China Research

A taste of Hong Kong

After living in Hong Kong for over six weeks, I feel that I have a good grasp on the typical Hong Konger’s diet.  In Hong Kong, food groups can be broken down into five major categories: meat, rice, noodles, tea, and meat.  As a vegetarian, this has brought up some interesting obstacles.  I eat lunch with my lab mates, and literally every meal period we share together is an adventure.  They simply do not understand this foreign concept of “vegetarianism”… “Why would anyone choose to not eat meat?”, they ask me. Abstaining from meat for environmental reasons, it actually frightens me to think that the majority of the 7 million people in Hong Kong eat meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Back to the point.  One day, my lab mates ordered me tofu.  I, of course, am totally useless in ordering my own food here because I just slow everyone down.  I was very excited to get tofu, because it is actually an uncommon find in Hong Kong.  Imagine my surprise, when my tofu lunch has a thick layer of pork sprinkled on top!! This type of event happens often; luckily it does not bother me.  I guess it is good practice for Xiamen!

Being in a foreign country, I make a point to try all the local dishes; regardless of meat.  This past Friday, we had a dinner party at one of my lab mate’s apartments. All fifteen of us crammed in a tiny Hong Kong apartment actually was a really fun time.  And typical of any gathering within Hong Kong, the food never stopped coming.  I always think that dinner is over, and then more food is brought out.  Culinary highlights of the night: trying to eat a chicken wing with chopsticks (semi-successful), trying to decapitate and de-shell a crawfish with chopsticks (unsuccessful), and finally: the carp eye.  You only live once right? Yes, I ate that carp eyeball. No, it was not good.

As far as preparing myself for Xiamen, another issue that has arisen in Hong Kong is stalking!  Sure, I catch kids and some adults staring at me sometimes on the MTR.  Not a big deal.  But on Saturday night, this was taken to a whole new level.  While waiting for the MTR in Kowloon Tong, I could feel someone staring at me.  I look up, and sure enough, a man next to me is staring.  After staring back at him, he did not stop staring.  Actually, I started laughing at him, because he was clearly unashamed about his behavior.  We get on the train, and he stands across from me and continues to stare.  At this point, even my ipod could not distract me.   After a couple stops I need to switch trains.  Sure enough, he gets off the train too. As if a scene from a movie, I veered in a strange direction to try and shake him off my trail.  On the next train, I try to ignore him as he stands next to me.  Soon our elbows are touching… And I have had enough! I get off the train and start running.  As I get to the exit of the train station, I take my headphones off.  I look to my left, and the man is still next to me!!! He says “Why did you laugh at me?”.   He tells me that he was only staring at me because I am so pretty. (Probably just because I have red hair, actually….) This weirdo clearly was not going to leave me alone, even after I told him to go away; he was following me down the street.

This is where my luck comes into play.  I see my friend (!!!!!) on the corner, handing out fliers for the Indian restaurant he works at.  Side-note: He is a chubby, 14 year old Indian boy who had given me a secret restaurant VIP card a couple days earlier.  My room mate and I had talked to him for a while, he definitely remembered me.  So I see my Indian friend, and I say “Take me to your restaurant! NOW!”.  He asks me if my boyfriend wants to come, and I tell him to walk faster.  The creepy Asian man follows for about another half block, and finally gives up.  Joking with the kid, I tell him that the man was going to chop me up and eat me. The boy responds “Yes, they do that here.”  Completely serious.

The boy refused a tip, even though he probably saved my life.  So I gave him a USA nickel.  He was excited for his “souvenir”, I was excited to be alive.