropped my grandpa off in his room for the doctors to monitor him. My grandma and dad stayed behind to take care of him.
     My HC Uncle, Aunt, K & I headed to dinner. It was a super fancy and expensive looking VIP room with gorgeous decor and presentation. I was reunited with my childhood buddy Seth (Jin Jin), currently pursuing his MBA in Boston. The dinner consisted of multiple courses of exotic foods, ranging from 8 different types of prepared lamb to a super expensive and rare yellow crocker fish to the largest shrimp I have ever seen (to K’s dismay…since he hates seafood). It was paired with the yummiest freshly pressed rice drink I have ever drank, and some very strong red wine.
     After dinner, we headed back to the hospital. My grandpa was feeling better, so everyone was relieved. Since it was Chinese New Year, my aunt.K & I stayed in the hospital for a while to watch the annual CCTV Chinese New Year production with HC’s dad, Grandpa Shi. After everyone showered, we headed back to the mountains. We were all exhausted, but happy. 🙂
Monday, January 23. New Years Day!
     K & I started off the Chinese New Year right…by sleeping in til past noon. I had to go downstairs and jump on K to wake him up from his deep slumber and drooling (hehe jk!). Today was the day for exploration, since it finally stopped raining. We lazed around and ate some healthy breakfast cereal and bread, and finally got ready at 2. We drove for an hour to Tang Xi, a historic little “water village” in the norther outskirts of Hangzhou. While the surrounding town was very rural and not extremely high tech, the scenic ancient village was gorgeous! My aunt treated K & I to every little local snack we wanted to eat, so K and I got “bingtanghulu” (candied plums!) I got the high-tech version, called candied butter strawberries! They were delicious! We also nibbled on malt candy and twisty Chinese caramel. We also sampled authentic osmanthic lotus root paste, native to Hangzhou. It was delicious!!! We walked around the scenic area, taking silly pictures. We also jumped onto a desserted boat and took crazy pictures that we could caption as “Wannabe Communists” & “Failed Titanic”. Hairy Cow and my aunt also took some pretty epic boat pictures.
     We walked around some more, and made our way to KFC. To my horror, it was CLOSED due to Chinese New Year. Needless to say, I was devastated. I have been pining for KFC’s Mexican Chicken Roll for almost two years (they don’t have it at the HK or Taiwan KFCs either). We headed back around 5 to go to my grandma’s for dinner. On the way, my aunt suggested that K & I go to foot massage so we could relax before dinner was prepared. I was psyched – the place my aunt goes to is SUPER amazing and well-known for their pro massages. All that walking in Hong Kong has killed my feet.
     To my absolute dismay again….the place was closed for Chinese New Year. Too unfortunate. Therefore, K & I decided to walk around and explore the huge mall next to our “Osmanthus City” residential community. We went to KFC!!! They had MEXICAN CHICKEN ROLL!!!! I was overjoyed….and flooded with happiness and satisfaction. Yes, it is that good!!
     After buying a cute hair accessory and another pair of hello kitty glasses (the MongKok lady totally ripped me off! It was only like 19 something RMB here..WITHOUT bargaining..=_=) We explored WuMart – the largest supermarket that sells literally everything! I took a picture with my favorite aisle – chips. I was in snack heaven!!! I picked up some of my child favorites – QQ Candy & Long Nose King for K to sample.
     We headed home shortly to eat some more dinner that my grandma prepared. After dinner, we relaxed and enjoyed some computer time. We will probably head home soon, and tomorrow I look forward to a date with K at West Lake.
Tuesday, January 24

