Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting Ready for Chinese New Years

Chinese New Years begins Feb. 3 and is a 3 day holiday in HK.  I'm not sure if all three days are considered red days or not.  Most small shops will be closed and probably the markets too.  Apparently the big factories on the mainland close for three weeks so people can travel home for their yearly holiday.  Restaurants stay open as this will be their busy time as whole families go out to eat and celebrate.  The big grocery stores stay open longer hours to accommodate the people making special dishes.   For us school is done on Jan. 28 and starts again on Feb.8.
The entrance to Sky Tower

Our lobby in tower 7.

Dragon, firecrackers, drums, pots of gold, and flowers in the main entrance.
It's the year of the rabbit!!

Some of the decorations you can buy.  Most everything is red and gold.  The blue thing in the next picture is a clothes dryer rack with red tassels hanging from it.  This little store is about 2 blocks away and always has interesting things in it.  You can hardly get inside because it's packed from ceiling to floor.  I bought some decorations there and paid for them on the street.  All the stores along the streets are very tiny and it's amazing the amount of stuff that's in them.

All this stuff is on the outside of the store on the sidewalk!  The store itself is probably only 10x12.
The security desk in our lobby.

I had to buy some red things to decorate with!  These are candy dishes.  The pillows and dishes are everywhere.   There are special bags of candy in all the stores but some have very strange ingredients and don't seem that they would be very tasty to the western palate so l filled the tray with small Snickers and Dairy Milk bars.  The other one l put nuts in.  Not very adventurous but it all seems to be disappearing!!

Entrance to our tower.  Lanterns are all over now, and at the end of the 15 days of the holiday there is a Spring lantern festival with lanterns in all sorts of shapes which l'd like to see.  The orange or kumquat bushes like the one below are everywhere now to.  They are still adding decorations around our complex.  Everyday brings something new added.  When they finish l'll take some more pictures.

People buy these Narcissus plants for the new year.  They are also called Water Fairy Flower.  Flowers are a big deal here at New Years.  Apparently the Flower Market in Mong Kok is crammed with people and l read somewhere that fights break out sometimes as people want the biggest possible plant to show their prosperity!!  It's all about money here!  Kung Hei Fat Choi or "respectful wishes, get rich"
This is the most heard greeting for Chinese New Years, so Kung Hei Fat Choi to you all!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chinese Hong Kong University

Hong Kong has a total of eight Universities.  Hong Kong University was established in 1911 and is the oldest.  It is located on the Island.  The Chinese University of Hong Kong opened in 1963.  It is on a beautiful campus at Ma Liu Shui which is north of Sha Tin in the New Territories.  There is also the University of Science and Technology and the Polytechnic University plus other small colleges scattered around.  Ryan is taking his masters at the Chinese University, so we went with him last night to tour around and see where he spends two evenings a week in classes.
Ryan heading into the Kwok Sports Building to meet with one of his professors.
Coming onto the campus.

This building houses the gym and is attached to the stands of the track and field below. 

Beautiful track and facilities.
Student Residence behind.  Blaine had to walk around on the rubberized track and check out the weight room in one of those quonset looking buildings.
Checking out the field.
Large avenue heading to the Library.
Entrance to the KCR station.

KCR Platform

Overlooking part of the campus.  Both the boys lived in the area across the water when they first came to HK.  Not those apartments but further down the coast to the left. (I think it was to the left) Mostly l haven't got a clue where anything is here.  You go up and down, through tunnels and round and round.  Very little is straight or level in Hong Kong.
The campus is situated all over the hills.

Colorful Chemistry building.
Chinese medicine garden

It is a very pretty campus with lots of trees but l'd hate to have to climb the stairs that are all over the place.  Everywhere you go you are either going up or down.  Kids should all be in shape!
Picture of the layout of the University.  We went for supper in one of the cafeterias, which was only $18. each, but l've never seen so many people eating noodles of all descriptions in one place before.  We had a baked spaghetti with cream sauce, chicken and veg. which was good.  There were kids eating soup with noodles, noodles with pork chop and gravy, baked noodles, Thai noodles,  plain noodles, noodles with different sauces and of course noodles with fish.  We saw only one kid with fries!!  Noodles are for sure the big seller here.

