This December, I went to Hong Kong for a short trip with M. In the five days there, I have returned wholeheartedly acknowledging the heartiness of food at the centre of Hong Kong’s lifestyle. It was massive, excessive even, and yet the amount of physical exercise we did on foot seemed to offset the indulgence we spent taking care of our tummies.
M was patient and accommodating, and we went around to some lovely touristy places and visited the streets of Mongkok and explored some of the lovely HK eateries. The best part of the eating must be the HK congee. I fell in love with the generous flavours and cook of the rice. Although I have never been a huge fan of porridge, I loved and polished every bowl of porridge I had in Hong Kong. We also had our fair share of egg tart and bread tasting at several bakeries, including Kum Wah Cafe & Cakes as well as Tai Cheong Bakery. There was a lot more variety and flavour in the food and I definitely enjoyed savouring each dish I was introduced to. I could not appreciate every dish though – the traditional HK dim sum with the beef balls and fish balls were strange to the palate and I had to rely on M to help finish up the food. But goodness we ate so much – almost every thing we had could have been halved and we would still be full. There just was not enough time spent in HK to fully explore the different foods and flavours!
We also went to Disneyland, Ocean Park, and The Peak – which were exciting places to spend time at. It would have been great if we had other company to give us that boost in bravery to take more rides. M isn’t quite a thrill seeker when it comes to theme parks, and I needed that extra persuasion to truly make our every penny count. It is my first time in Disneyland, and the experience was truly magical – it is probably the best time I had in Hong Kong these five days. We had a nice variety of thrill rides, fairytal-ish exhibits and performances, and delicious park snacks like caramel popcorn with Mickey sitting on the pack, and a Mickey Mouse shaped rice with grilled chicken from their Starlight Fast Food stop yum. M specially requested to stay for the evening parade, which really killed my feet by the time we got back to our hostel – but I thought was something we could not miss out on! It was amazing the lights, logistics and detail that goes into the parade, and I was nothing short of being blown away.
Our accommodation was at the HK Youth Hostel Association’s Mei Ho House at Sham Shui Po / Shek Kip Mei – one of the revitalisation projects that aimed to preserve the historical aspect of the district after the 1953 big fire that wiped out many families’ housing. The hostel was only opened a year ago, and the building was beautifully furnished, complete with a gift shop, laundry room, huge kitchen pantry, beautiful eclectic cafe, open-air lounge areas, and even an indoor museum that presented the story of Mei Ho House.
I did not think I would need that long to walk through the exhibits in the museum, but I spent almost one and a half hours in that 2-storey showroom. There was a fair balance of videos, photographs, artefacts from the past and more importantly, write ups that presented very honest but courageous real life stories of people who experienced the fire in one way or another. In the midst of the disaster, the strength and resilience of the victims of the fire really moved me in a powerful way – almost as if there was something that connected me with these families that I had not even met. The burning down of the residential buildings made way for restorative projects and the new housing policies from the government. It also brought out the best in other people in communities near and far. People who generously donated to the needs of the victims, people who contributed their time and energy to raise funds for the victims, even the victims themselves who came together to tide through the difficult times, sharing bathrooms and food and money. I was just amazed by the strength in humanity to face adversity in such a courageous way, something I am not sure I can manage. It is in times like these that we see the providence and sovereignty of our God who gives strength to the weary and hope to those in darkness.
It is a lot to take back, in a strange way. During the week-long vacation in Hong Kong, M visited her aunt several times, which allowed me opportunity for some personal reflection and prayer. As she shares with me the personal stories of her relatives and family in Hong Kong, what strikes me is that they have endured certain kinds of hardship that required them to stand up strong from beneath it by relying on the Lord, and in a very humble way, they have done so.
When my ankle gave me all sorts of mobility problems – we had to plan our itinerary around it in some way, resting at regular intervals, avoiding walking long distances (and eating more) – M’s relatives kept asking after us, reminding us to rest enough and apply medication and what not. As much as the attention can be overwhelming, their concern is undeniable as well. Despite wheelchair-bound, living in an elderly care home, M’s aunt bought pork buns for us as she worried we may not have time to grab dinner.
More than anything else, these five days gave me plenty of time to spend with my good friend and sister-in-Christ, and catch up on what has happened in the past one semester of our lives. We had plenty of time to pray and think and engage in conversation, and I give thanks for that.
Lots of take back, lots to remember to keep moving forward.