By our talented Teresa!
By our talented Teresa!
Fourteen days later and here we are at the very end of our journey. We started out as inexperienced student travelers, who thirst for adventure and yearned for knowledge. Although there were some obstacles, we overcame it as a group. Throughout the days we became experts at public transportation. Not only mastering the MTR, but also the bus, taxi, ferry, and maneuvering around in this highly populated city. With every waking day our physical health was put to the test. Especially in this hot, humid, sporadically raining, so called typhoon season. It gave us the health outcome of being in shape, getting in at least our 30 minutes of light weight cardio. Nonetheless sweating out whatever toxins we had in our bodies. This journey not only shaped us physically, but mentally. We learned to overcome language barrier and fear not of this foreign culture. Especially the bugs that found our presence so attracting. We learned about the history, system, people, and places. It taught us how to become more acceptable to other cultures through different aspects. Not only did we gained knowledge of the Hong Kong culture but basic skills within that. Many of us put our digestive system to the test by trying food from the street to the local “wet” market. We had the honor of meeting host students from PolyU which taught us the value of family/friendship, food culture, tradition, and ideals. Even developing the skills of tolerance to disliking factors. Compassion was built between the groups. There was always a helping hand whenever needed. Simply, it was a successful journey. To recollect, here are the list of the places we visited:
I hope that as you read down this list of all the activities it brought back positive flashbacks. I want to remind you that throughout this journey there were a lot of accomplishments and memories that were made. We all deserve a pat on the back for surviving this educational roller coaster abroad. There was the development of awareness between Hong Kong culture and San Jose’s, and how we respectfully adapted. I am grateful for having the privilege for all opportunities and experiences given during the course of this program. Therefore let us not forget FLP SJSU takes on Hong Kong Summer 2016!On behalf of SJSU I bid you farewell Hong Kong. As for the the FLP SJSU members, safe travels back home, and thank you for the memories!
P.S. epic video of the trip will be put together.
Last full day with everyone today! It feels quite bittersweet, but it is eye-opening to see how close everyone has gotten since the beginning of this program. Remember on the first day when we all arrived at the front of the lobby? Although we were not too familiar with one another, we had one thing in common, and that was the excitement we had for this program. Looking forward to explore more of Hong Kong and learning much about its history, we were able to start conversations based on those topics. Shortly after, we were all able to share laughs, try new foods, and even suffer from our constant stomach issues on and off throughout these past two weeks together. We bonded and shared our stories. Now, we can identify each other as one big family.
Going back to today’s itinerary, our day started a little later than usual. Our group met up at 10:00 am to do our individual presentations that we all stayed up late at night to perfect. Throughout the presentations, we learned the comparisons between the Hong Kong and American culture. Mine was specifically on snacks and snacking habits. We learned about the transition from street food Dai Pai Dongs in the post-war years to how far they have become today. Since not very many street vendors were licensed, many Dai Pai Dongs included built-in wheels for higher transportation efficiency. This was to help street vendors migrate from location after location to stay away from the police from easily targeting them. Another main factor we learned from today’s presentations was that there are actually countless similarities and differences between the two cultures. For example, Americans snack mainly on finger foods, whereas as people in Hong Kong prefer to use utensils such as skewers while they snack.
After our first round of presentations, we took a lunch break at the student canteen. The food came in large portions and was very affordable. Not only that, but there were a variety of meals we were able to choose from on the menu. How the student canteen works is comparable to an American food court. The main difference is that there was a separate line for everyone to pay after receiving their meals. One interesting fact that I am sure everyone has noticed by now is that most restaurants and food courts do not have napkin access. The student canteen was one of the very many places without napkins. From today’s presentations, we were able to learn one theory to explain this. One theory as to why many food places in Hong Kong do not hand out napkins is because they believe it is a sign of respect for the food when people do not wipe their mouths while eating. This represents how delicious the food is and shows that they would not want to stop eating. It is quite interesting to learn about the traditions and reasoning behind why people in Hong Kong do certain actions that may seem uncommon to us.
