Tuesday, September 28, 2010

School Days .

Looking out the front gate to McDonald's.  They are everywhere.   Next to that is a 7Eleven which are on practically every street corner.
Blaine's grade 11 Physics
All Chinese are not short!!  This boy is14 yr. old.
I thought you may be interested in the school Blaine is teaching in.  It's called Christian Alliance P.C. Lau Memorial International School, or CAIS for short.  There are about 600 students K-12 at the Kowloon campus and  the campus in Shek Kip Mei has grades 1-3.  This is a temporary arrangement until the new school is built in Lai Chi Kok, which will house around 1600 students. They hope to be in the new school by 2014.  Both  Kylie and Ryan have to go between the two campuses so its kind of a pain.
They have changed from the Sask. curriculum to Alberta, so it makes for more work to get everything in order.  The school has 60 teachers on staff, which come from Canada, US, Australia, China, New Zealand, and India, and probably a few other places l don't know about.  The kids are multicultural which makes for very interesting names to pronounce.  The days are a little longer than at home.  They go from 8:05 -3:35  Most of the holidays are the same except for Chinese New Year and the odd day here and there.
I took these pictures off the web site.  They are very proud of their Canadian connection and this is also what draws kids to the school, l think because lots of them want to go to Canadian Universities. The mascots name is Azul, which is Spanish for blue (picked by the kids).  He's really rather neat and draws lots attention when he goes out.
Blaine is on the fourth floor and has lots of stairs to climb a few times a day (100steps each time)  He says he can do it without puffing now!  We live about 4 blocks from the school.  Right across the road from the school, on one side  is a McDonald's and on the other side is a private Hospital.  We've managed to make our presence known at both since we got here! Blaine is teaching 7,8,9, and 10 & 20 Math, and grade 11 Physics.  Basketball will be starting soon and he will be coaching the Under14 boys.  Oh my goodness as I was writing this, somebody hit the guard rail coming around the corner of the road right below us and flipped his car!!  I heard the noise but didn't look out the window for a few min. till l heard the sirens. I don't know why you don't see more accidents with all the traffic and the speeds they go.
Well its 11pm so l guess l'll finish this another day.
Blaine took a bunch of pictures of his classes and around the school.
Looking down on the outdoor Gym

Ryan lifting in the new weight room.  The other fellow is a new teacher from Alberta
Kylie in his lab
Blaine's grade 7 math class.  The boy third from the left should be in grade five but was skipped  ahead two grades and is doing grade 9 math.
The Staff room.
I think everyone is looking forward to getting into the new school.  Having elevators and an indoor gym will certainly be appreciated.  Oh well we won't be here for it but the kids both plan on staying here so they will be happy.  Ryan is taking courses at the university here twice a week to get his Masters so he has a busy schedule. Friday is a holiday, don't know why but we can always use a day off.  Hope you all have a good weekend and are rested for the week ahead.
Blaine and Sandra

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Holiday at the Gold Coast

Dining room

Looking over the harbor to the Gold Coast Hotel

beach houses ( looking from Ryan's flat)
 I am cat and house sitting for one of Jill's clients out at the Gold Coast.  They have gone to Shanghai for the Worlds Fair and kindly offered us their place if we would look after their two cats.  They live in one of the beach houses (large flats, some 2 floors) across the road from Ryan and Jill.  It's right on the water and very big (around 2000sq. ft)  has a real oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer and very lovely.  The house is filled with books of every description so all l have to do for three days is sit on the balcony, read some books, feed the cats, enjoy the kids and grandkids and swim in the complexes HUGE pool. Never did get around to swimming!
 Thursday is a holiday here because they celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival.  Families get together for supper then go out with their lanterns or to the various celebrations.  At the Gold Coast people gather along the ocean in the evening and light their lanterns to celebrate the harvest and watch the moon, which is at its biggest, rise over the ocean.  There are celebrations all over the city.Actually we never made it to these as it poured rain and everything was cancelled.  There is a cake called a moon cake which is eaten at this time.  It's made from lotus or almond paste  and has a salted duck egg in the middle.  They are quite beautiful to look at, as they are made in molds with various designs on the top. I did taste the moon cake and although not really really terrible, not the greatest either! Haagen Dazs ice cream has a version of the moon cake.  Quit expensive.
There are many versions of the legends for the festival.  When l saw the decorations in our building l couldn't help wondering how a lady, Autumn leaves, fish, and a rabbit came together, but in short a lady went to live on the moon so she could be near the human she loved (he had died) and the rabbit gave his life to feed an old man, so he became the Jade Rabbit, the leaves have to do with harvest.  I guess the fish does too.  They have a huge dragon in Causeway Bay that winds all through the streets snorting smoke.  I'd have liked to have seen that too but can't be in two places at once!  Maybe next year.
This is a pic of the complex Ryan and his family live in at the Gold Coast
We were in the beach house to the far left and Ryan lives in the middle tower right in front of the beach houses.
Looking out our balcony.  This apartment block sits right out on the ocean.  It's kind  of neat.  Yesterday fish were jumping all over in the bay area and l really enjoyed watching the ships, huge container ships and fishing boats coming and going

