Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

I've never seen so many spectacular Christmas trees! Hotels, Shopping Malls and open spaces are FILLED with the most amazing trees!Watch this space; more to follow!

Christmas is coming!

Our smart waiters at the Corona Ladies Christmas Lunch, Monday noon.

The menu; turkey and all the trimmings, with a cool fresh starter and dessert on account of the heat!

We had welcome drinks on the terrace with Hong Kong island across the harbour behind

A day at the opera

This week's free Sunday afternoon cultural show was Cantonese Opera. The costumes and make up were stunning! Susanne and Jean will recognise the venue as the same one where we saw the
Gurkha dancers and Susanne and Les waited to see the changing face show. We watched for about an hour but had to leave to get into the shade as it was absolutely scorching out there!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I used to hear people saying, when they retired, "I don't know how I found time to work!" Now I agree! It is a rollercoaster life out here. There is such a range of activities and I am constantly meeting people who do something that I think I might be interested in, if only I had the time.
Last week we spent two days in the greater Shenzhen area, looking at apartments, visiting cinics, shopping malls and meeting school principals to get an overview of what the expat life there would be like. I must admit, having visited Shenzen several times before,I was not looking forward to trying to make the experience sound positive. The reality was that I would certainly consider going to live there now. The apartments were in the main spacious, with more rooms and bigger kitchens than any we saw here in Hong Kong.We also saw several huge town houses, too big for us but ideal for families. Almost all had two balconies, at front and back, giving a lovely through breeze and thus cutting down on the air conditioning bills. Towards the coastal area, the air quality was much improved and the pace of life seems less frenetic than in the city centre. There were street cafes, Mediterranean-style squares with fountains, promenade walkways and everything to make for a pleasant lifestyle. A most enjoyable two days, even if I now have to write a report! No such thing as a free lunch right enough!
We returned to Hong Kong by ferry which was pleasant but took a little longer than the train, so we had a quick turnaround before going out to meet Les' new colleague and his wife for dinner. They were a lovely young couple in their late twenties, keen to experience all that this opportunity in Hong Kong will offer. Turned out they had only been married two weeks; what an exciting honeymoon for them, house hunting in a new country!

Saturday saw us at a booksigning in the morning, followed by a look round a shopping mall on the first day of it's Festive Event, which meant fabulous decorations and loadsa free cream, cup cakes, sweets, popcorn, wine. We didn't need much lunch!
We were saving our appetites for our first ever Thanksgiving dinner invitation on Saturday evening. We had a fantastic time, ate turkey, sweet potatoes and pecan pie and walked home in balmy heat at midnight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All alone in Hong Kong: not the same as lonely!

So, what have we been up to since departure of our intrepid travellers?
On Saturday, we joined a tour of Cathay Pacific City, a behind the scenes look at how the airline operates. They had a wee museum charting the company from it's origins as an import/export freight company after the Second World War. We got to sit in the business and first class sections of the mock-ups they use to train cabin crew but much to Les disappointment, we didn't get a go in a flight simulator.We did get to look into the operations centre where flight crew were logging on for duty, pilots and second officers were checking flight plans,maps and weather charts and putting them all into those pilot cases you see them carrying at airports. I've always wondered what goes in there, now I know it's not sandwiches! After an enjoyable lunch in the staff hotel, the coach brought us back over to Hong Kong island whereupon we had to take a train back to Kowloon! Sunday was a very quiet day, we had a walk to scope out Les' Monday route to work via a hotel to pick up a new associate, then a fancy coffee. All the coffee shops are bringing out "Winter warmer specials", we tried black sugar ginger latte from Pacific Coffee Company. I guess the Starbucks ones are international? I've had the toffee nut latte and the gingerbread latte, both yum, but I dont think I'd like the white chocolate cranberry mocha, may be just a tad too sweet.
Monday's talk was on pearl jewellery and was more interesting than I'd thought it would be because it focussed on the pearls rather than the jewellery. Fascinating stuff! Tuesday morning saw me over on the island to hear two presentations on Asian Personalities. We had a wonderful talk on a Welshman, Jack Edwards, who lived here and campaigned tirelessly on behalf of Hong Kong resident war widows' rights to British passports after the handover in 1997. Then we heard about a Canadian, Norman Bethune, who after a spell as a bit of a "lad" became a Communist and was a great medical innovator during the Chinese Japanese War, inventing mobile blood transfusion units and mobile hospital units in the field of battle.Of course I had my Cantonese lesson too, I am preparing for an assessment next week, yikes!
Wednesday and Thursday, Les and I will be up in Shenzhen looking at possible locations for future company expats to live. That should be interesting, but tiring, remembering our "look-see" visit here last February. Friday will be quiet, I think (I hope!)then on Saturday I've been invited to a book-signing in the morning and we are both invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner at the home of an American (doh! obviously!)friend in the evening.
Another busy week in the life of a trailing spouse!

Friday, November 18, 2011

They came, they saw, they conquered!

Susanne and Jean went back to Scotland this morning after a two week tour of Hong Kong. We had a blast! I tried to give them a tourist experience by including days at the most famous attractions; The Peak, Lamma Island, Stanley Market, the Big Buddha. I also included some of my favourite spots such as the Chi Lin Nunnery, Nan Lian Gardens , Tin Hau temple and in Shenzhen, China (yes, we even managed a 2 day stay up in mainland China) the Splendid China cultural park and Dafen artists village.
We had a really strange encounter in Shenzen. As we walked around the area near our hotel, I explained that in June I met a couple from Falkirk, which is near their hometown. Just as I said it, I saw them again! What are the chances of that happening,in a city of seven million people? But gets stranger still. We got talking and it turns out that they know both my friends' husbands!
As well as all that, they accompanied me to some of my usual events, so that they could experience a little taster of my expat life. We went to the American Women's Association annual charity bazaar at Happy Valley Racecourse and we spent an afternoon in a school conducting mock interviews with teenagers about to go to university or into the job market.
They even did my ironing, bless, as you all know how I loathe that task.
We took in every possible mode of public transport; train (both under and overground), taxi, tram, bus, mini bus, ferry (2 kinds), cable car, funicular, escalators and travelators. We also walked for miles. Whew!
We ate all sorts of foodstuffs: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, western and we squeezed in a Subway and a McDonalds too, though not all on the same day! They are both champions of the chopsticks now.
Shopping featured heavily on our agenda.We shopped in Stanley, along Nathan Road, on Lamma, in Lo Wu and even on the roof of a ferry terminal. But despite all that, their luggage was under the allowance when we dragged it onto the airport check in scales. Susanne was confident hers was OK..she'd already had it down at the apartment clubhouse gym scales five, yes five, times and had it weighed by another guest, herself and for good measure one of the door staff too.
I wish them a safe journey homeward and now I have caught up with the laundry and emails, I need to lie down in a dark room for a while!