Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hong Kong Before Long

Hello, Readers! Sorry, I didn't mean to be away that long. Well, I have some Hong Kong updates, among others.

I leave for Hong Kong on Aug. 14th and return on the 28th. I think I will be bringing my laptop with me so I can blog on location! Also so I have something to do while I am on my 15+ hour plane ride. Hooray for mah jong! :P

I just bought some books about Hong Kong culture, as well as a travel guide and a phrase book. I'm starting to get really excited! This is kind of a trip of a lifetime for me. When else would I ever go there??

Learning some Cantonese is kind of slow-going. It's such a different language than English. When I have learned European languages, it's comforting to run across the occasional word which sounds like English: buch in German is "book", in French the word for cat is "chat", etc. But Cantonese is wholly foreign. Even the sounds you make can be weird: "gwoh" and "tsi" are two examples. And the words are all choppy and short: "yan", "ying", "dowh", etc.

One of the words I am having a difficult time pronouncing correctly is for "miss", as in, "Excuse me, Miss!" Since I am learning via CDs and have nothing visual in front of me, I can't tell if this word would be spelled "soo-deh" or "soo-jeh". Another challenging word for me is the verb, "to want". I can't tell if it would be spelled "sahng" or "sahn". To make things even more complicated, intonation is very important in Cantonese. Although the verbs "can" and "eat" would essentially be spelled the same in English ("sic"), you would say one in a low tone and the other in a rising tone, kind of like you're singing them. The differences are very subtle, and I am a little concerned that I will be telling people about my abilities when I really want to tell them I am hungry. I can't think of any comparable English example to this intonation thing. In English, we usually have some sort of extra meaning or emotional emphasis at play when we change the intonation ("thing" vs. "thang" like "You go, Miss Thang!") . But in Cantonese, they could mean two completely different concepts. Yowza.

Anyway, it's really fun to learn a foreign language, even if most people there are fluent in English. I am actually more worried about my lack of chop stick skills (abysmal at best) than anything else. Perhaps I can just eat egg rolls while I'm there?

I just got most of my vaccines: Hepatitis A & B, Thyphoid, Tetanus and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). If you're counting, that is 5 shots. And I have to go back for two more before I leave. Luckily, shots are never as bad as your imagination makes them out to be. My arms hurt a little, but otherwise it was a quick and mostly painless process. The nurse told me I would probably be tired for a couple of days, due to my immune system getting used to them. I thought, "Pshaw! I'll be fine. Shots schmots!"

Dude. She wasn't kidding. I went to bed at 8pm last night, and will probably do it again tonight! I am sooooooooooo tired! I have that same feeling you get when you are recovering from a bad cold.

In other news, I am moving soon. Yes, again. I am semi-nomadic, apparently. If you didn't know me, you'd think moving was one of my hobbies. This will be my 4th address in less than 2 years. Argh. I will be at my new place by August 1st. I am ready to leave where I am right now -- it's too big for one person and I have nothing but bad break-up memories here. It will be cathartic to get out of here. I am ready to start over in so many ways.

But here's the cool part: I will be across the street from work. And my apartment is in a neat old building. And it's affordable without being gross or run-down. It also has a dishwasher and a garbage disposal (two things difficult to find in downtown Savannah in my price range). I will be in the "safe" part of downtown, too. Hopefully, I will be taking some photos soon to share with you.

Yes, that is correct. I bought a CAMERA. So I can take PHOTOS for my BLOG. Those of you who are tired of the lack of visual aids to my stories should be pleased at this news. :)