The Final Countdown

My finals are over!! Finally. (Haha bad puns.) Glad I don’t have to deal with them anymore, but it does mean that this semester is actually over. Considering I was supposed to be studying all last week, I did quite a bit. Knocked out a few good bucket list items.

I finally had conveyor belt sushi – something I’ve wanted to do forever, but it’s a little difficult when you’re eating vegetarian. They did have one of those yummy egg sushis though. Basically the way it works is sushi on small plates comes around on a conveyor belt and you take whatever you want. The cost of each plate depends on the color – that purple plate was my one splurge item. Crab and crab roe. Yummy. No, I did not eat all those plates by myself. I’m not that much of a fatty, I was with a friend!

I also took a ferry out to Cheung Chau for a day, one of the smaller islands in Hong Kong. There’s a small neighborhood and a couple beaches and trails. It’s actually so small that there aren’t any cars on the entire island! Everyone just gets around on bikes, even little old ladies. Most of them use training wheels though, which I thought was pretty adorable. Cheung Chau is where they have the bun festival every year, but that isn’t until spring. I don’t actually know much about it except that people climb up this gigantic structure covered in buns. It sounds pretty weird. The buns were delicious though! Just steamed bread with red bean inside, my favorite.

Like most tiny little islands, Cheung Chau also has amazing seafood. We had a gigantic meal of ginger crab, clams with bell peppers in some sort of gravy sauce, steamed shrimp, some kind of fish, and mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp are also called pissing shrimp, and they’re sort of purplish inside. Really good but not worth all the effort it took to get their shells open.

Whenever I have a really great meal here I’m always shocked by how cheap everything is. All the seafood I could possibly stuff my face with, and so fresh. It came out to less than US$10 per person. Really, the little places with folding tables and plastic chairs are always the best.

On Saturday I went to Ozone, the highest bar in the world. It’s on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton in the ICC building.

Super swanky, super expensive. The view was really nice, but honestly I more just went so I could check it off the list. I had an unbelievably overpriced “dragontini,” which was delicious, and got really sad when I remembered I won’t be able to do any of this when I get back home. I don’t turn 21 until next August, so it’s all pretty miserable.

Sunday was probably my best day ever in Hong Kong. The plan was: wake up early to watch the live stream of the dance show at CMU, go to Tuen Mun where my local friend lives for a nice lunch, study, and then finish up with a free concert. I made it through the dance show (which was AWESOME guys, so proud of you! and so jealous I wasn’t in it this semester!), but then about ten minutes before I was going to leave for Tuen Mun I started feeling really sick. Spent the rest of the day going back and forth between sleeping and throwing up my guts. It was a fun time. I still don’t know what got me so sick, but I woke up on Monday feeling great again.

So that was my week, besides two finals and an essay. The next couple of weeks until I go home are going to be absolutely crazy, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging. I’m off to Taipei tomorrow, then Bangkok and back to mainland China before I leave Asia for good. Well, not for good, but for now at least. I’ll be back.

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I made you a Google Doodle to celebrate!

It’s official – I go home in less than 40 days. The whole thing is pretty bittersweet. I miss home, my family, my friends, obviously, but I really could stay in Hong Kong forever. That being said… I have no Asian food to talk about this week! Terrible, I know. It’s not that I didn’t eat any, of course, just nothing blog-worthy. Although I did go back to that Japanese place, Miso Cool, and had some melt-in-your-mouth eel.

On Sunday I went to the horse races in Sha Tin. Since I obviously know absolutely nothing about horse races, I decided to bet on the horses with the coolest names: Dreams Maker and Forest Fountain. I wanted to bet on Super Pistachio, but that race wasn’t until much later in the day and we didn’t want to stay that long.

Well, Dreams Maker did not make my dreams. Neither did Forest Fountain. But I only bet about $5USD, so it was okay. The guys I was with did win, though, so of course they had to gloat.

On Monday I walked around TST looking for a new lens for my camera. Everything is all decorated for Christmas already! I swear, Christmas starts earlier every year. They’re building an ice skating rink right by the school, but I don’t understand how it will stay frozen since it’s outside. Outdoor ice skating rinks in Pittsburgh make sense. Pickwick in Burbank works because it’s inside. An outdoor rink in Hong Kong? How is that possible? Anyway, I walked all the way to Harbor City, a ridiculously expensive mall, and they had a huge Toy Story Christmas display. They Toy Story section of Disneyland just opened up a couple weeks ago, and I am so excited to go!

Of course, Christmastime doesn’t really start until after Thanksgiving. Depressed over missing out on a huge dinner, most of the Americans went last night to Outback Steakhouse, the most American restaurant within walking distance from the dorm (besides McDonald’s). It was the least Thanksgivingy Thanksgiving I have ever had, and it was great.

We got a Bloomin’ Onion, of course, which was inhaled in about three minutes.

