Monday, March 31, 2008

incredible india

I'm back in HK after a phenomenal week in India! My mom and I stayed with my friend Susie, who's been living in Delhi for about a year and a half. We spent most of our time in Delhi, but also took a trip with Susie and a group of college students (who she was showing around -- part of her job) up north to Haridwar and Mussoorie, and then did a day trip on our own to Agra. I'm quite sure I'll be blogging about India for a while, once I'm unpacked and the laundry is done -- it was really an incredible experience, and I'm already thinking about going back -- but for now I'll just share some photo highlights of our trip. Here are two albums I posted on Facebook (so if you've already seen them there, feel free to forgo a second viewing). Apparently, they can be viewed by anyone, including non-Facebook users, via the links below.

Trip highlights (it was hard to choose which of my 700+ photos should be in this 60-photo album, but I did my best...)

Islamic art (I love the simple yet intricate geometric patterns found in the Islamic decorative arts. I ended up taking a good number of photos of these designs whenever we were at a mosque or a tomb. India was part of the Mughal empire from 1526 to 1828 (when the British came in and took over), so there are many beautiful examples of Islamic architecture and craftsmanship, especially in northern India.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

simply life

My mom and I will be leaving for the airport in a few hours, and then it's off to New Delhi! It's just starting to sink in that we're actually going to India, and we're both starting to get a little giddy with excitement.

In an effort to free up as much space on my camera(s) as possible, I'm putting a couple photos up -- both of food eaten at a relatively new restaurant in Festival Walk called Simply Life. A friend at school recommended the place to me, and boy is it good! They use high-quality, organic (I think) ingredients. I'm not much of a foodie, but even I can taste the difference! And the beauty of it is that Simply Life took over a spot where a McDonalds used to be. Anyway, it's so good that I've managed to go there twice in the past week... this could be dangerous!

Here's a delectable salad at last week's dinner. Prosciutto, rocket, tomato, mozzarella, and grilled eggplant. I'm not usually much of a salad person, but this was heavenly.
And eggs Florentine for brunch this morning. Yum.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

my new baby

I know what you're thinking, and no, it's not another cat. I got a new camera! I'd been wanting to invest in a better camera for a while, and thought that with my India trip coming up soon, it was a good time to take the plunge.

I did some research on digital SLRs and ultimately decided on the Olympus E-510. The reviews were all very positive (especially this one), and it seemed like a good price for the amount of special features that it has. It's much more complex than my current camera, but still seems pretty user-friendly. I think I'll have at least the basics down before the trip!

I've already had a couple photo shoots with Templeton, and was very pleased with the results. I might post those later... For now, here are a couple pictures of the new baby taken by her older point-and-click brother (OK, this analogy can only go so far...).

Front view. Looking good.

Back view. Niiice.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

birthday bowlout

We had the traditional bowling birthday bash for Sal yesterday -- and as always, it was great fun! Here are a few pics:

Female coworkers and friends! Let's go with bowling names here: Mrslo, Sallups, Jen (with one "n," not two...), M Strike, and Strikoline (though, in retrospect, I wish I'd spelled her name "Strike-o-line").
K jai, Grandpa, and Bubba waiting their turns.
Here I am pretending to help Alison with her child-sized velcro shoes. Yes, I'm kind of a jerk. I just have a hard time feeling sympathy for people with small feet, since I personally have the opposite "problem" -- which, funnily enough, was pointed out to me later in the evening by someone in our party. Let it be known that I have big feet.
After the bowling was over and we'd had a nice meal (which included one of my faves -- Peking duck!!), we headed back to the Tam-Lee household to enjoy some Wii and some boardgames.

Here's Helen experiencing Peeps for the first time. (Guess they haven't found their way to Australia yet).(The Peep is decapitated in that last picture -- in case you couldn't tell from the coloring and/or Helen's sad expression)

Wii entertainment.
Another shot of Helen. This time she's watching scary bunnies being pummeled by plungers.

peanut butter kiss cookies

I had a long nap this afternoon, and then this evening suddenly had this unstoppable urge to bake. Peanut butter cookies are a stand-by for me, but tonight I decided they needed some complementary chocolate. So I ran to the store for some Hershey kisses, and voila. I made a double batch which turned out to be no less than 7 dozen cookies. That's right, folks -- 84!

Which also meant 85 kisses that were unwrapped and squished on (though one of them was lost to the floor).
Amazingly, I was not tempted to eat any of the dough, kisses, or even a freshly-baked cookie. I did eventually eat one, but only because it was broken and by that time I had decided that it was really my duty to test them out and see if they tasted OK. But seriously, I think I would usually gorge myself on cookies -- which is why I don't make them more often! -- so something must be wrong with me. Maybe I'm coming down with the dreaded influenza.


This past week I was reminded just how quickly things can change. On Wednesday, I went to school as usual, and even attended a staff meeting after school. The very next day, school was closed.

Why, you might ask? There have been a high number of flu cases recently (though in HK we still prefer to use the more formal -- and scarier -- "influenza"), and at least two children have actually died from it. Though of course I feel sad for those families, I was still a little surprised by the Health Department's decision to close all elementary schools and kindergartens. It seems like quite an excessive response, but then, considering HK's recent run-ins with bird flu and SARS, I guess it's an understandable step to take.

On Thursday, the Education Bureau issued this statement:

"In order to prevent the spread of influenza in school campus, the Education Bureau announced that all kindergartens, kindergartens cum child care centres, primary schools and special schools will begin the Easter holiday starting from March 13 up to 28. During the non-prearranged period of school holiday, these school campus will remain open. Students could go to school as usual, if necessary."

So we teachers will continue to go to school, and students whose parents have no other options can send their kids to school. It's an interesting time. Classroom teachers are arranging work for students electronically, so as not to fall too far behind. This will hopefully prevent us from having to make up the lost days over the summer or on weekends.

