Saturday, December 29, 2007

one human's garbage...

The futon in my room was starting to fall apart. Every time I sat on it, I could feel the wooden frame inching closer to the ground. The floor under the futon happened to be Templeton's favorite hiding place too, and I could imagine a horrific accident involving me unintentionally crushing my beloved feline. So with that nightmarish possibility in mind, I stopped sitting on the futon altogether, and started thinking about purchasing a new piece of furniture.

Thankfully I didn't. Because my mom noticed this chaise lounge, in perfect condition, left at the dump down the hill from our house. It required a little TLC (thankfully it has a cover that can be easily removed and washed), but cleaned up really nicely.

I had a few pillows already, but decided I wanted a cylindrical pillow to make it a little more sofa-ish functional, so took a quick trip to my neighborhood Ikea. I had some stripy fabric on hand that just happened to match the chaise, so decided to make my own cover for said pillow. I'd never sewn anything circular before (though technically, I think I learned how to make a smaller pencil-case version of this as an 11-year-old home economics student), so wasn't sure how it would turn out. But I've got to say that I'm quite pleased with the result. The circles turned out to be the least of my worries. The zipper that had to go in was another story. No pictures of that. I'm going to be sure it's well hidden at all times.

Friday, December 28, 2007

this is what disappointment looks like

Our local milk/ice-cream producer, Dairy Farm, must've decided that there wasn't a big enough market for eggnog in Hong Kong, and subsequently didn't produce any this year. Though always hard to come by, this year it was almost impossible to find the stuff... trust me, I looked. But our fortunes took a turn for the better when my mom located a lone carton of Paul's eggnog... or so we thought. The die-hard eggnog drinkers among us (namely my mom, my brother-in-law and myself) were ecstatic. But with only one carton in our possession, we decided to save the creamy beverage for Christmas day.

When the time was right, I took three glasses, opened the carton, and poured. With two other pairs of eyes watching me closely, I made sure the amounts in each glass were as even as possible. I would have been playing with fire had I tried to pour myself even a little extra. Finally the moment that we'd been waiting for -- we all raised our glasses and took a drink. And that's when our eyes met in bewilderment. This eggnog wasn't the thick, sweet, full-cream deliciousness that we were accustomed to drinking. The flavor was reminiscent of eggnog, but drinking it just made us long for the good stuff even more.

After getting over my initial shock and disappointment, I looked at the ingredients. Who in their right mind would use reduced fat milk to make eggnog? Seriously. What were they thinking?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

angry chicken gift tags

I recently started reading the Angry Chicken craft blog by Amy Karol and she just posted these "inner monologue" holiday gift tags that I think are hilarious. You will most certainly want to click on the image below for a closer look...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

crafty christmas

I'm experiencing some sewing-machine-induced frustration at the moment. So in an effort to prevent myself from throwing said spiteful machine out the window, I'm taking a break and blogging.

Before the difficulties started, I was very eagerly putting together materials for two bags. Here are some of the pieces on the ironing board. I usually avoid ironing like I avoid cockroaches and broken glass, but I've found that it really does help to iron folded edges before sewing. The end product turns out looking much tidier and finished than if ironing is skipped.
I had grand plans to make most of my Christmas gifts this year, but that's now seeming less than likely... unless people don't mind getting Christmas gifts in March... that might be feasible. I realized a couple nights ago that with friends and family coming back and visiting, I am not going to have a lot of time left for crafting. Which is fine. I definitely don't want to miss out on time with loved ones just because I'm occupied with making them something. That would be ridiculous... So tonight was going to be the last night when I could really put some quality time into sewing. And now the machine doesn't work. I'm hoping that my mom will know how to coax it back into working order. She's out meeting my brother at the airport right now(OK, so maybe I have already sacrificed some family time to sew... oops), and I'm hoping that when she gets back she'll be enthusiastic about taking a look at it...

Besides the sewing machine, I've had another minor disappointment this evening. I decided to put on a Christmas CD (Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir) that I bought a few months ago on the Doulos (see Sal's post), and quickly found out that it wasn't what I was expecting. Most of the songs are Christmas medleys, and as best as I can describe, sound like a cross between a church cantata and dinner theater music(if you've never experienced the wonder that is dinner theater, this might be a difficult comparison to comprehend).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

cushioning those pins

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately, and have been in need of a good pin cushion. So today I went a little crazy and made two. Here they are:

I followed this instructables pattern. They are super fast and easy to make (made from just a square of fabric!), and are well, just plain cute. I'm tempted to make hundreds of them, but don't have that many sewing friends (or that many non-sewing friends for that matter...), and am aware that Michelle really only needs one. I think they'd be fun as human-sized pillows too, and might make a couple of those next. Or maybe a new bed for Templeton.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

k is for knitting and kcr

As soon as there's even the slightest chill in the air, something within me needs to knit. I say "slightest chill" because, though the past few days have been cold by HK standards, today was actually quite warm. But none-the-less, I found myself wrapped up with jeans, a jacket, and even a scarf. These are the moments that I feel like a true HK person. It might be summer weather, but hey, it's December -- I need a scarf!
But I digress. I started knitting a scarf the other day (scarves are pretty much all I ever knit... excepting two hats that I made years ago), and am almost done with it, thanks to my recent unprecedented desire to knit. Today, for example, I brought my knitting to a CH.A.T. (CHurch Awareness Time... should really be C.A.T., but don't get me started), to coffee with a friend, and even had to take it out while sitting on the train going home. It's funny, knitting on the train. I found quite a few women in various places in the train staring intently at me. I doubt they were admiring my scarf (I don't aim for perfection in knitting -- I actually like a few flaws), so I assume that they were probably knitters too, and probably critiquing my speed and/or tension. Or else they were just mesmerized by the regular clink clink of my needles. Or else they were shocked by the gargantuan size of my needles. They bear a resemblance to super-sized crayons.

Well, I think I'm done with gushing over my love for knitting. But if you'll let me go back to the topic of trains for a minute, here's a sight that won't be around for long:

The KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway) has been bought out by the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), and the switch took place today. All indoor KCR signs have been covered up with the MTR symbol, so I was surprised to see that the KCR logos on the large outdoor signs were still in tact. I don't think they'll be around for much longer though.

The KCR has been in operation for almost a century (as opposed to the MTR which opened in the late 70's and early 80's), so it's quite a nostalgic time for those, like myself, who have taken the train for most of their lives. The merger will mean cheaper fairs though.

I'm not sure if I'll ever quite get used to the name change. I can see myself, years from now, saying "KCR" and hearing some youngster ask in response, "KCR?! What's that?"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

computer cat bed

I've got a few more Hanoi posts in the works (read: in my head), but am taking a break to share this recent discovery: the recycled computer monitor cat bed!

They're being sold on this Etsy site, but as with most handmade items that I see for sale, I'd like to try making one of my own. It would be a sweet Christmas present for Templeton...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

day four in hanoi

Today was my fourth and final day in Hanoi. I got an evening flight back to HK and am back home now. I hope the title of this post isn't too misleading -- I won't be giving a play-by-play of day four (or day two, or three, for that matter), mainly because it's late and tomorrow is a work day. My apologies to anyone who was hoping for more regular updates from Vietnam... I realize that I probably shouldn't have titled that first post "day one" if I wasn't planning to follow up with subsequent days... :) But, dear disappointed readers, I am envisioning a number of Hanoi-themed posts appearing within the next few days. Though I wasn't very consistent with the blog, I did keep a journal and took lots of photos, so there's lots to share! Stay tuned...

Friday, November 23, 2007

day one in hanoi

I'm in Hanoi for four days, staying with friends Sherman and Becky. This is my first time in Vietnam, and my first time to be out of Hong Kong in close to a year. It's nice to be somewhere new. Granted, I've felt more helpless and generally stupid in the last day than I have in a long time, but I'm enjoying the risks, the learning... everything!

