Posts by Country

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Night at the Protests

On Monday, the 29th of September I was walking back to the home of my host family in Mong Kok and I saw many protesters setting up to sleep on the streets. I was intrigued and thought it might be interesting to walk around a bit more if I didn't have somewhere to be. Well, as it turned out, my host family was asleep and I would have to wake them in order to gain access to their home. After some discussion with my friend, a member of my host family who was staying at his dormitory at Chinese University, I decided to just go to the protests and see how things went. 

That night I met up with one of the groups of local nursing students that were volunteering at the protests and decided to spend some time helping them out. They explained a lot to me about what was going on and what the speakers were saying since it was all in Cantonese. One of these nursing students even went up and spoke a bit. What he said was what a lot of people were saying - that everyone needed to stay calm but be alert. He suggested that everyone was actually too relaxed and needed to be ready. At any time the police might show up and everyone would need to stand up at the perimeters to keep from being rounded up and sent home. 

During the next few hours many small scuffles broke out and I asked about this. Seeing as everyone was so committed to keeping a peaceful image it seemed strange that a few here and there couldn't seem to keep their hands to themselves. Well, in actuality the "Umbrella Revolution" has many opponents. Many locals are upset because the protests delay emergency services and disrupt their daily lives and many people even report being offered payment to go into the protests and cause arguments to help break up the unity of the protesters and diminish their resolve. People from mainland China or "mainlanders" have also supposedly joined the protests under false pretenses in order to cause fights in support of Beijing politics.

Many have suggested to me that the incident at 2am the night I was there was a result of these subversive efforts. Around that time I was sleeping on a mattress in the street next to the nursing station when I awoke to people yelling and screaming. As I sat up I saw the crowds parting as a car came through honking its horn and refusing to slow down for anyone. I quickly jumped up with my pack in hand just as the car came through my camp. This guy drove over my sleeping spot and the whole nursing station - spreading rubbish and food all over the streets. I watched as people chased him out of the protest area and thought how easily I could have just become road kill.

After that I decided to join the protesters off the street and up on top of the metro tunnel. Up there was a better view, less people walking around and no chance of being run over by a car.

The next day I spoke to my host family and they were not impressed that I had gone to the protests. Rather, they explained that they were, as many local people, very frustrated with the occupy movement. As with the one on Wall Street in 2011, many people have been affected by the "Umbrella Revolution" and are not interested in seeing it continue. Not only does it cause problems for people trying to get to work and in some cases, shut down businesses entirely, but the crowds also disrupt general day to day operations in the city, including emergency services. Another point to consider is that mainland propaganda completely sabotages and confuses the message the movement is trying to promote. In the mainland the images of the protests are not presented as protests at all, but rather the government there has suggested to its subjects that the people in Hong Kong are simply "celebrating National Day."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Strange Hong Kong

Over the last week I have seen and eaten some strange things. No, I didn't eat the cat in the picture above, but it did seem strange to me that this motionless pet was allowed to nap on a food display. Though, some may feel that eating that cat would be preferable to some of the things I have seen and eaten recently, such as chicken feet and the aforementioned century egg.

A couple of days ago, on the 26th of September, I went to the beach again and this time we went skimboarding. Of course, the only video I have from that day is of me failing, but then again this is probably more entertaining for all of you who are watching - enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Surfs Up!

On Sunday, September 14th I went surfing with my new friend Colten at Big Wave Bay - a bay which, despite the name, didn't have very big waves... I had better luck a few days later after Typhoon Kalmaegi came through. Alas, I do not have any photos from that stormy day on the sea! On Saturday, the 20th I went with Chu Sum to Chinese University where he studies engineering. We played some squash and had dinner at his schools cafeteria. The next day we went to the local "wet market" near his home in Mong Kok.

There we saw many strange things, such as: century eggs and burnable paper replicas for the dead. A century egg is a egg preserved for several months before being eaten... it is black from the decay. The paper replicas are anything from band aids to the new iphone or even a car with a driver! The bereaved will burn these replicas as a way of giving things to those they have lost. Apparently, the idea is that it provides a way to maintain relationships after loved ones have passed away. Personally, after seeing the prices of these paper objects, I can't help thinking of it more as a form of extortion... but maybe that's just me.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Arriving in Hong Kong

On Monday, September 1st I spent the night in Changi Airport in Singapore. The next day I arrived in Hong Kong and met my friend Anita at the airport.
Happy Birthday!

The next day I had an interview and afterward we went to the Art Museum. Over the next few days I received a job at Yu Kan Hing Secondary School and, meanwhile, spent my days living in the most notorious criminal hangout in Hong Kong - the Chungking Mansions.

On Sunday, September 7th a bunch of us went to the Mid Autumn Festival in Victoria Park.

Over the next week spent a lot of time swimming at the public pools with Chu Sum (Sam) and Anita and working out the details of my new job and visa.