Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Fun Never Stops

Last week was incredible. I’d say one of my favorite weeks in HK so far!! Of course, I’m paying for it now. I think my 6 weeks of sleepless nights have finally and unfortunately caught up with me, seeing as I woke up Monday with a fever and a head as heavy as a brick. With only 2 weeks left, I’m sick and there’s no denying it. Will I let it slow me down? Not for a minute!

This roll of toilet paper I’m using for tissues is getting exceedingly low (much to the disapproval of Margaux). So I better write fast.

After our glorious holiday weekend of adventure and Chinese culture, it was a little difficult to return to work. Or maybe I should say it was VERY difficult. The office was a little hectic seeing as it was the week of the Rotary International Ball, yay! I now realize that I’ve neglected to give you the details of my internship (you know, the whole reason I’ve been here?), but basically my time here has been spent in preparation for the Ball. My boss, David, is one of the most generous and incredibly giving men I have EVER met (Go Trojans!), and he just became District Governor for Rotary International District 3450 (Hong Kong, Macau, and Mongolia). His inauguration ceremony (and party of course!) took place this past Friday. Over the course of the past 6 weeks I have helped write letters, emails, and messages, proof read the program, took notes during meetings, helped with graphic design work, prepared David’s Rotary presentations and speeches…the list goes on and on! It has been the most amazing experience, and I can’t thank David enough for all the things that I have learned.

Anway, I just got really distracted…where was I again? Oh ya, busy week!! So I returned to work on Tuesday and threw myself full force into being the best helper I could possibly be. Luckily, we had lots of fun activities planned for the evenings as distraction from my long (but worthwhile) days at work.

On Tuesday, we finally went the see the Peak! It was soooo beautiful. And even though we had to wait in line for almost an hour and a half just to get on the cable car, it was worth it. Seeing all of HK spread out below glowing and shining in the dark against the smooth black ocean was a sight I will never forget. It looked like a photo that belongs on a postcard (in fact, I think it’s on one?), and we arrived just in time to watch the light show. I know I’ve said this a million times, but sitting up there looking down at all the colorful skyscrapers really made me appreciate my time here in HK. I really do love it here! And I’m already getting sad to have to leave it behind.

The line to The Peak.

The incredible view! Does this even look real?!

Watching the light show. I'm going to miss you Hong Kong!

Wednesday after work we went to Happy Valley Race Course to see the last horse races of the season. You’re probably wondering why in the world we would want to go to a see a horse race. I know it sounds strange, but EVERYONE told us we couldn’t leave HK without visiting Happy Valley. So, we went. I soon learned that the horse races are like one huge swarm of expads. It was PACKED with white people. They were all young. And they were alllll smoking cigarettes. Regardless of the smoke, it was really fun. I actually love horses and would have been happy just to watch them race, but it was the atmosphere that was the greatest. Everyone was drinking beer and laughing and screaming as they lost their bets. There was a live band and food tents and lots of places to buy drinks. It was like one big party! No wonder people go every week!

At the race course!

Our favorite spot...

Look at all the people! One biggg party!

My camera wasn't quick enough...but I loved watching the horses!

The day of the Ball finally arrived at the end of the week on Friday. I went over to the venue around 1 pm to help Davina and Grace set up, where I was put in charge of table set-up. Doesn’t sound too bad right? Well, there were 66 tables, each with around 15 chairs. Each table needed exactly 9 of DG David’s newsletters meticulously fanned around the centerpieces. Each table needed to be checked for 2 regular menus and 1 vegetarian menu. Each plate needed a programme book. Each chair needed a President’s message booklet and sponsor bag. And all the platinum table chairs needed an addition Tatler magazine. FOR 66 TABLES! I had a small staff to help me, but only one person could speak English. Let’s just say I was glad when the ballroom set-up was complete and everything looked beautiful!

The programme I helped put together!

My table! "RotaryBrings Hope" + David's favorite wine!

The evening was so rewarding!