Some of yesterday's memorable moments... in list form (no pictures yet -- I'll have to insert some when I get home):

  • making it to the gate in time (I left my house about half an hour later than planned, then waited for the airport bus longer than planned... thankfully HK has one of the most efficient airports in the world... I even had time to pick something up at Starbucks). We had to take a ground-transport bus to our plane (my first time to do this in HK), and I had what we might call a very small panic attack when I suddenly considered the fact that I didn't know even one word of Vietnamese. It's been such a last minute trip -- so much so that I hadn't done any research whatsoever, or even learned how to say "thank you." That's been remedied now, thanks to Sherman and Becky and their Lonely Planet phrase book.
  • sitting on the airplane, relieved to have made the flight, and then gradually noticing that the easy-listening jazz being pumped through the plane was a cover of Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit." Interesting.
  • making a conscious effort to put on my "I know what I'm doing" face while wandering through the Hanoi airport, looking for a taxi to take me to Sherman and Becky's. It turned out to be a very easy experience, but once again, I was mildly tempted to fall into I'm-in-a-new-country-and-can't-speak-the-language hysterics.
  • drawing and coloring a life-sized Princess Dora [the Explorer] for Hannah's fourth birthday party. The kids played "pin the tassel on the princess's hat. :)
  • wandering around some of the streets in the old part of town and drinking in the cool mix of architecture -- modern, traditional Vietnamese, French colonial, Chinese.
  • crossing streets. "Just keep walking and assume that the motorcycle-drivers see you and will go around you." That's what I kept telling myself. I think my time in China was good preparation for this visit...
  • trying to figure out the street food, but ultimately deciding to eat at a very non-adventurous restaurant. But it's probably a good thing I did. Not only would I have had no idea what I was ordering (besides being able to see and point to ingredients), but also, Becky informed me that Hanoi's in the middle of a small cholera outbreak at the moment, so I'm glad I stayed on the safe side...
  • hiring a motorcycle to take me back to Sherman and Becky's place. What a thrill! It made my afternoon of carrying around the extra helmet very much worth it. So yes, I wasn't completely unsafe -- I wore a helmet. But then I burned my leg on the tailpipe getting off, and have a nice big blister to prove it.
Well, I guess I'll get started enjoying day two!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

trailwalker moments

Some memorable Trailwalker moments:
  • cheering on the Gurkhas (and other super (sub 18-hr) teams) as they ran past us (reminder: we started 2.5 hours before the first official start time).
  • being offered gummy candies by Mike Harrison at the bottom of Rooster Hill on Stage 3.
  • getting a call from Ikea about a shelf I'd ordered while we were stopped at our first support stop. Bizarre...
  • having my fill of carb gels (don't even want to look at them for a while...).
  • drifting off to sleep while walking... a few times.
  • receiving applause from the high school volunteers whose job it was to cheer on hikers entering check point 4.
  • getting to the half-way mark and knowing that the hardest climbs were behind us.
  • being so tired and unreasonable that I hoped my teammates would actually suggest taking a nap in the middle of the trail. Thankfully Dave was willing to give me some of his Red Bull, which helped get me through...
  • getting to the top of Needle Hill (with the help of U2 on my iPod, and super-hiker Cindy walking behind me) on Stage 7.
  • wanting to quit in the middle of the night on Stage 8, but then realizing it would be more work to try to find my way home than to continue and finish.
  • seeing the sun come up from Tai Mo Shan (Stage 8). What a welcomed dawn!
  • looking forward to cinnamon rolls (made and served by my mom) at the bottom of Tai Mo Shan.
  • being "towed" by super-hiker Cindy, and then later by my dad (he'd had only 3 hours of sleep the night before, so ended up dropping out after Stage 3, but joined us again for Stages 9 & 10).

Monday, November 12, 2007

trailwalker pics

At the start. Did I mention that we started 2.5 hours before the first start time? It was 6:30 and the sun was just coming up.
My team (L-R): Dave, Jacelyn, Dad, me.
Here we are posing with a poster that looks like it's meant to deter people from entering the Trailwalker...
Even though we weren't official entrants in the 2007 Oxfam Trailwalker, we made it into the photo gallery TWICE! The photo below is even the album cover for the album "On the Trail." (Link)
Another photo taken by one of the Trailwalker photographers. Here we are running to cross the finish line. Not sure what was going on with my leg in this photo...
And here's a poster I saw about a week before the hike that almost put me off the whole thing. Once again, were they trying to deter people?
I'm grateful that I came out of the whole thing pretty well. Besides the knee (which I'm hoping to get looked at soon), two blisters were all I got... a little better off than the guy above.

