NEW KID, NEW COUNTRY, NEW YEAR

I have been fortunate enough in my life to explore many countries and my first step when entering a new area is always to participate in the most touristy thing I can find. On New Years Eve, we spent our morning getting to know the island of Hong Kong a little better with a guided walking tour. Luckily, we had two excellent tour guides who were patient enough with us to answer all of our extensive amount of questions and wait for us as we fell behind to shoot more footage of this beautiful city. During the tour, our guide brought up an important part of Hong Kong culture, Feng Shui. Being the all knowing 21 year old that I am, I knew exactly what this term meant. It was obviously the flow and feeling of a home or living space. I quickly found out that I was completely wrong.  Feng Shui is the harmonization of a person and their surrounding environment. This surprised me as I originally only thought of Hong Kong as the giant busy metropolitan area.  I never understood the focus that people of Hong Kong put on balancing their lives with the natural world.

I immediately got first hand experience of the balance of the natural flow of energy, during our next stop, a tour of the beautiful and completely unique wetlands in the northwest corner of the New Territories of Hong Kong. This area of globally protected wildlife holds an amazing insight into the people of Hong Kong’s appreciation of the natural of their home. As I became immersed in this gorgeous natural sanctuary, I looked up at the horizon and was shocked to see skyscrapers in every direction. I had completely forgot that I was in a highly populated urban territory.

As I began to feel that I might understand this place and the people who live here, I experienced another incredible event, New Years Eve in Hong Kong. The rest of the team and I hopped on the metro and joined the 330,00 other people who had come to Victoria Harbor to enjoy this world-renowned show. Luckily we are friendly enough people and this city is full of people willing to help confused tourists looking for the perfect view. We met our impromptu tour guide, Amy, who showed us her favorite spot for the fireworks. We enjoyed the amazing show and a night full of new friends. We happened to stumble across a few other Americans and got to talking, as it turned out, our new friends were Minnesotans who have been spending time in China teaching. As the night came to a close, I had the realization that I was lucky enough to start the New Year with a group of people who not only believed in change, but also had the passion and ability to make a difference.

We woke up Sunday morning and rushed to meet our friend and guide, Patrick. He showed us an area of the New Territories that we will likely be spending a lot of time in. He joined us in a 10-kilometer hike around the west coast of the New Territories, where we had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with this area and to get a look at a national dumping ground. I was amazed when the hike turned us right on the water in-between Hong Kong and China. It was quite sight to hike up a hill and take a look at the breathtaking bay to see Shenzhen and in the same view a large landfill. Patrick told of us another hike that will allow us to overlook this landfill and allow us to get a better view, I cant wait to go back and take in more of these unique sights.

We were again treated to a taste of Hong Kong with the guidance of Patrick who helped us pick one of the best meals his home has to offer. We have enjoyed many fine delicacies and have also witnessed a few exotic dishes. At dinner, we witnessed a family near us order chicken. I expected a chicken meal to be served to them, but instead the waitress brought out an entire chicken with a head and feet served up on a spike. We got another surprise when Marin found a cooked chicken foot complete with talons in her soup. Due to a rather talented bet by yours truly, the travel team was able to enjoy the wonderful show of watching Mack take a big juicy bite of this treat.

Looking back, I can say that the beginning of my time here has been amazing, and it excites me more than I can say to know that I have just begun my adventures in Hong Kong. Thank you for following our travels and please continue reading about our journey!

-New Kid (Kevin)