Mission Wonton Noodle Soup

It shall be no secret that ever since I returned to Denmark, I suffer from Hong-Kong-withdrawals. The abrupt discontinuation of my Hong Kong lifestyle often have me craving dishes and snacks from the region, leaving me with a constant, lingering taste of siu mai, sushi, xia jiao, fishball on stick and whatnot. As such treats cannot be so easily uncovered in the streets of Copenhagen (at least not at a fair price for a student) it has serious implications for my Bachelor thesis-work in university, and such other small and trifling matters, when the cravings start running off with my head. It is due to such thought-meanderings that the boyfriend gets a ton of iMessage hints, a clear tactic of mine to induce him to dig up some traditional recipes and attempt perfection in a tiny kitchen, in a tiny city, in a tiny country.

The latest mission has been to secretly plant the idea in his head that homemade wonton noodle soup is a necessity for my well-being. This inception-like strategy paid off Sunday 21.04.2013.

-Krissy

For some reason unbeknown to me, I woke up one day with the urge to make wonton noodle soup for Krissy and myself. I had recently been sick, so I was really craving for this specific soup. Surely, that is what gave birth to this yearning. We both agreed that Sunday would be a good day to make dinner together. As she was busy with her thesis during the day, I made it my mission to get all the needed ingredients and commence preparations. The idea was to make the wontons together once she was home. Sunday romance at its best.

Ooh la la, Monsieur Swayze!

Imagine the pottery scene in Ghost. Sleeveless Demi enveloped in Swayze’s arms. Except less clay and more wonton. That’s pretty darn romantic. A relationship thrives when you can do the things you love together with the person you love. And boy do we love Asian food!

The recipe for this is all over the interwebs. There is simply no need to make yet another recipe blog, when others have already done so. Instead, we’ll just throw some pictures at you.

– Gideon

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Unfinished Business.

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The inevitable has happened. My exchange semester is officially coming to an end. I know my life back in Denmark is waiting patiently for me, and I am looking forward to see all my loved ones. Nonetheless, I am left with a bittersweet feeling. Leaving Hong Kong is not something I want to do. This city has spoiled me. The haze, the daily CO2 doses, the overrun MTR stations, taxi drivers refusing to go to New Territories, stinky tofu on the street, expensive milk, slow-walking pedestrians with a severe phone obsession. I will, from the bottom of my heart, and with the utmost, genuine sincerity miss every ‘not-so-perfect’ experience here in Hong Kong. This city has just proven amazing, and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to enmesh myself in HKs urbanity. It is one of the most vibrant cities I’ve been too, with amazing treats on every corner. I am going to miss my 14hkdollar noodle soup, the pulsating streets on a Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday [insert any day], and my Sheung Wan dumplings. Heck, I am even going to miss all the signs, which I cannot read. Before this post turns into a sentimental memoir, I will relay some of my concluding adventures.

I have been fortunate enough to have two friends come visit me. Firstly, my old, fellow high-schooler came to visit me, as she was going to South of China anyways. Thus, there was no excuse for not coming to HK. I got to stay with her for a few days in Sheung Wan, one of my favorite areas in the city. We of course overtook The Peak, and this time I got to the amazing view via the old tram, which was a vertical experience to say the least. We also paid a visit to the famous Ocean Park, where the inner child was freed. Ocean Park has it all: big aquarium with mysterious sea creatures, cutest pandas doing absolutely nothing apart from sleeping, and fun roller coasters. We topped it all off with a dolphin show, where we also saw some amazing head accessorizing. Other fun shenanigans of course included shopping, some LKFing and eating dim sum at the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world (Tim Ho Wan). I went to Macau for the second time, and enjoyed a fancy evening inside of the largest casino in the world – The Venetian, Macao. A friend back from primary school also popped by on her way to the Philippines, and we of course also stuffed ourselves at Tim Ho Wan concluding the evening with buying funky iphone cover.

I also found my inner hostel patriotism during my last weeks in HK. The past few months I have lived in an all-girls dormitory, better known as Wen Chi Tang. We are three exchange students living in this bloc, so together we have explored hostel life, with the help from some sweet-hearted local Wen Chi Tang’ers. Hong Kong dormitory life is nothing like my previous experiences of gloomy dormitory existence. In HK there are so many activities going on within your own home that you do not even need to join the activities offered at the University level. It has also been very difficult to say goodbye to my home-girls-exchange-crew :(( Lately we have been spending most of our time together, whether it be in the library or at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant or in a basement for an underground party.  My roommate also had to leave me prematurely on her own adventures, and a tearful parting was unavoidable. It is always so hard to say goodbye!

Exam period was stressful as I had five of them, with various hand-ins as a side-activity. But I don’t even want to dwell on it or waste blog-space on such a boring subject. Pretend the last two lines never happened.

If there is one thing you got to know about me, it is the fact that I am a sucker for Christmas. The whole charade. Glitter, decorations, lights, snowmen, Santa, Christmas bakeries, movies, carols, jingle bells – I eat the whole season up. Though Christmas may not be on the top of the list in seasonal celebrations in China, I was still surprised at the many decorations to be found around the city. It really warmed my Christmas heart. I also have two considerate friends back home, who as a surprise send me a humongous package, containing all what a Christmas heart can desire. From the content of such mentioned package, along with a loving mommy who also contributed to the festivities, some friends and I were able to put together a JULE-HYGGE DAY (I apologize, but in this SINGULAR, one-off case, the English language is void of words with same inherent meaning as HYGGE). My Finish sister had outdone herself on this occasion making ginger bread and glög. Christmas therefore came early to Hong Kong.