My West Lake Date with K

     Today, K & I woke up at 8am to catch the 9am bus out of the mountains into the city. K514 took us straight to Wu Shan Square, a popular historic square bustling with people, tourists and locals alike. We dragged our groggy selves out into the chilly morning air, and started to trudge toward our destination. On the way, we saw a familiar logo..85 C!!!!! Memories of our trip to the Irvine branch and all of the yumtasic treats we acquired came flooding back and we decided to go in and do some scouting, even though there was a parade going on at Wu Shan Square in front us like 20 feet away. True fatasses :)! We settled on Sea Salt Milk Tea for me and Grass Jelly Milk Tea for K, along with some super yummy baked good called the Great Caesar. It was epic!
     We walked to Wushan Square to find the parade gone. Unfazed, we strolled down the connecting street – Qing He Fang, one of Hangzhou’s most popular historic streets. Its always filled with life, where vendors sell silk, cultural souvenirs, local flavor snacks, tea, and many things in between. K & I enjoyed strolling down the street, taking in all the sites. K got me another bubble sword! 🙂 We were lucky to stumble upon a huge free gallery of this famous artist. We walked around and admired his work – clay, gold, jade sculptures of buddhas, deities, and guan gong. His work also included some abstracts and western-fusion style artwork like a wall carving that depicted an elephant. It was awesome. After we finished exploring the multiple levels of the gallery, we stumbled upon another level and got to take pictures on an emperor’s throne.
     We went back out and sampled some candy sticks made in the shape of a dragon, and visited this “Song Dynasty Mystery House”. Although it was short, it was pretty fun. I think K was scared!! I also took K to see the “Xiao Chi Jie” (Little Eats street), a cute but super crowded little street where vendors sell everything from frog skewers to alcholic jiu niang to special fried rice in bamboo. We purchased some little gifts for Hairy Cow Uncle & Auntie.
     Next, it was a quick trip to the “Flower and Bird Market”. Beautiful flowers bloomed everywhere on the first level, and K & I rounded a remote corner to see multiple breeds of adorable puppies, birds, cats, and bunnies on display. We found a connecting door to Zhi Wei Guan, Hangzhou’s famous “little eats” restaurant, and headed over for lunch.
     K was a bit taken aback by the slightly ghetto service style employed by the restaurant. You seat yourself on a first come first service, and due to the restaurant’s great popularity and budget friendly pricing, there are HORDES of people standing around looking to swoop on the next empty seat. Because it was such a trademark, tons of farmers from the local countryside love to come here with their families, and tend to get rather aggressive. K was a bit turned off by the unclean table and the fact that this lady forced herself and her daughter to take the two seats next to us so we would share the table, but cheered up when our food started arriving. He was so cute when he was marveling over the fact that 12 delicious xiaolongbaos were only 11RMB. We also got egg onion pancake and beef noodle soup, which were both delectable.
     We found our way to West Lake and rested our feet at a chic but pricy coffee place called Moca Coffee. K ordered us two interesting mixed drinks; my Sakura Rose drink had  extremely yummy ice cream. We soon left to begin our most epic adventure yet: tandem biking!!! On the most ghetto/rusty/yellow-and-red rented tandem bike if I may add…It was kray kray! I have to admit, K was pretty pro maneuvering our vessel around tons of people, all the while riding on the sidewalk along the Lake. Imagine two fatty potatoheads screaming “Rang Yi Xia!” (Excuse us~~) and biking/wobbling down the street. It was an experience to remember. We biked past Lei Feng Tower and got chased by a tour cart. We rode our bike back on the other side of the street in the “bike lane”, weaving between buses, other bikers/scooterists, and cars. Woooohooo!!
     We decided to relax after this intense workout by strolling along West Lake and enjoying its tranquil beauty. We asked a guy to take a picture of us looking out at the water, with my head on K’s shoulder. He took like 10, and after awhile K mused outloud “I hope they didn’t take my phone…”. Much to our embarrassment they seem to have understood and chuckled amongst themselves in Hangzhounese (I can understand fully but my pronunciation is HORRIBLE). We took a boat to San Tan Yin Yue, West Lake’s beautiful island. We walked around and took loads of pictures, especially of the three “tans” that reflect the moon fully in the water whenever there is a full moon.
     It started snowing and getting super cold when we boarded the boat back to the main land around 5pm. K got me hello kitty gloves and fashioned an earmuff/hat out of my aunts scarf; I looked like Mother Goose. We walked back to Wu Shan Square and Qing He Fang to get clay sculptures done. They had caught our eye the first time around, so K decided to get sculptures done of us as his early 10 month anniversary gift to me. 🙂 So many onlookers gathered to watch the artist couple at work. It was memorable!

