November 22, 2004

Manic Monday

okay today wasn't too bad but I know I need a title and don't feel very creative now.

Yesterday, I went for a hike with the owner of a noodle shop across the street from the school and his wife. He speaks English but she does not which was kind of funny cause whenever she wanted him to translate something for me she always used "gweilo" among her Cantonese words, heh. Gweilo and other variations of it used to have a very negative conotation to it like "foreign devil" but supposedly these days it is commonly used to mean "Westerner"... same difference, eh ;-)

They took me to the New Territories, Tuen Mun to be specific, (pronounced like 'chin moon', FYI) and we hiked in a national park at Tai Lam. The New Territories are part of Hong Kong but are much more rural, north of HK island and Kowloon and maybe like 90 miles south of mainland China. We took a doubledecker bus there and the views were spectacular. There are lots of mountains, which are called slopes here. Kind of makes sense since they aren't mountains in the sense of like the Rockies or Alps for instance. I doubt the highest one is even a mile high.

I love the archecture of the bridges I've seen so far. The tunnel we went through, built into a mountain, was really neat too. I didn't take pics cause I know I'll be there again and right now I am kind of fustrated I can't upload pics yet. Anyway. the country park was grand. I got to see so many different plants, flowers and birds I never saw before. I saw this amazing black and white bird, of course I took that as an omen of good things, being on the right track.

There were trees with leaves almost as big as my body- crazy! And then I saw these squatter homes in the park, signs saying that some were advised to leave due to the danger of landslides. I give it up to HK for not setting fire to these squatters like Guiliani did in NYC. There homes were one story high, made of cement blocks and from the outside it appeared they had electricity and running water.

There are different hikes you can take and I assume my hosts wanted to take it easy on me for now (thankfully) so we didn't go up too high. The hikes are really safe in the sense that you are walking up stairs, not through trees and jagged rock. I'm sure there are more nature like hikes but it'll take time before I can find them and feel comfortable on those, I'm a city girl afterall. Then we walked around the mountain using a path. I loved how it wasn't crowded and the air was cleaner, as well as the beautiful birds and plants to see. I am going to look for a bilingual guide to HK's wildlife to help me identify some of the things I've seen.

After the hike, we went to their friend's BBQ park on Castle Peak Rd. For only like $10 USD, you pay entry into it. There are some video games, a place to 'fish' for pawns and an area for kids to run around and ride bicycles. They give you a circular grill (about 5 people can sit around it) with a bag of rectangular shaped charcoal to burn, tongs and metal skewers. They give you 2 tickets to redeem for drinks and you get a tray of food to BBQ yourself. You can go up as many times as you like to refill your tray. I'm not sure of what all the stuff was available- recognizable to me was squid, processed fish balls, small whole fish, ribs, beef slices, fried tofu, chicken wings, hot dogs, mini hot dog shaped processed meat, yam, sweet corn and buttered Italian bread. You can stay there for as long as you like. The thing is that they only give you one pair of plastic gloves to use as you skewer the meat. And all the raw meat is on one plate. It just screamed bacteria universe to me but I went along with it all, even though I really don't like to eat meat, esp not BBQ cause it was a new experience. I had a good time and left with a full belly.

It was suggested I bring the idea to the states since the guy who started it in Tai Lam is very wealthy now but I reminded the guy about how the states are, especially with lawsuits and he just laughed and agreed. That place is a lawsuit waiting to happen if you are a dumbass. I know I took my chances on getting food poisioning but I've done dumber things and lived so as I said, I just went with it. I'd rather die having a good time in good company, eating fresh seafood and tofu than getting hit by a car, which is always a possibility in urban areas.
24 hours later and I'm still okay ;-) They go hiking every Sunday and invited me to come along so I think I will more often than not. I can easily get around urban HK by myself, any city for that matter, but remoter areas I can definitely use help.

Posted by Christine at November 22, 2004 06:56 PM