Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Fought My Lunch

And my lunch won...

I am just a wreck today. I have not slept well in two nights. The Body Bug agrees with me, registering less than 3 hours per night of sleep. (It’s a pretty cool device if you are thinking of getting one)

I spent the morning making my Blog (ok, that took FOREVER to get the site in English…Kirk even sent me the Chinese characters that said “language” to help me. Watched the State of the Union. For some reason it was WAY more interesting here than it ever was at home.
Nice to hear the President call for everyone to “play nice” starting tomorrow. That while it was good to sit next to each other today, working together tomorrow was the most important thing. Quoting Jeff Foxworthy “The President WAS on every (news) channel here”. Even Aljazeera (English version) carried it.

I took the MTR today to “360” the HUGE (well, let’s be relative here) grocery store over at Elements, the HUGE (no, really, it IS huge) mall one stop over. After grabbing a couple things for dinner, I came back for lunch. I decided to go to MisoCool (pronounced ME SO COOL – get it?).

After what I felt was an interminable time, the server took my order. This has happened to me there before. It is not rudeness, it is being relaxed. SO, I broke out my Kindle and I relaxed.
I decided to have a pork ramen (with noodles and an egg). AND because I am REALLY trying, I did NOT ask for a fork for the noodles. Well, THAT was a huge mistake. I have some (little to none) competency with chop sticks. The ones at this restaurant were tougher than normal. Kirk has been using them flawlessly since he was 8, maybe younger. Not me. Never did well with them, never persevered. Go back to day one...the Old Dog and New tricks comments. I am seriously challenged.

I did NOT end up wearing my lunch (success). I did drink the broth and manage to get some of the noodles and pork in my mouth. I DID end up being the comedic relief to the man sitting across from me (at least I think I was). It IS an easy way to regulate how much food goes in your mouth. What lands back in the bowl stays there. Quite honestly, I WOULD have eaten more, but I was exhausted from the efforts! Truly!

Note to self...never eat THERE again…their chopsticks STINK!

Corey's birthday!


Today is Corey’s birthday.

I spent a pretty quiet day today. Worked out. I have come to the conclusion that the treadmill is lying to me when it comes to how fast I am going .

I don’t know kilometers per hour or grams or liters or any of that funky stuff.

I was all happy and bragging that NOT knowing the numbers led me to do 6 miles in 60 minutes …but did I really? I am not so sure anymore.

I can tell you that I am staying ON the thing for an hour. I am jogging for an extended period of time, and my Body Bug only says I am working out “vigorously” when I am on the treadmill. (Remember the evil cross trainer? Yea, that was only moderate . Good feedback. Stupid Body Bug.

I made dinner reservations for Corey and I at the Peninsula Hotel. It is one of the oldest hotels here. It has a great view of HK (actually, it looks a lot like OUR view of HK). I made us the early reservation b/c they have an early birdy dinner special . Half price before 7. Yes, Corey and I are officially old, eating the early bird specials. Dinner was 460 HKD (about $58) and included a glass of wine each and desserts. In a surprising turn of events, I chose the Halibut over the Beef Cheek. In true Marcel and Top Chef fashion, my dinner had “foam”. (much ado about nothing IMHO), Both of our dinners were amazing.

We stopped for a glass of wine on the way home at a bar Corey was taken to by friends. This bar is normally patronized by Cathay Pacific pilots, but tonight it was pretty quiet. The most amusing part of the evening was watching the waitress and bartender try to split out a check over FIVE credit cards and cash. NO! It was NOT a table of women either…all guys, we are assuming, on expense accounts.

I had bought Corey and I two desserts at the bakery downstairs. This place just LOVES it’s sweets. Corey broke those out an hour after we got home. I had a couple bites (hmm, where IS my tracker?) before falling into a sugar coma and calling it a night.

My first WW meeting


Today is the day I go to my first HK meeting as a member. While I had tried and tried to attend WW meetings as a member in Seattle, I never “gave” myself the time to do it. Like working out, there is absolutely NO reason it cannot happen here.

