Tuesday, December 26, 2006

o christmas tree II

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!

I passed by the New Town Plaza Christmas display today, and as it probably won't be standing for too much longer, decided that I had to document the existence of the tackiest Christmas tree imagineable. Apparently they were going for a camera theme this year (note the cameras around the top of tree, and the large camera at the base of the tree), with a few Lego-style bear accents.
I went to New Town Plaza to meet up with Myun Hwa, and our highschool science teacher, Mrs. Kraus. She and her family are living in the UAE right now, and are visiting HK for a little over a week. It was really fun to see her, and at the end we got to meet the whole family. Her daughters are so cute!

My sister and her family are arriving in a few hours, so stay tuned for more cute!

Friday, December 22, 2006

o christmas tree, o christmas tree...

I found this picture from my KBCK days and thought it was worth posting. I guess this was taken after some sort of kindergarten Christmas pageant... or at least I assume there's a good explanation for the Christmas tree costume. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the good ol' Christmas tree costume has declined in popularity recently... can't understand why. Does anyone else have fond memories of being a Christmas tree, or any other inanimate object associated with Christmas?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

meowy christmas

I found this little outfit today at Fa Yuen Street and just couldn't resist...

Monday, December 18, 2006

the return of li'l brudder

[that was a reference to a classic Strongbad email for those readers unfamiliar with www.homestarrunner.com]

So my little brother, Steve, is back from college. His plane was scheduled to arrive a little after 11 last night, but he surprised us by walking through the door at 8:00. For some reason, he was moved from an Asiana flight complete with Seoul layover, to a Cathay direct flight. How often does that happen?!

The first thing he did upon arriving home was to head straight back out the door to our local Taiwai bbq restaurant, where he successfully satisfied a 3+ month chasiu fan craving.

After being rejuvenated by barbequed pork sustenance, he entertained my mom and I with a few videos that some of his college friends produced over the last semester. I thought they were funny, so I'll put the links here. They're four episodes of a short program called "The Misadventures of Stephen P******," and not surprisingly, Steve is the main character. Just for some background, the first episode opens with a guy in an elevator. The guy is the host of a college variety show called "Late" that Steve has appeared in before. In an early episode of "Late," the host promised Steve that he'd help to make him famous...

Episode One: The Great 'Dini'ty
Episode Two: Shorty in the Hood
Episode Three: Rollover DJ
Episode Four: Behind the Music

If you don't have time to watch all four (they're about 5 mins each), I think Episode 1 is my favorite... but Episode 3 gives you the opportunity to see Steve in a wife-beater and rapping an entire music video.

Friday, December 15, 2006

templeton gets tutored

Not sure if this news is really blog-worthy, but I'll go ahead with it anyway. My little Templeton is growing up, and yesterday went to the vet for a certain operation. I won't go into details, or into the ethics of neutering such a beautiful animal (something my parents and I discussed at great length...), but feel that I should apologize to any female cats out there who were hoping for a chance to bear his kittens.

Templeton was almost too agreeable when I put him in the cat carrier for his vet visit, and the whole thing reminded me of this Far Side cartoon:
When he came home, instead of running out of the cat carrier and treating it with fear and disdain (as our other cats do after returning from a visit to the vet), we were surprised to see him back inside the carrier in no time.

And he seems to have changed the other cats' feelings about the carrier too. I think he's made it the trendy new sleeping spot. Yesterday, after he finally exited, two of our other cats took turns sleeping inside, which is really a very bizarre occurence. And after I took the picture below, the black and white cat, Handsome, actually swatted at Templeton with his claws, in what I can only imagine was an attempt to get a turn in the carrier.

One more shot of Templeton in his new favorite hang-out. He seems to be doing well, by the way.

Monday, December 11, 2006

hope is...

I just came across a short section in my journal titled "Artwork enjoyed at the National Gallery" (I'm not usually quite that nerdy, but was feeling especially inspired that day...), and realized that I never posted this photograph.
This painting covered a whole wall in the modern art wing, and I was quite impressed with it.
Sigmar Polke (1992) "Hope is: Wanting to Pull Clouds"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

robots II

I just watched a news story about robots replacing camel jockeys in the Middle East. So I guess robots can be counted on for more than serving food at the Robot Kitchen and future world domination! Besides bringing a high-tech look to the ancient art of camel racing, the robots are also liberating the young child jockeys (many of whom were kidnapped or sold into the sport) from a very dangerous occupation.
Here's a link to a BBC article about this. The robots that I saw on TV weren't quite as sleek as the one pictured above... they were just boxes with walkie talkies (so that the owner could yell at the camel during the race) and remote-controlled whips sticking out the back. Still, they seemed to do their jobs effectively.