Pro Clay Sculpter Working on K

     We ended the day with a huge yam, and a bunch of KFC. ❤ All in all it was an amazing day, except for one little hiccup – I lost the mother goose scarf! 😦 It must have fallen off my flat head. I resolve to be less careless in the future. We bused home and enjoyed a quiet night with my HC Uncle, Auntie, and kitty Mimi.
Wednesday, January 25
     By now, we have adjusted to the environment in Hangzhou, as well as the lack of connection with the world of internet. While it has been restrictive, it is more so liberating for me to fully be present and fully experience everything around me without the constant distraction of a text message or a Facebook notification.
     Today I started to discuss with my auntie, uncle, and dad about our itinerary for the rest of our stay. I wanted to have some time to show K around and take him to Shanghai, but I also wanted to allocate time for all of my dear family members that I see so rarely.
     Today, we drove into the city to have lunch with my grandparents on my  mothers side before they depart tomorrow for Nan Tong. Apparently one of my many cousins there (O_O) is getting married. We had a nice satisfying lunch at Kui Yuan Guan, a famous Hangzhou noodle restaurant. There were loads of people, but we eventually got a table and ordered lots of yummies including fried ice cream and Dong Po Rou! I ordered this kind of pricy crab roe noodle, which was super delicious. After lunch, we took lots of pictures with my cutie grandparents before heading to pick up K & I’s new glasses.
     We headed to Qian Tang Jiang (the Qian River), where I blew lots of bubbles. It was super pretty as the wind carried them everywhere. I love bubbles!!!!! 🙂 We decided to head  out to Song Cheng Theme Park, one of Hangzhou’s top tourist attractions. It is a complete replica of a Song Dynasty town, where its “villagers” are all dressed up in Song dynasty garb. There are Song Dynasty operas, various activities like “Pao Xiou Qiu” (the Chinese street tradition of marrying one’s daughter off by having her throw a “blessed” red ribbon ball down from the balcony; the eligible man who catches it will marry her) and “Mai Yi” (skilled people will perform various shows like kungfu or fire-breathing for money on the streets), and a huge replica of Buddha Mountain, complete with a cave with holy carvings and cool optical illusions. There was also a “Ghost Street” with super cool slanted rooms (kind of like Santa Cruz’s Mystery Spot) and a haunted house inspired by the famous ancient works of Liao Zai (Chinese ghost/deity/spirit stories). The highlight of the day was definitely the AMAZINg Song Cheng Show. It was spectacular in terms of production value, stage coordination, and everything just worked together in perfect harmony. No wonder it has been such a hit for years! We got decent seats, but the VIP audience box is actually a boat that moves because some scenes have water and then the boat moves left and right, and then for several sets the actors/dancers come down from the top and interact with the audience. For the scene about the Butterfly Lovers, they used these impressive green lights that looked like waves and were super calming, while Chinese “Romeo” (Zhu Yin Tai) and “Juliet” (Zhu Yin Ta) danced solo on the grand stage. The White Snack vs. Fa Hai scene was also memorable, where the huge set was very realistic looking with water pouring out of Jin Shan Shi. I really enjoyed my night. 🙂

Flower scene!

Thursday, January 26th 

Today was the big day to go to Shanghai. We woke up at an unglamorous 6am…..gulped down dumplings and oats, and power walked to the bus stop for the 7am bus. We transfered to K39 and arrived at the Hangzhou Train Station. After some confusion with our American passports and where to purchase high speed rail tickets, we finally figured everything out and purchased tickets for the 8 50pm train. We arrived in Shanghai at 9 40, which was pretty darn quick! We quickly found our way out the Shanghai Metro lines, and ended up at NanJingDongLu. We walked along the NanJingDongLu Walking Street, which is kind of like Times Square at Causeway Bay in HK. We enjoyed some yummy KFC (MEXICAN CHICKEN ROLL!!) and hopped on a ghetto 3 wheeled motor bike which took us to Yu Yuan Cheng Huang Temple for 10 RMB.

We bought some small souvenirs and headed into Cheng Huang Miao. The place was PACKED. Perhaps it was due to the New Year, but we were literally pushing and squeezing everywhere we went. KC had to wear my backpack in front to protect our stuff, so he was rather disgruntled by the “pregnant” look. I thought he looked adorable :).