I woke very early this morning b/c the football games were on. As one friend mentioned, it is odd to watch football with a latte and not a beer. (Actually, I did neither b/c that would have meant going out and missing some of the game). The slingbox worked beautifully. It was pretty funny though b/c some of the plays would go into “hyper drive” to catch up with the feed…so Mendenhall really DID look super fast to me!

After a stressful 3 and ¾’s of the Steeler s’ game, I had to leave. Kirk and I had been emailing each other the whole game (not the most fun way to watch a game with someone, but at .35cents a text…it’s cheapest and I got SOME feedback on my thinking)… it was almost like we were together…almost.

Corey called to make sure I had a map…nah…I didn’t need it. I knew JUST where the bus stop was

The website said meetings last an hour, and this one started at Noon. Hmmm an hour ? I didn’t envy THAT leader. That could lead to a whole lotta tap dancing if the topic was dry. I was leaving in plenty of time just in case “lost lost lost lost lost” kicked in.

Off I went. Under the harbuor to Central Station via the MTR (train). I knew what exit I needed to take to get my bus (K). As I was walking out, some poor sap asked ME for directions. I had no idea where the building was that he wanted, and in typical “Kate” fashion, I suggest he throw money at the problem. “Walk outside and get a cab” He was not impressed.

Once I made it outside I realized my bus stop was nowhere to be found. Neither was there a handy hotel where I could grab a map. Sigh. One thing I did know. The bus was going to take me to the Lower Peak Station (that will be a whole day field trip and very soon). I followed the signs to that.

Hong Kong is hilly. Very hilly. Seattle and San Francisco hilly. I climbed and climbed, following the signs to the station. I knew the YWCA was at “the top” somewhere. I passed some amazing churches and courts that I will go back and see.

Somehow, by God’s good graces, I saw the street sign for the road the Y is on. (HK is amazingly well signed in two languages no less). I spotted a woman who I just KNEW would speak English (she was blonde…but I have since learned this is a BAD assumption). I asked her where the Y was, and she pointed over my shoulder. Yep. If it had been a snake. I thanked her, calling myself an idiot. She was gracious to say she “used to do that” all the time (here’s hoping).

The meeting is on the 3rd floor of the Y. As I am morally obligated to take all stairs when presented, off I climbed, only remembering after the first set that I would be climbing 4 floors due to the ground floor being , well, G.

Here I met Tanda, leader and Area Manager. She is 5 years removed from St Louis and Lisa very recently removed from Dallas.

Yes, I was the first one to arrive. As usual, WEIGH IN is at noon, meeting at noon-thirty. Lisa and I chatted (gossiped) a bit while Tanda went back to her car for the rest of the supplies. The Y does give them storage, but Tanda is the Sherpa of HK.

I filled out my paperwork, finding out that my range (thus goal weight for now) dropped a pound. DARN IT . When I weighed (in jeans no less), I was DOWN .4 from my Staff weight in Seattle. SAWEET. I am attributing that to the “last chance workout” I had finding the joint. I also found out that Lifetime members get a 2 kilo (4.4 pound cushion). SAWEETTER. However, one LT member was heading home and she admitted she got too comfy being “over” Sound familiar? (yes)

The meeting was very nice. Small. I have written collegues that I know truly appreciate the Location Coordinators even more and I appreciate the pricing in the States. The Complete Food Companion was $25.60 US. (no, I did not buy one) The weekly fees are over $16 US!

After the meeting I stumbled down to the Lower Peak Station and grabbed the elusive 15C to Central Harbor where I took the Ferry home. ( I only needed one reassuring phone call to Corey to get on the right ferry. He will be VERY glad when I have a better clue). Jumped off the ferry and walked ALL the way home without taking a wrong turn.

Things are starting to look more familiar. However, the suit makers and “copy handbags copy watch” people still torture me…I’m not familiar to them as a local…yet.

Our First Weekend

I haven’t written the last few days. Not much to say..had not seen much. I signed up for the American Women’s Association (AWA) today. They have a trip to China on Weds..but I can’t go until I get a visa. We are going to work on that once I get my ID card
I have worked out 6/7 days M/T/W/TH/F/S . I took yesterday off. Which is ok.