I'm planning to do one more Trailwalker-themed post, on some memorable TW moments. If you're getting tired of hearing about the hike -- only one more post to bear! If you're enjoying reading about the experience -- stay tuned!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

trailwalker stats

Some Trailwalker info, courtesy of the Oxfam Trailwalker site.

I think this one is the most insightful -- elevation!!

And according to Mike and Helen, friends and fellow Trailwalkers (official ones at that!), the total elevation gained during the Trailwalker is equivalent to climbing Everest TWICE!! (link) No wonder I'm sore...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

trailwalker update

I'm about to head to bed, to get some much needed sleep, but thought I would first give an update on the Trailwalker. We finished it! My team was able to hike the 100 km in 29 hours and 40 minutes, which met our goal of 30 hours. I'm still in a state of disbelief that I actually did it. My problematic left knee was hurting even before we started hiking yesterday, so I really didn't expect to finish. Once I realized that the pain wasn't going to go away, I decided that I would just try to deal with it, but would quit if it got any worse. And it didn't! Granted, the pain killers that I took were partly responsible, but I was very thankful to get through it without any serious injury. Thanks must go to my very patient teammates -- my knee and then later some sickness on the trail held me up quite a few times -- and all the folks that helped us with support. Also, I thank God for his grace in protecting my knee, and for giving me the strength to do something that I didn't think I could do.
Well, it's time to say goodnight. I'll post more about the hike (along with a few photos) when I have a little more energy...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

trailwalker eats

This is just some of the food that I'm planning to eat on the Trailwalker. I think I will be breaking a personal record...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ecolips and other purchases

The Trailwalker is on Friday. Though I've been training for it for some months now, it's hard to believe that the day is almost here. I've had a harder time than expected getting excited about the hike, and I think that's mainly because there were some moments over the weekend when I thought that I wouldn't/shouldn't do it. At some point during my packing at school, I did something to my left knee. I bought a really heavy-duty brace though (one that makes me feel like Robocop when I wear it), and I think it has helped. Knee still hurts a little when I go down stairs, but it's bearable.

Though it would be disappointing not to be able to finish the Trailwalker, I think that facing the reality of injury has made me see that there are worse things than not finishing. Like leg amputations, permanent knee damage, or never walking normally again (OK, I'll try to refrain from the melodrama from here on out). Anyway, I'm glad that quitting now seems an acceptable option.

That being said, once I'd decided to attempt the hike, I knew that I needed to get myself psyched up, at least a little bit, about Friday. Even if I don't end up finishing, I need to go into it expecting the best. So what better way to get excited about hiking than a shopping trip to my favorite outdoor supply store, Protrek?!

I got a new dry fit shirt and a whole carton of carb gels. I probably won't use all 24 of them this weekend, but buying in bulk turned out to be a good deal. These gels will probably get their own post at some point... I find them quite fascinating.

And now for my more frivolous purchase (though, in my defense, I did need some new chapstick...): Ecolips. Or is it "Eco Lips"? Anyway, it was a pretty pricey tube of chapstick that I'll admit, I bought mainly because it comes with an Ecolips carribeener/hook thingy with the Ecolips brand name on it. But not to fear, dear reader -- those are HK dollars.

I'm sure there will be more Trailwalker posts to come, regardless of what happens with my knee.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

saturday evening wanderings part II

Besides the book and the hot chocolate, there were a couple of other benefits of yesterday's wanderings.

1. I found a cheap little fabric store, and bought two yards of this bright floral fabric. It was originally going to just be one yard, but I liked it so much...

