RELATED BLOG ENTRIES: HONG KONG 2007, HONG KONG 2008

 

HONG KONG - LAN KWAI FONG
Oct 2 - Partying in Hong Kong

Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) is the core of the expat drinking scene. Crowded and drunken by midnight on the weekends, it's a giant meat market of bar after bar spilling onto the streets. I heard that the concept of LKF was started by a Canadian! Yay Canada!

I asked my clients what is the meaning of Lan Kwai Fong and they said that its original name was Laahn Gwai Fong which means "place for drunken foreigners". But they have since changed the words slightly to pretty it up--something to do with flowers.

But I don't think I've gone out this much since I was a young and clueless punk! And I'm a drunk every night on the weekends--again, not something I'm prone to doing. It seems like being in Hong Kong is a ticket to be young and crazy again.

On Friday night I've been going to a bar called Volume. It's kinda like a darker Woody's. It generally gets busy with a good mix of expats and locals--it seems to be where everyone goes before dancing. My signature drink in HK has been vodka-redbull. It's the only thing keeping me up to the ungodly hours these people party till.

After Volume, people head to the local dance club Propaganda until the wee hours of the morning. You absolutely get raped for cover charge here. A hefty $120 for a Friday, and $240 for Saturday night. It's friggin expensive to party in HK!

But the drinks are strong, the music is good, and the boys are friendly. Probably in that order. I've met people from US, UK, France, the Middle East, and of course Hong Kong. It's fun to meet the locals and practice my piecemeal Cantonese. They always tell me that my Cantonese is pretty good and that I just need more practice and just need to find a Chinese boyfriend! My parents always told me to find a nice Chinese......girl....hmm...oh well, I guess this is close enough.

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NUMBERS 10.02
drink, Lan Kwai Fong bars: $50 - $80
drink, Lan Kwai Fong 7-11: $15
cover, Volume: $0
- redbull & vodka: $55
cover, Propaganda: $120 / $240 (+1drink)
- cover before 11pm $120

SIDEBAR:
HOW TO DANCE LIKE AKAWESLEY

Growing up out west, it was a lot of rave dancing. When I got to Toronto, their local folk dance was markedly different. And being in Hong Kong, I'm definitely dancing to my own music. For those who want to learn to dance like a raver, a lot of it is about moving the hands to the music. For example, one possible combination is "big fish, small fish, box". So imagine you're describing each of these objects to someone with your hands. Big fish. Small fish. Box. Then repeat. Love it!

HONG KONG - VICTORIA PARK
Oct 3 - Happy Mid-Autumn!

This weekend was the annual Mid-Autumn Festival. It happens on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar. There is a legend that the ever-curious wife of an architect who was gifted a pill of immortality found the pill and ate it. And as punishment she was banished to the moon where she shines the brightest on this night.

What also made this festival a bit special was that it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party coming into power in China. Watching the news about the festivites in Beijing showed a surreal celebration, with armies and tanks parading the street. And the local Beijingers barred from watching the show from the streets. I couldn't even imagine something even close to that happening in Canada. I'm not even sure if we have tanks...

In Hong Kong, a more political protest against the "evil" Communist party marched down Kings Road complete with their own marching band. It's amazing how people here in Hong Kong have the liberties to be so vocal and active while their countrymen in China are barred away in their homes.

In the evening near Tin Hau station, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon wound its way through the streets. Nearby Victoria Park became drowned in lights--from the hundreds of lucky red lanterns and the constant camera flashes from the hordes of families enjoying the night. Stages set up in the park had fantastic shows of Chinese dance, music, and plays. Hundreds of people lined up to get their palms read--if it wasn't for the huge line up, I might have tried it out myself. But I definitely had a great time walking around the festival feeling a bit more that I was really in China.

And I finally got to eat the moon cake that my clients gave me. Happy Mid-Autumn everyone!

 

 

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SIDEBAR: READING FORTUNES
I must admit that I have had my fortune read on a few occasions, and every time it has been freakishly accurate:

READING 1: My coworker May is very skilled at reading palms. She had just started with my company and we were talking at the Xmas party. She offered to read my palm, and I excitedly agreed. Well first she started giving me statistics about how a high percentage of mathematicians are gay. And then she told me that I was "asexual" which I thought was a bit strange since we were coworkers and we really just met. Well, that fortune basically began an 18 month stretch of abstinence as I worked through a long breakup. That's equivalent to18 x 7 = 126 months of no sex in straight time!