Friday, December 08, 2006

think think about it...

This is one of my favorite Flight of the Concords videos. It's a song about "the issues."

science with four-year-olds

In a previous post I mentioned that I teach a science class to 14 four-year-olds. Well, here they are in all their glory! This was right before they went home yesterday, and as you can probably tell from the photos, most of them were pretty wound-up. I should also point out something that I noticed just now -- check out the sign prominently displayed on the bulletin board behind the students. Is that a camera very obviously x-ed out? Oops!

The class with our wonderful TA, Miss Kit.

Making funny faces. I like the scary eye thing that quite a few of them are attempting... excellent choice, kids!

And a very distracted class with Miss Michelle.
Next week is my last lesson with them and, although they're a real handful, I'm going to miss the little cuties!

Friday, November 24, 2006

everyone's little darling...

It's been a while since my last Templeton-themed post, so I thought it was about time that I devoted some space on my blog to him.

My parents love him. Even my dad feels the need to cuddle with him at least once a day, which is unusual for a man who is normally immune to feline charms.

And here he is posing with one of his biggest fans. Not surprisingly, my mother adores Templeton. We've even had some somewhat serious conversations about who would have custody of him if I was to move out. I love the expression on his face in this picture... or maybe it's his lack of expression.
He hasn't shown himself to be a very affectionate cat, but there's just something about him that fills all who see him with an overwhelming urge to pick him up. My parents and I are hoping that as the weather gets cooler, he might start sitting with us for warmth... but since he has such a thick coat, I'm not sure if that kind of mutualistic relationship would really be beneficial for him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"What's the American man's favorite dessert?"

Happy [American] Thanksgiving! I'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and some of their colleagues later today. It's a little disappointing that I couldn't invite friends over like last year -- what fun we had spending most of the day in the kitchen, preparing the whole Thanksgiving spread! But I guess this year won't be quite as much work.

But I will get to contribute something to tonight's meal. My mom was given the responsibility of bringing pies, and I offered to help her with a regular pumpkin pie, and my favorite experiment from last year: a pumpkin cheesecake.

So I set to work this morning, soon after I got up. For the pumpkin pie, I used my mom's trusty circa 1969 Betty Crocker cookbook.

I decided to make the crust first, and soon found crust recipes at the beginning of the pie section, right underneath this very nice introductory paragraph. Definitely worth a read. I think my favorite part is: "If you care about pleasing a man -- bake a pie. But make sure it's a perfect pie. "

So as Betty suggested, I spent some time with the chapter, and tried one of her family-tested recipes. I've done my best to "make sure it's a perfect pie," and now it'll be up to those eating it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

goodbye star ferry pier

Today I took the Star Ferry from the new pier in Central, and felt compelled to document the experience. Thankfully I just happened to have my camera with me.

Before I go into detail about my feelings on the new pier, here's a picture of the old one. You can see from the picture that it's almost completely land-locked now, and soon the water in the foreground will be newly reclaimed land. I saw a CNN article recently that discussed the upcoming demolition of the old pier along with it's 50-something-year-old clocktower... except they included a photo of the wrong clocktower! If you click on the link, you'll notice that they have a picture of the old railway clocktower that's near the TST pier, and thankfully, this clocktower will not be demolished. I thought this was a pretty major mistake for CNN to make, and actually sent them a comment about it... but it looks like they have yet to correct the error.

The new Star Ferry pier. I think it's pretty garish.
It reminds me of a few buildings that I've seen in China... a brand-new "colonial style" building that just doesn't look quite right.

Another view of the new pier, taken as I was getting on the boat.

The Tsim Sha Tsui pier, with a view of the clocktower that, contrary to CNN, will not be torn down.
I'm getting tired of all the reclamation. I think it's about time I joined Friends of the Harbour.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

thought for the day...

I'm in a Pacific Coffee Company taking a minute for a latte before I go teach 14 four-year-olds about the life-cycle of a frog. That sounds really bizarre when written out... might need some explanation later. ANyway, PCC always has "thoughts for the day" up, and usually I think they're pretty cheesy. Maybe I'm just overly sentimental today, but this one struck a chord with me.

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart."
- Elizabeth Foley

Reminds me of many of you true friends out there who may or may not be reading this... :) Take care!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

something for your senses...

I noticed this huge sign outside of a mall in Kwai Fong the other day. You can have a sense of humor, a sense of style, and now a sense of... shopping. I guess it makes some sense (oops... hehe) in HK, which is probably the only city in the world with its very own shopping festival.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

mei foo memories

I did some substitute tutoring at a tutorial center the past two Saturdays. Besides providing me with some income, the tutoring also afforded me the opportunity to revisit the place where I spent most of my childhood -- Mei Foo Sun Chuen. My family lived in Mei Foo from 1984 to 1993, so it holds quite a lot of memories for me. And although much has changed in the 13 years since we moved, I was pleased to find that many things are just as I remember them...