2. I stumbled across a little CD store (that I have vague recollections of going to before... but will I ever be able to find it again?) that had some good stuff. I found the new Jose Gonzales album (In Our Nature) there and quickly bought it. The process seemed so easy and pain-free, as his last album that I bought, Veneer, had to be special ordered from HK Records because it didn't seem to be available anywhere...
And I'm feeling optimistic that I'll find some way of listening to the talk I missed last night... I'm sure there's a recording of it somewhere. Maybe I can special order it...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

saturday evening wanderings

I'm feeling more than a little ridiculous right now. I planned to go hear a lecture tonight ("Amusing Ourselves to Death: Freedom for Youth from a Culture of Narcissism" by Marva Dawn of Regent College), and would be there now if I wasn't so very locationally-challenged. I found myself walking back and forth all over Wanchai, wondering "Have I really lived here most of my life?" Somehow I still managed to make it to my destination about 10 minutes early. But that's when I noticed locked doors and dark windows, quite the contrast to the busy church facility that I was picturing. See, I had walked myself over to the English-speaking Methodist church, when the actual locale of the talk was the [plain old] Methodist church. Both are in Wanchai, and the irony of the whole thing is that in my wanderings, I came in very close proximity to the correct church. I guess I could have walked myself back over to the right place -- being late wouldn't have been such a horrible thing --but I decided that I'd had my fill of walking for the day. So instead, I determined that I'd head in the direction of the home-bound bus, but was secretly hoping that I'd come across a coffee shop first. Consequently, I now find myself sitting in a Pacific Coffee, sipping a hot-chocolate (I already had a coffee this evening, and don't trust myself to have another).

I don't share this story in the hopes that you, dear reader, will feel pity for me. There are much worse things than coffee shops and warm chocolate beverages. And what makes me even less pitiable is that I have a book with me that I happen to be quite engrossed in at the moment: Bury the Chains: The British Stuggle to Abolish Slavery (if you click on that you'll find that for some reason the sub-heading is different on the American version). It's nice to be reading again -- for some reason it's been some months since I've been able to really get into a book. And this one is amazing (there's a reason it was a National Book Award finalist!). Very inspirational. I'd been interested in learning more about William Wilberforce, the British abolitionist, for while. And then on Thursday, after watching Amazing Grace , decided that I had to go to Page One immediately to find a book about him. I guess this book isn't exactly the Wilberforce biography I was looking for -- it's actually much better! It tells the stories of all of the key abolition figures, how they influenced each other and were finally able to bring about change. Anyway, I've still got a lot to read, so I'll save any further discussion of the book for a later post. Oh, and I guess I've been on this public computer for quite a while and should probably give someone else a turn...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

two more additions to the "to make" list

I was just looking at the Craft Magazine blog, and these two items caught my eye.

Pencil Scarf (Link) This would be super easy to make... and so cute!

Crochet candy corn pet sweater (Link) I don't think I have time to make one for Templeton this Halloween, but maybe next year, or maybe with a different color scheme for Christmas.
And the "to make" list continues to get longer...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

sleeping mt

I don't know how MT got into this sleeping position. Or how comfortable it was for him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

scrabulous sandwich

This is what I ate while considering what my next Scrabulous moves should be. For a thrown-together sandwich it turned out really well. Starting from the top layer, it's mozzarella, basil, olives, chicken, and pesto. Yum.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

monday meal

This was my Monday dinner with Daniel. We went to a noodle/tofu dive in Sham Shui Po, where we happened to be when we got hungry. I'd never thought of myself as a big fan of soy milk until I tried it at this place... delish. And such a bargain. Noodles and soy milk -- a HK$17 combo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

sunday fun-day

As mentioned previously, I had a fun time showing Daniel around during his stop in HK. I always like having friends visit. Besides enjoying the opportunity to catch up, I also relish the chance to do all the touristy things that I don't do too often (though, I'll admit that I have been to the HK Symphony of Lights 4 times in the last month...). I didn't really take any photos on Saturday, but here are some of the highlights from Sunday.

Dim sum with Kai and Sal. Thankfully Daniel was taking a hiatus from vegetarianism during his trip to China... otherwise he would've missed out on the char sui bao.
After filling our bellies, we headed over to HK island and then to the Peak via the Central Green Trail. I've got to say that I love the Central Green Trail -- it's beautiful! Imagine winding through a rain forest while still in remarkably close proximity to all the Central sky scrapers -- it's really quite surreal! You also come across some interesting colonial buildings. Here's a marker for Victoria hospital ("for women and children" -- love that!), which is now a swanky apartment complex.

