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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012

Ni hao Wah Shuh Bill! (Hello my name is Bill)
Here is how to count to ten in Mandarin - Ning, Yi, Er, San, Shi, Wu, Liu, Qi, Ba, Jiu, Schi
Have You had your meals yet? - Ni Chi Ghwaa Fan Mei Yo?
Excuse me can you please tell me your name? - Ni Cuhyee Gosue Wa Needuh Mingtss Ma?

Hope everyone is doing well, since we last talked my roommate Tucker got his contract extended another year and I was offered a new job on the 20th which I accepted. So good news work wise in our house! On Sunday we decided to treat ourselves for a hearty meal at Dan Ryans Chicago Grill to celebrate. (Its funny because Dan Ryans is a Hong Kong and Singapore chain.) I was in the mood for a real good American Burger and Tucker wanted Ribs so Dan Ryans was right on.
Does not get any more American than that!

It was a great filling meal we split a nacho appetizer along with our meals and we each got a dessert to top it off. I received a nice letter from my Babci who is currently at her place in Fort Myers, FL.  So I wrote her a post card back and in order to send it I needed to buy some stamps. I noticed right away that the stamps here in Hong Kong are rather nice, check them out below.

So recently for dinner I tried both of these quick camping dinner packets that my Grandma and Grandpa gave me.  These quick dinners are made by a company called Mountain House, and before cooked they remind me of space food. You cook them by simply pouring boiling water on them and mixing it in to the dry food. Then you close the packet and leave it for 8 minutes and then its good to eat. The first I had was the macaroni and cheese, it was not bad but very very heavy.  It reminded me of the macaroni and cheese you can get from KFC. The second one was spaghetti and meatballs which, was essentially short spaghetti with ground beef. However although the sauce was not my moms the meal was actually pretty tasty and something that I could see tasting like filet mignon when out camping.

Spaghetti post being cooked
Spaghetti prior being cooked

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Simple Directions

Mac & Cheese post cook (looks like slop)

When I bought stamps on Friday I also decided to buy some new light bulbs because two of the three in my room went out! Because I care for the earth you will notice that I purchased the Phillips Energy Saving brand lights. 8-)

As I said I got another job and its with a company called Meltwater Group and its located here in Hong Kong. I will be starting my work there at the end of March but the office was very kind and took all the new hires out for dinner on Monday. We went to a bbq place right near the office called Blue Smoke, in fact I went there a few times in the summer as it is quite good.
Some of the Meltwater office out to dinner at Blue Smoke

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pete's Trip / Bali Vacation

One of the many unique tea pots at the musue
A New Year Lion (performers hold it up w/ those metal rods

  Hi Everyone I know I have been a total slack-off when it comes to my dedication to this blog, but that is all going to change, it has too. I've decided I need more structure in my life, so I am going to get us caught up on this blog and start posting very short little posts about my life, more often.

I guess to start I will say up until today my life has been going quite smoothly. At the end of January going into Chinese New Year, I had one of my best friends Peter come and visit me here in Hong Kong. It was something I was looking forward to because its so nice to be able to show someone from home how I am living and that I am actually doing alright. People can see pictures and keep up with whatever I post on this blog or Facebook or any other social site, but they really have no idea what it is like until they experience it first hand.  I know Pete had a blast because he told me numerous times how much he loved the city and wished he could make the move also. But Pete has a great job and there is really no sense in him picking up and starting over, so I will just have to make sure he is able to visit again!

When Pete first arrived it was the weekend before Chinese New Year which was Sunday January 22, 2012. Chinese New Year being early this year was officially on January 23rd, however celebrations are huge and just about everyone had the 23rd, 24th and 25th off. So, knowing this in advance my two roommates (Tucker & Ben), Pete and I all planned a vacation for Chinese New Year week. This is a very common thing in Asia, anyone who is Chinese will go back to China and spend time with their families, so most Westerners use this time to go vacationing. We made our destination Kuta, Bali which is a place known for its beautiful weather and spring break type partying atmosphere. I have actually never been on a typical college spring break as I played lax. So even though this was earlier in the year than your average spring break it was still killing two birds with one stone in my eyes. The two birds being 1)traveling to Bail 2)experiencing spring break.
So Pete arrived on Sunday, Tucker and Ben left on Saturday for Bali so I showed Pete around the city a little and I also took him to the New Year festival in Victoria Park which is about 10 minutes walk from my flat. The festival was packed as it was the final day, but it gave Pete first hand experience of how congested Asia can be at times.
Here are some photos from the festival.
(NOTE: I will not be posting all the photos from Pete's trip as there are waaay too many, so if you want to see the rest you will have to check Facebook..straight stalker style.) ;-)

