Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Computer Fixed!

The home computer has been out of commission for about 2 weeks due to a nasty virus downloaded from Facebook. I tried in vain to debug it but finally called an expert. He had to wipe it clean. Fortunately, he was able to save all our files, especially the pictures. I am thanking my lucky stars and touching wood that I brought all the system and program discs to Hong Kong. This was something I labored about packing thinking I was being paranoid to bring them. Thankfully, they made the trip and have certainly saved the day. Blog posts have been light due to the computer bug, but now I’m back in action.

Happy Birthday Ruth!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greenpeace Against Air Pollution

I've mentioned before the air pollution in Hong Kong, and most of China, is terrible. Here, it is reported everyday, unlike in mainland China. The API (air pollution index) is above 50 virtually everyday, and often it is closer to 100. The highest I've seen is 137. To put those numbers in perspective, in the US, when the API reaches 50, school children are not allowed outside for recess.

At lunch today, Greenpeace was having a demonstration against climate change and air pollution. It appeared they were "illegally" hanging a banner on a building. You can see the fire department is on scene with a large air mattress in case someone falls. The activists were handing out this sticker which blames Donald Tsang for the issues. Donald Tsang is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong which is similar to being the mayor.

I was happy to see more activism in Hong Kong especially about this issue since it so bad and effects everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Erik!

We celebrated at a fancy Chinese restaurant, Hutong, overlooking the harbour. Best wishes for another great year!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Junk Cruise

We joined a junk boat cruise on Sunday. These types of cruises are very popular in Hong Kong. A group of about 30 friends each pay approximately US$75 for a full day cruise including lots of great food and all the alcohol you want. It is a great deal and makes for a fun day. The boat cruises to a quiet spot and anchors for swimming. Hong Kong is in the middle of rainy season, and we lucked out to have good weather. The clouds were perfect at keeping the heat and sunburn at bay. Since the cruise was the day before Erik's birthday, we celebrated with cake and champagne.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


In addition to Japan, we recently went to Singapore. We stayed on the nearby island of Sentosa in the Shangri-La resort. Normally, we don't do resorts, but it was nice to relax by the pool for a few days. That said, within two hours of arriving at the resort, Erik was eager to leave and explore downtown Singapore. Each evening, we went downtown to have dinner and explore the city. It was great not to be trapped at the resort. One night, we had a lovely dinner with our former Gore colleague and his wife who are also expats. Thanks Facebook for reconnecting us--it's a small world. Singapore is a melting pot of different races and cultures resulting in amazing food.

The resort:
Dinner in the hawker center: Erik had the famous chicken and rice. (I'm still waiting for my food in the picture.)Chinatown:Singapore is known for having very strict rules. Chewing gum is a finable offence. There were signs all over, like this one in the subway station, eliminating durian fruit which is incredibly stinky. Durian is everywhere in Hong Kong, and I gag when entering the grocery store when they have it.The river along which we had dinner with our friends:The famous Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling was invented. The drink was too sweet for me, but the hotel was exquisite.Luckily, we had lovely weather except for the heat and humidity; it is the equator after all. The only exception was an intense thunderstorm one morning which was beautiful to watch. Excellent shells in the tidal pools:The next trip is likely to be back to the US to visit the families. See you soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kyoto: Part 3

Heian Jingu Shrine was built to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto.These papers are wishes or prayers.A traditional Japanese wedding had just finished when we arrived, but we were able to see the photographs. A tour guide explained that the bride's large, traditional head dress was to hide her "horns of jealousy". The groom wore a kimono as did many of the family members.In front of sake barrels:
Ginkakuji Temple has beautiful Zen gardens and is know for its Golden Pavilion. Picture request with school gals:
I'll end the Kyoto posts with some fun vending machines which are all over Japan.

Cup O Noodles:
Beer vending machine:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kyoto: Part 2

In Kyoto, we visited many historic sights and buildings.

Sanjusangendo Hall:Inside the main hall are 1,001 life sized wooden statues gilded in gold--stunning. No photography is allowed. This hall is the longest wooden building in Japan.Kiyomizu Temple:
Kodai-Ji Temple Zen garden:Small temple on a side street we stumbled upon: Yasaka Shrine:Kennin-Ji Temple is oldest Zen temple in Japan. Inside the main hall is a huge ceiling mural of two dragons.Nijo Castle is large and beautiful. The most interesting part is the wooden nightingale floors which squeak when walked upon, used as a means of defense against intruders.

Erik sampled the "strange" 4-flavored ice cream cone: mango, black tea, green tea, and vanilla.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen Square 20th Anniversary

I'm not sure how well the US media is acknowledging today’s 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In Hong Kong, the newspaper has had front page stories about it all week. I will be taking a few moments of silence to remember the victims and hope for peace and validation for their families. This Bloomberg article is quite good at describing the harsh restrictions set by the Chinese government to avoid commemorating the event. I am happy to be living in the “Special Administrative Region” of China where we have freedom of media (relatively), speach and the ability to demonstrate.

In the evening, we attended a candle light demonstration commemorating the event. There were 150,000 people in attendance. It was a very magical and profound event--so happy I could be a part of it.