For our last night here all together, we had a banquet dinner with some of the Poly U staff and host students who spent the last two weeks with us. We went to this restaurant that was on the Poly U campus, but was exclusive for only the staff members. When we got out of the elevator, we were amazed by how fancy the place seemed. It almost felt as if we were no longer on a student campus. The food was buffet style and was filled with Western cuisine, including a variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits. There was so much delicious food that we all wanted to try, but unfortunately we consumed our first plate too quickly and was stuffed shortly after. Some made room for dessert, while others just had some fruit. Having this dinner was a nice way to interact with the host students one last time before we all head our separate ways. We reflected on the past 2 weeks and exchanged different experiences with one another. All in all, we have all grown to treat each other as a family and it is truly one bittersweet moment to say “see you again.” We have all learned and grew a lot as individuals, whether it may have been through good or bad times. This abroad adventure will forever stay with us no matter where we travel because we all made lifelong friendships from another part of the world. Remember, what happens in Hong Kong does not stay in Hong Kong. Instead, we will continue to spread and encourage others to experience going abroad as we share our memorable stories.
It is the second to the last day of our activities of the FLP program. The morning to the afternoon was free time for everyone, but it was more working time. Some people stayed in their room, others were at the tables of the 2nd floor working on their journals, individual presentations, and the team presentation. We had free time until 4pm so everyone was doing their own thing whether it was sleeping in, doing their assignments, or just hanging out. When it was 4pm, everyone had to meet up at the lobby of the dorm where we went to Sham Shui Po. Zelon, Roy, Kit, Ebby, and Rosanne are PolyU students who came along the trip to the food aid activity. The group traveled to Sham Shui Po by MTR and it only took about 40 minutes. When we arrived, we had to walk through the neighborhood to meet Ming and his colleagues at his restaurant to help with the food aid.
The neighborhood in Sham Shui Po was full of old buildings that are not as tall as other buildings in other cities. Ming and his colleagues offered us fresh organic oranges to welcome us. The oranges were sweet and refreshing and it clenched our thirst. It was very busy when were at the restaurant to package the food into containers. The inside was very small and crowded so not all of us could fit in to help aid with packaging. We had a system where we divided into groups so one group would help the restaurant and the other groups would tour around the neighborhood. When we were touring the streets of Sham Shui Po, it was very interesting to learn about the program that Ming do. One of the volunteers who did not expect to work today, he was very kind to inform us about the food aid. The volunteer brought us to the location of the current location of Ming’s restaurant where it is renovating so his restaurant is at the other side being used. Ming’s restaurant is open from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm for the public in eating at the restaurant. When it was at 4pm, it was time for Ming and his colleagues to package the food and to prepare for passing out the food to homeless people in the neighborhood.
Later on, the tour group headed back to restaurant area so everyone had the chance to package the food, but the first group was already done so half of us could not help package the food. The people who did the packaging described it as working in an assembly line with it was very fast pace. Each person had a specific job like one person would put the vegetables, the other would out the meat in the lunch box. Luckily, we all have the chance to pass out the food to the people. It was very interesting when we were waiting for Ming and his volunteer there were special people who are in their formal clothing. I heard it was a mayor who was running for the upcoming election in supporting what Ming is doing and there was press with cameras taking pictures. However, we told the press not to take pictures of us due to our rights of privacy. We were surprised that the mayor and the press were there so it was interesting to see them using Ming’s food aid program for publicity in the upcoming election.
When we finished packing the food, we headed down a couple of streets to where we passed out the food. It was very interesting to see the shelter of these people who are homeless and that they are grouped together and it was kind of sad. It was heart-breaking to see these people who were living there and did not have any sufficient resources for a decent life. As a group, we paired up to pass the food to the people along the alley way and it was very interesting since there are no requirements of who receives them. The food is always for the homeless, and if there are leftovers, it would be given to people are in need, usually older adults. I was shocked to see so many older adults lining up for the lunch boxes. When we ran out of lunch boxes to pass out, Ming and his colleague passed some vouchers to the people who were unable to get a lunch box. The voucher is a free meal at Ming’s restaurant at any time. Ming wanted to help everyone, but he knows the quantity that it would take to do it is too much where 10,000 people are going wait in line.