When Dallas and Colette were here, we went out for noodles too!!  Tricky little devils to eat with the chopsticks!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Checking out Kwun Tong

Rachel on the bus.  Jocelyn and Rachel and I went on little trip to an area called Kwun Tung.  It's not that far from To Kwa Wan where we live but although some things are same the city over, there are always new twists.
In front of the Meyer pots and pans store.  This company is owned by one of the board members from our school.  They are a world wide company, and have a real range of merchandise, from the lower end price to very very expensive.

You see all kinds of buildings here.   Some are so rundown and ugly and then there  is the other extreme.  You wonder how people even live in some of the bad ones.  I read in the paper today that the minimum wage was now $28 an hour, so that is about $4 Canadian.  I don't know how people live on that here, although if you eat locally and buy from the market, food is fairly cheap,except for meat, and utilities are quite a bit less than Canada.  I guess that is why many generations live together in one small flat, and everyone goes out in the  evening just to get out of their small environment.  People seem to work long hours.  The flower and market owners begin around 8 am and are still there at 8 or 9 each night. Everything is open 7 days a week.  Blaine's massage guy is open every day, and he doesn't leave till 9 at night.  We are definitely spoiled in the west.
This is a street vendor selling roasted chestnuts, yams, eggs, and sweet potatoes. There is a big wok in the middle there  full of hot charcoal and the chestnuts are mixed in the coals and roasted.  The yams are really good.

Jocelyn thought this was an elevator for lifting cars down to another level, or maybe it turns when cars are brought up the elevators and backed out those doors.  I don't really know, but here it could be anything.
Monster coke machines!!
The MTR stations all have interesting little shops in them.   This one sells all kinds of cream puffs!!  We had to try some and they were yummy.
At this section the MTR train runs above ground so the station goes over the 6 lanes of traffic below.
Looking over to a typical street.

We stopped at a baby store and l thought these were cute.  They are training chopsticks for little  kids.  I  need to get a set of these!

There is always such a mix of poor and rich here.  On a street where you think there is nothing is a dealership and repair shop for Lamborghini's!
I had never seen one before and didn't know that's how the trunk lifted, so had to take a picture!
A massage parlor, of which there are many!!  The time it's open seems a little strange but then you never know what goes on at some of these!

In these two pictures men are putting up the bamboo scaffolding on a building.  I'm surprised they are wearing hard hats, because sometimes there doesn't seem to be any regulations on dress code for jobs.  One of the guys down our street does welding without a helmet or shield or even gloves, and with his shirt off in summer!
 As you can see its always enlightening to wander around here and you never know just what you might see!

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Get thee to a Nunnery" (thought I'd throw in a little Hamlet)

The Chi Lin Nunnery dates back to the 1930's, but was completely rebuilt of wood in the style of the Tang dynasty in 1998. There are some really lovely pictures of it on the net.  Apparently it is built without the use of iron nails, but the wood is cut so it interlocks with the next piece. I'm not sure why it's called a Nunnery instead of a Monastery.  It's quite amazing when you are walking around the park, how quiet and soothing it is, considering the fact that there is a lot of traffic just on the other side of its walls. It's a beautiful and quiet oasis in the middle of a noisy and frantic city.

The flowering trees are really blooming now and are the prettiest they have been since we got here.    They bloom year around, but in the summer it's so hot that they look kind of tired.   November and December are the best months of the year for visiting here because the weather is cooler and most vegetation looks bright and colorful.

You cross a bridge that runs over the streets below to get to this temple which houses a large gold Buddha.  This is the beginning of the actual Nunnery and the buildings go far back behind this one.

The park that is open to the public is called Nan Lian Garden.  There were a group of monks visiting and taking pictures along with the rest of the tourists and of course people were taking pictures of the monks!!

Right in the center is this beautiful golden pagoda siting in the middle of ponds and waterfalls.  Very serene while the world rushes by !!

One of the lovely lotus ponds in the garden.
The building behind the waterfall is a vegetarian restaurant .
Neat water wheel by the waterfall.  It almost looks like something out of the old west.( if you block out all the high rises behind it, and the bonsai shaped trees beside)  Well you need to use your imagination!
There are bonsai tea plants everywhere.  The leaves are just coming out on this one.

If you get bored with the quietness of the gardens, you can always go shopping across the street at the
 Plaza  Hollywood.   Malls are never  far away.

The Nunnery is kind of an oval shape so the traffic has to go around it on many levels.  This walkway is one of about 5 that go over the streets and branch off in other directions.  We were trying to get across the traffic to the stadium on the other side

Heading home on the bus.   It costs about 50 cents to go from our place over to the Nunnery on the 3b bus!!