20:41 Mon.
1 Jun, 2015

First Impressions

Hong Kong , China
29 °C
Light Rain Shower
5:38 am
7:04 pm

Ok, let’s finally do this. After long, long flight(s) we have finally arrived to Hong Kong airport, at around 2pm on Saturday. After getting through immigration, Jean and Maggie were already waiting for us at the entrance of the airport. It was good, surreal to see them after so long.

Stepping on China's soil
Stepping on China’s soil

After quick chat we went to grab something to eat, to the Japanese restaurant at the airport, which happened to be one of the best meals I had there, I had ramen.

Boarding ferry - it's the only way to get to Jean's island.
Boarding ferry – it’s the only way to get to Jean’s island.

After lunch we took a bus (and another bus and a boat) to get to their island. On the road there we could already see tall buildings, around 30 floors, steep hills, just beside them, tropical vegetation everywhere, but no sight of Hong Kong. As I learned later, the area of the city is much larger than I thought, it’s around as big as “primorska” region in Slovenia.

View of the city - from the monkeys area.
View of the city – from the monkeys area.

After about an hour and half, we have arrived to the island Peng Chau where Jean and Maggie live. Somehow we still weren’t tired (that much) so we decided to go for a walk around the island. And there, at the top of the island we finally saw our first glimpses of the main city.

After good night sleep, we slept for probably 14hours, we decided to go and see the local wildlife (i.e. monkeys) in the suburbs of the city. After taking ferry, subway and a bus we have finally arrived to the location of the monkeys. The first thing we noticed after getting of the bus was heat, and really high humidity … subtropical climate. 10m from the bus stop we already saw first monkeys and a lot of signs that said you mustn’t feed them, look them in the eyes and much more. Despite them being small and not looking to dangerous, we ran on quite few occasions, when they tried to attack us or steal something from us. One even blocked our path and didn’t allow us to go further, always running angrily toward us when we tried to go by, I’m not sure what provoked it, maybe it was my shirt colour.

Monkeys are roaming one area harassing visitors and stealing food from their backpacks.
Monkeys are roaming one area harassing visitors and stealing food from their backpacks.
He wasn't to happy seeing us walking over the bridge. :)
He wasn’t to happy seeing us walking over the bridge. 🙂

We decided to go for a walk around park, the path led us through some dense forest areas, around water reservoirs. It was a nice walk, all vegetation looked much different then what we are used to see in Europe, and the noises from the birds and animals were more tropical. =) After about an hour of walking we arrived to a big dam, where we saw monkeys again. They tend to live close to humans, because they are used to get food from them (even though it is forbidden to feed them), sometimes they even steals food from your bags. They are really smart, strong and nimble, it should be fun to have one as a pet.

After the monkeys we went to the city, to the area where they sell a lot of electronics. It was really weird sight, it was something between big store, lots of smaller stores and a market, everything inside another building, if you can imagine that. After a lot of searching, and figuring out that Hong Kong is really expensive (more on that later), I have finally bough a SD card for my camera, which was 5€ (20%) cheaper than in Slovenia (if you know, that there are no taxes in Hong Kong, you realise that they cost exactly the same).

Remember where all those electronic devices come from on eBay? This is almost like offline eBay for electronic stuff. There is whole quarter of city full of shops like this.
Remember where all those electronic devices come from on eBay? This is almost like offline eBay for electronic stuff. There is whole quarter of city full of shops like this.

In the evening we went to the avenue of stars, where Leff and Allen were waiting for us. Finally after almost 2 years we were together again. It was great seeing them and it actually felt like we never were apart.

