Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good Bye Hong Kong

It's with conflicting emotions that we say goodbye to our time in Hong Kong.  It's been a time of stretching ourselves with new experiences, new foods, different cultures, hotter climate, tighter living conditions, not
only with millions of other people, but with sharing  a small place with each other!  On one hand we will, have Ryan, Jill, Hunter, Keegan, and a new grand baby fairly close by in Hafford Sask, but then we will be leaving Kylie, Jocelyn, and Rachel here, and it will be difficult to say goodbye to them.The last few weeks, we have been trying to see as many things as possible before we leave.  In this last blog it will be a kind of hodgepodge of  a few of the places and things we've been doing as we also get ready to return home!  I think we are ready to come back, especially as it heats up here!!!

A couple of weeks ago Blaine and l went out to the Kau Sai Chau golf course on one of the islands 
near Sai Kung. You have to have a handicap card to golf there.  You get there on a really neat ferry
 and anyone can hit some balls at the driving range and then lunch in the restaurant.  Heading out we 
saw these people practicing for the dragon boat races.

There are quit a few junk boats around Sai Kung that you can take tours on.
The course is really beautiful and the views are gorgeous.
One Wed. evening we went to the Happy Valley Race Course to watch the horse races.  It has quite
the view of the business areas of Causeway Bay from the stands.
Looking back into one little section of the stands.  The place is massive.  I can't imagine what this amount of property would be worth in land starved Hong Kong.  

One weekend we went to Shenzhen to buy movies and helicopters!  But most of all we wanted to see the artists village.  Back in the 90's a Hong Kong business man set up 20 artists in the village of Dafen just outside of Shenzhen.  Today the village is in the center of Shenzhen and there are more than 5000 artists living and working there.

Originally they did mostly copies of famous oil paintings whose artists had been dead for more than
70 years and thus no copyright problems.  Do you think you could find something you like in one of those
stacks of canvases?
It's kind of a quiet place to stroll around in looking at every type of picture.  You can take in a photo
and have it painted in oils.  I couldn't resist buying a couple canvases, but they are all of flowers.

A deal being made!!!
Lunch time!  There are hundreds of  studios in the village.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent here,  mostly from hotel chains in the USA and Europe.
Next time you're in a hotel take a look at the pictures, because they probably came from here.
Some good some bad!!

I always enjoy watching someone make something come alive on a blank sheet of canvas!
Here is something l bet you'll never see in Canada.  The lady with the string in her mouth is cleaning the hair
off the neck of the other lady, by running this taut string up and down the skin to remove the hair!  It's called Yang Threading.  The cotton thread is twisted and rolled along the surface of the skin, and pulls the hair out as it goes, leaving the skin completely hairless!!  Apparently it is the best to use on sensitive skin, so it can't be that painful!!  The crazy things you see when you are getting clothes made!!
One of Ryan's wishes was to go body surfing at Big Wave Bay, so we spent an afternoon watching him
catch some waves!!  It looked like fun and l was wishing l had a bathing suit along to try too!
The surfer dude!!
Riding a wave in!
There is some regular surfing done here also.
Ryan and Dirk went for one last bike ride over on Lamma Island.  In addition to Hong Kong Island, 
the territory of Hong  Kong consists or another 234 islands,  some of which are just rocks sticking up
out of the South China Sea, to Lantau, which is twice the size of Hong Kong Island.  Lamma is the
third largest.

 Lamma has two small fishing villages, hiking trails, seafood restaurants,  good beaches,  windmills, 
and the power station.

 Do you think they saw the sign!! 

 Sindy and King took Blaine and l out to a Japanese restaurant for supper.  It was a relaxing evening
grilling our food over the barbecue set into each table
 I had to try one of everything (Blaine stuck to the beef and chicken!)  I couldn't eat the head, but
 the rest was pretty tasty!
Even though this was good, we're both looking forward to a good steak on the barbecue 
once we're home!!
 I have to do some grandma bragging while l have your attention!!
Rachel Dawn - she has a great sense of humor and is always ready to see something new!

 Keegan Joseph -  our little imp who loves to climb and gives great hugs

Hunter Rhys - always active in mind, body and spirit - loves Mr. Bean

We have been so grateful to be able to spend this time getting to know and love these three 

little people.

 Thank you to Kylie and Jocelyn for letting us be a part of your lives for the last two years, and putting up
with having us just down the hall from you!  We will miss you so much as we head home, but know
this is where God has put you for now. (but hopefully some day you will move closer)
Thanks to Ryan and Jill for letting us borrow your kids for overnight sleepovers, and spending
your Sundays with the old folks.  We are looking forward to helping you build that new garage, landscape and paint or whatever else you need help with as you settle into your new life in Hafford.
Blaine's grade seven class from this year. 
Five of the students who Blaine was privileged to pray with as they accepted Christ as their Savior.

As this week winds down, not only does our time in China end, but also 40 years of teaching comes to a finish for Blaine. 

40 years has brought new ways of doing things........

a new generation of teachers have come........
and new students will continue to begin their years of schooling.....

but we look to the future to see what the next big adventure will be......

.....and to see what God has in store for our retirement years.

