I’m still alive!

Hey there. Sorry I haven’t posted anything in 2 weeks; ever since I arrived in Hong Kong it’s been like I’m on a roller-coaster that I’ve been strapped into by a mad scientist that is throwing me around really fast and twisting and turning and the scientist is just laughing at me while I cry and vomit and wet myself. Yep. Pretty much like that.

I arrived in Hong Kong last Sunday evening and had to stay in a hotel that night before I could move into my accommodation on Monday morning. After landing and making my way through immigration, in a confused and exhausted haze, I somehow managed to wade through the heat and humidity to purchase a ticket for a bus. I really hoped it was the right one. I got off on Nathan Road, the main street in Kowloon. A bizarre and overwhelming mile of shops, restaurants, street-food vendors, scaffolding, tall buildings and advertisements. Between the smell of food, the sound of traffic and the sight of thousands of signs and adverts, it was a complete sensory overload. In my first three minutes walking down this street, I was offered watches, weed, mushrooms and even prostitutes by a series of sketchy looking Indian gentlemen. I would later be told that these guys specifically target foreigners, who are easier to rip off and less likely to be undercover police. I continued past numerous ‘massage’ parlours, designer shops and busy bus stops to my hotel, before heading out again to explore the Tsim Sha Tsui side of the harbour. I watched a laser show conducted by a man wearing colourful light bulbs that was projected onto the side of a building, bought an ice cream for 90p and wandered around the harbour, trying to come to terms with what is happening to my life right now. It didn’t work.

The next day I took a bus to another bus stop where I boarded what I expected to be a bus, but turned out to be a minibus; a little 16-seater van driven at dangerously high speeds by a little man at the front. Apparently, these are common here. My driver was offended by my huge luggage and started screaming at me in Cantonese, before giving up and just angrily gesturing for me to go sit at the back. I got lucky; some of my friends were straight-up refused onto minibusses with their luggage. The minibus took me right to campus. It was a beautifully clear and sunny day, and the campus was stunning. From the futuristic entrance with the famous sundial to the spectacular atrium, to the breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea and the islands. I had to stop multiple times to just take it all in. It’s more like a holiday resort than a university campus; with pristine white buildings, an outdoor swimming pool, all kinds of sports fields, a beach with barbecue pits… It also reminds me of Balamb Garden from Final Fantasy VIII for some reason. I checked into my room in Undergraduate Hall IX; the most recently built hall with the newest facilities, but also the furthest hall from the main building. My room on the second floor has a view of the sea. I think a photo can say a lot more than I can about how lucky I am.

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Even the picture doesn’t really do it justice. It’s the prettiest window view I’ve ever had.

Since then I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to get my thoughts together well enough to write a blog post, until now. I still think this post is going to be an incomprehensible rant that I’ve somehow convinced myself makes sense. Last week my amazing girlfriend was in Hong Kong on holiday with her family, so I stole her away from them for a couple days. On Tuesday we went to Ocean Park, a hybrid theme park/zoo/aquarium with stunning views of mountains and the sea. Then on Thursday we went for a romantic night cruise around the harbour, followed by a traditional Hong Kong hot pot dinner. On Saturday my fellow exchange students from Bristol met up with some Bristol students who live in Hong Kong, and we spent the day exploring Lantau. We went to Tai O fishing village and saw the Chinese pink dolphins, then visited the famous Big Buddha. Sunday was a day tour around Hong Kong organised by the university. We went to The Peak, the Ladies’ Market, Heritage 1881 and then watched the Symphony of Lights at the harbour. Two nights ago I went on a trip to this outdoor barbecue place where we sat in groups around a huge barbecue and just cooked a massive bag of meats. Last night I went to my hall’s orientation dinner and won a $25 Starbucks voucher in the riddle competition. Yes, that really happened.

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Ocean Park was incredible – worth it for the views alone.

Between orientation activities, lectures, labs, tutorials, parties, trips out and travel planning, I’ve had almost no time to myself. Any time I do get is spent shutting my brain off anyway. Since I’ve been so occupied and distracted, it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m living in Hong Kong now. I’m not sure how long it’s going to be before it happens. Anyway, there are so many things I want to write about now. About my room, my hall, about classes here, about food both on and off campus, about transport, traveling, about how to pretend you have social skills, about all kinds of stuff. Expect more posts here in the coming weeks as things calm down and I have more time to myself.

Also, I just read about Sainsbury’s removing the Taste The Difference sandwiches from the meal deal. Apparently, there are no baguettes or wraps now either! This is post-Brexit Britain. I feel sorry for everyone back home after this tragic news. Farage has stolen our future and our ham hock and extra mature cheddar cheese sandwiches with a drink and crisps for only £3. #BrokenBritain

I hope everyone back home is doing well! I miss you all and wish you guys the best of luck with freshers or welcome week if you’re starting uni again soon. I’m doing fine over here in crazy old Hong Kong. At least for now.

Peace out,
Danny

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