Monday, November 24, 2008

A change of perspective

The US Presidential Election certainly didn’t disappoint. Regardless of our denomination, it’s hard to placate the significance. But more important to my writing, having been outside of the country during the election, I gained an interesting perspective that is difficult to put into words.

The day of the election I woke up and began watched Bloomberg TV (A business news channel and one of the few channels in English). They had dedicated a large amount of time to the reactions of different governments around the world and what the presidential election will mean to relations in the future.

I was shocked. I couldn’t remember the last time I had heard of or even cared about the election of officials of another country. Sure I know a couple political leaders, but I don’t remember watching their election process or counting the blue and red states in their country.

In the weeks prior I was asked many times by my fellow exchange students which candidate I would be voting for. A couple of my professors couldn’t resist the same question. And yet I couldn’t think of an international election I was interested in, much less having questions for my fellow exchange students and professors.

I attribute this dichotomy, not to my lack of interest in global politics, but rather to the sheer importance of US leadership around the globe. Certainly I have long known my countries importance to the world, but to the exacting degree – to a higher level of realization and consciousness – to which I know it now, I had not.

Again, when a perspective is gained, when the fog begins to lift and your horizon expands, even to the slightest degree, it is an astonishing experience, difficult to put into words.

My health and the Venetian

2 Ex-rays
1 Blood test
1 Gastroscopy
1 Tred-mill test
2 Sets of antibiotics
And yet, I’m still not exactly sure what’s wrong with me. The cardiologist and I concluded, based on my tests, there is nothing wrong with my esophagus, heart and lungs, which is enough to feel comfortably sure I’m not going to die (sarcasm). Amazing how the process of elimination can be so comforting. We agreed upon some skeletal/muscular problem. Although I’m not sure why it has persisted so long.

Regardless, much of the pain has dispersed. I’ve been feeling much better though not 100%. Many of my normal activities have resumed. Two weekends ago I had the chance to visit Macau (or Macao) with about twenty other HKBU students.

We stayed at The Venetian. Apparently Asia’s largest Hotel/Casino/Building, it truly was a beautiful place. The twenty of us rented a really nice room and because we split the price, it was only about HKD 175 (USD 22). But with twenty people in the room, my highly prized sleep suffered immensely.

Staying in Macau for a day was a refreshing experience. In comparison to Hong Kong, which has torn down most if their colonial buildings, Macau has retained most of theirs. The streets wind down from the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Small stores selling interesting snacks and trinkets occupy the first floor of Portuguese inspired building that line the sides of the narrow streets. We were hardly alone. Cramming the streets were endless swarms of Asian tourists. Who knows where from.

After visiting Macau tower and taking in the amazing view of the surrounding islands, my good friend Alexandra and I returned to the colonial district. Once there, we met with a friend of a friend, Patrick, who I had never met prior, but was recommended to by Starr Thibodo, another friend of mine who is currently studying in England. Patrick, who is originally from Southern California and is now working in Macau, treated Alexandra and I to an amazing Portuguese dinner. My mouth waters every time I think of the duck, beefsteak and seafood we were so graciously treated to. It didn’t help that our meal was set in a small quiet colonial style building – insuring I was on my best behavior and used my best manners. The food was great and our conversation interesting. It was a grand end to an exhausting and fun weekend.


The cages were empty when we first arrived at the restaurant. The sign out front, in big bold Chinese characters, looked something similar to the letters my roommate had written down on a small piece of paper for me. There were handwritten English words written just above the Chinese characters, no larger than a size twelve font. “Snake Soup” it read. We had found our whole-in-the-hall.

There were five of us; two French and three Americans, none of whom could speak Cantonese. But that didn’t stop the owners from knowing exactly what we wanted. Shortly after our arrival a box came from the back that emptied ten cobra snakes into the cage just in front of us. After all, our snake soup could have been chicken for all we knew.