Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the ants go marching one by one.......

Well, folks, I have sad news..........I threw away all my mangosteens, without even eating one.

You ask, Why? Well, blame the ants.

I did something very bad....I didn't wash the fruit when I brought it back. So, when I went to drink some water before bed, I turned on the lights, and there were ants everywhere! I was SHOCKED! First I panicked. Then I started feeling like I had ants all over me. They were on the counter, on the ceiling, crawling on the cabinets, on the fridge, on the garbage can....AND there was a big bug in my sink too....

It was all so overwhelming. I tried to knock on Mark and Corinna's door, thinking they could at least console me, but they weren't home. So I went into GO mode....I got some Clorox wipes that have bleach in them, and started squishing as many as I could. But there were so many. I threw away the culprits (mangosteens) and took the entire trash bag out to the bigger trash can in the hallway.

Then I heard Mark and Corinna come home, and got them to come in and see. I called down to the guard gate to see if they had any ant spray, but the guy on the phone couldn't understand English well. So Mark went down to try and see if if he could explain it in person.

He came back with a bottle of liquid disinfectant (which translates to hand soap) and a spray bottle. When in doubt, improvise. Corinna played McGuyver again, put part soap, part water in the bottle, and sprayed away. The spray looked more like goop, sticking to the walls and making the ants freeze in place like a mouse trap with gel does. We got as many as we could and called it a night. I went into my room to read, but before turning off the lights, I went back to the kitchen to check and see if I saw any more ants. I saw one more, so got the goop and shot at it. FROZEN IN PLACE! Task accomplished!

Thankfully, I didn't have any dreams about ants, but a few times before falling asleep, I felt like I had ants on my legs. Dumb bugs!

And the thing that kept crossing my mind was this song (which I adapted to fit my scenario):

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to eat my fruit.
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get away from my wrath. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

To see a video of the song, watch this.

So another lesson learned. Wash fruit, or keep everything (I mean everything) in the fridge.

Today is a national holiday in Hong Kong, celebrating the turnover from British control back into the hands of PRC (the People's Republic of China). It happened on July 1, 1997.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

and the adventure continues...

One of the things I like to do most is laugh. And I cry when I laugh hard. It's one of those things I don't often appreciate. People either think I'm really crying or don't understand what was so funny to make me laugh as hard as I do.

Well, yesterday was one of those days. Corinna and I were in the computer lab all morning. Her daughter sent her a video link on YouTube, and the fun commenced. We started looking at various YouTube clips and laughed a LOT! Then we broke for lunch and over lunch, a bunch of people started talking about the Improv Everywhere sensation on YouTube. After lunch, we looked at a bunch more videos.

By the end of the day, we were in stitches, both tearing up. But along the way, we watched some for-real tear-jerkers...ones that actually were heartfelt in a way that made us cry. Oh, we were having too much fun.

So class ended and a few of us decided to "explore". What the definition of explore was, we weren't quite sure. We knew we wanted to see an area we hadn't yet been to, so we looked at the MTR and decided to go to Mong Kok East, grab dinner and go to the markets.

We got off the train and once on the streets, we realized we were on the street where the flower market was. Walking past all these flower shops, my favorite flower was the purple orchids. I also saw a lot of aloe plants. They were huge.

We found some hole-of-the-wall restaurants, and decided to go into one of them. We got ushered into the back and realized the menu contained no English. Again, we were up a creek without a paddle. But then one of the gals with us started speaking in Mandarin, hoping she could communicate enough with the waitress to get us food. Well, we all ordered bowls of noodles with meat. I got pork. Well the meal came and my pork just didn't look cooked. I mean, I know it was, but it just didn't seem all that appetizing. It didn't help that the table I was sitting at was directly opposite of the only bathroom in the restaurant. And it was a busy bathroom. I suddenly lost my appetite to eat. Here's the dish I got:

And here's Holly showing how close the bathroom is:

So everyone (else) finished dinner and we walked out to go to the street markets. This is some of what we saw:

At one point, we all were sitting along this ledge watching people. I had seen mangosteens, my favorite fruit from Thailand. I wanted to go and get some, so Corinna, Holly, and I went to get some. We then kept seeing people walk around with these drinks. They were clear, plastic cups, with foil lids and then a thick clear straw poking through the foil lid. We found the stand where they were selling these drinks, and decided we had to have one. I got a passion fruit green tea drink. The vendor asked if I wanted tapioca pearls at the bottom. My response: "Sure, why not?!"

