Continuous Learning

Fifteen years ago, I returned to Hong Kong for the first time since immigrating to Canada in ’93. I clearly remember my parents explaining to me that this HSBC Building is held together by nuts and bolts, such that you could take it apart and move it. At that time, I didn’t really understand the meaning of this concept. All I could think of was, “where would you move this building to anyway?”

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Today, as an engineer and a university undergraduate, I look at this building again. I think back to my robot in second year, and being so insistent on using nuts and bolts to fasten everything together (for no reason at all). I think back to my airplane built in fourth year, and how we just used superglue/epoxy for every single joint. I think about the regret of not just using superglue for that robot, and that conversation about how “we aren’t going to take it apart or perform maintenance on it anyway”. I think about the planes that we have to work on, and how the interior ceiling panels are secured with easy snap-on/off fasteners. Of course it didn’t take 15 years for this concept to click in my head, but you don’t really think about these things without a token to start off the thought. It’s easy to gain knowledge of a fact. But to actually comprehend and understand what it means takes a long time.

My thoughts are completely sporadic. Things pop up in my head as my life just continues forward. For example, just last week as I was leaving work, I took the E11 bus home. I saw tourists on the bus taking pictures, and that’s how it would be for me in any other city. I mean, its funny how these things work. Exact same situation, same place, same environment, but at a different time in your life, the thoughts that cross your mind change as you go.

So anyway, I’ve been away for a while, and I suppose I owe a bit of an explanation. As a part of the ‘first-day-of-work-surprise’, I found out that I was heading to Hainan for training… for two months. Which is where I am currently situated. The past two weeks have been consumed with preparation – buying things, seeing people, saying see-you-laters. Two months isn’t really that long, but it’s not all that short either. It does mean that I have to miss out on two concerts that I was already looking forward to attending in Hong Kong. But at the same time, I heard that this period of training time might be your last “honeymoon” before you enter the real work force. So enjoy it while you can!

With the three weeks that I did get to spend in Hong Kong, I saw a lot. I saw the new ferris wheel that they decided to install at the Central Ferry Piers, just because its a nice addition to the skyline. Next to the ferris wheel is Lai Yuen, which is an old amusement park type thing that used to be situated around Lai Chi Kok. They brought it back as a temporary installment to celebrate its “66th anniversary”, although I don’t even know if it really counts, because technically they demolished the original park like 18 years ago. It’s pretty expensive to actually play any of the games, but its an interesting walk to see what the previous generation grew up with.

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I watched as these despicable minions took over the entire city. No matter which mall you walk into, or which direction you turn, you see minions all over the place. I never particularly liked minions – in fact, they seem almost annoying. Having them take over Hong Kong makes me despise them even more.

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I went biking in Hong Kong for the first time. The last time I went out with my friends, someone asked if there’s only one route to bike in Hong Kong. And I was like, what kind of question is that, you can bike wherever you want. But after taking the walk for myself, I finally understand what she meant. There are a bunch of biking trails all over Hong Kong in various places, but the route from Tai Wai/Shatin along Pak Shek Kok to Tai Mei Tuk is definitely the most complete. The biking trail doesn’t connect the entire Hong Kong. Many of the paths just cut off, and the route ends abruptly.

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I love the Pak Shek Kok promenade. Right next to this place is also the Hong Kong Science Park, an area designed to turn into the ‘Silicon Valley of Hong Kong’. Cyberport was made to be the same thing, and clearly that was a flop, since it’s already turned into residential buildings. Science Park still remains, but to be honest, I don’t know how long it will last. I sure hope it stays around though. It reminds me of the east side of Toronto Harbourfront, where you walk out from St Lawrence Market and run into the Nickelodeon (Corus) building.

We only biked 16 km from Shatin to the Tai Po Waterfront Park. From there I saw the lookout tower for the first time, standing to commemorate the return of Hong Kong to PRC in ’97. Next to the tower was a large greenspace, and a bunch of people flying kites. I love kites! Maybe I just like things that fly. But anyway, I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

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I could not believe how cheap it is to rent a bike in Hong Kong. We went to Shatin at around 2 PM, and they said it was $30 HKD to rent until 9 PM, if we return the bike back in Shatin. If we return it at a different destination, it would be $60, but that’s pretty much that same as 2 hours of rentals at Stanley Park!

One day of biking helped me understand a lot more of that area. My mental map can finally expand past Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, and start to include New Territories. I always thought Shatin was really far away because it’s labelled under NT, which is like the same label for Yuen Long or Fan Ling. But the MTR ride from Shatin to Hung Hom was like, maybe 10 minutes. It’s so much closer than I had previously imagined.

So that’s my start in Hong Kong. More to come from Haikou later. Internet is a bit slow over VPN, but I’m just glad I can access my blog at all. It feels so weird to know that my blog is censored in a place around the world! (Of course, it’s not just my blog, its the entire WordPress universe. But still.)

I expected myself to be in Hong Kong for a bit longer before leaving again. But of course, God is full of surprises!

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