Hong Kong Before A Storm: Day 2

July 18, 2019

A free morning in Hong Kong was an excellent opportunity to explore. I decided to spend time with the Penn Glee Club Band, who are consistently exploratory and adventurous. They also like brunch. We were therefore up early heading to the center of town for some food and a walk.

One of my favorite elements of this trip were the street markets we visited in each city. In Hong Kong we visited “the Ladies Market” infamous for under-the-counter counterfeit good. One Glee Clubber even bought a replica watch to match an expensive genuine article that had gone missing!

That evening the Penn Glee Club Band performed at a small but swanky bar “Fringe Underground” for a crowd of alums and locals,

Crazy in Love with the PGCB

One of the alums who had come to our concert the day before was incredibly impressed with our two sets. He therefore purchased bottles of Dom PĂ©rignon for a post concert celebration.

Bright and early the next morning I walked through the Tsim Sha Tsui district known for its tailors, picking up made to measure shirts that I had ordered the day before. With 24 hour turnaround this was an impressive feat on the part of the tailors!

Next up: a ferry to Macau.

Hong Kong Before A Storm: Day 1

July 16, 2019

One interesting aspect of the trip was the opportunity to learn about the complex history of the regions we visited.

Visiting Hong Kong at this time was particularly eye-opening given the tension over the extradition bill and subsequent protests. I learned about the complicated Hong Kong identity, imbued with both a history of British colonization and norms of Chinese culture. While not quite a democracy, the people of Hong Kong reverse democratic values. Attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to integrate Hong Kong into the mainland are often met by opposing mass movements.

However, my stay was more than just politics. One particular highlight of this leg was our visit to Diocesan Boy’s School. Their choir is world renowned for it’s superb musicianship. The Penn Pipers (my barbershop group) experienced this first hand. After performing a number for them, a few boys heard us whispering about another song:

“Should we sing Notre Dame?”

“Nah, too long.”

The boys overruled our decision: “We know that song!”

A small group of their singers were so eager that we gathered around for a seven minute medley of songs from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The small group quickly became large. Every boy in their choir opened up their phones and squinting at the tiny print, sightread our most difficult piece!

That evening the Glee Club took to the water to see “A Symphony of Lights”. We watched the waterfront musical production as buildings around the city lit up in time with the music.

Two Glee Clubbers took the romantic scenery very seriously, and were too busy kissing to notice a seasick passenger receiving medical aid right by their side. Enough for my night, I went to sleep soon after.

The Cities That (Never?) Sleep: Shanghai

July 14, 2019

The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Tour 2019: “The Cities That Never Sleep”

Destinations (according to the PRC overlords):

  • China, China, China

Destinations (otherwise):

  • Shanghai, China (The People’s Republic of China)
  • Hong Kong (SAR)
  • Macau (SAR)
  • Taipei, Taiwan (The Republic of China)
  • Tokyo, Japan

First leg: Air Canada Economy PHL–>YYZ–>PVG. Lovely break at the Maple Leaf Lounge in YYZ, but otherwise nothing notable.

I landed in Shanghai at around 6PM, hours earlier than the rest of the Glee Club. I therefore took the opportunity to get acquainted with my surroundings, walking in the vicinity of People’s Square.

I loved the mixed of small stalls, and skyscrapers that permeated my path. I bought a few bananas from a street vendor and wandered over to where a large crowd was gathering for paired dancing:

A few steps onward was line dancing:

and a little further, karaoke:

Our hostel was located along a river, with lovely views in the evening and was a great starting out point for adventures.

Two days of adventures in Shanghai included visiting some of the famous markets, gardens, and of course performances.

Our major performance in the city was a collaborative concert with the women of the Shanghai Conservatorium of Music. (Photos Courtesy of the Penn Glee Club Tour Blog https://penngleetour.tumblr.com)

Our China leg also included a day trip to Suzhou, known by many as the “Venice of the East”. It’s a beautiful ‘small town’ of ten million people and many canals.

The biggest tourist attraction in Suzhou is the heavily trafficked Humble Administrator’s Garden. Where once it may have been a peaceful spot to relax, not so much anymore.

I also spent half a day in Shanghai sightseeing with Christian, a freshman Bass in the Glee Club. While known for his misadventures, he’s a charming and incredibly personable individual who could make conversation with a stone wall.

One notable feature of all the cities we visited was the incredible number of luxury goods shops. I saw enough Louis Vuitton and Rolex to last a lifetime.

One such encounter was an evening dinner treat when the Glee Club was taken to a fancy Peking Duck restaurant by the family of one of our members. While I couldn’t partake of the meal, it took place inside one of many vaulted malls, filled top-full of high end and expensive fashion.

Soon our time in Shanghai was over, and it was off to Hong Kong.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney