Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monkey Hill Adventure

Being from the rural United States, I am quite used to seeing animals. All sorts of them from deer, squirrel, chipmunks, woodchucks, coyotes and the occasional wild townie. But a monkey? No. Never. Not in my wildest dreams have I seen a monkey on the loose. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to go on a hike with our distant cousins, I had to take it!

Disclaimer: Monkeys can be dangerous and should not be fed....

The pictures of angry monkeys, the common sense of not feeding a wild animal processed food, and maybe a slight lacking of bravery would prevent my friends and I from feeding the monkeys. However, the locals didn't seem to care at all! Within five minutes of the hike we saw locals feeding a monkey. He was pretty receptive and seemed to be more appreciative than anything else. He had pretty nice table manners, and probably could tell which fork was meant for a salad at a nice restaurant. One could assume it has attended Dean Braun's workshops.

It looks pretty chill, right? Well it eventually finished the tomato and decided that the local family would be generous enough to provide him with some more fruity goodness. He actually got on that pole next to the tree and was walking around really close to them (imagine your dog begging for some food). He never ended up becoming aggressive, but he got close enough to make the family feel uncomfortable and leave. The worst it ever really escalated to was my friend in the picture got pretty close and was looking face to face with him while taking pictures. It is not a good idea to stare at a monkey... The monkey started to open and close his mouth, in what we deemed to be concerning, so we decided that we should continue onward with the hike.  

As we continued we stumbled upon more locals feeding the monkeys. They are trying to be nice, but every time that we saw it happen the monkeys continued to follow the people! This time around the monkey was getting really close to the smallest child. It said on the sign to not let your small children near them because the Monkeys might think they can play with them. The father had to step in-between and scold the monkey. Now, these monkeys are completely wild, but they are not foreign to the human race. They get very close to humans, and they still continue on with their normal business. We saw near 30 wild monkeys and they all seemed to be in their own little groups. They were all up to something different like cleaning each other, taking care of infants, horsing around and even mating...but this isn't National Geographic, so I have left it out. 

Mommy monkey grooming her baby near a campsite. 
Monkey Hill is known for nothing other than the monkeys. It is not a hike for eye-catching views whatsoever.... until you get lost! haha

To be honest, I am not even sure if we went down the right path, or if we were even on the actual trail.. but that is part of the fun! Maybe I was lost, maybe I wasn't, but we still had an amazing time and no harm was done. There are a little over 2,000 monkeys in Hong Kong and around 1,800 of them reside in Kam Shan Country Park. So, you are bound to see them just being in the area. On our way back to the city we saw one on top of a mechanic's shop! Anyways, the beauty of us getting lost was this little village we were able to find in the park. All of the pictures below were taken in the village.

This is where we ended up when we made it through the village

Small temple the village uses to pray

It was almost like we were in a jungle. This is the only time I have encountered a village like this. Hong Kong is a "concrete jungle" with many parks, islands, beaches, and places to hike. There is plenty of natural land. This however, was in the Kowloon area, and we were able to walk right out of the jungle, and back onto the highway (after approximately two hours of walking and taking pictures)! You absolutely cannot see this place from the street. Something I have learned about this area is that, while it is hard to completely escape the skyscrapers, you can get a completely different vibe from almost everywhere in Hong Kong. Maybe that is why they call it Asia's World City. 

If it were not for getting lost we wouldn't have had exposure to that side of Hong Kong. So get lost (not literally, please keep reading)! I bet there is something you haven't experienced in Bowling Green, your hometown, or wherever. You could even get lost in a book. It will make your parents happy. 

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Getting to know some locals!

Hi, I'm Nate, a student in the College of Business at THE Bowling Green State University (S/o to all the fellow finance and accounting students). Some of those who know me well often call me Hack. Anyways, I made the decision to do a 2nd study abroad term this fall in Hong Kong! Yes, Asia!! 

Now, for some reason, others questioned me more this time than when I studied in Europe (studied for a semester in Nantes, France). People would ask me questions such as: 
Why would you want to go to Asia? Is it safe? Aren't you afraid? 
Now, some of these questions were easier than others to answer. Yes, Hong Kong is a safe place. In fact, citizens are not allowed to carry pepper spray, guns, or knives on them. (Please no gun law debates :) ) As for the other questions, Asia is about as diverse as a culture as you can get! There is always some tradition to learn, a temple to explore, or just a different style of life to immerse yourself in. Was I afraid? I will honestly say no, I was not afraid. However, it wasn't easy to accept the fact that once again I wouldn't see friends and family for four months. But this is not a reason to worry! You will never be alone here in Hong Kong. There is always someone willing to go out and do something or just relax and hang around.

I have been here for about three weeks, so I have much to update you guys on. But, I will treat those as their own entries when I have more free time. For now, I would like to talk about my recent experience hanging out with the local guys. 

It is important to note that my hall floor is the craziest in all of the dorms, and they are always out messing around and having fun. So, I had gone for a late night run, and got back to the dorm around 12:30 am... yes.... that late. On my way into my room a bunch of the guys were just out in the hallway kicking a ball around and others sharing a dinner. I was suddenly stopped and asked if I wanted to arm wrestle. This isn't something I usually get particularly excited about. But I figured that I had nothing to lose. They had me arm wrestle about 6 different kids ranging from the strongest to the weakest. I lost to the strongest kid! In my defense, he's a strong guy!! haha they were even making bets with the weaker kids that if they couldn't last five seconds they had to buy food for all of the guys! This really is just when the fun began.

Next, they have me trying moon cakes (Mid Autumn Festival traditional food), some vegetables with Chinese fermented cheese dip (not as bad as it sounds), and the hottest cup noodles that come from South Korea (kind of like Ramen back in the states, but they are too hot).  After that I was challenged to a game of FIFA 17. I ended up winning in penalty kicks and all of the kids were going wild, some rooting for me, and some against me. It is now about 1:30 am. They decided is was a good time to go play some soccer in the dark! 

Not only have I never played organized soccer, I have definitely never tried it in the dark! Even though my team lost, it was still a lot of fun just messing around with the guys. Nobody was really a ball hog or anything, and they were just out there to have fun. The local kids like to shout a lot and celebrate which kind of made it a wild experience because I really had no idea what they were saying. Then, we had to, of course, play some basketball...once again in the dark.

These kids must have imagined that since I was American that I was like LeBron James or something. They were always passing me the ball, and were even asking me to dunk. Disclosure: I currently cannot dunk. By the time we had finished everything it was 3:30 in the morning. I really couldn't believe it. Getting to talk with, make friends, and meet some of the local students was a really cool experience. They are always saying hi to me now, and asking me to hang out with them.

So, a lesson to be learned is to take a risk. Whether it be studying abroad, applying for an internship, joining a club, asking someone on a date, etc. You never know what the outcome may be, and you just may have the time of your life! 

Until next time,