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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Apr 23, 2009

The Wilson Trail

The Wilson Trail extends from New Territories where we live to the Island.
Nathan has been trying to make hiking it a regular routine- a fun way to exercise. Here is one quote from one of his walks.
"I think I am doing well, hiking up this huge hill- when I am passed by these men and women in their 60's or older saying" Joe Saan" ( good morning) Some barefoot or in flip flops." He once was walking and heard what sounding like a person chopping wood. He came upon an older gentleman doing Karate like moves against a tree.
He and Jason went hiking on a day that was supposed to be warm and sunny. They got to the top of the mountain and the storm clouds came in. The wives were a little worried as we saw low clouds over the mountain. The visibility was very low and they had to watch their step to trek their way back home as some of it was along a very narrow path. 4 hours later- which was relatively on schedule they arrive wet, cold and glad to have made it down in one piece.

I forgot the name of the bug but it has fly in its name. We saw it a few days ago at the insect house at the Tai Po waterfront.

Apr 18, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

Enjoyed a nice Sunday at Lighthouse and went to Kowloon park to take some family photos then had an egg hunt. He is risen!

Tai Po Railway Museum

We are a short distance from a Railway Museum. It is common to see wedding couples take pictures there and we did catch a couple on the day we visited. Jane's reaction was that it was boring. It really is just a few older train cars and a small building with history information. It is free though! Nathan and I enjoyed it and Elliot liked to push the button on the model of the steam engine. We might go back and try it another day with friends. I think if Jane saw her friends liking it she would be more likely to find it fun. With all her complaining she did seem to enjoy herself on the tracks.

Apr 14, 2009

Parc Versailles with Commentary

What I love about our place is how bright it is. Huge windows letting natural light in. We didn't have curtains for a week so that natural light woke me up at 5 am for a few days. It was kind of nice thinking it was 8 am time to start the day. A good reminder of how some people used to live and how some still do by the sun not the clock. I would like to get a bird book from the area to see if I can name some of the variety I see in the tree tops outside our windows. This is the master bedroom that has a bathroom attached to it.

Parc Versailles Phase One complex. This is our community. We have a shuttle that will take us into town and to the train station. There is a clubhouse and a pool. The pool cost extra. Most things here are not included you get used to the idea that you will have to pay to use facilities. The shuttle is free and we use that to save money on our Octopus cards.

Lots of built in closet space and shelves- I want to take that home with me. This is our half bath of our two and half baths and the maid's closet.

You can see on the ceiling all the track lighting. Along with the natural light the artificial light is splendid. This is the view of our dining room and living room. We might get spoiled living here. We have A/C something we have not had for 7 years, a bath and half more than home, wood floors and lots of closet space. I do miss our yard, you can't really send the kids out to play when you are on the 4th floor. Having my washer in the kitchen where I would like an oven isn't all that great either. We will have to purchase a countertop oven if I want to bake anything soon. We have a nice trail behind our house that the kids will be able to take their bikes on.

What $21,000/month gets you in HK that = appr $2700US

roughly about 1500 Square feet. That amount of money would get you less space I am guessing anyway on the Island side of Hong Kong. It is funny to think of what that amount buys us in the states. We would like to take home that budget with us. We don't pay the rent here out of our pocket.

Apr 7, 2009

Elliot Turns 4 in Hong Kong

We were able to have a nice birthday party for Elliot thanks to the Krohns. We grilled out, had delicious chocolate cupcakes made by Bethany and the kids played a game. Brother wanted a light Saber but we were unsuccessful in finding one, even with clerks who could speak English. ( see the post about thoughts and life to get this) He still had a great birthday and loved his new Transformer.

 The kids had a treasure hunt where they had to follow clues written on a piece of paper. Their treasure was the Chocolate Kinder eggs. These thinly chocolated covered eggs that easily separate to produce a prize inside. It can be a figurine that has funny eyes,spins etc. Or a puzzle, usually a small trinket of some kind you have to assemble. The last I heard they were illegal in the United States. 

I was trying to come up with a game for the kids to play and thought about pin the light saber on the Jedi. 

 You have to understand that I am here with limited resources. I think if I had millions to invest in a store in HK it would be Party City. Toys R Us was the only place I could find licensed party ware. I should have saved all Star Wars decorations from my 30th Birthday party and sent it over.

I say all this to say that I had to free hand the drawing of Darth Vader. Bethany thankfully had a printer and could print out a face for me, I knew I couldn't do that. 

 I was thinking at first, less is more and had the idea to make a cape and not really attempt any limbs, I knew they would be atrocious. It was really late and I decided I would do feet as I looked at him in boots but no arms. 

 It was the entertainment for the adults, probably more so than the kids. Nathan commented on him being "hippy" and womanly. The kids didn't comment that Darth Vader had deformities, so I guess it passed their test for now, give them 10 more years to look back at the pictures for their remarks.
Elliot cried when we had to leave as he always does when we leave their house. It was a good birthday and really helped ease the loss of not being in Grand Rapids with family for this occasion.

party time from outypants on Vimeo.

