My polyglot dream

They say that you should read as much as you can in your target language, and I realised today that I wasn’t reading enough Chinese material. So I went to the library and decided to borrow a Chinese book in the children’s section again. It’s a simpler version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess (eg it only has ten chapters vs the original book which has 19), but I still think it’s going to be a hard slog. It’s still not quite a relaxing read for me, I’m still effectively studying it. But I want to push myself and try reading something that’s aimed more at older kids, rather than the books I usually read, which are written for five year olds 😂

For a Chinese language learner, the library is a treasure trove full of good reading material, as these books are written for native speakers of the language, even if they are five or seven or ten years old 😜 They haven’t been dumbed down for adult learners, like most of my learning materials. This is Chinese written for native speakers, so they’re not going to limit their choice of words to suit the language learner. Which of course makes it that much harder, as you’re constantly looking up words that you don’t know. But hopefully in the long run, all the hard work will pay off 🤞

And then in the evening, we went out for dinner with a few of N’s workmates – another farewell dinner for the same workmate who we had the farewell brunch for last Sunday 😆 She’s had a bajillion farewell dinners! She probably started her farewell drinks and dinners three weeks ago 😂 But she loves her food, so she’s going to as many places as she can before she heads back to Sydney in a few days 👍

They had a colleague from their Tokyo office join us, and when I found out she was Japanese, I immediately asked her “Are you Japanese?” in Japanese. She was quite surprised that I could say that, and was really impressed with my Japanese accent! OMG how cool is that?!? It totally made me even more keen to continue with my Japanese. I also realised today as I was speaking to her that my Chinese has indeed well and truly surpassed my Japanese level. I can express myself better in Chinese now, and the Chinese words come to mind much faster now too 😲 Although I have been much more focussed on my Chinese lately, so I guess this is to be expected. If I spent more time with Japanese, I could probably get it back up to pretty much the same level 😆

And given that these two languages are apparently two of the hardest languages to learn for a native English speaker (along with Korean and Arabic), I think I underestimate just how much I actually know of these two languages, and the fact that I can have simple conversations in both. It may take a ton of effort to do so, and I will have a bajillion mistakes, but I’m communicating, and that’s effectively the point of language, right?! So with more practice, I think I could actually achieve my goal of conversational fluency in both languages 😊 Today has given me more fuel to continue pushing on with this polyglot dream of mine 🤓

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Happy and sad times in HK

We had brunch at TST with one of N’s workmates. She was seconded to HK for a few months, and this weekend is her last weekend in HK before she heads back to Sydney. Apparently she’s been making the most of her time here the past few weeks, eating as much as she can 😆 As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I reckon HK is foodie heaven, and she loves her food. So the last few weekends, we’ve been accompanying her to various places that she wants to try before she heads back home. Aren’t we such nice friends 😜

And more protests occurred on HK Island today 😔 They have been going on quite regularly for about eight weeks now, but I’m not sure how much of it is being reported outside of HK and SG (I still follow SG news, and with HK being a fellow financial hub in Asia, I guess SG closely monitors what goes on in this city, perhaps more so than would other countries). And no signs of improvement seem to be on the horizon, sighhh… I’m guessing they will continue while the students are on their summer break, so we still have a few more weeks to go, at least 😔 It’s all quite a sad state of affairs, and I’m still wondering how it will all end…

Food and continued protests

We went and had a Japanese buffet brunch today with a few of N’s workmates. There’s unlimited champagne available, but I opted out of that, as the one lone glass that I would’ve had wouldn’t have been quite enough to justify paying for free flow 😂 So I just took one sip of N’s champagne, which was enough for me 😆 But food-wise, I reckon I actually got my money’s worth, for once. I’m pretty sure I ate my fair share of oysters, sushi and sashimi 😋

I then went home and watched some more Masterchef Australia. I was going to head to the gym, but I was still so full from brunch that I had to give myself a few more hours to digest first before heading down 😆 So I just watched a few more episodes. And that meant that I managed to catch up with Australia today – YEAH!! I’m one episode behind – ie the one that aired tonight, as I have to wait for people to upload it onto the interweb so I can watch it. But for all intents and purposes, I have caught up – woohoo!! 👍

N went to karate tonight, and as they started making their way home, they noticed the protesters making their way down Connaught Road at Central. Greeeat. We already saw the barricades earlier today as we were walking to brunch, which was also coincidentally at Central, so we had a feeling that protesters would be out later today. We were both a bit worried about him getting home, but luckily it was all ok. The protesters are largely quite peaceful, it’s just the small minority who are a bit more radical that worry me. But even then, they’re not really targetting regular people, so I’m usually not that concerned. But you never know if/when things will escalate, and you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire, figuratively or literally speaking 😔

Draining and drained

I found out this morning that my online Chinese lesson for tomorrow got cancelled because the teacher that I had booked is no longer taking on any new students. So I booked someone else, only to have that lesson cancelled as well because that teacher is currently on holidays. I was getting a bit fed up with their poor scheduling system, so I went looking for another site. I eventually found what is effectively an online Chinese language school, so I’ve booked for an online lesson with them tomorrow. So let’s see how I find these guys… They only offer packages, not individual lessons, so I have to commit for at least ten lessons if I want to continue on with them 😱 Not sure if I can handle that level of commitment 😂 But it’s probably what I need if I want to improve my Chinese language skills anyway, so let’s have more of a think about it after I have my lesson tomorrow 😊

And then I went to join a work dinner with some of N’s colleagues tonight. They’re all in sales / relationship management roles, so they’re quite loud, outgoing people – ie the complete opposite to me! But it’s also good being surrounded by such outgoing people: they just keep themselves entertained and they leave me alone! 😆 It was still a fun evening, but definitely not one that I can repeat on a regular basis… I’d be too drained otherwise! 😳

We ended up getting home around midnight, so not sure just how productive I’m going to be tomorrow… 😔 I may be lucky just to get through the online Chinese lesson!

