Thursday, August 26, 2010

One month

Yesterday we celebrated our one month anniversary of living in Hong Kong. I didn't realize until this morning that yesterday was the 25th of August and one month ago we flew into this huge lush city. We did go out to an amazing Thai restaurant with some of the high school teachers which was lots of fun. It is hard to believe it has only been a month, this has been a very long month, I think because we have been so busy and going through so many changes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

my little oven

I wanted to pay a little tribute to my little oven. I admit I was a little skeptical about how much this little oven could do. With my kitchen being so small I really am happy that my oven is little. It has been impressive how much it can do (which is helpful when I only have a two burner stove. I haven't had a microwave for the last 3 years in Cairo and I have come to realize how useful one is this past month. Here is what this little thing can do:
  • steam function (veggies)
  • convection (I have baked cookies and brownies)
  • microwave
  • defrost
  • grill (this feature is good for toast)
  • steam& microwave simultaneously
  • plus many other settings.
Hopefully the baking dishes in our shipment will fit inside :-) Another victory in the kitchen this week has been making our first Mexican meal. Not being able to find tortillas (that don't cost an arm and a leg) has limited the meals...but my sister told me that she makes them from scratch. They were DELICIOUS and made the fajitas amazing. Thanks Julie!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We love weekends

Last Saturday we didn't venture out much as I (Emily) was feeling a little overwhelmed with life in Hong Kong and needed some down time. We are loving Hong Kong but culture shock has been creeping in every once in a while and we are feeling nostalgic for Cairo. Life is starting to get a little easier here for me so this weekend I was feeling much more up to an adventure. I cleaned the kitchen, bathroom and did some laundry (I really miss my maid back in Cairo) and we set off for the MTR station (a 2 minute walk from our apartment).
We then rode the MTR to Kwun Tong to the APM Mall where Coco's is located. Having found Coco's last weekend Brad needed curry again (good thing we don't live super close to this mall or Brad may move into Coco's). The MTR lines here are VERY extensive and Brad has figured out how to navigate them really well. I am still getting my barrings.
The mall that we went to was HUGE (as are all placed in HK) and one of the most amazing malls we have been too. Many of these malls are like little towns. Next weekend I should start taking pictures of the public bathrooms because I am always so impressed (especially coming from Cairo where I would NEVER use the public restrooms, if I could help it.
At the mall we went to Inception and loved it. We had to book our tickets the night before because movie theaters fill up so quickly here. Good thing Brad was with me because I get a little confused in complicated movies.....
We finished off the evening with dinner downtown for an Italian meal with new friends (another couple on our floor). It was fun to hang out with another couple and explore Hong Kong together. It was also fun to not eat Asian food :-)
After eating we went and sat by the water and looked at all the beautiful tall buildings all light up.
This morning we went to church and enjoyed the service much more than the first time we went....although I think the church search still goes on. It was much easier in Cairo where the choices were much fewer. We just got our cheese order (a lady who works here has a hook up with cheaper cheese) so we made some big sandwiches for lunch today. Brad is off taking a nap and I have some books that are begging to be read. The weekends are just not long enough..........
Thanks for reading the blog!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isaiah 43

Brad shared these verses out of Isaiah with his homeroom today as a reminder of how deeply God desires to have a relationship with us and that He will go to any length to be with us. It is a good reminder as we encounter difficulties that God is with us, He doesn't always promise to take away hardship but He does promise to always be with us.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happiness Is a Big Plate of Curry

This morning, we set out for Kowloon to visit a travel agent that I (Brad) found online. We were hoping to come home with tickets for a cheap but exotic package trip to some sun-soaked beach destination in Southeast Asia. We took the MTR to Kwun Tong (a station that I had never heard of), walked a couple of blocks, and found that the travel agent had nothing to offer us. We were both a bit crestfallen, as we felt like we'd wasted half an hour traveling all the way out to the middle of some random neighborhood only to return empty-handed. However, as we were walking back to the MTR, we passed through a mall, and I happened to look down a corridor to see a sign that said "CoCo Ichibanya." For those of you that haven't been to Japan, CoCo's is a famous chain of restaurants specializing in Japanese-style curry. It was my favorite restaurant when I lived in Japan, and Emily can confirm that I have actually had dreams about CoCo's several times since moving away from Japan back in 2002. Thus, today's discovery was beyond serendipitous. It honestly felt like an act of providence.