The moment I got my drink, I didn't know quite what to expect. I took a sip and up the straw came one of these little gems. It was SO weird, but SO fun at the same time. I determined it was one of my most favorite things so far. I think I should start a these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things list soon.

Anyway, that's how we "ended" our night. We took our drinks and boarded the Mong Kok East MTR and came back to ICS, saying over and over again how much fun we had.

But...before I end this post, I must tell you of some "fails" of the day:

FAIL #1: Corinna and I went to the bakery in the morning. We found some goodies and were on our walk back to ICS. Along the way, we had to pass through (but not enter) the MTR. Corinna commented that people were looking so unhappy; no one was smiling. So we (well, she) decided to greet people, and said a few times, "Thank you for traveling the MRT. Thank YOU for traveling the MRT." And I started to LAUGH. I approached her and said, "Corinna, maybe they'd not look at you so strangely if you actually said the correct name of the's the MTR, not the MRT.

(I need to give a disclaimer to this next one....Hong Kong has this system, whereby you can purchase an Octopus card. I mentioned it before. You put money onto this card and can use it for many swipe it to enter the MTR station, you can use it as grocery stores and on the public buses, even in some stores. It's pretty convenient. And when you run low, you can simply recharge it.)

OK, without further ado...

FAIL #2: As we were walking to the MTR to catch our train to leave for Mong Kok, I said to Holly, "You have an OSYTER card, right?" What I should have said was, "You have an Octopus card, right?" :)

FAIL #3: Without needing to provide much further explanation, all I have to say is pork dinner in close proximity to squatty-potty. Not only was our dinner table close to the bathroom, but we found out it was a squatty potty, meaning there was a hole in the ground that you squat over to go to the bathroom. Just thinking about it while I ate made me want to hurl.

So, so ends another adventurous day in Hong Kong.

It's HOT here today...gonna go out to lunch with Colleen in a few.

Happy (almost) June 30th....which means a HAPPY HAPPY birthday to my sis Gail!
Love you; wish I could be there....

(Gail and her fam at Easter this year)

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Monday, June 28, 2010

rain, rain, go away, don't come again another day!

I don't know that I've seen it rain as much as it has here in Hong Kong.

It rained ALL day Saturday, not really letting up. It rained yesterday, on and off.

And then I thought there may be some reprieve today...BUT, to no avail.

Class broke at noon for lunch and we decided most of us would go to the Noodle King down the street. A few of us were ready, and so we began, while the others waited for a few stragglers. We figured we might be able to get our order in and not hold everyone up, as they only have an hour for lunch.

We put our umbrellas up, b/c there was a drizzle, but it began to POUR...let me emphasize POUR!

We got to the Park-n-Shop and made this decision: "Let's get food at the Park-n-Shop and bring it back. We are NOT moving forward in this rain." So we got some dumplings (you know I was at least excited), some watermelon, and headed back to cook up our goods at Mark and Corinna's. Another student joined us, and we enjoyed our lunch with smiles on our faces and warm bodies (after changing clothes).

I went onto and found this for Hong Kong for the rest of the day (CLICK TO SEE BIGGER):
Basically, to sum up: It's gonna keep raining ALL DAY! I DID hear, though, that by Thurs. it's supposed to be 33 degrees Celsius (about 91 deg. F)...yikes!
Don't know what's better....rain or hot. I still think rain. I try and not complain often, but one thing I DON'T like is rain!

Class is going longer this week...till 4:30pm instead of 3:30pm. The content of class is much discussion on cultures and global issues. Right now they are doing skits to demonstrate differences in their cultures. It's fun listening!

More later. No pictures right now. It's too wet!
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

first weekend adventures

The class finished their exam, and just as planned, we all headed out to have "dim sum" with the student who was leaving Friday evening. He is Korean and was able to pick up on one of the (fully) Chinese menus the word dim sum. So we all sat around a table together and asked what everyone wanted. The consensus was simply, "Let's all get dim sum."