Then I got my chance to retreat to the dressing room with the girls to get ready for the ball. It was a night of good food, entertaining music, great friends, and lots of wine. All our hard work paid off, and I had a wonderful time. I’m so lucky to have interned during David’s inauguration ceremony; what a special experience!

David's speech - he was so inspirational!

The appetizer. Yum!

The main course.

My favorite part....DESSERT!!

The special hip hop performance.

Sheeva, Davina, and Cat - I'm SO lucky to have them! <3
The fun continued on Saturday when the HK Global Fellows organized a junk boat. We rented out an entire boat for 6 hours and invited all our HK friends and coworkers for a day of relaxation and a little sun. It was soooo amazing. I wish I could do it again. We swam, we sat in the sun, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we listened to music, all in the middle of the beautiful waters and mountains of HK. Anddd, my friend LC came!! She just returned home to HK from summer school at SC a week ago. I loved getting the chance to see her, and we’ve already made plans to go squid fishing (tradition in Hong Kong??) this week! I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon.

Beautiful day!

Relaxing on the boat.
Getting ready to swim! 
Floatie time!

In the water!

We returned to our rooms exhausted and immediately went to sleep. Margaux and I set our alarm for 9:30 pm, and when it went off, neither of us were very happy. We forced ourselves out of bed to get ready to go out. It was worse than getting out of bed for work in the morning. Only 2 weeks left right? We can’t waste any time. We managed to rally and ended up having a blast in LKF! One of my favorite nights so far! We returned home around 5 am. Pure exhaustion.

The week of fun concluded on Sunday when we went to Ocean Park! Ocean Park is like a combination of Disneyland, Sea World, and zoo. I mean, could my week get any better? Probably not. We spent the day looking at pandas (sooo cute!!!), watching the dolphin show, and going on amusement park rides. Low point of the day was when I actually ate McDonald’s for lunch. Disgusting right?! I swear it was the best option out of all the food they offered there. And yes I felt a little sick for a while afterwards. I guess nobody’s perfect, thank you Hannah Montana.

Ocean Park.

The largest crab spiders in the world!


Look how cute he is!

DG panda!

I fell in love with these little guys!

Turtle Turtle
This one's for you Dev!

The otters were adorable too!

Dolphin Show

At this point I started going a little picture crazy...

There was even a jelly fish exhibit!

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better week. I may be sick, but I’m still smiling!! I can’t wait for the adventures of my last 2 weeks in HK, and I’m soooo excited for Thailand! But most of all…less than 3 weeks until I get to see everyone at home! Missing you always! xo

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Weekend in Beijing

Well, I’m still behind on my blog posts, and with only 2 weeks left, how will I ever get caught up?! I’m going to try my best, but there is so much I want to share!! I have to go back to the holiday weekend to tell you about my trip to Mainland China. That’s right…I stood on Communist land!! I don’t know if they brainwashed me or if I saw too much propaganda, but I must say…I ♥ Beijing.

My weekend began early when I left for the airport immediately after work on Thursday. I met Sabena and Jillian at the HK Airline counter. We arrived nice and early to avoid any stress or possibility of missing our flight. Were we successful? No, of course not.

After going through security and getting a quick dinner, we thought we had planned everything perfectly. But we forgot the golden rule: always find your terminal before going back to buy food or to shop. ALWAYS. We didn’t do this; we ate first. So, of course, our terminal ended up being at the farthest possible location, a whole subway and 5 moving runways away. We sprinted. We pushed. We huffed and puffed as we made our way across the airport with only 10 minutes until take-off. I arrived at the terminal a sweaty mess only to find out that we forgot the second most important rule of airports: always check the arrival/departure board. Well…we didn’t do this either. But if we would have, the board would have shown us that our flight was delayed an hour. We didn’t have to run at all. At least we didn't miss our flight?!