On Saturday we got up and went Archie B;s NY Deli. Took train to Central. Took exit C…up the escalators to Staunton Street. They weren’t open right away so we had coffee and then went to lunch. It was excellent! Corey had the max pastrami and I had the turkey. Loved it. Really! We will go again. We walked through the streets and found where we will get our produce and some fresh meats. There were hundreds of stalls. We will go back. I am hoping to make lunch in HK and shopping there an every Saturday thing. Even when Corey is gone I will do this.
We used the “delivery” book to find the has all of the we can see what looks good to us.

Home to wait for our things to arrive. They did at 3. The guys had them unpacked in short order. I spent the rest of the day unpacking and putting things away. Corey worked on the computer getting the accounts up to date. I only screwed up two things. Brought the wrong jewelry box and didn’t bring any coffee mugs..What the heck???

Had leftovers for dinner..yummy. The shrimp, chicken (made salad) ½ enchilada good to clean it out.

Today Corey worked. I stayed behind. I checked out the Catholic church. It is 2 blocks from here. Mass at 8:45 and 12:30 in English. They also do MTW 8 am in English. I think I will try to do this. It will give me a connection to the area. I need to hear English everyday (not on TV) and it’s time I reconnect.

I worked out for an hour. Then showered. Corey got home and we went on the search for a haircut (successful – expensive but necessary) and cables for the laptop. I will watch the game tomorrow on this computer…oh well…
The hair salon was interesting. EVERYONE in there was dark haired..except me. It was WEIRD! Lots of walk in business…3 people just as I sat there. One lady was with her person..he suggested she sit down…she did not. I would have liked a chat.

We then walked to get Corey something to eat, but the stand was too croweded. On the walk..holy heck…on the weekends (I guess more often) they bring in tour groups from China LV, Channel, Tiffany, etc all had crowd control lines to get into their stores. AMAZING There is NO recession here . I could not believe the lines! Just like the lines at the Coach store at the outlets!
To the store for dinner supplies and a pizza snack for Corey. I had one too :(
We are watching CHASE on slingbox…love it!

I am going to weigh in tomorrow. Going to bring weigh in clothes…haven’t weighed in jeans in years..maybe it’s time to start.

Want to work out before hand..but the game… what’s a girl to do!

A Quiet Day

Today was a pretty quiet day. I can’t let them happen. I was waiting for the maintenance crew to check our “fire dappening” system. Then I just kind of let the apartment swallow me up.

I had a terrible technological day. I screwed up the television the first 6 minutes Corey left…THAT was interesting. I called the customer service for the cable company and I KNOW they worked really hard to understand my issue (I just changed the input somehow…no big deal). After chatting with CS they decided to send over a tecnition Well, Corey figured out the issue so I called them back to cancel our appointment. PLEASE do not take this wrong..but when I called back I got a “call center” person (India anyone?) and I was thankful for the 1 minute conversation and the EASE of the one minute conversation.
I then screwed up my computer…got it back..mostly…after that I decided to just clean the apartment…I was much less dangerous this way.

I finally decided I had to get out of house. Like I said, I do not want to start this dangerous precedent . I went shopping for some cleaning supplies at the WingOn (kind of like Target).
I am finding it hard to make decisions. It’s weird. I need a vacuum. Just a stick one that can do hard wood floors and little bath carpets. And I would like attachments. I stood there at the WingOn wavering between two types. I decided NOT to decide. I figured a little more research. Who knew such a little thing could take so long..but I think it comes back to communication. I know what I want, but I struggle to communicate it, so I move much more slowly. I guess that’s the smart thing to.

Home to watch a little slingbox (parenthood recorded, Big Love on demand) then Corey came in. We decided to go over to Elements..the BIG shopping center with the BIG store. Had an ok Mexican dinner (no chips thank heaven).
I have to shake off how I have eaten all of these years. At least, I have to be open to trying new things.
I need to make a list of things like this…the challenges of shopping, eating, etc. Then I can write about each one. I need to get to a WW meeting so I can learn what I am doing. At the deli a pound of pepper turkey is 20 US dollars. Yea…not an option for lunches.

