Category: Living in Hong Kong

An unexpected adventure

My department asked me to accompany one of our university guests from the Czech Republic on a tour of Hong Kong.  First thing I thought was OMG!! you have the wrong person for the job. I had a string of reasons why I was not the right person to be a tour guide for anyone because a) I was extremely overwhelmed with the burdens of my data analysis and dissertation writing, I honestly did not have the time b) I do not know Hong Kong enough to be anyone’s tour guide c) I hate touristy things d) I hate waking up in the am for anything and this particular task needed me to be up at 8 am.

The list could go on, but in the end, I gave in. I decided to just go and see what happens. I remember craving coffee when I woke up and this frustrated me because I decided to quit drinking coffee a few months ago and I was managing just fine, until the past few weeks (blame the stress and sleepless nights). I had a feeling the day was going to be terrible, but I resigned myself to it and muttered a silent prayer that at the very least, I manage to get through the day.

I am still surprised to say that the day was actually really amazing. I had an amazing time with Dr. Zdenka from Czech Republic who I was accompanying. She was the most pleasurable company, the conversation was great and we didn’t have to fill in any silent moments with empty words.  It was just comfortable, easy going and it became a cultural exchange between a Czech and Zimbabwean woman. You do not get opportunities like that every day. I was intrigued to realise that we have more in common than people may think in terms of the economic struggles in our two countries. But one would need a lengthy history lesson to fully understand before passing judgment.

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Now on to the adventure. We scaled up Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC) which is named due to the 100 floors, the observation desk being on the 100th floor.  It is one of the tallest commercial buildings in the world.

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We got to see a 360-degree view of Hong Kong at 393 metres above sea level.

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To go up the Sky 100 costs 128 HKD which is about 15 USD. The views are worth it. Below is the commercial image of the building from the outside. I could not do it justice with my own phone, so I borrowed this just to show you how it looks.

 

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Image from arup.com

 

Then we booked a private tour on an old fishing boat around Hong Kong harbor. The weather was not very friendly on the day, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time. We had a lovely guide on the boat who regaled us with tales about Hong Kong fishermen from ages ago as we drank some wine and listened to some really cool music (a bit of reggae and soul mix).

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The current owner of the fishing boat is a British gentleman and he has tried to maintain the old look and feel of the Dukling boat. It is the only original Chinese junk remaining in Hong Kong. The cost for a 45-minute tour is 230 HKD which is about 29 USD. This price includes a complimentary drink.

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Afterward, we settled to a nice leisurely lunch and called it a day. I truly had an unexpected adventure. If you are ever in Hong Kong, this would be a good way to pass the time especially when the weather is not good for outdoor activities.

Life lesson: Do not write off things before you try them. Life has a way of surprising us with its twists and turns. Who would have known that I would get to experience culture, beautiful views and history all in one day? We limit ourselves with our comfort zones and thoughts of remaining just as we are with no disturbance. I am glad I went against my initial instinct that they find someone else to be the tour guide because I felt I was inadequate for the task. I have been in Hong Kong for 3 years now and I learned that there are things I have not yet experienced and places I had yet had the pleasure to visit. The experience opened up a new door for me to see life in another way.  I am just sad it took an unexpected adventure to remind me that I might be leaving Hong Kong soon and I have not enjoyed it fully.

The little things I miss about home

There are days when I really feel nostalgic about home. When I speak of home I am usually referring to two places: my mother’s house, which is our family home in Zimbabwe and South Africa (my second home). I am currently living in Hong Kong and it is a far cry from what I used to call home. Here are some of weird things I really, really miss about being back home:

  • Weekends at home : Nothing beats a weekend in Zimbabwe or in South Africa. When we say woza Friday [literal translation, Come on Friday] we really mean it back home. Fridays and Saturdays in my home town mean a time to get together with friends and have what we call gochi gochi or chisanyama [braaied meat]. All kinds of meat will be barbequed,but a popular fave is pork chops, boerewors, chicken and beef mix. It goes really well with sadza [corn meal], a variety of salads and your favorite cold drink. This is standard!

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My mouth is watering even as I write because it has been such a long time. Yeah, we get to barbecue once in a while here in Hong Kong with my African circle of friends, but most weekends it is more of the same diet (rice and something boiled as is common in Asia…sigh). I really miss weekends at home.

