The worldwide Augustana College experience

Hong Kong through a typhoon

Landing in Hong Kong was everything but a normal procedure, since we were going through a turbulence in the middle of the biggest typhoon in 30 years, but I really started freaking out when captain turned on the seat belt sign, as well as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring, of course), at which point everybody exhaled and closed their eyes, as if they are being hypnotized to a very certain and painless death.

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However, we made it safe and sound and as soon as we got off the flight, I was on my way to check my bags when a middle-aged, tall and quite handsome fella addressed me with “how we goin’?”, after which I thought he is Australian. Shortly after, he said that he from Nova Scotia but works in Hong Kong, teaching English and uses Australian accent as a pick-up lines in Hong Kong and wanted to see my reaction. I saw this as nothing but a compliment, since this guy can only be described as the happiest man alive. I would lie if I said I didn’t look like I wasn’t looking for a compliment; I had a wrinkly half-buttoned shirt on and checked leather shoes (somebody once told me you should wear light clothing when traveling, I guess). Anyways, we came to the passport control together and he told me to wait in line with him, in Permanent Resident line. I was a little confused, but Travel/Visitor line was packed, so I just decided to go with the flow. Once it was his turn, he grabbed me by the arm, put his permanent resident card in my passport and whispered “We are together from now on. Behave yourself, Serb”. Once again, I was confused but I couldn’t show it, since we were in front of the customs officer that looked like had bad sushi for lunch. About two shakes of a lamb’s tale later, we both got approved and passed through. As soon as we were far enough from anybody that can hear us, he goes: “They could’ve asked you about everything and anything, bunch of paperwork and purposes of staying in Hong Kong. I’m a resident and can easily go through this with my partner, which happen to be you.” I was shocked, and asked him if I can pay him back somehow, but he said that the only way to do that is do something good for somebody else while in Hong Kong. After that, he Marry Poppinssed his way through the baggage claim, and disappeared.

I was under the influence of how somebody helped me without knowing anything about me just because, which was a great way to start my time in Hong Kong. From a train, Hong Kong looked wealthy, glamorous and even overwhelming in a sense. However, as soon as I got to Kowloon City, which is an island just across Hong Kong Island and the densest populated area in the world, things turned around rather fast. It wasn’t the city in which James Bond gambles and drinks his shaken martini, it’s the one where Jackie Chen fights four bad guys with nunchaku on a moped. Crowds of people are running across the street, hiding from level 9 typhoon while trying not to step on the homeless. However, everybody speaks English, which was not the case in Japan. Other than occasional Kanji (Chinese symbols), Japan and Hong Kong don’t seem to have much in common. Food is significantly cheaper and it is not as clean.

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On the Hong Kong Island itself, there is a lot of European influence. I went to the Peak, which is the highest point in the city form where you can see Hong Kong and Mainland China. On my walk there, I heard British English, French, Russian and Dutch, and those are only languages that I could hear and recognize right away. It is not hard to see that Hong Kong is the most ethnically diverse city we will visit on this trip.

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However, I heard that Mainland China is has nothing in common with Hong Kong, and I’m looking forward to compare all three regions then, in Shenzhen in 10 days.

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