Sista Hong Kong
Peace and Pearls
So I got my fill of cancer preventing laughter because one of my best friends, John, came to visit me from the ATL! When John is around you are going to laugh. It doesn't matter if you are angry or dying, John will make you laugh and, literally pee your pants... but that's another story and that story may never be told. One of the activities I wanted to share with John here in Hong Kong was to see the Tian Tan Buddha. This was the largest seated Buddha in the World up until quite recently when another country built an even bigger Buddha. None the less it's an amazing site to see. Perched up on top of a mountain, it sits in glory and you can't help but feel a sense of peace while in it's vicinity. There is a long staircase to the top, and John, who is in perfect shape, skipped up the 600 trillion stairs while I prayed no one who knew me would see me out of breath on stair number 25. But then something really cool happened. Perhaps it was all in my mind but as I looked up at the statue, the fog that was blocking my view of the Buddha cleared and I locked eyes with it. I felt an inner strength within me. It was like the statue told me I could do it. To forget the pain of my task and to focus on the task itself. I scaled the stairs in minutes and forgot about being out of breath. It was so amazing. The closer you got the more detail you could see. The air was incredibly fresh, the trees greener, sound was clearer. It was the perfect place to meditate. So we did. It was great! A must see for anyone visiting this part of the world. As for the pearls, there's a small vender on the way to the staircase that sells the most beautiful pure pearls for a steal. Best place to buy them in Hong Kong!!
Christmas in Macau
Ahhh Macau. Small and unknown to many but essentially the Vegas of China. The lap of luxury where many newly rich Chinese mainlanders come to shop and try their luck at good fortune. This is where I spent my Christmas season. I spent most of my time at the MGM hanging with my 'hunnybunch', who played with the Upfront Band in the Lion's bar. The service was great though I didn't care for the smoke or the 'cleaned up' prostitutes that circulated the venue. What I did like was the holiday decor. The Casinos all compete to out do each other in grandeur, but of all the places I visited, the MGM stood out. This years theme were giant silver balls and streamers that hung from the ceiling. Huge! The size of two or three people! The lighting was a rich fuchsia that was easy on the eyes and there was timed music from the Nutcracker.
The weather of course was quite warm compared to snow at home in Canada. A light Jacket was all you needed although the locals, used to tropical temperatures bundled up in winter coats and scarves for lows of 16 ' Celsius. Spoilt! They have palm trees here all year round for goodness sake! But the fashion was definitely forward for christmas shopping and sending things back home for friends and family.
So the only real disappointment was that I didn't get to have my Turkey and stuffing and all the rest of the fixings. You can pre order a christmas tree and a cooked turkey from the hotels and some grocery stores. It will cost an arm and three legs but there's nothing like your own turkey; basted in juices and well seasoned!
But... 'How Am I Going To Get My Hair Did'??
Ok so lets be honest. I've moved to China and I can tell you one of the first things on my mind was how am I going to maintain my hair. I thought about wigs or twists, but I wanted minimal effort and maximum versatility and I don't rock weaves. I do like braids though. When I'm walking about and I do see a fellow sista on the street, it's usually braids in her hair. It's actually gotten to the point that when I see a black woman with braids, I can tell how long she's been here by the new growth on her head! So to Google I went! I searched 'black hair and Hong Kong' and got about two hits that had any substance. Straight to my phone and I called the numbers listed. The first woman who answered was a Nigerian woman. I was soooo excited! She asked to meet so she could see my hair and offer me the best price... ok starting to get leery. I'm mean you don't have a price list? So I book an appointment and met her. Her 'shop' was the size of a bathroom filled with black hair products and porno videos, but it had a chair and a mirror and I guess that's all I needed. She dug up in my scalp and I showed her the hair I wanted braided in (that I brought from Canada) and finally she sequestered the price. $2000 HKD!!!! That's over $260 CAD. Back home 'Jenny from the block' would do it for $75 bucks!! I politely told her thank you and that I'd 'be in touch' and got my butt outta there.
Fast Forward: After some more research, and many more calls around town, I found an Angel!! (pictured left). Carmen is local talent that can braid a sista's hair quick and beautifully. Professional, talented, and very easy on your scalp, I couldn't believe I found her. Her prices are great and I recommend her to everyone! She even does dreadlocks! Local to Hong Kong, Carmen lived in New York City for a spin and learned the art of black women's hair. Check her out at email@example.com. Tell her Janaia sent ya! Hong Kong Braid
A Black Canadian's adventures in Asia and beyond.
Chinese New Year and Valentines Day - Yay!!!
