My sister invited me to attend a medical convention with her as to keep her company and support her as she had a poster case presentation from November 24-27.
At first, I wasn’t really into the idea of going, but after her persuasion, along with my parents coercion, and the fact I get to meet 2 of my friends who live there, made me decide to go with her.
“Meeting Tracer Tong”
Meeting Tracer Tong is a reference to one of my all time favorite PC games ever, Deus Ex. In there, there is a level in Hong Kong, specifically in Wan Chai streets, where one of the most iconic background music (in my opinion) plays as you find a character named Tracer Tong.
It so happened that the medical convention, the 11th Echo Hong Kong, was being held in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is in Wan Chai, I couldn’t help but play “The Synapse” (the Hong Kong level background music in Deus Ex) on repeat while I was there.
Like my trip to Singapore alone last September (I also went to Singapore last March with company) I have always been ignored when it comes to “timing”; by this I mean, I was always told to leave the house for the airport way to early. I know that counters usually open 2-3 hours before the scheduled flight, and I do take into account the possible traffic and such, so I could usually calculate the best possible time including all the hindrances that can come from the travel to the airport. Alas, nope, we left the house at 7AM from Pampanga to the airport in Manila.
Now our flight is 2:20PM, take into the regular time it takes to make it to the airport which 2 hours, with a possible hour of traffic, we will be arriving at the airport at 10AM, for which we did, and had at least another hour of waiting before the counter to be opened for our flight… for which we did.
After all is said and done, I have always had something bad to say about Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the lack of efficiency and such, but that was in Terminal 3 that I was already complaining about, yet boy oh boy, Terminal 2 is a different beast altogether.
Lack of seats while waiting for a flight, only ONE opened public restroom at the time, lack of proper dissemination of information regarding changes in flights or gates (I know, I know, I traveled quite a lot when I was younger and more recently, so I know flights and gates are subject to change, but the lack of announcement thru PA or a sign showing there is a change, heck even a change in the monitor, can confuse those first timers who are traveling alone – doubt my sister would have noticed this if she traveled alone), and I can go on and on, but hey, let us save that for another post.
Needless to say, we got on our flight, but didn’t take off until an hour and thirty minutes after stepping on board… another thing that ticked me off.
Anyways, overall, the flight in Philippine Airlines was fun, could have been better, but we got to Hong Kong safely, and that is all that matters.
Sixteen Degrees Celsius
My friend who lives and works in Shenzen tagged me in a post in Facebook showing the weather is quite cold; as low as 16 degrees Celsius she mentions. At first, I was like, darn it, time to pack in some thick jackets to keep me warm and stuff. Upon arrival and exit from the Hong Kong International Airport, I will admit, it was cold and had to put my jacket on, but after awhile, it reminded me of a regular day in America. It didn’t take me long to adapt to the weather and remove my jacket altogether.
The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel near the convention center in Wan Chai cost us like 50 bucks; it was nearly an hour’s travel from the airport to the hotel, so it wasn’t really that surprising, but nonetheless, still surprising.
Upon checking in, I got to meet up with my good friend, Roberto, whom I first met last September in Singapore during the Formula One race there… he decided to show us around a bit and take us out to dinner.
After a brief tour around our block in Wan Chai and pointing us towards the convention center, he took us out to a nearby restaurant to try the local cuisine; not Chinese food is worldwide, you will always find a restaurant serving such dishes, but to try the AUTHENTIC food is really quite the feast.
We got to catch up, talk about Formula One, and get to talk about our personal lives more. Sadly, since me and my sister had a convention to attend to and Roberto had a flight to catch the next morning, we didn’t really spend the whole night hanging out.
But that is alright, as this proves that Formula One brings different people together, surely, in the future, be it in the States or here in the Philippines, dinner will be on me, Roberto! And we will hang out much longer then.
Percolate the Mind
After having a delicious dinner courtesy of Roberto, my sister wanted coffee and thankfully, there is a nearby Starbucks right in front of our hotel and we got there for a couple of nice warm coffee; I was already editing some pictures we took with Roberto, and my sister was studying for her poster presentation on Sunday, which is 2 days from that point.
It is known that there is a delay in my posting of photos since I started my hobby in photography in 2010, so my sister usually reminds me to post, and thank goodness, otherwise no one will see these pics for another week.
Thus, Day 1 ended, and onward to Day 2…
This is considered the convention day for me and my sister; we got to the convention center early to prepare her poster and listen to a number of lectures.
The lectures reminded me that I still have a soft spot for my first love in medicine: Cardiology.
My sister took up Cardiology which was her second choice for subspecialization, where Neurology was her first love; my first love was Cardiology and my second is Neurology. As fate would have it, since she is like 7 years older than me, she got to study and train in medicine earlier than me, so she gets to choose her subspecialization first, naturally. She chose Cardiology.
