Integrating into Hong Kong Life

It’s been nearly 2.8 months that I’ve been in Hong Kong and I have to say that I finally feel like I am adapting to life here, trying my best to integrate into the local culture, foods, sights, transportation, shopping habits, and language. Oh and on the plus side, the weather has significantly improved in terms of less humidity and an actual cool breeze! Here are some milestones thus far:

  • Applied and received HK Identity Card (it will help to at least speed through the customs line to and from Macau)
  • Received my official Citibank Shopping Rewards Credit Card even though I have 0 credit history, don’t make any money, and never really proved my residence (Thanks to Citigold status that was transferred from the U.S.).
  • Opened checking and savings account with Citibank Hong Kong
  • Actively using grocery store rewards card (similar to the Ralphs Club card in the states) for major merchant stores including Park n Shop, Taste, Fortress, Watsons, etc. I also only shop at these stores on Wednesday because that’s when I get 30X points for transactions using Citibank Visa.
  • Carry around frequent buyer cards for boba at Gong Cha (buy nine, get something free – can’t read some of the chinese characters) and at some place in Sai Kung that is located in a shady alley with a chinese name I can’t even pronounce (buy 8, get a free drink)
  • Know the MTR subway system pretty well, enough to figure out the optimal way to get to various stops along the rainbow colored lines. The mini bus system is another challenge in itself because only Cantonese speaking is allowed and all signs are in chinese. I basically listened to what the locals were saying when they wanted the driver to stop and then repeated it to pretend I had any idea what was going on. We’ve also figured out how to tell the taxi drivers to not only take us back to HKUST, but to go through the security gates so we get dropped off right in front of the dormitory which usually is a 10 minutes hike from the entrance of campus.
  • Discovered my two favorite stores: Uniqlo and Muji. The fit of the clothing at Uniqlo is as close as it gets for my frame/size and even if not (for the pants), they offer free alteration – perfect for my shorter than average legs! Muji is like an IKEA but much better quality and stands out through its simplicity in design. It contains anything from stationary, clothing, household goods, to Japanese snacks. I love their philosophy of “no brand quality goods.”

Other random events and tourist moments in the past few weeks:

Hong Kong Park, in the midst of high-rise buildings and a bustling city

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Yes, that bird is eating corn. My arms weren’t long enough to compete for it.

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Some more lantern decorations:

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On the Star Ferry, crossing the harbor to Tsim Sha Tsui

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Night view from Avenue of the Stars, TST

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Yet again, more lantern decorations

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No adventure is complete without ding-dong-mau (doraemon in Japanese)

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Some really nice government building lit up. Almost felt like we were in venetian or bellagio in Vegas

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09-30-2012 Dragon’s Back Trail, hosted by Adventure Club. 9 victims total, 4 of which were exchange students from Shanghai, Spain, and UCLA (boooooo)

Step 1: go through a cemetery, hiking up 250+ steps

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Group photo. There were paragliders taking off from the top of the peak.

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Competition at the top of the mountain on the university that dominates southern california

Shek O Beach, where we would end up 30 minutes later

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World class meal post-hike. I can only presume that the strips on the right-hand side are suppose to represent bacon.

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Reward: dive into the beach!

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