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Archive for April, 2008

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Apr
29
Welcome wagon

I extended my advise to a newbie today.  I saw a woman with her two small children in Wing On department store having a bit of a potty emergency with her three-year-old and she was asking an employee if they had a washroom or a bathroom her daughter could use.  This was a useless feat because no local in Hong Kong uses those terms for what is known only as a toilet here and the employee kept simply nodding and saying yes.

The way it works in HK is that very few shops and very few restaurants have public toilets…there are some that do, of course, but it is much less common than in the U.S.  Here in Discovery Bay, for example, there are no shops or restaurants that have toilets at all.  Not for public or employee usage. Instead, there are three public facilities spread around the plaza area for anyone to use.

Back to the newbie and her little girl…I intervened and let her know that they did not have a toilet, but there was a public toilet nearby.  I tried explaining the location, but she has only been here three days and doesn’t know where even the common landmarks are yet.  So, my friend Teresa walked her to the toilet.

She was eternally grateful and when she returned to the department store we all began chatting about some basic things she should know and helping her navigate.  We offered to help her find things, give her a tour and have her join us for a trip to Hong Kong Island to learn where some of the basic necessities can be found.

These are all things I could have only wished for upon my own arrival here in Hong Kong.  I was lost and had a very difficult time finding simple things.  Things are set up quite different here and until you get the hang of it, it is quite frustrating and difficult.  It was nice being able to shed some light on someone’s darkness today and hopefully it will help her adjust more quickly to living here.

Also, there was a “CRAZY” porcelain sale at the local church and all proceeds (100%!) go to orphanages in mainland China.  I picked up a couple of really cheap, cute items there today.  It was a surprise to have a porcelain sale during the week here, that is a rare thing.  Usually markets and such are left for the weekends here in Disco Bay.

We left our flat twice this weekend! Yay for us!

We had dinner with friends Saturday evening at McSorley’s Ale House, where they (for the second time in some way or another) refused our cash voucher. As soon as they accept it, that will be our last visit to McSorley’s…not that it will make a noticeable difference in the cash flow if we end our patronage, it is a decision based more on principle. Dinner was fun and the company was good. We left there and went back to our friends’ flat and ordered some stuff from Amazon.com. We also got to check out the Wii Fit game (in Japanese!), which was a riot! The soccer practice (or football if you are not American) was hilarious and we were able to watch our friend get hit in the head with shoes…that was funny. The other thing that I thought was a riot was watching Cybr do the skiing long jump — wow! my husband sure can clinch those cheeks!

Today (Sunday), it was/is absolutely gorgeous weather and we debated a few options around town, but the bottom line is that it is a beautiful day and we shouldn’t waste it indoors. So, we opted for a Ngong Ping 360 ride to check out the village of Ngong Ping and the Po Lin Monastery where the Big Buddha is located.

We shared a cable car with three young Chinese people, one of which was very pregnant. Once we passed over the harbor and began making our way over the mountain the wind picked up a bit and she began panicking a little. She was not enjoying herself and even when spoken in Cantonese, it was obvious some of the things she was saying…her panic made me a little panicky and the two of us combined was making Cybr a bit jumpy, too. We just made it to our destination when the wind began gusting hard. I was certain we were taking the bus home!

Anyway, we wandered around and walked the stairs to the Big Buddha, took many photos, saw three feral cows roaming around, petted cute puppies, and shopped a bit. It was a good time.

I did make a total ass of myself more than once, I am pretty sure. I wore a skirt today and at sea level the wind wasn’t bad, but on the mountain where the Big Buddha sits…well, my skirt was blown up more than once while I took pictures. If that isn’t bad enough, I came out of the bathroom with my skirt tucked into my underwear. I passed at least 5 people before a nice lady came running after me saying, “Your skirt, your skirt!”. Wind + squatty-potty + backpack + skirt = Michelle makes an ass of herself.  Yeah, that was nice.

Anyway, the wind died down a bit and we rode the cable car back down the mountain. Without a panicked pregnant woman, it wasn’t nearly as scary. Once we arrived in Tung Chung where the ride ends, we decided to dine out. We opted for Pizza Hut because it is sooooo opposite of what it is in the U.S. We ended up sharing baked spaghetti and a small pizza, which combined had about a pint of grease. It tasted okay, but the grease was a bit much for me. We were going to share the tiered dessert platter (yeah, a little different than in the U.S??) but we were too full and I had a bit of heartburn kicking in already.

Next stop – Watson’s to buy me some Gaviscon.

Final Stop – Home.

And that brings us up to date on our beautiful day in Hong Kong.

The moral to my story?

Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused.  ~unknown

And it’s the Dood, aka Guinness, hamming it up for mom and her camera. He is a handsome boy. He didn’t feel so good today, but he is much better (seemingly much better) now.

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This isn’t the first time we have experienced a Typhoon Warning or the rain and strong winds that accompany it. It is, however, the first time that we have actually felt like we were in a typhoon and not just a rain storm. These are some of the interesting things we experienced due to a typhoon today. I feel compelled to mention that the typhoon isn’t actually here in Hong Kong, it is quite a long ways away from here but we are getting the worst typhoon-like weather since our arrival in 2006.

  • The drain in our neighbors’ balcony was apparently clogged and the rain came hard and fast this afternoon. The result of this clogged drain was that their balcony flooded and was overflowing both into their living room and through our bedroom window. If Cybr hadn’t been in the bedroom right when it happened, then our furniture would have been ruined and likely the neighbors below us would have had a bit of a ceiling collapse. There was A LOT of water in just a few seconds.
  • Our dogs were actually blown sideways by the wind.
  • As was I, at least forced into a sidestep or two.
  • We went out for a bit to Tung Chung and walked around the mall just to get out of the (wet) flat and the front entrance to the mall is all glass with glass doors. The wind was blowing the doors open and they couldn’t be closed. It was also raining rather hard into the mall and I saw a young boy blown over onto the ground when his umbrella was caught by the wind (I am sure the wet floor had something to do with that).
  • Speaking of umbrellas…it is pointless to take an umbrella to stay dry during a typhoon. a)You are going to get wet anyway, it is raining horizontally. b) You may as well throw it away before you leave the house because when the first gust of wind hits it, it will be trash. We must have seen 40+ umbrellas in garbage bins tonight, in only a few bins. The bins were overflowing with them, literally.
  • When we ran quickly a short distance from the mall to the restaurant where we had dinner, we were suddenly hit with horizontal rain and harsh wind. Once inside, I actually dripped on the floor all the way to our table.  My pants were really soaked!  The restaurant actually had most of the floor staff at the doors to open them and then several persons to force them closed again. This is the point of the evening where we reflected on how cool this actually was! It actually FELT like we were in a typhoon and not just a rain storm the equivalent to those in land-locked St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. where we are from!
  • Upon our return to Discovery Bay, our bus encountered a flooded area. We drove on through it, being it was large public transport bus that we were traveling in. With that in mind, picture the water pouring in through the doors at least ankle deep and the water on the outside of the bus as we pushed through it was a couple of feet over the front window. So basically, the water was high enough to obstruct the drivers’ view of the road. It was cool!

I really like storms as it is, so this is pretty cool. Of course, I still am not certain I would like to be in the center of a storm like this. The idea of that makes me a little nervous.

**EDITED ALREADY!** Just to say the signal was just recently raised to a level 3 Wind Warning.

It is that time of year again. The time for typhoon season when you can be sure to get very wet and get a resistance workout by walking into the wind. It is also a time to see our dog hike his leg to take a leak and have the wind blow it back on him. His urine, not is leg. Yeah, that is some seriously strong wind.

Currently, the T1 warning signal is hoisted but I must say not to be too worried. It just means the wind is strong and we are advised to keep track of the weather and signals with some regularity. No rain as of yet, but it is supposed to rain this weekend.

If it doesn’t rain, then there is a flea market in Discovery Bay plaza. This is where people bring their junk to sell it cheap and if it isn’t pouring down, this is where Cybr and I shall be on Sunday.

Oh, yes, a quick update per the request of Shannon: Burrito is currently alive and well. He has not yet passed or had any complications of not passing the large fabric string he swallowed. So for now he is fine…however, if he continues to sit by my head, lean over my face, and meow fifty thousand times during the hours of 3(ish) to 7(ish) in the morning, then I can no longer make any guarantees about his wellbeing. He has actually been doing much better about keeping us up all night, but last night he was persistent about keeping ME awake.

I know, I know what you are all thinking…my life is glamorous and filled with never-ending thrills.

Apr
17
Icy Chicken

So, I reorganized the freezer last night and a popsicle fell out.  This is what happened…

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I know the photo itself isn’t great, but Chini likes to get close to the camera and it was dark…but what a funny moment this was! I had to trade her a piece of cheese for the popsicle, she wasn’t about to give it up.  Funny thing, she never broke through the plastic.

(FYI…Thursday Edition of Wordless Wednesday)

FYI…I just went outside to the garbage bin and as soon as I opened the door and the night air hit me I thought, “OMG! It reeks like dead fish!”.

Yuck!  That is definitely a negative point of living by the sea.

First Installment of the (real) Panda Series, taken at Ocean Park in Hong Kong:

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