I got to experience the biggest event of the year in Asia... Chinese New Year!!! I must say I learned a lot about the culture and traditions and going forward, i'd like to incorporate this celebration into my own rituals. About a month or so before the actual block of days of CNY, decor and lights spring up everywhere. And when I say decor, I mean decor! The most beautiful displays I've ever seen in my life, with lots of detail, flowers, mandarin oranges, and red envelopes. So I dug in deep. I went to the store and bought my share of CNY luck items. They had all kinds of goodies. Scrolls with gold foil, 3D dragon or snake cut outs, lanterns, fake fire crackers, and my favourite: money bags! Oh I bought a bunch of money bags with the promise of bringing fortune into my home. I even bought a mini one for my purse. I put away the blue mat outside my door (blue is my fav colour, but considered a very unlucky colour during the CNY celebration) and replaced it with a red one. Now as for the mandarin trees, they're everywhere! Every hotel, shop, apartment building has a mandarin tree out front. These tree symbolize good fortune and abundance for the coming year. People also give mandarins and huge Japanese oranges for gifts. Another tradition for the new year is to clean house, like spring cleaning, getting rid of the old and un-luckly items and preparing for the new. People paint and purchase fresh flowers, and buy snacks and goodies for visitors. And then of course there are the RED ENVELOPES!!! YAY! Now if you are unmarried, married couples present you with a envelope with money inside, especially for children. I'm happy to say this may the one benefit of me being unmarried!!! I received my share of these envelopes and I loved it.
Chinese New year usually last for four calendar days. Everything is shut down (with the exception of seven eleven) and people feast with relatives. The streets are ghostly quiet compared to the normal over populated every day rush. This year CNY was Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Valentines day was the Thursday. Hong Kong loves valentine's day and restaurants cater to your every whim. For a price of course, a steep price. So this year CNY and Vday smushed into one big holiday. I performed at Sevva, a roof top terrace restaurant over looking the city while lovers ate at candlelight dinner with the finest foods only Hong Kong can offer!
สวัสดี SA-WAT-DEE-KAH! Lions, Tiger and Bears! Oh Thailand!
Happy birthday to me! Anyone who knows me, knows I'm obsessed with holidays, including my birthday with falls in March. Being so far away from my family, my BFF's, and all the people I love and cherish, made this years birthday celebration difficult. However... I am a Pieces and a water sign so I've always been able to flow into the many shapes of life. Geneviève Marentette (aka Gigi), a new good friend and fabulous singer (currently at the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong), helped fill my longing, with love and gifts and spending time. My Hunnybunch took me out for a afternoon of glee. But the best bday gift this year, was the one I gave to myself! Thailand! And what a gift it was. My experience was in Chiang Mai, which is in the more northern part of Thailand. Just over a 2 hours flight from Hong Kong. It was full of history, culture, and wildlife.
I believe everyone should see Thailand once in their life. Its a magical place that just can't be described. The kindness of the people, the freshness of the air, the yummy food, the history. The people are uniquely kind. Its almost unsettling how kind. As North Americans we believe if your too kind there must be an ulterior motive; but no, these people just haven't had to deal with war and greed and the same kind of evil suffering some other nations have lived through. It spills out in their interactions; so much love. The second thing you notice is the colour. Colour is everywhere and works like a natural high. As I shopped the famous Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market I was entranced by the extremely low prices and bright colours. Even shade of bright pink, sea greens, bright blues, tie dyed everythang! For about $100 CAD I bought 5 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, shoes, artwork, lamps, statues, purses and tons of jewelry. On a budget? Save up to pay for the flight to Thailand, then everything else is gravy! $1-2 CAD for food - full meals! $2 CAD for a 1 hour foot massage on a cushioned wicker chair while you sip your Thai tea! 5 Star hotels for the price of Canadian 2 stars!
Thailand also offered me my first real experience with animals. Ya, we've all been to the zoo, but this was so different. These were happy animals that were not locked up in cages and taken out of their natural environments. I met elephants that would tickle you and play with you without having to be bribed with food (they did eat my banana!) and tigers that would purr (grrrrr) when you rubbed their tummies. The staff at the elephant sanctuary live on the premises with their families and children running around - safely. The grounds were well kept and any one caught littering or abusing the elephants was promptly removed. The Tiger Kingdom, as it's called was just as free but with gates and backyard like fences. After a full feeding, you could come and see them for a fee. I didn't even have to sign a waver form! The tour guide explained that tigers only attack humans if they are staving and desperate. A trip I'll never forget! Happy Birthday Me!