The ride to and from Elements was cool. This line has the new trains and there are no doors between the cars. It is one continuous ¼ mile long. On the way over we were in the front of the train so I could look back and for periods of time as the train turned or dipped, the cars and people would turn and dip. On the way home we were in the way back and I got to watch the front of the train disappear around bends and go down hills. I loved watching this. I might go ride the train and try to video it. The whole thing was optically neat and amused the heck out of me.
Went with Corey this morning to see where I would catch the bus this afternoon to meet him at his office. Corey found out relatively early that the 215x bus is WAY WAY WAY faster than taking the MTR (subway) to work. It is also two blocks away.
It is not even 9 am and I have learned something today and granted it IS early in my existence here. TRAVEL TIP At least here in HK, never ever leave your room, hotel, apartment with less than 100 HKD in your pocket. Now, I was here for 10 days in 2010 and was just getting used to the money situation, but I left, thus forgetting everything to do with pricing.
I decided today to get my coffee (coffee maker is coming this weekend) before my workout. I pulled out my change (lots of HK $ is in coin) and counted. 14 HKD $1.79USDD). Nice. Off I went. It was not until I walked into Starbucks that I realized…14HKD gets you a bottle of water...maybe and certainly is not enough to get a coffee. I humbly asked the price of a grande brewed coffee (27 HKD $3.72 US)shook my head, mumbled to the barista that I had forgotten my money (like she cared) and promised I would return. The return trip to the apartment did help solidify the route I would need to take this afternoon. The return trip also reinforced how BADLY I got it yesterday…so my two trips already today maybe equaled my errant walk yesterday for coffee.
After a grueling 60 minutes on the meanest cross trainer ever (started at level 3...ended at level 1). I showered, grabbed lunch and off I went to meet Corey. BUSY and important day today!
Well, Corey literally had to talk me through the whole bus ride (you know, that 12 minute bus ride). I seemed to be on the only bus that did not have English announcing the stops.or did I but the whooshing in my ears from nerves muffled it? To be kind, Corey met me at my stop, waving and mouthing “get off here” What a good egg.
Off to the immigration office for my Hong Kong ID card. Because of a great web site and Corey paving the way, it was an easy experience…even with the potential bureaucracy involved. In and out in 30 minutes. Each of the 3 employees I encountered spoke English and tried very hard to make sure I understood what was going to happen next. I am very appreciative of this.
Next, phone. FYI. Buying a phone in Hong Kong is just a big a pain in the ass as it is in the US! Papers, opening and closing of phone, sim card in, sim card out…do we want “this” added to our plan. But again, the young man worked very hard to make sure we knew what was what (and for God’s sake, it is a phone, and I am over hmmm 45…so I’m challenged in general).
Next, Bank. Yep, once again, take a number. Our number 66. The window we were called to? 6. Oh God 6 6 6 Even the ladies in the bank got a kick out of my mumbling this all the way to the chair. But no problem, everything got set up.
Think I’m done? Heck no! Corey and I cooked our first meal in the house tonight. A YUMMY Martha Stewart shallot/apple/pork recipe. We had to eat it while the young man was here to connect our internet and cable.
We are now part of the 20th century again. I can watch my TV from home on my computer here. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY. I was not kidding that when you come here you lose a day and an entire TV season. Now I don’t have to!
My netbook loves to exist anywhere but in Seattle. Blazing speed, no pop up ads.
A full day. A productive day. Wednesday is cleaning day here in the apartment and I will do some acquiring of necessities.

