Sunday, May 31, 2015

A World Apart

***For sure, I have some blanks to fill in and lots to say (when do I not??) about both locations,
but the timing necessitates that my bags be packed and I, off to my next destination first.
A super documentary of the first location, not always comfortable to watch, can be found here.***

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A World Away

It was worth the 7 calls to Delta to get the ticket issued, 40 hours of travel time, 5 flights (2 by Malaysia Airlines), 2 episodes of heat exhaustion (42 C) and a mild case of food poisoning at the end, from the most unlikely of places.

The city.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

April / May

  • I quite enjoyed my 2 weeks at home while D was out west.  It so rarely happens that I get the house completely to myself for an extended period of time, as I am usually the one away, it felt like a holiday!
  • On a similar note, D had been wondering whether being out west was "enough" and if he would still like it, if he couldn't ski bumps anymore.  So him being out there solo ended up being a great experiment.  He found that he never go bored of the view and the environment, even though total ski days were only 5, due to work.  He worked remote and didn't take any holidays.
  • On one of D's drives to work, a stone hit the windshield of our newest car on the passenger's side.  It wasn't until I got in later that night did we notice the 1 foot straight line crack that had already developed.  It necessitated an out of pocket windshield replacement as the cost was going to be less than our insurance deductible.  Interesting to find out that the cost of a windshield for our new car was $80 less than what I paid to replace one on my Honda 14 years ago.
  • Because D's iPod died, he decided to get some Bluetooth "thing" (don't ask me the name of it...) to plug into our Bose Sound dock so that it could continue to be used remotely via his cell phone and laptop.  The Apple version will cost way more than if you buy it off of eBay.
  • We are working on creating a new at home office area for D.  It is going to help both of us enjoy our home better.  D not having to work at least 50 hr a week will go a long way towards that as well.
  • It was a good call for me to cancel out west and stay and work instead.  I got a lot accomplished and it was definitely worth my while financially to do so.  
  • Had to buy another power cord for my laptop.  D found one online as HP's price was too much and a generic one from Best Buy doesn't exist.
  • Am going to try and resurrect a previous interest of mine -- Archery.  Have been missing participating in a shooting sport for a while now.  I did own a recurve bow once and sold it before really giving it a chance.  Random playing around with things don't often hold my attention.  I need and like training/instruction.  So if all goes well with my new instructor, assuming I take to it, I can get to enjoy all those sports aspects without the high use of resources.  
  • Along the same lines, I'd like to get back into cross country skiing and try snowshoeing too.  Both great workouts, beautiful surroundings, much lower priced gear and passes compared to downhill.  And far less line ups too.  I still want to learn how to snowboard, just to see if I could do it and if I'd like it. 
  • We had a water leak at the new office.  It occurred 4 hours before my very full work day started.  All fixed now (nothing to do with our office).
  • Worked out a room scheduling issue with my colleague.  I now have the opportunity to catch up on about 5 - 6 work hours the week following time away.  Doesn't sound like much but is quite significant for me.  Got to test it out recently and it was a resounding success.  Normally it can take a couple of weeks for me to catch up and is fairly intense. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015


How could I go to HK and not talk about the food?

It was extremely difficult for me to not get caught up with the food culture.  Food is everywhere and so interesting to look at.  There are a few things I still wish I had the stomach room to try. 

When eating at smaller local establishments, you have to get over the idea of having a table to yourself.  Many times, I was told where to sit. Sometimes it is at a very small booth where you may be touching knees when the person across from you.  Quickly shuffling so that you aren't directly across from one another solves the problem.

And don't be surprised when others join you in the middle of your meal.  And don't expect them to necessarily say hello or smile or even acknowledge you.  They are there to eat, period.  So don't be offended.  I read somewhere that meaningless chatter can be interpreted as delaying others from doing something more important, like making money.

Found a number of neighbourhood restaurants to be quite intimidating because the outside glass was pasted with Chinese menus.  And because I couldn't see in, nor read any of it, it took a leap of faith and good strong hunger, to propel me to enter.

People will line up, sometimes right down the street, for a restaurant.   A picture I posted earlier of breakfast at the Australia Dairy Company was one of those places.  I made sure to get there by 7 am.  They let me climb in under the half open metal gate because I was so early.  Apparently it is not uncommon to find 50 people in line.

If you don't know where to eat, searching out recommended places is a great way to start.  Partly because you often will have to find your way to a new area and that in itself can turn out to be quite the adventure.  Secondly, it is a way to try a new food.  It didn't matter to me if I didn't end up liking it or not.  The journey to find it was still very worthwhile.  Discovered some neat locales from that.

I can't remember the name of the bakery/cafe that was touted as serving the best pineapple bun (nothing to do at all with pineapples) but I remember sitting there, sharing a table with 2 men, both reading newpapers and wondering what was the big deal with this bun that had a thick slice of pure butter in it?

I really got into the Hong Kong style milk tea though.  It is strong and creamy. I had a time and a half finding the above place and by the time I got there, I had eaten a bun from what ended up being the wrong spot and had almost given up before finding it.

Speaking of having a difficult time finding a place, I had the most difficult time ever, in all my travels, remembering where one particular small restaurant was (other food picture in HKG post).  It took me 3 tries, walking up and down for hours, each way about 4 km, over 3 days before I finally found it.

Not before I started seriously questioning if I had wandered through some kind of secret Narnia doorway...Because, seriously, Kowloon is mostly a grid pattern, which made me feel even more silly.  I've always been proud of my sense of direction in foreign cities. 

It was so incredibly frustrating because I remembered it was one street in, on a corner, parallel to Nathan Rd, near where the kind of scary feeling giant coffin making shop was, close to the lady I bought some bananas from.  Which was close to the bakery that I bought the best tasting egg tarts from.  Which was close to the grumpy woman who sold me a cup of freshly squeezed cane juice...How hard could that be?  But I couldn't find Any One of them.

On the 2nd day, I found the coffin shop but nothing else.  On the 3rd day, when I began to wonder about my sanity because I just couldn't let it go, as it was a matter of personal pride, and suddenly I recognized the fruit stand and literally froze in my tracks and may have caused a collision with the person walking behind me.  It wasn't the same lady manning it, but a man.  However I recognized the layout of their produce...

So I walked over, and looked back across the street.  Long story short, I was able to piece together the egg tart and cane juice locales but still couldn't find the restaurant.  I actually had admitted defeat and was heading back to my hotel to start packing when I walked by it and recognized the unique stools.

I cannot describe just how elated I felt.  Immediately I whipped out my phone and took a picture of it, the name of the intersecting streets, the surrounding buildings.  The owner of the restaurant actually came out to see what I was doing as I am positive he must have thought I looked like a crazy stalker person.  I told him I had eaten at his place 4 days ago.  That seemed to satisfy him.  Then proceeded in to sit down and out eat the 2 men and woman I was seated with.