Thursday, July 31, 2008

home at last

So we made it home. And I'd estimate that of the 13 hour journey home, I slept roughly one hour. However, I did watch three marginal movies. Funny how a movie you wouldn't bother with otherwise is like chocolate covered chocolate when you're trapped on a plane.

Also - United Airlines lost major points when after we had cleared security and bought our drinks to take on the plane (Pocari Sweat, as we knew they'd be our last precious bottles), we were forced to go through another round of body patting, bag searching security measures just outside the airplane door. And guess what they confiscated? My liquid. I still haven't forgiven them. And I'm pretty sure the security guy who destroyed my hydration intentions in one foul swoop is currently sitting in the backroom downing a deliciously refreshing ion supply drink.

Anyhow, so Jess and I initiated ourselves into Americana again with a trip to Wal-Mart and the Riz (that would be Cafe Rio in the SLC vernacular). And as I walked through the parking lot, the tar squishing under my feet as it baked in that beautiful Utah sun, I realized that the heat wasn't bothersome at all. In fact, it almost felt good. Then I Google-texted the temperature.

You know that Hong Kong has changed you when NINETY FIVE degrees becomes dreamy. ;)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So if you find yourself cranking the volume up
and singing at the top of your lungs while you watch this,
don't worry - it's totally normal. Happens to me every time. ;)

We're coming home. Today.

Monday, July 28, 2008


It's funny. Because I'm so excited to go home, but I'm so sad to leave too. And I'm not sad to leave Hong Kong, per say, but I feel this sorrow of sorts that we're about to close the book on this summer. It's truly been amazing. So while I'm more than ready for some dry heat, some water from the tap, a soft bed, Cafe Rio, to hear the sound of my key turning over the engine in my own car, to have the personal bubble of space that we Americans grant each other, I'm still somewhat melancholy to say my goodbyes to an experience that is unparalleled and singular in it's happenstance. Jess and I have been so lucky. And this summer has been so happy.

So as I pack up my luggage full of clothes that have been attacked by pollution and knick knacks from the little places I've left my shadow on, I say goodbye to an experience I know will remain imprinted on the folds of my brain forever, little mental images of the places I learned to love so much.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

a peek from the peak

So for my family's last hurrah, we headed up to Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram. The Tram is probably the best "ride" ever because to get to the peak of this mountain, the tram ascends at an angle parallel to the mountain. As it happened, we were the last to board, and as our best friends weren't giving up any seats any time soon, Rissa and I were left standing at the back. However, this location turned out to be the most entertaining by far. Guess what happens to your body when the vehicle you're riding in is at a serious angle?

It was pretty fun to feel my center of gravity adjust to the angle of the Tram. On the way down, everyone opted to stand at the back so they could fully experience this mode of public transportation that is pretty much as good as an amusement park ride.

Jess trucked his tripod up the mountain too, and for good reason. As the highest mountain in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak offers spectacular views of the city. We also enjoyed a delicious Japanese meal at a restaurant that overlooked the city. It was a great way to end my family's time here and by far one of the best excursions (and meals) we've had here. I almost (I said almost) felt a little sad about leaving Hong Kong as I looked over the pretty city.

But then I remembered sugar cookies and Cafe Rio and a soft bed and that notion fled quickly.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

mirror faces

So I haven't reported much because I've doing repeat things with the family that I've already reported on. Except, however, HONG KONG DISNEY. Of course we went. And this Disney was a whole new bag - its a new park (so everything is sparkling and new and the animatronic things look so real), it has good food (relatively speaking - no curry popcorn, no tortilla wrapped hotdogs), and it's miniature - it's two main attractions are Space Mountain (we went four times) and It's A Small World (we went once). And despite its theme that gets permanently imprinted in your brain, this version is pretty cute because they've incorporated the Disney characters into the areas of the world that they hail from - you have no idea how excited I was to see Pocahontas. For real. HK Disney doesn't have any of the other staples - no Splash Mountain, no Pirates, no Thunder Mountain. However, we still had so much fun. There's just something about Disney that makes you feel happy. Also what makes you feel happy - the ginormous fans they have in the waiting areas for each ride. ;)

Mostly it's just so good to have the fam here. We particularly enjoy the "face to face" looks we get when just the girls are together. Our Hong Kongian friends start with one face, then move to the next, then the next, then the next - and then we go, "Nope, we're not related. Our mirror faces are in your imagination. So are our matching noses."