Our Apartment

Our apartment is beautiful. I am dreading the cost of outfitting it with the necessities. Corey has started this process. Do you remember having to outfit your kid’s apartments (or your own) with kitchen condiments, etc.
You enter the apartment through an impressively large wooden door. By habit, our shoes are taken of there. You can take the people out of Seattle, but you can’t take Seattle out of the people…and I guess this DOES go foot in foot as to where we are. We are going to have to buy a container of some kind to hold them.
The first thing you see is the view of HK. I will come back to that.
To your left is our dining room table and some kind of picture. The table is a dark wood, oak maybe (the apartment came furnished). The table seats six, snugly. Corey has two places already set with the dishes and placemats we purchased when I was here in November. The placemats are red to compliment the dark wood. The plates are white with red and black. Lovely. I am very pleased with this choice two months later!
Again to the left is the door to the kitchen. It does not stay open for some reason. Sigh. Kitchens are small. Food is expensive. (Corey and I are having an intellectual discussion: eat in v eat out) They have little to no storage (What am I making for dinner? Reservations!). Ovens are a novelty. This was a deal breaker for me. I’m not a creative cook anyway..but no oven?
Off the kitchen is the bedroom for “the help” Everyone has help. Well, anyone who has kids has help. And actually, most of everyone else does too. It is very inexpensive. The room for “the help” is very very small. I mean, crazy small. Maybe 6 x 6 with an “all in one” bathroom attached. Not sure where “the help’s” clothes are supposed to be stored. It is not something I need to worry about b/c when I asked Corey when our help arrives he answered “it just did” Alrighty then.
Back to the living room where there is a nice flatscreen (you know, this is the second place we have chosen where the TV has been integral in the decision making)
The couches are two pieces in a beige tweed looking fabric. Corey and I have already staked out our places.
So, the view. Well, where are the words? Someone needs to find me a Roget’s Thesaurrus quickly, because I am not equipped. I won’t say that the lights are as impressive as Las Vegas, but it is pretty impressive. HK is home to tall buildings that boast advertising. The colors are amazing and every night between 8 and 9 there is a light show. A full on, lasers included, light show. The city celebrates its’ events by stringing lights on the buildingsl At Christmas it was Christmas stuff and now for Chinese New Year, the two buildings across the harbor have animated rabbits (care to guess what year this is?) The harbor is bustling at all hours. I have seen two boats go by even as I type this, and that is at 5 am! The city skyline is dark now (must save energy and let everyone get some sleep) Out my window I can see the HK convention center (holy heck batman is that thing huge), and now that it is dark, I think I can see the escalator that takes you up into Hong Kong (to an area called the mid levels) In the morning the escalator goes down, at night, up. I will try not to use the escalators ever…but this city is a sea of people and sometimes being a salmon is not for your own good.

