Saturday, April 21, 2007

And the winner is.......

TOSCARS, the annual event for

HKUPA (Hong Kong Ultimate Players Association) was held on Saturday and the theme was "In the palace". It was our first time attending (last year we were away out of town) and i was surprised at how much energy and effort people put into their costumes.

There were jesters, kings, queens, Egyptian princes and princesses, ugly frogs, Elvis, Princess Buttercup, Tinkerbell, and my favourite: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! 4 of them decided on their costumes before the theme was announced and stuck to it, but they were by far the most innovative and creative, assembling their outfit with green leotard and painted cardboard boxes. They even had shields, swords, spears and numchucks as accessories!

I was aiming for the fail-safe princess look and along with my cheap dress-up tiara, I wore my Eritrean christening dress given by Ghebre and Nigisty back in June last year at their son's baptism. Matt wore his Uygher hat, Thai shirt and cowboy boots - oh and a plastic cake knife tucked under my pashmina scarf that was wrapped around his waist.

There was a great spread of food, and from what i heard afterwards, we gave the restaurant the equivalent amount of booze business they normally would do over a few days.

At the after party, i thought to myself how nice it is to have a pretty tight-knit community of people from all over the world come together and play Ultimate a couple times a week, socialize at each other's place, attend touristy events together and just create an environment of "home away from home".

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Newest addition to family!

Congratulations to Mandy and Raymond on the birth of their new baby boy, Kyle. Can't wait to come back and see him! Hope big sister Megan is coping well... careful of allowing her to feast on too many McFries, she'll get a double chin like her new brother!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If the entire population of China walked by you in single file, the line would never end due to the rate of reproduction

Here's a few pics of us at the Golden Bull Vietnamese restaurant in Ocean Terminal (huge shopping mall where the cruise ships dock). Taken a couple weeks ago, the first one is of Aunt Jenny and cousin David. The one below is us with Gong-gong. Already having passed his half-year in HK, he will be leaving for Canada this Sunday.

Huge "squally thunderstorms" lit up the sky today. I decided to take a self-care day to get rid of my lingering cold i've had for a few weeks now.

I snuck upstairs on the rooftop patio to get a couple of photos of the storm and got super drenched.

4 classes left, a group project and 2 essays, and then it's all done!

We've booked ourselves a mini 4 day holiday to Bohol island in the Philippines in May, between my assignment due dates. Upon doing some research, i had no idea that this tiny country is comprised of 7107 islands!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

stuffed, plugged and blocked..

..writer's block, that is. I'm trying to finish my major essay due Monday. It's a lenghty process, kind of like a rite of passage where you can't just jump to the end without enduring the long painful bits in the middle. I keep thinking i see the light at the end of this tunnel, but i don't even seem to know which tunnel i'm attempting to conquer. Too many forks in the road, i just have to stay focused. But there are so many distractions. Like the sunny gorgeous day outside, for starters...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

focus focus focus

I've always had bad eyes.

They are super sensitive to dust, pollen, long-haired animals, pollution, the usual common allergens. My problem is i can't help but rub them.

I am getting more than the required 8 hours of sleep these past few days, which is absolutely fantastic. However, i am ridiculously tired by mid-afternoon again.

I'm not sure if i'm becoming more anti-social than i normally am. Now don't get me wrong, i enjoy spending lazy evenings at home. I have strong feelings that i will look back on our relaxing time in HK as one of utter bliss, especially when the wee ones arrive.

I am anxious to finish this PGDE course. Classes don't enthuse me anymore and i don't find i learn much.

I'm feeling antsy about our next step. Where are we going? When?

I feel like i need something to look forward to, something concrete, with a date and a vague outline.

I have assignment due dates dancing in my head, but something to celebrate with at the end is always a bonus, that extra carrot in the race to keep me energized.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A bunny good time

Easter weekend! Here in Hong Kong, Good Friday (a public holiday here) followed Ching Ming Festival (April 5), so combined with Easter Monday (also a public holiday), HK was treated to a rare 5-day consecutive holiday. As millions flew/trained/bused/ferried out of the SAR, we decided to kick back and explore the places we haven't yet seen here.

On Friday we went on the Hong Kong Pink Dolphin Watch. Our fairly large boat cruised west towards Macau and Zhuhai for 3 hours, as we all strained our eyes towards the horizon to spot these rare creatures. Although it was very hazy and foggy (still don't know if this common HK air is due to the pollution or the intense humidity in the air, must be both), we did manage to spot quite a few dolphins. And pink they are!

According to their website, the reason why they're pink is because they're blushing. "All cetaceans are warm- blooded, meaning they regulate their own body temperatures. When they create excess heat from exercise, such as chasing fish, they flush blood to the outer layers of their skin, to get the heat from their body core out beyond the insulating layer of blubber, so that the heat can disperse to the water. This "blushing" makes them look pink."

Saturday, we took the ferry over to Peng Chau island (translates literally to "flat small island"), just a little over a 10 minute journey. After feasting on Macaunese food and sangria, we staggered up to the highest peak on the tiny island: Finger Hill. All of 95 metres high, it provided a good view of Discovery Bay and HK Island.

We wandered back 'the long way round' through little communities and alleyways. It seems many residents are particularly superstitious and adorn their entrances with statues and incense and other good luck paraphenelia to ensure maximum feng shui vibe.

Back in the plaza at Discovery Bay, all the kiddies were having a great Easter day with face painting, magicians, mini-sumo wrestling (see pic), and the highlight: an easter egg hunt on the beach.

