Being a Tourist at Home

Out of the 365 days of a year, I am home for about 35 days on average each year for last 3 years. Every time I come home, so many things remain the same, and yet, so many things have changed.

My parents are still the same old way: a great cook and a great biker. My brother’s height is slowing catching up to me but I can still win every fight. My room still has my old books and notebooks stacked up against the wall and on the shelf, but the covers are dusty and the pages turned yellow. On the piece of wooden pillar next to my bed, there is still my writing with a sharpie of my then best friend’s and my name. There are still leftover tape stuck on the wall after I took down all of my old posters last year. But we had a set of brand new couch in the living room. There are a couple more pictures of me displayed in the living room. My brother will be a middle-schooler next year, and my mom has taken on gardening. Everything is still so familiar and yet I wasn’t able to witness some of the changes.

Outside of my house, my city is rapidly growing as well. The old house applicant store across the stress has turned into a dentist office. More cars are on the street now but the traffic management is also much better than before. They are building a new bridge on the river next to my elementary school. The bridge connecting HongKong, Macau, and Zhuhai turned from a project into a grand part of the city’s infrastructure (still in testing phase). I felt like a tourist when my mom pointed out new stuffs that are happening in the city while we were driving. The stinky allies I used to know now have brand new paints.

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During the first two days I got home, my best friend from high school came to visit me from Russia. I took her to tours around my city – Zhuhai, Hongkong, and then Macau. We stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hongkong for two nights. Our hotel was near the Harbor Mall so it was convenient for the two of us to find things to do. But it was SO CROWDED, especially on street right down our hotel. Grew up in mainland China, I thought I have seen it all: congested traffic, miles-long lines, and crazily crowded square, train stations, buses… But I was mistaken. We felt like we were squeezing through people and people in HongKong walk like they are perpetually late for work. Now it might be because where we were staying was a tourist spot, and we did have a lot of fun in HK, but nonetheless, it was just irritating and exhausting to constantly spent 80% of your cognitive load on dodging people, pardening cargo carts, and minding traffic.

Besides that, we had a great time in HongKong. Particularly, we took the Sky Tramp up and visited Lantau North Country Park where the Big Buddha is. Once you got into the park on the mountain from the Sky Tramp, you will find many restaurants of different styles, a lot of souvenir stores, and many classic chinese-style architectures and statues for photos.

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We spent the next two days in Macau, visitng the Ruins of St. Paul’s and San Ma Lo Ave. Compared to HK, Macau is much more slow-paced. I would advise against you to ever wear heels in Macau as the pavements are not particularly flat. There are countless Asian beauty and makeup stores as well as some western brands in San Ma Lo, which made it the prime location for mainland tourists to shop for imported beauty products as the lower tariff rates here made them much cheaper.

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After my friend left for home, I have been enjoying my time at home, doing little and sleeping a lot. A lot of the times when people ask me what I miss the most about home, my answer would always be: food. Not only do I miss my mom’s amazing homemade cuisine, but I also long for the street foods and the snacks I used to spend my entire allowance (maybe about 10 dollars) on every month.

Put Chai Ko is one of them. They are like jelly cakes of different flavors and I used to have one of them every Friday after school as a freshman in high school.

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I also asked my mom again and again to take me to have Korean Naengmyeon, or cold noodles. They are literally cold, a bit sour and vinegary, and unbelievably refreshing in these hot summer days.

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I am leaving for St. Louis next week. While I am excited and can’t wait for school to start, I am also sad to leave home. Time flies by as we are all busy growing up and getting old. Next time I come home, I will again be a curious tourist, astonished by the new changes on the old streets. There is no slowing down for either of us, the street or me, so I wish nothing but health and safety for my family living on the same old street.

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