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Snapshot of China (Hong Kong) – Hong Kong is distinct from mainland China in many ways. While it is part of China, it operates under a different political system, influenced in part from its time as a British colony. Cantonese is Hong Kong’s primary language, but English is also an official language that is spoken by about 1/3 of the population (though generally as a second language). Hong Kong is a highly non-religious area, with the majority of its population not practicing any religion, being either atheist or agnostic. Only about 40% of the population practice some type of religion, with most of these being Buddhist. However, about 11% of the population belongs to various Christian churches. Hong Kong has a very globalized culture with a mix of western and eastern influences. Feng shui and other traditional Chinese practices are held in high regard, while at the same time Hong Kong relishes in being an extremely modernized area. Hong Kong’s shopping district is very popular, and it is known as a producer of Cantopop music as well as martial art films (stars such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li got their start in Hong Kong). Soccer, rugby, horse racing, and Chinese dragon boat racing are all popular sports in Hong Kong. Meals in Hong Kong are generally accompanied by rice or noodles, and often use some kind of seafood (shrimp, scallops, fish, etc) or chicken as the meat. Serving sizes are considered small by western standards. However, many western foods and and dishes typical of mainland China are also available.
Snapshot of Macau (part of Hong Kong Mission)
Macau is a special administrative region of China, and the two official languages are Chinese and Portuguese. It was once governed by Portugal, and as a result some Portuguese influence remains in the area. Most Macanese are Buddhist, but many mix their Buddhist beliefs with traditional folk practices. Christians make up about 10% of the population (mostly Roman Catholic as a result of Portuguese influence). Macau’s culture blends Chinese and Portuguese influences. Two of the biggest yearly events are the Macau Grand Prix in November and the Lunar Chinese New Year. Most popular music and television is broadcast from Hong Kong, though Japanese pop music is also popular and some Brazilian TV makes its way to Macau as well. Macanese cuisine uses several spices and flavorings including cinnamon and coconut milk. Galinha à Portuguesa (chicken and potato with a curry sauce), bacalhau (cod), Minchi (ground meat flavored with soy sauce and molasses), and pork chop buns are examples of popular dishes in Macau.
There is a very strong community of church members in the Hong Kong area. There are 24,188 members for the 33 congregations in the city. There is a temple in downtown Hong Kong. Most of the members are first and second generation members.
The food depends on the areas. There are two elements to every meal: rice and a vegetable dish. Noodles and rice are necessary for meals. The noodle soups are very common too. There isn’t a lot of American food available in the grocery stores.
Generally, American foods such as cheese and milk are available at many stores on the main island, where many Americans and other foreigners live. Beef and other certain American foods are not widely available. Pork is a very common meat used in many dishes. Seafood is very fresh and available in the street markets. So fresh that much of it is still alive when you buy it.
The produce is amazing, with tons of varieties and options. There are many fruits that the Western part of the world doesn’t grow.
All foods need to be sanitized before being eaten. If not, one will risk becoming sick.
The transportation is stellar in the Hong Kong area. All public transits are clean, efficient and fast. The Metro known as the MTR moves through the inner city areas and is very reliable. There are mini buses known as “Suba” buses. These take people to out of city locations. These drivers are wild, but the buses are air conditioned.
It is very safe in Hong Kong. Crime is looked down upon greatly and is punished severally. There may be areas that travelers should avoid, but crime is not frequent or common to find.
China is a very hard working country. Hong Kong takes pride in its work ethic. Their idea of life is work, study and eat. It is a major sacrifice to be LDS, because of the time commitment that can detract from work. Success only comes from personal efforts.
China has an interesting blend of Buddhist culture. About 50% of people know about God and Christian beliefs.
Bring rubber shoes that will be able to endure the rain, and water resistant or weightless clothing.
18 Dorset Crescent
Straight from the China Hong Kong Mission field:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“kool aid, fresh milk”
“White Shoe Laces for Temple Shoes (Hong Kong)”
*What did you eat the most of?
“rice, tofu, stir fry”
“In Hong Kong, you could easily have rice and chicken or (for variety) chicken and rice. Just had to go to McDonalds occasionally.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Can’t of anything crazy because its all normal food to me now.”
“I ate chicken feet — but only a small portion”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The Elderly people in China are super healthy and still hiking when they are like 86 years old!”
“It’s really crowded on public transport and the people do not wear deodorant.”
“How unimportant religion was in a materialistic society.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the China Hong Kong Mission?
“Dont become a best second someone else. You were sent because of who you are and the talents that God gave you.”
“Bring a coat for the winter and handkerchiefs for the summer.”
“”Unless you’re bleeding uncontrollably, can’t keep food down for 24 hours or more, or running a high fever for days, forget yourself and get to work.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Be who you are.”
“I wish I’d attended seminary. It’s much easier to teach effectively when you know more than just the basic Sunday School stuff.”
“Bring as much as you need so you don’t spend time looking for things there or lug too much around.”
“Be flexible and enjoy yourself.”
“”I had to change my life a lot, so I did not serve my first mission ’til I was well over 19 — but even with all I had to go through to earn the right to serve, it was a small price to pay. Whatever it takes, no matter how much you have to repent, pay the price. GO ON A MISSION!”