Monday, May 5, 2008

Last Round Trip to Hong Kong

Last week was May Day, so we had Tuesday April 29- Friday May 3 "off." I say "off" and not just OFF because the Chinese concept of vacation is different from ours. They require tortuous make-ups. Officially May 1 (May Day) is the only free day, so the weekends prior to and after the holiday we had to make up April 29, 30, and May 2 and 3. So to earn four consecutive days off, we held classes Sunday- Sunday for two weeks. NOT really worth it when you consider that I have Fridays off anyways... but that's China for you. Even the vacations are complicated!

Anyway, once we were finished with Saturday and Sunday classes, Scott and I headed to Hong Kong for the week. Eight hours and two borders later, we were in a whole different universe. It's amazing how much my quality of life increases when that big red bus pulls into HK. I didn't do much of anything, just the simple things I miss so much in Zhanjiang: a movie and popcorn, shopping without being stalked by little girls, sitting at Starbucks, browsing the book store and being able to read everything, and going for a solitary walk. And we just couldn't NOT go see the Olympic torch, which this weekend made Hong Kong its first stop in China before proceeding to the mainland. Scott managed to snap a few pictures over the sea of people wearing red T-shirts and waving Chinese flags.

It's surprising how easy it is to forget about the real world outside of Zhanjiang when you're here for just a couple of weeks. This place is so isolated and so backwards in many ways, that before long you start sinking into the depths of the often lonely and frustrating existence as a Zhanjiang foreigner. I love to go to Hong Kong, because it grounds me. I remember that I'm actually the normal one- there are lots of other English-speaking, non-Chinese people out there- and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling annoyed and bored with Zhanjiang life.

My next trip to Hong Kong will be one way; just a stop on the way home to Florida for the summer! Two more months... :)

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