This is what ensued....another student attempted to speak in Mandarin (he's from mainland China) and not Cantonese (what the people mostly speak in Hong Kong), and so many of the wait staff ended up coming to our table to attempt to find out what we wanted.

Whereas we thought we were getting dim sum, what came to our table was nothing close. First to arrive were 6 sandwiches on rolls. The sandwiches had pork, chicken and I think beef. We all soon realized we were NOT getting dim sum. What came next was even more of a shocker.....french toast arrived on our table!

Laughter erupted and we all couldn't understand what happened. The waitress came over and the student who ordered for us tried to explain what happened. Even though it wasn't what we expected - nor what we wanted - we enjoyed our sandwiches, french toast, and time together.

Speaking of, if any of you is hungry, let me know what you want off this menu, and I'll be sure to bring it home to the US with me...

This is all of us eating....

We then decided to go get ice cream cones at McDonalds. We all walked to Citi One, the mall close to campus. Along the way, I took some shots of life taking place around me:

I could just sit at City One all evening and take pictures of the people and things they were doing. Maybe I'll go do that at some point. A bunch of people decided to go back to ICS, but Mark, Corinna, and I decided to go exploring. I made the suggestion to go to Newtown Plaza (the "big" mall) and so we boarded the bus and went to the mall. Mark and Corinna hadn't been there before, so it was fun to roam around. I kept talking about wanting what I called dumplings, and Corinna wasn't sure what I was envisioning. We found City Super, the supermarket in the mall. We decided to walk around and look at everything. What we stumbled upon at the beginning was a variety of fruit.... durian (a really bad smelling fruit), pomelo (looks like a grapefruit, but not bitter), dragonfruit, mangosteens (my favorite from Thailand...excited to buy some here), and lots of others.

For a good peek at the fruit of Hong Kong, I googled "Hong Kong fruit" and came across someone else's blog, who posted some good pics (and some funny anecdotes) about each of the main fruits:

But then we ventured into the meat section of the store and saw this:

We continued along and found what I was thinking dumplings. Sure enough, next to it, we found what Corinna was looking for...and they were called buns.
We bought some of each and continued on. We checked out, and on our way out, came across this "display" - people making these pastry-like could get them with bean paste, custard, and a bunch of other things within. I enjoyed watching them make them...they kinda looked like cupcake tins, but they'd fill half the tin with the mixture, let it bake, then add the filling, then put an already baked half on top, to form a type of sandwich, sealed together. Corinna decided to get one (with custard) and we 3 decided it was one of the most delicious treats we've had. Ever. We are definitely going to go back for more. I'll be sure to take pictures next time.

The next morning (Saturday), we had lunch together (so we could eat our buns and dumplings), and along with it had veggies (peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes - of course, I didn't eat the tomatoes), and Corinna cooked up some sweet potatoes. We sliced up some oranges and called it a meal. It was delicious! We pulled some MacGuyver moves too...had to figure out how to steam the buns with limited cooking supplies. So we boiled some water in a pot, then took the drainer, put the buns in, and inserted the drainer into the pot to hopefully let the steam cook the buns. Oh, did we laugh at ourselves.

Here's a pic (from the web) of buns and dumplings:



Saturday and all of today (Sunday) it's been non-stop raining, so we canceled our outing to the market. We're planning to go next weekend. I decided to catch up on some emailing today, so came down to the computer lab to do some work. I'll probably go to the Park-n-Shop a bit later to get some food for tonight, as well as some items for the week.

Hope you had a good weekend!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

week #1 - done!

It's Friday here in Hong Kong, friends, and that means class #1 is done! Students just got done with lunch and have started their final exam, in the class on Theories of Learning. They have a few hours to work on it - 3 hours to remember all that they learned this week and all the reading they did.

Then when they are done, many of us are going out to eat together, since one of the students is leaving (only here for this one class). So the plan is to go and get some dim sum (aka dumplings)

Try this link to see what dim sum is:

This is a picture of the class from this week, minus one student who had to go back to the mainland for her kindergarten's graduation:

There are students from the following places: United States, Korea, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Cambodia, and China.