READING 2: In Turkey, we were walking down Istiklal Caddesi and stopped into a fortune teller. I had a strong cup of Turkish coffee and then handed my cup to the fortune teller. She peered at the dark smudges of coffee grounds and told me that I would be rich and that I would be working for my company in another country in the next two years. I laughed because I didn't think that would be possible. But now two years later to the month I'm working for my company in Hong Kong! Now I'm just waiting to become rich!

READING 3: I returned to my coworker May last Xmas, and she again read my palm. She told me that I was looking for Escape. This was before I told anyone I was taking a leave of absence. I was also on the verge of telling my ex that I was going to move out of the apartment. So I was pretty baffled as she did the reading.She put into words how I felt and it gave me shivers.

HONG KONG
Oct 8 - Things that Should Be Irrevocably Outlawed

I think one of the first things I was trying to figure out about Hong Kong is which side of the sidewalk should I walk. You would think that since people drive on the left side here, they would naturally walk on the left side. After few weeks here, I've realized that there is no rule on which side you should walk. Sometimes everyone's on the right side, sometimes everyone's on the left. I decided it's easier to just follow the crowd.

But there are times when it seems like people are walking directly at me. I'm looking all around me and there seems to be plenty of space, but they are doing a beeline for a head-on collision. WHY?! Then they will brush by me, nudge me, but thankfully they stop short of knocking me over.

If you walk by someone in Canada, and you do so much as brush them, you are walking waaaay too close!

There are a few things though that seriously irk me about walking on a busy street in Hong Kong. Here are a few things that I think should be outlawed on a busy Hong Kong street--50 lashes for each transgression!:

1. Walking while reading a newspaper
2. Walking while texting
3. Walking while playing PSP
4. Walking while holding hands -- makes me want to play Red Rover
5. Umbrellas when it's not raining

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HONG KONG
Oct 10 - I Got Hairy Crabs!

It's not as bad as it sounds. Since my last foray into the crabs in HK (with the pretty gross "wong yau haaih"--yellow oil crab), I have been a bit nervous to try any more of these crab delicacies.

But every year after the Mid-Autumn Festival, the hairy crabs ("daaih jaap haaih"--big sluice crab) start popping up in food store fronts all over Hong Kong. It's a bit sad to see rows upon rows of them tied up alive into small bundles ready for the pot. But my friends Marian and Peggy picked up a few of the hairy critters and brought them over to my place. There's bristly hairs all over the legs of the crabs, with their main pincers covered in a heavier mat of fur.

Marian was the expert in preparing them. She set them onto a steam rack and cooked it over seasoned water for about 20 minutes. We then cracked open the shell with some handy scissors, picked out the meat avoiding certain parts like the gills, and dipped it into a vinegar / ginger sauce. There wasn't much meat in the crab and it was a bit of work to find it. And the taste was quite subtle, definitely not as strong as the "wong yau haaih".

After we finished our crabs, we complemented our meal with ginger tea. The Chinese believe that the hairy crab is a "chilly" meal, so the ginger tea is drunk to cancel that out. I liked the ginger tea and it was so easy to make, just boil ginger and sugar in water.

We had great conversation as I wowed the girls with my amazing grasp of the Cantonese language. It's great--I can make people laugh with my Cantonese without even telling a single joke. I'm pretty proud of myself!

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HONG KONG - CENTRAL
Oct 12 - Massive Knee Injury 2009 Begins

Last night I was walking on one of the overpasses in Central and in a freak accident, I misjudged a set of steps which caused my bad knee to lock up, and I stumbled and fell into a painful heap. I could hear things pulling and crunching as I fell.

I'm moving this part of my blog to another section because I have a feeling it's going to take a looong time to rehabilitate my knee. I've posted most of the details there, but I've put the "highlights" in my main blog.

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HONG KONG
Oct 16 - Mom Visits

My mom flew into Hong Kong yesterday. We were supposed to go to Kuala Lumpur today but with this knee injury it was the last thing I wanted to do. It's too bad because my grandfather is a bit sick and it would have been good to visit him. I might have even been able to communicate with him in my much improved Cantonese.