PHOTO: The gals at the big Buddha. My dad decided that the view from the bottom was sufficient. ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

missing child

So yesterday I took the fam to Ocean Park. (I was wondering if Purgatory had any variation in temperature.) As it turns out, the weather was a little better, so although I was dripping, I kept saying, "Wow, what a nice day," to which my family (also dripping) would snort in my general direction then duck into the nearest air conditioned gift shop.

Anyhow, while we were wandering around, my sister Rissa and dad wanted to go on a rollercoaster. After my first concussion inducing experience (Jess is still dizzy, if anyone was wondering - his diagnosis is vertigo), I thought I might just wait it out, and my mom and sister Danielle decided to sit in the shade and drink orange-mango slushy with me. So we sit down on this stair that is not a bench (because all our best friends are sitting on the benches and not willing to share with us) and wipe at our damp faces, waiting for the sun to disappear behind a cloud. When I saw a bench open up, I shouted, "Look a bench in the shade! Run!" So we did.

And we waited for like ten sweaty minutes while the other two rode a smaller (but nevertheless rickety and surely unsafe by American standards) rollercoaster. When they were done (the report was that it was pretty fun and that actually their brains felt fine), we stood up to gather our gear and go to the log ride as sister Danielle was pretty much ready to jump in the ocean. I went to reach for Jess' camera, his baby, his most favorite toy. Which I had left at the first step. I ran back to the step fully expecting it to be gone, as it indeed was. Then as quick as you can say "I don't want to die because I lost my husband's camera," I had located the Lost and Found on the map, which of course was at the bottom of three escalators as big as this one featured in the picture.

Customarily, you ride down these, as walking will just induce more rivers of perspiration down your neck, but run I did. And after lots of "Excuse me," "Excuse me, please," and "Move or I'll poke your eye out after I kick you in the shin, please," I made it to the Lost and Found, where of course there was no camera waiting. So I filled out a missing item report. Then Mr. HK Security got on his walkie talkie and said something and told me to wait. (I'm told at this point my dad was sitting in the corner debating whether or not he had any responsibility in the loss of the camera. Apparently, after that argument with himself, it was determined that actually he couldn't find any way that he was responsible and would therefore be exempt from the purchase of a new Hong Kongian digital camera. ;) )

So I'm standing there with glazed over eyes thinking, "Well thank goodness he uploaded all his pictures this morning. At least all I lost was a thousand dollar piece of equipment. Maybe I'll sell one of my legs and buy him a new one," when Mr. HK Security says, "I found a camera....I don't know if it ziz yourz, but..." Yeah right. You're telling me that the same people who artfully unscrewed my Sprite Zero that was in my shoulder bag while we were in line are the same people who turned in my camera? Sure.

And then Mr. HK Security #2 walked in with my husband's baby.

Jess and I are still married, if anyone was wondering. And I've informed him that I won't be taking his camera anymore as I don't think it too wise to test the honesty of these people more than once.

Plus, I'm kind of attached to my legs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

in flight entertainment

So what do you do when you're on a super long flight across the world? I usually just suffer, maybe eat some awesome airplane food in between in flight movies and attempts to read Moby Dick. But my sister Danielle? She makes movies.

Totally normal.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

the fam in hk

So this is the most miniature picture ever, but isn't it so great? This is my momma and her girls all shoved into a photo booth. I think I'm about 12 years old, judging by the little one's baby face.

The best news is that, minus married Kristen and her hubby (sooooo sad), they'll be here in a few hours (with the papa too). They'll be here all week. I'm supposed to be their tour guide, but the problem is, there isn't much to tour (as you may have noticed by my much less frequent blog entries).

Hong Kong is great for shopping - both upscale and flea market style - which doesn't lend itself to awesome pictures. And while there are some cultural landmarks, they're hard to come by. Some have been literally demolished or destroyed based on their historical contexts. However, I've read in a few places about how as of late Hong Kong is trying to revitalize their history and culture. They've been through so much as a people, and they're trying to define their identity. I think they want their own identity, not an inherited one. But for the time being, Hong Kong continues to maintain its reputation as a "world city," which definitely includes lights, glitter, and lots and lots of shopping.

I've saved some touring for the fam, as I didn't feel any need to wade through the humidity twice, so I should have some fun pictures forthcoming (not to mention some awesome knock off hand bags).

And I have a funny feeling that with these kids here, our last nine days are going to fly and I'll find myself on American soil quicker than I can imagine.


It's possible that I buy this regularly. It's possible that it is almost as good as the real thing. It's possible that I'm going to really miss my carbs.