Slightly off the tourist track

We went to the Yamataka Seafood Market in Wan Chai today. I can’t believe we hadn’t heard of this place until quite recently. Food wise, it’s as close you can get to being in Japan without actually going. They have a supermarket for Japanese groceries, and also a few food outlets. And the Market also has an awesome view, looking out across Victoria Harbour. Service was also really good, for HK standards. It was such a good experience. It also wasn’t very busy, I assume because there’s a lot of construction happening in the area, and it’s not so easy to get to. But we’ll definitely be going back! Totally worth the trek! 😆

The Seafood Market is right above the Wan Chai ferry pier, so we just caught a ferry from there over to Tsim Sha Tsui, on the other side of Victoria Harbour. From there, we caught the train to Sham Shui Po and visited the computer centre there. The computer centre there makes the one in Wan Chai seem really small! And the number of people there is also way more than in Wan Chai. It’s Wan Chai on steroids 😆 So I’d definitely recommend the Sham Shui Po one if anyone needs anything computer related! It’s not quite as tourist friendly (although HK tourism has been advertising Sham Shui Po a bit lately), and a bit farther out from where tourists would normally stay when they’re in HK, but it may be worth a visit even if just to experience the craziness of HK! 😆

Is food a compelling enough reason??

We met up with a friend from Oz who’s in HK for a few days this week. She flies back tomorrow night, actually, so I’m glad we got to catch up. We went to Man Kee Cart Noodle in Sham Shui Po, which apparently is featured in the Michelin Guide. I didn’t know this until today, which probably explains the ridiculous queue here. According to Google Maps, this place gets busier as the night goes on, so I suggested we get there early (6:30pm), as apparently it’s not too busy yet at this time. We did have to wait a little, but the queue still wasn’t too bad when we were there. Plus you have to wait outside – in the HK heat, which can be quite unpleasant for some people. So while my two companions were melting, I was happily waiting in what I could possibly describe as my ideal weather 😆

The menu here is entirely in Chinese, and there are no pictures anywhere to help you 😱 But before we suggested this place, I had to check if our friend could read Chinese, otherwise all three of us would just be happily circling random things on the menu for pot luck 🤣 Well that’s not true, as I can read some stuff, just not all of it. But luckily she can read Chinese, and so she helped us along 😊 I think one of my language goals should be to be able to read these damn menus! 😩

I should just study the above menu, as all these dishes should come up in various menus all around HK, right?? For example, I can read “chicken”, but not “wings”. And then I need to learn the different words for how chicken could be cooked; and the types of broths they can be cooked in… And the different types of noodles that are available… etc etc… Surely I’ll slowly pick these things up if I make a conscious effort to learn food words?!? 😆 And if we want to have real, authentic HK food, most of them won’t have English menus, just like this place. And we won’t always have a Chinese speaking person with us to help us order. Is that a strong enough reason for me to learn these words?? 🤔

Changed plans

Facebook kindly reminded me of the World Cup last year, and it got me wondering what I was doing during the previous World Cup, the one in 2014. I remember where I was because I entered our office betting pool. It was the first time I had entered a World Cup betting pool, and everyone in the office was obsessed, so I couldn’t help but be swept in all the craziness as well. That was five years ago, and we were still living in Australia. We have moved to Asia since then, and no way in my wildest dreams would I have imagined my life would be in HK five years later. 2014 feels way more than just five years ago. So now I wonder where the next five years will take us and whether it will be as crazy as the last five… I don’t take any hometown for granted anymore, and so now I just make the most of my time in the city. I remember when our Aussie friends left SG last year, how our time together in the city country abruptly came to an end. You just never know when what you take for granted today will be taken away from you, so I try and make the most of each day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring…

Anyhoo… I just went off contemplating life for a second there 😆 But it was nice to pause and reflect on the last five years. Overall they were great years, and I hope I enjoy the next five just as much 🤞

The protest in HK continued today. And because of the potential unrest that could happen whenever such things are organised, N’s karate teacher decided to cancel today’s class. Even though class is not within the protest route, students still have to come from various places, and public transport will probably be heavily affected. And coupled with potential unrest, their teacher decided to just cancel today’s class.

So we watched Adam Sandler’s new movie instead, Murder Mystery 😆 It actually wasn’t too bad! There were a few annoying bits, particularly in the beginning, but soon after that, the movie got going and kept us entertained. Sure it’s not going to win any awards, but it’s a fun movie, and if you just watch it with no expectations of being blown away by anything and just go in for the ride, then you may actually enjoy it too. Maybe. Hopefully 😊