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Considering that we moved half-way around the world with no prior connections to Hong Kong, we are managing to enjoy quite a nice social life already. I was amazed, when we announced we were moving here last February, how many people said “I know someone there. Let me introduce you.” In no time, I had a long list of contacts here and we are now gradually meeting them in person. At least once a week, we have been out for dinner with various colleagues of Paul’s and new acquaintances. This week, I am looking forward to meeting a couple from Montreal with whom I have been corresponding quite regularly since February. They have been very helpful providing perspective on adjusting to life here. In general, people have been very welcoming and generous.

Later this week, we are going to the “Hungry Ghost Festival”. Ancestor worship is an important part of Chinese culture and there are many festivals dedicated to it. My understanding of the Hungry Ghost Festival is that this is when ghosts and spirits, mostly unhappy or abandoned ones, are released into the living world and rituals are performed to honour and feed them. All month, we have been seeing people at fire “pits” of various types burning faux money, paper clothing and so forth, with various foods laid out alongside. These offerings are intended to “feed” the ghosts with things that they need in the afterlife. Anyway, we are going to a particular area one night for this festival with some of Paul’s co-workers. I’m glad we’re doing this with people who know what’s going on.

A "Hungry Ghost" offering near our place. These happen right on busy street fronts.

A “Hungry Ghost” offering near our place. These happen right on busy street fronts.

Meet-up groups are big here in Hong Kong, and I have just joined my first one. These groups attract like-minded people to topics and activities ranging from art to hiking to language and food and everything in between. I joined one for women my age (no comment) that does walks, hikes, art tours, cultural tours, concerts, etc. with lots of food thrown in. I’m going to my first event with them this week: a visit to a nunnery and gardens in northern Kowloon. A big part of this adventure for me will be just finding my way to the starting point by MTR (subway).

We’re also going to see the Hong Kong Ballet’s production of Don Quixote next weekend and opening night of the Hong Kong Philharmonic a couple of weeks later. We went to a Chinese opera a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. “Xiqu” (pronounced SEE-shoo) as it is called in Chinese, apparently varies widely depending on the region it comes from and dialect, but there are some basic similarities to Western opera: tales of mistaken identity and forbidden love, the costumes, theatricality, recitative (talking bits), arias (songs), chorus-like passages, and so forth. When we mentioned to people we were going to see Chinese opera, they kind of winced and murmured “It’s an acquired taste”. But really, as a musician, I was listening for phrase structure, tonality, rhythm and so forth and I found it intriguing.

Lu Junzhan and Yang Baohua in "Interrogating Tao". from "The White Gauze Robe", Haifeng Baizi Opera Troup of Guangdong.

Lu Junzhan and Yang Baohua in “Interrogating Tao”. from “The White Gauze Robe”, Haifeng Baizi Opera Troup of Guangdong.

All this is outside Paul’s work (about which I will write in more detail soon), looking for an apartment (more on that to come too) and trying to figure out the “systems” here. In the meantime, I have to run to my next adventure! So far, so good!