Thursday, March 30, 2006
Aunt Caroline and Uncle Roger also came down from Liverpool as a surprise but unfortunately plans got a bit mixed up and although it was organized so that Guy would accidentally “bump” into R&C at the local grocery store, things got a bit muddled and the whole thing ended up being exposed in the parking lot. Oh well, it was a memorable moment nonetheless.
Matt’s sister, Claire, and her boyfriend, Anthony, are also here, having just moved back for a few months to work and housesit and look after the much-loved family cat, Beavis. So it was a full house indeed, so full that the septic tank couldn’t handle the overtime and some emergency measures had to be taken immediately.
Like my last visit, I’ve had the most wonderful time, taking long walks down in the valley and along cliff paths; dining on fresh veggies from the garden, locally caught oysters (Roger’s obsession for the weekend!) and delicious South African sausages cooked on the BBQ (Roger’s second obsession of the trip); meeting family and family-friends again and being immersed in what is truly a unique feel of island paradise this side of the hemisphere.
Unlike my last visit, things are a lot more relaxed: there are no worries about losing wedding rings, fixing hair appointments the day of the wedding, wondering if the sun will shine or if we’ll get rained in during the reception, setting up the marquee and ensuring all was in place, food, drinks, decoration, and guests included…. And as fun and exciting our Jersey July wedding was, it’s nice to be back and be familiar with it all, introductions out of the way with.The plan is to spend a few days in Jersey, see Matt off at the airport on the 4th of April where he'll fly to Hamburg for work, I'll join Sue and Guy on the ferry crossing to France on the 6th where we'll then drive down to the family chalet and enjoy the peace and quiet there, Matt will fly down on the morning of the 8th, we'll all chill out for a few days and listen to the owls at night, then on April11th we'll make the long yet familiar trek back to HK.
I’m quite getting used to this London-Hong Kong route on Cathay Pacific and I think we’ve seen most of the shows and movies offered on the personal tv sets for passengers. They change the shows every month so I’m quite looking forward to April’s “long-haul flight to HK” listing. I’ve seen the same episode of America’s Next Top Model several times already and it’s more than I can take. But that's later. Right now my only concern is to enjoy NOW.
Pic 1: Guy's reaction when he saw us at the door
Pic 2: Enjoying delicious fresh-caught oysters in sunlit kitchen. L-R: Matt, Me, Claire, Anthony, Roger
Pic 3: Having a cuppa on top of hill at St. Ouen's beach. L-R: Matt, Sue, Guy, Caroline, Roger (note red Kazakh hat along with red shoes)
Monday, March 27, 2006
I had quite a productive day, running some errands in the morning, supervising the crew who came to fix all five air- conditionners in the flat in the afternoon (they leak water after 8 months of non-use and needed a thorough cleaning) and chatted it up with our cheery landlord who came specifically to check out the AC's and the leaky wall that has started to peel from the heavy rain these past few days. I ended up feeding him homemade spaghetti and leftover birthday cake and we made pleasant conversation about family, his and mine. A father of two, he's also got a brother in
I decided to visit Eepo in Tuen Mun again since it had been a while. Matt and i went on Chinese New Year in January and i had a stack of photos from that day i wanted to give to her. I tried a different route and was glad to find it took significantly less time, only 75 minutes, than the way before which was about two hours. I had the HK atlas with me, but still had to ask around for the best possible bus to take. The man who was operating minibus #140M was super helpful and gave me the correct and most efficient directions. On my way back home, he was still on his run and recognized me right away. I sat up front and we chatted about HK and how i ended up here. His cell phone rang and he proceeded to answer it with one hand on the wheel. I opened up my book to read but I couldn't help overhearing what he was saying though as every word was yelled and punctuated with this long drawl that only Cantonese people seem capable of doing. I thought it was a rather rude way for someone to speak on the phone and figured he hadn't really been taught phone etiquette and so i focused my attention back to my book, wishing he would turn down the volume a few decibels for the sake of his passengers. When he hung up, he turned to me and explained what it was all about. Apparently some guy left his cell phone on the minibus and he was calling his own phone to see if it was picked up by somebody. So the driver was yelling at the guy because there was a bad connection, told him to wait for him at the main station and that he'd recognize him because on the wallpaper of the phone was a picture of this guy and his new bride.
