Parting notes on Hong Kong

Hey everyone,

So Susan and I are leaving Hong Kong today. We’ve been staying with the So family, Conrad So being a friend of my parents from university. Conrad and his wife Candy have three boys: James (9), Victor (8), and Thomas (5). James and Victor woke us up before breakfast this morning by jumping on our bed. Freaked Susan right out as their faces were about an inch away from hers when she opened her eyes.

James is a great reader, and both him and Victor are very interested in Harry Potter, although surprisingly neither of them had read the books before we arrived. They’d only seen the movies, and as a result ask a lot of questions about Harry Potter. “So, in Harry Potter …” was a very common conversation starter. “So, in Harry Potter, how does Dumbledore die if he’s the greatest wizard ever?” “So, in Harry Potter, what does it mean that the wand chooses the wizard?” “So, in Harry Potter, why didn’t Harry die when Voldemort attacked him when he was a baby?” and so on and so on. I did not tell them who the Half-blood Prince was though. Both James and Victor have started reading the books now, and now our conversations are more like “Did you know that when Hagrid saved Harry from the burning house when he was a baby, he was riding Sirius Black’s motorbike?” yes, yes I did James.

Thomas speaks Cantonese as his first language, unlike James and Victor whose first language is English. Thomas is also completely deaf, but is able to hear when wearing this very sophisticated hearing aid device that involves an implant in his head and a battery pack strapped to his back. He goes to bed a bit earlier than the other boys most nights, and Susan and I had been trying to be quiet for the most part when he was in bed. Then one night Victor was talking loudly to us, and walked right into the room where Thomas was sleeping, still calling out to us in the next room. We tried to hush him so as not to wake Thomas, and Victor just looked at us funny. “He can’t hear. He’s deaf,” said Victor. Which is very true, and we felt rather silly afterwards. But still, it must be such an entirely different life. And how soundly one must sleep when one can’t hear anything at all!

As for China, it was good fun. I’ll probably come back through next year for Chinese New Years again. I now know people in Beijing and Hong Kong, and would like to see both again (people and places). Aggie asked about what kinds of toilets they have in China. Well, in Hong Kong they’re mostly Western-style. And in Beijing (and I’m assuming the rest of mainland China) they are mostly Eastern-style (squatting over a hole in the ground. Looks kinda like a sideways urinal, and flushes). Other random things we’ve learned: there are no such things as fortune cookies in China! Biggest joke ever, in their opinion. Also, bubble tea doesn’t exist the same way it does in North America. You can’t get tapioca pearls. You can’t get chunks of jelly or anything either. All you can get is solid jelly stuff at the bottom of a fruit/tea drink and then you mix it up with your straw and drink it up (and bird’s nest can be used as the jelly). Also, no such thing as an egg roll. I know, I know. Unbelievable.

2 Responses to “Parting notes on Hong Kong”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Tell me more about Thomas - does he use Sign Language at all? Does the hearing aid give him total hearing or just partial? Is he in school yet? Does (or will) he go to regular school or a special education school? I’m currently trying to set up a volunteer position at the Canadian Hearing Society though my ASL class, so this is really interesting.

  2. Stu Says:

    Hey Michelle - I am guessing marthas friend. Thomas has total hearing if he wears this battery pack which is connected to an implant in the side of his head which by passes the ear. It is really neat that a child how is totally deaf can now hear. The procedure was done out of the US and he goes to a normal school, he’s just a normal kid.

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