Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hong Kong and the Kelvin Chan Experience

As a disclaimer, I am the only one of the three of us (four, including Shawna) who really hated Hong Kong. Also, once T and I are finally reunited in Toronto, there will be video posts again.

In between cheesy tourist attractions and stalking Shawna’s boyfriend’s friend, we managed to graduate. I could explain, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

In front of a cardboard cut-out of Convocation Hall and the CN tower as Chinese parents shook their heads in shame.

Instead of leaving T's parts til the end, I'll use them to introduce HK.

T's bits

Overhead on the radio: Bieber, of course, and Lady Gaga. Now, this is Ange talking again, Lady Gaga should be the official mascot/queen of Hong Kong. Completely schizophrenic, colourful and over the top? This is HK!

T's food picks: Dim sum, of course, and roast duck. Ange here, again. What is not on this list? Black coffee. Shawna and I have decided that we will start a company in HK that only serves black coffee. Nothing more. Getting a coffee without milk in it was an adventure every single day. There is a hugely untapped expat market that we're pretty sure has been suffering in silence (okay, probably drinking Starbucks happily at one of its million locations in the city), trying desperately to get a solid coffee without cows milk.

Summary

Hong Kong was my least favourite city (after Sanur, Indonesia). I’m a big city girl. I expected to be in my element in a city with a fantastic transit system, cheap heels galore, a bar district and Wi-Fi everywhere. Not so much. My main beef with HK? Everyone walks so slowly! One of the perks of big city living is that I can be with my fellow jay walkers and fast walkers. Not so in HK. Even my non-jay walking, non-crazy fast walking cousin, Shawna, who came in from Vancouver for graduation celebrations and our first time traveling together, was taking people out on the sidewalks.

Crashing the Gold bar opening with Mike and Shawna. It's not every day you stumble off an elevator to be greated by women in gold bikinis bearing champagne and mini-hamburgers.
Due to the population density of HK, everything is very vertical. Which means a lot of malls and not a lot of people outside. This can produce some fun evenings, such as finding ourselves at a bar opening, complete with free food and booze, by getting off on the wrong floor. But most of the time, it’s just a weird unnatural vibe. The tourist attractions were similarly commercialized.

Waiting 3 hours to get on a cable car to Lantau Island with my coworker Will!
On Lantau Island, there was a multimedia presentation about the life of Buddha. Interesting, right? At the end, dozens of corporate logos come down from the ceiling to create a model of the HK skyline, as the narrator reminds us that we can achieve nirvana, even today. I am not joking. Then you can insert a paper leaf into a giant plastic Buddha and make a wish. The monastery on the island had about half a dozen gift shops. The worst violation? We waited over 3 hours just to get on the cable car to get to the island! Do people have nothing better to do?!


Apparently not. Hong Kong is full of people who are looking for something to do and they are given entertainment in the cheesiest, most corporate forms you can imagine. There is the 10 minute “Symphony of Lights”, brought to you by Samsung. And Victoria Peak, the main attraction in Hong Kong where you can see out over the whole city, is basically a giant hill with, by my count, 3 malls at the top. Someone must be buying the Swarovski crystals and Crocs. But who? And why? I just don't get Hong Kong!!
Hanging out in Soho after graduation with T's friend from UofT, Hong Kong resident and storer-of-our-crap-til-T's-flight, Tristan!
Don’t get me wrong, some of my best memories are from HK and I will never forget my time there. I got to spend time with Will, a coworker from Employment and Social Services who happened to have vacation booked in that time (who was our best source for good restaurants and Cantonese communication!); Mike, who we befriended in Vietnam; Tristan, a friend of T’s from UofT; and the famous Kelvin Chan. You haven’t heard of him? Let Shawna tell you a little about the Kelvin Chan Experience in Hong Kong…

The Kelvin Chan Experience by Shawna


As excited as I was to meet up with my cousin in Angela in Hong Kong, I have to admit there was someone else there I was excited to meet too. This person’s name is “The Kelvin Chan”: a nickname assigned to him by the dozen close friends he left behind in Richmond, British Columbia when he moved to Hong Kong two years ago. One of those dozen happens to be my boyfriend, Jericho. As such, I’ve been told more stories about Kelvin and the other guys than I think any of them will ever admit to each other. I had never met Kelvin.