  • Greeting and talking to strangers: In Hong Kong everyone walks around mostly looking at their phones, usually avoiding eye contact. When you get into the metro rail or any public transport, no one is idly chatting about current events, politics and rising prices as it will be in any public transport back home. The commute is not fun at all and usually, because I am black, no one may want to sit next to me in the train or bus. I am used to it now that I don’t even notice. Some people would rather stand than sit next to you. If I walk into a room full of people, it is normal not to even say hello. Everyone is so busy minding their own business that I really miss that sense of community in the motherland.

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  • Loud music blaring from anywhere (cars, in public transport, at the shopping centre) : This is a weird one, but I really miss hearing the sound of the latest local music anywhere I go. That is something you just don’t get in most places outside of Africa. If I want to hear some loud music, it will be a festival, live band or at a club; some form of organised event. But back home, it is common to hear music everywhere and I didn’t know it was something I would miss until it was gone.
Music Doodle
realplayer.com
  • A less rushed lifestyle: Back home, time seems to move slower than it does over here, not in Johannesburg though. Back in Zimbabwe I live in a small town and life is really slow there. By 6 pm, usually all shops and daily activities come to a halt and people gather in their homes for the evening. You may find a number of adult men and women who socialise in the evenings going to their favorite local bar, but this is mostly on the weekend. The African clock seems to work differently. According to this source things in Africa fall into place as they unfold. The pressure to always be working as is evident in the Hong Kong capitalist society is not evident back home. Here, everyone always seems to be racing against the clock and it has been a difficult thing to adjust to. This constant busyness does not leave room for real and lasting interactions.
  • Meeting new people : I always used to take it for granted that I could meet new people easily back home. In Zimbabwe, you can catch a ride with a stranger in the morning and you can easily become friends after that. Even dating is easier back home because there are so many avenues to meet people. Hong Kong is not short of people, but it is just that it is a closed society that is not very easy to integrate in. So, if you belong to a minority population, it is very difficult to meet and make new friends whilst doing random stuff, like walking to the shops.

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Yup,  that never happens where I live and I kinda miss that.

What are some of the weird things you miss about your home town that you never thought you would miss until they were no longer there?

Day 17 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

Shedding off old skin…

When I began writing this post, I was feeling the changes in my life. I was feeling like a new person but could not really understand what was happening to me. I decided to leave the post as a draft, and now  months later; I came back to it. I think I understand the process of transformation that I went through the last few months and I am glad that I did not write about it prematurely, with limited understanding.

A few months ago, I CHANGED. And I am happy to say that these changes have been for the better. 2018 has truly been the year of transformation for me.  At first, I thought the change was temporary or fleeting and I would go back to the old me in no time…you know what we do at the beginning of each year with our “new year, new me goals”? I thought that was what I was going through at the time and didn’t think it would last.

I was loving myself; I was less tolerant of those who loved me wrong; I was restless because I knew I wanted more out of my life than what I had at that time. I could just feel change in the air and truly it came. I also thought maybe I was just aging and that is why I was starting to have a different perspective. But I soon got over that notion because…

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As I reflected, I realized that I have gone through so many changes in my life. These changes include physical changes e.g. changing my address twice in two years (country to country); changing responsibilities (childhood and dependency to  adulthood) and various career changes. However, the most difficult of my life changes have been changes in my personality, changes from childish behavior to maturity and changes in my spirituality. The 3rd decade of my life has been full of those changes and I resisted all of them at first.

What a joy it is to finally be comfortable in my transformation.

  • Accepting that I am a 30 something year old woman, who has gone through pain and disappointment but is still standing…
  • Thanking God for having lived to know that joy and happiness are attainable…
  • To finally say that my experiences have been lessons and actually mean it…
  • To not look at my past with pain, but with understanding of the kind of immaturity that may have brought some moments of displeasure
  •  Forgiving and moving on. This is so liberating.
I have realized, with great pleasure, that not all change is bad. With time it all makes sense.  The wonders of a life of reflection…
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GG

There is no place like home…

I am sitting in the airport lounge, fighting back tears. I hate goodbyes…

Still can’t believe six months went by so fast.  I am now convinced that it is better to stay away from home than to go home and have to leave again. And this is coming from a self-confessed unsentimental (antonym of sentimental) person.

For a bit of background for the new readers (Welcome btw👋): I traveled from Hong Kong to my motherland, Zimbabwe in July 2017 and stayed there for the past six months. The purpose of my trip home was to carry out fieldwork for the Ph.D. project I have been working on since 2016. So, after spending months at home with my mother, making new friends and spending time with old ones; I had to leave all of that behind and come back to Hong Kong.

