Today I went to Wan Chai to apply for a Hong Kong identification card. Since I am here on an employment visa I am eligible for this card, which among other things means that when I go through immigration I can go through the (much shorter!) HK resident line rather than the (extremely long!) passport holder line. I wasn’t sure what the process would be like, and when I finally got to the 8th floor of the Immigration Tower I stood for a moment looking around, trying to figure out the next step. Most everything is in Chinese and English, so it was rare that there weren’t instructions boldly printed on a huge sign.
After a few moments a young woman came up to me with slips of paper in hand. She looked official—with her HK Immigration Department lanyard and badge—so I told her I was there to apply for a card and not sure what to dot. She asked to see my passport so I showed it to her. Then she gave me a slip of paper and told me to come back at 2:45. It was 10:30 then. Yikes!
I wasn’t sure where to go next so I wandered the streets for a little while. I called Father Dwight and my boss Cynthia, both of whom were busy, so I just wandered around looking at signs and ended up in a little park nearby. Father Dwight called and I told him what was going on; he said to come to the mission until it was time for me to be at immigration. The nearest and cheapest transportation was the tram (we would call it a trolley) so after standing awkwardly on the platform looking at the tram map trying to determine which direction I needed to go, I hopped on.
This, my friends, is a great way to see the city. I was only on for a few stops but I really think one Saturday I’m going to take it from one side of the island to the other. For one, it’s cheap, and another, it’s double decker so you have a good view. I hopped off at the platform closest to St. John’s and headed up to the mission.
We have quite a few interns right now—myself, two Chinese girls who are just finishing up a service term, another Chinese guy studying law at HK University, and another guy whose father is Chinese but his mom is British so he has dual citizenship. He’s here for a few weeks before heading back to school in England. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them all! I stayed at the mission for a few hours, helped with some filing and then at 2 headed back to immigration.
You would think that a big city like Hong Kong would be a bureaucratic nightmare. Lines, horrendous waiting times, stuffy rooms. Happily this was not the case. I stood in a line waiting to go to reception for about fifteen minutes, filled out a form and waited in a small waiting area for about ten minutes, when my number came up on the screen I headed to the designated cubicle and had my thumbprints scanned and photo taken, waited in another small area for another ten minutes, scanned my thumbs again and that was it. I was in and out in 45 minutes. Had I phoned ahead or made the appointment online I could have probably gotten in quicker but I wasn’t aware of the option until I was actually at immigration.
Since I was done so early I went back to the mission for a while. There were a few clients there who had appointments with other case officers but otherwise it was pretty quiet. I chatted with the other interns, and Stella, one of the Chinese girls, started talking about having sushi and this great website (www.openrice.com) where you can find great places to eat around town. So we looked and found a place in Tsim Sha Tshui (which is near where I live) and decided to go after work.
I was glad to have plans and glad for some company. Lately I have just been coming home, using my computer, cooking dinner and going to bed. Not a bad routine but I am craving social interaction. So, I was glad to have a friend to go out with and break bread with. Breaking bread together is such a universal way to build friendships---feeds the soul and the stomach!
The sushi was amazing, and we were in the biggest mall I’ve ever been to in my life. Stella was a good companion and after the sushi we went for some frozen yogurt. As we sat talking, an older blonde woman sat nearby. After a few moments she leaned over and asked “where she might find a curlin’ iron”… we suggested a few places and then I asked her where she was from. Maybe it was something in the way she said “curlin’ iron” or the fact that she needed one in general that tipped me off that she was from the south like me. Yup! South Carolina. Her husband came and sat with her and we struck up a conversation.
They are missionaries with an organization out of Charleston and have been all over the world serving in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They are currently at a place in Seoul training missionaries (South Korea is actually the biggest deployer of missionaries, as I learned at orientation) and shared some stories with us. The lady was gracious and kind and her husband was spry and funny. I enjoyed chatting with them and wished them luck in finding the curling iron. While I am enjoying everything about Hong Kong, it was good to talk to someone familiar with home.
If you are following me on facebook I have uploaded some photos; it's kind of a chore to upload pictures to my blog AND facebook and it is easier to organize pictures there. I will still post photos here occasionally but be aware that there are probably more on facebook.
I invite, as always, your thoughts and comments!
Grace and Peace,