Friday, May 2, 2008

Hong Kong Torch Relay

Yes, we were there as the Olympic Torch passed through Hong Kong! It was quite exciting, what we could see of the relay anyway. We got to the area early but it was still difficult to see the torch bearer through the crowds of people. We thought we had a good spot but then the police put railings up in the middle of the road and everyone rushed to get a spot near the front. We were blocked in by other railings in front of us so by the time we were able to get up near the new railings all the spots near the front were taken. I was able to get a few shots of the torch bearer though and Wayne was able to get some excellent video footage of the torch bearer who passed by him. All in all it was a fun experience but next time we're going to try for a balcony seat!


video

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

So, it's been a really long time since we've blogged. This was mostly due to lack of internet access and then lack of a computer. But we're up and running again now! So much has happened and we've had so many great adventures. Instead of going day by day now with our memories, we're going to blog as we have the time and in a rather random format. We'll also be having the kids blog some so they also get to record their memories of our fun times together.

As I am writing this it is storming outside, a tropical cyclone they are calling it. Below are several of the warnings from the Hong Kong Observatory website, which we've been watching to get updates as needed:

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin

Here is the latest Tropical Cyclone Bulletin issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.

The Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 is in force.

This means that winds with mean speeds of 41 to 62 kilometres per hour are expected.

At 10 p.m., Tropical Storm Neoguri was estimated to be about 150 kilometres west-northwest of Hong Kong (near 23.1 degrees north 113.0 degrees east) and is forecast to move northeast at about 18 kilometres per hour moving into inland Guangdong.


STRONG WIND SIGNAL NO. 3
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin

Here is the latest Tropical Cyclone Bulletin issued by the
Hong Kong Observatory.

The Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 is in force.

This means that winds with mean speeds of 41 to 62
kilometres per hour are expected.

At 10 p.m., Tropical Storm Neoguri was estimated to be
about 150 kilometres west-northwest of Hong Kong (near 23.1
degrees north 113.0 degrees east) and is forecast to move
northeast at about 18 kilometres per hour moving into
inland Guangdong.


DISPATCHED BY HONG KONG OBSERVATORY AT 21:47 HKT ON 19.04.2008


THUNDERSTORM WARNING
THUNDERSTORM WARNING

THUNDERSTORM WARNING ISSUED AT 1:30 P.M. ON 19 APR 2008 HAS
BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL 11:30 P.M. TODAY. A FEW SQUALLY
THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO OCCUR OVER HONG KONG.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE ADVISED TO TAKE THE FOLLOWING
PRECAUTIONS WHEN THUNDERSTORMS OCCUR:

1. STAY INDOORS. SEEK SHELTER IN BUILDINGS IF YOU ARE
ENGAGING IN OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES.

2. DO NOT STAND ON HIGH GROUNDS. KEEP AWAY FROM HIGHLY
CONDUCTIVE OBJECTS, TREES OR MASTS.

3. TAKE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST VIOLENT GUSTS. BEWARE OF FLYING
DEBRIS AND FALLING OBJECTS.

4. DRIVERS USING HIGHWAYS AND FLYOVERS SHOULD REDUCE SPEED
TO BE ALERT TO VIOLENT GUSTS.

DISPATCHED BY HONG KONG OBSERVATORY AT 21:10 HKT ON 19.04.2008


LANDSLIP WARNING
Landslip Special Announcement issued by the Hong Kong
Observatory at 7:40 p.m. on 19 April 2008:

The Hong Kong Observatory has issued the Landslip Warning.
Keep away from steep slopes or retaining walls.

Motorists should avoid driving in hilly areas or on roads
with landslip warning signs.

Cancel non-essential appointments, stay at home or remain
in a safe shelter.

If you see signs of landslip danger, keep away from the
area and report to the Police.

Temporary shelters provided by District Offices are now
open. If you receive a notice to evacuate because of
landslip danger, or believe that your home is endangered,
you should make immediate arrangements to move to a safe
shelter.

DISPATCHED BY HONG KONG OBSERVATORY AT 19:42 HKT ON 19.04.2008


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON FLOODING IN THE NORTHERN NEW TERRITORIES
Special Announcement on Flooding in the northern New
Territories updated by the Hong Kong Observatory at 8:59
p.m. on 19 April.

Heavy rain is affecting the northern part of the New
Territories.

