New Year in Hong Kong.
January 13, 2012. Written on the boat from China to Taiwan.
New year in Hong Kong.
Although Chinese new year is bigger in Hong Kong than its Western counterpart, the international city does widely celebrate Western new year. For example, there seems to be a huge firework every year in the center of the city. However, I did not get to see this spectacle because I was invited to a rooftop party instead. The hosts were a Norwegian woman and a Mexican man whom are friends of Nicolas (whom I am staying with). At the rooftop of their luxury apartment they invited some friends. The average age of the guests was pretty high, and we were almost the youngest invited. Not that that matters, because I was able to meet a lot of new people and had many interesting conversations. But for me, the highlight of the night was this 10 year old boy that had come along with his father. His father was from France, but his mother from Japan, and the boy had grown up completely in Japan and the family had just moved to Hong Kong a few days before. The boy spoke both Japanese and French (according to my French friends) like a native, and had already learned some English too. If he would speak in Japanese, he would act like a normal Japanese kid would do, but according to my French friends, in French he was just like your average French kid too. Well, average is not really a word that does him right though, because besides his extreme language and cultural adaption skills, he was just a very nice and pure kid too. With those big brown eyes, he would tell me how he was sad that he couldn’t see the firework. I asked him what he was good at at school.
“Math” he told me, which was not exactly the answer I had expected.
“And do you practice any sports?”
He named a few, of which one was Judo.
“Do you know what your big brother (referring to myself) used to do for a living?”
The kid shook his head. I told him I just to teach Karate to many kids just like him.
“But in Hong Kong, you have a lot of Kung Fu!” the kid said.
“Yeah, but since you are a Japanese, you should keep practicing Japanese martial arts. Then for sure, the girls here will like you”
He shyly laughed to that.
Talking about girls, an Asian looking girl of about my age had been looking at us for a while and now slowly approached us.
“What language are you guys speaking?” she asked as if she had been trying to figure out for a while.
“Japanese” we answered. She looked surprised.
“You know, I first thought that, but why would a Western adult speak Japanese to a Western kid?” she said laughing.
“Now what if I tell you we are both Japanese?” I told the girl.
“Yes I am Japanese” the boy said to the girl as well, with an accent that sounded like a mix of Japanese and French, but it was still pronounced pretty well.
“You are such a pretty boy, do you want to be my girlfriend?” the girl asked the kid while laughing.
I translated what she had said, and the boy again gave his cute shy laugh.
“Uhhm…” he started. “Well, I don’t know about that, but we could be very good friends instead” he seemed to have taken it seriously.
We asked him if he himself thought he was better in Japanese or French. After hesitating for a while he said French, because he thought there where too many characters to remember in Japanese.
“I can’t understand how grown up’s can read all that” he said, as if he couldn’t imagine himself being able to do so one day.
It was now starting to get close to twelve o’clock. People were starting to count down, dancing and yelling things.
Shortly after the New Year had started, the kid went home with his father. I talked some more with the girl, who was from Hong Kong by the way. It seemed that she had been studying in Spain for a while, and she spoke very good Spanish (for as far as I know). In Spain she had met a Japanese guy whom she was together with for a while, so our talks in Japanese must have been sounded familiar to her. She was really a very nice girl and I wish I could have spent some more time with her, but after this party I never saw her again.
On the way back to Nicolas’s place, I couldn’t help thinking about the boy. Life in this new huge city is going to be hard for him the first days. He doesn’t even know the language and customs. But with his language skillst, I’m sure he will be alright. Just keep on practicing those Japanese martial arts and get yourself a nice girl!
- Journal of a French guy living in Hong Kong (My friend Nicolas)
- 人生は想い通り(A Japanese guy traveling around the world)
- Photography by Lars Reiner (produced the main picture of this site)
- 老寨山旅館 (A fantastic hostel in Xinping, China)
- Proyecto VIVI (2 Basque guys traveling around the world
- Vida de Portugal! (The experiences of a Japanese girl on exchange in Portugal)