September 15, 2011

Hong Kong

The closest thing to Hong Kong I have ever visited is China Town in New York City. Well, Hong Kong is one GIANT China Town! Big and busy! Streets crowded with people, skyscrapers everywhere (more than 7600), hundreds of taxi’s competing for space on the road, bright colored Chinese lanterns dangling from rooftops, large billboards with Chinese characters enticing local shoppers, and thousands of little shops and restaurants along the street.
Hong Kong is an approximate phonetic rendering of the pronunciation of the spoken Cantonese name which means “Fragrant Harbour”. This was one of the very first points of contact between British sailors and local fisherman and the reference to fragrance refers to the incense from factories lining the coast.
But, as usual, my favorite part of the trip was meeting and visiting with the families. Our visit with the Ho family was purely delightful. They are a rare commodity for China: a family with 6 children! Six beautiful children. We had a great time getting to know them. They fed us delicious dumplings, moon cakes, star fruit and more. We were getting such a kick out of the three little boys who kept eating non-stop! “They are growing boys!” we said. But Elsa, the mother, informed us that this was part of the Chinese culture. She explained “When Grandfather was a refugee, when the communists took over, there were many refugees, and they did not have enough food. Many people were hungry and died of starvation. So this is important to the Chinese people. They feed their children all the time, as much as they can because they do not want them to be hungry. You never know when your food might be taken away from you again.”
The Grandfather was very proud of his Chinese culture. He fascinated us with stories. He demonstrated how to write in calligraphy with his paintbrushes and unique rice paper. He would gracefully lift his wrist and elbow making each stroke just right. The history of Chinese calligraphy is as long as that of China itself. Calligraphy is one of the highest forms of Chinese art. He also showed us his beautiful Chinese paintings. The Chinese have been painting since 4000BC. Art is a very important part of the Chinese culture.
Then they gathered for a final family photo. Three generations. Father, son, grandsons. Everywhere we go families are important. It doesn't seem to matter where or how they live. Fathers and mothers love their children, worry about their children, and want to raise their children to be good people. Everywhere we go little boys still wrestle and play, little girls giggle and laugh. Even with all the wonderful diversity we are still so very much the same. 


  1. Oh Kristen, I love this one. What a great family. And Hong Kong looks incredible. It looks like a giant Manhattan. I hope the Communists continue to let Hong Kong be Hong Kong for families like this one. Awesome!

  2. Thanks Lizzy. They were an amazing family.

  3. Wow, You guys are really getting around. The family pictures and kids are so precious. I hope they are things and connections that will lead you to success in your venture. I'm reading Stones for Schools by Greg Mortensen who wrote Three Cups of Tea. he has made a difference. I hope you can too. Jim (Dad)

  4. Hong Kong does seem like a neat place to visit. I have to admit most of the asian cities I don't really have a desire to visit other than Hong Kong and Tokyo. But I think the way to do it is how you guys are doing it, really get to visit and see how they live- not just go and stay in a hotel and live the way we do- just there.