And it's also possible that my physique will not. ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

a knock out

So when we were at Ocean Park, we rode this roller coaster. It's actually the only ride we went on as we were way too preoccupied with the panda bears and the sea creatures. The ride is pretty sweet not only for its upside down tricks, but because you fly out over the ocean (or sea, or whatever this body of water is). However, about six seconds into the experience, I was like, "Ow, my brain. Ow, my brain! Owwww, my BRAIN! OW. MY. BRAIN!" I'm pretty sure I could feel it sloshing around as my head was thrown all over the place. I just prayed it would be over soon and tried to keep my head steady. Jess went for a second ride while I sat on a bench and held my head, willing my brain to stop vibrating.

That night, our heads were a little weird - I took some ibuprofen and went to bed and that seemed to do the trick. Problem is, the next day, Jess was dizzy, had a massive headache, was nauseated. And it hasn't gone away. I've officially diagnosed him with a concussion. (Don't forget that in another life, I'm pretty sure I was a doctor.) And maybe its some strange food poisoning or the noxious air pollution clouding up his cerebral fluid. But in any case, his poor head isn't doing well and it makes me sad.

When I was little, I hated roller coasters. They were just plain too scary. And still, I don't really understand the thrill of allowing your person to be thrown into the air, upside down, perpendicular to the ground. It simply isn't natural. As I've aged, I've come to accept (endure) the rickety tracks and even sometimes enjoy them. But I've decided that if I die on one, my tombstone will read: "I told you so."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

clowning around

And you thought clowns of the American variety were creepy...

false alarm

Reason #102 why I love Hong Kong:

This was taken at 7:07 a.m., when Jess and I were awakened to the sound of loud, jingly ringing in our ears. We stumbled to the curb - I in an inside out, backwards t-shirt and pajama pants, Jess in a striped polo and red athletic shorts - and waited while the Hong Kong Fire Department worked furiously to figure out how to turn off the alarm.

To their credit, the fire truck did arrive quickly.

heated amusement

So what do you get when you mash Lagoon and Sea World together, make them miniature, and dump the mixture next to the South Sea of China? That would be Ocean Park. It's this amusement park of sorts that has roller coasters, sea animals, an aquarium, carnival games, and bad fast food that includes pizza with a corn mixture on it, among other things you might find at your favorite amusement park. As it turns out, Ocean Park seems to be just as confused as the rest of this SAR as to what its real identity is.

It should be noted that although I nearly burst into tears because I was sweating so profusely and was nearing a heat stroke (I'm kind of serious about the stroke and 100% serious about the crying), I did indeed survive the brutal afternoon and make it to the evening, at which point we basically had the whole park to ourselves. We were a little puzzled as to why the park cleared out hours early, but it was with the kind of joy I'll feel when I see a sugar cookie again that we realized we didn't have all our favorite Hong Kongian school children up in our grills. Seriously - the whole concept of respecting others' space, waiting your turn, it has totally escaped these people. And the notion of "ladies first" is completely exempt. Not to mention that the concept of deodorizing in the morning is totally a foreign thought process. So not only are these sticky bodies rubbing up against me, jabbing me in the back, but they also fill the atmosphere with body odorous streams of death air.

And really folks, the panda bears are not going anywhere. They're pretty much locked up and waiting for you to shove your mini phone camera in their face to get an awesome picture through the Plexiglas. No need to hip check me and slide your sweaty body into my arm pit.

We actually had a pretty good time, all things considered. I'd recommend the jelly fish habitat - it was breathtaking really, and I wish we would have gone through a second time. The pandas alone were worth the price of admission (it's possible we went through five times). And when we went through the aquarium house at the end of the day, we were the only two there. A stingray kept pacing in front of us, flapping his fin in our direction, probably telling us to get out. And I had a yellow fish following me back and forth for a couple minutes.

So although I did indeed almost die yesterday, I'm glad we went. (Probably because I got some sweet tan lines.) ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

trial run

So someday I'll climb aboard Hereafter Express, and at the first stop, Purgatory, the door will open, and a woosh of flaming-hot-humid air will fill the bus, producing instant rivers of sweat trickling down our faces, a flash of red spreading on our cheeks. And as those assigned to this level depart, I'll be like, "Oh, okay, I know this. So you used Hong Kong for the trial run on the weather here?"

Monday, July 14, 2008

what you've been waiting for all your life

So for those of you who didn't get the full effect of HK's spectacular light show from just a photo, don't you worry. We stopped by last night again, and I videoed it with our ultra fancy video camera (on our point and shoot). The clip is rather long so feel free to just watch a portion, but I'm pretty sure you'll get the idea of this Disneyesque light show from even 30 seconds.

