Dreaming of Hong Kong

Photo by Jeffrey Tam. See the rest of the photo set here.

Lately I’ve been infatuated with the idea of living in Hong Kong for a few months and the possibility of doing my externship there. The idea came to me last Friday when I went to my tutoring job at a school on the border of Boston’s Chinatown. I’m there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon, but on this particularly Friday, as I weaved my way through a sea of parents picking up their kids from school, it struck me that I wanted to go back to the “motherland.” Although I’m not as fluent as I might once have been, hearing people speak Cantonese is comforting.

I’ve only been to Hong Kong once, and that was the summer of 2005. It was about a one-month trip with my parents, my sister, aunt, uncle, and two cousins. We traveled to some places in China too. Back then I wasn’t really all that interested in “going back to my roots” or whatever. It was just somewhere to go. Looking back, the trip was actually pretty fun, but while I was there, I couldn’t stop thinking about how hot and humid it was. (Thankfully, they BLAST a/c in all their malls.) Also, I hated the thought of using public bathrooms there because it was either 1)bring-your-own-toilet-paper (now you get why Chinese people are always grabbing more napkins than necessary in fast-food restaurants?) or in-ground-toilets (still do not know how to use without getting pee all over). But anyway, that is the least of my worries now I’m sure.

So this idea has been eating at me. I really want to go, but I know there’s a high chance that it won’t happen. I talked to one of my chefs today (who is from Taiwan, and who I hold in high regard), and asked for his opinion/advice. I was slightly taken aback that he encouraged me NOT to do it. He explained that he can understand my desire to go there, but that right now since I’m still just starting out, I need to focus on getting good with the basics and perfecting Western style cooking; get some experience and then go out there to learn more. He suggested going to Europe if I wanted to get out of the U.S. “The chefs there are really tough, but you will learn a lot. You’ll probably shed a tear every minute, but you will get better and stronger.” There was more to the conversation, but this was the generally gist of it.

After class today, I talked to my current chef instructor and asked her for her take on the idea. She was pretty much the opposite. She and the other chef are good friends and colleagues, and while she could understand where he was coming from (working his way up from the very bottom, and probably advising me against it so that I wouldn’t have to experience what he went through), she told me that I really need to do my research and then just follow my passion.

So now I am torn. Do I put this dream on hold, or do I go for it with abandon?

When I think about the possibility, albeit small, of being there, I get excited like a kid who can’t fall asleep on Christmas Eve. At the same time, it scares the heck out of me. It’s on the other side of the world, far away from everyone and everything I have ever known. But then again, it’ll only be three months, and really, when will I ever get an “excuse” to go somewhere else? I would LOVE to travel more, but I’ve never been the kind to just fly somewhere to explore (especially on my own). It would be pretty darn AWESOME if I had that luxury.

So readers, if any, what say you?

Random end note: I love how clean the HK’s subway system is.


2 thoughts on “Dreaming of Hong Kong

  1. I agree with both of your instructors. Because this is a professional education track in a competitive industry, I think that you need to use your externship to get the best possible professional training that you can. If you do your research and find that you will be able to develop your skills the most in Hong Kong, then that is where you should be. If not, it’s not.

    Just my opinion, because you asked.

  2. are there no good chefs in HK? i feel that there are probably some acclaimed chefs that rival europes, although there are prob “more prestigious” chefs there.

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