We went inside ChengHuang Temple to burn incense and pray for good fortune. Then we made the unfortunate choice of going on the bridge, which was jammed pack with people. The only way to move was to push. And push we did. When in Rome (China)…

We crossed off one thing on K’s food bucket list – Nan Xiang Man Tou Xiao Long Bao. We went to the third floor and enjoyed flavorful xiaolongbaos and osmanthus cake. Then it was downstairs for more pushing to escape. After buying so gross failed xiao long baos, we made a hasty retreat….to Ding Tai Fung! We got the classic xiao long bao and the chicken one. It was yummy, but not spectacular. I had fun with K though :).

After a quick stop at H&M, we got on another ghetto motorbike to get to the bund. We took some pictures of Shanghai’s landmark city skyline, and boarded the ferry to cross to PuDong. It was only 2 RMB!!!

Next came the most fail part of the day. So my dad booked the hotel for us since we were having problems finding a suitable hotel. It said 4 Star Hotel with great location and exceptionally low price of RMB 108/night. We decided to check-in first and scout the place out, so we asked a local for directions and hopped on the 81 bus. 17 stops later….we were squished by rude locals and confused by the ghetto views out the window. We finally stumbled upon this high rise that wasn’t too grungy but definitely did not look 4star….we took a look at the rooms and it seemed not bad at all for the price. We debated for a bit and decided to spend the night there. We napped for a bit and headed out to Lu Jia Zui.

Shanghai is beautiful at night. We took pictures under the Pearl Tower, and walked along the sky bridge. We went to the Shanghai IFC, visiting the apple store and walking around. We decided to try this place called Charme Superior, which turned out to be the yummiest place ever with their East-West fusion dishes. SCRUMPTIOUS!

Shanghai IFC @ Night!

We walked around IFC and taxied to Xin Tian Di. So many memories here at G+ and various bars and clubs with my dear friends Andrea, Jeff, James, Jeff Yan, Muran, Lina…We walked around and ended up getting deluxe chinese acupressure massages at a new massage parlour right on the Xin Tian Di main street named Dao. It felt really good and the accupressurist who worked on me was such a pro! He told me that I think too muh, and that I need to relax and slow down. I also need to stop sleeping so late. Haha so true…I never really stop thinking. Need to ommmmm….and medidate. We taxied home to our random hotel sometime before 1am and passed out.

Friday, January 27

Today was K & I’s 10 month anniversary. Its weird, sometimes it feels shorter, sometimes it feels so much longer since we are so comfortable and open with each other. I really cherish that about our dynamic, and I hope that never changes.

I love this pic ❤

We woke up around 10, showered, and checked out. We bused and metroed to Lu Jia Zui, and ended up returning to Charme Superior because it was just that good. And boy did it not disappoint. I am in love with that place! They are opening a new branch in Hangzhou soon! We finished lunch and strolled down to Starbucks in hopes to try their wildly popular Peach Blossom Latte, only to find it completely sold out in the entire province. That must be some VERY GOOD STUFF.

We found our way back to the metro and took around 14 stops on Metro Line 2 to Hong Qiao Train Station. We got a ticket for 3am, and were back in Hangzhou by 3:45. My uncle (mother’s side) picked us up in his new car, and we were off to visit my aunt and their new kitten that they rescued off the streets 9 months ago. Happy was super cute and feisty, and my aunt kept likening her to the cat version of My Sassy Girl. K was given an apartment tour, and we snacked on tons of yummy snacks.

It was super hilarious because my Hairy Cow uncle and aunt showed up with their cat Mimi. They were trying to arrange a kitty date between their “children” (now that my cousin and I are both grown up and live overseas – him in Melbourne and me in Cali, they adopted cats as their new children). Unfortunately, Mimi and Happy did not seem to get along and kept hissing at each other and escaping from each other. It was super cute, especially since we were watching the popular Chinese dating show: If you are the One. My uncle quipped that we were watching If You the One, Cat Edition live in front of us. Seems like Mimi failed….

Dinner was yummy with pork chops and veggies, and of course Ba Bao Fan. Auntie also made Glutinous Rice Ball in Sweet Alcohol, which was tasty too. After dinner, K & I played with the kitties and watched If You the One. The concept behind the show is simple, but its just so good. We watched until 10pm, when it was time to head back to get some early rest.

