Sunday, March 15, 2009

visit from sharon and roger

I just realized that I had this post-in-the-works that never got published. Oops.

Back in February, we had a visit from my dad's second cousin, Sharon, and her husband Roger. They were taking a cruise from Shanghai to SE Asia, and HK was one of their ports of call. I had the pleasure of visiting them in Wales last summer, but my parents hadn't gotten to meet them yet -- so we all had a great time catching up while seeing some of HK.

We took the Star Ferry over to Central, and then had dim sum at City Hall.

Then we took a minibus up to Victoria Peak. It was windy and a little hazy, but still a wonderful view!
From the Peak, I took Sharon and Roger to Stanley (though none of us ended up doing any shopping!), and then to TST for dinner. Here's Roger showing off his chop sticks skills.
Then we went back to the harbor to catch the light show. There was a beautiful light display out for Chinese New Year.
It was great to see you again, Roger and Sharon! Till next time!

day-tripping in macau

My blogging record has been appalling these past few months... anyone who's still actually following this blog or checking from time to time for updates -- please accept my apologies. I've had plenty of blog-worthy material, but little time and even less motivation to get things up. Maybe this post will be the new leaf that is figuratively turned..

I went to Macau yesterday, with friends Mike and Ken. We joined a service project sponsored by Mike's church, and spent a couple hours at an English center holding a free English corner for local adults and teens interested in improving their conversational English. The experience reminded me of my time teaching in Xianyang, where we would hold weekly English corners for our college students. To be honest, English corner wasn't always my favorite part of teaching. If I wasn't prepared with some topics to discuss, I would get stuck answering questions that were all too familiar (i.e. "Do you know how to use chopsticks?" "Do you like Chinese food?" "Which is better, China or America?"). But anyway, I ended up really enjoying the English corner yesterday, and found myself actually feeling quite nostalgic for those days in China (I think the fact that I've started rereading River Town is also a contributing factor). I got to talk to two very nice Chinese ladies -- one was from near Shanghai, and the other was born and raised in Madagascar(!!). We talked about everything from family to work, history to travel. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos from the event, but might be able to add some soon, if friends are kind enough to share theirs. :)

After the English Corner, most of the service group took a ferry back to Hong Kong, but Mike, Ken and I headed to the Venetian -- the world's largest casino -- instead. I'd only ever seen the Venetian from afar, so was curious to go inside and see for myself what all the hype was about. We got there in time to get tickets for a matinee showing of the Cirque du Soleil show, Zaia. It was my first Cirque show, and wow, was it brilliant! But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because if I'd been paying attention to the signs, I would have known that it's "the most dazzling spectacle ever staged in Asia." (I suggested that Mike and Ken strike Zaia-esque poses, but apparently, this is the best they could come up with.)

After Zaia, we spent a bit of time checking out the Venetian. You could easily spend a couple days in this place and still not see everything. Thus the map that Mike is studying in the photo below. We made it to the actual casino section, and I had my heart set on playing one of the slot machines... but couldn't for the life of me figure it out! Maybe I should take that as a sign from above that I should never gamble.

After my poor luck with the slot machines, I decided that we couldn't leave until we'd at least found the canal that the Venetian is so famous for. Here are Mike and Ken standing on one of the many canal bridges. I've never been to Venice, but I'm sure it's just like this...
Look, it's a gondola!

And us on another bridge. Check out the amazing blue sky!

Then we headed out to my favorite restaurant -- Fernando's! We had quite a wait, but I think it was worth it. They have the best tomatoes... and garlic prawns... and sangria.

We left Fernando's with a decent amount of time to get back for our ferry. We had tickets for the last ferry to Kowloon, and thankfully didn't put ourselves through the stress of cutting it close. After an uneventful hour's ride (no sea-sickness either way -- hooray!), we were back in HK.

So that concludes this post about my very fun day in Macau. I have some catch-up posts in the works, but am not making any promises about how many of them will actually get written. But stay tuned! :)