Note that the lights on the buildings as well as the laser lights on the top of the buildings are coordinated with the awesome soundtrack. And what you don't hear is the script at the first, which is of course in British English (if its in English here, it has an accent), reminding you that the Symphony of Lights (creative name, right?) is the "World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show," as "awarded" by Guinness World Records. Wow. I have to wonder if it's the world's only large permanent light and sound show. And what's really ironic is that there are reminders all over town of how important it is to save energy - turn off lights, out of service elevators for the summer. I'm pretty sure they need us to save energy so they have enough for this extravaganza.

Also, don't mind our muttering - who knew the baby camera could pick up so much sound? And don't forget to watch for the boats cruising through the show (they start at about 1:20). I like the one that just parks it right in the middle (at about 3:25). Also of note: the rogue green laser coming from the right - it's coming from within the buildings instead of on top (3:00). And don't miss the grand finale, from about 5:20 to the end. Pretty freaking rad.

And by the way, this show is 20 minutes of light flashing awesomeness. I know, you wish I had filmed all of it.

the bookends

So there are four Christensen sisters. They begin with Shauntel and end with Danielle. Number Two (Kristen) is married, Number Three (Marissa) is engaged, and little (she's fifteen) Number Four (Danielle) has high hopes. ;) Here she is playing dress up.

I love this - the bookend sisters captured in the same dress.

How I love those sisters of mine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

my asia

I just ate two original style Krispy Kreme doughnuts. They were divine. I never understood what the big fuss was about them in the States. And I don't think I will when I return. But they are just so delicious here. We also ate at a Mexican restaurant tonight not unlike my Cafe Rio which pretty much made my tastebuds do cartwheels followed by a round off, front flip. And to top it off, I had my hair done and down, ALL DAY. The weather - with its sporadic rain bursts (and when I say sporadic, I mean that every night we have at least one clap of thunder that literally shakes my bed and prompts me to jump in Jess' like a little girl) - has been "relatively" cool.

But most importantly, our time here is half over. When I look at it that way, I realize how easy it will be to only do my laundry a few more times in the sink (by the way, white and blacks do not mix, even in the sink), that I'll only have to truck my groceries up Mount Everest a few more times, that I'll be able to drink water out of the tap before I know it.

And at the same time, I realize I only have a few weeks of lazy HK naps with Jess, just days of exploring a backwards world where the cars drive on the wrong side of the road and their signs tick off intelligible symbols. I realize - and not with a little sadness - that our Asian adventure is rapidly coming to a close.

I thought it would be the longest summer ever, I thought I might never survive in such a strange world. Instead, I've grown to love it. I still miss Tokyo every day, I'm learning to appreciate Hong Kong, and mostly I'm treasuring these moments, never to be experienced again, even the nomadic days of wandering through dirty streets, foul smells escaping the grated underground, my hair tied in a knot on the top of my head. Because no matter how tired I might get, at the end of the day, it's all a part of the wonderful experience this summer has been, never to be repeated, always to be remembered. I'm glad I have these moments, especially that I've captured them here with pictures and words so that when I find myself aching to hit the Imperial Palace trail, longing for just a little bit of incense to waft my way, I have the memories here.

So thanks for sharing them with me. Its been such a blessing to keep these memories all corralled in one place. Even now I look back at the Tokyo posts to remember. And I have no doubt that I'll just keep looking back, always remembering.

PHOTO: We're not sure what this beautiful flower is. There's a little lily pond of them in the middle of campus. We noticed them because a bunch of Hong Kongians were gathered round the first one that bloomed with their tripods and cameras. Now there are a few more, all in varying stages of bloom. They're about the size of a cereal bowl, and stand a couple feet tall. Click on it for a better view - they really are quite spectacular.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

lights, camera...

So I mentioned Hong Kong's light show earlier, but never posted any photos. That is because when I was uploading photos, my computer had an allergic reaction to that particular portion of the memory card and skipped them entirely. However, a few nights ago, Jess headed out to the pier again to try his luck at capturing the light show - it's hard to describe, and a picture doesn't really do it justice, but the lights move pretty fast from building to building, all choreographed to a song that Walt Disney would've been proud of. It's a tad cheesy, but still sort of addictive when you're watching it. And luckily, these photos seemed to be allergen free.

Even though it has been raining off and on all week, as fate would have it, the light show was during a relatively dry portion of the night. Jess set up camp with an umbrella to protect his baby and shot away at the shoreline. These pictures actually turned out better than the first batch in my opinion - they're clearer (the rain does a good job at wiping the smog out) and I like how you can see the rough water reflected in the photos as well. And if you look close, you can see the low lying clouds.