Next week is "Global Issues and Curr Design for Culturally Diverse Settings"...quite the title, huh?

After class yesterday, Debbie (the prof here this week) and I went to meet Colleen in Tsim Sha Tsui, down the MTR a few stops. We were joined by what seemed like thousands of others going in the same direction. I noted to Debbie that it was either a cattle shoot (think of merging 4 lanes of traffic to one -- that's how it was trying to get all these people down a skinny escalator) -- or a mass exodus (all the people getting off the train and trying to leave the station). It was quite funny.

Actually, I found a picture of the MTR routes online. Look to the upper right (the burgandy-colored line)...ICS is at Shek Mun station. Now find Tsim Sha Tsui....yea, we had to make a bunch of changes. Imagine this with rush was PACKED!! But we had fun and it was nice being able to navigate around!

Take a look at this: (CLICK ON IT TO ENLARGE)

Anyway, we met Colleen there b/c Debbie wanted to go to a jeweler her mom went to last year. After we visited the jeweler, we went and ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. We had LOTS of food, some I didn't care too much for, and other dishes I really enjoyed trying. Here's what our table looked like (mid-way through; sorry, forgot to take one when the food first came out):

We had cold vermicilli salad, beef with broccoli, steak pho (a soup with broth and steak in it - the steak is raw, but the heat of the soup cooks the steak while it's sitting there), and spring rolls. Notice, too, my sweet tea. Boy, when they say SWEET tea, you get SWEET tea! It's yummy!

We ended our night by walking back to the MTR and navigating our way through the endless crowds again - all those people who were wanting to get to their next (or final) destination. Here's a pic of the streets right before we entered into the MTR:

So, off I go, to explore for the weekend! Won't post again likely till Monday, but will hopefully have a lot more pics to share and a lot of fun stories to tell!

Have a good weekend!!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

through my lens....

The view from my apartment balcony (I am on the 7th floor).

(it had just POURED before I took this picture....feels kinda Gotham City-like)

This is the Park-n-Shop, where I go to get basic groceries. It's right near campus, and a quick walk away. It wasn't here last year, the students said. They were finalizing building of apartment buildings next to the school (government housing, kinda like our low-income housing), and put up the Park-n-Shop once it was complete.

This is A-1 Bakery, on the other side of the MTR. It has the most delicious pastry items. I've had a chocolate croissant and cranberry & choc. bread. Yum.

This is just an idea of how tall the buildings are. Almost all the buildings are high-rise ones like this....I would imagine 50+ floors. The funniest part is that people hang their laundry outside the windows on these poles...I asked Colleen what happens if a shirt gets blown off its hanger. She said many times, people will knock on people's doors at ground level and ask to claim their fallen laundry.

This is the public bus. My route is 67A. I will get it right outside the school, near the Park-n-Shop and the last stop is the "big" mall (Sha Tin Plaza, or Newtown Plaza). This is where there are many American stores - Clinique, IKEA, Nike, Body Shop, Starbucks, Haagen Daaz, and the British drugstores.

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massage - Hong Kong style

I asked Colleen, the girl who's helping PBU's program, if there was a place I could go to get a massage. She said yes pretty quickly, which got me excited, since it made me assume she knew of a good place to go.

The wife (Corinna) of one of the PBU students is along and she's not doing much while her husband is in class, so I thought she might like to go along. Colleen arranged appointments for the two of us, and so 3pm Wednesday afternoon we were set to go.

We walked to Citi One, a nearby shopping center, and once inside, Colleen dropped us off and said, "Have fun!" We were on our own, and quickly realized they don't speak ANY English. Next thing we know we are being brought back to the changing area. They give us keys for lockers and then show us the showers. Mind you, the whole time this is happening, we are speaking English and they are NOT understanding us. So we resort to hand motions. We realize they want us to shower before our massages, and we keep giggling. We shower, and decide to keep our undergarments on. We take our clothes to our lockers and attempt to lock up our stuff. I lock mine, but I turn to Corinna and realize her key has snapped in half. She's saying, "oh my gosh, oh my gosh" and we're laughing so hard b/c we don't know how to tell the staff what's just happened. One of the staff walks back, and we show her the key. I try to motion that it just broke in half.
All to say, they got her a new key, brought us glasses of hot tea, and walked us to our massage rooms. We were split up, bid our adieu, and off we went.