A view from the trail.

Another view. You can just barely make out the tram tracks below.

When we got to the top, we walked around the new Peak mall for a while, and then finally made our way towards the Sky Terrace. We opted to forgo the experience when we realized that we'd have to pay $20 for the view. Quite ridiculous when you consider that we had the exact same view for free while hiking up...

After descending from the peak and grabbing a bite of dinner, we walked around Central, and then eventually headed back to the Star Ferry.

A couple of my favorite buildings... out of focus...

... and in focus.

Some blurry night shots taken from the ferry. Try not to get sea sick...

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I've had a great time showing Daniel around town this weekend.

Here's some cool graffiti that we came across while walking up to Victoria Peak:
More photos to come...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

sai kung to tai wai with mike and helen

Yesterday was Chung Yeung festival and a public holiday here in Hong Kong. The festival is also known as "Fall Remembrance Day," sort of the autumn counterpart of Ching Ming -- people clear, maintain, and bring offerings to the graves of their ancestors. And I found out from Sal that it's also traditionally a hiking holiday. No wonder there were so many people up in the hills!

I had the rare privilege of hiking with Mike and Helen, who also happen to be training for the Trailwalker. I don't get to hike with them much, because our days off don't often match up (though I'm still looking into getting Mondays off...;)). Seeing as it was such a special day, I even brought my camera along! Here are the shots I took:

This is the only photo I took on stage 3 (the fun trail I blogged about last week). I heard some rustling in the leaves nearby and saw this beautifully colored lizard. After doing a little research in a HK wildlife book, I now know it's a blue-tailed skink.
Yesterday was the first day I'd attempted stages 3 and 4 together. This is a view of Ma On Shan (beginning of stage 4) after we'd already gained some elevation. It's quite an intimidating mountain... thankfully the trail doesn't go over its peak.

A view of HKUST from Ma On Shan.

The fearless Tozers.

A view of City 1 and Shek Mun (new school location!) from Tait's Cairn. Not a fan of the air quality, but this was pretty clear compared to the view we had of Kowloon and HK island...

We opted not to finish stage 5 because of time constraints. Instead, we took the horrendously marked Wilson Trail down to Tai Wai. Sai Kung to Tai Wai = about 30 km. Not bad!

3 more weeks till the Trailwalker...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

my brother the metal worker

I just helped my mom download some photos from her camera. Here's a picture she took this summer -- Steve at his summer job.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

maclehose stages 3, 2, 1 & 3

Well, today I did my longest hike to date. It was going to be 50 km, but then we ultimately decided to shave off a couple of km road-walking -- we took a taxi instead -- putting the grand total somewhere at about 48 km. Even with the 2 fewer km, it was a long day. And I am now very tired and sore. But I can honestly say that it was a great experience, and I enjoyed the challenge of the hike. I've never before put myself to such a test, and had a couple pleasant surprises: I got a second wind at about the 35 km mark, and even felt like I could've gone on after we finished (which is good, considering that in 4 weeks, I WILL have to go on... at 48 km, we'll still have over half of the Trailwalker to go!).

Anyway, I'm feeling very encouraged after today's hike. If you'd told me a couple years ago that I'd be attempting the Trailwalker -- or even 50 km -- I probably wouldn't have believed you. Besides thinking that my dad and his friends were crazy for wanting to try such a long hike, I guess I also thought that I'd never be physically able to do the whole thing. But today was an incredible confidence-booster, and I think that [unless sickness or injury befalls me] I should be able to finish the 100 km! One of the biggest things about today was that we did one of the toughest stages, stage 3, twice. It's a 10.5 km hike that, when I did it for the first time 3 or 4 years ago, I swore I would never do again. So now, knowing that I'm capable of doing it twice in one day, with some other things in between, is a huge boost for me psychologically.

Unfortunately, I have no photos to share, because I'm not bringing my camera along on hikes anymore (until the Trailwalker) -- slows me down too much. :( I might share some stories from the hike at a later time though... for now, it's time for bed!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

of beavers and turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving, dear Canuck friends!

