Fast forward to my current location: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an interesting place; unlike mainland China where the government is all appointed, Hong Kong's is half appointed, half elected, (and Taiwan being a democracy, all elected). You know you've left mainland China when you can get onto all websites you normally could, such as facebook and youtube! Yes, now you know that my "forced" cyber social vacation has come to a close, so if I do not answer your message within 1-2 weeks I am ignoring you, in contrast to when I had no facebook access for weeks at a time in mainland! You can also tell that you've left mainland China by the western toilets you find in bathroom, along with the ability for the toilets to handle toilet paperr. You also encounter more American chains - Ruby Tuesdays, Mrs. Fields' Cookies, Burger King and a few other recognizable names show up. The main area is known as the New Territories, and most commonly referred to is the area of Kowloon, a peninsula attached to the mainland. Then you also have two other islands, Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island. This place quite reminds me of China town, with the narrow roads overshadowed by the diverse and copious amounts of street signs (flashing at night) hanging from every which way. The buildings and rooms appear to be small to me as well. Another tell-tale sign of a new place - there are no parents hovering their offspring over the street, encouraging them to release their natural waste products...this is refreshing, as I worry less what I am stepping in when I encounter a wet surface on the street..
Lan Kwai Fang proves to be more than sufficient for a night out, with fun bars and clubs razzling and dazzling the street! I even witness a man carrying a child with him outside the bar...couldn't find a babysitter sir? Good idea, why go to bed, when you can BRING THE KID WITH YOU to have a good time?? Ironically enough, the child was asleep and didn't look to be waking up any time soon..
So I have spent 3 months now becoming somewhat conversational in Mandarin Chinese, only to find myself in I came to find out that Cantonese is the language spoken here, although about 50% of people (at least) are able to hold a conversation in English. The English-speaking is refreshing, but the fact that a new language sets in is not, as I want to improve the Mandarin base I have begun to build. However, Cantonese and Mandarin essentially share the same set of characters (written language) but the pronunciations are different. This proves to be a challenge as I have yet to master, let's use the word "grasp" the tones in Mandarin.
So as I sit here and reflect on some experiences I have had, stuffing my face with a chocolate muffin and a liter of milk in mcdonalds, I smile. Why? Because a minor change for most is a MAJOR change for me. Hong Kong McDonalds allow you to get Egg McMuffins and Sausage McMuffins at ANY TIME, NOT JUST BREAKFAST! For anyone who knows me well, breakfast is my favorite meal, so the ability to eat it at whatever time I want is a true treat!!
The next stop on this journey is unknown at the moment, but if the fatekeepers of my destiny, located in the Indian Embassy in Eastern Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong permit, India just might be calling my name..