Whenever someone asks me ‘where are you from?’, I never know what to say. I was born in Hong Kong but I don’t have a Chinese passport. I lived in Brooklyn and had an American accent but I don’t have that anymore. I grew up in Japan and can speak Japanese but I could never become a Japanese citizen. I have a British passport but have lived abroad most of my life and have Welsh and German blood. So where do I fit in?
The truth is, I see myself as a Global Citizen (hence the title of my blog).
This weekend I was lucky enough to travel to the city of my birth and explore the places I hardly remember but somehow missed.
I arrived in Hong Kong International Airport on Friday afternoon with a small backpack and an hour to navigate the MTR to get to a spontaneous haircut. As I emerged from the underground I found myself in the middle of a demonstration which I found equally taxing. However, the stress of the MTR slowly ebbed away as the stress of the haircut took its place. The hairdresser was somewhat uneasy about the prospect of cutting my hair. His hands shook and he ceremoniously huffed every few minutes as if my hair had done something to offend him. I conclude that he had never done this sort of style before and frankly botched the job… Just have to wait for it to grow out now.
He blew my hair franticly with the hairdryer, patted me on the head and sent me on my way £30 short.
The anxiety quickly subsided as I entered my hotel room. It was, for a lack of a better word, perfect, and complete with a smartphone which I could take with me everywhere throughout the duration of my stay – every hotel needs this. I waited patiently for my Dad and younger brother to check-in and we set-out on a late-evening jaunt. We had dinner at a lovely Italian and took a ride on the Central to Mid-levels escalators which stretch over 800 metres.
One thing I will say about my Dad is that when it comes to holidays, there is no dilly-dallying involved and we set-out first thing the next morning on an excursion to Victoria Peak. Through sub-difuge, he managed to get my brother and I to do a complete circulation of the peak – a considerable 3.5km in 100% humidity. I promise I contributed my fair share of complaints throughout. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he had us walk half way down the mountain in order for us to visit the place where I was born. Unfortunately, the original building has been bull-dozed and another building has taken its place but the sentiment still exists – especially as I barely remember the building anyway.
We then hopped onto the Star-Ferry and made our bumpy way to Kowloon. There we explored a strange Gold-fish Market, which had hundreds of Goldfish, individually bagged and on display. In Chinese culture the Goldfish is said to bring luck and good fortune so its not hard to see how these markets stay in business. Finally we visited a conspicuous and oddly placed Nan Lian Gardens, a classical Chinese garden plonked in the middle of this hectic city. Surrounded by apparent tranquility there was no escaping the urban soundscape and the siren motif. There was a definitely a Disneyland feel to the gardens.
Funnily enough, indeliberately we had chosen to go to Hong Kong at exactly the same time as the 20th Anniversary of the Handover. This also meant that we were treated to the Anniversary Fireworks that evening which lasted an impressive 25 minutes and cost $2 million – Bargain! Somehow, the fireworks managed to stimulate the atmosphere enough so that the heavy clouds released bucket-fulls of rain which completely drenched us during the spectacle. As hundreds of umbrellas popped up during the apparent celebrations it was reminiscent of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. A movement which consisted of thousands of young people who participated in protests demanding ‘true universal suffrage’ and characterised by the yellow umbrella.
On Sunday, we visited Hong Kong park, a regular excursion of my childhood and my parents’ wedding location. Silently my dad guided us toward a fountain which had been a favourite of mine as a toddler. As we approached a fuzzy-feeling washed over me and immediately recognised it. I can see why I loved it as child as as an adult I still do. I re-enacted fond memories and felt a child again.
After another afternoon of walking around Shek-O headland, taking a Sampan Boat to Lamma Island and trekking across the length, I can truly say that I was pooped. We had an early night to prepare ourselves for the day ahead.
On Monday, Arthur and I were left to our own devices as my dad checked-in to work in Central. We took the Ding Ding Tram to Central and the MTR to the Lantau Island where we rode the Crystal Cable Car to the peak. There we explored the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. I perfectly relaxed afternoon after the miles of walking that my dad had lead during the previous days.
After a comfortable meal, my dad and brother popped me into a taxi and we said our farewells. I promise you it doesn’t get any easier every time I say goodbye to them. Thankfully I’ll be seeing both again in a month but it still stings a little.
Unfortunately my flight was delayed and I ended up having to camp out at Kansai Airport from 3-6am waiting to the first train back to my flat in Kodo. Thankfully I had no classes that day so spent the remainder resting my sorry head after 24 hours of no sleep.
The most amazing 72 hours was worth it.
The evening before I jet-set off to Hong Kong I had a much needed dinner in the Imperial Gardens in Kyoto. Little did I know that it would be a big mistake to eat outside. As I brought the soy burger towards my mouth, I felt a gust of air and a sharp object brush against my face. I immediately shut my eyes and recoiled. After emerging from my state of horror I realised that local Kite had attacked me and my burger and had scratched my face with its claws in the process. The bloody thing didn’t even claim the burger but over-shot its target and left it in my hand. Fortunately the skin on my face heals quickly and have only been left with a small mark after 4 days.
That’s all for now.
P.S. My Mt Fuji Climb is coming up in 5 days, if you haven’t already, It would mean so much to me and Liv if you could donate just a little change to this worthy cause. If you would like some more information you can look at my previous blogpost here.