Thank you to each one of you who have prayed for us, who kept in touch, those who were able to visit

 us here, and you who have helped us in a number of ways.  We'll always be grateful for our time here, being able to spend time with the family, the people we've met, the unusual things we've seen and places we were fortunate enough to visit. 
  Joigin  (goodbye) from Hong Kong!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Japanese Occupation

Ryan and I both wanted to see things related to the WWII Japanese occupation.  Neither of us really knew about what the other was interested in, but when we put it together it made for a very interesting weekend.

Ryan wanted to see the tunnels and bunkers that were the first line of defense against the Japanese
invasion from China which was to the north.  It was set up on a ridge of mountains that runs along
 the edge of the populated area north of Kowloon.

We took a taxi up "monkey road" and then hiked for about 20 min. up the mountain.  This is part
of the path that Ryan and Jill  followed when they did the 100 km walk a few years ago.

Ryan looking at his map as we found the first tunnels.  This was called the Redoubt Tunnel area.
Inside, it looked like some kind of bullet or fragment holes on the ceiling.
Typical Hong Kong health and safety guidelines.  Once you were inside the room there was a sign
that you were not to put up any posters, so I guess they didn't think anyone would actually stay out.

A little scary, when you realize there are snakes in the area.  I said to Ryan we might get in okay, but what if we get blocked from behind by snakes? That limited our adventurous side a little!

There were a number of walkways and tunnels that connected to each other.
This was an area where the roof was broken in and you could see inside.

Ryan's map said there was a pillbox up the hill so away we went.  He has hiked quite a bit in the
 wild and said he didn't like going through the brush, so you can imagine how I felt.

This is what is left.  The guns would have faced straight ahead (The trees would have been gone)as the Japanese would have come right up the hill.
This area of defense was called the Gin Drinkers Line(maybe they thought that was all the soldiers
 would have to do, as they didn't really expect an attack).  The attack did come 8 hours after Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese thought they would have some difficulty taking the area we were in,
 however it proved an easy target, as they came through right where we were.  I am still reading about
the war, but think the mountain was defended mainly by the British, as about 2000 Canadian soldiers
 had arrived only about 3 weeks earlier.  The Canadians were very raw rookies and didn't think they would be seeing any combat soon.  I believe they were still stationed on the island.  It was kind of
exciting to let your imagine run wild and go back 60 years to what was happening. The reality of war
 hit home the next day on the site I wanted to see.

A neat tree on our way down the mountain

Catching a taxi about half way down the mountain.  This starts stage '7' of the Trail Walk.
This was a sign in the park that showed the Gin line in red dots.  The red arrow at the top was
 where we were, and the Japanese came along the reservoir.  
Later in the afternoon Ryan, Sandra and l went to the History Museum and found quite a large section about the occupation.  It sounded like a pretty horrible time for 3 years, 8 months and the people
 of Hong Kong were very thankful for Canadians who tried to help them out, with many of them dying
 in their attempt
Many mainland refugees had already fled China because of the Japanese occupation there.
The Redoubt was the tunnels we visited.

The Japanese dropped leaflets urging the people to surrender, saying they would be treated okay.

The British fell back off the mountain into Kowloon and were quickly backed onto the island where
most of the fighting took place.  Even so they only held out for about a week trying to defend the
island, until they surrendered.
The next four pictures describe conditions during the occupation.  The people of Hong Kong
don't want anyone to forget even thought it was 60 years ago.

I don't know anything about this resistance, but should make for some interesting research and
 reading next winter.

The occupation ended when the Japanese surrendered after the Americans dropped the Atomic bombs.  The Americans are often vilified in our world, but without them the world over here would probably be quite different.

On Sunday afternoon , we went to the site I wanted to see.  I saw Prime Minister Harper visit this cemetery before we came to Hong Kong and had wanted to get out to see it before we go home.  It is called the Sai Wan War Cemetery.
It is located where there was a big battle and also where a number of prisoners of war were killed.
 It is on the edge of a mountain and is very quiet and beautiful.
One day after imagining the excitement of battle, the stark reality of war hits home when you visit
 a place like this.

A panorama view from the top.
The area at the bottom where it levels out, up to the cross is where Canadian soldiers are buried.
The ages on many of the tombstones makes it hard to imagine the loss of men so young.

The Canadian tombstones.  I believe there was one group from Winnipeg and one from Quebec.
When you see how many Canadians died trying to help another country, the French, English scraps
we have in Canada don't seem too significant.

Over 500 Canadians are buried here.
Pretty somber, but very peaceful.  It's good to see their memories are held in such high esteem..
The lower edge of the cemetery was for the burial of soldiers from India.  I don't know why there
 was no grass here, whether they are just planting it or that there is some other reason.
These signs explained the battle areas quite clearly.
The red line is again the Gin Drinkers line and the area we were at on Saturday is shown by the
long green arrow.  We live just at the bottom right of the picture.
This shows the battle lines on the island.  The cemetery is over  on the right of the island, just above
where it says Sai Wan.
The red lines show the final lines of defense.  Earlier in the year I had pictures of another cemetery in Stanley right beside where the final line was when the British surrendered.  The Stanley Prison was set
 up on the peninsula, and many soldiers died here as well because of mistreatment.  It was a very interesting 2 days of history and I have just purchased a detailed book about the occupation, so am looking forward to learning more.  I am much better at learning history when I can see links to the past.