Monday, November 28, 2011
8 Castle Peak Road
Tuen Mun, New Territories
Hong Kong, SAR China
Thanks so much!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
- Just realized I haven’t posted any random observations since the end of October! So, there’s a whole range of them here. I’m going to try to get back on my weekly schedule after this.
- Berkley proved even more popular in Thailand than in Hong Kong. Our first night there, he was spontaneously hugged and kissed several times. Both he and Quin had several pictures snapped while in the Royal Palace, and one night in Phuket, a baby stopped to play with his hair. As he likes to say, he developed quite a fan club in Thailand.
- On the subject of photos, Berkley was very popular at Disney too. In fact, while he and Quin were in line for a ride that Doug and I, with our weak stomachs, were sitting out, he decided he was going to start charging $1HKD for photos. And he told this to a group who wanted his picture. Unfortunately, they didn’t have $1HKD, so they gave him $5HKD – which of course he took. On the one hand, quite embarrassing; on the other, quite fitting in this highly capitalistic society.
- After dinner one night in Bangkok, we walked back through one of the bustling parts of Bangkok. Along the route were all sorts of stalls, selling t-shirts, jewelry, pirated DVDs, and some VERY adult products. Luckily, only the angry bird t-shirts seemed to attract the boys’ attention.
- I bought microwave popcorn recently. The instructions said to consult the front of your microwave to determine how long it should cook. Funny – our microwave has settings for rice, congee, porridge, noodles, shark’s fin soup (really?), and steamed fish. No popcorn though, so I just winged it.
- It has “cooled off” in Hong Kong, which means temperatures are down to the low 70s. As a result, I only broke a mild sweat from lugging groceries back from the market, as opposed to the full-on, need a second shower days of a few weeks ago. I understand now why people who are from here are so eager to wear long pants and sleeves, even when it’s still warm. I am SO sick of my summer clothes and sundresses that I am really prepared to leave them all behind.
- I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Comcast. English language TV here is minimal at best (one channel with uneven programming). We use Hulu, but our wireless isn’t great, so we often have to pause to buffer shows. And there’s just no channel surfing. While I enjoy reading, some nights I just want to veg on the couch, mindlessly flipping through channels to see what’s on. But I can’t. So I really look forward to coming home to sports on TV, a variety of channels to flip through with shows on my DVR as back-up.
- Hong Kong Disney (more on that later) was really interesting. Everything was very similar, but with a slightly Asian spin. For example, Adventureland here was filled with relics that were decidedly Asian – statues, boats on the river cruise, etc. All of the performers in the parade were Asian – except for the Princesses who appeared imported. America had a small, small corner of It’s a Small World; I think we only had Woody and Jess dolls along with a few iconic buildings. While some of the food was similar (ice cream, cotton candy, caramel corn, etc), much of it was very different, reflecting local preferences (snacks included fish balls on a stick, rice sticks, etc.). For us, the food was more inviting. We had a sampling of Indian vegetarian dishes and Laksa for lunch (surprisingly well done) and sushi for dinner. Interestingly though, much of the programming was still in English. A few shows were only in Cantonese, and most of the rides had bi or tri-lingual instructions, but all of the characters spoke English for the most part (although Mickey himself spoke a bit of Cantonese). Strange mix of accommodating and excluding.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Since we’ve been here, we’ve visited our share of monasteries, both here in Hong Kong and in Thailand. All of them are unique in their own way, from the giant Buddha at Po Lin to the 1,000+ year structures at Castle Peak or the modern edifice up the road from us. The 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin, which we visited on Thursday, was no exception.
As the name suggests, there are A LOT of Buddhas; in fact, there are more than 13,000 Buddhas at the monastery. You can’t take pictures in the temple itself, so I can’t show you all of the statues, but believe me, it was pretty impressive to see that many of them– thus the awe. But at the same time, the monastery was incredibly peaceful, despite the fact that we were only a 20 minute hike from a bustling MTR station (and an Ikea, which we visited after our trip to the monastery. Pretty much exactly like Ikeas in the U.S., right down to the Swedish meatballs in the cafeteria. Of course, we didn’t sample those although we did go in for the .25 soft serve ice cream cones). At the top, surrounded by beautiful structures and mountains in the background, you couldn’t help but feel a sense of peace (and understand why people pay top dollar to be interred there. I guess that’s how the monastery makes money to stay in business).
The hike itself was pretty awe-inspiring too as the portion of the path closest to the monastery was lined with a wide variety of interesting statues. The boys entertained themselves the whole way up (and down) by picking out which one they wanted to be.
At the end of the day, Berkley said it was the best day off of school ever (until he was reminded that we went to Ocean Park on a day off at which point he corrected himself by saying it was the second best day off of school ever). And I certainly agree with him that these unplanned excursions as a family are the sorts of things we’ll really remember when this trip is over. If we were in the U.S., we certainly wouldn’t be springing the boys from school like we have been here, but here, we will. I mean - how often do you get the chance to see over 13,000 Buddhas?