Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crazy X'mas!

In Hong Kong, Christmas is widely celebrated. Since most people are not Christian, the decorations are often non-traditional and rather artistic or bizarre. I love the creativity and off-the-wall ideas most of the time, but this year’s Times Square Christmas display makes no sense. Entitled “Crazy X’mas!” the scene has lots of large spray paint cans and robots. I read the signs and tried to figure out the theme, wondering if it was about recycling, but I couldn’t come to any cohesive conclusion. I have asked friends if they get it, but no one seems to know what it is all about. Regardless, lots of people seemed to enjoy it and took tons of pictures as usual. Here’s to a CRAZY X’MAS!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Work BBQ

My job hosted a BBQ day as a little celebration for employees and their families. It was not the same as a US work BBQ but seemed to be a fairly typical Chinese-style one. The “park” was arranged for large groups to BBQ--no other activities. Each table was provided a container of meat that we cooked ourselves over very simple grills. The menu consisted of raw meat, white bread and soft drinks, followed by two suckling pigs that were grilled by a professional. It was quite an interesting experience.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Little Piggy

It is common for restaurants to receive food deliveries on the sidewalk, so after three years in Hong Kong, I should be used to sights such as this one. It's a container full of suckling pigs just sitting on the sidewalk. I was quite shocked when I walked past.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Junk Trip

We had our first, and likely last, junk trip of the year in early November with Erik's colleagues. The weather was absolutely perfect. November and December in Hong Kong have the best weather of the year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

To celebrate Halloween Hong Kong style, here is a funky mall display. I love the pumpkin-head skeletons in bird cages.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Koh Samui, Thailand

We spent a long weekend in Koh Samui, Thailand. It is a small island off the southern coast, not too far from Phuket (were the tsunami occurred). The mini vacation was wonderful. Our resort was very nice, and we took a day excursion involving a boat trip, kayaking, and snorkeling. We ate lots of very spicy Thai food, yum! There are many more places we want to visit in Thailand, so I'm sure we'll be back soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Window Art

A famous, designer clothing store had a painter decorate their store window. I was lucky to catch the painting in progress. This store usually has very cool window displays. You can see the artist's painting on the wall inside. The painting is not abstract, but is a large figure, soon to become figures. It is great to see examples of Hong Kong embracing art.

The artist's quotation reads, "In the paintings, each line represents one's life. Loading the canvass with numerous lines forms a fascinating drama."

Ann Niu
Born in Shanghai, China

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Even More Goodbyes

Erik's Scottish colleague left Hong Kong after a 5 year stint. He and his wife were good friends and will be missed. There was a lovely goodbye party for them, and all the guys wore kilts for the celebration. It is funny to watch men sit in skirts when they have never done it before.

Monday, September 20, 2010

American Government Bureaucracy in Hong Kong

I do not like to complain on the blog, but I can’t help myself in this situation. One of my “bucket list” goals was to fill my current passport before it expires. I have successfully filled it in three years, so it is time for new pages. Erik has had pages added to his passport on several occasions and always raved about the efficient service at the Consulate. Previously, you booked an appointment online, went to the Consulate, and came out 45 minutes later with new pages. It was a free service. I booked my appointment, showed up and was informed it would cost US$82, and I could not get the new pages while I waited but must return the same day between 3-4:00. I was completely flabbergasted!

The insane part of this situation is that an entirely new passport only costs US$70! Adding pages to your existing passport involves sewing 6 pieces of paper down a four inch seam. This process cannot take more than 10 minutes. In Hong Kong, you can have a whole suit custom made in 12 hours for less than US$82! It is infuriating, because most people, like me, will not want a new passport since the existing one holds valid and necessary visas. A new passport would require carrying both the old one and the new one. It seems American government bureaucracy has made its way to Hong Kong.

The Consulate is not in a convenient location, as it is situated up a tall hill with no subway stop nearby. Yesterday, we had a typhoon #3. I waited for a taxi for 30 minutes with no success so had to walk. I was completely soaked, to the extent that my “new” passport got wet inside my purse!

From the Consulate’s website:

Why is the government charging me such a high fee to add passport pages, something previously provided for free?

The cost of service study found that adding visa pages to an existing passport book requires nearly the same resources as producing a new passport book. The study found that the cost of producing the pages, placing them in the book in a secure manner by trained personnel, and completing the required security checks costs the U.S. Government US$82.48. The Department will charge US$82 for this service.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Big...Clothes

I have mentioned before the clothing sizes in HK and China are much smaller than in the US. Erik is playing in a work basketball league. Here he is in his uniform which fits great. Note the size: XXXXL. Yes, it is 4XL!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Big Food

Generally, portions are smaller in Hong Kong than in the US. Here are a few exceptions. This burger was appropriately at an American style grill.These shrimp were huge. Including the claws, they were over a foot long. There was deceivingly little meat inside.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Goodbyes

The goodbye celebrations with Monika continued with a weekend in Macao, which is an island about and hour away from Hong Kong. A bunch of us had fun eating, shopping, and laughing. We treated Monika to a "skywalk" on the Macao tower. The tower is similar to the space needle in Seattle. The skywalk is 233 meters high.
The following weekend was Monika's going away party. It is a certainty that I will go visit her in her new home, Switzerland.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tea at the Peninsula

Finally, I had high tea at the famous Peninsula Hotel. Erik and I went with my friend Monika who is leaving Hong Kong soon. The tea was wonderful but so rich. It was a lovely treat that I'm sure we'll indulge in again. Monika and I spoiled ourselves this weekend too by going for high-end spa treatments, so lovely.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tin Hau

We explored Tin Hau on Sunday, a part of Hong Kong where we had not yet visited. There wasn’t much to it, except for a nice temple. Erik captured some nice images of HK street life.