Sunday, August 21, 2011

Random Act of Kindness…


The one thing that I have constantly complained about here in Hong Kong is the lack of casual human contact. 

Language is the barrier in most cases. In my last post I said how I missed just chatting people up in a line.  I really miss  communicating easily with the person @ the 800# or the idle chat as I check out at the supermarket. 

I have even noticed that most ExPats have had eye contact “knocked” out of them.  As I walk through the MTR or on the streets…it is hard to get anyone to engage with a glimpse or a grin. 

Kirk was here until Aug 19.  We did some touring.  He was really here to EAT and EAT he did! BUT, there were gifts to be purchased, Off we went to the Jade Market to be followed by the Ladies Market

bracelat 1 necklace 2

The Jade market is two FULL tents of vendors selling much of the same thing.  Small bracelets are a BARGAIN!  They consist of small pieces of Jade (yes, real jade) threaded to make a bracelet. I have picked up these little gems for as little as 15 HKD ($2,39)USD)  The other picture is of a more expensive piece I picked up on “Canton Road (Jade Market Road).  The larger Jade piece was about $30 USD (it is lilac Jade, so I grabbed it.  Green Jade was $20) The thread necklace I got for $20 HKD and the lady threaded t to my big piece.

The Ladies Market is 4 blocks of sun glasses, purses, clothes, and general stuff.  Both places are PERFECT for shopping.

Off we went.

Well, I have been to the Jade Market multiple times and I have not had a problem navigating.  However,  on this day I did not recheck my directions and set off thinking I was “good to go”  WRONG.  We got off at the wrong station, and navigating went down hill from there.

We did have our map.  The maps in HK are BRILLIANT!  They are clear and the new maps even have the subway (MTR) exits marked on them so you know where to exit when the station offers you 10 or 20 choices.  

However, this time, we exited the train one stop earlier and had a little more navigating than normal. 

We got outside and put our backs to the wall of the MTR station to make sure we stood out of the way of passersby. 

Hong Kong (in this case, Jordan) is a busy busy place and it is very frustrating to those involved to watch people stand IN THE WAY while they figured out where to go. 

As we stood there, map in hand,…the entire thing unfolded, an older local woman approached

She asked “Do you need help?”  “OF COUSE WE DO!  WE ARE LOST “ my brain yelled.  !   However…my first reaction? “NO! We are fine"”  My defenses were up and armed

She asked again where we were going. I told her the “Jade Market”  She smiled

SHE TOOK ME BY THE ARM…and took us around the corner to show us the road to take.  We were so close but she made sure she pointed out the 7-11, the road, and where to turn.


In six months I have not ever had someone stop to help me like she did.  She was not bothered that I might not speak English.  She risked helping us and while I wanted to turn her away (pride?) …she persevered.

I have started to make eye contact with people. I have even gotten some people to smile back at me.

Today I tried to ask a couple if they needed help, but they moved away (the maps are a dead giveaway). I will not let this stop me.  I promise I will not go around and push myself into people’s worlds. 

However…I WILL smile at strangers.  If someone looks REALLY confused as to where they are,  I will ask. No more hustling by.  I have nothing but time and I know just enough to be dangerous

It’s the least I can do…and maybe we can make this big city just a little bit smaller

Thursday, August 18, 2011


There were many emotions coursing through my brain and body as I prepared to return to The States.

EXCITEMENT I had not seen Kirk since Jan 15.

All lined up and ready to go We video Skype three or four times a week, but it is just NOT the same as being in the same room with him. I had not seen my kitties OR my house in the same amount of time. Getting a Skype date with my cats is nearly IMPOSSIBLE with their busy lives, so I have had to hear about them through the kids and through Derrick (our house sitter). The house I get to see via Skype b/c Kirk is there most weeks doing laundry…well, I get to see the two Seattle prints behind the chair he normally sits in, but at least I know the prints (and the house) are still there.

Kari I had not seen since late May. Her trip to Hong Kong was SO needed.

kari represents

I had not seen her since she went back to WSU. I knew they would be waiting for me at baggage claim (yes I checked)…they even PARKED the car to come in and get me …WOW

I was so looking forward to seeing the majestic PNW again. Seeing Mt Rainier loom above the city topped by puffy clouds and snow covered do a soul good after days and days of clouds and mist.

Going back to Weight Watcher meetings with a format I love, leaders and receptionists I admire.

ANXIOUSNESS- Corey was leaving a week after I was, so he was responsible for getting the house ready for six weeks of emptiness. I also had to have it ready because Kirk would be back in Hong Kong 4 days before I would so his room had to be set and comfy. Packing for 6 weeks is nerve wracking! Corey’s travel motto is “Half as much crap, twice as much money” It’s a good motto…but I was having trouble with it at the time.

SADDNESS – I was sad about leaving Corey. He had been traveling for almost a straight month before I left. Now we would be separated again. Only for a week, but we had not seen each other for SO long, and now we were apart again. I was hesitant about leaving Hong Kong. My routine was just getting set and now it was getting changed, yet again. Granted, many of my friends had already headed out, or were heading out to their summer vacations. The city was getting empty, but that did not mean I was ready to go.