Highlights of my time at home:

a) This might be surprising but I love my home country Zimbabwe so much. It was such an exciting time to be home when Robert Mugabe finally resigned from being President after 37 years in office. I am the least political person you will ever meet, but the month of November 2017 was a great time in Zimbabwean politics.

b) My sister came to visit me from Cape Town. My sister is my best friend, so you can just imagine how that week when she visited made me feel. I had last seen her in 2014 when I left Cape Town so this was a lovely reunion.

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c) I spent Christmas at home with my mother and it was an unforgettable time. Anyone who knows me knows that this woman is my rock, my everything. Since the passing of my dad last year, I cherish every moment I spend with her even more. She is more than a parent, she is a friend, a confidant… I run out of words to express how I feel.

d) I also celebrated the start of the new year 2018 at home. New Year’s day is special because it also happens to be the day I was born, so spending it at home was something I will always cherish. I am a year older, hopefully, wiser.

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As I reflect back to my time in Zimbabwe, I feel that there will be no place like home. I can travel to many countries but home will always have a special place in my heart.

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Mvurwi is naturally beautiful

 

It has a different feel to it, full of childhood and teenage memories; full of hope and laughter. It makes me sad to know that I will not be going back until this Ph.D. is over…and that, my friends, is a long time from now.  I hold on to the beautiful memories of the time spent at home. P.S: I have too many pictures from my time at home, they would need ten other blog posts. So, please don’t feel bad if I took a picture with you and it is not in this post.

I was greeted by warm weather when I arrived in Hong Kong, but it’s cold again because it’s winter here in Hong Kong.  Winter in Hong Kong is between December-February with average temperatures of between 16 ° and 20 ° Celsius. This is mild compared to other winters I have experienced. I am currently having trouble sleeping because my body still needs to adjust to the time difference.

On a positive note, I have lots to catch up on with my Hong Kong family of friends, lots of things to look forward to and lots of opportunities for new beginnings.

Let’s see how this year goes. I will surely update you guys 😉

Currently Homesick,

GG

“You must be rich to study in Hong Kong”…

Well, this is another opinion piece about Chinese people I have met during my stay in Hong Kong (disclaimer, *the ones I have met, I am not generalising at all). I cannot count the number of times I have been asked how I ended up in Hong Kong and how I must be rich to have made it in Hong Kong. I am tired of explaining my “African” presence to Chinese people who know nothing about Africans and their work ethic, but I will try in this blog (sigh).

So I am African and I must come from a “noble” family to be able to afford to study in Hong Kong. Granted, Hong Kong is a very expensive place to live and to study and I get where these sentiments may be coming from, but forgive me if I note a bit of condescending in this too. What makes you (Chinese people I have met) think that an African cannot afford to study in Hong Kong? That they must have some “royal” blood to be able to secure a place in a Hong Kong university? I mean that just sounds ridiculous and insulting.

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Image credit…bitmoji app

 

Africans have been studying in so many other cosmopolitan cities for years and how they do it, in my opinion, is purely hard work and dedication. You think I just woke up one day with a ticket to Hong Kong handed to me? You insult my intelligence and qualifications. I blame the narrative that has been put out there about Africans as these poor, down-trodden beings who cannot amount to anything unless they are royalty. I mean what royalty? Do you even know if there is a royal family in the country I am from? Oh, I forgot…you think Africa is a country. (sigh)

Let me clarify…I am in Hong Kong because I worked hard to be here. I got the place at my university on merit and how I can afford it is really not your business.  You should be asking me how we can work together to motivate others to chase their dreams and work hard, not spread the myth that for Africans to be among you they must be rich. That is ignorant!!! I absolutely hate it when human beings stereotype other human beings just because they are different and put them in these messy little boxes.  Yes, I wish I came from a rich family and that was the reason why I am in Hong Kong, because that would fit right into the box you want to put me in. But, truth is, I don’t come from a rich family. Now you can scratch your head wondering how it is that I am here breathing the same air that you are breathing.

*If I sound angry, it is because I am!!

GG

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Image credit: bitmoji app

 

A day in the life of a PhD student

 

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Credit: bitmoji app

 

8:30 You know life is real when you wake up in the morning to get your first cup of coffee before attempting any heavy lifting; which for me includes any mental/brain activity; then try to decide if you should shower first or check emails first. It’s a tough decision because usually once I check emails I am stuck at my desk for two hours at least; dealing with this and that…it just never ends. So today, I went with the shower option, because I really was feeling sluggish already. I thought maybe the shower will wake me up so that I can get back to work. You see, I slept at some few minutes after 2 am last night; and that was only with the help of a sleeping tablet….I know, I know it’s unhealthy but I had to force myself to sleep.

