Archive for the ‘Hong Kong’ Category

Uncle Aaron and Auntie Amy

It was great to spend a day with our expat relatives, Uncle Aaron and Auntie Amy.  They live on Lantau island, which is accessible by train or by ferry.  Aaron is a pilot for Cathay Pacific, and Amy works in a medical office.  We liked their cute apartment, and enjoyed being served a great coffee, home-made granola, and a German beer (Aaron often flies to Frankfurt).  The kids were also relieved to go for lunch involving pizza, spaghetti, and cake.

Uncle Aaron is especially cool, obviously because he is a pilot, but also because he has an X-box!  Théo and Vivi couldn’t get enough of Rock Band, and improved their skills impressively over a few hours.

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Our time in Hong Kong has been a bit of a blur!  After about 3 days of jet lag, we finally woke up at about 5 am instead of 2 am.   Yesterday, we woke up at 7 am!  The kids are adjusting to being 16 hours ahead, although Théo is still exhausted (meaning cranky and constantly acting up, teasing Vivi, etc.).

The day after our “fart” day, Théo and went on a factory tour (related to Dan’s business) to Shenzen, China, while Vivi and I went to the Ladies Market in Monkok.  Both days were full-on culture shock for the kids.

Théo was treated as a novelty toy at the factory, and treated to lunch, which started off with chicken feet for appetizers (not the best first meal on a woozy stomach).  Théo was so grossed out that he barely ate anything for about 24 more hours, when we stopped at a “Monster Burger”.  It was also a very full day for the boys, as they had to leave at 8 am and didn’t get back until about 6pm.

Vivi and I had our own culture shock, when we naively took a shopping trip to the most populated place in the world.  Hong Kong itself is incredibly busy, with 6.8 million people crammed into a city the size of Manhatten.  But Mongkok, the area that contains the Ladies Market, is the world’s most densely populated area, at 130, 000 people per square kilometer (compared to the 1 252 people per square kilometer we are used to).  Vivianne was stared at, her cheeks pinched, and her head patted.  Many residents of this area are immigrants from mainland China, and have had little experience with cute little red-headed girls.  It was pretty overwhelming, especially on a few hours of sleep.  We bargained for hair-clips for both of us (found out later that we got a good deal), and had lunch at a noodle shop (suspect meat but the noodles and broth were fine!).

The day after was a sight-seeing day on Hong Kong Island.   We took the world’s longest escalator, which goes for 20 minutes up the side of a mountain.  We also took the Peak Tram up Victoria Mountain (although the weather has been unusual, socked in with fog, so no views), and ran down through the forest.  Over on Hong Kong Island, it is much more familiar, with more tourists, expats, English speakers, and more familiar restaurants and stores.  We found a Chinese staple that the kids love – coconut buns fresh from the bakery.  We are also quite adept now at taking the MTR commuter train, as it takes at least 45 minutes for us to get out of the suburbs where our hotel is located.

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“A Fart Day”

Théo describes our 26-hour voyage to Hong Kong, and the next day, in a single word:  FART.

Upon waking up in L.A. at 3am to catch our shuttle to the airport, Théo announced that he felt ill.  Putting it down to fatigue and motion sickness, we continued on with our voyage.  Theo threw up once in the van and once at check-in.  The flight to Vancouver was very turbulent and even 2 Ativan didn’t stop my own shaking.  Théo threw up a couple more times.

In Vancouver Théo felt better, so we got on our 13.5 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Théo slept most of the flight, except for waking with night terrors, recoiling in horror from the overhead lights, and screaming, “Je vais mourrir! (I’m going to die!)”.  This flight was also quite turbulent, so when Vivi said she was feeling sick it was no shock.   She nicknamed herself and Théo, “the Barfy Kids”.

When we arrived at Hong Kong immigration, Théo was stopped by the “health check police” who stuck a thermometer in his ear, put a mask on him, and escorted him off to the nurse.  As his fever was still low-grade, we were allowed to proceed, at the end of the line-up through immigration of course.  By the time we got through, our bags had been taken off the conveyor, but we finally hunted them down.

We took the train to our hotel, with 3 transfers.  It was wonderful to see a bed, but it was a short, jet-lagged sleep.  In the morning, Dan headed out to a meeting with his manufacturer.  Théo’s fever gradually increased to 40 degrees celsius, and Tylenol wouldn’t bring it down.  So, with the help of hotel staff, we took a taxi to the medical clinic.

The driver dropped us off at the wrong clinic (a dental office), so I dragged two tired kids through a busy market place trying to find the right place.  A young English-speaking woman, an elderly woman, and two police people pooled their ideas and finally rescued us.  And thank goodness the doctor spoke English.

However, I didn’t have quite enough cash to pay the doctor his fee.  We had to go change a traveler’s check, while the clinic held Théo’s passport ransom.  The first bank wouldn’t do it, and after waiting in a long line at the next bank, I was told that I would have to produce the “purchase order” for my traveler’s checks, even though I had my passport.  Who travels with the receipt for that transaction?

I then decided to try a cash advance on my credit card, as I couldn’t see any ATM’s.  The bankers agreed and had me wait again to process this.  They came back saying that it would be impossible to advance me money, as my name on my passport didn’t match my credit card.  The name on my credit card doesn’t include my middle name, but my passport does, so they don’t match.  Excuse me!!???

I was getting rather frustrated, not running on all cylinders (3 + 6 hours sleep over 3 days/nights), and Théo was not sure he could continue moving.  Vivi was sweet and helpful, insisting on carrying both her and Théo’s car seats.  Finally, we found an ATM and thank goodness it worked!

We walked back to the clinic, paid the doctor, collected our 5 prescription bottles of bright pink, yellow, orange, and purple medicine (including antibiotics), and rescued Théo’s passport.  Then it was a bit of a circus trying to get a taxi, but finally a nice grandfather helped me flag one.  Luckily I had brought the hotel’s stationary for the driver to read.

Théo was so relieved to get back to the hotel and into bed!  Enough homeschooling for one day.

It’s just the kind of day it was:  fart.

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