We ended up going to bed around 2 am and awoke bright an early (around 6:30 am) to get ready to go to the Great Wall!!! I LOVEDDD the Great Wall. Highlight of my weekend (one of the many). It was cultural and athletic and rewarding and beautiful all at the same time.

When we set out in the morning, it was pouring rain. Like, umbrellas-don’t-matter pouring. I began to worry. We walked for about 20 minutes before getting on the Subway to get on a bus to get in a taxi. We couldn’t find the proper Subway entrance, then missed our bus, which forced us to have to take a different bus only to transfer to taxis. It was quite the adventure, and that's when I really began to worry. Soaking wet and surviving off only 4 hours of sleep on the floor, I was not a happy camper. Then, magically, as soon as we arrived at the Great Wall, the rain stopped. It was perfect. It drizzled on and off the rest of the day and there was plenty of fog, but I couldn’t have asked for a better gift. The fog kept us cool as we hiked up millions of steep steps and trekked through unrestored sections of the wall. I was dripping in sweat during certain sections of the hike; what would I have done if it were a hot and sunny day?! I don’t want to find out.

I'm on the Great Wall!!

A little rainy, but so beautiful!

Still reppin' the Deeg!

We walked until we got to explore the unrestored section.
We were the only people around; it felt so surreal!

In our ponchos...gotta protect the backpacks!

The Wall was simply incredible. It was exhausting, but so full of history and meaning. Multiple times throughout the day I had to stop to remind myself where I really was.

Photo of the day!

We all took naps on the way home so that as soon as we got back we could immediately got ready to go out to dinner/out on the town. Dinner was delicious and I loved getting to experience the nightlife of Beijing. Very different from HK, but so fun! We didn’t get back until around 4 am.

On Saturday we went to see Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Both were really interesting and unique. We hired a sketchy Asian man we found on the streets to give us a tour of the Forbidden City. He ended up being hilarious and so entertaining. It was a good choice.

Tiananmen Square
We love Beijing!

First glimpse of The Forbidden City. Hello Mao!

Inside the city walls.

Posing like a true tourist...

We returned home after a long day of walking to get ready for our party. Looking at pictures might lead you to believe that it was a Fourth of July party. Well…it wasn’t. We just decided to dress up for fun!! The party was on a huge boat and we all had a blast. We had people asking to take pictures of us all night, seeing as we were the crazy American girls dressed in crazy American costumes. Once again, we didn’t get home until around 5:30 am.

Ready to go!

A kiss for home. I miss you America!

The next day we slept in a little before going to see the Summer Palace. It was sunny and beautiful and I loved the palace! We decided to rent boats to take out on the lake since it was such a gorgeous day. We all know I have pretty bad luck. So what do you think happened? My boat died. Of course. We were on the lake for a good 5 minutes before we began to realize that everyone was moving A LOT faster than we were. We finally reached the middle of the lake before our boat’s motor gave one last sputter and grew silent. Then we sat for a while and laughed. Finally a random boat of Asian men agreed to tow us back to safety. It was certainly an adventure, and by the time we reached the shore, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

Summer Palace

Look how amazing it was! Can you see the city?!

Beautiful Beijing (View from Summer Palace)

Soaking in some sun.

On the boat!

Getting rescued...

On our way back we went to see the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube where the Olympics were held! It was so cool to see them lit up at night - all in all a very special night.

How cool is this?!

The Bird's Nest

The Water Cube

The next morning we flew back to Hong Kong, sad to be leaving so soon but relieved to return to the comfort of our home. It actually surprised me to find how much I missed Hong Kong while I was in Beijing. I loved my weekend get away, but it really made me appreciate my time in Hong Kong. I wouldn’t want to spend my summer anywhere else.

Even though we were exhausted, we rallied one last time to go out once we got back. It was the Fourth of July!! How could we not?! I think I’ll let the pictures describe how we decided to celebrate our American heritage…

What better way to celebrate being an American than with some good old American food?

Chili Cheese Fries and Burgers!

The damage...Happy 4th!