Residents in the northern New Territories, who are likely
to be affected, are advised to take necessary precautions
to avoid possible flood damage. They should also pay
attention to the flood sirens if they are nearby.

DISPATCHED BY HONG KONG OBSERVATORY AT 22:22 HKT ON 19.04.2008

To watch the progress of the storm yourself, click on the
link below:

http://www.hko.gov.hk/contente.htm

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wednesday, Oct. 3rd - Day 3

Well, we're here, aren't we? So where are our bags! Thankfully, the airport called and said they had found our bags and would be delivering them right to our hotel room door this very morning. Truly we had been taken care of and we knew to whom we should send our thanks. A day should not pass by without us remembering to give thanks for all we have.

Wayne and I hardly slept at all the night before, the beds were so hard, but the kids seemed to do okay. We all woke up stiff and sore and very hungry! Instead of ordering room service, we were eager to get out and about so we went down to the lobby and into one of the several restaurants housed within the Parkview Hotel, the Teahouse. Thankfully, the waiters all spoke English, mostly. We ordered our food and it soon arrived. Amber, being rather ambitious and eager to "try new things" as we had told the kids they must before we left the U.S., had ordered a noodle dish. Everything went well, the food being quite delicious, until we looked up to see Amber with a sour look on her face. Stabbing her chopsticks toward her bowl she demanded, "What is that!" Leaning over, we tried our hardest not to smile but we couldn't help it. Soon we were all laughing heartily as we explained that she had baby squid tentacles in her bowl. Making an "EEEEP" sound, Amber pushed her bowl away from her an announced, I'm done. But, she had eaten almost half a bowl of noodles! We were all impressed. The rest of us had ordered food we were more comfortable with eating.

This next bit is not for the "sensitive" but it did happen and so I shall faithfully record it, especially since these memories are more for us than anyone else. We're glad if you enjoy reading this blog but we'd be quite happy if you kept your judgments to yourself. So many people are quick to judge others when they see a difference in someone else. We've been so glad we're not those kind of people. We'd never have made it here in Hong Kong and on the mainland if all we could do was think nasty thoughts about everyone around us.

Well, here's the funny. We get up to the hotel room after lunch and Brandon points to the table legs of a coffee table, very innocently shouting, "Look, something to remember lunch by ...octopus testicles!" Wayne and I tried so very hard not to laugh but we couldn't help it. We laughed until we cried, both kids begging for us to explain our mirth. We finally did and they had a good giggle too but neither one of them will ever forget that the proper word is "tentacle". The rest of the day passed fairly pleasantly. We all rested again, since we had jet lag and were still adjusting to the new time then ordered room service for dinner. We slept again when night came and that was the end of another day in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, Oct. 2nd - Day 2

We arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport at 8:05 PM. Gathering up all of our belongings, we stepped out of the plane and walked down a narrow hall. At the end of a long ramp down, we were struck by a wall of warm air which carried the scent of a land which was wholly new to us, except for Wayne; he had been to China once before. I'd have to say that Hong Kong definitely has a fragrance all its own.
Enter...the drama! Luckily, this leg of our journey was the least dramatic of all; A good thing too since we were all so tired. On the way down the ramp I had been doing a bag check to make certain we hadn't forgotten anything. It's a good thing I did because sure enough, one bag was left behind. Amber and Wayne hurried back up the ramp and into the plane, retrieving her backpack. We made it through immigration rather quickly and then hurried to baggage claim. I was pleasantly surprised to see that every sign was in both Chinese and English. That made it quite easy to find our way, much better than we expected. It also helped that Wayne had been to the airport before during the preview trip. Arriving at the baggage claim, we waited for our luggage ...and waited ... and waited ...and waited. The unthinkable! Noooo! Our luggage didn't make it with us. Finally we found one out of 10 bags we had checked at the airport in Canada. Eventually the conveyor belt stopped and the bags stopped coming. Wayne went and spoke to an airline representative and left our address in case the bags were found. Taking our one bag and five carry on bags, we walked until we saw a man with a sign saying "Anderson". It was pretty clear that he was there to meet us since every other sign was written in Chinese characters.
Thankfully it had previously been arranged that a van would be waiting to pick us up. The driver took our bags for us and wheeled them out. As we stood there staring at the small mini-van that had been rented for us, we realized that our bags not making it to the airport with us was a blessing in disguise instead of the unthinkable. Oftentimes there are these moments in our lives where all we can see is the negative. We tend to forget that there's someone watching out for us. We would all do much better to be grateful for what we do have instead of constantly fretting and complaining over what we don't. We and our bags barely fit inside the van but soon we were on our way. The drive to our hotel took a while but we were so glad to be off the plane, we didn't mind. Besides, there was a lot to see! Oddly enough, all the views reminded us of Seattle and we felt right at home; The freeways, the water, the green hills, and the tall buildings were actually a welcome sight. Our chatty driver eventually pulled into the driveway of a very lavish looking hotel and I knew we had arrived. We had only seen this place in pictures, both those on the net and those Wayne had taken when he had come here on his preview trip. He really had done a marvelous job finding a place where we would all be safe, happy and well taken care of. The doorman took our bags and opened the door for us while we went and checked in. He then took us up to our rooms and helped us inside. Finally, we could rest, really rest... or so we thought. We were all so tired we just got ready for bed but when we went to lie down, we realized the beds were made of steel! Okay, maybe not but they were so stiff they felt that way. But it didn't matter much, we arrived, we were safe and there was a whole new world out there waiting for us to explore it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thursday, Oct 4th - Day 4

