Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Small Victories

Yesterday, we visited the Norwegian International School (that’s the official name; not the Norwegian Christian Academy as I first wrote, so a bit less religious focused than I first suspected. However, the teacher we met did have a crucifix nose piercing – not sure what that means); we got to check it out and find out the situation for next year. Unfortunately, we didn’t resolve the school issue as the boys will still have to sit for a placement test and interview. Quin can have a place in third grade, but there’s only one space left in second grade with multiple kids in the running for it (apparently, in talking to someone in the state department, there’s an island wide crush for second grade). If we send Quin to Norwegian, they have a sibling policy which would give Berkley first dibs on the one slot left in second grade. Sounds good, but there’s two catches to this situation: 1) we won’t find out the results of the interview/placement test until AFTER we have to make a commitment for the first school, so if we say no to the first and things don’t pan out at Norwegian, we’re SOL and 2) the Norwegian is over 1.5 hours from our current location by public transportation.

Despite this, we had a nice time in Tai Po after the visit to Norwegian. Doug and I are quite the fans of Anthony Bourdain and have watched his Hong Kong episode numerous times. During that episode, he visited the Tai Po market food court, so of course, we had to go. The wet market was huge, spanning two floors of a rather larger building.

The boys were fascinated with watching the fish; Quin, in particular, wanted to see someone butcher a fish, which was an easy request to satisfy. None of us was particularly interested in sticking around to see someone butcher some fowl, though. The vegetable section of the market was fascinating as well. At home, we like to think we’re pretty adventurous eaters, but here in Hong Kong, I’d say close to 50% of the veg are unrecognizable. I think we need to find some guide to Asian produce to help us figure it out; either that, or we’ll just buy random stuff and play mystery veg.

Next stop was the food court, where Doug and I stalked the noodle maker featured in Bourdain’s Hong Kong episode. Unlike food courts in the U.S., food courts in Hong Kong are filled with family vendors, selling homemade food to the masses. Unfortunately, the famous noodle maker wasn’t there, but we were able to secure an order of fish ball noodles and one with just noodles and broth. Both of them were really delicious. Fish balls taste a lot better than they sound by the way – not at all fishy, just salty and spongy. I felt pretty good about navigating a food court so clearly designed for locals, given that we didn’t have a handler like Bourdain.

We celebrated our small victory with an order of Pizza Hut (delivered to the front door!) last night with our downstairs neighbor David, who hails from Milwaukee. Right now, he’s alone, but in October, his wife along with his 8 and 9 year old daughters will join him. The boys are pretty excited about this, particularly since one of the girls is a big Lego fan. So, it’s heartening secure these small victories as we settle in to our new digs. Now, if only I could find a Diet Coke...


  1. love hearing of your victories and handing you the flexibility award for figuring out what's next. The boys look happy and interested in everything around them.

    Just showed the kids your pictures-- Max wondered why you didn't stick around to see the chicken's butchered. Come on, how much cooler could blood splatter be? :) Just got our DeMello School teacher assignments today. Missing you. Sam has Mrs. Pickering and Nate has Mrs. Piazza (Audra Thomas switched down to 2nd grade).

    Sam says: Hi Berkley, I miss you a lot. I hope I have a playdate with you as soon as you come home. I saw your pictures and I bet Hong Kong is really fun. I wish I could be there with you. I hear the plane ride takes a really long time.

    Thinking of you all. Lara

  2. Diet Coke???? I would die without my daily fix, hope you find some soon.

    I totally remember the Honk Kong Episode of Bourdain's show - would loved to have been in the market with you all. Fish balls sound interseting.

    Keeping our fingers crossed for Berkley and school.

    Aunt Trish & Uncle Frank

  3. So happy to hear you have met someone and they have kids. I knew it wouldn't take you guys long. Things will get easier but can you raise hell with someone about the school situation? What the heck! Can't imagine the angst this is causing. So sorry! (to be read in a chinese accent).