This is one of my favourite things in Hong Kong. Hot pot - a restaurant where you cook the food yourself.
This is one of my favourite things in Hong Kong. Hot pot – a restaurant where you cook the food yourself.
Allen, Leff, Veronika, Jean and Maggie
Allen, Leff, Veronika, Jean and Maggie

After, we went to have a big dinner, in a nearby mall, but not before waiting for table for 2 hours (a normal thing in Hong Kong, or so they say =)). I think we went to a traditional Hong Kong (maybe Chinese?) restaurant. I actually haven’t been in anything similar before. At the beginning we choose what kind of meet we want (for the table), then they brought 2 big pots with heaters beneath them, and we actually put whatever we wanted in ourselves. Besides meat, we could choose from variety of sauces and vegetables that were located in something similar to salad bar in Europe. The food was good, at least what I ate, I tried to avoid spicy things. =) At the end, you could say that we paid to cook dinner for ourselves.

After the dinner we were really full and slowly walked outside to the pier again to take some photos. It was a great yet tiresome day.

On Monday we went to the city center to exchange money for Philippines. You would think that we would go to a local bank, but no, Maggie took us to … not sure what, but exchange rate was like 20% better than at the airport, and it was in some building almost like apartment building. After quick lunch and few photos we took a bus to the airport and soon after we were already flying toward Philippines.

Old plane at the airport
Old plane at the airport
20:53 Sat.
10 Aug, 2013

New Home

Day 2 , 145 remain
Lulea , Sweden
16 °C
3:51 am
9:16 pm

After few steps I realize just how cold it was. It looks like the train had heating turned on, so I was only wearing shorts and t-shirt, later I learned that it was 8 degrees, at 7 AM on 9th of August 2013. I think I can safely say, that I haven’t been anywhere near this cold in the middle of the summer yet.

I was supposed to meet with Fredrik (he is taking care of Erasmus students arrival up here) at 9 AM at the university, so I figured out I could just walk up there rather than sit in that cold. In retrospect this was one of the stupidest ideas I had in a long time. I had 2 suitcases and one bag with me, total of 50kg. As I later learned the distance from train station to university is around 6km. At first the walk went easily but after midway my hands really started to hurt. One suitcase has some weird wheel-handle thing so I was basically carrying it all the way instead of dragging it on wheels. The walk went very slowly after midway as I had to exchange places of suitcases, to rest the arm that was carrying the weird one. To top it off my hands began to sweat so the handles began to slip away every few meters. As a result of this, I’ve arrived to university shortly before 9 AM, with no feelings in my arms (part from heavy lifting, part from cold). Now it is 1 day later, and my arms and shoulders still hurt.

Shortly after my arrival at university Fredrik had come. He handed me some contracts to sign, keys to the apartment and gave me basic information that I’ll need while I’m staying up here. After that he got me a cab and I was on my way to Väderleden 11, my new home for the next 5 months.

After unpacking I went to sleep and I really needed it, I don’t think I slept for more than 5 hours in the past 2 days. After that I noticed that I have no internet connection (Fredrik warned me that it’s possible that my account for internet is not set up yet) so I decided to make a walk to the university and to possibly take some photos on the way.

Sunset in Sweden.
Sunset at 10.30PM

I’ve arrived to the university at around 9 PM. I was surprised to see how many people were still walking around campus. Shortly after I found a table with benches where I was still in range of university’s Wi-Fi. As I was sitting there I noticed that there were really a lot of mosquitos flying around and trying (some actually succeeded) some Slovenian blood. I left for home at around 10.30 PM with still enough light so that street lights needn’t be turned on.

Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake

This was one of the reasons I was so excited to come up here in the middle of summer. There is light from around 3 AM to around 11 PM and then the sky never goes completely black, but turns red at horizon. My room is facing north, so I was able to look at red horizon through all the night (not that I was able to, I was so tired I fell asleep in minutes, but I had my alarm set every hour to check the sky). It was interesting to see how the brightest part of the sky slowly moved from west to north and to east again. In Slovenia we are used to the sunset on the west and then teleport of sun to the east in the morning. It’s too bad I couldn’t arrived a month earlier, back then there was no night at all, but still I have experienced the longest lasting day of my life.

There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.
There is no darkness in Luleå during the summer.