Fresh Start: Hong Kong Noodle Life

Mark Chen

A month and a half ago, I lived in Toronto and worked for a big bank. Now, I live in Hong Kong and work for a small software company. “Come help me run my business” my old UWaterloo roommate said during his visit to Toronto last Christmas. “Sure, why not” I replied. It’s one of those things you agree to over beers, and never really expect to follow up on. Oops.

So, now I'm here. And loving it so far! Hong Kong is an amazing city. The food is great – noodles, congee, and milk tea – all day, every day. There’s tons of stuff to do, everything is super convenient, and people are really friendly! Love hiking? There are lots of nature trails not far from the city. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected, and I look forward to discovering something new every weekend.

UWaterloo Alumni in the House

How to make new friends? Easy. Hit up your friendly neighbourhood UW Alumni Association Hong Kong (UWAAHK) social event. Remember frosh week, where every conversation began with “what’s your name, what’s your program…”? It was like that. Which was awesome.

Apparently, UWaterloo alumni have successfully infiltrated all walks of life in Hong Kong. I’m not exactly sure when this happened, or how many other cities around the world we’ve managed to take over, but it was comforting to find an oasis of familiarity amidst a strange new land. I met a bunch of really cool people! And we’re going to do lots of fun things – like walk around randomly while eating stuff, go hiking, learn Wing Chun, and have boat parties.

Mark Chen and his friends

 Paddles Up!

I even joined the UWaterloo dragon boat team! I’ll be honest – I never thought that doing the same repetitive motion over and over again would actually be this much fun. We practice every Sunday at a beautiful place called Stanley Beach. It’s a great excuse to get out on the water, meet new people, and get some exercise.

Each year in Hong Kong, dragon boat races take place on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival. It was quite the sight to see the beach completely taken over by people and boats – with uniforms, costumes, cameras, and drones all over the place. I met lots of new friends and had a great time hanging out. Don’t forget to try  “zongzi” (sticky rice wrapped in a leaf), it’s a Dragon Boat Festival tradition.

Mark’s List of Random Facts and Tips

  • Hop the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), and relax by the harbor while viewing the evening skyline.
  • Hike Victoria Peak, Nyong Ping and Mount Butler.
  • Take the tram (streetcar) to get around. Sit on the top deck and look out the window.
  • Easy on the milk tea. It’s addictive.
  • Hook up with UWAAHK. You never know who you’ll meet.

All in all, things look very promising so far. Friends say it’s just because I’m still in the honeymoon phase. And that may very well be the case. But some say that’s the best part of any relationship, so might as well enjoy it while it lasts!

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