After just being put off by his lack of manners, I was pleasantly taken aback by the driver's honesty and his sense of civic duty to return the phone to its owner. The fact is, i find the majority of
Dinner was simple, tasty and comfortable with Eepo (2nd grandma literally). Having been widowed exactly 7 years on Saturday, she spends most of the days on her own except when she goes to her exercise groups and dance classes. So i let her do most of the talking, although i'm pretty sure i wouldn't have gotten much in edgewise as she was just recounting story after story between mouthfuls of rice. But i don't mind at all. I love hearing tales about my dad and his siblings and imagining in my mind how they were as kids. My favourite story that she always recounts everytime i see her, is when she and her
Friday, March 24, 2006
Since it was windy and rainy out all day, we decided to spend a nice relaxing day at home, eating birthday crepes with real maple syrup for breakfast and looking at old photo albums in bed. After sneaking in an afternoon siesta, we headed down to
It states: "From July, 2003, dependants of persons admitted into Hong Kong for professional employment or as capital investment entrants are not allowed to work (due to the high unemployment rate) unless they have the permission from the Director of Immigration. With the improving economic conditions and employment situation, it has been decided to remove this restriction to enhance Hong Kong's edge in attracting professionals. In other words, dependants of persons admitted for professional employment or as capital investment entrants will not be required to obtain prior permission from the Director of Immigration for taking up employment, just as the situation was before July, 2003."
Although this won't affect me since i've just spent the last 4 months trying to get myself 'special permission' to work, i'm really happy for the other Dependents. I may go on about this issue, but it really is cause for celebration and now, hopefully, others who are (or will be) in my shoes won't have to go through the hassle and frustration of finding employment in HK. Yippee!
Just came back from a delicious dinner down in Lan Kwai Fong, the party district in HK. Our Kiwi friend, Jonno, is visiting for a couple of days before he heads back up to Urumqi where he and a Japanese guy and an Irishman own the Fubar, the first foreign-owned bar in town. Tonight we feasted on Thai green curry and chicken, red curry and pork, fried rice in a pineapple, naan bread, sauteed veggies and a leopard garoupa with Nashi pear - by far the tastiest dish! (Matt's biting into the fish head in the picture). We eventually dragged ourselves onto the ferry, first stopping for sorbets for the boys (there was no way i could eat another bite) and made it back home. Tomorrow is Matt's birthday and we're going out to celebrate with YK and Tomoe at a Nepalese restaurant. But before i can think about more food, i need to sleep first. Goodnight.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I did a whole variety of things in 4 days: sipping thick mango lassis in Little India, biking the length of East Coast Beach (see pic), dining on tasty meen goreng and other local Peranakan dishes, walking around Clarke Quay's bustling harbourfront, cycling Singapore's last rural island Pulau Ubin and while searching for the German Girl Shrine being turned back by suspicious-looking policemen, meeting Matt's friend and his friendly wife for tasty otak otak, visiting the Asian Civilization Museum and taking literally 5 minutes (feels much longer when you have to pee) to go down three floors on the hydraulic elevator, watching the England-Ireland rugby match at an Irish pub in the wee hours of the morning, and finally, sampling the local delicacy DURIAN and although the smell is somewhat tolerable, the taste can be described like "an old dog burping in your face." Nuff said.
The hotel we stayed at, the SHA Villa, was a beautiful white colonial mansion, run by the Singapore Hotel Association tourism training college, where the staff are all keen hospitality students waiting on every guests' needs. I suppose it wasn't so long ago that i too was a hormonal student with excess energy all day everyday, where responsibilities didn't go much further than attending the minimal amount of classes per week possible and trying not to forget calling home at least once a week, so long as the budget allowed. So it was rather cute seeing these spotty students dressed in their pressed suits and vests serving you coffee with shaky hands and a flair of uncertainty. They are doing a superb job though.
The pace of life is definitely more to my liking than it is in Hong Kong. People seemed a lot more relaxed, casually strolling down the streets instead of the relentless power walking competitions you witness in Wanchai or Central. Even the kids there appear happy and to be enjoying life, a stark difference to the students of HK who are like walking zombies carting around huge heavy backpacks to and from school. I attribute the difference to the climate. While Singapore may be hot and humid all year round, the air is cleaner and at least you can see the sun shining against a clear blue sky on most days. You'd be lucky to see the sun in Hong Kong the pollution is so bad. Still, a few days was enough for me and i was glad to board that plane again.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Featured in today's entry is Matt, seated at his home office. My desk is just behind his and although we were both sharing the one big desk in the beginning, having our own proper space has been a wise move, if not a little cramped. For some reason, we picked the smallest room in the house (if you don’t count the closet-size maid’s room) to spend 75% of our day when not sleeping. Go figure.