Bali was a blast, it is literally the only place I have ever been that you can honestly go from the beach straight to a proper club without showering or changing. I'm serious, tank tops, shorts and sandals (or thongs as the Aussies called them) are allowed in the clubs...which is freaking awesome! Just for the record we did always shower though, if you know me then you know MY hygiene is not something I joke about.

The weather was beautiful all week so that was great, but honestly wearing anything but a tank top and shorts is just ridiculous as I would literally have sweat stains the second I put it on. One thing we did learn is that Kuta Beach is not for the relaxing sit on the beach all day type vacation. You can do that but it is not the cleanest of places in Bali and you are constantly hassled by locals trying to sell you there trinkets or whatever they are selling. (Which was anything and everything)

Bintang's and the complimentary margarita we were given at one of the restaurants we had dinner at.

Catching waves brah!

Final night in Bali, watching the sunset with beers in hand...nothing better
I would have to say though my favorite thing about Bali besides the required attire is the food. Wow the food was absolutely tremendous in flavor and quality. I love fresh grilled fish and I could literally have it everyday in Bali. Seminyak, Bali is just a town over from Kuta and we would walk there on the beach from our hotel which took about 15 minutes. It is a really nice are and probably where I would stay next time, just because its a bit cleaner and not as congested. I had this thai beef salad one day for lunch and it was honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life! So much flavor at once it was awesome. Along with the quality of food in Bali, the price of everything is sweet! A tank top would cost me less than $3 US dollars! Here is the dinner I got on our last night in Bali -  An appetizer of chips and Guacamole, a good size side salad that came with my meal, a seafood platter which came with a filet of Red Snapper on a skewer, a tuna steak on skewer, 3 grilled tiger prawn, 2 steamers and calamari, (However they did not have calamari so I was allowed to choose an extra of something else, I chose to add anther Tuna skewer.) and two Bintangs. (Bintang is the local beer, we drank it everyday along with everyone else in Bali because it is actually that good) This feast came in a total of $200,000 Indonesian Rupiah which converts to $22.11 USD. Yeap, that cheap, if you want to take some money and literally live like a king for a week Bali is your place.

Ben and I lounging

We did a little sight seeing in Bali as well. We went to a few places that I can't remember the names of, one  of them which I do remember was the Uluwatu  temple located on a huge cliff with Monkey's running around everywhere. These monkeys are not cool though, they are vicious little bastards. Before you enter the temple grounds you are warned not to wear sunglasses or carry any valuables in your hand because the Monkey's will steal it and throw it off the cliff if they don't approve. We witnessed a lady lose her camera, and I lost my freaking sunglasses. (the monkey liked my glasses though he tried eating them!) The annoying thing was I sat down on a wall to get a picture with the monkey, I noticed him eyeing my glasses so I took them off and held them in my hands. Then another monkey came from behind me and started grabbing my shirt so I turned my attention to him and that is when the little bastard struck! The one I was ignoring snuck up and wrenched my glasses out of my hand! Double teamed by freaking MONKEYS!
My parents can attest to the fact that I am not one to let things go, so after I was robbed all I could think about was revenge. I think my friends noticed this as all I was talking about was getting my hands on the culprit and making him pay. So I think they decided I had enough monkey play and we left shortly thereafter.
Haha read Rule #3

Before the Monkey took my glasses
Little freaking thief! I really liked those Nike's

Sweet Picture Tucker took

Another funny thing that happened in Bali almost everyday was us getting asked to take picture with locals. This happened to Tara and I when we visited China as well so I was used to it. However, it was new to Peter and he did not know how to act as a celebrity and he started turning down people! To be fair the day he turned them down we were all walking on the beach and all of a sudden hordes of young Indonesian teens started running up to us asking us to take pictures. I really wish we made them all take pictures on our camera as well so we could have shown all the people who took pics with us. Here is the only one we got and unfortunately the guy couldn't work the camera so it came out blurry.
Celeb status

We arrived back in Hong Kong very late on a Friday night so we grabbed some food and just relaxed at the house. The following day however we were very busy, I showed Pete more around Hong Kong and got him familiar with using the MTR so he would know what to do while I was at work the following week. I took him to the park in Admiralty where we got some good pics and went to the tea museum where he was able to get a nice tea set for his Mom.  Before leaving we tried some tea's at the cafe and had few dumplings to hold us over till dinner.
Pete Reuniting with his roots in the Park

TEA and Dumplings!