Shenzhen was also visited which essentially makes a good campfire story. My friend and I effectively got deported from China. Yes. Deported. You would think having travelled around Asia for so many months would have made me into a pro, but sadly not. Turns out I forgot to check my double-entry visa expiration date, and voila: Chinese border-control-man asks me to step aside in a not so friendly tone. However, after being escorted back across the border, several sweaty moments on the Hong Kong side with no passport, and a big fat stamp saying CANCELED on a fresh passport page, I finally got to purchase a one-day visa and commence my shopping spree.

Conclusively, I’d like to think that the 17th of December is a magical day, as this is the day I was born. Despite exam stress and empty wallets as the exchange experience is coming to an abrupt end, I was celebrated by some beautiful people who made my day very special. Especially because a special lady plastered up posters all over 2nd floor in my hostel, making sure everybody knew this was my day.

On such a happy note, I will end my blogging from Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong and I have unfinished business, and I will without a doubt be back, so who knows – maybe a new Hong Kong post awaits in the near future.

Monkey Business

Before I let my new Hong Kong rants unravel, I must make an announcement. As for those who follow my blog, you may well remember that in my previous post on Hong Kong I promised to search for the monkey, which is rumored to be on campus. I must disappoint in saying that my wilderness skills are non-existent, and I have therefore not been able to gain up on the creature yet. However, my dear, dear friend from Finland clearly knows a thing or two on how to search for this climbing beast. On her way to class a cat-like noise caught her attention (ironically the same class I go to, had I not been in the Philippines). Only, the noise came from a big, fat monkey indulging in human trash. By courtesy of Karoliina, I hereby give you proof of her encounter, which also satisfy my need for settling the “rumor”.

Just as in my last post, my taste buds have once again been catered to. One experience worth reporting on – which I am admittedly late at trying out – was a visit at Mr. Wong’s. From the outside, this restaurant looks like your average Chinese restaurant found on any side street of this city. Yet, the personality of the owner differentiates this joint from all the other eateries. For 50hkd, Mr. Wong will provide you with enough food and drinks to last you a week, whilst telling you life stories and other fun anecdotes. I cannot guarantee that all of these stories will be understood; as I am yet to uncover what language he is truly speaking. However, the English that I do understand brings a huge smile to my face, and a night here guarantees you a lot of fun – well worth your money. Also, dim sum is slowly becoming the center of my universe. It is without a doubt the best Sunday pastime I can think of, and luckily I have an obliging roomie who willingly takes me to the local hotspot near campus so I can get my dim sum fix. It is no joke that Hong Kong is famous for its food. If you know where to go, you will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t know where to go (like me), behind my veil of ignorance, I have still not been disappointed.

I also started attending regular dance classes at a dance studio near Tsim Sha Tsui (Infinity Dance Studio). I have danced for some time now, without ever claiming to be good at it, but having always loved it. However, for some time back in little Denmark, I’ve felt like I lost the joy in dance, lost the fun in it all. Luckily, the classes in Hong Kong have proven amazing. The level is better than at home, with teachers and students who all move with such breathtaking accuracy that my eyes hurt a little. My lack of skills becomes even more apparent – BUT: I have rediscovered the fun – and it feels great. One Sunday the studio even had a workshop with one of my favorite female choreographers from the US, which was an amazing opportunity. I always leave that place with a smile.

More sights have also been uncovered. Along with a good friend, I managed to explore more of Central, in particular the trendy area of SoHo (South of Hollywood Road). Here you can find the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, which according to the ‘oh so’ reliable source of Wikipedia is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. In this area you will find bars upon bars, offering happy hours and tapas deals and the offerings keep on meeting you as you move up the escalator. Nearby I also stumbled upon Man Mo Temple, a small delight of Chinese worship. The mix of darkness and incent and the noise from the city outside is a strange but amusing mixture. It really exemplifies the contrasts, which you will find in Hong Kong, the modernity with a touch of longing for the ancient. Hong Kong Park also proved a highlight for me. It is somewhat of a strange mixture of your usual park-like elements such as trees and flowers, but also contains a museum of tea ware and experimental playgrounds. Nonetheless, the fact that skyscrapers are surrounding this spot truly makes it seem like a little oasis where one can escape. I will definitely come back here before immigration kicks me out.

Classes at the university are still interesting and “entertaining”, in particular my literature class. It is greatly amusing to have a Chinese professor teaching you 20th Century, English literature. Not that that is not perfectly doable, but it does add a whole other dimension to the learning and the way a text is approached. Clear culture differences become apparent in this class. Generally it has proven hard to sufficiently balance exchange amusing’s and serious learning. I never quite seem to find the right balance, some days amusement is winning, and on others the inner nerd.

My exchange semester is fleeing me and I desperately try to make the fleeting and momentary experiences last. I wish I could hit pause on the remote so as to prolong some wonderful moments here in Hong Kong. The city never ceases to amaze me, and I wish I could put my finger on why. Partly, I think, my fascination manifests itself in the eternal vibrancy and vitality. There is always something to do, somewhere to be, something to see.  This constant opportunity of uncovering new adventures is so stimulating and makes you feel like you are in the center of the happenings.

I will hopefully be able to post once more from this center, before departing for ……… Thailand.

Dim Sum-ing it in Hong Kong

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.