First Day solo in Kowloon

Jan 17-18
It is 5:15 18/1/2011 (see how I have adapted to writing the date already? Who said you can’t teach an old dog…but wait..plenty to be learned…I better not be too old).
My body fell right into its’ old habit. Awake at 3:15 am. In all honesty, I had slept from about 8 to 11:45 and then 11:45 to 3:15 so for me … SUCCESS! I read a little, played a little bejeweled twist, tried to go back to sleep but my mind was racing about things to jot down. So, I got up.
There are no snuggies here right now, so I am representing past and present schools with my WSU ¼ zip, Kamiak sleep pants and heavy socks. I am still cool. There is no heat here. From what I understand we get plenty of that in the summer, so for 2 months a year there are space heaters, parkas and large cozy scarves. Corey will never let a space heater come into this house…so I will anxiously await the snuggies the movers are bringing.
Corey was off to work. Day 1 of being left to my own devices. After reading the paper (which lands at the door…no shoes needed to retrieve), a little bejeweled (sense I’m addicted?) Off to the gym which is attached to our building. Our building is part of a Hyatt Regency, so we can use their stuff. The gym is not great..but it has 5 treadmills, 2 bikes, a crosstrainer, a ball, two weight benches (need to buy more weights) and a few machines. It will do the trick. Did the treadmill, had forgotten how much I dislike it…I think I will crosstrain and do weights since the city just lends itself to walking.
The business center will be my connection to the world until our internet is connected in the house. THAT process has taken weeks. I am excited though…with having a slingbox in the house in Seattle, I will be able to watch the football games next Monday ( football will be our Sunday, Pro will be on Monday) I guess I better not ever get a job that requires working on a Monday).
After working out, playing on the computer, chatting with Kari on FB, I was up to shower. The first thing I learned today is that plugs have switches and if you don’t push the switch, the plug does not work which means the hairdryer does not work. The second thing I learned today is that HK hates having plugs in bathrooms. I have been relegated to drying my hair in the hallway and then peaking around the corner in the guest bathroom to check my progress. This I had noticed I the hotels I stayed in here, but really? I was ready to explore. This will be my first priority. Figure out where the heck I am. Phil would be proud. I was amazingly inefficient with my steps. My travels to Starbucks which should have taken 5 minutes took 20. There I had probably the tastiest triple grande skinny latte I have ever had. No joke. I have stopped myself from saying ‘nonfat.” I am here now and they are “skinny” lattes. I noticed this in England last summer but quite honestly, the “skinny” label offends me a little, so there I refused to say it. Here, I’m all inl (I noticed that in Seattle the vanilla lattes are labeled “skinny” – time to get on board.)
Some reading, more walking and I was hungry. I knew I wanted Subway b/c for some reason I liked the idea of their value meal for Monday. Instead of sticking with this first instinct I went into a little French café kind of place and ordered a turkey on baguette. Well, it as a 4 inch baguette (maybe), 2 slices of turkey, 2 tomatoes and a lettuce leaf. All for the bargain price of 32 HK (about $4.35) Cheap right? (not after I walked up to Subway afterwards to see the turkey was 19 HK -$2.43 on Mondays. I consoled myself with a 7 PointsPlus Twix bar.)
Well, the pepsi light (not diet pepsi, get with the program people) was my next lesson of the day.
Once again, old dogs, new tricks, old packaging. As I sat waiting for my sandwich-light to arrive (in fairness, I did not know yet that it was sandwich light) I went to open my soda. How hard could this be? I have been opening soda cans for 30 years…almost all of them the same way. I push down on the ring…nothing It just sits there, straight up, mocking me. I look around, ready to ask for help. Looking for a knife I can stab through to get the darn thing open. But wait! I look a little closer. Good Lord. The thing is a pull tab ala 1975! I was spared making an ass out of myself by taking an extra minute to assess the situation. I think that is going to be a good motto for me on this adventure.
Well, this part of the missive is way longer than I meant. I promise the next blurbs will be highlights.
Today I go to apply for my HK ID card. Corey actually gets his. Then we are off to buy my phone and tonight, cable and internet arrive. A very big day for us!

My first days in Hong Kong!

Sunday 16/1/2011 (combo with 15/1/2011 since you lose a day and a TV season when you come here)
Got to Hong Kong no problem. Flights were perfect. Pulled a small delay out of Seoul. Slept on the way to HK (this will be its’ new designation…exhausting to type it) Breezed through immigration. I have a visa so I get to go to the “residents” line. The line police was NOT going to let that happen…tall white girls need not go to this area. One glance at the visa and I was allowed to proceed. Of course I pick the young lady that was not equipped to handle this newbie. I was moved to the next window, where, after some typing, looking, stamping, I was passed along. Something to look forward to though…after I get my HK identification card (needed for everything), I won’t have to fill out that silly landing card anymore. SAWEEETTTT. Through Customs…nothing to declare. Tell me, does anyone REALLY EVER declare anything? “Please, let me declare all these thing I purchased so I can pay more” Yea, didn’t think so.
Corey was waiting, big hug, kiss and off we go to the train that connects the airport to the city.
We arrived at the apartment no problem. TRAVEL TIP: If you are going to a foreign country and will be needing a cab, before you leave the airport, have someone write in the native language, the name and the address to where you are going. Corey shared this with me and I watched him hand our driver the “business card” of our apartment complex. Miscommunication solved.
I won’t bore you with the unpacking details. To bed at 2. Awake at 6:30 with Corey as he starts his day. He’s a little perturbed this new presence got him off of his schedule a little bit. Chatting slowed him down. We won’t let this happen too often. He enjoys being the first on in the office. He is there at 8, the rest of the crew shows at 9. The work day is 9 to 6.