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Here come my thoughts! Watch out!

I woke up to an alarm blaring and the sun peaking through a crack in the shades.  Surprisingly, I slept through the whole night without waking up.  Apparently jet lag is supposed to prevent that from happening.  I felt excitement rising in the pit of my stomach.  While my grandma was in the bathroom getting ready for the day, I jumped up from bed and threw the curtains open.  About 12 stories up in the air, this was my view.

Morning Skyline

What a pleasant sight!

A huge grin crept over my face.  Reality hit me again that I was in Hong Kong!  We all met in the elevator and headed to my grandparent’s favorite restaurant to visit while in a foreign country, McDonald’s.  The breakfast menu at the Hong Kong McDonald’s is really interesting.  They had noodles as an option for your morning meal.  I don’t remember what I ate exactly, but I will never forget my medium sized orange juice.  It wasn’t any sort of medium I had ever seen.

Orange Juice

“Medium” Orange Juice

Something interesting I learned about Hong Kong, is that you can sit right next to someone in a public place and it’s not weird.  There are so many people in Hong Kong that an invasion of personal space isn’t a big deal.  My cousin Tyler tested it out.  It was absolutely true.  That would never happen in America. At least not anywhere I have lived.  Anyway, after breakfast we met up with Ashley, a friend my grandparents had met when they lived in Hong Kong a couple years previous.

Ashley brought two friends with her.  A 16-year-old girl named Sharon and her 20-year-old sister, Avis.  We were off on our first Hong Kong adventure!  We ventured through a very crowded subway and made our way to Ngong- Ping where we would meet the Big Buddha.  We had to take a tram to Ngong-Ping.  They had new trams that we could take that had a glass bottom so you could see the ocean and trees below you.  It was awesome!  Avis and Sharon were both scared of heights so the tram ride was a bit difficult for them.

My first glimpse of Big Buddha was so amazing!  It was huge!  I’m so glad I was able to go and visit Big Buddha.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Big Buddha

Tram View of Big Buddha

We ended up in Ngong-Ping when the tram ride finished.  Ngong-Ping was so cute!  It’s a little village full of shops at first, but then it leads you to a monastery and a staircase to Big Buddha.  All through the village there were wild dogs running around.  They weren’t scared of people and they would walk in and out of the shops.  It was very interesting.  We tried to give one water, but he ran away from us.

Ngong-Ping Dog

Hot Dog

There were a lot of people that day to see the Big Buddha.  He’s quite the popular guy.  You have to climb so many stairs to get up to see him though.  I had to stop a couple of times.  Stairs are hard work.  But it was 100% worth it.  Out of everything I did in Hong Kong, visiting Big Buddha was probably my favorite.  I wish you could see the detail on his hand because it’s amazing!

Big Buddha

He’s so big. So. Big.

Buddha

So many stairs.

After visiting Big Buddha, I wandered around the monastery while my grandparents and Ashley sat and chatted in the shade.  It was so intricately detailed and beautiful!  The colors were rich and the architecture was so complicated.  I definitely recommend Ngong-Ping to anyone who travels to Hong Kong.

The next item on our adventure agenda for that day was to take a bus to Tai-O, which is  a fishing village not too far from Ngong-Ping.  Here’s something else I learned about Asia:  The buses are made for Asian sized people– not American sized people.  I was so squished.  Back to the story.  When we got to Tai-O we took a boat out onto the ocean to try and see the rare Pink Dolphins.  First we took a quick boat ride through the canals of houses in Tai-O.  The water is filthy and the houses are just shacks.  It was a real shock to see people actually live in squalor like that.  It made me so grateful to live in the United States.  We truly are a privileged country.  Now off to the Pink Dolphins!!  Pink Dolphins you say? Yes.  They really are pink.  Bright, flamingo pink.  They only exist in this tiny fishing village, but they are so cool!  We were lucky enough to see them.  Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough to snap a picture of them, but Google them.  They are way awesome!

Fishing Village

On our way to see the Pink Dolphins!

After we saw the dolphins we went back to the village and found a place to eat.  We ate at this small restaurant tucked away in the dried fish market.  Tyler went to use the bathroom and came back and told us that we would lose our appetites if we went back there.  Needless to say, the rest of us waited until after the meal to use the toilet.  Though the bathroom may have been dirty and gross, our meal was excellent!  We ate traditional dishes from Hong Kong– Fish stomach soup, leeks, muscles, crab and fried rice.  It was quite tasty!  I really enjoyed the fish stomach soup and leeks.

