There's no place I'll rather be

I'm so HAPPY!!! I didn't want to say anything until the papers were isigned, but guess who an internship at an architect firm after the summer?! ! It is paid and it's for a whole year, so it's really more a form of short term employment since I'm also taking a one year break from my education. It will be SO MUCH FUN! I was really surprised when I got the news only after a few weeks because I was not expecting it until April/May, I thought the whole job-seeking process would take much longer time so this feels really good. Not just because I have next year settled, but also because this is the first real validation in the profession I've chosen.

Not only that, I feel that the work with the candidate project finally is going well after having a bit trouble. Don't know if I've mentioned it before but we had four options to choose from; a bathhouse, housing in Tyresö, a preschool in Södermalm or an art museum in Uppsala. I chose the art museum. I have realized that it is not the easiest thing to draw a whole museum of over 3,000 square meters, but it's fun. It's so fun and satisfying that every day I feel so grateful to have chosen architecture as profession, I never want to do anything else.

When winter turns into spring

As much as we complain about Sweden's dark and cold winters, we must admit the positive with the seasons, and it's that wonderful anticipation as winter turns to spring. Even if you are drowning in work, it is easier to endure. Right now I am busy with the candidate project. We had mid critisism yesterday, already! Today I took a day off, it was needed after a lot of hours of work and a few hours sleep. 

Lantau - Tai O

After Ngong Ping, we took the bus to Tai O, one of the last South Chinese fishing villages on poles. This trip was truly an experience, I've never been in a place that is so different from what I'm used to. The first thing we did was to take a boat trip between the houses, but unfortunately we didn't come far into the village since the water was very low as you may see. We saw more by just walking around afterwards. Recently Instagrams own account added a picture from the same location as the picture above, but with sunset and high tide. A bit jealos, but whatever...

There is a whole network of bridges and piers between the houses, which basically functioned as normal streets where we could walk everywhere. However, I couldn't help feeling that we were trespassing, you almost go through the houses and see into their homes and how they live. It's very fascinating to see how little space and things people need to live.

Some houses looked like huts and others looked like cubes of aluminum. There were quite many that looked like the latter. I read afterwards that it had been a big fire there in 2000, which perhaps explains it.

And then there were some newer houses that look like ordinary villas, although on poles, of course. The white to the left has its own matching zigzag walk to the house. 

Unfortunately I think the village will change a lot in a very short time, they are already building a wide promenade along the water and apparently the government has plans to spend millions to transform the area. Have subsequently read about it and that the residents are protesting. It's incredibly sad if Tai O loses what makes it special, and if Hong Kong loses it's last traditional fishing village.

As darkness began to fall, we took the ferry back to Hong Kong. It's difficult to imagine that this also began as a fishing village not too long ago.

Lantau - Ngong Ping

We went to Lantau, the largest island located west of Hong Kong Island. Very mountainous and beautiful scenery but unfortunately we were not lucky with the weather. Almost every day we were there it was very foggy, as was this day. Too bad because we certainly missed out on stunning views. But we saw a lot else! We took the train to the island (the airport is also here so there are good connections) and then the cable car Ngong Ping 360, which took us over the mountains to Ngong Ping.

You could choose between going  with a regular car and a "Crystal Cabin" with glass floors. The brave ones took the latter! Totally worth an extra buck, the glass was very clear and it took a while before I actually dared to stand on it. 

The whole trip took 25 minutes and we went high up above the mountain peaks. The higher up, the more fog. On some occasions there was so much fog that everything around us was just white, white and white. Like I said, it was unfortunate because we didn't see the view, but the fog was actually pretty cool too.

Once in Ngong Ping, we came to what looked like a small Chinese village, a pretty touristy one with souvenir shops and Starbucks. It was surprisingly a lot of people up here, all the way to the monastery and the huge Buddha.