After the food aid, we had a session with Ming the person who created this program in giving out free food and being part of the community. Ming talked about how he started where he first wanted to do business in order to make money. However, he did not earn much and he was not very happy with what he is doing. Ming enjoyed the work he is doing by giving out to the community and he was more content than earning money. He started with 20 volunteers and giving out 60 lunch boxes and it expanded after half a year, 200 volunteers with 600 lunch boxes. The food aid of Ming gained recognition from the society where a famous celebrity, Sammo Hung met with Ming and gave $10,000 to Ming to help the community. Ming’s restaurant has been growing and his operation of food aid is widely famous in the Hong Kong areas where others are doing the same thing as Ming. Churches and other agency have been doing food aid and Ming would go to other places to do food aid in order to not duplicate the efforts. Ming has inspired the community where society is now helping him to continue what he is doing for the community.
After thanking Ming for the opportunity to be part of his food aid, we all went to dinner together and enjoy the rest of the Hong Kong night.
Rise and shine everyone! Some woke up before 5:00 am, while others snoozed their alarms until 5:30 am, rushing to meet in the lobby by 6:00am. For some of the girls, we got in the elevator to go down to the ground floor lobby, but found ourselves stuck in the elevator going up and down the different floors, only to realize that the lobby didn’t open until 6:00 am. Since the lobby did not open until 6am, the people that were in the elevator with me had to go through a different floor and make our way down to the lobby through a different entrance. As you can tell, our morning did not go very well, but around 6:05 am, everyone was ready to leave the residence hall. We were very fortunate to have one of our PolyU host students, Zelon, travel with us and help us with our adventure to Macau. We rushed in the morning and had to squish ourselves in the bus that took us to the ferry station. Once arriving at the station, we got our tickets for the ferry and had to go through a process where we all had to show our passports that it even seemed as if we were in an airport going through immigration. It was around 7:30 am when we departed from Hong Kong. Once we stepped into the ferry, it was a lot nicer than most of us thought. We thought it was going to be an outdoor boat ferry, however on the inside it looked like an airplane, and also had assigned seating. Considering that we were all still half awake, once we got onto the ferryboat, most of us had fallen asleep for the hour ride to Macau.
Around 9:00 am, we met up with our Macau tour guide, Jason. He gave a quick introduction about himself as well as a brief history of Macau. Once exiting the station, we got on another bus, which took us to Senado square. The first thing I noticed was that all of the sidewalks were tiled with intricate designs. Another unique observation was that some of the buildings were pastel colored and we later learned that there was a purpose for the color of the buildings and that the paint was mixed with chemicals and other elements to maintain its brightness, as well as fulfill a larger purpose. For example, in Brazil, they would use the blood of ox (which contains high levels of iron) as a form of insect repellent for homes, and the blood-tinted paint would be pink in color.
Macau was administered by the Portuguese and had many different influences in the style of the country in the architecture, as well as the dietary habits. For our tour we had a long 9-hour day of walking the streets of Macau in which we got to see the different churches and buildings as well as learning about the history behind them. Some of the places we visited include: the Cathedral de Macau, the Casa Lou Kau Mansion, the Estrutura Catholic church, the Ruins of Sal Palo, the Fortress Armourial Gate, the Protestant Church and Cemetery, the Library and City Hall, the Theater, Saint Joseph’s Seminary and Church, and St. Lawrence Church. Two of the most interesting places that we visited today were, the Fortress Armourial Gate, and the Protestant Church and Cemetery. Some of the interesting facts learned about the Fortress is that it was built to protect from the Dutch, and that if there were any intruders, instead of firing at them, they would take a hot bucket of water and pour it onto them. Macau was also seen as the neutral third party between Japan and China and because of the food that was being imported through Macau, the dietary habits had begun to change.
At first the Protestant Cemetery was a bit creepy, however, we then learned all of the history behind how the Protestants didn’t have a place to be buried and were normally just thrown out into the ocean. This cemetery came about because there was no place for the non-Roman Catholic foreign community to be buried. There were also plumeria trees planted in the cemetery that were used to help with the smell, because typically a body was buried the same day that the individual had passed away. Although cemeteries are not always the happiest of places to visit, it was very eye opening learning the structure and history that took place in the cemetery, which helped understand the country better.
At the end of the tour, some of the group was exhausted and decided to go back to Hung Hom, while others stayed and visited the casinos! I think we can all agree that Macau was not what we had originally thought it would be and that we got to see a side of Macau that we normally wouldn’t have seen if we had gone on our own time. Today was a very long and tiring day, but we all left Macau with a better understanding of its significance other than another “Las Vegas.”