A Four Year Friendship with an Angel

It’s funny the way friendships can begin. I still remember it so clearly. It was 2009 and I was doing a 6 month exchange programme at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. It was my second week in China and everything was overwhelming. I can’t explain what it feels like to be a newbie in China, especially a 22 year old foreign exchange student who has the Chinese vocabulary of a 1 year old and is missing everything that isn’t with her in China, namely her boyfriend and all her friends from Rhodes University. Thus, it was on a hot and humid day in September that I stepped into the lift and tried to wipe away my tears of frustration before I reached the 9th floor and had to explain (yet again) to my Korean roommate why I was crying (again). I didn’t even notice that there was anyone else in the lift with me until a sweet voice appeared out of nowhere…

“Hi, my name’s Angel, I think we have an English Literature class together.”

Out of thin air, what would become my guardian Angel during my time in China, just appeared. And of course her name would be Angel.

We quickly became close friends, and throughout my six months in Guangzhou we embarked on many an adventure together. She took me to Hong Kong when we had our first week off from classes and I experienced the city for the very first time from a local. We traveled across south China on a night train to Yangshuo and spent an amazing week cycling around the countryside with her boyfriend Benson and eating all kinds of delicious food. We spent Christmas eve together in 2009 and I even got the chance to visit her Chinese hometown of Huizhou.

When it came to say goodbye in January 2010 we both cried and had no idea when we’d be able to hang out again. Luckily for us, in August 2010 I decided to move back to China and as soon as I arrived in Hong Kong we went for dumplings and I stayed with her family for a few days.

I didn’t see her again for a while, despite now living very close. Actually it was by sheer coincidence that in May 2011 when I was partying with two of my best friends who were visiting China, that I bumped into her on the street in Hong Kong’s party central. This fateful encounter rekindled our friendship and after that we saw each other every couple of months, either in Hong Kong where she lives or in Shenzhen where I was living at the time.

I moved to Taiwan in August 2012 and during the 9 months that I lived there she came to visit twice and we traveled to many places on that magical island together and had such a ridiculously fun time.

Now I’m living in Hong Kong and as soon as I landed, she picked me up from the bus stop and instantly made me feel at home. It’s so good to live in the same city as her and be able to have dinner together on work nights or have a weekend day out, such as last Sunday’s Clockenflap music festival. Yesterday it was her birthday and I’d like to dedicate this post to our friendship that continues to blossom no matter the distance or years that go by. Tonight we ate dinner at my apartment and it felt so great to have such a close friend who’s seen me grow and go through so many changes over the past four years, and vice versa, actually be living in the same place as me. There’s nothing quite like catching up with an old friend over a cup of green tea and a big bar of chocolate to make you feel at home.

Angel, thank you for being such a loyal, kind, fun-loving friend! I am so grateful to have you in my life and to be able to experience living in the same city as you again! Here’s to many more fun, spontaneous adventures in the future of our friendship! Who know’s where the next step of our journey might take us?!

8433_188355155099_7984755_n Cycling around Yangshuo in China. One of my best memories from my days in China.

10029_173838431417_2931557_n First time in Hong Kong ever!

10836_194664841417_2350931_n In our element. Chilling in rural China.

19948_289129476417_992535_n Making pottery in Angel’s hometown.

19948_289151661417_352473_n Classmates!

19948_289151801417_4633086_nChristmas 2009!

59388_473523221417_6464949_nAt the Big Buddha in Hong Kong, 2010.

249971_10150269512121418_666757_nOur fateful encounter in Lan Kwai Fong, 2011.

309772_10150383436725100_49524793_n Shenzhen, 2011.

417718_10150723664445100_1255001464_nHong Kong Lomography Store, 2012. Funny, that’s where I work now!!

599287_10151016664790100_1624644322_nThe Jezabels concert 2012, just before I left Hong Kong!

430909_10151344904035100_1674095859_n Reunited in Taiwan, Christmas 2012

538620_10151354256885100_516120348_n We are pretty awesome!

543965_10151354237070100_155438151_nGrandpa Rainbow’s Village in Taichung, 2012

282941_10151354251525100_292244586_nStrawberry picking in Taiwan.

602705_10151354269920100_241653260_n Watching the most spectacular sunset above the clouds at Alishan.

1454905_10152024077190100_1480318065_nAnother sunset! This time at Clockenflap music festival in Hong Kong, 2013 (last Sunday).

Wow, talk about a trip down nostalgia lane! Angel and I certainly have some freaking amazing memories, and these are only a handful! Here’s to the memories to come!