Actually, Jericho convinced me at one point I had met him. One week later the truth came out which led to constant remarks like “Oh you remember Kelvin right? How could you not? He’s the Kelvin Chan”. I guess it wasn’t hard to trick me - I’d met everyone else and I knew about high schools pranks, trips to Taiwan, clubbing trips to Whistler, UBC Pit Nights - I knew the stories, but not the person.

When I told Jericho about my Hong Kong trip it only got worse: “Maybe you’ll run into The Kelvin Chan while you’re there, and tell him about that time you met him.” “You should call The Kelin Chan and go party” “You and The Kelvin Chan in the same city, yeah!!”


As soon as I arrived in Hong Kong I knew two things: I had to meet him and I had to keep it a secret from Jericho. Of course, me being shy and antisocial it took a week of indecision and panic (and prodding from Ange) before I sent Kelvin a message asking to meet up. I believe I also resorted to asking strangers in the street about Kelvin Chan. (Ange disclaimer: this may or may not have been after crashing the bar opening...) Sadly, none of them knew The Kelvin Chan. Happily, once I did email him, Kelvin responded quickly and we met up the day the girls had their convocation for some food and a little conspiracy.

I told Kelvin I needed his help picking a souvenir for Jericho and when I met him I confessed, “The souvenir is actually a picture of you and me, he doesn’t know I contacted you. It’s payback really, you know what he’s like, you see he actually let me believe I’d already met you. Also, who’s Randy? Or are they pulling that joke on you too?”

Kelvin suggested a better approach, “Why don’t we take pictures where I’m in the background and you can pretend you didn’t know I was there?” Brilliant. Although, when you meet someone in an art installation of giant fake spray-paint cans and fake toys and toy packaging labelled “Crazy Xmas!” I think that you already know it’s going to be a brilliant day.

For reference:
The Kelvin Chan

When I arrived home I mixed up the photos with pictures from other days to throw Jericho off even more. Then I sat with him as he browsed the photos:


Jericho: "Look! It's Kelvin Chan!"


Yes he really said that and he really did think he was funny. Also, this was the first picture I showed him. I flinched a little but he couldn’t really tell since I was standing behind him.


After few more pictures of street signs, Hello Kitty and Buddha the first trick photo came up:


J: Hey, that's Kelvin, that's actually Kelvin!


Me: Yeah right you said that about the last one too


J: Haven't you seen pictures of him? That's totally Kelvin! I need to email this to my friends right now!


Me: Ok stop it let's finish the pictures


J: No seriously I have to send it to them!! He's right there! Don't you know what he looks like?! Aaron... I have to tell Aaron!


At this point, the laughter was hard to contain. I was grinning but still hiding behind him. I convinced him to finish the photos first before emailing them and pretended I thought he was still making fun of me.


I continued with the photos, more random candids, and then:


J: There he is again!!!


Me: What? Really? Ok maybe you do have to email them but let's just finish these first... be patient! (laughing hysterically) just finish the pictures stop stalling you can email your friends after!


J: Ok ok.


Pause.


J: Wait... did you meet Kelvin?


I thought for sure I was caught but he still seemed confused. The next couple photos he couldn’t pick him out and since there were other photos too he seemed to let go of his suspicions.


The ones Jericho failed at didn’t catch:


It was time for the big reveal:
Jericho: Oh my god! You did meet Kel!!!


I’d transcribe the rest but it consisted mostly of pointing, laughing, doubling over laughing and head shaking.


So thank you Kelvin for being such a good sport. And thank you Jericho for completely and totally falling for it ;)


And that everyone is The Kelvin Chan Experience.


Signing off,


Shawna






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