Friday, February 22, 2013

Discovery Bay Adventures

Where are we going today Mom?  How many trains will it take?  Visiting friends in Discovery Bay is interesting from the first bus!  Catch a mini bus, get a train at the MTR and then take the ferry.  JP knows his vehicles now.

 We had a wonderful time visiting with our friends.  We had lunch at their club house.  Dim Sum Family style with a round rotating tray in the center of the table.  We tried many different foods.  We were surprised that we really enjoyed this thin soup with rice that people here eat especially in the winter or when they are not feeling well.  It is called Congee.  I never would have thought we would like it.  It is truly "ugly" food but it is great for a cold or illness!  Lots of ginger is the key!
 Devon and the other kids spent a significant amount of time digging a hole to Kansas.  Devon made the most headway and ended with a pretty impressive pit!

We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the ferry ride home!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 3: Chinese New Year--The Lion Dance

The drums start and everyone rushes from our apartment to the tennis court.  Jason was running back and forth yelling, "they are starting! They are starting!  Let's go quick!"

These are huge puppets with 2 people in them.  They move like a lion, wagging their tails and wiggling their eyebrows and such.  They climb the poles and dance on top.  It is so amazing.  I cannot see how they jump all over these poles with 2 of them in a suit.  Also, how can they see?!

Booming drums go with the show and can be heard clear to Kansas--did you think that was thunder?

Smoke, catch the scroll and roll it out--blessings for a prosperous New Year, I am sure!

My Lion tamers!

Jason was all eyes!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 2: Chinese New Year--fireworks!

Cannot believe the amazing fireworks show!  We decided not to go after the crush of people that we had to push our way through for the parade.  Although with the amount of time the show lasted and it being up above the city--maybe we should have gone to see this and not the parade.  Live and learn!  Just with the massive crowds we had to hold Jason high in the air and he is not a lightweight any more!  Still from the comfort of our living room the fireworks show was spectacular!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 1: Chinese New Year--Parade

 The Ocean Park float in the Chinese New Year's parade.  A lion dances and changes Color!

Crazy crowds of people press and push against you.  People literally will crawl beneath you to get to the front.  It is unreal and exhausting.  The girls ended up pressed to the front.  Tim was exhausted from keeping JP above the crowds--it was insane!

Cool Marrionette puppets tower high above the press of humanity.

JP on Alexis shoulders giving dad's arms a brief respite!

The Disney Float!

Tim on Nathan Road with masses of people!

Emma and Devon waiting for the begining of the parade.

Bands and dancers entertain us while we wait for floats!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday morning Victoria Park Lunar Market

 Tim and I went back to the market on Saturday morning.  He did not get to see it when I took the kids during the week.  It was insanely crowded for a morning in Hong Kong!  Usually, things here get crowded later in the day.  There were all sorts of items to look at such as wonderful toys, balloons and pin wheels.
There must be some cultural aspect of things that I am totally missing. I need to do a little more research!  Here we found you could purchase blow up gold bars and coins of enormous size or you can just buy a banner with some on it.

 So, we were just walking around and all of a sudden a big TV camera gets pushed in my face and a lady starts asking me questions!  Are you a tourist? No, I live here.  (You would think we stick out or something!)  Why did you come to the market so early?  Crowds! (Are you kidding?  There were already more people in the area than we could count!)  What do you think of Chinese New Year? Incredibly interesting. (I do not understand but I am starting to now that I am part way through it!  I just found out that it is 15 days long!  Different things happen each day but I cannot find anything written--or at least in English!)  Anyway, I was smiling so wide as a fear reaction to a camera in my face that my teeth felt like they might fall out if not firmly attached.  I even felt myself turn red.  The major consolation in all of this is that it was a local station in Cantonese that no one I know would ever watch right?!  Sunday I get to church and guess what?  "I saw you on TV!"  How embarrassing!  Then someone here in the apartment elevator stops me. "I saw you on TV!"  Then the lady at the club house desk said, "I saw you on TV!"  Wow! I had my 15 seconds of fame and did not even get to see it!  Hope there was nothing in my teeth!

I do not know how much these people made at this market but check out the piles of empty boxes because the masses bought stuff for New Years.  It was like Christmas almost.  Don't tell marketers in the USA because I am sure they would want to jump on this and sell massive amounts of stuff like Black Friday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Victoria Park Lunar Market with the kids!

'twas 2 days before Chinese New Year when the Hales leave the house to go to Victoria Park Market aboard the MTR!
Spirits were high and smiles were on to see all the wonders of the Lunar New Year!
On exiting the MTR what do we see but Coke can Art!

Drinking straw art kept our imaginations soaring!

Victoria Park while traffic was roaring!

Plants with flowers and fruit some we have never seen--wonders and whatsits the New Year to bring!

Orchids, bulbs and herbs were all blooming,

On twisty bamboo New Years wishes are looming!

Away from the park to the library run,

Our senses are reeling that was lots of fun.  Kids with balloon pets needing a break sit on the sidewalk where picture I take!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fire Safety!

We officially can put out fires with extinguishers although it was much tougher than we thought! Now if we could use that thing for sibling fights that would be heaven!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shanghai (Tim)


My first entry into Mainland China was a business trip to Shanghai.  As a business trip, it was light on sightseeing and heavy on observations of the four walls of inside the office.  However, I saw enough of Shanghai to understand that the city has its own vibe, a feel very distinctive from Hong Kong.  My first impression was the haze in which the plane descended as it approached for landing.  Pollution is just a fact of life in Shanghai.  While not as bad as Beijing – in an infamous class of its own – the city’s pollution is chronically evident in the horizon that can’t be seen or the sun that can’t shine through.  

Shanghai is an eclectic mix of modern and old.  Times Square is surrounded by big shopping malls, high rise buildings, heavy traffic – even an Apple Store – all the trapping of a modern city.  But embedded within the city is a layer from a throw back era.  The streets are shared with Ferraris and old bicycles – circa 1952 – and outside 7-11s are street merchants selling trinkets and meals from their mobile kitchen/carts.  There are phone booths scattered throughout the city.  Not Wi-Fi booths, but phone booths with landlines that can be used for a fee – sort of a micromuseum.  I actually saw one in use, someone inside talking on his cell phone!  Maybe with 20m+ people in the city, it’s a great place to go for a bit of privacy.

Shanghai is not the international melting pot that Hong Kong is, but it’s heading in that direction.  One evening was able to get to the Bund, a site along the Huangpu River where the vestiges of Western influence can still be seen.  On one side of the river are stately buildings built by Western nations 100 years ago in what represented the epicenter of trade and commerce in Asia.  On the other side of the river is the modern financial district where the famous Oriental Pearl Tower can be can be seen (albeit through the haze that constantly hovers who’s presence is like a crazy uncle telling awkward jokes at Thanksgiving dinner – you feel like you should pretend it’s not there).  Shanghai has the vibe of a city fighting to regain its status as the Gateway to Asia it ceded to places like Hong Kong and Singapore.

All told, my trip to the Mainland was just long enough to be a teaser.  We are planning some family trips into China when we have time to explore it right (and maybe in optimal weather!).