Thursday, December 30, 2010

Being Grandma and trip to Shenzhen

Hunter did a good job cutting out the shortbread cookies for Christmas!

He came to spend the day with me on the 17th which was the last day of classes for the school.  We went shopping for cookie cutters and out to McDonald's for lunch.
Kylie had gotten a helicopter from the  school gift exchange, so he was trying to fly it around our living room. You can see it hovering above the blocks on the rug.  Boys and their toys!!  They were all enthralled with it!
Blaine and l went to Shenzhen for a day of shopping BY OURSELVES!!  This was a big deal for me because when we were here three years ago we all went and l got pick pocketed and lost everything, so l've been very leery of going there again. We took a taxi to Festival Walk mall and rode the train all the way to Lo Wu which is at the border crossing over to mainland China.  It was a Monday and the train was packed both coming and going. Thousands of people go back and forth at that crossing each day.
  After you go through immigration you cross this bridge to the mainland and you are in China proper.The city is huge, 7.5 million and is one of the five Special Economic Zones.  Before it became a SEZ in 1980, it was a small village, but has now grown into a monstrous city with its only goal to make money and sell merchandise.  It has some neat things to see, but you are warned to be careful and have someone with you who knows the ropes so to speak.  We will go back one day and try and tour more of the other areas of the city.
I was very nervous to go there again and kept a tight hold of my purse at all times!! The whole place has a very different feel about it and l really don't feel comfortable there.  It's seems kind of a sleazy place with people always bugging you to buy something and they follow you around.  My view of the place is probably a little bit biased!

The main reason l wanted to go was because you can get clothes made to order quit cheaply.  I took in 2 pairs of capris, and 5 shirts and t-shirts.  Here they are putting the cloth swatches l picked out on the corresponding shirts.  This mall is about a city block square with 5 floors.  The top floor is all tailors and has a football field size area that is just cloth of every color and kind you can dream up.  You can get sweaters made and coats, wedding dresses, suits, anything.  You bring in something you want copied or a picture of it and they can make it at their factory.

Once you pick the cloth they measure you and write down anything you want changed on the garment.  So in 10 days l will have 24 pieces of clothing shipped to me in HK.  I'm anxious to see how the cloth stands up and if things will actually fit any better.  Each article turned out to be around $15.00 Canadian.  If they are good quality and durable l think l'll get some other things done like a suit and jacket.  Some Australian woman was getting some really beautiful classy looking things made while we were there. Some people from the school go to this particular shop and Kylie had 6 pairs of shorts made last summer that he's been happy with.

 This is looking down the mall concourse.  The train station is on the left, and the big tourist mall is the one on the right.

Inside the mall are hundreds or maybe even thousands of small stores.  The stores are only maybe 10 x 12, so each one is small.  There are clothes, copy watches, bags, toys, jewelry, shoes,electronics, DVD's,  kid's clothes, food, gadgets, massage, pedicures,some legitimate, and some not!!
This is one of the toy stores and the whole thing is packed to the ceiling just like in the window.

This is leading into the immigration area to go back into Hong Kong.

Leaving Shenzhen!!  I have to say l breath easier when l get on the Hong Kong side again, but it was a kind of fun trip and l will be looking forward to seeing my new clothes. Blaine found some neat toys,(remote controlled helicopters, and car) and we got some good DVD's. The DVD's are really cheap but sometimes they don't work!!  And sometimes the shops are shut down because they weren't legal!  You just never know what you'll find here.  We bought this 24 disc set of Mr Bean and when we tried it out, it was all in Russian!!  (Blaine finally got the English to work)   Like Kylie says some work some don't, get more next trip!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas trees and Soup Pots

This is the tree in the entrance to our complex.  It's a real tree and you can smell it all through the lobby.  Can't imagine what a real tree this size would cost, but l'm sure it was plenty.  It's around 12 feet high.
Poinsettias, in our entrance way.
 See there is even snow in tropical Hong Kong!!  You can get most anything here!

Could this one be bigger or more purple?
Hunter standing in front of the Christmas tree at the Gold Coast.
Tree in a mall. Don't know which one!

Tree at Ocean park.  I wonder how many decorations are on that tree?

So what does a soup pot have to do with a Christmas tree?    Well a little story.  At first l wasn't even going to put up a tree, but then we decided to have Christmas Eve here, and l couldn't see not having a tree to have presents under.  There was a beautiful white tree made of shells l liked, but that seemed kind of cold, and then Ryan said he had one at the school.  So Blaine brings it home, but alas it had no stand.  You don't just go out and buy a tree stand (l guess you can if you know where to go, but l didn't).  Well the grocery order had come that day so l tried to make feet from cardboard, but the dumb thing kept falling over.  The next morning  l thought l'd try again but no luck, it wouldn't stand up.  Well l thought that's the end of that.  I'll just throw the thing out and we won't have a tree.  By this time l was quit frustrated and feeling sorry for myself and proceeded to tell God all about it.  The next thought in my mind was you have a soup pot.  In fact you have two!
Well, l still had all that cardboard and old plastic bags, so l stuffed the pot with all the junk and voila a beautiful silver tree stand with handles no less!!
It may not be big and fancy or  as pretty as the one we have in Rosetown, but it reminds me that God cares about the small stuff in our lives as well as the important things and  even a humble soup pot can be transformed to be used in a new way.  Something like when God changes us isn't it.
From our family to yours, may you have a blessed and wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Decorations

Everything is big here!  At least the decorations are!
Sometimes it hard to see any relevance to Christmas, but they are very beautiful to look at!
I think these are all at Harbour Mall.  Everything is big and extravagant.
Again, not sure of the cakes significance but it does say Seasons Greetings!
These two pictures are taken from the Kowloon side looking over to the Island.  There is a laser light show every night which is rather interesting to see.  I don't know how they get those lights up on  buildings so many stories high.

