Sunday, November 13, 2011

Back Home Again

As we were getting ready to leave for the airport for our visit home, the following photo of our house was sent by my friend Debi.

Luckily, by the time we arrived the snow had melted but more is predicted for later in the week. We will have a bit of adjusting to do with our bodies being so accustomed to warm weather (upper 60's brings out jackets in Hong Kong), but luckily all of our cold weather clothes are waiting here.

Door to door our trip home lasted 25 hours. We had a six hour layover in Chicago that was brutal. If there were some decent seating it would have been much better. Kyle and Johnny met us at the airport and delivered us home to a beautifully clean house, a big bouquet of flowers, two smiling cats (well, they were happy to see us anyway) and food. The fridge was stocked and it seems they had a cook-off for our return. We had chicken pasta broccoli, chicken satay with lime rice and chicken saltimboca. (Must have been a special on chicken.) It was all delicious and there was enough so that I don't have to cook for the first few days. 

We slept well the first night, not so well the second but getting adjusted none the less. Ken is off playing hockey this morning and I am really enjoying my bed. The cats are cuddling and I am trying to get over my lethargy to make a cup of tea.

I will keep posting while home as events transpire. I am home through the holidays. Ken will be here through November 28th when he heads back to Hong Kong till December 16. He is then back home for Christmas and we will return together on January 2. His time back in Hong Kong will be mostly travel. He leaves the day after returning for Delhi, India. He will also make two trips to Shanghai before heading back for Christmas. I will take advantage of the time to get caught up on doctor's appointments, house details and getting to see as many people as I can.

We will have a great Thanksgiving with Shayne coming home, my folks coming from New Jersey, my brother Mark from Indiana and our friend May Lene from Kuala Lumpur (it will be her first Thanksgiving). We will also have some local family join us as well. I don't have a final number yet, but I am looking for a mega turkey. On the 26th, Ken and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. It is hard to imagine that much time has gone by. We still feel young and if we don't look in the mirror we can actually believe it!

Right now we are scheduled to return at the end of January. But as we have learned that is not definite till we get on the plane. We are excited to have a bit more time in Hong Kong. Ken loves the work he is doing and I have never seen him happier with his job. I am feeling like every day is a new opportunity to see and learn. It has been especially wonderful to have the opportunity to learn about my step father Henry's homeland and to visit many of the places he has been. It is a connection I feel strongly and I only wish he were still with us to tell me more of the stories of his youth.

For now, I hope to see as many of you as I can. Call me so we can set up a time to get together if you can. I will keep posting and updating the newest leg of our adventure - home.

Big Buddha Part Deux

Decided to go back to Big Buddha with Michele and Catie while their mom was in India. We took the glass bottomed cable car up and down this time and spent a few hours wandering the temples and monastery and Ngon Ping village. The ride up the mountains was clearer than last time and we even saw a bungee jumper.

Actually he was a workman who was all tethered but looked like he was ready to jump.

Lots of great photos are on the earlier Big Buddha post, but there is always some new angle or spot that catches the eye.

New additions to the landscape this time were the cattle roaming freely around the grounds and the dogs relaxing by the walkways. They were quite docile and posed freely, but one was rather hungry.

The grounds, as always, provide great photo ops. 

I also found two more signs to add to my collection of "interesting word structure" and "who would do that" signs.

One of the best part of this visit was taking the cable car down at sunset. It was a cloudy day so the sunset was subtle, but heading into the station with the lights over the harbor was a beautiful sight.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Bus Ride

The other day I had an errand to run on the Peak. There is a store up there I needed to visit so I walked over to the Peak Tram and made my way up. After gazing at the view and running my errand, I decided to abandon my usual mode of transportation and take a bus back to Central.

The longer we have been in Hong Kong, the more we have learned the bus routes. The city is covered extensively by regular busses, double deck busses and 16 passenger mini-busses. This route uses a double deck bus - my favorite kind. Since I was getting on at the terminus the upper front seat was available so I grabbed my camera.

Pulling out onto Peak Road I knew I had made the right choice. The road is narrow and tree lined and gives some commanding views of the island.

The road meanders and heads downward on the south side of the island. 

Taking photos on a moving bus is not conducive to catching the exact view you want, but you can easily pick out Ocean Park and Deep Water Bay. After a while you come into areas that are more populated and these homes have great views.

One of the newest residential buildings on the peak is just opening. It was designed by Frank Geary. If his name is unfamiliar, his work may not be. He designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain and the Disney Theatre in Los Angeles. His trademark is designing buildings that look like someone twisted them as if to wring a sponge then set them on their foundations. Google him if you want to see some of his work; it's unique. Anyway, as our bus was heading downhill I saw a peek of this new building through the trees. And much to my delight there was a bus stop at the base of the building.

This is just one of many interesting residential buildings that make living in Hong Kong unique.

As the bus turns toward the north side of the island, the denser part of Hong Kong begins to show up. Even though the road still meanders and looks secluded, if you turn your head you can see you are not alone.

Even the ancestors are there to keep you company.

Once you have come down the mountain, this trip lands you first on Queens Road in Wan Chai. It is a very busy district filled with all kinds of shops.

From Wan Chai you head into Admiralty which houses many of the government offices. The Bank of China and the Lippo buildings are two easily recognizable Admiralty landmarks.

Continuing along Queens Road we finally reach Central. At this point we could even get a look at where we started.

I love trying new things and new ways to get around. The bus ride from the Peak was certainly worth the time and I hope to do it again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Everyone has been telling us that Halloween is quite something in Hong Kong. Two days away and already the rumors have proven to be true. On Saturday night we joined up with Janet and Catie to take a tour of Lan Kwai Fong on the evening of the Halloween Parade.

To get there from our apartment you merely go down the stairs next to our building and then down the stairs by the LKF Hotel. Since it is all downhill, it takes about two minutes or so. Not last night. As soon as we started down the stairs we could see the crowds milling (and that was at the halfway point). By the time we reached the second set of stairs we were already wall to wall.

About the only thing you could do was head into the fray and enjoy the scenery. There certainly was lots to see. We mingled with the young...

and the old.

There were the creepy...

...and the funny.

Some looked  vaguely familiar.

There were real cops...

... and faux ones, ...

... and interesting sights wherever you turned.

We decided to stop at our favorite watering hole, Cochrane's, for a painkiller and   some fun with friends.

(Please note the small pumpkin headband - I am the only one in costume.)

As our evening was winding down and Lan Kwai Fong was still heating up, we headed for home. The streets were still jammed.

And on our way up Arbuthnot hill we saw perhaps the most creative of costumes.

I'll leave it up to your imagination to figure it out.

And by late this afternoon most of the revelers were still home recovering except for three little ones who just loved posing for the camera.