Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blog

We're leaving Hong Kong today. We had a great time; more when we return.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hong Kong--Day 1

Hong Kong—Day 1
The flight between JFK and Hong Kong was long. Fortunately, the combination of movies, sleep, walks up and down the aisles, and visits to the loo, helped pass the time away. Jeffrey and I were just too weary—from attending to last minute details and getting up early in the morning to catch the flight from Rochester to JFK—to read on the plane.

With the exception of food, Cathay Pacific was almost as great as we’d heard. Although they brought us low salt and low fat meals as we had requested, there was not much difference between our meals. The chicken was mega salty, the food, anything but memorable. Flight attendants were gracious and helpful, though.

Hong Kong is so well organized. We were able to get luggage carts at the airport, walk them to the train where a conductor helped us load everything, and reach our station in Central, the business hub of Hong Kong, only to find another corral of carts awaiting our arrival. That was a surprise. We have carts at US airports, but once you get off the JFK Air Tran at Jamaica Station, you are on your own, climbing, luggage in hand, up and down subway stairs. Being able to use the carts until we caught a cab was just the first instance of the organizational skills that seem to characterize the "Hongkongese” ability to think ahead. A grad student met us at the airport and when we arrived at Central our host, Dr. Rainbow Ho, was there smiling to greet us and ease our entry into this international city.

Rainbow’s hosting has been generous. After she met us last night at the express train station in Central; she got us situated in the hotel. She took us to the University this morning; and she introduced us to her colleagues and gave us a tour of the Center

We’d been traveling for 27 hours before we settled into the hotel. I wondered how I would ever be able to give a 2.5 hours presentation at 10:00 am the next morning. While 10:00 am was a great time to teach, I feared that my biological clock and untutored circadian rhythms would be thinking it was 10:00 pm Wednesday, not 10:00 am Thursday. Would I be able to think and talk at what would be for me so late at night?

Fortunately, jet lag did not raise its sleepy head. On Wednesday morning, our reception at the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Behavioral Studies was warm and welcoming. Staff members were eager to express their interest and commitment to dance/movement therapy. The surprisingly large numbers of people at the seminar were eager to learn and the facilities were amazing. We should all have entire video rooms set up to record lectures and workshops from a remote site, as they have here. The Center itself has a play therapy room and a group therapy room with unobtrusive cameras, one-way mirrors, toy areas for children, and comfortable, homey looking furniture. By 2009, the Center will have a dance therapy room with wood floors, mirrors, the works. Compared to what many of us have to contend with at the hospitals and agencies we work at, the current dance/movement therapy space here is more than adequate.

The audience for my first presentation comprised health professionals, dancers, dance and music educators, and an array of people from the world of business, and all listened attentively. They asked great questions and left eager to learn more. I kept my shape and felt generally comfortable even after I realized that I had over-prepared. All the technical aspects of the presentation, such as the PowerPoint slides and DVD segments illustrating concepts such as movement empathy, worked without a hitch.

After the presentation, Rainbow and her colleagues took Jeffrey and me to a lovely lunch at the faculty dining room. Conversation was pleasant and stimulating. I look forward to more..

This evening, Rainbow took us on the ferry to Kowloon Island in time for us to enjoy a laser light show like a symphony of colored lights. This involved many of the skyscrapers and buildings on both sides of the Harbor. We loved it so, we plan to go again. Next, we found a charming Thai restaurant that made great fried rice with pineapple, walked a great deal, discovered the most expensive hotel in Hong Kong (The Peninsula—it’s gorgeous and has lots of character) and walked through the Cultural Center. The buildings are beautiful, well laid out, and navigable. Although it was late at night, Rainbow went out of her way to take us back to Central, making sure once again that we were comfortable and knew how to return to our hotel.

It was late, but we wanted to go to the supermarket to buy bottled water. We did not relish the idea of boiling water any time we wanted to brush our teeth or drink water. Finding the store was easy, but discovering that the water was down the stairs on the basement floor highlighted what I had been thinking all night. This city is not handicapped accessible. Located on hills, surrounded by mountains and sea water, it has stairs and escalators to get from one level of the city to another. Although skyscrapers dominate the skyline and this city has the technology, I did not see an elevator in the supermarket or anywhere along the trails that take people from the peaks to the harbors.

Tomorrow, Friday, we have a day off. Thank goodness. We need the time to catch up on our sleep. So much to see, but I have to focus first on the upcoming LivingDance~LivingMusic workshop, my seminar on dance/movement therapy and the treatment of eating disorders, and the rest of the academic responsibilities for which they have invited me.