Thoughts and Life in Hong Kong

One month has gone by fast. We are a little less in culture shock but the newness of the landscape, people and smells of our new life has definitely not worn off and might not for our short time here. We have relocated to our final destination in Tai Po. 
 First impressions of Hong Kong, it is a city of many cultures and nationalities. I was invited to a birthday party last week while we were still in Horizon Suites and I was the only American. There were people from Australia, England, Peru and the Philippines. 
The people in Hong Kong I am finding are friendly. I would like to speak Cantonese, it isn't an easy language to learn. My Mandarin really doesn't go too far here. Using English isn't normally a problem but when you have to deal with people fixing your sink, delivering your furniture and day to day questions and activities it can be challenging. I don't expect them to know English so I feel bad when I can't understand them. 

I ate at my first Indian restaurant last week. I found something with okra in it and ordered. Everything was delicious. It can be intimidating going into a restaurant on some of the side streets, as you might have to walk into a building and up stairs and through these doors, it can be dim and dingy looking. I took a card from the restaurant so if we want to find our way back to there we should have an idea of where to go. 

The other day Jane was playing with kids at the gym and I thought at first she was talking like a baby when I realized she was just trying to repeat what they kids kept saying over and over in Cantonese. I was in the store the other day trying to ask for our a sword. The clerk hands me a pad of paper. I wanted to laugh at her when I realized she was asking for me to draw a picture! I am probably the worst artist in the world.  I think my sword looked like a triangle on top of a rectangle.  I didn't get a sword that day. 

Aside from the language barrier, you have to plan different for shopping. Every thing you buy you will have to carry. Our first trip to IKEA taught us this lesson when we had two sleeping children on the train and four oversized shopping bags full of housewares. 

 I made my first online grocery order yesterday. People without cars shop daily and most people you see walking down the street in the neighborhoods will be carrying a bag or two home from the grocery store. I will still go to pick up frozen stuff and items that are easier to get firsthand but the heavier products are worth having brought to your door. They only charge around $4USD to deliver and if you spend around $80 you get it delivered for free. 

We have been enjoying the mild temps, we know the hot hot season and the rain are on the way. 80% + humidity does make 72 feel closer to 80. I have never been outside of Michigan seasons longer than 10 days. I can get use to summer weather in April. It is nice to not have to have your snow boots and Crocs out at the same time. We do need to get in the habit of keeping an umbrella with us when there is a chance of rain. We purchased 3 in one week while we were out simply because we forgot to grab one.

We are blessed to have the Krohns in our life. Jason and Bethany and their 3 kids Abigail, Isaiah and Sammy have been in Asia for a little while and have been in Hong Kong for about 7 months. Bethany has been a wealth of information for me as well as great company. 

My kids will tell you the best thing about living here is being able to hang out the Krohns. Abby and Jane get along so well and Isaiah and Elliot enjoy Star Wars and Transformer conversations and playing. Our new move puts us about six bus stops away from their village. 

 The Krohns are from Traverse City, Michigan. My hometown.  The church they attend is my home church and where Nathan and I got married. 

I see it as God's hand that we would move across the ocean to practically be neighbors with people we knew in Michigan. 

We haven't tried anything too different as far as food as concerned. I haven't had a Chinese dinner yet, and I am still waiting for my first Dim sum meal. The kids like Spaghetti House which is delicious and has good pasta dishes. Jane likes the tea restaurant, which is Ajisen Ramen. They bring out green tea so she calls it the tea restaurant. It is delicious and I have had spicy beef and Miso Ramen. I think I could eat there every day. They also serve this delicious fizzy fruit drinks. I would like to know if I could find them in the store. We did eat at a Chinese restaurant after church on Sunday where we had a good curry dish and Singapore noodles. 

The food is a big part of living here. So I hope to experience all kinds of food. We were invited to a birthday party where Korean food was being served. Korean BBQ was really good. I had bean noodles and Korean style sushi rolls. We eat Mcdonald's pretty regularly. Right now they have these seasoned salt flavors you can out on your fries. Like Seaweed flavor. Not something we are likely to see marketed in the states soon. Elliot likes the seaweed.
The kids love these milk type drinks called Yakult, and Kinder eggs. Chocolate covered eggs that easily break in two and have a toy inside then. It can be a figurine,puzzle,a car. It is something you usually have to assemble. They are really pushing these in the store right now as Easter approaches.
Jane will be singing Jesus loves me at Church next week. We have been attending Lighthouse a non-denominational church. We are going to visit another church that has been suggested to us, then we will probably decide where to attend.

Apr 6, 2009

The Peak First Time

The pollution in Hong Kong is better than it used to be. Since all factories moved across the border. That being said it is hit or miss whether or not you will have a good view from the Peak.

Our traffic on the way back to the MTR.

Tram up the Peak is fairly tranquil and uneventful. Taking the bus down was a little more entertaining. The bus goes pretty fast and you feel like several times that you are going to ride off the cliff or hit something.