Happy & I

 

Saturday, January 28th

Today was our last full day in China. *Tear Tear*. I had planned to wake up at 930am, and dreamed that I did so. Unfortunately, then I actually woke up at 11am. Seems to happen to me quite often. We finally got to my grandparent’s place around 12 40…my grandma was pretty miffed. Lunch was delicious, with lots of rou, veggies, and duck soup. My grandma sure can cook!

After lunch, dad and I sorted out finances and put together a rough budget for HKU. Then, K & I set off for foot massages at my favorite place in Hangzhou. We watched TV for a bit while lounging on huge comfy reclining chairs, sipping tea and eating complimentary snacks. I got a really nice foot massage and back massage, and definitely enjoyed the pampering. We were going to get our hair washed and trimmed too…but the place was closed for Chinese New Year 😦 (the whole week!).

We headed back for a yummy dinner with Zhong Zi and a bunch of yummy dishes. It was extra delicious, so major props to Grandma. After dinner, we had planned to go karaoke but my aunt was feeling under the weather. Therefore, we just relaxed and I spend some quiet quality time with my grandparents and hugged them. Before we left, we took group pictures. It was bittersweet.

Its true that I will be in Hong Kong and therefore much closer to them than when I was in the States, but I am always sad when my China trip comes to an end. Even though I don’t see them very often (this was my first time seeing them in two years), their love and care for me is so genuine. I feel so lucky and loved every time I come back, even though there is a slight culture clash and generational differences. I know I am so lucky that all my grandparents are still healthy and well, but as I see their hair turn a little whiter I can’t but feel sad. I want to spend as much time with them as possible. Plus, I promised my grannie at age 8 that I will buy her a mansion with 3 servants. She’s holding me to that promise, so I need to work hard to make her, as well as everyone else I care about in China, proud.

I hugged them tight and we made the trip back to the mountains so we could pack. My aunt lovingly gave me many of her beloved possessions, including one of her favorite bags and Sisley boots. She also displayed the most pro packing skills I have ever witnessed, helping me pack everything in a compact sleek black suitcase she also gave me. We went to sleep, with 3 alarm clocks set for 4am. It was a hectic, yet strangely peaceful last night in Hangzhou for this trip.

Sunday, January 29th

Today was a sad day :(. I woke up at 4am, ate some oatmeal & “Long You Fa Gao” (Dragon Oil Bread Pudding) and gathered the last of my possessions. K & I bid goodbye and thank you to my Auntie (still recovering from her cold), and trudged downstairs with our stuff. It was basically pitch black and chilly outside, putting me in a glum mood. I dozed on and off on the way to the airport, and was super sad when we arrived at Hangzhou Xiao Shan International Airport. It was around 6am, about 20 minutes before we could check-in, so Hairy Cow Uncle walked us in, made sure we were at the right check-in gate, and bid us goodbye. He has so much swag. K really likes him, as do I. I don’t think anyone will believe he is 60+….he looks and acts and thinks like a man in his late 30s.

We didn’t have much trouble getting check-in, going through security and customs. We were one of the first to arrive and board the plane. Everything was pretty on-time and things flowed smoothly. I knocked out for most of the trip, waking up just in time for food – egg & sausage & warm croissant. Not bad at all!

I enjoyed a much shorter line since my HK Student VISA qualified me to get processed in the Hong Kong Resident Line, so I got to skip this huge line of visitors which would probably been a 30-40 minute wait. We took the airport express and taxied to our flats on Sassoon Road. Since then, I have reading, chatting with dear old friends, and just enjoying some quiet relaxing time.

Every time I come back from China, I get a little sad. Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if I had never left at age 2 for America. Of course I am sure I would not have learned and experienced so much, but I would have probably enjoyed more of the nourishment that a wonderful loving large family bestows upon their kin. While there is not really much use for what-ifs, I cant help but ponder. I guess once I snap out of this post-China emo-ness, I will feel rejuvenated to take a look at what I have before me.