All in all it was a good visit (even though l locked myself out)  I took the cat litter out to the garbage which is between the two flats, and as soon as l went out l remembered her saying the doors lock automatically and sure enough they did!!  So l banged on the door going into the next apt. 7:45am and they happened to have a guest from Germany staying with them who was awake and he let me in.  I thought l could get into our place but no Blaine had gone for his walk and locked the main door.  So the German fellow and l sat  and visited for three quarters of an hour waiting for Blaine ( neighbor is from Kenya and had a very interesting flat).  Thank goodness l had put my housecoat and shoes on before  l went out (can you imagine if l'd gone out in my pj's)  I thought the neighbor had an extra key but it was a holiday and l didn't want to wake her up.  Anyway Blaine comes back, no key, Jill and one of her clients (he's from New Zealand) come over to look if we could get up to the balcony, No way.  So off l go in my housecoat to Ryan's apt.  People must have thought l was nuts.  Anyway after being there awhile Ryan remembers there was a spare key hidden somewhere in the entry way, so back l walk and wouldn't you know it, in the bottom of the umbrella stand was a key.  Thank you Lord.  I was never so relieved.  We met quit the international group of people with our lockout.
Anyway that's it from HK.  You just never know what's coming round the corner.  God Bless
Love Sandra

Friday, September 17, 2010

To market, to market to buy....

about two blocks from here
Every area has its own street of outdoor markets, or at least one or two on the corner.  There's usually one that is the butcher with various meats.  Mostly pork l think and fish.  The whole pig is delivered in the morning and then they work away on it all day.  They seem to do a good business but l wouldn't buy from there.  l was walking behind some ladies the other day who had obviously been meat shopping and were holding up a hunk of something and discussing their purchase as they walked along!
across the street from the meat
This whole street on both sides has stalls selling fruit, veg, nuts, all kinds of dried thingies(don't know what they are) and behind the stalls are little stores, and businesses.  You walk down the middle of the street and get out of the way for cars, vans, and trucks that somehow squeeze by.  The only thing with the market is that you can't always count on them having the same things all the time, because they get what's fresh that day.  I've been trying to find red peppers for a week or more and on Sun. Ryan and Jill walked through and bought some for $7 HK and on Mon. morning when l went there wasn't one to be found, so l finally bought one from the store and paid a whole lot more $35. HK.
weird watermelons
Mostly l've been buying our fruit there.  They have really good grapes, bananas, apples, oranges and cherries.  The kids tell me l have to buy a mango because they are totally different from Can and really good.  Haven't done that yet.  We had some mango's hanging from a tree in the courtyard, but l see they have disappeared! The watermelons were ones Jocelyn and l saw over in Kowloon City market.  Look at the price.  That's almost $700 Can.  Can you imagine paying that for some odd shaped watermelon?  I don't know if they actually eat them or what.  Some have faces grown right into them and others are different shapes.  The tomato was the size of a basketball!!  Wonder what they injected it with!!  If you double click on the pictures you can enlarge them.
You see these duck shops everywhere.  You can buy your duck whole, headless, of just the neck and head!  They look kind of yucky, but when we went out for that supper with all the teachers, l had some  duck and it was really tasty!!  I'd never eaten duck before, but l would be nervous about buying one from these shops, and they can keep the head!
Sorry l didn't get a picture of the half dead frogs in the cages.  We'll have to save that pleasure for another day!
Happy market shopping to you all.  What an amazing variety God has provided.

Blaine and Sandra

Monday, September 6, 2010

Housekeeping in HK

Dinning Room!