Clockenflap 2013

Last weekend, Hong Kong’s largest Music & Arts Festival- Clockenflap took place right on the water overlooking the epic Hong Kong Island skyline. With a line-up including the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Chic, Cui Jian (Chinese rock legend!), Metric, 2Manydjs as well as many other fantastic bands, it was definitely a weekend people have been excited about for months! Clockenflap used to actually be free. I remember back in 2011 all you had to do was register online and wait to see if you got tickets. I did, but unfortunately they went to my junk inbox and I didn’t check it that week, so I missed out big time. Anyway, this year’s festival was a weekend of perfect weather, magical music, delicious cider, a whole range of different food stalls to choose from and thee most unique festival location I’ve ever experienced. I can’t quite explain the feeling you get when you’re watching one of your favourite bands playing (Metric) and the sun is setting over the glittering city and you’re just dancing around in a huge crowd of happy people; it’s really something special.

When Tegan and Sara were performing, in between songs they admitted that the night before they’d been a little drunk and had told everyone they saw that they were planning on moving to Hong Kong because it’s just so freaking beautiful. They woke up in the morning and had google maps open on their browser with neighbourhoods pinpointed that’d they like to live in. That’s the kind of thing I do and I was pretty happy to discover I’m not the only crazy dreamer out there.

The photos don’t really do the day I spent at Clockenflap justice, so you should probably make a little trip to Hong Kong next year and go along and see this surreal beauty of a festival for yourselves!

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p.s I’d just like to add that this is supposed to be Winter in Hong Kong. I know, I know, we are very lucky!



Check out this song by the Danish band Efterklang. I saw them play at the festival and I was pretty impressed. That’s probably because they announced their love for Taiwan after playing a gig in Taipei the night before. They even threw gifts from Taipei into the crowd. I may have screamed like a girl…It’s the Taiwan love, I just can’t help it. Thus, not only is their music brilliant, they also love Taiwan. We’re best friends already.

Cheung Chau Island 長洲島

When I woke up on Saturday morning to a sunbeam shining on my face through the gap in my clumsily-pulled across curtains, I knew it was a day for an island adventure. Living in Hong Kong is pretty amazing because whenever the urge takes you, you can jump on a boat and be washed up on an island within 20 minutes. Thus, after letting what can only be described as a pre-pubescent teenager cut my hair (let’s just say he was a stranger to scissors before Saturday), I dashed off to the ferry terminal to jump aboard the next boat to Cheung Chau island.

25 minutes later I found myself on a swarming harbour-front. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the big M for McDonalds, the 7/11 sign flashing in my peripheral…this was not what I’d been expecting. I imagined a sleepy little fishing village, no tourists in sight. I was wrong, but I had an idea. I scouted the horizon for a clearing and made my escape. I found a bicycle rental shop, picked the prettiest purple one I could find, complete with teapot shaped bell, and made a beeline for anywhere without people. Pretty soon I was riding downhill, the chilly winter air slipping through the wool in my jumper, my new haircut the epitome of windswept. I spotted a patch of sparkling sand and smiled to myself at being so clever for knowing that if I just cycled 5 minutes away from the crowds, I’d find my slice of paradise.

I spent the rest of the late afternoon cycling and carrying my bicycle uphill to all the look-out points. Let me tell you, this island is BEYOND BEAUTIFUL. Standing at the tip of the north look-out pagoda and seeing the Hong Kong skyline behind you, while down below fisherman go about their simple day, and farmers potter about on the land, that is how I want to spend every Saturday. Once again, I realised how much my heart beats countryside. The smell of cut grass mixed with incense and freshly-caught fish, meddling with the salt of the ocean and a hint of suntan lotion, that is what Cheung Chau smells like.

I cycled long after the sky had turned pink, as the smell of BBQ’d seafood started to blow through the lanes and the ukuleles came out to play. I ate fish balls on sticks and red bean buns sealed with a lucky red stamp and chose apartments that I’d like to live in if I could move to such an island. There was a feeling of community that must have settled over the island many years ago, that still lingered in the old, crooked alleyways.

I certainly wouldn’t mind living somewhere so special. As the sun was setting, I caught an older lady taking photos of me sitting on the rocks. I went to collect my bicycle from the path and we started to chat in Mandarin. We walked back to the village together with her dog and she even carried my bag up the hundred steps as I struggled with my bicycle. She was so friendly, and it made such a nice change getting to chat to a stranger which doesn’t often happen in my daily life in Hong Kong, at least not on such a personal basis. I even made friends with a group of teenagers who helped me tie up my bicycle to theirs while we went to look at some cave that pirates used to frequent!

Island people are really quite lovely. I think it’s all the fresh sea air and lack of traffic. If only we could all live like that…

Cheung Chau, I can’t wait to visit you again.




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