Honestly, Hong Kong wasn’t what I expected. While I don’t horribly dislike it, to be honest I love Taiwan and China much more. Perhaps its the language barrier, perhaps its just that lack of familiarity and warmth. Perhaps I haven’t fully immersed myself into this environment and allow myself to establish bonds with people and places around me. I’m interested to see how things pan out as I get into full school mode. I do want to make the best of my time here. I want to see things, learn things, experience things, and do things. I have a bucket list that I know will develop the more I get to know this city, and the more I crank the logistics and feasibility out. We will wait and see.

 

M

Intense Friday

Today was probably the shortest yet most intense day ever!!!!

For one, I woke up at 3pm. I totally missed the Business Faculty’s welcome party…fail.

I woke up, revived, and packed. At 5 45, I met Vincent and K downstairs. We had a fail time getting onto minibuses with 3 seats open, so it took us almost an hour to get to Central. We were super rushed to eat dinner and head to the airport for our 9 20 flight to China.

We ate at Yoshinoya, which was surprisingly pretty good! We made it to the airport at 8, and got through checkin at 8 20.

Then we decided to have dinner, since we thought oh, we have 20 minutes. And it was Tsui Wah, which was scrumptious! Malaysian curry brisket, pineapple bun oil, and butter custard pork bun. Mmmmm mmmm mmm!

Little did we know, we had to take a shuttle to the gate! We finished eatting at 8 45, realized our boarding call was at 8 40. Fail! We rush down and wait for the shuttle. It was so intense! We made final call and I am now on the plane.

K and I were super stressed, but laughing hysterically along the way. If we missed our plane, we would have had to tell my relatives “Oh, we missed our plane because we were fatasses and eatting instead of trying to find our gate.” LOL, definitely an experience to remember!

M

HK Thursdays

K and I minibused to Central again and was finally able to meet up with Karen and her friend! I was so happy to see her, even thought she had to rush to the airport. Then, we feasted on McDonalds! It’s pretty ironic that we are in Asia but we eat Mickey D’s so often. But seriously, that Big Mac deal is pretty sweet!

Vincent met us up, and we ventured to TIME magazine recommended piece of old Hong Kong, Lin Heung Tea House. It was truly authentic, as the waiters didn’t speak anything other than Cantonese. We also had to wash our own cups/plates in a bowl of hot water. Thankfully, the food was good, especially the house special pork. It was succulent and tender, with the perfect infusion of sauce and spices. As we left, I grabbed one of their famous lotus buns. We wandered to IFC again, where we attempted to sign up for tutorials via Moodle. Sigh, who would have thought the HKU registration system makes me miss Telebears!!!

We headed back to K’s flat and plan out our traveling plans for the semester. K booked out tickets to Taiwan!!!! 🙂 it’s official, we will be in Taiwan for Reading Week, from March 1 to March 12. I am sooooo excited!!!!! Can’t wait to see old friends and explore parts of Taiwan I didn’t get a chance to back in 2009!

K’s flat mates came back so we chilled for a bit, chatting about random stuff from SOPA to stolen livers in Shenzhen. It was a pretty chill night, and I headed home around 2.

Today, I dreamed that I woke up at ten and went to class. Then I actually woke up. At 2pm. FML. Therefore, I decided to skip more class and headed to campus for my last class of the day, MNCs. Then I headed to Central for some alone time exploring and shopping.

K and Vincent met me up, and we walked around Central. We are at Mongkok Langham Place again, experiencing HK – the food court is 100% packed at 10pm, the place swarming with kids, and people standing around to swoop on seats. All on a Thursday night. Crazy! And the food, especially K’s Pepper Lunch beef, was pretty bomb too.

We are off to the market and some dessert at our favorite Hui Lau Dhan! 🙂

M

Last night, we minibused it to Central and walked around exploring the area. We stopped at Tsui Wah Restaurant for dinner. It was AMAZING…probably the best cha chan teng experience EVER. The Malaysian curry brisket and chicken wings were to die for!!!!

