This week was full of firsts for me. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever had a week off from school in October. It was the first holiday in Hong Kong I didn’t travel anywhere. And last, it was the first time my parents came to see this marvelous city.
For obvious reasons, it was fantastic to see my parents for the first time since last December. As most of you know, I’m an only child so this was a good catch-up on family time, as Skype chats only provide so much. Over the course of the week, I returned to a number of wonderful places in Hong Kong that I hadn’t been for some time. Some of the places are mentioned in previous blog posts right here. Over the week, we ventured to the Tian Tian Buddha, 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, The Peak, Cheung Chau Island, Kowloon Walled City Park, a performance at the Cultural Center, Hollywood Road, Hong Kong Park and the Avenue of Stars. As my parents hoped, they were able to spend the week actively sightseeing while I was the tour guide. I enjoy this role, so I too had a good time, particularly in some of the best possible weather.
Another fun part of the holiday was seeing my parents meet my girlfriend Sharman and her parents. It’s rather to surreal to have two worlds connect like that, thinking this is the only time that our collective four parents have ever inhabited the same continent at the same time. The Peking Duck dinner was remarkably delicious and with a bit of help from me, Sharman was able to translate so that everyone could be a part of the conversation despite no common language. Wild. Perhaps some people dread the meeting of significant others and parents, but this was really nothing to get worked up about. Everyone got along quite well, despite my parents’ gift for the Leungs breaking on the way to the meal. As they say in HK, “Ayaaaaa.”
One thing that I think all expats suffer to some extent is a certain degree of homesickness. It's certainly something that comes to mind after seeing my family for what felt like the blink of an eye. My life in Hong Kong is quite satisfying, with a good job, apartment, girlfriend and overall environment. However, there are always times when I long for things back home. Usually it’s friends and family that give me pangs of nostalgia, but sometimes it's thinking of my pets, indie music or Taco Bell (judge me all you like). Fortunately, 6,500 miles of distance is not the same impossible divide that it used to be. Even with the Pacific Ocean between us, I’m able to see the people I love at least once a year at Christmas and some of them twice a year, when schedules work out. And with the wonders of Facebook, Gmail and Skype it’s extremely easy to communicate with people from the comfort of my own apartment. Only ten years ago, chatting with people in real time would have been substantially less convenient. I try to use this as reasoning to not let homesickness bother me too much. And so far, I’ve made it nearly a year and a half without falling into the clutches of severe homesickness.
And speaking of family visitation, I’m excited to travel to Guangzhou next month to be with my cousin Mark and his wife Carol as they finalize the adoption of their soon-to-be daughter, Leah Ao Xin, who currently lives in Harbin in northeast China. Luckily for me, though perhaps inconveniently for them, all adoptions must be approved through the US Consulate in Guangzhou, and hence I can take a quick bus ride up to be with them after they fly down from Harbin with 4-year-old Leah Ao Xin. I’ll certainly post more about this once in a lifetime event after it happens in a few weeks.