Reading Week

Once again, I haven’t kept you up-to-date very well the last two weeks. However, for a good reason: I was busy showing around my parents in HK! I had last week off for a so-called ‘Reading Week’ during which students do all sorts of things but reading. Most of my exchange friends here travelled somewhere, like Thailand or the Philippines, which I’m secretly a bit jealous of.

The first day my parents were here, I took them on a tour of the city centre and in the evening we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon. The day after we went to Cheung Chau, an island I’ve already talked about on this blog earlier. In the evening I went to the horse races with my father. However much he is opposed against gambling, I could definitely see he enjoyed the race course and it’s atmosphere; especially when we bet on a horse called ‘Hey Ha Master’ and we won 300 HKD. One piece of advice I can give to anybody who will ever be betting on horse races: choose the horse with the best name, unless this horse has an EXTREMELY low chance of winning. In this case, there was another horse called ‘Fairy Dragon’, which is obviously the best name ever for a horse, but his chance of winning was so low that your bet would be multiplied by 60 if it’d win, which suggested this horse’s chance of winning was very low. ‘Hey Ha Master’ was our second choice, and a good choice indeed.

Horse races

The day after we went to Stanley, a village on HK Island I had never been to before and therefore will elaborate about in a bit. In the evening we went to Ladies Market in Mong Kok. On Friday we went to see the Big Buddha, but it was so foggy we couldn’t see a thing! In the evening we went to Temple Street Night Market, a large market in Jordan. In the weekend we had some quiet days, because my mother was starting to get nervous about the trip back to Holland. (you must know the factor causing the most stress in my mother’s life is traveling) My parents came to watch one of my ballet classes. Before they left again on Sunday, we went to the HK Museum of History, which was surprisingly big and interesting.

Cantonese opera display in HK Museum of History

Cantonese opera display in HK Museum of History

Anyway, I’ll talk about the ‘new’ things I did this week a bit later. First, I want to draw your attention to something that occurred to me on the Saturday before my parents visited me. I was just trying to get home from ballet class in the afternoon, when Nathan Road was partly closed off. I asked a police officer what was going on, and he only replied: ‘Falun Gong’. I had no idea what he was talking about, but was interested so I waited for the event, whatever it was, to start. It turned out to be a protest by members of the religion Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a relatively new religion, founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, and is seen as a separate form of buddhism combining meditation, qigong and morality. Falun Gong followers are persecuted in Mainland China for their beliefs, since Falun Gong did not want to found a Community Party branch a couple of years ago, among other reasons. Now, Falun Gong followers are being imprisoned and even tortured by the Chinese government. I was handed a newspaper by one of the protesters, in which many tragic stories of convicted followers were included, among which stories of students who got imprisoned because they simply downloaded material about Falun Gong. (don’t worry, this shit doesn’t happen in HK, fortunately) The protesters carried banners with slogans condemning the Communist Party of China (CPC) and with pictures showing ‘organ harvesting’, the transplantation of organs while the donor is still alive, a torturing method sometimes practiced on arrested Falun Gong believers. The surprising thing for me was that, even though the protest was huge and took over half an hour to pass by where I was standing, the next day there was nothing said about it in the newspapers. Apparently, these kinds of protests are organised all the time, but are ignored by the HK media. For me, this indicates that Hong Kong is not as independent from Beijing as is often suggested. Below you can see a (crappy) picture I took of the protest while sitting in the bus.

Falun Gong protest on Nathan Road

On a happier note, let me tell you about Stanley, the village I visited with my parents. Stanley is situated in the south of HK Island and is the dwelling-place of many expats. Walking around here, you’ll see even more Western faces than you would in the city centre. Stanley is named after Lord Stanley, a British politician acting as Colonial Secretary from 1885 to 1886, but it existed long before that as a fishing village called Chek Chue. In Stanley a nice temple can be seen, called Tin Hau Temple, in honour of the sea-goddess Tin Hau. In the temple a tiger skin of the last tiger in HK hangs on the wall, who was shot in 1942. Besides that, there’s a market in Stanley where my Mum and I bought fake designer bags. đŸ˜€

Tin Hau Temple in Stanley

This is it for now, there’s much more to tell about the week I spent with my parents, but why don’t I let them speak for themselves? Next blog post will be partly written by my parents (guest bloggers!), after I’ve introduced them a little bit.

Hope to see you here again soon!


5 thoughts on “Reading Week

  1. Hoi Paula, Weer een heel verhaal om te lezen en je hebt je ouders leuk bezig gehouden. Ze hebben genoten en het hele verhaal horen we nog van hen. Dus gewonnen bij de horseraces! Je ouders zullen je nu extra miossen, maar wel mooi dat ze hebben kunnen zien hoe je in Hongkong staande houdt. Jouw geluksmunmtjes en poppetje hebben deze keer geluk gebracht, want Ton en Wilma hebben een fantastisch huis gehuurd in Liempde en zijn dolblij. Het weer is hier zonnig al enkele dagen en dat stemt de mensen vrolijk en met het goede nieuws van Ton en Wilma hebben ook wij nu iets positiefs om mee door te gaan. Paula we zijn weer benieuwd naar de berichten vaqn papa en mama.Verder veel succes verder in hONGKONG EN EEN DIKKE KNUFFEL. OMA

    • Merel, I took the designer bag to Holland with me and I am wearing it. Nice to hear you enjoy my comments. I can’t think of any other purpose…

  2. Nice to hear you had a good time with Hans en MJ.
    The violation of human rights in China is een awful truth and the way the West goes about is very questionable. Today I had an interesting lecture by Frans de Waal, a famous biologist/psychologist. He talked about empathy in primates, perhaps elephants are better at it than humans, bearing your story in mind……..

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