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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Mar 31, 2009

Tsim Sha Tsui

I can't quite get a handle on the correct pronunciation of this word. The TS is either suppose to sound like a J,ch or and Sh. I say it with a Ch sound. It is of course easier to call it by the familiar term TST.

There is a light show with music every night at 8pm using the buildings that line up along the harbour.

The Star ferry carries people across Victoria Harbor from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon.
 I read somewhere about 26 million people a year take it.

Avenue of the stars. You can put your hand in stars like Jackie Chan's and Chow yun fat's hand prints.
Waiting for the train. We bought the kids lanyards to hold their octopus cards. It is a card you can add money to and use it for the trains and pretty much everywhere.  Aside from all the great street markets and taxis Hong Kong is ahead of the game on a cashless society. I used it at the grocery store the other day.
The kids have discovered the card symbol is also on vending machines, so far they haven't attempted to use them.

Mar 24, 2009

Walking and the Island

Botanical Gardens

The Botanical gardens and zoo, is a nice place to take kids as it offers them space to run around, I think I took space for granted back in Michigan.  

This trip was prompted by our need to visit the US consulate. Nathan took us to the gardens first and then we walked to the Consulate. We left him there and made our way back.   The hill from the consulate up to the botanical gardens is relatively steep, even with steps. Elliot got tired and I eventually picked him up and carried him part of the way. 
 This picture is of a break we took on the way back. I was laughing at myself for needing one since it wasn't that far away.  It is still an adjustment, The current heat ( actually quite wonderful) is mild for this region but it is a lot warmer and a lot more humid than Michigan is at this same time.  Add that to all the extra walking, it will take some time to get to used to it. 
 In my defense the hills on the island are some of the steepest in Hong Kong for pedestrians, there is a reason they installed escalators for people. 

Elliot has had the biggest adjustment since he was still using a stroller on occasion back in the US. He complains quite a bit and is not a fan of having to walk every where. 

We finally made our way back to the gardens. We quickly found the snack kiosk and had  a nice rest and a treat. 

Mar 15, 2009


Nathan and I both agree that not having a car to think about and worry about is nice. There are days with the kids that it would be handy. But overall I like the exercise of walking.

 The double-decker buses I have to watch with the kids, as they don't stop for you to find a seat, so I have to try to get the situated otherwise they can get jostled about. Jane calls them bunk buses.  The best feeling of all is arriving at the bus stop just as the bus is coming in, getting down to the platform just as the subway arrives. You feel like you won something, or accomplished some great task. 

Mar 12, 2009

Ma On Shan Life

This is our daily walk to the park and the way to the train station. On Chun Street. The kids argue about who will push a button in the elevator. We take the elevator a minimum of 4 times a day you would think they would get tired of pushing the buttons. 
Elliot is learning to walk to the park without being carried part of the time. We have seen a few martial art competitions or exhibitions going on outside the sports center since we have been here
The sports center is across from the Libra. ry and they share a courtyard, it is full in the early morning of people doing Tai Chi

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Mar 10, 2009

First days Horizon Suites Ma on Shan

One of the biggest adjustments that comes with moving across the ocean is the time difference.
In this case a 12 hour time difference.
 Our second day in the serviced apartment and it is obvious we are going to need some household items. The first part of this post could be called, 
what not to do the first week you move across the world.
 Don't take your two small children to IKEA where you shop for 4 hours when their body is telling them it it time to sleep.
Why should we have not done that?
1.We don't own a car
2.we don't know the bus route 
3. We had no idea how much a taxi would cost and were not comfortable hailing one down and asking. 

 So what did we do? We carried two very sleepy kids and three bags- the giant plastic blue bags and some smaller ones. We carried them from the train station to the 13 minute walk to our apartment. We must have been a sight. Elliot precariously perched on Nathan's shoulders, dozing in and out, drooling on his head. My hands were numb from the plastic bag cutting off my circulation, by the time we arrived. 

Other Jet lag fun. 
 Elliot woke up at 3 am and came into our room complaining that Jane wouldn't play "trouble"
(the board game) with him.

Getting in shape:
It isn't all genetics that the Hong Kong natives are usually thin. It has to do with walking. 
 We probably walk more in one day than I would an entire week at home. My legs are still adjusting to the walking and so are Elliot's.  It can wear you out at the end of the day. But I will be thankful for the regular exercise.

The view outside our 16th floor apartment, overlooking Tolo Harbour. 

Another adjustment is no dryer. It isn't uncommon for people in Hong Kong to not own a dryer. Although more modern apartments and housing are being built with the idea of installing them.
In this picture of our living room space you can see towels hanging up to dry. Our hotel does have a coin operated dryer, but it can get expensive using it too much. The problem with just hanging the clothes is that in the very humid, wet climate of Hong Kong they don't dry very fast. We were told that people use dehumidifiers in a small room and hang clothes. Of course most people hang their clothes out to dry, but we are not allowed to do that here. 

The vanity area located outside the bathroom. That white appliance is my washing machine, it has labels in french on it. I just guess.  We do have a bathtub which is also something not commonly found in a typical HK home. 

Located right off the living area is my kitchen. You can see  my silver pot and my kettle.  We begin using an electric kettle after our visit to the Sills in England and have found it as necessary as a toaster or to some as a microwave.  We have been eating a lot of ramen, and sandwiches.  Now days finding an oven in a Hong Kong home isn't that uncommon but in the past it would have been.  Not a lot of baking in their traditional cooking. More steaming and frying.  I have two burners on an electric stove. I finally bought a skillet so I now own two cooking vessels. 
Until our shipment with our items from the States come in, we will make do.  It has been quite the adventure so far.  

Mar 9, 2009

The journey across the ocean.. THE OCEAN!

 This actually was their second flight since we flew from Grand Rapids to New Jersey.  But since it was the same day and this flight would be a 16 hour one across the ocean, I think it counts as a first.

Jane got to go up to the cockpit and push a button. Elliot wanted to stay in his seat.
I like this picture because it accurately depicts how the two felt. Never mind my crooked glasses. 
Jane's thoughts:  I like the airplane when it moves ( turbulence) 
Elliot's thoughts: I don't like it when the airplane moves.
Usually Jane and I think a like, but in this instance I am right with brother, when that thing starts bouncing around, all I can think of is- get me off of this thing. 
The kids particularly liked that they had access to movies, kids shows and even video games right in the their seat. Jane never played with or watched anything we brought just what was available on the plane. 

The flight went well, until about 12 am some kid started screaming
" I want Diego" for about a half hour, the cabin is dark and everyone is trying to sleep and we have to listen to this kid scream. Did I mention that kid was Elliot?  Hindsight- let the kid have the stupid DS and play Diego. I was tired I wasn't thinking straight, I was trying to follow recommended guidelines for three year olds and screen time.  A nice man tried to give Elliot candied fruit as a way to console his loss of the Nintendo.  You would have thought I ripped off an appendage the way he wailed. I went into the bathroom and after 45 minutes he finally calmed down. 

It could have been worse, but it was a long flight and I was glad to get off the plane.