Friday, December 28, 2007


We had a great time in Bali--very cool place. The hotel was really nice. The only bummer was it rained on Christmas Eve and Christmas day; not just rain, but a torrential downpour. We made the most of it and hired a driver for both days to take us to other areas of the island for shopping and sight seeing. On Christmas it was sad to be away from family, but we made the most of it. The hotel was decorated for Christmas, an island type Christmas, which was nice, and there was Christmas music playing. On Sunday, we went to the spa together, which was lovely. I am splitting the pictures into three posts, because Blogger doesn't like any one post to get too big.

Here are some pictures of our hotel:

On Saturday evening, we went to Jimbaran Beach for a sunset, seafood dinner right on the beach.

I was disgusted by the pollution and trash at Jimbaran and Kuta. You can't see for the picture, but there are dead fish in this trash. There was lots of pollution and trash all over Bali. Fortunately, the hotel beach was pristine.
Traditional Indonesian dancers and music at dinner:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bali, cont.

On Christmas Eve, we took a tour of Ubud, Bali's largest city, and some of the surrounding attractions. Downtown Ubud was very cool with lots of funky shops and restaurants, reminiscent of Rehoboth. There are artist villages just outside the city, so we went to a silversmith jewelry shop with a beautiful showroom and tours of the workshop. This is why my jewelry prices don't compare--look at all the workers, making very little money and in poor safety; most didn't have on shoes.

We bought a Balinese painting with a hand carved frame from this shop, whose courtyard was flooded due to all the heavy rains.

These are the famous rice terraces, rice paddies carved into the side of a mountain. It is hard to make out in this small photo, but there is a farmer standing on the field, the third from the top. It was pouring rain when this photo was taken, so it isn't too clear.

We shopped in the Ubud market. We bought many things, all of which were very cheap. We got a quilt made out of batik scraps for $12. If it wasn't for space and weight restrictions on our luggage, we would have bought more things.

We had some drinks and snacks at this famous restaurant called Lotus Cafe that has a pond in the middle of the tables. It was very beautiful.

Our driver took us to a temple--not sure about the name. It was very busy with worshipers who were there for the full moon. There was praying and bathing in the blessed water. Each family brought a small offering of a leaf filled with flowers and herbs, which you can see stacked up along the edge of the pool and on the altar. To enter the main area, we had to wear a sarong.

On Bali, there are mountains and volcanoes. We went to the top of a mountain to a famous look-out and panoramic restaurant, but we couldn't see anything, because it was totally foggy due to the heavy rain. If we visit again, we will go back to the mountains and volcanoes and hopefully do some hiking.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bali, conclusion

Part of visiting any new place is experiencing the food. Sate is the popular food in Bali, and I would describe the cuisine as a morph between Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese. It was spicy :-) On Sunday, we went to a local Balinese restaurant near our hotel, and loved it so much, we went back for Christmas dinner. The restaurant was what you would imagine a Bali restaurant to be: open air, thatched roof, lots of vegetation, etc. The pictures look hazy, because of the smoke generated from the open kitchen and all the sates cooking on the tables.

On Christmas, we took a small tour of Kuta, a town nearby our hotel in Nusa Dua. We weren't too impressed, as it was very commercial and touristy. You can see the volume of rain.

Here is Christmas day...

Merry Christmas and Cheers!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our loved ones! We will miss being part of the familiy traditions and good times. We miss you very much. It is hard to be so far away during the holidays. I think we will have a good time in Bali. It will be so different from any other Christmas and hopefully, will be special even though it will be just the two of us.

We LOVE you!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Let's Celebrate

Last weekend, we went to the Gore Christmas party on Friday night and a wedding on Saturday. The Christmas party was themed as "Hollywood" and many people dressed up. The Chinese LOVE costumes and any excuse to dress up and be crazy. A man dressing as a woman is also totally outrageous and the person who won the costume contest was a man who came as Marilyn Monroe. The invite said dress to "sparkle and shine" so that's what we did--no costume. The Gore Christmas party is for associates only, so I am lucky I got an "extension" since I wasn't officially still an employee. There were lots of games, and we won a dance contest as the representatives of our table. (Note my new hair cut & color which cost $200 at Aveda!)

The glasses are a joke!

Amy's Gore friends (note: I am crouching down to be a similar height!)

Erik and Pinky

A bunch of us!

The wedding on Saturday was very western. Here, the bride rents her clothes and changes into 3-4 different outfits during the reception. The reception is just about the food. There is no music, dancing, or crazy drinking. We enjoyed a huge meal that consisted of maybe 12 courses; I didn't count. Below are some pictures of our table and friends.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Apartment, Revised

Here are some new photos of the apartment taken just before our party on Saturday. We had about a dozen people over for an open house/Christmas party. It was a fun event and I think most people had a good time. You can see our solution to a Christmas tree. The plant will live on the balcony the rest of the year.