In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving (and because I needed a hat and Roots was having a good sale), I purchased my first distinctly Canadian garment. I couldn't resist the cute little cartoon beaver on the cap, and then when I saw the reusable bag into which they were putting my purchase, tears literally welled up in my eyes! I now own the cutest lunch bag in existence!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

spotlight 20% off sale

My favorite (read: only) craft store in HK had a store-wide 20% off sale today. I envisioned a store packed with craft-obsessed people, and myself pushing through the masses, grabbing anything and everything remaining in the aisles... But that image proved far from reality. Not only was the store mildly empty (which made me worry that they might go out of business...), I exercised a surprising degree of self-control.

Here are my few purchases:

Some rubber stamps -- I think I'll use them on student work at school, instead of the old, faithful star stickers that I'm using now -- more cost and environmentally effective. (I was originally going for a "stuff on my cat" kind of shot here, but Templeton turned out to be awake and quite interested, so that didn't work out.)
Kaiser, did you notice the Kaiser brand stamps and stamp pads? Hehe...

And some fun cotton fabric. I'd like to try my hand at making some clothing, and thought this would be a nice print for a simple beginner's shirt (read: no sleeves, buttons or zippers...).

And in other news, Sal left Spotlight with a lovely new sewing machine! I can't wait for the sewing parties that are to come!! :)

Monday, October 01, 2007

waterfalls and maclehose stages 7 & 6

Yesterday was another public holiday (happy Chinese National Day!), and I had the opportunity to do some more hiking. We started out beyond Tai Wo, at a village called Ng Tong Tsai, hiked to some amazing waterfalls near Tai Mo Shan, and then did Stages 7 and 6 backwards. It was a pretty challenging 20 km hike, and I was hiking with two very serious hikers -- Jacelyn and Cindy -- which meant it was a struggle to keep up, especially whenever I stopped to take photos. Regardless, I'm really glad I had my camera with me yesterday, because I saw some of the most beautiful scenery (in HK or anywhere else) that I've ever seen.

We hiked past a series of about 5 waterfalls. The first one paled in comparison to the latter few, so I'm not including any photos it. I think this one was #2. Beautiful!

Some interesting little plants along the trail.

A monstrous fern.
This is waterfall #3, I believe.

The hike to the upper waterfalls was very steep.

Waterfall #4. This one was by far the most spectacular. You can see Cindy at the bottom, my unknowing height reference. I couldn't even fit the whole waterfall in one shot.

The top of the falls. The next part of the trail took us up there...

...but we had to go through a closed portion of the trail, where a landslide had occurred a number of years earlier.

Did I mention that these two ladies are hard core?

Jacelyn at a particularly leafy part of the closed trail.

Here's the top of the previous waterfall. There was another waterfall above this one, but I was so distracted listening to a story about 2 hikers sliding to their deaths that I forgot to take a picture of it. I think that's Ng Tong Tsai (the village where we started) down below.

The trail above the falls took us through an old abandoned house. I was surprised that anyone would have ever lived up in such a remote place, but Cindy said that there used to be tea plantations up in these hills, and we did see some evidence of terracing.

This is where we met up with the MacLehose trail. A nice resting spot for people and cows alike.

Tai Mo Shan, HK's tallest peak. We opted to go the other direction.

Lion Rock and Beacon Hill in the distance.

A view of Tai Po and Pat Sin Leng, where my dad and I hiked last Wednesday. (Link)

Then I got tired, and put my camera away for a while. I was having a hard enough time keeping up, especially when we got to the steps on Grassy Hill and Needle Hill.

Stage 7 and 6 meet at the Shing Mun Reservoir, where we found many holiday BBQ-ers and some friendly refreshment sellers -- what a welcomed site! And I wonder where I can get one of those Dairy Farm shirts...

I've always liked Stage 6 of the MacLehose -- it's not too difficult, and the hike takes you past quite a few old WWII bunkers. The tunnels are named after famous London streets. You can barely make it out, but this one is Shaftesbury Avenue.

We saw lots of monkeys again. I thought these clay ones were pretty safe to photograph. I didn't want another monkey attack on my hands...

This might be my last hiking post for a while, we'll see. As the training gets more intense, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to take my camera out for random shots, no matter how picturesque...