Anyway…back to the shower. I lazily remembered that I need to send a text to my cousin and that one friend I haven’t said hey to in a long time. I promised myself I will do it as soon as I get back in the room, but of course I forgot again.

When did I become this person who forgets to text people?

I make a mental note to do better.

After the shower I decided to take some Vitamin C because I really needed a boost. The coffee didn’t work. I sat down to check emails and true to form, I spent a good two hours on that because one of the emails reminded me of a campus report I need to write and submit by tomorrow. I recently got a position as a Junior Research Partner in the Division of Graduate studies at my university (as if I don’t already have a lot on my plate). It’s good experience since I will be working side by side with a Professor on a research project which is a plus. But, it is extra work!!! Oh, back to the campus report…

11:00 So I finished the campus report and got started with my literature review chapter. I have been writing this chapter since January and, yes I will be writing it for the next 2 1/2 years. I worked on that for a while because I had to send the edited version to my Supervisors in preparation for our appointment on Thursday.  When that was done, I felt relieved that 2 of the tasks on my long to-do-list were done.

2:30pm Time to take a break and I realised I hadn’t eaten anything since my cup of coffee and some crepes I had for breakfast.  I prepared a quick meal: chicken soup since I really wasn’t feeling too good with rice on the side and lots of mixed veggies.  Proud of myself that I only had one cup of coffee today, but I guess that is also because I couldn’t really taste it. I think I am coming down with a cold or something. Or its just fatigue.

I noticed some sunshine streaming in from the kitchen window, and since I hadn’t ventured outside today I decided to soak up some sun from there. This made me feel even more tired and sleepy. I decided to nap for an hour and convinced myself I will be more energetic when I wake up…

4:00 -I have a fieldwork presentation for the study I am doing on “The social and academic adjustment of African students in Hong Kong”, on Monday next week. I started working on that  so that I can edit it throughout the week. I will blog more about that project and why I decided to do it. It is separate from my PhD project but I feel it is an important study.

6:00 Dinner time …made some steak with rice and mixed peppers (sorry I forgot to take a picture of my food). No glass of wine with my dinner today, I still have a lot of work to do although I really wish I could just quit and go on holiday forever.

7:00 After dinner I came back to my desk to look at some papers for my presentation. I just remembered I need to practice my Mandarin since I missed my class today. Good thing I now have an app that I can say things in Mandarin and it plays them back to me until I get it right. Another mental strain I got myself into, but its fun to try.

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9:00 Still staring at my computer reading academic papers.  Confirmed my appointment with the supervisors for this Thursday. That means I have to prepare something for that meeting. I will do it tomorrow…

The say procrastination is what PhD students do best.

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As I am blogging right now, I know I am also procrastinating but I needed to update you all about what I am up to. I must say, the one thing I love about doing a PhD is that I can pretty much plan my own schedule and work at my own pace, although setting deadlines is good because I do need to be able to complete the PhD on time.

11:42 I am hoping to sleep early tonight. I finished all my tasks for today and even managed to blog so today was a good day.  After I publish this, I will close this laptop and try to relax so that sleep will come. Tomorrow is another day in the life of a PhD student…

 

 

Blogging honesty

I realised just now as I lay in bed, tossing and turning, waiting for sleep to come, that I haven’t been blogging with honesty…lately.

I will be the first to admit that I have not been living up to my blog’s name More To Getty. Why?

I thought about it and I think I have been censoring myself too much. I don’t know when I started thinking about and caring what readers would say or think about my life if I write about everything on my mind. Well…that kind of defeats the purpose of a personal blog doesn’t it?

A personal blog is just that…it’s personal. It is like a diary or journal and when the writer starts to censor themselves and only write what is “politically or morally correct” or only write the good without the bad, then it is just as bad as people who lie about who they are on social media. It becomes more for the readers and serves no purpose for the writer.

When I started writing, my blog was therapeutic. I felt good when I wrote, it was my escape. But then I started retreating into my shell again. I am normally a very private person, so even having a blog was a novel idea and a growth moment for me. This was back in 2012 and now, 5 years later I seem to have lost my voice. I have not been blogging with honesty because I shied away from sharing anything too personal.

That is all going to change now that I have acknowledged it. Its 1:07 am and I guess this means the Diary of an insomniac overthinker is back 😊