Since my last blog, I embarked on most of my final adventures during my time at CUHK.
On Thursday, April 4 (a school holiday), a few friends and I crossed Hong Kong/China border into the Chinese city Shenzhen. The border is only about a 30 minute MTR ride from CUHK. Shenzhen is quite a large city, which was recently constructed in 1979; before it was simply a small village. When we entered Shenzhen, we could definitely tell we were no longer in Hong Kong. Hardly anybody spoke English, the smell of the city was not quite pleasant, and there were no high rise buildings to be seen. Our aim for the day was to go to the 24-hour spa called Queen Spa, which has free bus shuttles from the mall across from the Shenzhen MTR station. Finding the bus shuttles was quite a mission given that, as I mentioned, essentially no one spoke English. The spa was nice. That said, by the end of the day, we were ready to go back to Hong Kong. Getting around Shenzhen and figuring things out throughout the day was pretty challenging and somewhat tiring! It was really interesting to see that the Hong Kong and Chinese cultures are so different even when such a small distance separates them.
On Sunday, April 7, I went to Sai Wan Beach in the Sai Kung area. Another group of exchange students had gone there a few weeks before and told us it was a must-do because the beach was nice and there is an area to cliff jump. Although the weather wasn’t ideal, it was such a fun day! We hiked to the cliff jumping area, which was really difficult to find! The directions were very vague, and we found ourselves scaling rocks. When we finally got to the cliff jumping site, we ate our hard-earned lunch and then one by one we climbed to the top of the waterfall. I was the first to jump off, and I didn’t realize until I got to the top how high I was! When I landed in the water, the water was soooo cold. However, that didn’t stop anyone else from going or from me going two more times. I have to say, this was actually one of my favorite day trips I have done in Hong Kong.
Sai Kung Beach:
Sai Wan Cliff Jumping:
The following week was cram time for me in terms of submitting papers, studying for quizzes, and working on projects. Since I realized I was going to finish everything with some spare time on my hands, I decided to jump on a trip to Singapore/Malaysia my two good friends here had already booked for that weekend! Another person decided to go last minute, so we met up with our friends in Singapore a day late Thursday, May 11, at night.
On May 12, we visited Sentosa Island and Marina Bay Sands (pictures below). Marina Bay Sands was opened in 2010 and is quite a spectacular sight. Although it was recently established, it is already recognized as one of Singapore’s landmarks. We went to the Skypark (the top of the building) to see the view of Singapore from above, which was awesome. I was surprised by the modern and futuristic look of Singapore. Being there, I almost felt like I was back in America! That night, we went out to Boat Quay and it was a lot of fun to experience the nightlife.
View from Skypark, Marina Bay Sands:
Marina Bay Sands:
The next day at 7:30AM, we bused from Singapore to Malaysia. Our hostel in Malaysia was in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and has been the most amazing hostel I have stayed in – it was so nice! There was a restaurant and bar, in which there were 3 TVs: one was playing the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” on HBO, another Tiger Woods playing golf on ESPN, and the last was Discovery Channel. I was so surprised; I haven’t watched American cable TV since I left San Francisco in January! That afternoon we walked around our hostel’s area (which was a great location) and ate dinner in the old part of Little India in Kuala Lumpur.
First afternoon in Kulala Lumpure, Malaysia:
On May 14, we signed up for a tour through our hostel that took us to the “7 Wonders of Kuala Lumpur.” Pictures below!
The National Mosque:
Thean Hou Temple (largest Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur):
The National Monument:
The National Palace:
Then that night, we signed up for another small tour that took us an hour outside of the capital to a more rural area. Monkeys were everywhere!! (Shown below.) Then we had a seafood dinner along a river, and a boat cruise in that river to firefly watch. On the way back to the hostel, our tour guide stopped at the the famous Petronas Twin Towers, the landmark of Kuala Lumpur, for us to take pictures.
By the time we got back to the hostel that night, it was time for us to leave for our 12:30AM overnight bus back to Singapore. When we arrived in Singapore on Monday, May 15, we walked around Singapore’s Chinatown and Arab Street. After, we stopped at another one of Singapore’s landmarks: the Merlion. The character comes from merging of two names: the traditional name of the country “Temasek” during which it existed as fishing village and the new name “Sinapura” meaning lion city. After taking pictures of the Merlion, we departed for the airport and returned back to Hong Kong. It was a great trip, and I am so glad I was able to join last minute!!!
From Monday, May 15, night to Thursday, May 18, I was either in class or the library. Once again, I was working on final projects and studying for quizzes. Also, my laptop broke, so the library was actually a second home
Today is Friday, May 19, and tonight is our end of the year exchange student’s dinner and party at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui East. Tomorrow I am grabbing an end of the semester lunch with my roommate. And, next week, I will be studying for my final exams the following Monday and Tuesday.
I honestly cannot believe that my time at CUHK is coming to an end. I have been here for almost four months; it feels like it has only been a month and a half or so! It has been the most amazing experience living in Hong Kong, traveling to other Asian countries, and meeting people from all over the world. It’s definitely going to be bittersweet leaving. On one hand I would love to stay longer, and on the other I am excited to see friends and family again.
It’s funny looking back because I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to study abroad, and I ended up applying to CUHK to study abroad late. Now, I cannot imagine having studied abroad anywhere else. Hong Kong was the perfect place for me to go to. I am so grateful everything worked out the way it did!
After the semester ends for me on April 30, I will leave Thursday, May 2, for mainland China with two other exchange students to visit Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing. When we are in Shanghai, I will be able to meet up with Sam Kunz on the CMS soccer team studying abroad there! For the rest of May, we will visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. My dad is then coming back to Hong Kong, and we are going to the Philippines together. I will be back in California on June 10. While I have to pinch myself that the past four months have happened, I have to pinch myself for what is to come in May! I am so excited, and I feel so lucky!!
Well, it’s about time for me to begin getting ready for our final dinner and party! The final countdown to the end of the semester begins.