The power bills must be astronomical, even without the Christmas decorations, as everything is lit up every night of the year.

Well l warned you l was going to have a grandmas brag blog and here it is!!  Last Sunday we were trying to get pictures of the three munchkins together, but that was almost impossible.  Keegan is 19 mos. old and Rachel is 16 mos.  Keegan is a very quiet, and serious little fellow who kind of does his own thing.  Rachel is usually smiley (although she has now learned to scowl) and bright eyed and inquisitive. They are both beginning to talk now so the next year should be fun.
I'm really not trying to take your radio but looking at this thing in my hand!
Hunter is 4 and learning to  read, write and speak Chinese. He goes to a Chinese kindergarten half days. He's a bundle of energy.   I asked him what he wanted for Christmas but since he'd already written a letter to
Santa he didn't think l needed to know!!  His Christmas Concert was on Monday, but only parents were allowed to go.  He loves stories, Spider man and dinosaurs.
Keegan kept looking into the bag wondering why there was nothing there!!  Hunter being a loving big brother.

Finally all together, and looking in the same direction!  Christmas should be lively this year!!  The little ones wouldn't wear a Santa hat, so Hunter did the honors.  Hope you have as much fun with your kids and  grand kids as l hope to have with mine!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Visit to the Buddha

Leaving from Tung Chung
Lantau Island is the home of the International Airport, many hiking trails, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Ngong Ping, home of the worlds largest outdoor sitting Buddha!  There is a cable car linking Ngong Ping with Tung Chung.  (where the outlet malls are).  The Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery and temple complex was built in 1924.  On the hill above the monastery sits the Tian Tan Buddha.  It's about 34m high and weights 202 tonnes. You can climb the 260 steps up to the base of the Buddha if you are so inclined, but we weren't because we waited in line for almost 2 hours to catch the cable car back down the mountains.   It is amazingly mountainous there, and the views from the cable car are really beautiful, but it's probably better to visit on a week day and go early in the day!!

Heading out over the ocean.  It seems a long way down. The ride takes about 25 min.
Keegan is busy making a phone call!!
Going by the airport.
Heading over one of the valleys.  You travel over two or three mountain peaks.  I was quite happy to not be in the glass bottom car.

Still a ways to go if you want to walk those 260 stairs up to the Buddha's base.  Even Keegan thinks it will be too much for him!
Beautiful gate leading to the statue.

Hunter is not to sure about these two weirdos!

Baby warriors in the making!

If you still have the energy, after climbing those stairs you can take your pick of anywhere in the world!

Last family get together before Dallas and Colette head home.
  Love your hat Hunter!  Rachel is hiding under the green blanket.

Snacking, in case they get hungry on the flight back!

It was wonderful to have visitors.  It went by way too fast but l think they enjoyed their look at Hong Kong and we certainly loved having them here.  Hope your backs recover from the cramped sleeping quarters!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Playing Tourist

Looking down from Kylie's flat.  The building behind the dark blue pool is a hotel,  the manicured area is our walkway, and the light pool is ours.
One of Jill's clients gave his Porsche to them for the weekend, so Ryan took Blaine and l for a drive after church.  It's quite the car!!

I went for a open air bus tour with Dallas and Colette.  The two pictures above are taken from Victoria Peak, looking down on Hong Kong Island and over to the Kowloon side.  The tallest building in the middle, is the IFC building and has 101 floors.  There is one across the water on the Kowloon side which is taller.
To get to the Peak you can take a tram, which climbs up an incredibly steep grade, and has been  running since 1888.  It's coming into the station here.
The electric trams have been in use here since 1904, and is the only double decker system in the world.   They are rather  neat old buses with wooden seats and the're kind of noisy and shudder as they go along the track.  No air conditioners in these, so its better to ride them in the cooler season.
This is the Mid- Levels escalators.  It's a bunch of escalators that are 800m in length and climb up around 135m.  This part of Central, Soho, and Mid levels  is very hilly and steep.  The escalators run uphill until midnight, except during the morning rush hour when it runs downhill.

This is the Man Mo Temple which dates back to the 1840's
These are huge sandlewood coils of incense that take about two weeks to burn through.   They smelled pretty much like what my neighbor burns all the time.  Some days it gets to be a little too much!!
We went for supper at the Temple Street night market, before going to find the bargains of the century!   You sit on plastic stools out in the open on the side of the street with buses and cabs going beside you, and of course people.  The food was really good and l'd go there again.  Dallas and Colette had fun shopping and bartering. Temple Street market is little booths set up on both sides of the street for blocks and blocks, plus there are stores behind the booths, so you can shop all evening.  If was a beautiful night so it was fun to be out and about. I haven't mastered the art of chopsticks yet, so Blaine and l had to ask for forks!!  Maybe by the time we leave we will have learned to keep them uncrossed, so  food won't be falling everywhere.