Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

HK, I will see you later…

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Originally, I was to stay in Hong Kong until the end of January. I hadn’t booked a return flight, but figured I’d fly back along with my mom who was leaving on the 26th. When news of the critical condition my aunt was in came over from the States, we knew we had to leave early to support my dad, grandma, and my aunt’s family. Thus my mom left on the 18th, and I the day after.

My self-assigned photo project would have to wait, as a week was too brief to document what I think truly portrays life in Hong Kong.

I was able to spend a lot of time visiting more family and even got a few chances to meet up with my good friend Alexandra whom I met in the dorms during our first year at UCSB. We’ve been close since, but because she lives down in LA and I’m up in SF, it’s not often we see each other. Hell, she didn’t even know that my ex and I had parted ways in 2008!

We met for dinner at a Shanghai restaurant in Tong Loi Wan (aka Causeway Bay) and then headed to the Soho district for drinks after. (Soho is an area lined with intimate little bars, restaurants, art galleries, and design studios. Somewhat modern, bohemian, and so very inviting.) She knew of a place called Peele Fresca and mentioned they had Latin night on Thursdays, so we decided to check it out. We danced salsa, drank sangria, befriended the band, and took a few shots with the locals sitting next to us. I quickly remembered how much fun I have when she is around.

What I was disappointed about not being witness to was the protest that was carried out in HK’s Central district during the first few days I was there. Many students and liberal residents were violently defending the small village community in Choi Yuen Tsuen that would be affected by the construction of a new railway line. The villagers are being ordered to vacate their homes (with promise of compensation) in order to make way for this new line that would link China’s Guangzhou and Shenzhen to HK’s commercial hub. About a week ago, lawmakers in HK approved funding (approx. $66.9 billion HKD, which is $8.6 bil USD) for the rail line. The thousands of protesters and local authorities quickly escalated to violence, but fortunately, it only lasted for a day. When I asked my relatives what the popular opinion on this opposition was, they expressed that this was just another way for people to gain momentum on public opposition towards the local government and many individuals were using this specific instance as a vehicle to express their encompassing views. Supporters of the proposal argue that this link will place HK in a strategically positive position with China – by creating more job opportunities, decreasing the time it takes to travel between the three cities, and “helping to reinforce Hong Kong’s status as a transport, financial and commercial hub of China,” according to a press release published by the HK government back in October. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Most likely. It still would have been interesting to hear directly from the people who participated in this event.

One thing I did do, and it’s something my family and I always do when we come back, is go to see an HK film. I chose Bodyguards and Assassins, which was recommended to me by a flamboyant hairdresser I met at a salon. When I asked him to tell me what it was about, he said it clarified a small portion of Hong Kong history. That’s all it took for me to write down the name and head over to the theater to buy a ticket.

The film was about a sole group of patriotic individuals who plotted to help Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (regarded as the nation’s founding father) arrive and depart HK safely, avoiding the wrath of assassins hired by the Empress of the Qing Dynasty. It’s set in 1906 and portrays the people’s earnest hope for a revolution. The political leader and influential revolutionary was self-exiled and living in Tokyo at the time, however, had plans to meet with 13 delegates from Mainland China to discuss a unified uprising to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. The fickle role of the British Empire, the sacrifices made for the greater good of China, and the fact that this movie was based on actual individuals and events made this film worth watching. What struck me about this film was the fact that I, as well as many other HK locals it turns out, had no idea this group existed. The group who provided protection to Dr. Yat-Sen consisted of a businessman, his son, a scholar and activist, rickshaw pullers, a hawker, and a beggar.

When I told my dad about this movie, he told me that as a child, he had the leader’s picture taped up on his wall by his headboard so that every morning, he could bow to him before leaving for school. He had the utmost respect for this man, and I had only heard of him less than a handful of times before now. Our conversation inspired me to take Chinese history more seriously and try to better understand the events that led the country to be what it is today.

During the end of my trip, a friend emailed me to ask whether I was sad that the end was near. I try not to look at it that way. I feel that this may just be the beginning. I know that many travels lay ahead of me, so to answer her question, no, I’m not sad. I’m excited for what is to come, because I have learned what makes me happiest. I feel passionate about meeting people and hearing their stories and making that connection. What that is going to lead to, I’m not sure yet. I just know that I am headed in the right direction, and it feels really good.

*Being lazy and don’t feel like uploading the pictures I took in Hong Kong. You should be able to view the album on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2451225&id=3612943&l=2a510c8435. Thanks for looking.

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Written by winniewongsf

January 21, 2010 at 7:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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