Other places we visited were the Peak so he could see the view and the bird park where they have some monkey's and pretty birds to look at. The bird sanctuary was built when Hong Kong was still under British rule. Then obviously that night (Saturday) Ben and I showed Pete what Hong Kong's night life is like. We stayed out till about 5 am then called it a night. We spent most of our time at Azure which is on the top of a Lan Kwai Fung Hotel.

Chilling w/ King George

At the top of LKF HOTEL in AZURE

Throughout the week Pete was able to experience some really good food. I took him to lunch everyday so he tried some really good local food. His two favorites seemed to be this little noodle place and a place in Wanchai called Peking Dumpling which is my favorite. For dinner he had plenty of good meals as well. One night Ben took us to The China Club which is one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Hong Kong. The food was absolutely fantastic and they had live music playing. The China Club is pretty much a museum as well as a restaurant as they have some really unbelievable old paintings and books and more. My favorite part of that meal was this beef dish we had. It was literally cubed beef in a really good marinade served with small little garlic chips. WOW the beef fell apart in your mouth!

Top Floor Private Dining Room in the Library of China Club (we did not get to eat here)

How considerate, shoe blockers
China Club Bathroom

Pete and I also went to a traditional Peking Duck dinner at probably the best place in Hong Kong to get it, "Peking Garden". We had a full duck plus a side dish of some spicy beef that was pretty good. At dinner something really neat happened that Pete was able to experience. During Chinese New Year and for about 2 weeks after people have this tradition where they give red packets with money in them away to friends, family, servers and some cases total strangers. Usually its bosses and married people who give away the red packets called Laichee. Well anyway I started talking to the couple who were sitting next to Pete and I and at the end of dinner when we said goodbye they gave us both (Pete and I) a Laichee packet with $20 HKD in it. So that was really cool for Pete to experience.

Entrance to Peking Garden

Of course I also took Peter to visit Stanley market so he could do some gift shopping and it is definitely a place you have to visit if your in Hong Kong. Here are some pics from our trip to Stanley. It was quite packed as they had a Lion dance performance going on since it was new year.

Following the Lion performance

I am probably forgetting some stuff from Pete's trip and what I have been up to since then, but that is probably because there was an event on February 5 which I blocked out of my head forever, so some memories may have gotten lost along with that one. Check back however as I will update this if I think of anything I missed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1st Ash Wednesday in Hong Kong

Today is Ash Wednesday kicking off the lent season. I know this is terrible and my Mother, and Grandmother would be very disappointed in me, but today was the first time I have been to Church since arriving in Hong Kong! However I did get to Mass 1/2 hour early so, I had plenty of time to sit and pray and reflect.

The Church I went to, was right over in Happy Valley, about a 10 min walk from Times Square. The name of the Church was St. Margaret's Church and was up on hill overlooking Happy Valley race track. It was a very nice Church and filled completely up for the start of mass.

Very nice looking Church with a seemingly dedicated parish. I wish I could have video taped some of the mass to show you guys what the atmosphere was like during mass. They had the organist sitting up front left and a little pedestrian choir located in front of her. The entire mass was in Cantonese however, so I had absolutely no idea what was being sung/said but, it was still a neat experience.
Another really neat thing about the mass was that I counted, (and I mean counted a few times) 31 total alter servers... all boys. I guess in Asia, girls can't alter serve which is weird because there were women helping serve communion. The funny thing about the alter boys though was that on their way in, I counted 27 twice! Then later I counted 31 multiple times so apparently, 4 showed up at halftime.  
Mass lasted about 1hour 15 minutes so I was out by 8:45. After mass I talked to father and he told me that every sunday they have a 12:30 mass in English, so now I know. For lent I have decided to give up  swearing. So I am going to train myself by using a rubber band on my wrist and switching it to the other wrist for every curse. (tip from my Dad) 
Along with giving up I am also going ti make myself study Mandarin hardcore style!