So I've been reminiscing about my days in Hong Kong - being able to wake up when I want and not when my alarm rings, and beginning each day not quite knowing what it will bring.
One thing I loved was being able to spend my mornings jogging along the harbor front, breathing in the fresh ocean breeze, and admiring the restaurants and their gigantic sparkling seafood tanks. Whenever I'm in Hong Kong, I always catch myself stopping mid-run to admire all the fascinating things that live within.
Sai Kung is the center of water activity, whether you want to go fishing, yatching, or sailing. You can hop on your private yatch on one end of the pier, and purchase seafood from the local aunties on the other side. Shouts of 'Good Morning' and the sounds of splashing water fill the air. Everything is so vibrant and alive.
Although it's become more of a tourist trap over the years (you'll see hosts luring travelers with English signs and promises of delicious meals), Sai Kung still retains much of it's original character. On one side you will see the large Seafood restaurants with their glittering signs, and on the other side you'll find little shops tucked in the smallest of corners - harboring tiny Chinese gems that can't be found anywhere else.
It's a place where the local meets the traveler, and the old meets the new.
On one of our last days in Hong Kong, Tiffany and I met up with a girl both of us knew from our Queen days. She took us up a dizzying number of escalators until we reached the top of iSquare mall, where Monster Sushi was located. Although service was bad, the food was delicious and extremely reasonable. All the sets above cost around 119HKD, which in Canadian dollars is practically a steal.
Worth a visit if you're in the area.
One thing that continually amazed me throughout my time in Japan was the sheer amount of hospitality and service I received. Because we decided to stay at an AirBnB hosted by Japanese students, our experience was different from the typical tourist perspective. Having a chance to experience Japan as a local was both interesting and a bit of a culture shock at times. One of the things that we all found in common was a love for food.
Our host Takashi runs the BnB we stayed at and pitched a sushi party idea a few days before we left Japan, to be held the night before we flew out. One of the reasons that we picked their location over other more convenient places was for the 'student experience' and the chance to connect with people our own age, so of course, we jumped at the chance.
We arrived to the event after a long day of activities and found a group of people there waiting for us, some were our housemates for the week, other new faces. They each had a different story to tell, and as we explored each other through questions, discovered a little more about each other and our similarities and differences.
Since most of our housemates were away either at school studying or working, they didn't join us until after the sushi dinner. One of these people was Kazu, who brought his friend who had just come over from Nagasaki to Tokyo, seeking new job opportunities. These two spent hours after the party trying to call a cab for us the next day, even when they were flooded with work. Something that I'll never forget.
As the night progressed, we discovered more about Tokyo and the way student life was compared to one in Canada. One similarity is that they love drinking - like many students here, but something very different to us was their penchant for breaking out into choreographed dance. Definitely a very memorable experience.
As we shared in the table, we got to know Park - a Korean who spent 10 years learning Japanese and is now studying Japanese literature in Tokyo, Nanba who is currently studying physics and works at the shop part time - often found sleeping outside our room after his night shifts, Sho - who is more confident and fluent in English than I ever will be in Japanese, and of course others who joined us intermittently through the night.
One thing I've learned to appreciate about traveling - more than the food or the sights - are the people we meet and the stories they share. Even if our connection is momentary and perhaps fleeting. Leaving was hard, but I'm sure I'll be back again soon.