ANTICIPATION – Seeing family and friends and what would reactions be since I had not seen anyone in six months. What would it be like?? Doing and seeing and eating things I had missed…boy did I anticipate me some Mexican food!

You can’t take away anyone’s emotions, and they all ran through me. So how did my six weeks in the US go?

WHAT I HAVE MISSED ABOUT THE USA (in no particular order)

I think it goes without saying (see above) that I have missed seeing the kids and the house. More on this later, but for now, let’s concentrate on the more “physical” things first :

MACY’S – there is nothing like a good 15% off the 30% off the 50% off sale. Shopping in Hong Kong is problematic for sizes and it is EXPENSIVE. I was there July 3 bright and early working to find as many bargains as possible. 3 pairs of capris, shorts and 2 shirts for $77.00? I WAS IN HEAVEN.

LA PALMERA – We eat at two restaurants in my house. La Palmera (Mexican) and Sparta’s (Italian). Hong Kong is FULL of great eats but I missed these old standards. We RAN to La Palmera Sunday night. It was everything I remembered.

DRIVING – I missed my car. I missed the ORDER of the streets. I missed knowing where everything. I get lost A LOT in HK.

ALBERTSON’S – grocery shopping in Hong Kong can be exhausting and frustrating and again, expensive. Sometimes I really think it is cheaper to eat out. I know living WAY back when was REALLY hard…but honestly, having to go to three different super markets to pull together one recipe is a bit like hunting and gathering! Did I EVER tell you about the great Tortilla shortage of May, 2011? Alarming and disconcerting! I walked into our Albertson’s and just stood for a moment. It was familiar and comforting to be back there!

CASUAL CONVERSTION WITH OLD FRIENDS – It was soooo nice catching up with old friends on Maui and in Seattle. Seeing and speaking to everyone again is like slipping on a comfy, broken in, pair of slippers. We KNOW each other. Conversation just flows. You know you have especially strong friendships when it is like you never left them.

CASUAL CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS – Think about it. How many times do you smile and chat with strangers while out and about. In Hong Kong that rarely if ever happens. The city is easy to navigate, but I have learned not to assume that the person near me speaks English. HK is the new melting pot. That blonde lady? Yea, she’s German or Swiss or WHATEVER...I don’t strike up conversations anymore. I MISS THIS!

Ok…so here are six pretty big things I have missed. My six weeks in the States were great. But, quite honestly, I was ready to head back. I would not trade that time, and I am not saying that while we are assigned here, I will never spend that much time in the US again. But in a short period of time, Hong Kong has become my HOME. My house in Lynnwood, without the kids and without Corey, is just a shell. I was ready to be back.




I have made the joke that we took “empty nest” to a whole new level…our nest was empty so WE flew the coop. It has been so nice living in our amazing flat and being with Corey again. Of course he is working and traveling like a crazy person, but we are very lucky to have this reconnect time.

WALKING – The US was AWFUL for me when it came to my weight. DISASTEROUS. I was celebrating my 50th birthday with friends and family for the first 3 weeks and I COMPLETELY took my eye off the ball. Being back in Seattle did not help. I got VERY used to hopping in my car to do a simple errand so my steps per day PLUMMETED.

FOODS – Yes, while the hunting and gathering thing can be just AWFUL and frustrating sometimes, the not having a car and only being able to bring home what you can carry has been a blessing for me. I worked REALLY hard in the last few months before heading back and I dropped just about five pounds. Taking my eye off of the ball for 6 weeks destroyed almost all of that work! I just don’t keep junky foods around and we eat almost all whole foods, because processed foods are limited and expensive!

MY MONDAY WEIGHT WATCHER MEETINGS – it has been YEARS since I made myself a priority to go to a meeting on a regular basis. I have NEVER wanted to be a Monday weigher. Monday weighers are CRAZY right? Nope…smartest people on the planet! Monday meetings have made me realize that ALL days are important in my weight loss and weight maintenance. .

MY MONDAY WW FRIENDS – Barb and Sandy reached out to me at my first WW meeting here in HK! We have been separated since late June. I can’t wait to get back into our meeting and lunch after (yummy salad bar) routine. Barb isn’t back until September, but I know Sandy and Andi will be waiting on Monday.


On Sunday we were able to go tour the USS Ronald Reagan and walk the decks and meet a small handful of the men and women serving. They had not been on land since May and were SO happy to be in Hong Kong. This opportunity was made possible by the INCREDIBLE organization I belong to and the women who run it.

More deck time

Kirk and the F18 engines

THE AMERICAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AWA) – has been so helpful to me and many others getting acclimated. I missed the friends I have made and am looking forward to volunteering to help support the AWA which has supported me.

Anyone still reading? Well, maybe not, but writing it all out has made me realize what we have in the States is a blessing and what I have in Hong Kong is too.

I am so very very fortunate to have this opportunity and a husband that makes it possible. The fall is going to be a busy busy time for me! I look forward to sharing.