I then targeted Neurology thinking I will still be ultimately training and practicing here in the Philippines, and it would be a nice tandem to have different fields of expertise than being both Cardiologists.
However, I decided to move back to the States, hoping to pass the USMLE for my license there. Now, knowing that, I can go back to Cardiology as my subspecialization, but I already love the thought of being a Neurologist. That still doesn’t stop me from enjoying the lectures as Cardiology was my first love.
After listening to a few lectures, we decided to head back to the hotel to take a nap and such, then explore once again, the nearby areas. This was also a good opportunity to take shots of ourselves using my new Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 lens that I recently got with the thought of using it for future photo projects and future Formula One races.
The Calm Before the Storm
Back in the hotel, my sister is hard at work studying for her presentation, whereas I was hard at work editing the photos earlier in the day and making sure our hotel room doesn’t end up too messy; my sister does not have obsessive compulsive personality disorder (there is a big difference between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vs Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder… look it up), thus I like keeping things neat and orderly.
Knowing full well we need not wake up early the next day as her presentation is in the afternoon, I slept like a log. This was important as I was meeting one of my great college friends and a friend whom I consider very close, Amanda, right after the presentation. So I need to save up energy for that evening’s exploration and hang out.
Day Three, which is Day Two of the convention for us, went by without a hitch; my sister successfully presented her case and poster, and all the stress she had going in is finally gone, and all she can think about is shopping.
Thankfully, Amanda took that into account, so as we met up, she took us to an area where my sister can shop.
After a few strolling around together as a group, my sister wanted to shop more than have dinner, so she went shopping on her own, and Amanda and I had dinner and subsequently strolled the area some more.
Falling in Love with Photography All Over Again
Amanda and I then strolled around the city and occasionally entered shops to, well what else? Shop. Along the way, laughing and enjoying every bit just like the times where she was still living here in the Philippines where without fail, we would hang out at school or anywhere after school. I missed those days and more importantly, I missed her, and it showed.
I would take pictures of her without knowing as that is usually my style in street photography or any event for that matter; I like taking pictures of people in their natural state… no faking smiles or whatnot. Of course, there are times I asked her to smile for me and I must say, she makes a great model! And I will admit, I have taken a lot of photos of people since 2010, both in regular events or in modeling, but when I saw the photos I took while I was editing, I can’t help but have my breath get taken away.
Maybe it is the fact I haven’t shot in the streets or people for a long time, apart from my trips to Singapore; maybe it is because I missed Amanda, and it was a pure pleasure taking her photos; maybe it was the nice city I was exploring; or maybe it was simply her smile in that one particular photo… but in the end, I am in love with photography again to the point I made a decision to finally upgrade my DSLR after 7 years.
It shows that even if I have a new lens, the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, my previous lens that I bought 5 years ago is still just as good, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. After getting an upgrade to my DSLR body, I hope to get a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 to complete MY version of the Holy Trinity of Lenses.
Enough of that, enjoy these photos:
Last Minute Shopping
It is the day we will finally head back home to the Philippines, but my sister still wanted to explore a bit more and shop a bit more, so after making sure we packed everything we needed and checked out from the hotel, leaving our bags at the counter, we made our way to Causeway Bay nearby and shopped.
In the end, I wasn’t able to get anything I really wanted, but I did stumble upon this cool plushie!
And finally, after my sister got the stuff she wanted, it was time to head back to the hotel, pick our luggage, and head to the airport.
Til Next Time, Hong Kong!
On the flight back home, me and my sister had separate seats as she got her plane tickets from a travel agency, whereas I ordered mine online; the flight to Hong Kong, we were lucky to be able to sit together, but alas, on the trip home, we are separated.
I sat next to a nice elderly lady, who was also Filipino, so we chat our way back to the Philippines.
I was also, apparently, labeled by two elderly Chinese couple as the “Go-To-Guy” for asking help when it came to using the inflight entertainment system. I found that very nice that even if they were sitting in the behind me in the aisle, they would reach out to my shoulder and ask me for help. Take note that they both seem to speak much English, but with enough simple sign language, I was able to understand what they wanted, and so I helped them get their inflight entertainment system play the music or the movies they wanted.
Then touch down in the Philippines, I said goodbye to my new found friends during the flight, and eventually, after an hour or two, me and my sister are back home.
Overall, the trip to Hong Kong was awesome, but I would have loved to explore more of the area; seeing that we were really there for the convention, it was tough to have a vacation state of mind, however, during Day Three and Day Four right before we left, we were able to really appreciate Hong Kong and longed to stay a bit more to see everything else. Of course, there is always next time. And next time, I will go there without any other reason but to see everything else Hong Kong has to offer. So ’til next time, Hong Kong!
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