Freedom

When I finally got back my freedom to go out, it felt unbelievably good. But also humid and stressful. At first it felt really weird and kind of difficult to leave the room that you developed such a deep relationship with (seriously). But then after leaving even the feeling when I was on my way out through some sketchy parking hall was so excited. When I finally got out to the street where I suddenly felt the humid and warm air and instantly smelled some delicious unidentified foods and really felt the city without a window in between, it was irreplacable.

Some regular street

So, it was naturally awesome to be free but on the other hand the hecticness of the city, exchange students’ life and all the study projects (besides I naturally wanted to do all the other things in the city too) hit me pretty hard at first. But after some days it was possible to take it a bit easier and start to really enjoy everything. One of the best things in this city for me is that as soon you go outside, or even open your window, you smell some delicious food being cooked somewhere near. There are a lot of street food places and restaurants seriously everywhere. From cheap but delicious street food to luxury fine dining, you can find it all from here, and almost anything from Asian to Western. If you are feeling adventurous, you can find here also some pretty weird things to try, for example so called century eggs or traditional but monstrous-looking chicken feet. The famous and diverse food culture was one of the main reasons I chose this destination, and I really don’t regret my decision. Okay maybe while eating those quarantine foods I regretted for a few moments, but that was an experience of it’s own kind too.

Tofu and Siu Mai
Century eggs aka preserved eggs with ginger

Pandemic

When I arrived here, the covid situation was really good and it has gone even better. At one point there were 47 and 60 cases per day for a few days, but that luckily was just temporarily and now when it is the end of April, daily average has been under 10 for a long time. Even though that is not bad, you can see that there is pandemic going on, because everyone is wearing a mask. And that means literally 100 % of people. I believe this is really one of the reasons why the situation is so good, besides of strict travel restrictions and the early reacting. Only few people that you can see not wearing a mask temporarily are those who are eating, drinking or smoking. Also every building that you enter has a laser thermometer that checks your temperature and there is this LeaveHomeSafe app that you should use and mark yourself inside every building that you will enter by scanning a QR code, but unfortunately it seems it’s kind of rare for people to actually do it in bigger places like malls etc. Smaller places like restaurants usually demand scanning the code or writing your name and phone number where they can be in contact if a case is noticed.

Everyone wears a mask

Hong Kong itself

Hong Kong is a very diverse place to experience. The city full of people is very lively, but there is also some beautiful nature with very steep hills and and many different interesting islands that have their own atmospheres. I think you can really feel how this called the heart of Asia. It’s also a place of contrast, where human-made and nature, modern and old, busy and peaceful meet everywhere. There are many places where to escape the busy feeling of this hectic city, since there are these nice parks everywhere where you can find some beautiful pieces of nature, different plants, trees and also animals which seem to be living there by their own will.

Lion Rock hike
Flamingos at Kowloon Park in the middle of the city

You can’t deny that this is a market center of Asia. I promise to offer you a drink if you can prove something that you can’t buy from here. There are a lot of big shopping malls, market streets and an endless amount of small street market huts. Some of the shops are specializing to certain stuff but some of them sell pretty much everything. One good example is Mong Kok Computer center, which includes multiple floors of only computer related stuff, but on the other hand some street markets sell everything from headphones to tea. My favorites are all the food markets where you can get all the ingredients you need, but around next corner you can also find some cooked food.

A fruit market

Many times connected to food, tea is a very centric cultural thing in China and therefore in Hong Kong too, and you can get it anywhere, hot or cold. At first for a western it can feel kind of weird to drink something hot with your meal but after a few times you get used to that too. Hot tea is a crucial part of Dim Sum for example, which is a meal with multiple different food items selected from the menu and served in a bamboo steamer and always with a tea pot. This is one of the things every visitor should try. If you want to go deeper to the world of tea, there is multiple different kinds of courses available, from tea ceremony practices to the history of tea, and there is even a museum dedicated to the history of tea.

Dim Sum including chicken feet, bbq bao bun and dumplings with soy sauce and chili oil, and of course tea

Next week some more about the life and studying in this interesting city.

Hyvää vappua!

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