Wednesday, December 26, 2012

HK Day 6 - Final Full Day

Our last day in Hong Kong came much too quickly.  We ran around town a little bit with Mom (after breakfast of course) to try to buy some things since we hadn't purchased a thing since we'd been in town.  We didn't end up finding much in the short time we were rushing around but if I had to plan for next time I'd want to buy some jade, since my family knows what they're doing in that department, and a watch, since nice watches seem to be cheaper there.

Later we met Bot Gau Foo for lunch and conversation.  He tried to take us to a foot reflexology place he knew of because our feet hurt from walking so much all week...but it was booked up for the rest of the day.  Ryan and I decided to go back to our room and start packing our bags as we were leaving very early the next morning.  Mom went to play mah jong (sounds like mah jurk in Cantonese). 

Bot Gau Foo picked Ryan and me up later that night for Papau's 89th birthday party.  Because the family is so large and because everyone lives in such small spaces, the party was in two connected private rooms in a restaurant.  When we showed up several family members were singing karaoke (I remember lots of karaoke in Hong Kong from when I was a kid) and several others were playing mah jong. 
I didn't know how to play mah jong (and Ryan certainly didn't) so my uncle Hubert (aunt M Ye's husband) taught us and his daughter/my cousin Polly. 

Basically, it's kind of like Chinese Rummy.  There are characters that you try to match either 3 of a kind or get a straight.  You either draw from the "deck" or you can take discards from the pile.  You can declare each match you get or you can hold everything and go out at the end.  I am by no means good but I got the basic concept.  One of the hard things was remembering the characters and what they meant.  I know how to read/write one (yat), two (ye), and three (sam) but that is it.  So for four (say), five (m), six (look), seven (chut), eight (bot), nine (gau), and ten (sup) I had to try to remember which character was which.  Thankfully I had help from Siel Ye and then Bot Gau Foo when Siel Ye needed to sing karaoke.  :)

Ryan also had some help too and even ended up winning a game.  This is his celebration of that victory with his partner, my Mom.

Mah jong was so much fun and I think it would be something I would like to play more if I could completely figure it out and had people to play with.  I really like playing with the blocks instead of cards too.  They feel very substantial in your hands and I like how they make clacking sounds.  I loved hearing the loud clacking of mah jong combined with excited chatter and background karaoke.  Yes, this was the Hong Kong I remembered and it made me happy.  Eventually we were all ushered to our tables for the celebratory dinner.  There were three huge tables with giant lazy susans in the middle.  I think there were 8 different dishes that were brought out.  There is some significance to the number of dishes served but I can't remember.  I also found out from my Mom that women have bigger celebrations on their odd birthdays while men have them on their even birthdays. 

Oy, the food, the food, the food.  The food was glorious.  We had my favorite dish on earth:  abalone, Chinese mushrooms, and lettuce, and we had fish, and barbecued meats, and magical fried crab thingies, and veggies, and so much more.  Here Mom is dishing up walnut shrimp (totally different than walnut shrimp in the States - other than walnuts and shrimp are involved in both and you wouldn't think that should work but it just does).
Mom, Lok Yan (cousin), Ka Yan (cousin), boyfriend, friend

We got to sit at the table with two of my cousins, two of my uncles (and their significant others), and one aunt and her friend.  We were able to take tons of pictures throughout the night of everyone there.  We felt like celebrities.  My cheeks told me they wouldn't want to be a celebrity because they were very tired from smiling all night.  But I had a lot to smile about.  Some of these pictures are fuzzy but I want to post them anyway.  M Ye's family:

Starting in back: Hubert, Ryan, me, M Ye, Polly, Roy
Sam Ye's family:
From back: Lok Yan, Ka Yan, boyfriend, Sam Ye, friend, me, Ryan, Mom

M Gau Foo and his wife:
Some other group shots:

Back:  Ye Gau Foo, me, Ryan, Mom, Sam Ye, Lok Yan  Middle: Miu Ye, Winnie  Front: Hing Hing (cousin), Siel ye, Papau, M Ye
Back:  M Gau Foo's wife, Hing Hing, me, Ryan, Mom, Sam Ye, Ka Yan, Lok Yan, Chut Gau Foo, Chut Gau Foo's son, Bot Gau Foo, Chut Gau Foo's wife  Middle:  Look Gau Foo's daughter, Ye Gau Foo, Siel Ye, Papau, M Ye, Polly  Front:  Miu Ye
Back:  friend, friend, Hubert, M Gau Foo's wife, boyfriend, Ka Yan, Papau, Sam Ye, Bot Gau Foo, girlfriend, me, Ryan, Mom, Ye Gau Foo  Middle:  Siel Ye, Winnie, M Ye, Look Gau Foo's twin girls, Great Aunt, Say Ye  Front:  Miu Ye, Polly

A funny note about seeing my Great Aunt:  I didn't remember her at first but the minute my Mom said "Do you remember spending the night at her house?"  And I said "Oh my goodness!  Yes!  I cried all night and made her call you to pick me up at probably 3 am!"  I even remembered exactly what her flat looked like (koi at the back of the room) and the room I slept/cried in.  How can I possibly remember those things?  I apologized profusely for my actions 26 years earlier.  Oy.

Here Ryan and I are with Polly.  Polly was very little last time I was in Hong Kong and says I used to kiss her all the time on her eyes and nose.  I apologized to Polly too. 
I just went back through the pictures and realized I didn't have Look Gau Foo in here so I'm attaching the group picture below.  You've seen everyone else in the picture except Look Gau Foo, (only guy in the picture besides Ryan), his wife right beside him, and Valerie, the little baby in Siel Ye's arms.  Valerie is my cousin Ming Ye's (Day 3) daughter.
Phew, I think I got pictures of most the people there.  And I got a lot of contact information, too, so I can keep in touch. 

We once again were back to our hotel late at night and this time I was sooooo sad that our visit to Hong Kong was coming to an end.  I was extremely thankful that I was able to make the trip and it was so fulfilling to be in touch with a side of my family and a part of me that I haven't been able to experience for a lot of my life but somehow I still knew I missed.  I wonder if it's like that for everyone whose background is from two distinctly different cultures.

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