Oh, also on the first night, half of our show was wiped out by a departing cruise ship. What good timing, right? There seems to be an influx of ships and boats during the show. But let's be honest, it'd be pretty sweet to be on one of those boats.


So today when Jess came home from class, he awakened me from my daily nap. And as it often happens, Jess crawled onto my twin board and snuggled in for a nap as well. However, unusually, I wasn't still sleepy. But he fell quickly asleep, all snuggled into my arm. And quickly, my arm started to become semi-numb. But I didn't want to wake him, so I just let him sleep. Then my arm went from semi-numb, to semi-painful. About a half hour later, I woke him up when I pried his ear from my arm. (Yes, that's his ear's imprint.)

And then I got to thinking about how many times I've fallen asleep on his arm, how it probably hurts his arm just as much to have my cranium pressed into his bicep as it did when his adhered itself to mine. I asked him when he was coherent, and his answer was affirmative, that yes, it does start to hurt.

But he's never awakened me to move me. He just lets me sleep. It's funny, to feel all sorts of love for a person because you realize he lets you sleep, even when your head is fast becoming an appendage to his arm.

I really like him. :)

this bites

So I'm pretty sure it goes a little bit like this:

Itchy: "Hey Scratchy! Look what I found over here!"
Scratchy: "Oh wow - this is the most delicious blood ever!"
Itchy: "Seriously. Let's call Death Sucker over. He needs to see this!"
Death Sucker: "Move over boys - I've got work to do. This is obviously some valuable blood. She must be hot. I know my entire head is composed of eyes, but I'm so focused on eating her ALIVE that I can't really pause to know or not. But I do know that I'm going to bite her leg at least FOUR TIMES. I'm going for a sort of trail kind of a look. Nice, eh?"

Or something like that. Because I've got them everywhere - my neck, my knees, my arms, obviously my legs. In Japan, I also got eaten. But here, it's twice as often, they're twice as big, and twice as itchy! If I come home with SARS or East Nile Virus or a really bad cold, you know who I'll be blaming.

And yes, I drew the trail for you. Wouldn't want you to miss a single bite there. You're welcome. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

confucius say confused

Today we visited what our little guide brochure terms one of the most popular temples in Hong Kong - the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. Long name, right? Well, I think I've figured out its moniker.

You see, this temple is used as a place of worship for those who practice Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. And toss in a few nuns - because they were wandering around too. It's like this garbled cacophony of religion, hoards of people waving incense around. They grab it by the fist full here - light it, and then walk around with their smoking torch, waving it at themselves, at the shrine, at the sky, doing a little bowing, some circling, before depositing it in one of several locations (much different from Japan's Buddhism where a single stick is lit and quietly placed in the urn).

To get into the main shrine, you literally wait in line - and it's barred off like you'd find at Disneyland. Only instead of a room full of pirates, you get a room full of people kneeling and bowing and shaking cups of sticks. (I'm not quite sure of the significance of this stick shaking practice.) There are also gardens and additional wishing paths and ponds - obvious additions randomly tacked on, as if the religious ruckus wasn't enough.

So I'm thinking the name of the temple reflects how confused it really is. Like they couldn't decide which name because they couldn't decide which religion to focus on.

However, in all seriousness, I think this place of worship is a reflection of the general confused nature of Hong Kong. It's an interesting place - you can literally feel that they are trying to figure out who they are, and you can see that it isn't an easy process.

NOTE: If you consult Wikipedia, you'll learn that the temple is generally known as simply the Wong Tai Sin Temple, which was dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, otherwise known as The Great Immortal Wong. Probably I can't say that without giggling.

Also, I included captions on these pictures so be sure to get your extra commentary in the slide show.

Monday, July 7, 2008


So I know that we all loved the Japanenglish, but I've got to say that there's some good Chinenglish too. It's a little different here though. In Hong Kong, presumedly due to their British history, there's much more English spoken. You hear it quite regularly, and when you're dealing with street vendors, store clerks, waiters, etc. you almost always get English. And it's almost always good.

So their brand of English is all new for me. You see, their signs are usually more "correct," like you won't find "yummy and yummy so much" anywhere. For instance, take Jess' notebook. He needed something for school, and after some searching, we settled on this one (mostly because it was the first one that didn't feature a furry animal):

Yes, a friend is someone who likes you. A nice reminder when you're feeling a little down, sitting in Geometry having an identity crisis. You don't even need to pass a note to ask - you've got the answer right there on your desk.