These breathtaking stairs (literally, my breath was gone after half the way) leads up to the 34 meter high Buddha, one of the world's largest. Which you can't even see here because of the fog! I was a little shocked when it suddenly appeared before me, it was bigger than I expected. So you could say that the fog worked as a cool, mysterious effect. Heh.


Kowloon is one of Hong Kong's three main areas (the other is Hong Kong Island, where we stayed, and New Territories which is north of Kowloon). Between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island you have to take the ferry or the train for a few minutes. Otherwise it's not much difference between them, at least not if you compare with the part closest to the water, Tsim Sha Tsui. It's still a lot of high buildings and a lot of people.

Unfortunately, the day we explored Kowloon where the day when we had the least strength and I wasn't very active with the camera. After a night of partying and free drinks all night (more about that later), it was a miracle that we even got up. We took every opportunity we got to sit down and rest. I even fell asleep for a moment on this patch of grass. By the way, across the water you can see the Hong Kong Island.

At the end of Tsim Sha Tsui, closest to Hong Kong Island, you will find the cultural center and a large area with museums. My guidebook described the cultural center as "one of the century's greatest architectural disasters" because of the huge buildings (don't have a picture of the whole thing) which is without windows despite having the best location in Kowloon by the water.

Aside from the cultural center Hong Kong lacks culture in the way that we are used to in European cities. Museums, parks, squares and activities that belong to these places, there is not as much of. Their biggest "activity" is shopping, and eating out. Shopping and dining you can find everywhere, in every corner of the city.

Therefore, it was quite fun to walk around in this area and see for example this contest that was going on in traditional Chinese dance(?) with a big audience. It was not until I saw this that I realized how little of this kind of public activity we had seen, when "something is happening" that people gather around.

Kowloon Park is the second exception, a very large and beautiful park in the middle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Didn't have time to check out the whole park but sat here for a while and ate my food from McDonald's.

And this is the stunning view of Hong Kong Island at night. We gladly took the ferry back instead of the subway. As I said, I was very bad with the camera that day so I haven't really done the area justice with this post, but this will have to do.

CUHK School of Architecture

We went to Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to visit the School of Architecture as you can see above. It is one of two architecture schools in Hong Kong. As in Tokyo, it was great to see the similarities with our own school. First of all, concrete seems to be a standard for many architecture schools... This one is, however, a bit nicer than our lump of concrete in Stockholm.

We were welcomed by a professor who were also our guide earlier in the day when we were visiting Nan Lian Garden and the surrounding area. He invited us to look at the presentations that was going on during our visit. It was a very good opportunity to get an insight into what they are doing and how their teachers are.

It was the fourth-year students who presented and it wasn't yet completed projects, but it was still interesting to see a part of the process. And the presentation and criticism was in English luckily for us. So much fun to see how similar it is to our criticism! Only on the other side of the world.

We also got to see their studios... We're not the worst, woho! And yes, for those of you who have never seen a studio in an architecture school, this mess is completely normal, if not worse just before project submission. Maybe you can understand why I don't always feel comfortable in an environment like this when I'm used to having it clean and tidy around me.

I was more jealous of their roof, though. This should be a standard for all architecture schools. Imagine the parties you can arrange up here. The view is also Hong Kong in a nutshell - sea, mountains and high buildings.

Nan Lian Garden

There are not many parks in Hong Kong, but the ones we visited were very beautiful. I discovered during my stay in Tokyo that I love Buddhist temples and gardens, as well as this Chinese Nan Lian Garden which is located a bit outside the center of Hong Kong. The special thing about this one is that it is surrounded by highways, yet it is very quiet and peaceful. And of course the contrast with all the high buildings in the background - because it's Hong Kong.


Birthday Celebration

In recent years I have been bad at organizing a proper birthday celebration for myself, this time of the year is always stressful and all bigger plans fails, just like this year. Luckily, my nearest crowd still counted on celebrating me and therefore I could still gather everyone for a dinner. We ate Lebanese food att Tabbouli, super delicious and super cozy down in a red cave. But the best was, of course, my company - my god, what amazing people I have by my side. I could go on and on about how talented and ambitious they are and what great inspiration they all are to me. But the important part is that they are so genuine and nice people in every way, and wonderful friends. I'm so lucky.