A very cool thing about these arrangements is that we teachers, being less busy than usual, have had more opportunities to enjoy each other's company. For once, there's actually time to go out to lunch, and schedule fun PE "workshops." On Friday about 15 of us played a game of dodgeball -- I love dodgeball! And how many years has it been since I last played?! It was such a great stress-reliever, and absolutely hilarious to see respected colleagues diving out of the path of foam balls. Even after just two days, I feel like we've all grown a lot closer, and I look forward to more quality time together (with some work in there too, of course!). And hopefully kids will all stay healthy and have positive learning experiences outside of school.

Good Friday is the start of our Easter holiday, and also the day on which my mom and I will be leaving for Delhi. But more on that later...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the kennys

I keep seeing commercials promoting Kenny G's new album (yes, he's still around), and they've reminded me of this poster that I saw a while back for a musician named Kenny B. I'm sure their names are just a coincidence...


Here are my most recent yarn-related projects, modeled by the lovely friends they were made for.

April enjoys a latte in a freezing cold Pacific Coffee (it may not be scarf weather outside anymore, but thanks to over-zealous air-conditioning in most shops and restaurants, these scarves might still come in handy...)
And Sal models her pencil scarf, next to the kid who was the original inspiration. I did a combination of knit and crochet on this one, which was a first for me. This scarf got me thinking about other long, linear objects that could be scarf inspiration. I have some ideas, but they're top secret right now... :)

I've been knitting and crocheting so much these past few weeks -- on the bus, train, and any available minute -- that now that I'm finished with these, I'm sort of at a loss. I took my first crochet-free train ride today, and really felt the absence of the hook and yarn. I'll probably start another project soon, but for now might try to get back into reading. I started reading The Kite Runner a couple weeks ago, and though I'm still near the beginning, am pretty sure I will soon reach that critical stage where I can't put the book down.

dragon's back

I haven't posted anything for a couple weeks -- time for some catch-up!

After seeing the beauty of Dragon's Back during the Green Power hike, I decided that I needed to go back, and under more relaxing circumstances. It was nice to go with friends, and to take our time enjoying the beauty around us.

Here's everybody with the view of Shek O in the background.

And Maria took this one. It was windy up there -- can you tell?

A slightly hazy view of Big Wave Bay -- our destination.

Simon and Anish tried carb gels for the first time. I tried to warn them about the apricot-banana flavored ones (I believe my exact words were something like "everything unappetizing about bananas distilled into slimy gel form"), but they didn't listen.

We made it to Big Wave Bay a little before noon, and enjoyed lunch at a quaint little cafe right on the beach. Afterwards April and Maria took naps on the sand. (Note all the surfers in the distance -- it's not called Big Wave Bay for nothing!)

Anish, Simon and I walked up to a pagoda with a great view of the bay.

It was a beautiful, very relaxing day. I'm glad not to have anything big to train for (for a while at least), and am looking forward to more fun hikes like this one!

Monday, March 03, 2008

introducing olivia jean sonnichsen!

My niece is officially adopted! Though my sister and brother-in-law had been fostering her since she was a few weeks old, they couldn't start the formal adoption process until Amy turned 30 (bizarre adoption policy -- go figure!) last year. They finished the paper-work months ago, and today finally received the formal letter making it all official! Woohoo!

Here's a picture I took of her when they were visiting over Christmas.
I love you Livy! You've always been my niece -- I'm just glad the Chinese government finally knows it! :)

A correction: It looks like they'll have to make a trip to Guangzhou for the adoption to be finalized -- but that seems to be just a formality.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

green power completed

I did my first official fund-raising hike yesterday -- the Green Power 50 km! The hike follows the HK trail around and over the mountains of HK island -- starting at the Peak (which still seems a little like cheating to me...) and ending at Big Wave Bay. I'd only hiked part of the trail before, and that was years ago, so most of the sights were new to me... so I decided to bring my camera!

We arrived at the Peak at around 7:00 am and had a 7:30 start.
The starting line up ahead.

Dave and Cindy before the start. Dave hiked with my dad and I, but Cindy ran off ahead, and ended up coming second in the Master Women's category! Go Cindy!
Dad and I at the starting line.

Before the start with Cindy.

And the rest of these photos are pretty random... shots that I took quite haphazardly whenever I got a chance to take out my camera.

I really would've enjoyed riding a horse for at least part of the time, but alas, they were not allowed on this trail. This sign (and the others like it) seemed a bit strange... but their presence makes me think that horseback riding is permitted on some HK island trails. Who would have thought?

Lamma island in the distance.

Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau.

The Daves on the trail. I took this right after dropping my camera -- thankfully it bounced on a patch of grass (absorbing some of the shock) before landing on the stone steps. It decided to take a break for a while afterwards though, which is why I have no pictures of the quarry and Mt. Butler -- the parts of the hike that I found most challenging.

I'd all but given up on taking more photos, but when I got to the top of Dragon's Back (the final 8 km or so) and took in the view, I decided to try my camera one more time -- and it worked!! It was such a beautiful day, and Shek O beach down below was just gorgeous.

And there were people para-gliding -- what I would have given to trade places with one of them! But I had to finish what I'd started. Still, I'd definitely like to try this sometime!

And finally, the hike ended down at Big Wave Bay.

Dave borrowed my camera to take a picture of the winner's board and Cindy's Master Female 2nd place time. The funny thing is, looking at this picture just now, I noticed that my friend Kevin came third for the men! I got a message from him on Facebook telling me that he'd done the hike, but he failed to mention his placing and super-fast time. Congratulations Kevin! And kudos on the modesty! :)

We finished in about 9 and a half hours. Didn't break any records, but had a good time!