We finished our meal and decided to walk around Tai-O.  It was such an interesting place!  The streets were lined with little shack shops full of dried fish and other souvenirs.  We eventually found a Buddhist temple and went inside.  My grandma told me something interesting about the temples while we were walking around inside.  The thresholds to these temples are raised above the ground about 2 feet so you have to really watch your step and she said that women are supposed to put their right foot over the threshold and then the left and that it’s opposite for men.  I wish I could remember why that is, but I’ve forgotten.  When we came out of the temple there were men across the street tying bamboo rods together with zip-tie like materials.  They rigged them together to form the framing for something they were building!  That was something that really impressed me about Hong Kong.  Everywhere there was construction on buildings, there were these bamboo constructions with people climbing all over them.  It was really something to see!

After we left Tai-O, the jet lag was really starting to catch up to me.  We took a ferry back to the area we were staying in and I fell asleep….oh boy that sure was a mistake!  I don’t think I have ever felt so tired in my life!  I struggled to keep my eyes open for a while, but it was in vain.  All I wanted to do was go back to the hotel and sleep the night away.  But luckily that’s not what happened.  My grandparents had something really awesome planned for us.  So after taking an extremely crowded Ding Ding (trolley) and a very nicely air-conditioned taxi, we arrived at Victoria Peak.

Victoria Peak is covered in shops which are really fun to go around and look at, but the real treat of going to Victoria Peak happens if you go there at night.  We took many escalators up to the top of one section of the mall and when out on the scenic deck that was waiting for us at the top.  I’ll never forget the feelings I had that night.  Wet from all the humidity, dead tired, hot beyond anything I’d experienced in my life, and so completely grateful, happy and amazed!  From the scenic deck we were rewarded with a view of the shining neon lights of Hong Kong!  A light, hot breeze blew through the crowd as we all looked at the beautiful skyline presented before us.

Hong Kong

The view from Victoria Peak. This doesn’t even capture the true beauty.

We stayed there for a little while before we finally went back to the hotel.  I am so glad I was able to see something that beautiful.  It was at this moment when I realized just how much truth there is to the quote by St. Augustine– “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”  Through all my exhaustion, I could not have been more incandescently happy.

The next day would be our last in Hong Kong.

The Asia Trip: Beijing パート 5

The Asia Trip: Beijing パート 4

The Asia Trip: Hong Kong パート 3

The Asia Trip: Hong Kong パート 1

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Welcome, welcome to The Asia Trip: Hong Kong Patto 1!  This, my friends, is the first part of a series of posts about my amazing trip to Asia!  I should have written this a long time ago to be honest, but I’m writing it now.

I will start off by telling you, I pretty much had a perpetual grin on my face the whole time we were traveling.  We woke up at the crack of dawn to get to the Salt Lake airport and the whole way there I could hardly contain my excitement–after all, I had never been out of the country before and I was lucky enough to be going to the top 3 places to visit on my bucket list.

Everything went pretty smooth until we got to LAX.  We tried to get our boarding passes for our flight to Hong Kong, only to discover that our reservations for our flights to Hong Kong and Beijing had been deleted.  Not gonna lie…I was really freaked out that we would never got to Hong Kong.  And if we never got to Hong Kong, we’d never get to Beijing.  And if we never got to Beijing….well….we’d never get to the country I love second to my own–Japan.  And all of that would be a horrible, horrible travesty.  That was my thought process at least.  The head lady at the ticket counter fixed everything for us in time and I was saved from a fate I felt to be worse than death.  The relief I felt when we finally were sitting on that plane to Hong Kong was indescribable.

Now I’ll spare you from all the boring details of what movies I watched and what I ate on the plane (you’re welcome) and skip ahead about 13 hours.  The flight attendants announced we would be landing shortly so I pushed up my window to get a glimpse of this new land I would be visiting.  Let me just say, I was well rewarded.

It was dusk as we were coming in for a landing and all I could see were the green, mountainous, incredibly amazing islands of Hong Kong.  If any of you ever go to Hong Kong, I recommend getting a window seat so you can see what I’m talking about.