We went to a hot yoga session today at Pure Yoga at the swank Peninsula Hotel. It was a great stretch, but i don't think i'm such a fan of having such copious amounts of smelly sweat pouring out of me. Luckily i'm still unable to breathe properly from my nose due to a mini cold i had earlier in the week; Matt tells me he couldn't, for the life of him, inhale "deep luxurious breaths" like the instructor was saying.

Back to University it is for me tomorrow. I'm ready to get serious and work hard this month... only a few weeks to go before classes are all over, and then only a few assignments and projects to focus on before SCHOOL'S OUT!

FYI: For those who are passing through brilliant Hong Kong, here's a good writeup called 36 Hours in Hong Kong in the New York Times. Click on the "Slideshow" link and you'll see some fantastic shots of the city, taken by a friend of ours, Tim O'Rourke, a freelance photographer and fellow Ultimate Frisbee player.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Birthday Surprise

After being told by Matt to pack my toothbrush, swimming suit and passport, i was a bit suspicious about where we were headed to for my birthday surprise. It sounded oddly familiar ;) Oh, and i was not to forget my hat either. After my hasty process of elimination, I was convinced that he had booked us two spots to go bungee jumping off the Macau Tower. Figuring i needed to bring my passport and knowing i didn't have a Chinese visa (which eliminated any Mainland destinations), and considering the fact that we had deliberated about doing the jump when we visited Macau with Sue and Guy in January, i was certain that that was to be my big inaugaration into my 27th year. I just couldn't figure out the hat thing - wouldn't it get in the way on my plunge down?

So imagine my relief when Matt led me to Langhan Place Hotel, one of Hong Kong's swankiest hotels and we stepped onto the 40th floor at the Chuan Spa. No bungee jumping tonight, instead a full Oriental Spa Experience awaited us!

We did the Serenity Shen treatment. Beginning with their signature stone therapy massage, we then received their ultimate facial with blended essential oils and a revitalizing cool marine algae mask. Afterwards we were ushered to another room for a full-out foot treatment - including a foot mask! Being luxurious spa virgins, it was exactly what was needed for my post-teaching practicum and his long week of intense negotiations with a Mainland company.

Oh, and as for the passport and hat, they were just red herrings.

*anice: look at how my bunny has grown to full size!


I'm done I'm done!!!!!!!!! Just wanted to spread the happy news .. no more early mornings, breakfasts on the go, chasing after overdue homework ....

Here're some pictures: Form 2C, Form 1D, me with the other fellow HKU students teachers: Richie (Eng), Jeanette (Chinese), Ricky (Math), me (Liberal Studies).

We did the customary thank you's around the school, bought the entire staff and teachers cakes from the local Maxim bakery, and i handed out candy like a good Easter Bunny.

What has surprised me most, i suppose, is how much I've learned about myself as a Chinese person. Being immersed for the better part of the day in a completely Cantonese environment, getting used to the customs and rituals of the Chinese way, on how to obsess about food, gossip about family, brag about the best bargain, and just basically be Chinese. I know the learning has only begun and more will come as the next few months roll on.

I have taken everything in stride as much as i could, and like what dear George said to me this afternoon in perfect gentleman manner only a 13 year old can muster, "I wish you all the best Mrs. Thornington"... I too, wish them the very best.

I'll miss the little monkeys. It has been fun, but the time has come. I know, I've started to dream about them.

Thank you and goodbye.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Pink, Hoarse, Dehydrated and Lovin' it!!

It only took one request, and a day later, a beautifully written piece about our rugby weekend!! Thanks Mattie!

As this will probably be our last spring in Hong Kong we decided to try a day at the biggest party of the year, the Hong Kong Rugby 7's. It's a three day seven-a-side international rugby tournament with teams from as far apart as Tunisia, Russia, Tonga, Kenya and our local Hong Kong heroes.

The partying is legendary and the rugby pretty amazing too. The diehards had been there from the start on Friday and on SUnday morning while they slept off their hangovers we crept into the stadium at 8am to get the best seats in the house, right in the corner by the try line at pitch-side. The local traditions of downing jugs of Pimms and pitchers of Heinecken were duly respected and we also tried most of the greasy stadium food on offer but at the same time trying desperately to minimise the use of the the toilets where men sweating beer stood four deep trying to push forward to use the trough!

And what about the rugby? We started watching the mini-
rugby when we arrived, some tiny 7 and 8 year olds playing full-contact rugby with impressive gusto, those kids were rucking for the ball just as if they were determinedly snatching toys from a sibling, maybe that's how they practice.

The pros came on later in the morning and some of the uneven match-ups of the morning provided a great showcase for the incredible ball-handling skills of the Pacific Islanders but it was the later matches when the top teams came head to head that provided the most memorable games. Full of huge impacts, mazy running and smooth as silk passing moves we were on our feet screaming out our support for most of the afternoon.

The top game for me was seeing Fiji line up against New Zealand, those guys played as if the opponents had taken their families hostage and it was hard to believe some of them actually left the field in one piece. The final try of the game was a work of art, all Fijian players touched the ball at least twice and it was capped off by Wai'sale Serevi breaking free from the Kiwi defence then twirling the ball on his fingers as he ran over the try line to score, incredible. Serevi played his first HK Sevens tournament in 1988 so we probably won't see him for too many years to come but to see him run in a try just a few metres from where we were sitting was worth the ticket price, he really is the Wayne Gretzky/Michael Jordan/Pele of his sport.