I started my new job this week. So far so good, but it is always overwhelming and stressful to start a new job. The gal who I am taking over for, stayed on this week to train me, which is great. However, she also gave me the nitty gritty details on why she is leaving and the office politics. It’s good to know these things up front. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I will learn some new skills and the job will look good on my resume. It is such as culture shock to be working in Central compared to Mon Kok where Gore is. Central is the heart of the financial district and it is so wealthy. The amount of money in Hong Kong is just staggering, and I am working amongst it all.

We leave for Bali next Friday, the 21st, and I am very excited. I have been so focused on the job thing, that I kind of forgot about the vacation. I booked a spa day for Erik and myself at the resort. This weekend we are going to the Gore Christmas party and a wedding. It is a Christian wedding, but the bride and groom are Chinese. It will be interesting to see how they incorporate Chinese and western customs.

For the time being, I have stopped my Mandarin lessons, since they were during the day. Currently, the language school is booked up for evening lessons. I am on the waiting list.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lesson Learned

On Saturday, my purse was stolen. It was my fault. I looped it around the handle of the shopping cart at the grocery store. I was very conscious about not letting go of the handles or walking away from the cart. I thought I was careful, but obviously not careful enough. I shopped for at least 20 minutes and didn't realize the purse was gone until I was in the checkout line. I was alone and not at the store near our apartment. I couldn't remember Erik's phone number so for a while I was stranded. I filed a report with the store and mall (grocery store is in a big mall) and then had to go to the police station to file an official report. The detective said that particular grocery store and mall (very upscale) are popular places for thieves, especially those praying on westerners.

Thankfully, there were no charges on any of the cards, nor any money withdrawn from the two ATM accounts. I only had about $30 cash. The tough thing was that since we cancelled all our cards, we had no way of obtaining money. (Note: it is good for spouses to have separate credit cards/accounts in case this happens.) We were forced to withdraw a small amount of money off of Erik's corporate card. On Monday morning, we went to our Hong Kong bank and were able to access our money in that account. We don't have very much money in our HK account, just enough to keep it open, so we had to wire money from the US. We do not have a HK credit card, because being foreigners, we need about $25,000 in our account before they will give us a card. (Chinese are anti-credit and most things, including cars, are paid in cash.) It will be awhile until we receive our new US credit cards.

What sucks is that I lost two cell phones (one was Gore's) and now have no way to be in contact with people. I plan to go get a new phone this week as soon as our wired money comes. Also in the bag was my Hong Kong Identity Card which is similar to a US driver's license. I have to pay ~$50 to replace it, plus a trip to Immigration. I did lose my US driver's license too. I pray the DMV will send me a duplicate in the mail, but I am skeptical. This is a problem if I come to the US and want to rent a car. Fortunately, my passport was at home.

Lastly, we have to have our locks changed on the apartment. I don't think anything in my purse had my exact address on it, and the security in our building is very tight, but for peace of mind, I want them changed. Also, I had the only copy of our mailbox key, so we have to change that lock to access our mail. The locks will be changed this week.

All-in-all, it could have been so much worse, and now I have learned my lesson--Hong Kong is a safe city, but not without crime.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Reason to Celebrate

Two new developments are worthy of some celebration. First, I have accepted a full-time job as Marketing Manager. It is for a company that recruits lawyers. The company is based out of London and has offices all over the world with the Hong Kong office being the largest. (I am intentionally not mentioning the name of the company, because I don't want my blog to come up on a Google search.) The job is in the prestigious area, Central, and I will be working in a fancy building which is located between the Ritz Carlton and Roles Royce dealer. Erik is jealous that I will have a very short commute and will be working in the "fancy" area. I will have to dress up. I am very grateful for this job considering I was told by many people that I would never find a job in my field and because the HK job market is so competitive. There were times that I seriously doubted if I could be happy hear without a full-time job. It was an advantage that the company preferred a native English speaker. I am also grateful that Gore took the news better than expected.

The other good news: it looks as if we have new renters for our house. We approved the application today. Our fingers are crossed that everything works out with these people.

:-) !!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It was very sad to be away from our families on Thanksgiving. I haven't been very homesick, but I was a wreck on Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone over Skype. We celebrated on Saturday. Another Gore expat's wife organized a pot-luck Thanksgiving with her neighbors. There were more than 20 people who attended. The food was excellent and it was nice to have the traditional meal and be with friends.

This is the view from the other Gore expat's home. They live in Repulse Bay which is on the south side of Hong Kong island. It is a very prestigious area to live and beautiful views, however it is very inconvenient. There is no subway transportation--takes over an hour for us to go there.