I have few memories of this day, likely because it passed swiftly. By this time, we'd had it with the steely hard beds and so we called the concierge. Our beds were swiftly softened with pillow tops being added to the mattresses and more pillows were brought. This was the first day we'd had the maids visit our room while we were there. It felt very strange to be bowed to and called "Madam". We took it all in stride though. Today was the first day that we weren't dragging all day from exhaustion and so we could fully appreciate the view. Oh the view!! I've never seen a place that was MORE beautiful in real life than it had been in the photos. Usually businesses try to pull the wool over your eyes by taking pictures in such a way that places look more alluring than they really are. Thank goodness that wasn't the case with Parkview, the view was absolutely gorgeous from our windows, like looking out upon a fabulous resort... and we were!
Monday, Oct 8th - Day 8

Well, we did a bunch of grocery shopping so this was the first day we actually had cereal and milk available for breakfast; the kids were ecstatic. They'd been without their American comfort foods for almost a week now.

Wayne left for Shenzhen this morning to go to his place of work for a tour. We were kinda nervous to be left in the hotel alone but with our usual verve, we went and explored the first chance we got. We found the reading room of the hotel, where we spent quite a bit of time, playing chess and reading, of course! The hotel worker in the reading room informed us that we needed an ID card and we could check out movies for free so we went and asked for one at the front desk. Movies in hand, we headed back to the room. But, not knowing how to open the lock to our rooms, we thought we had been locked out! We went down to the front desk and had one of the workers come help us. She showed us that you had to turn the key in the lock to the left very hard and hold it there while pushing the door open. Security is nice but sheeesh! We strode into the room, quite relieved, and tried to play our movies. Unfortunately, both DVD players in both our hotel rooms were broken so another call went to the concierge. Eventually the DVD players were replaced and we could watch our movies.

For dinner that night we had some classics, canned spaghetti topped with Kraft Parmesan Cheese! (ugh) Another day we've survived! Whew!

Saturday, Oct 6th - Day 6

Friday we explored the hotel and Saturday was our first outing into the city itself! It was so fun. We went all over the place, from name-brand store to name-brand store. (Mostly this was because one of Wayne's co-workers was with us showing us around and she prefers Gucci, Giorgio Armani, DKNY, etc) I was a bit of a nervous wreck though, I admit. None of the kids had cell phones yet and if any of us became separated, it would have been very difficult to find each other amongst the throngs of people. We survived it though and finally the co-worker had purchased what she had come shopping to find, a $3,000 American Dollar Gucci Diaper Bag. No lie.
Not being such big shoppers, we finally left the place and all went to "The Spaghetti House" to eat. The food was marvelous, very authentic Italian, despite being cooked by mostly Chinese chefs. Some people would say, it's not truly authentic until you go to Italy itself but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

After lunch we were in for a treat. All of us went to a very famous massage parlor in Hong Kong. It was so incredibly relaxing. The lights were low, there was soft Asian music playing, the sound of a stream, incense burning and hushed voices. Brandon had a waterjet treatment, Amber had her nails manicured and her toenails pedicured and Wayne and I had neck and shoulder massages. It was well worth it and less than half the cost of a similar massage in the US.

Finally it was time to get back to the hotel and boy was I ready. I'd become so frazzled trying to keep track of everyone and keep us all safe. We rested well that night, at last. The end of another day.