A break before the rush

Before work began getting hectic for the new school year, I headed off on a trip to Hong Kong and Korea.  It was a 10-day trip with my friend, A. The purpose of the trip was to relax and get away from work.  There was also another goal we had for the trip: and that was to eat!

Hong Kong

Our first stop was Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is a place I had always considered as my second home. My dad moved from Hong Kong to Australia in 1982.  My first trip to Hong Kong was when I was four. Since then, I have made heaps of visits there and I have always had a blast.  For someone like myself who has been to Hong Kong multiple times, I still managed to do a whole heap of stuff on this trip (primarily touristy stuff) that I had not done before.

My friend, A, had never been to Hong Kong.  It was great to show her around, eat local foods which I have craved for months since moving to Japan, and just visit a place that has grown to be so familiar to me.  We were lucky to get good priced plane tickets for the trip with low-cost carriers (lcc), but there was a catch.  We had to fly either extremely early in the morning or late at night. Our flight out from Haneda to Hong Kong was a seriously early flight, so we both decided to camp out at Haneda the evening beforehand.  We got on the plane at about 6:40am, and landed at our destination at about 11:40am local time. Coincidentally, I found out that my mum, dad and grandpa were all in Hong Kong that morning, and were going to get on a plane for Vietnam that afternoon. I hadn’t seen my parents for 3 months since they came to visit me in December, and my grandpa since before I left for Japan.  It was a great reunion over lunch at an airport restaurant.

Once we’d finished lunch, A and I set out for our adventure in Hong Kong. It was an absolute awesome time to be there.  The hotel we stayed at was great.  I managed to see Hong Kong from various point of view that I had never seen it from before – including from Victoria peak, on a boat that sailed for 45 minutes along the sea area between Central Station Pier and Tsim Sha Tsui, and at Central station pier area where we saw from an outlook the beautiful skyline view.  We explored a lot of the major areas including Mong Kok, Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong, and more.  We also got to see Aberdeen and the Jumbo restaurant (which I randomly suggested because I had never been there myself, and remembered seeing it in the Rush Hour 1 or 2 movie with Jackie Chan), and even got to eat there. Although it was expensive, it was great. I got to eat suckling pork after God knows when was the last time! Visiting Hong Kong was a food adventure for us. We had yum Cha, Macau food (although not in Macau because there were too many people by the time we got to the ferry), London style food, Asian desserts, and the Hong Kong style street food. There was no meal that left us feeling unsatisfied. There was one case, however, where we had a food coma or a major headache after eating too much. Talk about getting too excited. To end the trip, I got to catch up with a close friend which was also wonderful. It was a good 5-day trip, and I really miss it.  Thankfully, traveling to Hong Kong from Japan is not that bad. I look forward to heading back there soon.

Korea

Next stop was Korea. I had never been to Korea, and didn’t know what to expect. To some degree, I was thinking that it was going to be similar to Japan – something along the lines of highly cultured, packed with well mannered people with style. It turned out to be a little different to what I’d had in mind.

We flew into Korea quite late – around 2am. Both A and I had agreed to stay at the airport overnight. We ended up staying there until around 9:30am, before we took the subway out to the city. Our first impression of Korea and what followed as we ventured into the city for the first time wasn’t all that positive. Not to offend anyone, but I felt like I was in China. I even said that to A. To me, Korean people are pushy, loud, and rude.  Korea itself has a great subway system, lots of culture to share with the world, and of course, history to show the world. I did a DMZ tour one morning, and learned so much about the situation between North and South Korea. It frightens and saddens me to hear that there is still a major boundary between the two regions, and people in North Korea are living a life where they have little to no connection to the outside world. One of my friends on Facebook even posed the question about what would happen if North and South Korea one day break down their barriers, and the people in the north are free to enter to the rest of the world, would they be able to cope? No one is able to answer that question with absolute certainty.  Furthermore, no one knows when the day will come where North and South start to communicate properly again. I pray that that day will come soon, and any conflict becomes resolved in an appropriate humane manner without much despair and loss – for much as already been lost in the past, and should not be repeated.

I wouldn’t say the trip to Korea was all bad, but just a little more frustrating to feel the rudeness of the people – especially when you are traveling on the train with a huge suit case, and everyone is pushing you or stomping on your feet when they don’t really need to. While we were walking around too, people were shouting out at each other, and the language for me just sounds a little coarse.  This is just my opinion and my view. But the food was great nonetheless.  We ate a range of restaurant and street food (I ate way too much fried chicken – enough to last me a whole life time). If you’d ask me whether I would visit Korea again, my answer would be yes – but not any time soon.

Click here are photos I took during my trip.

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