Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Shirt

I have written before about the challenges of finding clothes here in Hong Kong. There are tons of stores of every kind with no shortage of fashionable boutiques. The primary problem is sizing; the secondary problem is aesthetics. The Chinese aesthetic is different from Western styling, so much so that Erik and I have coined a phrase “Asian Style” and usually just say “AS”. In clothing, the AS seems to have many of the following:

-sparkles: lots of sequins, glitter, and rhinestones. Manicures adorned with lots of crystals and glitter are very popular.

-volume: The blousy look is in right now, but it is taken to extremes here. It looks better on 100 pound twig bodies.

-crazy patterns: Ridiculously wild fabric patterns are often mixed with equally crazy ones.

-no age appropriateness: Maybe Westerners are too conservative, but for the AS, an outfit that a 14 year-old would wear is perfectly suitable for a 60 year-old.

-modest: Very few people dress scantily, even the teenagers, so it is easier for the 60 year-old to wear a juvenile outfit.

While I do struggle with shopping, often saying to myself, “I can’t pull that off” or “I’m too old for this,” I do find it refreshing that the Asian Style in clothing is so whacky. Why shouldn’t people have fun with their clothes? As a result, I recently purchased a blouse I would describe as AS. It is difficult to see in the picture, but there are gold glitter accents on it. The blouse is silk and nicely made, purchased from a small boutique near my job. I love the funky sea life scene!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Introducing GreenSeam

GreenSeam is my new business that I am working on with my sister Emily (and help from Mom). The basis of the business is Emily’s brain child: hand-painted baby clothes. She has been painting clothes for a few years and did two great baby outfits for friends last year. I am taking her idea and running with it, because I am masochistic and love to bite off more than I can chew. Besides, one home-based business is never enough especially when you work full time, right?

We are only selling organic products, hence the name GreenSeam which Emily cleverly coined. Note: the name contains both our initials EM and AS. I am crazy enough to jump feet first into this project and have secured a booth at a prestigious art/craft show here in Hong Kong. The show is December 9. The designs have not yet been finalized, but a few prototypes can be seen below.

Just to confirm my insanity, I have also committed to a second art/craft show to sell my jewelry. This show is November 19 and is run by the same organization. I have a good quantity of jewelry inventory, so I am hoping it will be manageable. I only received confirmation of my acceptance into these shows about a week ago. Now the reality of the work load is sinking in, especially when I have 120 baby onesies on their way to me!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moon in Arch

This apartment building is The Arch, and it is right next to ours. It is aptly named for its shape created by a famous Hong Kong architect. The pool is actually in the middle of the arch on the sixty-something floor. I though it was beautiful how the moon was framed by the building.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Revenge of the Mold

Mold in Hong Kong is the ultimate nemesis, because it is so difficult to combat when 90% humidity is the norm. I discovered mold growing on the ceiling and upper walls of the hallway. Our walls are solid concrete with a thin layer of plaster, so mold doesn’t pose the same level of concern as when it inhabits drywall. I sprayed the mold with bleach water and wiped it away and it seems to work. (I think I learned this technique on some home improvement show.) The problem is keeping the mold from growing in the first place. We now have two dehumidifiers that are running constantly. They may not be enough since I spotted a silverfish the other day. Horror!

Admittedly, the mold is a significant downer, but it isn’t driving us out of Hong Kong yet. On Saturday, my former Gore boss was in town, and he came to see our apartment after we all had dinner together. This is a man who has been to Hong Kong many dozens of times, and yet, he was amazed at our view and didn’t want to leave the balcony. So, we’ll appreciate all the wonderful aspects of this life and keep the dehumidifiers running.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Xian Purchases

When we travel, we usually buy some goodies. Here are the best ones from Xian.

A hand-painted fan:

Many Chinese women wear jade bracelets on their left wrists (close to the heart). It is thought that the jade holds important minerals that will leach into the wearer and provide good health and vitality. When we visited the terra cotta warriors, nearby was the Li mountain from which highly prized jade is excavated. I purchased a black jade bracelet. I am not too fond of the green color of traditional jade, but I like the black of this Li jade. It is dark because it is mined very deep in the mountain and is supposed to have even more healing powers than traditional jade. I love how it looks black on the wrist but is actually a rich green.

We visited an antiques market where many vendors sold "old" things simply spread on a blanket on the ground. I bought this metal cicada which the vendor claimed was very old. I don't know what it is for or if it is actually old, but I really like it. I have always been fascinated with cicadas, and I enjoy the metal work of this piece.

Erik bought this old political poster at the antiques market.

To buy anything from a street vendor, you need to barter vigorously. One way to get a great price is to genuinely not want the item. I looked at some paper cuttings and inquired about the price, but decided I didn't really want one. As I walked away, the vendor kept reducing the price with each step and finally offered a price 1/10 of the original quote. Of course, I couldn't resist this intricately cut piece (dinner plate sized) when it was only $1.00.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Xian Recap

Xian is an ancient city and one of the oldest in the world. The airplane magazine had a good quote which I am paraphrasing:

If you want to visit a 50 year old China city, visit Shenzhen.
If you want to visit a 500 year old China city, visit Beijing.
If you want to visit a 5,000 year old China city, visit Xian.

Today, it is a large, busy Chinese city but still has an old feel. Many of the historical monuments have been rebuilt including the city wall which dates back to the Ming dynasty. The wall is huge and has a surrounding moat. We rented bicycles and rode the perimeter on top of the wall, which took two hours.
On the corners of the wall, are two towers: bell tower and drum tower.
Here is a buddhist temple we visited: The famous terra cotta warriors are claimed to be “the eighth major miracle of the world” according to one website and “the most significant archeological excavation of the 20th century” by another. The first emperor of China built the terra cotta army to protect his tomb in 246 BC, but it was only discovered in 1974. Over 7,000 statues have been revealed thus far, and they were all smashed. Conservationists are carefully restoring each one. It took more than 10 years with over 70,000 slaves to build the army and tomb. The warriors are slightly larger than life size. Each one is different and so detailed as to include strands of hair and creases in the hands. Originally, they were painted with vibrant colors, but the minerals in the paints have faded. Also, they each had real weapons and were arranged by different ranks just like an actual army. It is truly spectacular, and you leave convinced there is so much more still buried.

Here is a cool due in his old school glasses eating a street sandwich:There was excellent shopping along tree-lined strees:

We (mostly Erik) did very well with our Chinese. He (we) is able to communicate with cab drivers, waitresses, and bartering with shop keepers.

Great trip :-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back, but not back to normal

We returned from our Xian trip very late last night. We booked our flights in and out of Shenzhen since there was no availability from Hong Kong. Our return flight was changed to a later time. When we landed, it was too late to take the train back to Hong Kong, so we took a bus. As a result, it took longer than normal to get through the borders. We didn't arrive home until almost 2:00 a.m.! I am fortunate, because I can crash as soon as I get home from work; however, Erik had to prepare and deliver a presentation today, as well as, attend a business dinner tonight.

The trip was very good. I will post pictures soon.