Saturday, May 13, 2006

work, fitness, seedless grapes

Life putters along here.

Work is good, getting the hang of things, kids are recognizing me and have taken to wrapping their scrawny little arms around my knees in great delight, coworkers are incredibly friendly and i enjoy the chats that are shared amongst us expat women. My claim to fame at Bradbury: after my first day of causing the laminator to be out of commission (i was innocently trying to laminate my name card when all of a sudden columns of smoke billows out of the machine and fills the hallway) which required a technician to be called in from town, i've redeemed myself by bringing in some of my banana bread. So instead of "Loser Laminator" I am now known as "Banana Bread Queen", a big improvement to say the least! Tomorrow i'm bringing in some homemade oatmeal cookies, just to be on the safe side.

Last Thursday, I accompanied the Year 6's on a field trip to Treasure Island, a picturesque bay on Lantau Island, two bays down from where we are in Discovery Bay. Founded by a Canadian Vancouverite lady 10 years ago, Treasure Island's mandate is to offer specialized outdoor education to children, youth and adults of HK to develop their social skills and to introduce them to the wonderful world of outdoor adventure (camping, water sports, orienteering, high ropes, rock climbing).

Many HK children have never been exposed to the 'natural elements' which surrounds them in HK. There are fairly regular reports of hikers who are ill-prepared for what they thought would be a leisurely walk in the park. Basic things like not bringing enough water, not protecting themselves from the sun, not wearing proper footwear, all this amounts to a search and rescue mission with helicoptors, no joke. As for HK campers, they are known for bringing all sorts of meats, fishes, sauces, breads, and anything else that is messy and edible, all in plastic containers and plastic bags. After feasting, many of them lack the obvious courtesy of cleaning up after themselves, thus leaving a trail of plastic rubbish and bits of leftover food. I don't need to go on for you to guess what my view on this is.

Back to Treasure Island. So the kids were taught how to build a "King's Chair" out of bamboo and rope. It was an activity that tested their teamwork, leadership and listening skills. After completion, they all raced each other on the beach. We then did a bit of orienteering and compass-reading. After lunch, it was off to the high-ropes, jungle frame, climbing ladder and the kids' favourite: swinging from atop a platform between two trees like Tarzan. So many of them who started off by adamently saying they would never climb a wobbly rope ladder ended up, with a bit of encouragement from the group looking on, at the top in no time with a massive grin plastered on their face, pride mixed with disbelief. What a joy to see!

Still going strong with the dragon boating. Two weeks until the big race and my back and shoulder muscles are a bit more forgiving when i punish them every Sunday morning during practice. Yoga is going swell and Zenny, my instructor, seems to think that pushing me to my extreme pain threshold is fun, and in a way, she's right. Ultimate frisbee is still a weekly regiment and this past Saturday we went out with some of the other players for a farewell party for one of the girls who was leaving to go back to Canada. We sat through 2 hours of an all-you-can-eat buffet at this Brazilian joint in Tsim Sha Tsui, and for a litle more $, you can have all-you-can-drink beer/wine. There was so much meat and alcohol, but no matter, we went dancing afterwards and burned it all off. It had been a while since i've been dancing, t'was a good time.

Yesterday, we had a wonderful day of badminton with friends YK and Tomoe, followed by takoyaki- making at their flat. Takoyaki are these little battered balls stuffed with octopus, ginger and onions. They are dipped in special sauce and mayo, sprinkled with dried seaweed and fish flakes, and are very oishi (delicious).

All in all, I'm still finding my feet here in Hong Kong, going on 7 months, and I've always said it's only a stepping stone to somewhere else. But it's fair to say that HK as been kind to me thus far. It offers everything one could want in an international metropolis, and probably more. You just gotta dig a little deeper. In the meantime, I've taken on a new addiction: seedless red grapes. It's keeping me regular and sane.


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