Monday, April 20, 2009

Hong Kong 2009

We recently had spring break. We decided to go to Hong Kong, for a nice break from everything. Trying something new, we flew from Nanjing to Guanzhou, where we heard you could catch a train to Hong Kong, about a 2 hour ride. I had seen some really good prices for the flights to Guanzhou, so we jumped on them. It all turned out great. The train ended up one subway stop from our hotel in Hong Kong, so it was perfect! Hong Kong has a fantastic transportation system. You can easily ride the subways and busses, and ferries, anywhere in the city. We stay on the Kalwoon side at the YMCA. It has a great location, and a harber-view. Plus, they have a family room for the boys and Mike and I, and the girls share a room. We are one block from the ferry, and close to the subway and lots of great food and shopping.

The first thing everyone wanted to do was eat. The one thing that didn't turn out too well going to Guanzhou and taking the train was the eating. We ordered some noodles, that had some weird stuff in them, and I had to have dumplings because there wasn't enough noodles. Mike could hardly stand to be near me for 24 hours because the garlic was SO strong! Anyway, one thing the children love about Hong Kong, is they have lots of "American" restaurants. We immediately went to California Pizza Kitchen. Yummy!!! And then, we went to Escape to Witch Mountain at the movie theater. The children were so thrilled to be able to go to a movie theater!

On Wednesday, we went to Lantao Island. There is a HUGE Budda there. You can ride a cable-car up to the top and see it, and then we chose to walk down the 2 and 1/2 hour trail. I should say, Mike and I decided we would. The girls were not happy about that. But it was beautiful, very "rain-forest" type terrain. We finally made our way down to the village and found the subway. It was great. I took the girls to the Ladies Night Market that night. One thing I have learned is that hills are really hard on my hip. Going down-hill really works the stabilizing - muscles. I was very achy after that day.

Thursday we rode the crazy double decker bus to Stanley Market. We did some shopping, and eating (of course) and enjoyed the ocean. Later, we rode the out-door escalator up the mountain on Hong Kong island. It is very long, and then we walked over and through the zoological gardens. I think the children were about to kill us after all of that walking, but were pleasantly surprised to see all of the monkeys and other animals they had there. It was in such a beautiful park. That evening, Mike and I went back to Soho to an Italian restaraunt we found a different time we came. It was really good, and nice to have one evening out together.

Friday, was temple day. It was so great to go to the temple. It's amazing how much you miss going when it isn't possible. It really feels like coming home. That afternoon, we went to Hong Kong Island and rode the OLD cable cars across the island. It was so interesting to see the older parts of Hong Kong. They set up their streets (at least in the old part) the same way they do here in China, with whole streets of the same things. For example, the electronic street, or the car part street. There was one whole block that sold dried fish, and it smelled so strongly of fish everywhere. I didn't think it would be so nice to live in one of the thousands of aparments that were living above the dried fish street. That evening we went to the movie Monsters verses Aliens. The children had a blast. I think that was one of the highlights of their trip! It was fun for them to see it in 3-D as well.

We had a really wonderful trip together. Life is back to it's busy self. The girls are ready for the big school soccer tournament this week. Nicole turns 15 next week, a fact that she will not let us forget. She has a menu plan that will keep me cooking and baking all day :-) Next weekend Rachel and Nicole will travel to Shanghai for a short youth conference, which will be fun. My Mom and Dad come on the 5th! We are so excited to see them. Our driver, Jiang is coming back to work tomorrow. We have missed him dreadfully, not knowing how much we should have appreciated him all along. We've had some difficult experiences with some of the substitute drivers we have had. The one that is driving for us now is good in every way, except he is as slow as a turtle. For those who have visited us, they know that we are used to Jiang, who thinks the Transit is a sports-car! He is returning to work after almost 5 months after breaking his leg. This last weekend the girls and I instituted a weekly "girls night out". We are pretty excited about this, and the girls have lots of ideas on how to spend these weekend evenings, most of which include some sort of massage or manicure :-)

Here are some photos from the day we went to Lantau:

The girls weren't too thrilled we walked down, but it was beautiful! And, they won't admit it, but we had a great time...

We took the special "Crystal" cable-car, so we could see out the bottom!

Here is the big budda

Fun at Stanley Beach. It wasn't quite warm enough for swimming, but we enjoyed the rocks and the view.

Here are some of the girls' favorite shots:

Here we are at TGIF...yummy!

April 4, Mike's 40th Birthday

Michael just turned 40!!! We are so relieved he made it. Don't worry, Honey, you don't look a day over 39. I bet his mother wondered if he would make it to this ripe old age, with all of the stories we've heard about his childhood. Anyway, we had a great "birthday" weekend, roasting him as much as possible. His Mom sent a bunch of great "Over the hill" birthday stuff. I sent some of it to work on Friday with some cookies to share. I thought it only right for his co-workers to share in the mourning. That night we went out to dinner with some friends. It was lots of fun. I have some nice photos, of that, but I'm having a hard time getting the photos off of my memory card. I will have to add them later if I can fix it. All of my photos from today are from the girls' camera.

At the dinner, our friends Julie and Warren gave Mike a lovely aging kit, and they even gave him some special black hair color, so that his hair can be permanently black like all of the older Chinese people. They gave him several funny things, including some reading glasses that he actually wears now as normal glasses. They were meant to be a joke! I took the blow-up portable toilet that Mike's family sent. We had lots of fun making fun of him.

On Saturday, I spent 10 US dollars, and got some English muffins. I had to swallow really hard with that purchase! I made him Eggs Benedict, which he enjoyed so much he wanted them again for lunch. I sent him to a really nice place for a massage that afternoon, so that we could decorate the house with all of the rest of the decorations his Mom sent. The kids had a great time with that! Both his family and my family sent a cd with everyone wishing him a happy birthday, and lots of them making fun of him. It was great! He loved it. The kids and I joined in and taped a "meeting" about what we would do when he passed away, because he was surely to go any time now that he is forty! It was funny, with the girls fighting over who got his Ipod and his National Geographic Magazines...all million of them. Then they talked about his obituary, and practiced a song (and they were terrible! We just are. That wasn't an act) Anyway, it was all really fun. We acted like it was "accidentally" on the cd, and that he wasn't supposed to see it. The kids did really well and didn't even laugh during our production. For a while, he thought it was real and asked, " Did you know it was being filmed?" The highlight was the dvd Diane sent of Mike's photos growing up. We all really enjoyed looking at all of them, and Mike loved it. We had a great evening.

Mike is such a great husband and father. Everyone who knows him can't help but love him. We are so blessed to have him. I love you Mike! Here are a few photos of your great day...

Diane sent some silly string, and the boys loved getting Mike with that!!!

And here he is, testing out his porta-potty. I think he almost popped it!

Coli is trying on the special glasses grandma sent along with several other "gag gifts".

Rachel's gift was his favorite birthday cake! Home-made chocolate.

Yes, he looks pretty scared. I think he's nervous he can't blow out all of those candles. And we didn't even really have 40 on that cake...

Here is a special Chinese Candle that my friend Melissa found for me. Wow, it was something special!