Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Country Am I In? or Hong Kong Highlights

Landing in Hong Kong after a 5 hour flight from Mumbai, the first thing I was struck by was the cleanliness of the city. You could eat off the pavement! There is no trash anywhere in Hong Kong, except in the trash bins. Everything is also very modern looking, the buildings are all glass and metal, and almost nothing looks more then 20 years old.
I was met at the airport by my friend Swati, after a long bus ride through the city, I was welcomed into her house by her family and especially her mom. This was amazing. It is always nice to stay with people in a new city, but it also gave me a lot of time to practice my Hindi since Swati and her family are Indian and their first language is Hindi. So my visiting gift of Indian methi (sweets) was greatly appreciated, but this also meant that I ate a lot of Indian food and spoke a lot of Hindi in Hong Kong.
After trying to get over some intense jet lag Swati and I went to explore Hong Kong city, as we traveled around the markets we used our Hindi skills to discuss prices of bags and shirts. It was kind of like having a secret language, we would decide what we thought the price should be (or what we were willing to pay) and then tell the shopkeeper in English or Swati's Chinese. This made bargaining much easier.
Being shown around the city by Swati, her friends and her family, I spent a lot of time talking in Hindi and trying to remember where I was. I woke up in the morning to Swati's mother and brother watching the news in Hindi (thanks to Star World TV), but would venture out into a city of mostly East Asians, which looked nothing like an Indian city. So it was a bit of a confusing experience, although also clearly a good one.
During the trip:
I ate a lot of Chinese food on my own, according to Swati's family, Chinese food "has no taste," I think everyone had a good time. By the way when I asked what, "no taste" meant, I was told it was too light and not spicy, so basically it does not taste like Indian food. Which after a year in India, was exciting to me.
I also took a lot of pictures, everyone in Hong Kong carries a camera, even people who live there, Swati pointed this out to me on the first day. That was actually kind of nice, because it was never inappropriate to take a picture.
And because Swati and I are the kind of people who cannot sit still and do nothing, I hiked, walked and boated my way around Hong Kong, seeing, not only the city parts, but the country/village parts too.

Monday, August 3, 2009

No Longer in India but Still Blogging

I am no longer in India but I will continue to blog about my travels in Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Last Day in India

As the last hours of my time in India go by, I have decided to use my final post while in India to make a list of the things I will miss and wont miss from Mumbai and India.

I will miss:
All of my friends who are amazing, including my crazy air hostess/ flight attendant flatmate, the women who brings me food, my very nice landlord
Pani Puri (if you have not had it, you have to try it)
The craziness that is Mumbai (endless traffic, tons of people, strange smells)
The Mumbai commuter trains
Watching the rain out my window
The food
The sea front
My gym (rubbing elbows with Bollywood stars, some of whom go to the same gym I went to)
Speaking Hindi
When the Indian national anthem is played before the movie at the theater
The IPL and cricket mania
The random amazing things that happen
Kingfisher beer

What I wont miss:
The pollution
The poverty
Sometimes getting sick from food
The fact that the doors on the Mumbai commuter trains don't close (its dangerous)
Strange white people/ other ex-pats
Lecherous men
The censors who censor movies
Kingfisher beer (I cannot wait to drink something different!)

India, I will miss you, and I hope I can come back soon. There are many things wrong with you and life is not easy, but I am rooting for you to succeed.