Anyways, it was good to have Mom around with this knee injury. She helped me go shopping and made me a whole pot of her yummy vegetable soup. I can't get enough of that! I felt a bit guilty because I couldn't show her around Hong Kong so I was happy that she kept her original plan to head to KL.

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KNEE SURGERY: DAY 1 - RECOUNTING THE OPERATION
Oct 18 - Timeline of the Operation

6:00am Wake up and eat breakfast--I can't eat 6 hours before operation
10:45am Arrive at the Matilda Hospital. It's at the very top of the peak on the side away from Kowloon. It's an inconvenient place to put a hospital, but I get to see a view of the valleys and seasides. I make a mental note to explore that part of the island once I get better.
11:00am Fill in questionnaire and personal information with the nurse. Dr Kong comes in to see me and talk about the operation.
11:30am I'm taken to my room--a 3-person room. One guy in the room has something wrong with his hip, but my Cantonese isn't good enough to figure out the problem. The other bed is empty. I take a shower, washing with some red goop the nurse gave me.
1:10pm I'm wheeled into the operating room. I meet my anesthetist. He seems like a happy guy with an Aussie accent. We chat as he preps me for surgery.
1:15pm The anesthetist puts an IV in my arm. Starts pumping in the anesthetic. I feel a cold wave over the left side of my body. Then they put an oxygen mask on me. The first breath makes me feel light headed. I can't remember the second...
3:45pm I wake up with two nurses talking to me. I am groggy and they ask how much pain I feel on a scale of 1 to 10. It's about a six. I can feel the incisions throbbing in the front of my knee. They give me a shot of morphine. I'm wincing in pain as I'm wheeled back to my room.
4:00pm I'm back in my room. The pain is settling a bit, probably a 5 now. I fall in and out of sleep.
4:15pm Dr Kong comes into the room and tells me that the operation was successful. He harvested ligaments from my hamstring and used them to rebuild my ACL. He hands me a video on dvd and pictures. The pictures look pretty good. My leg is still numbed by local anesthetic down to the middle of my foot. Dr Kong tells me to start trying to straighten my leg and swivel my ankle.
6:00pm Eating a dinner ordered from their extensive menu. Hospital food isn't that bad after all! They remove the drip from my arm after shooting in some antibiotic and give me a couple of Panadol painkillers. There's pain the back of my leg. I can swivel my ankle with pain. I need to go pee really bad, but can't seem to do it--they've given me a little bottle to go in, I think my body is hardwired not to pee while I'm in bed.
8:00pm Relief...I can finally take a leak! Pain is down to about a 4.
10:00pm Pain is down to around 3 or 2. Pain behind leg is going away, but there's pain on the left side of my quad and the right side of my calf when pressed. I pass out watching the Miss Macau pageant with my ward neighbour. My leg is propped onto pillows.
8:00am Given 2 Panadol. My leg is still numb to mid calf. I can straighten my leg to about 160 degrees.
8:30am Dr Kong shows up and asks how I'm doing. I'm really impressed with the level of care Dr Kong is giving. I feel like he's actually concerned with my state and recovery. I didn't get this much attention in Canada when I had an operation done there.
9:00am Nurse comes in to remove the dressings. When the bandage comes off, I see they've shaved my leg--man I should do drag one day with legs like these! My knee smells funny. I see the 5 bandaged incisions on my knee--all at the front, 3 below the knee, two above. That's 2 more than my ACL removal operation. The incisions aren't bleeding anymore--the doctor sutured the wounds on the inside. The nurse puts a "tubigrip" tight elastic bandage around my knee.
9:30am A physiotherapist comes in and gives me my own set of crutches. She also gives me 4 exercises to work on during the next week. She shows me how to go up and down stairs with the crutches. Stairs freak me out.
12:00pm I get back to my apartment and just look at my leg. It's pretty unresponsive and very tight. It'll be a long recovery--but I think things will be okay.

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KNEE SURGERY: DAY 3 - WATCHING THE OPERATION VIDEO
Oct 20 - Oh....My.....God.....

I just watched the video of my operation. If you ever get an operation done make sure you ask for a video. Not only will you see exactly what is done, but it also gives the benefit of the Hawthorne Effect.

