Monday, March 17, 2008

Sun Your Birds

In Hong Kong, birds are popular pets. There is a bird market where the whole street is all bird vendors. The birds are priced by their voice, not appearance. On Sunday, it was warm (high 70s), and I saw a few people “walking” their birds. People carry the cages around so the bird can get some fresh air. Near our house, a shop owner was sunning his birds. They seemed to like it because they were singing loudly.

Erik is already in the US, and I am impatient to be on my way. Only two more days of work, and then I’ll be on the plane.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Walking Home from Work

Recently, I left work later than usual, at twilight, and the building lights sparkled against the not completely dark sky. These buildings are famous ones on the Hong Kong skyline, and I walk past them everyday to and from work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Bling

Ta Da! Here is my new ring I made in jewelry class. It took 7 weeks to complete and a lot of help from my teacher. This is my first attempt at a prong setting with a faceted stone. The stone is a tourmaline that I bought here in Hong Kong. I was very worried because when we went to set the stone, the setting wasn't 100% symmetrical. I truly thought my teacher would say it was a lost cause. She was so sweet and stayed and extra hour after class to tweak it and help me set the stone. It worked! It is not 100% perfect, but still looks good for a first attempt. Not sure I would be able to do it again on my own. It was a good learning experience.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vietnam Here We Come

The trip has been booked. We are going to North Vietnam May 1-7. For a while, I had my doubts if we could get everything booked since the hotel was full on Saturday night, and the train we wanted doesn’t operate on Saturday. After some juggling, we have reservations for the plane, hotels, and trains. We will fly into Hanoi and spend 2 days there. The third night will be spent on an 8 hour train ride to Sapa, which is close to the China border. It is a sleeping train so it should be fine. We both have thoughts of The Darjeeling Limited. We will spend 2 days in Sapa and hopefully do some hiking. Then back on the train to Hanoi and fly home. We haven’t researched this trip too much, but many people have raved about the area so we are excited to check it out. With this trip and the planned trip to the US for Laura’s wedding (click here for her site), I only have 3 vacation days left in 2008. Those 3 days will be spent at Christmas in India if everything works out.

Click here to see our Hanoi hotel
Click here to see the first train
Click here to see our hotel in Sapa
Click here to see the second train
Click here to see general tourism on Vietnam

Friday, March 7, 2008

Supersize Me

A noticeable difference between here and the US, is the size of the people. It is very apparent that people are smaller, both weight and height. I feel very large in this city. A good indication of the population’s stature is the clothes sizes. So far, I haven’t purchased many clothes here because I had plenty for cool weather, however I have zero work appropriate clothes for warm weather, because at Haverford we had dress down in the summer. As a result, my summer wardrobe consists of a few t-shirts, jean skirts, and flip flops; not really appropriate for a business environment. Primarily, I shop in H&M because I like the clothes, they are affordable, and the store is in the mall by our apartment. For those who don’t know H&M, it is a European store and has “regular” sizes although they are sometimes cut slim. I believe the largest women’s size at H&M is 12 and XL.

Just for reference, I am shy of 5’6” and weight about 130 lbs. I have lost a little bit of weight since arriving. Usually, my pant size is 8 or 10 and I can wear a 6 skirt if it is A-line since my thighs are the limiting area. I wear a 6 suit jacket and a S or M shirt. Recently, I have branched out and shopped some local brands. Last night, I shopped in a store similar to Gap called Bossini. In no way is it a teen shop. Actually, the style is very basic and classic. There are no numbered sizes only XS-XL. I tried on XL pants and they barely fit! They were part of a casual suit, and I fit into a M jacket. At a more trendy store I like, the largest size they carry is 8, a small 8. Believe me, this is not a junior type store. It is a good thing I’m not hung up on clothing sizes! Honestly, I’m happy to be able to purchase clothes here at all. I am seriously considering buying the suit I tried on last night. I did get two simple cotton skirts and a white shirt, all size L. The woman who formerly had my job is a larger size; guessing 16-18 with a size 10 foot. She has all her clothes and shoes custom made.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Grocery Delivery

Having groceries delivered is not unique to Hong Kong, but it is new to me. It seems to be a city thing. I love it. All the major grocery stores here will deliver for free if you spend HK$500 ($65). Shopping is done online and the order can be placed as late as the evening before. The website has lots of features such as saved lists and frequent purchases. Payment can be charged to your credit card, but I choose cash on delivery. I still buy most of my fresh food in the gourmet store in the mall near us, but the delivery is ideal for heavy or bulky items such as alcohol, canned goods, and paper products. Remember, without a car, we have to carry everything we buy, and things get heavy quick.

Since we are so busy with work, travel, classes, and socializing, we are trying to create as much free time as possible. Sunday is the only day I have without a commitment, and I don’t want to spend all of it cleaning and grocery shopping. Today, we are testing a cleaning service. If the job is satisfactory, we’ll sign up for a plan.

The other service we use fairly often is laundry. Our washer is super small and only fits about two full outfits: two pants, two shirts, two pairs of underwear, etc. When we wash the sheets, each sheet needs to be done separately. It is a two-in-one washer and dryer and really doesn’t dry well. So sending out the laundry makes sense. A large load costs about $10, door-to-door, and is ready in 24 hours. The cost is determined by weight.

As a rule, anything service oriented is very inexpensive in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

The weather on Sunday and Monday has been just perfect! It is around 70° and by Hong Kong standards, the humidity is low. We went for a run in the park on Sunday and soaked up the sun. It is not predicted to remain this warm, but the cold weather seems to be over. The apartment is comfortable now, not freezing.

Erik is in Thailand and Taiwan this week for business meetings. Next week, his associates from the US are in town for meetings. He is super busy. As a result, we spent the weekend getting ready for our trips and enjoyed some yummy meals, both out and homemade. We also did a bit of shopping in the market Saturday night.

My trip to the US is quickly approaching and I am excited. I debated long and hard about booking this trip. My main hesitation was the vacation time. It is a 4-day weekend here in HK, and it would have been a good time for Erik and me to travel to somewhere in Asia. I didn’t want to “waste” vacation time by simply going to the US and not somewhere exotic. Circumstances have developed very interestingly, because Erik needs to travel to the US for work around the same time! He had a little bit of control over when this trip happened, but not much, since he will be traveling with his new Chinese colleague. Furthermore, he was able to get on my return flight home, and I will be able to ride with him in the company rented limo back to JFK airport. It is too cool how everything has worked out.

We are planning our next trip, but are waiting for final booking through our travel agent. If everything turns out OK, we will be going to North Vietnam for 5 days in May.