Eastern Easter

I have never celebrated Jesus in Finland (or anywhere else, for that matter), but Easter has had it’s place in my life, mostly in the common egg-shaped, chocolatey form. In Finland, Easter has always been the culmination of spring and everything that’s starting to bloom after the gloomy, harsh winter.

How are things in Hong Kong? Well, there is abundance of chocolate (Western brands leading towards sugar-rush and food coma), and restaurants do offer a variety of Easter brunch, buffets and lambs. My Easter? So far, I’ve gone to pay the rent, and to yoga, sushi buffet (by far the best so far) and a nunnery.

Flashback from Japan, only difference is the skyscrapers
This could be a flashback from Japan, only difference is the skyscrapers

The weather has been rather grey and depressing, lately. Nothing that a Finn hasn’t experienced before, though, so I decided to go out and explore Kowloon city (the rain beat me, Kowloon Walled City Park yet remains to be explored).

Nunnery amidst all the urban infrastructure
Nunnery amidst all the urban infrastructure

From the extremely tranquil and beautiful Nan Lin garden in Diamond Hill, I continued my pilgrimage to Sik Sik Yuen Won Tai Sin temple (yeah, I had to check the name).

Prayers and fortunes, most likely no Jesus involved
Prayers and fortunes, most likely no Jesus involved

What do you do when the rain just won’t stop? Go to have a cup of tea, to the cinema and/or shopping!

Not a bad location for a restaurant
Not a bad location for a (vegetarian) restaurant

Easter is not yet over, and the shops are still filled with bunnies. So far, I am very much pleased with the holidays, even though I haven’t seen the sun, I didn’t get to go to Macau as planned, not to mention Lantau (or finally get to try out my new bikinis!).

PS: I completely forgot that my blog is now 1 year old! Whoa, time flies! I have only 2 months left in Hong Kong…and then, who knows?

Two very happy girls having a very good Easter dinner
Two very happy girls having a very good Easter dinner

Happy holidays, everyone – no matter what, where and how you celebrate!

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Gong hey fat choy – Chinese New Year

This year I am lucky to have experienced New Year’s celebrations twice – both of them completely different than anything I’ve experienced before! In Japan I missed the annual fireworks, but today my “loss” was made up in the Hong Kong’s Chinese New Years fireworks spectacle. Yesterday I, along with probably few million others, got to witness the New Year’s parade, and the day before that I was smushed in the crowds in Victoria Park’s market.

Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park
Enthusiastic shoppers in Victoria park

The Victoria Park (flower) market resembled the Finnish Vappu (mayday) market quite a lot, except that here you couldn’t really see any of the stalls since there was so many people. The flowers and fruit trees were beautiful, but pretty much everything else on sale was carnival crap. I am glad to have stumbled upon the market on my morning “jog” (which turned to walking and eating in the market area).

The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit
The (non-Chinese) carnival spirit

The Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui was rather popular, to say the least. We were there few hours early, and the streets were already packed. I have to say, that the parade was a slight disappointment, specially after such a long wait. It was interesting, and definitely worth it, but not that “Chinese” since half of the groups were from somewhere else.

Hong Kong Disneyland partying
Hong Kong Disneyland partying

The parade had some interesting costumes and talented performances, so it was nice to see. However, the subway ride afterwards was a “bit” hectic and cramped. It is funny how much I have been in crowds these past few days, although most of the shops and restaurants have been closed and the streets have seemed almost deserted. Almost!

Blasting in the air for 30 mins
Blasting in the air for 30 mins

Today’s fireworks were spectacular, and definitely made up for the ones I missed on our new year. I am not that familiar with the Chinese traditional customs, but I doubt Gagnam style as background music for fireworks has not been that common for celebrations. I wish I knew half as much about the Chinese New Year’s traditions as I know about the Japanese oshougatsu, but this weekend was interesting as it was, everyone was happy and festive and we got an extra day off! Looking forward to the next festival, which seems to be in few weeks!

Old Capitals

Last post about Japan for a while; here in Hong Kong I have been caught up with work and all the hustle and bustle of the city. Moving on to a new country, and new era for me! But for now, the old capital Kyoto and even older capital, Nara. My last days of Japan, including the aforeposted setsubun were rather different than any other trips I’ve had.

Geishas do exist, and they are constantly hunted by paparazzi and photographers alike
Geishas do exist, and they are constantly hunted by paparazzi and photographers alike

I lived in Gion area, right in the middle of the historical Geisha spirit (and tourists). I did not visit the Golden or Silver temple, since I was busy with the setsubun parties and other places.

Fushimi Inari, few of the 8000 gates
Fushimi Inari torii, bright red despite the rain
Holy water, kamisama no mizu
Holy water, kamisama no mizu
Temple, the name started with H
Temple, the name started with H

Other than the beautiful religious spots, I enjoyed the other visual treats of the Japanese harmony.

Japanese traquility
Japanese traquility

Nara, the town of Daibutsuen buddha statue and the deer that eat crackers from your hand and may poop on your feet, was not bad, either.

Oh deer!
Oh deer!

The deer were aplenty during daylight, but after that they all oddly vanished.

Enjoying the light festival
Enjoying the light festival
Holy deer water
Holy deer water

From the peace and tranquil to the metropole and smog of Hong Kong – it’s a completely different world in here!

Multi purpose park

Bryant Park is in the heart of the city, and the daily activities organized may justify me calling it if not the heart, then at least some other important organ of the city.

There are free to read newspapers and books, book readings and discussions, language courses and much more in the literature area. Juggling lessons, yoga and tai chi are some of the weekly activities. Then there is live music, as well as snapshots of Broadway plays during lunchtime.

Not to mention this.

Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean’s most famous film, in Bryant Park

Every Monday night HBO and Pepsi offer screenings of classic films. The lawn area opens at 5 pm, when queuing people race to spread their blankets and try to get the best spots. Then, 4 hours later, the film begins. After a ritual.

Dancing before the movie

The movies are screened after a cartoon and -of course- movie trailers. Since the park was filled yesterday, my rough estimate is that there was easily over 1,000 people. Therefore, it was the biggest movie screening I’ve ever been to, in the most interesting location (you can hear the sounds of the city around you), with the most interesting waiting time (picnic blankets side by side). I had a good spot right in the middle front, where the sound was so loud I wish I had brought earplugs.

There are other movie screenings going on almost every night in other parks around the city and in Brooklyn, too, but I think this will be sufficient for me, for now. It is a good alternative to spending the night in your own couch, though!

Photo bombing

I went “culture touring” around the city the other day. I didn’t buy anything, but got aching feet and filled my iPhone with pictures. Here are some of the highlights of that particular afternoon (since that, there has been few other excursions):

Museum of Natural History. Did not go in.
Time Warner (shopping) Center is the home of two heavenly places: Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods
View from Central Park
The Guggenheim Museum. Visited the gift shop. Fyi: student tickets are $18.
Stairs of The Met. Visited the huge gift shop.
The Apple store. More people and noise than in a…well, very noisy place.
Ceiling of guess what building!

Pictures of following adventures will be appearing here sooner or later. There has been so much interesting things already, I don’t know if my phone will explode when I actually will be in Manhattan every day!