It's crazy watching the operation. It's like looking into a bloody fish tank filled with white and red seaweed. I can see him sucking out the blood from my leg. I can see him drilling into me and I'm yelling at him to stop, but he doesn't listen. I can even see him pull the scope out every once in a while and I see myself lying on the gurney. It's like I'm witnessing an out-of-body experience. In the end it looks like he ties up the double bundle with the same twine that my Dad used to prop up the plants in the living room. Hopefully, Dr Kong didn't also pick it up from the 99 cent bin at Zellers.

I can actually limp around without crutches today. But it's very jarring--so I'm sticking to the crutches until I can walk more smoothly. I left my apartment to get some food--using only one crutch. It wasn't too bad except for the few times that the muscles in my leg would suddenly tighten up and I would get a shot of pain. I also feel very uncomfortable if I stand still for a few seconds--it feels like blood is pooling in my foot and calf.

I'm still most sore on the left side of my quad and the right side of my calf. They feel like they're on the verge of cramping--I'm trying to massage it out.

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HONG KONG
Oct 22 - Feeling a Bit Emo

I'm a bit bummed today. Since the operation I've been a bit isolated. Every morning, I head to the management office and pick up another couple of movies. They're always very polite, asking how my knee is doing, joke that I'm going to run out of movies (which I have). And then I head next door to pick up the Sub of the Day and head back to my apartment where I try to piece together the last episodes of Glee and Amazing Race on Youtube. It's kinda pitiful isn't it...

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HONG KONG - WANCHAI
Oct 28 - Chinglish Night

A bunch of my tuhng-hohk and I cheut-gaai'ed and sihk'ed maahn faahn. We went to a chaahn teng called American Beijing which was quite fitting as we were all gwai lo trying to learn more Guang Dong wah. We yum'ed hohng jau and shared our experiences of Heung Gong.

It was a bit interesting because none of them worked full time in Hong Kong. They all came out here with their spouses' jobs and now spend their time taking language classes, socializing, joining clubs, and just enjoying life. Must be nice eh?

Since I came to Hong Kong, I was trying to avoid getting into the expat scene because it seems like a cop-out. I mean, I'm in Hong Kong, why would I try to meet people who are transient and not from Hong Kong? But I've come to the realization that it's just easier to make friends with the expats. We're all outsiders and far from family and friends. The expat scene in Hong Kong is huge and to avoid it becomes a bit isolating.

When I get back to Hong Kong in December, I'll look more into what the expats do in Hong Kong.

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SIDEBAR:
CHINGLISH / ENGLISH DICTIONARY

tuhng hohk - classmate
cheut gaai - go out
sihk maahn faahn - eat dinner
chaahn teng - restaurant
gwai lo - foreigners
guang dong wah - Cantonese
yum hohng jau - drink red wine
Heung Gong - Hong Kong.

KNEE SURGERY: WEEK 2 - PROGRESS REPORT
Oct 31 - End of a Scary Month

It's Halloween today. Instead of a night on the town, I'm at home watching the Simpsons Halloween Marathon. Just kill me now. I had to choose this over standing an hour in a 10-block line to join in the jam-packed jostling drunken crowd at Lan Kwai Fong. Uh...no thanks. I can barely stand still for 5 minutes without my leg feeling like it's going to burst and even a slight stumble can spell trouble.

So two weeks ago I had my operation. How are things now? They're okay--slowly getting better.

THE GOOD:
1. I think my leg is pretty mobile now. I can walk without crutches and am just working on walking normally without a limp.
2. I've progressed to riding a stationary bike and balancing on my operated leg. The basic exercises are going well too.
3. No pain in normal circumstances. Cramping has reduced from the first week.
4. The stubble is slowly growing back on my leg and the gentle brush of fabric as I walk feels oh so good!

THE BAD:
1. I still feel blood pooling in my calf and ankle when I stand for a few minutes or when I wake up from sleeping. Shin and ankle are sore from this.
2. Stairs and sloped surfaces are my nemesis.
3. I'm still basically house-ridden after 2 weeks. I can go out for dinner and drinks, but it's hard to stay comfortable the entire time.
4. Still sleeping a lot. I don't feel my normal pep.
5. If I have to watch that "Attention Must Be Paid" commercial one more time, I'm going to rip my eyes out!

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BACK IN TORONTO
Nov 7 - Brad and Steven Get Married!!

I'm so bummed. I missed attending my first real gay wedding. Some of my best friends, Brad and Steven, got married today. This was one time where I thought Twitter seemed handy. I got to watch the twitterfest from Hong Kong.

Congrats guys!!

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