Nihao from Hong Kong!
Just want to let you know I arrived safely in Hong Kong. We had fantastic stopovers in Seattle and Vancouver with whirlwind tours of both cities. It was a long day. In Seattle we went to Pike's Place Market and in Vancouver we explored the harbor and downtown area for a little bit. We tried to find the Olympic venues, but most were disappointing or not easy enough for us to get to. And I survived the 13-hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong :) Actually the flight was fairly productive as I organized 6 years worth of photos plus all my school files! It really has been amazing how well everything has worked out on this trip!
HONG KONG is AMAZING!!!! :) We've had a flurry of activity and experienced what most tourists would only experience in a week. We arrived in Hong Kong about 6:00 am local time. We were able to catch the train to Kowloon (other side of the harbor from Hong Kong where we are staying) and an airport shuttle (that was an adventure) that serendipitously had a stop at a hotel directly across from where we're staying. I was awe-struck at my first sights of Asia. It is very beautiful, green, and HUMID!! I've never sweat so much in my life and my hair is barely shoulder-length since it's curled up so much. It is a complete "mass of humanity" as mom would say :) Definitely high-density population. I'm especially amazed by all the apartment buildings-- they are so tall, but so thin. And dad would love this-- the construction "scaffolding" is all made of bamboo poles strung together. It looks a little precarious to have buildings supported by bamboo, but I guess is very strong.
Saturday morning we checked in, showered, and got cleaned up. Then off for a day of sight-seeing. We ventured down Nathan Road (famous shopping district-- Michelle and Natalie would love, minus the insane humidity) to the Hong Kong harbor. The harbor is beautiful and you can see the tall building Batman jumps off in Dark Knight. We were "surveyed' by some elementary school children practicing their English and they gave us postcards as souvenirs-- so cute! We walked down the Star Walk (HK version of Chinese Grummen Theater walk) and visited the modern art museum (mostly for the air conditioning, but I was excited). We tried a fairly hole-in-the-wall Japanese place for dinner. I have duly noted that "seafood" as an adjective entails a different combination here than it probably would at home, including octopus, eel, and a couple other things I didn't recognize and would probably be better not knowing anyway. On our walk back, we explored the Kowloon Park which is like Central Park, Chinese-style and explored a jade market. A lady tried to rip me off by selling me a fake pearl pendant. Pshh, I know what I'm looking for :) We also made a 7-11 run (luckily there are three per block) to stock up on water. I think it was probably about an hour before I was totally out at about 7:00. Granted, I probably had a total of 6 hours of sleep in the previous two days. Our hard-as-a-board beds couldn't have felt better :)
Today (Sunday) has been amazing! We attended an English branch in Hong Kong in a beautiful church building-- it reminds me of the Manhattan Temple/chapel. As we were on the subway, looking like confused tourists searching our map, a girl approached and asked if we were going to church. She showed up the way :) During Sunday School 4 of our Xiamen group showed up-- they've been here since Thurs and leave tomorrow for the Public Administration conference-- which was fun. After church, a sister invited us to her home for lunch with the other Young Single Adults. Turns out she is the wife of Asia Area President (which area that covers more than half the world's population--India, China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.)! They live in an apartment on the south part of Hong Kong island with a Beautiful view of the bay. We had a fabulous lunch of chicken fajitas (so grateful for familiar food after yesterday!) and met many people from all over the world. We chatted with President Perkins afterward and it turns out he was mission companions with Governor Huntsman (who we're trying to visit while in Beijing) and also gave us a great contact for someone to talk to for a perspective of Asian government relations that will hopefully pan out!
After lunch, we took a taxi to the top of Victoria Peak. Unfortunately it was very foggy, but we could see a small portion of the Hong Kong skyline. There is a mall at the top of the mountain and we enjoyed some great piano entertainment. We took the walking trail down the mountain and it totally felt like we were in a jungle. It was very mystically foggy, jungly, and beautiful. Oh and did I mention the humidity? Yeah, it's hot. Pictures to come, but I must say, they don't capture the majesty and beauty. The trail was really steep, but a fun walk. At the bottom of the mountain, we ended up in a city botanical garden with zoo-like exhibits-- so cool. We made it back to our hotel-- we're getting our bearings.
So, tomorrow we're going to go check out the Temple (our Temple) and then Ten Thousand Bhuddas Temple and do a little more exploring around the area. It has been an AWESOME trip so far! My fears that Asia would be too foreign and inaccessible have been dashed and I'm totally loving it here!