Yesterday I turned 22! After spending almost the whole day in Uppsala (the location of my project) I went home and celebrated with my family and boyfriend. Great day with a great mood, just like every year! It also felt like the first real day of spring which was absolutely wonderful. Less wonderful was that I was not prepared for the POLLEN SHOCK! At first I couldn't figure out if it was the allergy or the cold I have suffered from this week, but by the evening I had difficulty breathing and could barely look through my red watery eyes which revealed that my dear enemy is back in the air.

As a result, I made my first accomplishment as a 22-year-old this morning - drugging myself to sleep. I accidently took a strong sleeping pill instead of my allergic pill (I know, HOW?) and I realized my mistake as soon as I had swallowed it. It's now clear to me that I can't force vomiting after I tried in every way. I even tried to hang upside down with my boyfriend holding my legs while I pressed my fingers in my throat, but no. I only provoked tears and sat on the bathroom floor crying/laughing because I really didn't want to fall asleep since I had so much to do today. The whole situation was very comical and my brother stood beside us, laughing, and repeated how screwed I am.

It ended with me sleeping the whole day. Tomorrow, I'm supposed to present how far I have come with this project since we came home from Hong Kong. Feels like a joke after I have been suffering from food poisoning, cold, pollen allergy and then drugged myself to sleep for a whole day. Wish me good luck!

Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong is truly a unique city and very different from the cities I visited in the past. Although I can't compare with other Chinese cities since I haven't been, it's clear that East meets West in this city. It's a mix of everything and contrasts everywhere. It's also one of the most compact cities in the world. There's 7 million people on an area that felt as big as Stockholm, since a big part of Hong Kong is mountains and forests. It is literally a concrete jungle next to a jungle.

We arrived in the afternoon and checked into our hostel. The first thing we did after that was to visit a skybar, of course, to wait for the rest of the group who came with other flights. It felt so good with 20 degrees at night(!), and to be able to sit outside in just a sweater and enjoy the view. It felt unreal. And as you may know, I am a sucker for megacities + views.

When the others arrived, we went to a restaurant where we got to try a bit of everything. In the middle, there was a spinning table with all the dishes and you could pick what you wanted. Very nice first dining experience! Unfortunately, it went downhill after that, but we'll get to that.

The next day we began to explore the northwestern part of Hong Kong Island, with Central and Soho. We went to the Mid-Levels-escalators, the world's longest escalator system which covers almost a kilometer. There wasn't anything fun at the end of the whole route which was a bit of an anticlimax, but you got to see a lot of the area while you are resting your feet.

In Hong Kong, trees grow on walls. How COOL is that? You can't stop nature.

We visited the Man Mo Temple. Not much to see from the outside, but quite nice on the inside. And very smoky. We also saw Hong Kong's first mosque (below).

Hong Kong in a nutshell, nice next to shabby. Sometimes it's a little hard to get a grip of an area since one moment you think it's shabby and then you suddenly see a Prada or Gucci store. There are very few homogeneous areas.

We got to visit OMA, one of the most prominent architectural firms in the world(?). They have offices in Rotterdam, New York and Beijing, in addition to this one in Hong Kong. We got a tour of the office which was surprisingly small, and then they showed some current projects in Hong Kong and China. A very interesting experience!

After that we walked around in the financial district in Central and visited several skyscrapers and went up to the observation floor if possible. Bank of China is probably my favorite in Hong Kong, it lights up beautifully at night and stands out in the very large amount of skyscrapers.

Not a group selfie but selfies in a group!

These Lippo Towers also stood out in the crowd. At first I thought it looked like something from Star Wars, but apparently it represent koalas hanging along the sides, inspired by the original Australian owner. Now I only see koalas.

And that's enough for the first post.

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