Instead of my usual Tofurkey, I had shrimp and mushroom alfredo. That’s what the Pilgrims ate, right?

For dessert, no pumpkin pie. Instead, the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under, the most ridiculously named brownie a la mode ever. Also inhaled within 3 minutes.

It was a pretty great evening, I must say. Plus, in case you couldn’t tell, I got to use my new lens! It’s 50mm f/1.8. I’ve been having tons of fun with it. There are honestly about 3 camera shops per block in Hong Kong, so no shortage of new toys to buy… I might end up coming home with a couple more.

Last Hurrahs

Finally, I have my first class today. Artificial Intelligence from 6:30pm-10:00pm. I can’t believe how late classes go here! It’s ridiculous. My evening classes are already making me miss out on things, like the exchange student dinner tomorrow. Bah. If it weren’t the first week, I would ditch.

The past few days I’ve been having a lot of foods reminding me of home. I’ve gone out of my way to eat simple things like sandwiches. It’s not that I’m really tired of Chinese food or anything, I just need some variety! Every meal seems to be a choice between rice or noodles. There is plenty more Chinese food I need to experience! I haven’t really had dumpling soup or dim sum or anything like that, and I’m getting tired of constant noodles.

The other day we went to a burger place called BLT. To be honest, it wasn’t that great. I had a falafel burger (vegetarian yes!!) that was only so-so, and the fries tasted kind of McDonald’s-y. What was amazing though was the milkshakes. Let me just start by saying that being of age is amazing. I’m only 20, so I can’t drink at home. Not that I’m dying to go get drunk every night, but sometimes you look on a menu and the drinks just sound amazing! Because of that, I’m definitely taking advantage of my age while I’m here. I ordered a milkshake, called Silk Road, made of Kahlua, Bailey’s, espresso, and coffee ice cream. That thing must have been over 1500 calories, and I enjoyed every last drop of it. It’s something I can definitely make on my own, too. Yum.

Another taste of home I had this week: frozen yogurt. Froyo is such a big deal here! It’s actually very inexpensive too, considering most dairy products are pretty costly. There’s a Tutti Frutti pretty close to my dorm. I’ve seen it at home but never had it (I’m much more into Yogurtland or Menchie’s) so I’m not sure how the flavors compare, but it definitely had some unique options. I got half guava and half red bean yogurt – the guava was to die for but the red bean was only so-so. Then, as I usually do, I only topped it with fruit and mochi, plus the little jelly things you can get at bubble tea places. They had dragon fruit! If you haven’t had it before, it’s that hot pink scary looking thing but it’s white inside with black seeds. It tastes a little bit like kiwi, but less sweet.

The other day, my roommate went over to Macau for the day. Macau and Hong Kong are the two Special Administrative Regions of China, meaning they belong to China but are separate for the time being. The ferry to Macau only takes about one hour, so I definitely have to go! Anyway, she brought me back some “cookies”…

They look like normal cookies, right? Crunchy outside with maybe a chocolatey filling or something. When I looked at the box more closely, I realized they weren’t cookies at all. It says “Phoenix Egg Roll with Seaweed and Shredded Pork.” Not a cookie. I ate one though – very interesting. I know it says pork but they taste extremely fishy. Nice to try, but I don’t know how I’m going to finish the whole box.

Yesterday I went to Repulse Bay, a beach on Hong Kong Island. It was so nice! Everyone says that beach is so dirty, but honestly, compared to LA beaches it was ridiculously clean. Very little trash. Afterward we went to this fantastic Japanese restaurant in the Tsim Sha Tsui subway station. It’s crazy, almost every subway station here is its own little shopping center, with tons of places to eat and small boutiques. The TST one is a full mall with multiple floors, clothing stores, and sit down restaurants. This was a trendy place called Miso Cool. Not too expensive and absolutely delicious! I will definitely be going back.

I’ve been trying to eat more meat for a more balanced diet, so I decided to go with spicy ramen with shrimp tempura. It was delicious! I haven’t had anything spicy since I got here, so the ramen really hit the spot. It came with corn, a bit of bok choy, and half an egg on top. The tempura had two shrimps plus one piece of eggplant and one piece of squash. It was really great, not too greasy or anything. And the presentation was so cute! All of us were gawking when our food came out. There’s a little picture on the inside of the bowls, and they’re all different. They also have some interesting smoothies, like green tea with Yakult, that I’ll have to try when I go back.

Oh, and one strange thing I’ve noticed here: The Chinese drink 紅茶 or 綠茶, which translates to red tea and green tea. The only problem is that when they say red tea, what they are actually talking about is what we call black tea. Since this bizarre translation was already explained to me by my Chinese teacher this year, I wasn’t surprised by it, but I know a few people were a bit confused. When my friend and I both ordered red milk tea the other day, I knew exactly what I was getting but she thought she was trying something new!