June 15, 2012 § 2 Comments


My relationship with my eyelashes is nonexistent, mostly because my eyelashes themselves are more or less nonexistent. They’re so stubby that it’s hard to even curl them — good chance that I’m not doing it right, but how hard can it be? — so I’ve only worn mascara probably five times in my entire life. Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to clean that stuff off even with makeup remover; how do you get rid of it all?! I was still finding clumps three days after wearing mascara the first time.

I still have the second and last tube of mascara I owned in high school, the L’oreal Paris Double Extend, which I bought primarily because the formula on one side was white, and I wanted to wear white mascara because I’m edgy like that. I’ve read that you shouldn’t keep liquid makeup for more than a year because that stuff does expire (or at least foster bacteria that you shouldn’t put in your eyeball), so I don’t know why I’ve held onto it except for the nonexistent chance that I might want to try applying it again.

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Fare Thee Well

May 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Although I still have a few more Hong Kong-related blog posts in the works (as well as the final segment of my trip to Singapore), I figure that now, as I am idling in the airport, is the best time to publish my concluding thoughts on my journey.

I really didn’t know what to expect this time around. It was a risk to even come all the way here for an internship — what if I hated it? What if they hated me? What if it was a total waste of my time? What if I died in a horrible subway accident in Hong Kong and my remains got buried and I was never found because nobody knew where I was?? (I’ve pictured that situation a number of times, and really, I could only pray for it not to come true.)

Thankfully, these worst-case scenarios remained mere figments of my overactive imagination, and while looking out at the passing scenery on the way to the airport just now, I felt incredibly rich — rich in spirit, rich in experiences. I’ve learned and undergone so much here that I might never have otherwise, and I’ve been truly blessed by all the friends I made in such a short amount of time.

One thing I’m really glad I did (and would recommend to others) was joining a church right away. This was a commitment I made in light of my experience the last time I was in Hong Kong, during which I attended church maybe five times in six months (yikes). I’ve realized since then that it’s almost impossible to truly feel like a member of the church community from only attending Sunday services. I was lucky that Michael, a friend introduced to me by Esther, invited me to Union Church, where I met his friends and immediately glommed onto a small group by attending their social event and taking a lot of photos that I posted on Facebook — one of the best ways to ingratiate yourself and make sure people friend you!

It sounds pathetic because it kind of was, but honestly, it can be remarkably difficult to find genuine community after transplanting to a different part of the world where you only know five people (who don’t know one another) in the whole city. And although I was nearly a decade younger than most of my new friends, their Christ-like generosity and openness imparted a feeling of comfort and pleasure that I won’t forget.

Of course, not every part of my experience here was so lovey-dovey, including but not limited to my never-ending fight with mold. I’ve also had more time to reflect on contemporary cultural issues, and they’re not especially pretty. For example, all of the Hong Kong locals I met told me that the city has changed — too much, in their opinions. “There are so many mainlanders here now,” they’d say, the word “mainlanders” rolling off their tongues as if it left a bad taste in their mouths, like some in America might say “negroes.”

Have I noticed any differences? Well, it’s true that every time I was in TST (an upscale-ish shopping/tourist area), I always saw tons of other Chinese people (usually couples) dragging rolling suitcases around with them even though it’s nowhere near the airport. I never bothered listening to their conversations to discern where they were from, but it’s safe to say the majority of them aren’t from around here. Apparently, rich mainland tourists arrive in Hong Kong with suitcases full of cash and leave with suitcases full of luxury purchases. In a somewhat related incident a few months ago, a crowd of Hong Kong locals protested outside of a Dolce & Gabbana store whose shopkeepers allegedly discriminated against local shoppers.

The furor over that was understandable: It’s insulting for residents to be barred from taking photographs while watching tourists snap pictures freely. (Also, I find it rather tacky to shop with a suitcase, but perhaps Hong Kong prices truly are that much cheaper than in mainland China. To which I would ask, why? Is it because the Chinese Yuan is strong right now??)

There are other issues as well, most noticeably the ire that Hong Kong locals feel when pregnant women from mainland China give birth in Hong Kong hospitals expressly for the purpose of making sure their child (and by extension, themselves) is guaranteed a (free?) Hong Kong education and residency and such benefits. These mainlanders are overrunning our hospitals! the locals protest. Of course, they have every right to look out for their own welfare and hospital space. But I found the situation sad rather than appalling.

In my mind, I ask, aren’t we supposed to be united as one country? I was in China during the summer of 1997, when the 99-year contract with Great Britain expired. I remember listening to cassette tapes on my Walkman of joyous Chinese tunes specifically written for that event. An air of celebration permeated the country. But Hong Kong is like the kid who got sent to some rich boarding school in the city and is now ashamed to return to his poor and unsophisticated parents in the countryside.

I understand that things in Hong Kong were generally better under British rule; the corrupt Chinese government certainly isn’t doing Hong Kong any favors. But isn’t it sad that soon-to-be-mothers are so desperate to give their impending children a better future that they will literally cross the border while in labor so that the authorities can’t keep them from giving birth on Hong Kong soil? On one hand, you can see them as leeches and freeloaders. On the other hand, they’re victims of a system of disparity. What will it take for China’s education system (or whatever is so lacking) to match that of Hong Kong’s? Aren’t Chinese authorities alarmed by these migrating trends, and what are they doing to fix things?