One thing that struck me immediately is how small the buildings seem. In the 80s, when we moved there, Mei Foo's 20-story apartment buildings were considered quite tall for residential buildings. But now, as you can see from the picture below, they're completely dwarfed by most modern residential complexes.

And probably the biggest change can be seen in the picture below. The nice concrete wall you can see running through the middle of the picture used to separate Mei Foo from the sea! Now, thanks to the wonders of reclamation, the wall has openings that lead into a very large park. I remember coming to this area as a child. We used to watch the planes coming in and starting their descent (into Kai Tak -- also a distant memory now...), and we could look out across the water to Stone Cutter's island. Well, thanks to the reclamation, Stone Cutter's is no longer an island, it's probably just part of this park. Another random memory I have associated witht his wall is coming here for mid-autumn festival. I remember lighting candles and putting one in each cement circle in the wall. It was so pretty -- too bad it's not allowed anymore, because of the wax mess that the candles leave behind.

This next picture probably qualifies as one of the strangest I've ever posted. I was trying to capture the emptiness of this place more than any interesting features. Some of my happiest memories were spent here, because it used to be a playground! Yes, that's right -- a playground underneath a freeway, but a playground none the less! I'm sure that someone finally realized that it was a major health hazard to have young lungs breathing in a smorgasbord of carcinogens and other toxic fumes, so they got rid of the swings and sea-saws (aren't those illegal now anyway?) and fenced the whole area off. Never have I felt so compelled to burst into a Cat Stevens song. "Tell me, where do the children play?" At one of the many new playgrounds, I'm sure.
Here's is a sweet potato and roasted chestnuts vendor. The site of this little make-shift stall hit me with a wave of nostalgia. I remember when this area next to the Mei Foo bus terminus used to be full to maximum capacity with hawkers selling a variety of cooked food. This is where I developed a taste for fish balls and satay, and learned that tofu, when cooked in a certain way, smells terrible. The side walk, now clean because of the lack of vendors, used to be caked with grease and grime -- so much so that I'm sure quite a few people took a fall after underestimating the slickness of the blackened ground.

And finally, here are some stalls in the Mei Foo wet market. There 's quite a variety of stalls and small shops here now, but I remember when most if not all of these stalls sold meat. I'm sure avian flu didn't help these businesses at all, and I think a lot of people feel more comfortable buying meat from grocery stores now, even if they are theoretically sacrificing freshness.
And here are pictures of some places that I remember fondly. This will probably only be interesting to my sister, and maybe my brother (Steve, do you ever visit me here?), but that's reason enough to post them. :)

Here's the podium gate to our building. Other than the new shiny gate, it looks pretty much the same.
A podium landmark -- the "flying horse fountain." I used to go rollerskating around the podium with my sister and her friends (no, that "her" was not meant to be an "our" -- I was quite the tag-along).

Our building! I think our balcony is the fourth one up, but I'll have to check some old photos to be sure. :)

Here's a restaurant that we would get rice boxes at quite often. It's still there, and still successful. I find the name amusing. In Chinese the name means "many, many," but they translated it into English phonetically and called it Door Door.

And that brings my nostalgic ramblings to an end. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"sayonara, sushi..."

I just read this article that predicts that world seafood stocks will collapse within the next 50 years... pretty sobering stuff.
I promise to have a happier post soon!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

food glorious food

I have some pictures I've been meaning to post (some more recent than others -- thanks for your reminder, Mike!), and they all happen to revolve around food -- what a surprise!!

A flash from the past outside my favorite vegetarian Indian restaurant -- that's Esther, me, and Sal outside of Branto. I think the last time the three of us were together was back in 8th grade! Esther was in HK for most of October doing a medical rotation and staying with her parents who are living here again. I ran into her at church, and somehow wasn't surprised!

Here are Mike and Kai with our paper masala dosa.
A spontaneous dinner with Helen at EXP at Festival Walk last night. We were surprised when we got to bypass the long waiting line and were taken to this nice ice-rink-view table. The only reason we could come up with for our speedy seating was that they mistook us for irrate customers when we asked how long the wait would be.

Our special drinks. I love the juices at EXP!
And this is from today -- lunch with my parents at the Turkish Kitchen, a new restaurant in TST. I recognized one of the cooks from another Turkish restaurant in TST -- Istanbul Express -- and he remembered me too (guess I went there a little too often last year...). He's working at this new restaurant now.