The opera Don Giovanni last night at the Hong Kong Cultural Arts Centre was fantastic. Performed by the Semper Opera Dresden, which is hailed as one of the world's leading opera houses, the performance included great singing by an international cast accompanied beautifully by the HK orchestra. It was much more engaging since i had just returned from visiting Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg, in addition to visiting the city he spent a large part of his life, Vienna. Now I'm no opera-fanatic, but this one is more or less able to please the masses, seeing as the subject revolves around some of life's most talked-about issues: love and death. The protagonist, Don Giovanni, is portrayed as a scheming and manipulative man, schmoozing his way to bed with a number of women, usually too naive and innocent to notice until too late. Throw in a murder in the beginning, a humorous and complacent servant to provide comic relief, jealous husbands/fiances, and a ghost come back from the dead, you've got yourself a story so successful it's lasted over 200 years! It sure beats the Sound of Music (for now), which btw, is still going strong at 41 years.
Overall, I was impressed and satisfied. We even received a free glass of champagne from the arts centre post-show! I’m happy that Matt enjoyed himself too. He even confessed afterwards that he didn’t think about the Six Nations Rugby match once! But I did catch myself wondering what the score was at intermission, ha. We made it home in time to catch the last 30 minutes of the game, where
Oh and lest i forget to mention, even after a humiliating loss by his beloved homeland, my hubby still had the zest and energy to sing sweet words to me while getting ready for bed a la opera style! Yes, sing! And loudly!!! Where was a videocamera when i needed one?
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Am enjoying listening to music again, playing guitar and attempting a new Ben Harper song, even plucking away at the fiddle!
Picked up my dependent visa, and although it technically does not allow me to work, i've arranged it with my employer so that they'll write a letter to Immigration to explain my case and get consent for me to start asap. Whoopee! Now i have to leave HK and reenter on that visa. Macau run is in order, most likely on Monday. I was there once, and they have the best egg tarts!
Getting back into shape again, or trying to at least. Frisbee on Wednesday, yoga today, and frisbee tomorrow (at a beach!) and the next day. All is well and dandy and possibly the worst news to report right now is that we've finished all our LOST episodes of season 2. We're anxiously awaiting for the next one to come out on i-tunes so we can buy it.
Saw Brokeback Mountain last night. I have to say the hype and hoopla surrounding the film is well deserved.
Bought tickets for Mozart's epic Don Giovanni opera for Sunday night. Should be wonderful and i'm excited about taking Matt to his first ever opera show... an evening of highly emotional singing, elaborate costumes and set, all compressed in 3+ hours.
Ooh, and it looks like a long weekend in Singapore is on the agenda for next weekend! Yay sun and surf! I have never flown so much in such a short time. Will have to remember to keep the chewing gum at home this time.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
*Picture of DB at night taken on our rooftop balcony, courtesy of 2nd cousin Stephen -thanks!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
It is a sensational feeling to be gliding down the mountain on a board, kind of like floating on clouds but the most i managed was probably a full minute of actually staying vertical. It has been a long while since i've been so sore and bruised from self-inflicted wounds - wait, have i ever? - albeit non intentional.
Next time i promised myself I will pad my body like a pro footballer first. It was great nonetheless and we stayed at a cute little B&B, an old farmhouse that has antique furniture made in the 17th and 18th century. The view was spectacular and the service was sincere and friendly.
While my body was given time to heal and do nothing but sit and lie down, Matt drove us in our rented Skoda to
We did the Sound of Music Tour in
One of the best stops we made was when we got to see the pavillion where Liesl and messenger Ralph sang their famous "16 going 17" song, where they leap up on the benches and dance with each other, declaring their love and sharing their first kiss - remember? Anyways, although you can't go in and recreate the dance and song, you can stand outside it and take a picture. Apparently a few years ago an 82 year old woman went in and tried to leap from bench to bench in the pavillion while singing and broke a bone (leg or ankle i think). Since then, they've kept the doors locked.
For our last night in Salzburg, we went to a dinner-concert show in the Old Town where musicians and opera singers dress in old period costumes and entertain us with Mozart's famous works, mainly from his operas: The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and the Marriage of Figaro.
We drove back to Prague yesterday along the German-Czech border - an enchanting ride through the rural areas where we saw lots of solar panels on roofs of houses and barns, and we even spotted a wind turbine - returned the car and parted ways once again where Matt caught a flight back to Hamburg and I went to see my friend, Rena, and her boyfriend, Brian. They met while doing their TESL certificate on a bus tour last year which took them on a dizzying whirlwind tour of
Last night we went to a Balkan restaurant and I met some of their friends who are also here teaching English. Today has been really relaxed and we're planning on cooking some curry and couscous to go along with a movie. Perfect plan, and i miss cooking too believe it or not. Tomorrow, Brian, Rena and I will choo-choo our way down to Vienna and hopefully catch a concert or two there before i fly out to London on Sunday to reunite with Matt for our long flight back home to Hong Kong. It will be oh so nice to sleep in our own bed again.
I just found out today that my visa in