Anyway, being a “mainlander” myself, I can’t help but take slight offense when people say the word with disdain. Somewhere down the line, most people in Hong Kong came from mainland China anyway. To them, I say, be thankful for what you have and that you don’t have to be the one trying to latch onto a loophole in someone else’s system.

Those are basically the two main things I wanted to get off my chest. My flight takes off in an hour! Then I have a six-hour layover at Incheon Airport, which I am absolutely not looking forward to. Good-bye, Hong Kong — it’s been real. I promise to visit again before I die!

On Etiquette, Or The Lack Thereof

April 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

This is something that I’ve seen more than a few times in my life, and most of the time it’s (sadly) been in China or perpetrated by Chinese people. Sigh. I hate to post a rant about my own people, but this is just embarrassing and most of all RUDE!

I went to another press event this afternoon — it was a very intimate affair, with only seven media people and about just as many of the brand’s employees flitting about. We were tucked in the corner of the cosmetics department behind the counter of the brand whose launch we were attending, seated in folding chairs almost elbow-to-elbow. It was scheduled to start at 2PM but didn’t begin until around 2:30, which is an issue in itself, but I’m slowly getting used to this delayed timekeeping. (The only thing that worries me is that I’m not sure if I make a good impression by showing up on time — and first — or if I just look like a huge n00b. But mother would be proud.)

Once the event was ready to begin, the general manager started her welcoming spiel and was half a sentence in until she noticed that two of the attendees were still on their phones, so she paused to let them finish. One of them quickly ended her conversation, while the other literally kept going for a full minute while the rest of us waited. I was like, are you serious?? Do you not see us sitting here waiting for you? (Cue dramatic eye-rolling from me.) She wasn’t speaking loudly or anything, but obviously they wanted everyone’s full attention before beginning. After all, there were only seven of us in the audience.

As the event went on, we got to watch a demonstration of one of the brand’s new facials, conducted by one of their professional international trainers who had a British accent. About five minutes into it, as the therapist was explaining the process, the lady sitting next to me received a phone call and actually picked it up. I was flabbergasted. Like, who is so important that you can’t miss one call? (I wouldn’t know because both these women spoke Cantonese into their phones.) Do you not know that there’s this thing called texting that allows you to communicate with other people without blatantly disrupting what’s going on around you?!

She carried on her conversation quietly, but since she was sitting right next to me, I was distracted both by her talking and my ire, so I just side-eyed her as demeaningly as I could without appearing unprofessional. There aren’t many other options for reacting to this situation.

This is seriously a problem, guys. I remember during class one time at HKU, a girl actually picked up the phone during the lecture (it was in a regular-sized classroom) and ducked behind her laptop so as not to be noticed. (I might have blogged about this before.) I was shocked. I mean, these people can’t all have a relative on his deathbed, right?? Or a friend flying in from overseas who is calling from a pay phone? Those are the only acceptable scenarios I can come up with.

Anyway, I might just be particularly sensitive about this. I even hate it when I’m with a friend and she constantly checks her phone or texts someone without telling me what she’s doing. Like, are you with me or are you with your phone?? Can you give it a rest or at least let me know what’s going on that’s so interesting over there? Ugh. People and their phones need to learn some manners.

Rub A Dub Dub

April 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

Mmmmm, I just got back from a massage + facial, and it feels like the world is a beautiful place.

This treatment was one of the first Groupons that I bought in Hong Kong, which is kind of saying a lot because so far I’ve purchased 22. It was irresistible — a treatment that normally costs $345US was on sale for $13?! I was all over that, obviously.

I was in the mood for pampering because lately, a lot of tension has been building up in my neck and shoulders, which is bound to happen when you’re typing at a desk all day. In fact, it had been so long since I bought the Groupon that I didn’t even remember that it came with a facial. My body was aching for a massage, and I had to find a professional since I don’t have B around to give me one, hehe.

One main purpose of using a Groupon is, aside from the obvious factor of saving money, is the opportunity to experience something new. The risk that I run here in Hong Kong is that I might venture into a place that caters only to locals, as in menus with only Chinese words and waitstaff that only speak Cantonese. This has already happened a few times, and in those cases I usually end up appearing deaf & dumb, but I get by. It’s odd each time because the Groupon website is in English; how do these businesses get their deals online without knowing any English??

BeauStyle, the place I went for my massage, was tucked away inside a hair salon. I think the receptionist spoke the best English — the manager didn’t speak any, and my masseuse could speak very little. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to get body work done at a place where you can barely communicate with the staff, but it was too late to back out!

I was led into a small, dimly lit room with a massage bed, and my masseuse gave me a towel/dress thing that buttoned up as a tube top. She also gave me a pair of very sheer underwear made out of fine netting, which perplexed me for a minute. Was I supposed to wear these as underwear or over my own underwear?? I didn’t want to surprise her with my naked bum if she wasn’t expecting it.

