Friday, February 20, 2009

PAYM Singapore – Hong Kong Youth Exchange Programme 2009 Day 1

12 February 2009

The day has finally arrived. I'm going to Hong Kong for the first time of my life. With the excitement also comes a terrible dreading feeling of homesickness. After kissing my parents goodbye with a tinge of tears, I brought my luggage to Eunos Zone '2' RC centre to meet Hock Rong. The time was 3 am.

We chatted about our visions of Hong Kong and imagined what we would be experiencing. Then we dozed off till 5am, when we headed towards Changi Airport. Our delegation did a group check-in and we embarked on our 3 hr 15 min flight on SQ860 to Hong Kong International Airport at 8am.

A few of us started sneezing when we touched down. Alex lost his luggage. Apparently someone took the wrong one and he had to wait for the airport to contact him.

We were greeted by Shirley and Nicole, the two representatives from Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. I remember Shirley as the staff in-charge of the Hong Kong delegates when they came to Singapore. I was rather surprised she still remembered me when we did our self-introduction in the coach.

When I first look at the itenary in the first meeting at the PAYM HQ, I thought we would be staying in a YMCA hostel. So when I saw that it's actually a hotel owned by YMCA, I was on cloud nine. Hock Rong and my excitement was so badly restrained that our neighbours, Liling and Vivian, could hear our constant laughters.

Our first destination for the day was the Hong Kong Museum of History. I thought it was useful for us to first understand Hong Kong's history before we could appreciate other aspects of it.

The guide brought us through a time journey to look at Hong Kong as early as 6000 years ago. It was totally cool! When it comes to history, I had never read about events before the Opium War. Hong Kong has a history that is much documented than that of Singapore's.

I learnt about the origins of the Hakka people. They gathered at the New Territories after being purged by the Manchus. As such they were called the "guest" people. This is how a Hakka house looks like:

This is a classic pawnshop:

The man who led the war against the imperialists during the Opium War:

and the pact that gave away Hong Kong

Everyone was so excited with the exhibits that we kept posing and taking pictures. There were many similarities in the lifestyle of the people in both Singapore and Hong Kong, especially in the '70s onwards.

We also went to take a look at the artistic exhibits of the French Revolutions.

We had dinner at a Brazil BBQ restaurant, a short walking distance away from the museum. There, we met some of the Hong Kong delegates.

After the meaty meal, we went to the Avenue of Stars. There we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the city landscape of Hong Kong island, across the Victoria Harbour. It was bright and colourful with laser effects.

After returning to the hotel, Shirley brought some of us (Rick, Hock Rong, Yu Long, Leng Kiat, Marilyn and myself) to Mongkok to do some shopping. There was a street name that caught my attention - 西洋菜街. I learnt that the area where we went shopping used to be a farmland and thus the streets were named after the plantation.

We ended the window shopping session with some delicious mango desserts at 许留山.

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