Sunday, 20 December 2009

Hong Kong and back to Taiwan

Ben was supposed to update this blog but he's always sitting in the corner with a chinese dictionary! He's too proactive for his own good. I went to my journal a minute ago to see what I had written about our Hong Kong trip, and I didn't write anything - I forgot, which is awful because it was amazing.

We arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday 25th November and went to find the place I'd booked on the internet to stay the night before. I'd stayed there on my previous Hong Kong trip with Emi and it was budget accommodation; a bit ghetto and nowhere near luxury, but sufficient and comfortable. I was lucky that all the rubbish I read on the internet again was exaggerated - Mirador Mansion (although one of the biggest misuses of the word 'mansion' in the English language) really isn't that bad. There are a lot of touts and shady looking drugged up characters, but this added to the English nostalgia so much of Hong Kong gave us. A big contrast from Taiwan however.

The first night we walked around TST, along the Avenue of Stars and the waterfront and got an Indian Curry in Chungking Mansions. When I mentioned this to other people they thought we were crazy going there, and yes it was even worse than Mirador Mansions but Indians are hard to come by in Taiwan and we were naive. But we ended up with a good curry.
The next day we spent a lot of time on Central. Victoria Peak was good because the views were spectacular, but also because we went on a walk around the top which took us about an hour. I LOVE cityscapes with backdrops of the mountains: Barcelona, Marrakech, Hong Kong and Taipei are the ones I can think of. We walked around Central weaving our way through the skyscrapers we see so often on the telly. We went to H&M more than once, and it just seemed like real luxury - alright clothes at normal prices. Everything in Taiwan is either cheap tat or designer, more expensive than England prices. There was also an M&S (I got percy pigs) and HMV (Ben got NME mag) which was kind of exciting! We had Thai food for tea and did more exploring. We went up the long series of escalators which go up the mountain and you see on The Dark Knight.

The next day we went to the temple, found a kitten that I wanted to take home so much I stole and put in my bag, before realising that it wouldn't work out. We got Ben some scriptures for his birthday from the distribution centre. We found an Oxfam to Ben's delight with a good collection of Lonely Planet books. It was a shame it wasn't really worth getting any. We went to Mong Kok and the shops and the markets round there that evening and got dim sum which was brilliant. A lady at the Ladies Market fixed the zip on Ben's 7 year old bag he still uses.

On the Friday we went to Lantau, one of the islands which makes up Hong Kong. We did the Big Buddah and Tai O, a small fishing village where they have traditional old houses on stilts, and we were able to see pink dolphins.

On Sunday we went to church which was really entertaining. There were a few Brits there too, including a nice girl from Bristol called Amy Lewis who knew Rob Harrop and a brilliant woman from Huddersfield!! A guy from London gave a talk about Danny Wallace and the random acts of kindness by the Calm Army.

Heading home to Taipei and getting back into work was a bit depressing. I loved Hong Kong and it was hard to get myself back into the mindset of understanding why we came here. Hong Kong's amazing, as is Bangkok. But Taipei has other charms and it's good for us to be here.

One brilliant thing we did recently was the Taipei 7th Ward Pageant which was a bit community event. We played Mary and Joseph on the Saturday and it got us in the Christmas spirit (but not the fake Christmas spirit). We love our ward. The primary are so good (see pic). On Saturday night we went to the night market with Benji, Camille, Maresa, Lily, Rubi and Melissa and got tsua bing (my favourite). We also went out for Ben's birthday in Ximen with Benji, and were reminded that Taipei is actually cool, as we had forgotten. Benji has gone now. He'll be missed.

One more thing I should say is I dropped a couple of lessons and life has become easier. I'm not earning as much as I could be but I'm trying not to think about that for now. Plus I love some of my students. Ben had the imfamous Dalton christmas party / show and did a dance on stage. I bowed my head in embarrassment but it was really quite funny and the kids LOVED it.

Even though I've been a lot more homesick in Taipei than I was in Bangkok I feel really lucky to be having this experience and Ben's learning Chinese.

Bye Bye until next time. xxx

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