The owner was really nice -- talked to us about Turkey quite a bit and gave us free apple tea and Turkish coffee. I attempted to say "thank you" in Turkish at one point (something forever etched on my brain after last year's trip), but got no response, which means I either said it too quietly, or was utterly unintelligible.

Here's the apple tea.
My dad got Turkish coffee. I passed because I don't like chewing on a mouth-full of grounds at the end of my coffee. To each their own.

Friday, October 27, 2006


LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

lantau hike with mom and dad

Yesterday my parents and I took a hike in the south of Lantau. We started at the Shek Pik reservoir, walked to the very remote Fan Lau Fort, and then ended up in Tai O. My parents had gone to the fort about 7 years ago, and I'd been wanting to see it for myself since they'd first told me about it.
The trail took us along a road with a water catchment that flows to the reservoir. My mom noticed this interesting bridge with stairs that seem to lead nowhere.

A view of some of the South Lantau beaches.

My parents! I took this from a lookout point that I climbed to for a better view of the beaches. After taking this, I almost fell down the hill. But no worries -- I would have more opportunities to fall later on in the hike...

You can find this sign on a number of trails in HK. I don't think it's ever had the desired "warning" effect on me... it makes a flash flood look like some really cool water-park ride.

My dad enjoying the view.
There's "Chicken Wing" Peninsula (that's a literal translation of one of the Chinese names for this place). The fort is on the very tip, overlooking the Lantau channel, which is a route to the Pearl River. The fort was built to ward off pirates!

Some beach dogs greeting my parents.

An old building (maybe a temple?) by the beach. There's a faint inscription above the door -- any ideas about what it says?

I liked this tree. It looked like something out of a fairy tale.
We saw some very large spiders. Look, this one is almost as big as my dad!

And finally -- we made it to the fort!!
Some information about Fan Lau fort.

The fort entrance.

A couple views of the inside.

And then we came to another beach.

Crab art.

Tide art.

An abandoned beach-front home.
This old man was the only person we saw in Fan Lau village. He was really nice and sold me some much-needed water.
The nice old man and his canine companions.

Looks like people might still live in these buildings.

The Fan Lau village ancestral hall (?)

The inside of the doorway to the ancestral hall.
Soon after taking that last picture, I decided to explore some abandoned houses. While walking back towards the path, I tripped on a step, got my feet tangled in some long grass and, as my hands were occupied with my camera and water bottle, I successfully executed the perfect 10 of face-plants. And only my mom witnessed it. If I could go back in time, I would definitely have her video the fall so that I could embed it here. But alas, all I have to show from it are badly bruised knees and skinned elbows.

Further up the trail we noticed this sign. I was curious...

Here's the much-anticipated water pond. It was a nice way to cool down (though if you look closely, there's a warning about the water being of the "untreated stream" variety).

A dragon fly that I noticed near the pond. On a side note, the white thing is an electrical cord that ran all the way along the path between Fan Lau and a small village near Tai O. Guess it's supplying some remote dwelling with power.
An overgrown shrine that I noticed hidden behind the trees.

This is part of the trail between Fan Lau and Tai O. It was so overgrown! I had just come out of that tall grass when I took this picture, and was so relieved to be out in the open again! Apart from being scratched by the grass and repeatedly hit in the face by branches and twigs, I'd never walked through such thick, tall foliage before, and started feeling a little bit claustrophobic. And it didn't help that I could imagine a snake or other poisonous/dangerous animal falling on my head at any moment. Panic!
Here's some fungus growing on a tree branch. I'm not sure if this stuff is edible, but it reminded me of the fungus I used to eat in China: mu er (literally "wood ear").

Here's a sign that we came to at the end of the especially overgrown section of the trail. I guess my mom noticed a similar sign at the beginning of the trail, which I missed. Anyway, they weren't joking about it being "treacherous" and "seasonally overgrown." But then if we had followed their advice and not proceeded on the trail, we would have had at least a 4 or 5 hour hike back... not an easy decision.

Ginger flowers growing wild. Maybe the ginger (and flowers) were harvested at one time... but not anymore.

Looking for a toilet? Looks like you'd be set going either way.
We made it to Tai O!

There's now a bridge that connects the two sides of Tai O. I think the last time I visited (over 10 years ago) they still used rope to pull a ferry back and forth.

Stilt homes in Tai O.

This beautiful old building is now an HSBC!

Some dried seafood for sale.

A sign in Tai O welcoming mainland tourists down for the National Day holiday (aka "Golden Week"). We had dinner in Tai O and then a 2-hour-2-bus journey back home. What a day!

The end.