Archive for June, 2008

We celebrated T’s 1st birthday on Saturday with a party at our place. Highlights included the presence of a 3-week old baby who slept through the event; the presence of a random, scruffy British man in sunglasses (on a rainy day); the decorate- you’re-own cupcake station (congrats to S for winning the “most cupcakes eaten” award); the extremely well behaved children (for the record, there was not a single “meltdown”); the well behaved birthday girl working on little sleep and yet still, even at a late bedtime, refusing to call it a day; the homemade guacamole.

Having only been here since February and having planned the party a week in advance on a day promising (and delivering) torrential rains, I honestly was thinking it’d be a lightly attended event. It was so great to have a full house and such a cool mix of people (Charlie, we expect you on another Heathrow to Hong Kong flight in August for F’s party). The party started at 3 pm and closed down sometime after 6 pm.

A few more notable moments:

–F asking once or twice an hour from noon onward: “Dad, when can we eat the cupcakes?” She decorated three of them and didn’t eat any

–Temporarily losing T and finding her under the kitchen table, hidden by the tablecloth, eating chips. (E points out that it was I who temporarily lost track of T)

–F comes out into the living room at one point, completely nude. When asked why she took her clothes off, she said she and S were playing “Mommy and Baby.”

–The adult conversation covering North Korea, sneaking into Mynanmar, Bedouins and cozying up to camels

–The bluegrass dance party for the late-staying stragglers


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With Hong Kong’s summer humidity getting thicker by the week, we have found refuge in a refreshing, kid-friendly body of water located 7 minutes from our apartment: Victoria Pool. The public pool is situated on the North East tip of Victoria Park, closer to Tin Hau than Causeway Bay.

When you get to Victoria Pool, you go through a turnstile just as you would the subway or the ball park, paying with your Octopus card. The fee: HK$19 or just over US$2.50. Men and women are funneled to separate lockers and enter the pool area by walking under mandatory waterfalls. There is an Olympic pool to the right when you enter and a grandstand. To the left, a smaller pool that starts at two feet deep and goes down to five feet. Above that is an ankle deep kiddie pool. This place is heaven on a hot day.

It’s a wide mix of people: oldsters keeping fit, parents with kids, teenagers sunning themselves, gay men in speedos applying sun tan lotion to each other.

Our girls love to swim, an instinct they no doubt get from their mom. T spends most of the time dunking her face in the water. One second you’ll hold her in your arms and the next second she’s flinging herself face first into the pool. F is one of those kids who if you didn’t tell her to get out of the water she may stay there an entire day. She spent the last half of our swim session last Monday hopping on one foot and singing a song she made up: “I’m a girl and you’re a boy.”

F has been taught to leave the pool when she has to go “pee-pee.” Upon leaving, she will squat by the side and look up at us, knowing we’re going to yell for her to move over by the fence. She then runs to fence (F runs everywhere—to and from the kitchen, the bathroom. Once she ran all the way to Starbucks) faces the pool and squats. On her way there, she ignores our shouts to not run by the pool. Pretty soon, a trickle will seep through her Dora bathing suit. She looks up, smiles and runs back to the pool, again, ignoring shouts to walk, not run. When she gets to me, she’ll say “You didn’t see me running, Dad. Did you see me running?” I’ll scold her for running and then hoist her back into the pool or watch her climb down the ladder. F did this four times the other morning, not including one trip to the bathroom for #2. Maybe it’s because she swallows a lot of water. I noticed after a while, that none of the local children at the pool do this.

One local woman in charge of towels watched with hilarity F’s pee breaks. It occurred to me that locals may very well be mortified by this. Hey, at least she’s not going in the pool.

Hong Kong is a place where people join “clubs.” Most club members are the Western bankers and lawyers who can afford, or whose companies pay for, the exorbitant entry fees (several hundred thousand dollars in some cases).

We joke that our club is Victoria Park. Between its pool and playgrounds, we’re there literally every day somehow, mixing with locals and a smattering of ex-pats. Hey, you can’i beat the location (50 yards from our door) and the price.

(Image: Victoria Pool, children’s pool)

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chi lin nunnery

I think I’ve found one of my favorite places in Hong Kong and it’s sure to be on the list of where to take visitors – Chi Lin Nunnery. It is a Buddhist nunnery (yes there are Buddhist monks and nuns) that spans 30,000 square meters and is built in Tang-style architecture (meaning it uses a special interlocking system where all of the buildings are constructed without a single nail). Another interesting note – it’s the only building built in this style in modern Hong Kong. It also uses the traditional seven hall layout that is common in traditional Chinese architecture. The nunnery and adjoining gardens are beautiful, serene, and a welcome respite from the usual hustle and bustle of Hong Kong where they normally build high rises practically on top of historical and religious landmarks. For those who come to visit we’ll be sure to take you and for those who find yourself here after we’re gone be sure to make a trip out.

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It’s been quite rainy here lately so we’ve had a lot of indoor time. We’ve been doing lots of “project work,” as F calls it, and T enjoyed her first taste (literally) of painting. I think more went in her mouth than on the paper.

Today at nap time, as I was reading to F, Tstood up, propped herself up against the edge of her crib, let go of the sides, and before she realized what she was doing, nearly walked clear to the other side. It was her first steps and they were fantastic. She hasn’t stopped trying to walk in her crib since and has now been awake for the past hour – proud as punch of her new found ability. M, unfortunately, isn’t here this weekend. He’s at his parents retirement party, but I think he’ll like this great Father’s Day gift!

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