But it gets better:

See, not totally bizarre, just a little off. And still totally enjoyable for the foreigners. :)

happy, happy

So I discovered these in my last few days in Japan. We were in an area that had few restaurants, and I was starving. I'd seen funny Japanese advertisements for these on T.V., and I love soy everything, so I thought I'd give them a try. I'm totally addicted now. Are they in the States? Their Web site shows some delicious flavors that I haven't seen here, so I'm hoping to find some soy surprises when I return.

For those of you who haven't experienced such joy, they're like a breakfast bar - super dense and semi-cake like, each one featuring a different fruit. I think they're delicious and super filling, which is nice when we're out and about and I'm starving. Jess can go for days without food. (Seriously.) My cap is about, uh, twenty minutes, and I'm like, "Hand me a cookie before I die."

Hmmmm...and what was that I was saying about my arms?



This is probably the best days OF. MY. LIFE. (In the last week and a half.)

So it's pouring today - we've got about six days more according to the forecast. But I can't say I'm complaining. Funny how one thing can be annoying in one situation (Tokyo), but totally welcomed in another (Hong Kong). The rain tends to cool things down - and while you still get wet, at least you know it's rain-wet and not sweat-wet. (Too much information? :) )

So today I decided that I'd trek back to the fitness center to see if I could make any progress with the guardians of the treadmill as I was encouraged by the weather, knowing the walk would be much more pleasant. And I'm pretty sure I came across the nicest Hong Kongian (they aren't exactly known for their pleasant dispositions) in the city. I explained as best I could the situation, showed her my documents so she could read that although it may appear that I want to steal her favorite pencil, I actually just want to work out. And even though she couldn't find my name among her roles of Chungs and Wungs, she gave me my temporary pass.

And the peasants rejoiced.

I think I teared up when I saw the treadmills. And the bikes. And the ellipticals. Not to mention the entire weight room. I know it's silly, and I know some of you think I'm nuts, but well, this is me. And this is just what I needed. Just a little something of my own.

You know, I'm actually excited to go take the laundry downtown. That's what a treadmill does for me. :)

Oh, P.S. Those of you who didn't guess - my maiden name is Christensen. And I needed my passport shortly after we got married so I couldn't change my name. Then this trip came into play and made the passport necessary. So according to the government, I'm still a Christensen. The Church calls me Cheney. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008


So if it appears that my arm is out of proportion with my head, it's because IT IS. I believe that all the body fat Jess has lost in the last six weeks (and he's pretty much wasted away if we're being honest) has landed on my arms.

I've never been more excited to go to the gym IN MY LIFE.

Also noteworthy - you may or may not have noticed that Jess and I are in pictures together now. This is thanks to our fellow Dukies - Steve and Curtis - who accompany us on our Hong Kongian (say it, it's fun) adventures. Up until now, our photos have featured shrines, Buddhas, neat foliage, prayer tablets, occasionally my face. But now we have friends to take our picture to prove that we were actually in Asia together. Thanks guys. :) (A handful of Duke students did internships in various locations in Asia, and they all met up in Hong Kong to do the schooling portion.)

Oh, and if it appears that I'm wearing one of approximately three shirts in all my pictures, it's because I AM. You see, I only have a few that can survive the dryer without shrinking to the size of ONE OF MY ARMS, so I wear those and have them washed and dryed. Then I hand wash a few others. (We don't have access to laundry facilities - we either pay housekeeping, or pay Mr. Wong [not his name] at the bottom of the hill. And neither of them care if my clothes shrink. :) )

Welcome to Hong Kong. :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

i present...your buddhas

Alright - I've covered three big ol' Buddhas in my time in Asia. Before you read below, I present to you your Buddha candidates. Here they are, in no particular order. Choose your favorite before continuing to the text portion.

From left to right: Buddha A, Buddha B, and Buddha C.

Buddha A: Buddha A was built in 1252. He's constructed of bronze, weighs almost 100 tons, and makes his home in Kamakura, Japan. Buddha A used to be housed in a temple, but his surroundings were washed away by a tsunami in 1498, so he now he resides in the great outdoors. Buddha A is hollow, and for a mere (approximately) twenty cents, you can have a look inside - he has windows in his back to look out.