Well l think I've bought almost as many things as l can fit into this space! I've come to love Ikea and  know it pretty well by now.  There are three ways of getting things home from a shopping trip.  #1 you carry it, #2 you go somewhere they will deliver, or #3 you go to Ikea, load up, and rent a little van that costs about 10 dollars more than the taxi would,(about $50 HK or $7 Can) but then you still have to carry everything from the ground floor to our building.  It's all quit a process.  Last week we bought a new sofa and they said they would deliver it next Sat. from 9-12 and would phone an hour ahead.  Well the sofa came at 11:15 pm!! We never dreamed they would come so late, but actually we should have known better as everything is late here.  Mall stores don't open till 11:30, so don't plan on an early shopping spree.
 Another strange thing here is that you can't find top sheets for the bed.  Again Ikea to the rescue!  By the time you make the bed (while sitting on it as you make it because you're hemmed in by a wall of windows and 2 solid walls) maybe having a top sheet will go by the wayside, along with drying dishes (I'm getting quit fond of that one)
Part of one's housekeeping duties is to keep the dehumidifiers empty.  I can't believe the amount of water they suck out of the air.  I guess it shouldn't be surprising as the humidity is around 90 - 95% especially the last week.  Before we got one in the bedroom it felt like going to bed in a cold damp tent!.  You need to run the Air Con + the dehumidifiers so you don't get mold, which we had before we got the second one.  Now things are more comfortable
Another thing dehumidifiers are good for is drying the laundry.  I hang it all in the bathroom on these neat hanger thingies, shut the door and the heat from the dehumidifier warms the room and sucks out all the water.  By morning its all dry and l don't have to do it for 3 more days!!  There is a laundry just across the street and l think l'll take Blaine's pants there to so l don't have to iron them.  Getting your laundry done there is very reasonable, and l think most people do that, but then you're back to the carrying thing, so l'd rather just do most of it here.
new couch
One thing that is very annoying here is the dust on everything.  You have to dust and sweep or vacuum every surface nearly  everyday and still it looks like you never did a thing.  The kids say its from the Air cons and pollution.  Where ever its from you've never seen such big dust bunnies if you don't keep it up.
groceries are delivered - l order online for most of them
I'm really very happy with the kitchen.  It  has 3 extra things going for it.  There is an extra 13 in. counter with cupboards above and below that add a tremendous amount of storage.  There is a second tiny balcony off the kitchen which opens up the view and makes it not so claustrophobic, and also gives me extra space for the oven and microwave.  The third thing is because of those other two areas, l don't have to put appliances on the counter and for me that is huge, to have some counter space to work on, no matter how small in comparison to what l had at home.
All the floors are slate tiles which is very hard on the old knees, so we put down 4 squares of Rachel's play mats in the kitchen and that is much better.  Everything is made from cement and slate and when it rains out the walkways are extremely slippery.  HK ice!
Look at all that counter space! The clothes washer is just to the right of the drawers.
These shelves and counter add a lot of storage
Looking out the kitchen balcony door. 

Bedroom window
Blaine is enjoying being with his own kids at school and also getting to know his students. With 3 Barnstables at the same work place it's a little bit of overload and someone asked if they could call him Daddy Barnstable! On Friday there is an open house to meet the teachers so that should be interesting.
I'm off to Taste (grocery store) in another area not too far from here that has more western types of things.  I was going to take the little green bus, but chickened out and will take a taxi instead.
Have a good week and God Bless.
Blaine and Sandra

Thursday, September 2, 2010

1st Month

View out our front window

It doesn't seem possible that we have been here almost a month already, but the time has flown by and been filled with lots of new experiences.  We've been busy getting settled in our flat, getting phones, getting our Hong Kong ID, learning how to buy groceries, banking, buying pots and pans, and dishes etc. finding our way around, and enjoying being with our kids and grand kids.  Oh yeah and Blaine started school on the 16th!!  All new teachers come early to get organized.  The school has two campuses this year
as they are trying to get their enrollment up so they will be ready when the new school is built.  The kids came last Thursday, so this is the first full week of kids.  It's sort of like being a new teacher again for Blaine, but he is enjoying the kids and slowly beginning to be able to pronounce some of the names!  We're in old Kowloon and when I'm out and about I very rarely see another white person but when you go into the downtown area its like a whole new world and you wonder what all these white people are doing here!
There is no rhyme or reason to these pictures!  I'll get better l hope as l do more.There is a restaurant in Sai Kung, which is a very pretty fishing village along the ocean and they have huge tanks of every kind of sea creature imaginable, and you pick what you want and tell them how you want it cooked.  One of the board members from the school takes all the new teachers out for supper there at the beginning of the year.  It was really fun!
We live in a complex called Sky Tower. We're in tower 7.  There is actually only 6 towers because there's no number 4.  The complex takes up a whole block.  From our tower you walk almost a block just to get out the front door.  There is a walkway on the third floor that's outside  and has lots of plants, gazebos, and waterfalls, or you can go down to ground level and go through the car park which is nice when its raining.  The pool isn't quit as big as Rosetown's but good. The amenities block has a badminton/basketball court, a squash court, 3 piano rooms, two kids play areas, saunas, a place to get your nails done, 4 massage chairs, a reading room, and a big area you can rent for bigger gatherings.
We live on the 36th floor just down the hall from Kylie, Jocelyn & Rachel.  Our side of the building over looks the old Kai Tak airport.  We can see part of the old runway that juts out into Kowloon Bay.  It's pretty smoggy today, but when its clear its quit pretty.  It used to be considered the most dangerous airport in the world.  All the taller buildings are new.  There is a helicopter pad just below us where we watch them coming and going.  They don't fly up this high!!  Hunter loves to watch the buses and helicopters come and go.
That's it from HK.  Wishing you all a good week and God's Blessings.

Looking up at one of the towers
The outdoor walkway
The old runway jutting out into Kowloon Bay
Dinner at Sai Kung
Getting our ID card.  Can't live here without it.