Merry Christmas 2012!

A Salvador Dali Christmas

A last look at Christmas in Hong Kong.

Probably the most interesting display of Christmas in Hong Kong is located at the Harbour Center Mall on the Kowloon side near the Star Ferry Terminal. I describe it as Salvador Dali meets Alice in Wonderland with Reindeer. Actually, every time I look at the photos of this display I see more.

Rabbit and Reindeer

Red Tree Black Ornaments with a View of Hong Kong Island

Oh…and Carousel Horses too!

The Overall View

This display really makes me smile and others too as there were so many people visiting and photographing this display.

We are now state side, spending the holidays enjoying time with family and friends and eating way too much!!!.  Hoping your holiday is Merry and Bright with a good mix of Salvador Dali.  Maybe the Dali part comes in after good Chrismas Martini!!   -xoxoJen

US Import

At the Anglo-Chinese florist, trees are imported from Bellevue, WA

It was a happy surprise to see fresh Christmas trees.  Trees were in remarkably good condition and smelling just like Christmas. Each tree was tagged with import info showing that they arrived from Bellevue, WA.

On the other side or Hong Kong in the flower market, more trees arrived from the US.

Hong Kong Santa

Hong Kong Santa

Christmas is all around. It sprung to life in full force around Dec 8. It looks and sounds just a little bit different here. Christmas music played in restaurants and shops has just a little bit of a twang to it. Often times we recognize the song, but not the artist or the version.. Enjoy the Hong Kong Santa!

Christmas Peace and Better Luck

Snowy wonderland at the IFC Mall in Hong Kong.

We have been making a tour around Hong Kong of all the shopping malls and outdoor spaces that decorate for Christmas. Having no decorations in our flat this year as we are winging it home to Oregon for Christmas celebrations, it is a nice way to get in the spirit and experience a little bit of Hong Kong Christmas.

On Sunday, we ventured to the IFC mall to see it snow. Yes, twice a day and four times on weekends, shoppers are treated to a snowfall in a wooded forest of knitted trees with a gigantic pair of reindeer lifting off into flight from a snowy hill. It is my favorite of all the displays in Hong Kong. Very peaceful with warm lights and soothing instrumental music playing softly. An occasional chorale group performs holiday favorites too. It captures a feeling of reverence even in the middle of a shopping mall.

But Sunday it was bittersweet because, everywhere there were families enjoying the day and the snowfall and doing what families do this time of year in every country that celebrates Christmas.  Meanwhile, families in Connecticut mourn unthinkable losses. I couldn’t get the feeling of sadness out of me, and I wept. They should be out on this last full weekend before Christmas; shopping, seeing holiday lights, practicing for winter pageants, caroling, making cookies, being together and wishing for a white Christmas.

In the Chinese culture the idea of “luck” permeates everything. It pops in to all kinds of conversations. Day-to-day activities can be guided by how lucky of a day it is for an individual or for the general cosmic make up of the day. I purchased a date book for 2013 that actually gives a daily forecast, or maybe a general prescription for the day in terms of luck. I imagine the the 2012 version for Friday, December 14 was not a lucky day especially for that elementary school in Newtown, CN.  It occurs to me, that there was not one thing that those families or school administrators could have done to change what happened.  It was going to be what it was, and whatever caused this young adult man to commit this act happened long ago. Maybe it was a bad experience. Maybe no luck with diagnosing mental illness.  Maybe help was out of the hands of the parents once the child turns 18 and families have no ability to detour or manage an adult child. There was no luck that day.

I think we can change the future luck and have fewer of these kind of senseless acts. I hope that the people of America find the courage to say that enough is enough.  We all need to work to stop these tragedies.  Change the luck early on. We need to try to do a better job of assisting families that have challenging individuals deal with mental illness and other difficult living situations. We need to be kind everyday and stop bullying the young and the old. And, we need to figure out how we are going to live safely with guns, because America’s attachment to guns is not going to go away.

As we visit more holiday scenes around Hong Kong, I am thinking of the suffering families and the town in Connecticut. Although this holiday is changed forever for them, I wish and hope that they can find some comfort and peace in the beauty of this season.


A Little Bit of Rain

the view from the #40 bus to Wan Chai. A very rainy day.

It has been raining quite a bit here in Hong Kong. The last two days have been beautiful, but before that we had rain almost daily. Everyone uses umbrellas here. Not that many hoods on coats. Young, old, businessmen and women, domestic helpers all use the umbrellas. Being extremely tall compared to the general population, the umbrellas hit me right about the height of my neck, so walking along on the narrow sidewalks is difficult and sometimes dangerous.

30 More Days And So Much More!

Mr. Ho’s Umbrella Repair

We have just about been in Hong Kong for eight weeks.  I can’t really believe it!  Everyday is a new adventure and something different to experience.

Some of of the best things in the last month:

  • I got my hair cut by a guy that looks identical to Edward Scissorhands.  He cuts hair really fast too!
  • The kids at Choi Hung school.
  • Mr Ho, the umbrella repair man.  Yes, he really repairs umbrellas and he can do it while you wait.  I wish my umbrella would break so I would have reason to stop by.
  • I know where Chai Wan, Sheung Wan, Choi Hung and Central are on a mental map, and I can actually get to them!
  • A brand new wok and all the new cooking adventures ahead.
  • I can really wear a sweater in Hong Kong.  I have actually been cold!
  • Sitting in a small restaurant for coffee and striking up a conversation with the people at the next table and finding out that they are from Portland, Or!  Who knows how many times our paths crossed in PDX, but they did for sure here in Hong Kong.   It is a small world.
  • The fabric and trimming shops at Sham Shui Po.
  • TV antennas on old buildings.
  • The wet markets in every neighborhood.  Buying produce and being given a little extra something to make a happy customer.
  • Never running out of things to do or places to explore.

Friday Night In Shenzhen

Steve made a fourth trip to Shenzhen this week with me.  The office invited us for a welcome dinner at a traditional Chinese Hot Pot restaurant.  Hot Pot is communal eating.  A boiling pot divided in two sections with one being mild and the other being spicy (quite spicy).

The start of the meal.

Generally the meal begins with meats; pork, beef, chicken, lamb, frog, cow stomach I and cow stomach II, cow esophagus, chicken feet and duck intestine.  This is then followed by many kind of vegetables; greens, melon, potato, fresh water chestnuts, cauliflower and mushrooms.

Everyone dives in to cook in the hot pot or take their favorite item. See the corn. We ate it with chopsticks!

I think the most fun was when the staff tried to explain the English name of all the animal parts that we were presented.  iPhones were consulted as they pointed on themselves where the organ would be.  It was a little like charades.  Steve was our diplomat trying all, but I abstained from all innards.  The veggies were terrific and the spice was peppery and addictive.

Preparing to cook the vegetables.

After asking about all the different items, we were told “in China, we just try everything even if we don’t know what it is and if you like it then it is good.”  A good time was had by all.