Buddha B: Buddha B is located in Nara, Japan and comes in as the largest Buddha in Japan at 500 tons. In approximately 743, construction began on Buddha B, with an estimated 2,600,000 people helping in the construction. Buddha B is also constructed of bronze, and due to financial hardship, earthquake, sickness, and fire, took roughly ten years to complete and nearly bankrupted the country of Japan. In his temple, one of the posts has a hole in it. School children like to squeeze through - if they make it through, they'll have blessings in heaven. It's also said that the hole is as large as Buddha B's nostril.

Budda C: Buddha C is located in Hong Kong on Lantau Island. To reach this bronze Buddha, you must climb 263 steps. Buddha C is also without an enclosure and is the world's tallest, outdoor, seated Buddha. He is the youngest Buddha, coming in at fifteen years old (construction was completed in 1993) and weighs 250 tons. To get to Buddha C, you can ride a gondola, which offers 360 degree views of him and the beautiful mountain scenery he calls home.

Now which is your favorite?

In my opinion: Buddha C is actually quite striking, but some of his glitter wears off when you realize that he's just a youngun' and hasn't been through much yet. Buddha B was just all enclosed and cramped, and I'm pretty sure he was suffering from a case of claustrophobia. I have to say that my hat still goes off to Buddha A. He's old, he's withstood some serious weather, and he was the first one I saw, which sort of just predisposes my preferences. Also, I like how he's meditating and not giving me the hand. I appreciate that. :) This is also where I bought my slipper charm, which seems to be working great as my leg is still going strong.

But then again - they're all beautiful places of worship. I feel lucky to have caught them all, to have had the chance to actually compare them. I realize it's not every day you get to see a big ol' Buddha, and I mean that sincerely.

Friday, July 4, 2008

making nice

Okay. Good news. HK and I are getting along better.

And here's why:

1. We ventured out into the belly of Hong Kong today. The heat was wet and sticky, which simply cannot be helped, but I almost forgot during our visit to Apliu Street. This was like one gigantic garage sale. It's popular for its used and second hand electronic items (some are new), as well as watches. It was absolutely fascinating. Check pictures for real details, but there were stalls full of chains, just chains. (Good thing - I've been looking for a few dozen yards of chain links since I got here.) We saw 4 foot zip ties. Some stalls just had a literal pile of junk that the Hong Kong men - with and without shirts - were sorting through, weighing the value of this busted up fan over the clock with one arm. Jess was on the hunt for a tripod, which he found - new, and a pretty decent price.
2. To get the grit of the garage sale extravaganza out of our hair, we hopped back on the subway to locate some culture amidst the merchandise. Quite randomly (we opened our brochure and pointed), we ended up at Nan Lian Garden, a beautiful shrine with gardens constructed in the Zen-like circular manner. Nan Lian Garden is built to represent something of the Tang Dynasty - we just loved the quiet bit of city, and the grounds were truly beautiful.
3. And then with our new found tripod, we headed to Tsim Sha Tsui, where you stand on the Kowloon side and face Hong Kong Island (where the University is located), whose waterfront is lined with bedazzled buildings and skyscrapers. I'll tell you what - I'd like to be the genius who thought of getting a bunch of those buildings to go in on a light show choreographed to music. Because it's a serious tourist attraction, not to mention the attention the locals pay to it. We got there at 7 p.m. (the show starts at 8 p.m.), and there were people already lined up - everyone cramming for a space on the railing, tripods wedged next to each other. It's like a battle for the best postcard picture or something.
4. I found delicious bread. Jess spotted it actually - granted, it's marbled with chocolate, which made it an instant winner, but could anything be more perfect? It was super soft and delicious. I knew HK liked me. :)

We're going to go visit the big Buddha tomorrow. This will be my third huge Buddha in one month. Go Buddha. I'm seriously considering wearing my swimming suit. And secretly I'm hoping that should we come across a (semi-clean, I don't require pure water - I swim in Lake Powell) body of water, I'll accidentally fall in.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

happy fourth

So you know the phrase that talks about not saying anything unless you have something nice to say? Well, that's what I'm trying really hard to live by these days. There are several impacting factors, but I'm having a really hard time in Hong Kong. And today, on the day that I would normally be sitting at the park, watching a parade, eating a hot dog, watching the fireworks, instead I'm trying really hard to pretend I don't miss doing all those things. To pretend that I'm okay with being wet all day; to pretend that it's okay that I haven't done my hair in a week because when I try it just looks as though I never dried it; to pretend that I don't crave thick, soft bread; to pretend that I'm okay with kick boxing for an hour instead of my treasured run; and to pretend that doing laundry in the sink is totally my idea of fun.