I ventured out of the room to ask, but the hallway was empty. Eventually another staff member walked by, and she answered my question by telling me that it was supposed to go on my head. LOL. Thankfully my masseuse reappeared to clarify my quandary (it was supposed to be worn alone) and hand me a hair net.

The massage came first. It’s truly a luxury to receive a massage from somebody who knows what he or she is doing, and in this case, she really put her hands to good use. I’ve previously only gotten two body massages before. One was a $10 Swedish massage in the Philippines, which was as intense and satisfying as it was cheap.

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The Jungle Above My Head

March 12, 2012 § 6 Comments

To the mold in my life

Lately, I’ve been plagued by a problem with which many people living in Hong Kong seem to be familiar: mold. A few weeks ago, I noticed a shadowy growth lurking in the corners of my headboard. Around the same time, the ceiling in my room seemed to be changing before my very eyes. I was experiencing a mold invasion, and this is the exhaustive (but not yet completed!) saga.

My life consists of only brief experiences with mold. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, a relatively dry place, the only place I ever experienced it was on fruit — usually grapes — that had been left too long in the refrigerator and could be easily disposed of by simply tossing into the trash. Fuzzy gray grape mold was unsavory, but I never really had to confront it.

During my sophomore year of college, I stayed in an old apartment building with a weird shower that looked like a teleportation device. It didn’t drain very well, and after a few months, a layer of black mold had started to form on the floor of the shower, which I initially disregarded because I simply didn’t know what it was. It got to the point where a mushroom/flower/something had blossomed out of a nearby crevice, and my roommates and I thought it was just an errant screw until one of them finally got around to spraying everything with bleach. (Yes, that whole tale is disgusting and I just got hives from thinking about it.)

The point is, I’m living with mold. I won’t post any photos because obviously, it’s gross. Just imagine a growing constellation of spores nine feet above my bed, like the result of a fungal big bang.

It was first brought to my attention when I noticed some persistent dust-like debris on the top shelf of my headboard — I would wipe it away only to see the stuff reappear the next day. Then, from my desk, I happened to glimpse an ominous dark green patch in the corner, and subsequently deduced that it had spread all across the underside of the headboard.

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Spending Money in Hong Kong

March 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

There’s something about reading good blogging that inspires me to do some writing of my own. In this case, I recently spent some time perusing Manhattan Nest (as well as his BF’s blog), and I feel inclined to do some updating on my own life, if only so I can later reflect on my adventures in Hong Kong. (I’ve also changed my blog theme to improve readability!)

While abroad, I’ve kept stringent records of all my expenses, even purchases as small as 90¢ for a carton of soymilk at 7-11. As far as non-food purchases go, I’ve bought an assortment of things, some that were outlined in a previous post, and mostly beauty/skincare-related because now, at the ripe age of 22, I should probably start getting concerned with such things. So please join me on a little photo journey that will be split into a few different categories.

First up: Non-Food!

It was so chilly these past two months, so I was on the hunt for sweaters & cardigans. I found this one for less than $15US at Argyle, which is a mall stuffed with hundreds of small shops and hundreds of hundreds of small teenagers any given day. The tag said Zara, which caught my eye; it only came in one size, which was not labeled and looked tiny, but the fabric was comfy and it had little pastel rainbow buttons(!!!), so I couldn’t resist. At the moment, a seam is coming apart, splitting the end of the left sleeve like a snake’s tongue.

Probably a knock-off.

Before coming to Hong Kong, I ordered a universal adapter from Amazon because the plug on my travel hair dryer wouldn’t fit into the two HK-specific adapters I already had. Within a week of coming to Hong Kong, the thing stopped working. As you can see, the plastic had started melting or something…in any case, I had to buy a new adapter. This photo is technically not something I bought in HK (though it did force me to buy other things), but I wanted to show you how this piece of junk broke anyway.

The prongs won’t go fully in or out; they’re just stuck halfway (after I tried to shove them back in).

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In The Room

March 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

I went to my first press event today. It was in Hong Kong’s most prominent building, Two IFC Tower, a luncheon for the launch of a French beauty supplement brand. Being a newbie, I didn’t want to be late, so I got there 10 minutes before the event was supposed to start. I was the first one there: The team was still setting up and rehearsing. So I found a nook and perused the press kit, which included samples of their product — a definite bonus of working in the industry. (Who doesn’t like free beauty pills & a free lunch?)

The event started 40 minutes later than scheduled, which I suppose is how things are done in Hong Kong. One thing I appreciate about Americans is how punctual they tend to be. As relaxing as it was to be out of the office for three hours, the wasted time is a bit extreme in general.

The setting was a fancy French restaurant overlooking the harbor. Lots of waitstaff flitted around pouring Evian from glass bottles as a multitude of cameramen and tech guys (yes, they were all male) prepped the room. We guests sipped on champagne flutes of one of the brand’s products, a drink that supposedly helps with slimming. (I would’ve gulped that stuff if I didn’t have to pee so badly throughout the whole thing.)

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