By the time we got through customs and money exchange and all that jazz, it was dark.  And I was so tired.  And wired.  On our way out of the airport, we purchased these super awesome cards called “Octopus Cards”.  It’s basically a credit card that you use at the convenience stores and for transportation purposes.  They are re-loadable and oh so convenient.  I wish we had them in America.  Along with a bunch of other stuff that Asia has and we don’t…but I’ll get to the rest of those things in later segments.

Tung Yuen Banquet

Hong Kong- So much neon. Lovely!

As we walked down the ramp to go outside and meet our bus, a blast of wet, hot, hot, hot, wet, wet air hit us right in the face.  Being from a desert, this sort of air is not what I am used to.  Even having lived in Washington for nearly 10 years, which is a fairly humid place, nothing could have prepared me for such intense gross air.  It was literally a sauna.  So we waited for our bus in a sauna.

We got on our bus, which was a double-decker, by the way.  We sat on the top level and took in Hong Kong.  It was lovely!  We took the bus out to Wan Chai and walked to our hotel.  Even though I was so tired, all I wanted to do was take pictures and take in all the lights and sounds and smells.  We got to the hotel and as we were getting ready to check in, the hotel people couldn’t find our reservations.  I think we all just wanted to cry.  After a bit of a go around they agreed to put us in two 1 person rooms (one for me and my grandma and one for my cousin and grandpa) and bring us an extra mattress for each room.  These rooms were seriously the smallest things I had ever seen.  But I was happy to have a place to stay after the extremely long and tiring day that we had.  My grandpa decided that he needed to stay up and figure out what the deal was by calling the travel agency.  (Turns out it was the hotel’s fault because they didn’t process our paperwork.)  Anyway, we decided to take a quick walk around Hong Kong while the hotel set up our rooms and while my grandpa waited until he could call the travel agent.

Neon Lights

Strolling around Hong Kong

It was so humid, it was hard to breathe.  We walked through the wet market to get a quick look.  I had never smelled anything so awful in my life.  I don’t know how to describe the smells of Hong Kong.  All I can say is that city is so stinky!  Stinky and dirty and AMAZING!  I loved it.  We walked by the LDS Church Administration building and walked over to Victoria Harbor and I was loving it all despite fatigue and being way too hot.

Hong Kong

This is Victoria Harbor. Pretty great, huh?

After awhile we decided it was finally time for bed.  So we walked back, I took a shower and promptly fell asleep.  After thirty-something hours of being awake, I was so glad to finally go to sleep.

The Asia Trip: Beijing パート 5

The Asia Trip: Beijing パート 4

The Asia Trip: Hong Kong パート 3

The Asia Trip: Hong Kong パート 2

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Hello blogdom!  It’s been such a long time since I’ve appeared here.  Where to begin, where to begin….well I guess I’ll say that I have officially been back in Rexburg for nearly a solid month.  It’s so great to be back, but this is the stinking busiest semester I have ever experienced.  This is mostly because of a photography practicum I am in.  I like taking pictures, but here’s the thing….I’m actually not that great at it.  I’m hoping to make some progress in my skill though.  I will admit that it’s quite fun to see my photos published every week in the school newspaper.  Who knows?  I may be a Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist one day.  Hahaha!

It’s already almost half way through the semester and it’s weirding me out.  I don’t know how to handle time moving so swiftly.  I guess I’ll just have to get used to it because it seems to go faster the older I get.  Funny how that happens.  Something exciting that is happening right now is that my old froommate (friend-roommate) Emily is staying at my apartment this week!  I’m so excited!  She’s so awesome.  That girl is the epitome of confidence and I love it.  I miss living with her and all her hi-jinx.  I remember one night when we lived together I had gone to bed before her and she came in about an hour later thinking I was asleep, but I wasn’t.  So she was about to get changed and I roared at her and scared her quite a bit.  It was pretty stinking amusing.  Good times, good times.

Another fun thing that has happened (well lots of fun things have happened…) was that Hannah and I went to a new (ish?) grocery store and we met the Hostess Twinkie!!!  What luck, right?!  There are very few times when I will squeal over a fictional character…..actually who am I kidding?  I get excited about pretty much everyone I see, but anyway, the two of us were ecstatic to see that golden snack cake and were lucky enough to get a picture and some free Hostess snacks from him.  It truly was a marvelous evening and I shall never forget it as long as I live.Image