I got into the massage room, and the woman tried to communicate that I needed to derobe and lay on the table...then she was going to cover me with towels. Oh, this whole thing was so funny...I wish I could speak their language. The massage lasted for an hour...I kept wondering what was coming next, since I didn't know what to expect. The massage ended, and she gave me my robe back and showed me back to the showers. I met up with Corinna and we just laughed and we were, two Americans, unable to communicate, and trying to act as though we knew what we were doing.

After we walked out of the salon, we did a little window shopping. I tried to ask this guy at the customer service desk where I could go to exchange more money; he put a sign up on his desk that said, "be back in a few" and walked briskly to show us the bank. A guy was standing outside, and said in fairly good English (with a hint of a British accent): "How can I help you?" I said I wanted to exchange money and he told me they had just closed. We went into another little shop and bought Corinna an umbrella - it's rainy season here - and decided to head back to campus.

As we walked back to ICS, it began to rain. We laughed as we tried to open Corinna's umbrella. It "opened" but didn't want to snap in place. We finally made it back, parted ways, and I went into my apt., cooked myself some dinner, and read. Went to bed around 8:30pm and (no shocker here) stayed asleep till 7am this morning.

The students have one more day before they finish their first week of class -- Theories of Learning. I'm still trying to confirm plans for going to the market on Saturday. Hopefully all will work out.

All in a day's time.......

What an afternoon.
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My Apartment

Here are some pictures of the apt. where I'm staying. Nice, huh?

Living Room:


Bedroom (the bed is like laying on a piece of wood):

Bathroom: of 2pm today, I HAVE HOT WATER!!!! Woohoo!
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Hong Kong

This blog has existed for quite some time now, but my posts were few and far between. I deleted the old and now will begin with the new. I arrived to Hong Kong just a few days ago and thought it might be fun to chronicle my journey - with you - on here. Surprisingly, to those who know me well, I have not yet taken ONE picture...I know, shocker, right?

But this will all change soon.

I think I'm going to plan a day outing this weekend with the students here...and go to a shopping district. They have a flower market, a goldfish market, Ladies market, and souvenirs, etc.

My time here so far has been great, sans having hot water, taking a trip to the hospital (not me, accompanied a student), and getting caught – but for a moment- in a blast of rain. I am still a bit whacky with my sleeping, but getting there. It’s hot outside, but the school is very air conditioned, and my apartment I’m staying in is beautiful. Basic, but furnished.

I am excited to get out and explore. The MTR (train) station is right across from the school and there is a public bus system and a bus stop right near the MTR, which takes me to the mall…where I can shop, exchange money, etc. I actually will be going there this afternoon.

The food is good…haven’t gotten sick yet….having porkchop with rice today and egg included…it comes with a sweetened tea (my fav). I haven’t even begun to master the chopsticks, but want to try, since I know I won’t get far if I don’t. I’ll have to carry a fork or spoon in my purse everywhere I go.

A few notable items:

- people in Hong Kong care very much about their grounds…there is rarely trash or debris anywhere. I even saw people scrubbing the mall floors with washcloths. They take pride in their country.

- They don’t have power lines aboveground…all of their power is run underground. GENIOUS!

- Bakeries in other countries don’t do justice to Dunkin’ Donuts. I got a chocolate croissant and cranberry and chocolate loaf this morning. Oh, the bliss!

- MTR is a great way to travel. Their rail system is so easy and reminds me of the tube in London…and again, SO SO clean.

- People are still concerned about sickness. They still (with frequency) wear surgical masks.

For now, I’ll leave you with one pic…the first one I’m taking of my trip. It’s the computer lab (aka my temporary office for 4 weeks), where I’ll be emailing/blogging/doing business from.

Enjoy my journey with me…and you can live vicariously through me as I explore Hong Kong.
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