Summer trip 2019: Hong Kong & Tokyo

Well, more accurately, the 2nd summer trip, this time to Hong Kong and Tokyo—a quick trip as we were gone just over a week. Jade has been in Hong Kong this summer on an internship where she is developing a curriculum to teach disadvantaged Hong Kong kids how to code. (As a math/computer science social conscience Chinese-speaking person, this checks all of her boxes.). She’s had a great substantive summer and also has a great first-hand experience in how democracy should work (i.e. the importance of the right of assembly under the 1st Amendment). The first items the organizers hand the protesters are a mask (to defeat the excellent facial recognition software China has) and a bilingual sign asking the police to stay calm.

sign handed to protesters
bird’s eye view of protesters

It was all quite civilized and British until the Chinese raised the stakes. It still is very safe as long as you avoid the areas where the protesters are (which are generally published ahead of time—did I mention that this was all very civilized?). However, with 10,000 Chinese troops garrisoned in Hong Kong, there is a very real risk of all of this going sideways quite quickly. In fact, I kind of feel like Dr. Strange in Avengers: Infinity Wars when he says he’s looked at 14+ million futures and only sees 1 where Thanos is defeated. I can’t picture that many scenarios, of course, but I don’t see one where it ends well for Hong Kong.


That being said, we had a lovely several days wandering around Hong Kong, including a trip to Hong Kong Disney with the four of us.

Hong Kong Disney
Festival of the Lion King at Hong Kong Disney

There is nothing quite like Disney to restore one’s faith in human nature. Perhaps our family chronicles can be marked solely by meals, trips to a Disney park, and trips to Hawaii.


Tokyo was our next stop. This year is the 20th anniversary of the US-Japan Leadership Program and the last year of George Packard’s leadership of the US-Japan Foundation. The celebration was festive and filled with gratitude and appreciation. Jim and I saw people we hadn’t seen in years as people came from all around the globe to help celebrate this milestone. There were people from every year of the program in attendance. It truly was an amazing experience.

Tokyo
Tokyo with USJLP

2 thoughts on “Summer trip 2019: Hong Kong & Tokyo

  1. Dear May,
    Thank you again for your interesting and informative post.
    I’ve only been to Hong Kong twice. The first time I decided to take a long weekend stop-over there on my way back from America to Bangkok. I had been escorting refugees from Myanmar. I’d arranged with Tina to take a couple of days leave and fly there from Bangkok after she finished work, and meet up with me.

    Well I wasn’t prepared for the bitterly cold weather. Fortunately Tina was better prepared than I. But it was still an interesting weekend. The second time was in March this year. It was a forced 24 hour transit time. We were flying to Nepal with transit in Hong Kong. The flight from Brisbane was late and we just missed the Kathmandu leg. I thought we could wander around for a few hours, but it was pouring with rain and again very cold, so not a pleasant 24 hours.

    I’m really concerned about what the Chinese intend to do about the protesters. There have been reports from Australian journalists’ the the police are aiming rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at journalists’ eyes to stop them reporting.

    I do hope Jade is careful and safe.

    Warmest wishes
    David Parr

    • It appears the Hong Kong police have ratcheted up their response across all areas, including arrests. The police have always been well-respected in Hong Kong, and I have no doubts that many of them are as unhappy with the latest developments as the protesters are. I wish I saw a happy ending for this conflict for the people of Hong Kong… 🙁

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