Central - A City of Lights

Best Chicken Wings I've Ever Had

 

After an extremely delicious and satisfying meal, we decided to explore central on foot and burn off the calories. We window shopped, gawked at interesting displays and unique artwork, and stopped for some authentic “Gui Ling Gao” (turtle black jelly). We scouted out some yummy places to add to our food bucket list, and then I did a little shopping at the “Princess Shop”. The shop was so cute and had pretty trendy clothing. K & the sweet shop owner conversed in Cantonese while I tried on a number of chic items. I ended up purchasing a light blue cardigan and a purple shirt (I later noticed the tag said Forever 21! LOL ), and was a pretty happy camper. We ended up wandering to Soho and going up a million escalators on Shelley Street, taking in the vibrant night life and sights around us, only to walk back down another million stairs…Off we went to Mickey D’s for some chocolate sundaes and a place to rest our feet for a bit.

K & I @ Central

He makes me happy 🙂

Around 12 we headed to Beijing Club to meet up with our friend Stanley, and met Jamie, Kat, Roy, Brendan, and …oops forgot his name :(. The club was pretty nice, although super packed. Stanley booked a table so we gathered around chatting (shouting due to the LOUD music) and sippin’ a HUGE bottle of Moet. The music was decent, so K & I had fun dancing :). It’s been awhile since those Taiwan Luxy/Primo/Spark days! I even found out I actually had met one of the girls previously before at Berkeley; what a small world!

We got back around 3, and I was proud that my tolerance went up (from .5 shot wonder to 1 shot…) since I was only a little dizzy. My flatmates got back a little later, and we ended up congregating in the kitchen all slightly intoxicated eatting ramen and dropping chopsticks. We ended up having a really nice chat before all heading off to knock out.

I dragged myself out of bed to take the shuttle to school for my 9 30am with Arden, my flatmate and fellow Cal Bear. The class seemed interesting enough, and I got a chance to witness first hand the horrible slow servers that get clogged by intense HKU students trying to get into their ideal tutorial times.

I have two more classes today – Management & Sex + Intimacy in Modern Times (should be interesting!). Then I will hopefully successfully find my way to North Point to see Karen before she leaves HK at 6pm!!! Stay tuned! 🙂

 

M

First Day of Actual Class

Today was my first actual day of class. It was AMAZING – I love it!

Last night I ended up just getting some snacks from 7-11 and came back up to my flat to chill with my flatmates and new friends! It was so diverse, with people from Norway, US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and the Mainland. I truly experienced the essence of a global education. Everyone was super chill and I had a great time chatting with everyone. My roommate Michaela is super sweet, and she told me a little about her recent adventures to Thailand and Cambodia, complete with tips on how not to get scammed.

K’s buddy Thomas invited us to 2am late night Dim Sum, but I was absolutely exhausted. I headed to bed around 2.

My first class, Principles of Management, was at 10:30. My flatmate Kim and I boarded the shuttle (only 2 HKD vs 7 HKD for the minibus!) to campus, and once on campus I was lucky enough to run into my buddy Alex. He directed me to my classroom, and I sat in the second row next to a super sweet exchange student from Japan, Emi. Our professor was pretty funny, and I enjoyed the class. I went up afterwards and introduced myself. I also offered my hand for a handshake, and there was kind of an awkward pause. I guess students don’t handshake their professors here haha, but he shook it firmly and was super friendly.

After I had a bit of time to roam around and check out campus. I grabbed a sausage roll & honey orange macchiato at Starbucks (delicious!) and sat down next to a girl at an empty round table. Apparently its common to just share tables with strangers here. Some korean researchers approached us to fill out surveys, and gave us yummy korean strawberry chewies! The girl and I started chatting, and we enjoyed  a long and amazing conversation. We talked about everything from career to HK to boyfriends! I would love to explore local spots with Emily in the near future 🙂

K & I met up briefly before class and explored the library. We felt so cool beeping in our HKU student IDs. It was pretty cool, and the 2nd floor has facilities where you can watch movies. I will be sure to check those out. Afterwards, K walked me to class. I LOVE MY MARKETING CLASS, FUNNIEST CLASS HANDS DOWN. The professor Baniel is SO adorable & cute & funny! I also found out Steven, a friend I met yesterday, is in the same class! We walked to Starbucks for some more macchiatos, and here I am blogging another post. K & I are off to go find some nomnom eats! Tonight, we are probably going to go clubbing at LKF! Stay tuned.

View from the minibus on the way to my flat!

M