I am no longer on the road. I have planted my feet on Hong Kong ground and I am here to stay for the coming semester at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As much as I love to travel over extensive periods, unpacking was a soulful relief.
Cutting straight to some necessary propaganda, I simply just love the campus of CUHK. The University is the second oldest in HK, and is multilingual – ensuring that various sound bits of English, Cantonese and Mandarin reach my ears every day. Campus is situated in New Territories, a somewhat far journey from your downtown Hong Kong entertainment. Luckily, CUHK is the only university with its own MTR station, meaning that the quest for enjoyments has been successfully eased. However, being in New Territories mean that I am effectively studying in a jungle. Campus constitutes a good 137 hectares of land, which means that we have to share this space with wildlife of all sorts and shapes. Rumour has it that monkeys can be spotted – I will of course be on the lookout and report back if I can confirm such whispers. Whilst I am thoroughly enjoying to be enmeshed in this greenery, I curse the uphill hikes when I have to make it to my political classes at the very top of the campus – You guessed it: New Territories is nothing but jungle and hills.
Orientation week was a blast. Met so many new people with amazing backgrounds and stories to tell. It is just like backpacking, meeting new people with the same adventurous requests as you and you feel an immediate bond. Whilst I’ve met all sorts of nationalities, I somehow manage to spend my majority of my time in a group of mostly Dutch (however, I must acknowledge some French and some American blood in this little group as well). It is almost like I am flying KLM every day.
Wednesday and Thursday nights are to be spent in LKF (Lan Kwai Fong), a district in central, where music from all the bars and clubs reach the main streets in a haze. It is on such days that the infamous LADIES NIGHT unfolds, meaning free drinks to the female species. If I don’t go on these days, my bank account would be nonexistent on my return home. Whilst HK certainly is an expensive city, it does not feel so bad when your home is Denmark – except for the drinks: drinking hurts in HK, not just the head.
After the initial stress of trying to enroll in my desired subjects at CUHK (read: most redundant enrollment system in the entire world), I can finally say I got courses I can approve of: One 20th C. literature class, an anthropology course on ‘Political Violence and Human Rights’, and three political classes: Global Environmental Politics, Ethics & International Affairs and Asian Comparative Politics. The workload is great, my home institution, CBS, seriously made a mistake when they calculated the amount of credits I would have to take abroad. Or maybe I am still on holiday?
What other shenanigans have I been up to in the first few weeks? For starters my roomie took me out, along with a friend of hers, to a delicious, nearby dim sum restaurant for some Sunday-brunch-fun. Probably the best I ever had. And I LOVE dim sum. There was an insane queue going out of the restaurant when we arrived, and we therefore had to wait around for a good half an hour or so – but it was worth it. You settle in at gigantic white-clothed, round tables and intake your food with other families or hungry folks. It is such a lovely way to spend your Sunday, in company of good people and delicious food. Also, food in Hong Kong is simply just GOOD. People who say otherwise obviously went to the wrong part of the world. Unless I increase my sporting activities here, extra kilos will be a given on my journey home – and here I am not referring to my luggage.
Beaches have also been visited, and it is not the worst thing to “study” with your toes dipped in the sand, listening to the sound of waves and admiring the islands scattered out at sea.
I went on a lovely hiking trip, with Per, a fellow student from CBS. Apart from the fact that his legs are made for running up hill it was quite an enjoyable trip. We went from Park view to Stanley, which is said to be the 4th best hiking trip around Hong Kong. It involves 1000 steps and various forms of increasing gradients but the view is stunning. Luckily (or unfortunately for the photos) we went on a cloudy, cool day so the trip was very manageable.
One weekend was also used to go to Macau, which went above and beyond my expectations. Seeing as it is a former Portuguese colony, the architecture there becomes a mix of Chinese and Southern Europe – very curious indeed. Before I blabber on about how much I loved the architecture, Macau is obviously not known for this, but rather its gambling and Casino offerings. Gambling has been legal since 1850, and is today their biggest source of revenue – in fact Macau has officially overtaken the Las Vegas gambling income. Seeing mostly Chinese men and women playing everywhere at the gaming tables on a late Sunday night, puts this into perspective: Customers are plentiful on all days of the week. However, because I only got to visit the “smaller” casinos when I was there, I will have to go back later to pay “The Venetian” a visit – the largest casino in the world, and a sister casino to the one in Vegas.
Whilst I have so many stories to tell, I think I will conclude this post. I am so excited for my stay here in beautiful Hong Kong, so stay tuned for more campus and city rants.