I don't want to be spoiled, and in the midst of all this I know what a blessing it is to be here, to experience just another corner of this beautiful world. And I want to experience it all, but for whatever reason, Hong Kong is a challenge for me. Fundamentally, it may be because I don't have anything solid, that's mine, like I found in Tokyo. But additionally, it's probably because I just miss the familiar. Japan had just enough of the familiar, and the rest was easy to cope with. And mostly I think I just want to go home.

So today, I'm thinking of all of you and the beautiful country I miss so much. I guess one of the best parts of this summer is that I'm realizing how blessed I really am, and that includes my citizenship, a blessing I think I've always taken for granted. So on this Fourth - enjoy it, appreciate it, and memorize those fireworks for me.

Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

building on a diet

So Jess and I find some of the apartment buildings here in Hong Kong fascinating. And the fascinating part isn't that they're tall. Tall buildings are a dime a dozen here. The fascinating part is that they're roughly 1-3 apartments wide, with an elevator, and ascend fifty some odd stories into the sky. They're so skinny!

I have this really evil image in my head of a ginormous hand coming out of the clouds and giving the little toothpick structures a flick. They just look so breakable!

In all seriousness, these anorexic buildings don't like they can survive any type of a flick, much less an earthquake like their neighbor just experienced.

(Don't worry - we're staying in the dorms at Robert Blake College on the University of Hong Kong campus. Pretty much it looks like a motel you'd find somewhere in the desert between Las Vegas and Reno, and ascends three tall stories into the sky. I know you were stressed - but we're safely in 1972. Don't worry about it.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the silver lining

So we quite quickly started picking up on differences between Hong Kong and Tokyo. There were the obvious ones - the general bad smell, the dirty streets, the not so customer service oriented establishments, the shirtless men (can you blame 'em?) - but we have found a pleasant difference.

In Tokyo, there's a persistent, general haze or continual cloud cover. I can honestly recall a single day, as in one, that I saw blue sky continually throughout the day. And while I'm wondering now if it wasn't that haze that protected me from extreme heat, it did often leave me desperately searching for some sky. But in Hong Kong, that baby blue is frequent, if not always, and the clouds are just as beautiful. They roll through quite rapidly - it's quite the dance in the sky if you pause to watch it. The darks mixing with the white puffies, the sun lighting up the edges.

Guess there's a reason we look for a "silver lining" - because that's what I've literally found.

sweatin' to the oldies

So here's the thing - I'm genetically set up to sweat. If I sit in a refrigerator and think about walking down the street in the middle of summer, the hot black top throwing heat waves at me while the sun simultaneously does its thing, I will sweat. I don't require actual heat, just the thought of heat.

So I'm having real issues with Hong Kong, I'm not going to lie. I don't know if I so much mind the fact that my entire body glistens after about ten minutes, so much as I'm totally embarassed by it. In Japan, I could walk out the apartment door with my hair in six ponytails, two different shoes, and a dress on backwards, and no one would give me a second glance. (Now, this is because they're polite and they've perfected the art of the quick glance - no glance back.) However, the staring is eternal here. So not only do I stand out because I'm a giant and I have blue eyes, but this whole dripping factor is really kind of getting some attention.

I've tried working out outside. That lasts all of 15-20 minutes. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm breathing in cancerous air. So I made the trek to the West Campus, which houses the athletic facilities - it was a 20 minute trek full of glistening glory - to ask if I could somehow use a treadmill for a month. I explained the situation, and the response was, "Maybe."


She gave me a number to call to see if I could. (Seriously? I'll give you my first born child. I just want your treadmill for a half hour!) And then during the trek back, when my dangly earrings started adhering themselves to my sticky neck, I decided that maybe the journey to the fitness facility wasn't even worth it.

So Mom, I'm writing to let you know that I give up. I give up trying to have any sort of exercise routine that resembles the one I love. For the next four weeks, I give up trying to maintain any form of the life that I once had. And I'm going to use your dang exercise DVDs. I'm going to look like a big, fat (quite literally) fool, dancing and kicking around this miniature room. Because I'm not sure how much more humid exercise this body can handle before it literally combusts into a frenetic fit of sweaty seizures. Kicking and screaming will be involved, and the words, "Book my flight NOW!" are likely to escape my lips before I then slip into a heat-induced coma. So before any of that happens, I'm going to give Billy Blanks one more try, and try and stay sane for just a few more days.

So there Mom. You win.

(And thank you for having the wisdom and foresight that I lack in purchasing me exercise on a disc because you love me and know me well enough to foresee something akin to a mental breakdown should I be barred from an exercise routine. I like you. :) )


Related Posts with Thumbnails