Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Archive for June 2012

Happy (early) Father’s Day

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In light of upcoming Father’s Day, Refinery29 published a roundup of 11 of SF’s coolest dads. Most Dads don’t get the every day recognition they deserve, my own included.

Last week, I had dinner with four women who used to work with my dad when we were still living in Hong Kong in the 80s. Although they (and the rest of their old PR crew) see him only once every blue moon, the long-lasting dynamic between the group is truly something special.

These were the women who held me in their arms weeks after I was born. During breaks, my sister and I were shuffled between the PR staff at the VIP office of HK’s airport and received royal treatment as only first ‘work babies’ would. I can go home now and flip through faded old photos of each woman, and some of the men, holding us up tickling us to laugh for the camera. Wendy and I grew up thinking these people were such cool adults – they’d always be reserved a special spot in our hearts.

I took a bus back to my aunt and uncle’s after dinner, and one of the women, Melissa, wanted to accompany me since she lived just a few stops after mine. We talked a bit about what she’d been up to, what I’m doing now, and about the past.

She then brought up the day that my family left for the U.S. It was 1987 – 10 years before what would be the Hong Kong ‘handover.’ I was almost four. She said she remembered so clearly – almost haunted by – the look in my Dad’s eyes when he looked back. He was last to step through the gate at the airport…he looked back at the closest friends he had made in his adult life. She said he looked like he almost couldn’t bare it – to leave everything he had known, loved, and felt safe with…all to pursue a possibly better future for his two daughters and his wife. At the time, no one knew what it would be like once HK was handed over to the PRC. To this day, I wonder what life would have been like if we had stayed. I do know that my parents made countless sacrifices for us. They left their loved ones, they left a city they both loved, and they left for the unknown. That, to me, was the most selfless thing they could have done.

Now, every time I return, I weep just a little knowing that I will also have to go. Hong Kong is about holding onto memories of what it once was and hopes of what it will always be. Hong Kong, for me, will always represent my parents’ love.


Written by winniewongsf

June 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Posted in travel, Uncategorized

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Contradictions. This city is full of them.

After finishing my grad program at the Academy, I came back to Hong Kong to visit family and spend time with my sister, whom I haven’t been on vacation with since 2009. Our plan was a few weeks in HK, four days in Bali, scattered day trips in and out of New York, and an epic 10-day road trip from Brooklyn to LA towards the end of this month.

Hong Kong always feels like coming home. But it’s a home that feels like slivers of memories slowly slipping away from me each time I arrive and get settled. Most people who visit Hong Kong as tourists don’t know what to make of it. They’re either overwhelmed by the quantity of people amassed on the streets of this urban jungle, scurrying from MTR stations to air-conditioned high-rise shopping meccas, disgusted by exotic delicacies being served up in dai pai dongs (food stalls), wowed by the luxurious, elegant, most beautifully designed hotels, museums, galleries, mansions, boutiques, ecstatic about being able to find anything they could ever need (or didn’t even know they wanted) in majority of the neighborhoods they’d explore, or purely exhausted from constant sensory overload.

It takes more than a few days to witness the oxymorons that are scattered throughout the 200+ islands that make up this SAR (Special Administrative Region). One country, two systems – You’ll see this posted or hear this term if you really pay attention. It’s poor, yet it’s awfully rich. It’s buzzing with color, youth, attitude, and potential, yet it’s population is aging rapidly. It’s buildings are classy, shiny, and new, but it’s alleyways are unhygienic, shady, gray, and crumbling. You get dripped on when strolling down sidewalks – air con. When you look up, you see faded neon signs, bamboo scaffolding, or a reflection of the eighty floor Bank Centre across the street. It’s conservative when it comes to what grandparents expect and value in the following generations, yet it’s so liberal when you compare any aspect of life with those in the PRC.

A few years ago, maybe more than a few actually, I was told by someone that I might be living life awkwardly because I was forced to use my right hand when I was a child. I was three when I started kindergarten in Hong Kong. My Dad, at the time, felt it was necessary for me to use my right hand and neglected my natural inclination to use my left. From that point on, I was uncoordinated. It’s not to say I don’t love being active and trying everything at least once – I’m good at most things I try – but something always feels off. When my friend told me this, I couldn’t help but laugh. But it’s true.

Maybe I’m also full of contradictions. Who’s to say you have to be one thing? Who’s to say you have to fit into some kind of category? I’m different things on different days. I can be moody, I can be sweet. I can be kind, I can be vindictive. I can be genuine, I can be obliged. I can be affectionate and cold as ice. I’m human. I make mistakes. But I try not to make the same mistakes twice.

There are some things that I will never understand about Hong Kong. But I can’t deny that it’s always going to be inside of me and such a part of me that every time I come back, I feel torn once again.



Written by winniewongsf

June 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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