I was elated. (see photo) Obviously, we stopped for lunch, and we discovered that the restaurant was the first of its kind in Hong Kong, and had only been open for 2 months. I had my old "usual" dish: Chicken Cutlet Curry with 500 grams of rice, level 2 spiciness, with extra cheese (at CoCo's, you get to customize your meal, specifying how much rice you want, how hot you want it to be, and what sort of meat or vegetable you want in it). Here's the ol' Chicken Cutlet curry with cheese:
Emily ordered a vegetable curry (notice I didn't say vegetarian, as all the curry sauces are pork-based, which I think is the secret to their deliciousness). I think that Em enjoyed her meal, but I would say that I was a bit more excited.
Usually, we don't take our camera with us when we go out to run errands, but our new cell phones have cameras in them (I know this isn't as exciting to most of you as it is to us, but we've been living in Egypt for the last 3 years, where technology isn't as cheap as it is here). Thus, Emily was able to capture my first bite of CoCo's in 8 years:
It was delightful. (although I discovered that I can't eat as much as I used to. 500 grams, or 1 pound of rice was never a problem for me to eat when I was 22. Now that I'm 30, it's a bit tougher to put away).

Since we've been living overseas, we've come to realize that food is one of the easiest ways to make yourself feel at home in a new place. As you likely noticed in our post on chocolate chip cookies, we go to great lengths to insert familiar items into our weekly diet. It's a great way to add a touch of the familiar into foreign surroundings. If you would like to comment on this post, here's a question for you to answer: if you moved to a new city or country, which foods would you take with you to remind yourself of home?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You know when you are home when...... have figured out how to make cookies!

We are one step closer to making HK home. It has taken almost three weeks to figure out how to bake in my new tiny kitchen using my crazy little oven and WHERE to get all the key ingredients. Two days ago I found the final component of chocolate chip cookies....the chocolate chips! My neighbor and I have been on the hunt so to speak.

I have limited counter space as you can see:

Here is a picture of our amazing little oven. I put it on top of the fridge so I had more counter space. We have a step stool so I can open it up but getting the cookies in and out was still a challenge. However, it is much better than not having ANY counter space. Refer back to picture 1, that is all the counter space that I have, well I use the top of my stove as well for counter space *when it is not on :-).

The finished product: Tada! They were delicious and we made cookie ice cream sundays with them (thank Kalina for the great idea).

Can you guess where these key ingredients for the cookies are from? (hint they are all from different countries)
Chocolate chips:
Brown sugar:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Largest outside seated Buddha.

We decided to embark on an adventure this weekend before we saw one of Emily's roommates when she worked in Cairo.

We stopped off at a local mall to have lunch. The mall is where all the restaurants seem to be, none are stand alone from what we can tell. There was an ice rink....with pretty professional little kids skating. As you can see from the picture the mall is teeming with people.

Then we set off to see the biggest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. You have to take a 15 minute cable car, which was really fun to get there and saw the most amazing scenery along the way.

We arrived in the cute little village at the base of the Buddha. We had to take the following picture for Tyler....there was a "real live ninja" doing a demonstration, so we will have to bring you here when you come for Christmas :-)

As we walked towards the Buddha Brad and I found out Chinese year we were born or what we like to call our "power animals".The statues were actually generals with the animal on their head. I (Emily) was born in the year of the dog, which means I am loyal and honest but tend of be stubborn.

And Brad was born in the yea of the monkey, which means he has a deep desire for knowledge and has an excellent memory, but they also tend to be strong willed. Based on Chinese zodiacs Brad and I are NOT compatible, so good thing we don't believe in them!

We then climbed the 260 steps in the heat and humidity and finally go to the top. The Buddha was HUGE and the lush greenery around it was amazing. As you can see I am armed with my umbrella as it can rain at any moment.

We had dinner with our friends and then made the long trek home. After one bus ride and 4 transfers on the MTR (metro) we arrive home. This next picture is in honor of my cousin Austin. While most MTR stops have Chinese name there are a few in English, our favorites so far are Austin and Jordan :-) There is a Portland street, which we also like.

School for Brad starts on Tuesday (high school) and school for me (elementary) starts on Wednesday, so we have a few more days to get things ready in our classrooms. Thanks for reading the following our life in Hong Kong.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Finally Friday!

Sorry that we haven't posted much in the past few days. We have been knee deep in our classrooms getting everything ready for school to start (Tuesday for Brad, Wednesday for me). Today we were off campus for most of the day doing a team building experience at a place called "Crossroads" (a global ministry that provides resources for people in need

We all participated in a refugee simulation to help build understanding about and empathy for displaced people groups (in our case Afghanis). It was a very powerful simulation and evoked many emotions of fear, total loss of control and panic. While I found it very difficult to be yelled at by the guards Brad said it was WAY less intense than boot camp. We had identity cards and had to with our family group get food, medical supplies and try to get into the schools (bribing the guards all the way). My group was promised we could "escape" and then were sold into human trafficking. It was a great experience overall and I think Brad should take his high school students. It really helps you to identify with 42 million people world wide who experience an average of 12 years of displacement (we only spend 45 minutes).

We will be sure to post pictures this weekend.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Flower Market

We mentioned the flower market in an earlier post, but were a bit too busy to post pictures of it. So, now that it's Sunday night and we're all done running around for the weekend, we thought we'd update the blog with a few pictures of the Flower Market in Mong Kok (in Kowloon, Hong Kong).
We both love plants (maybe me a little more than Emily), and were excited to see such a variety of exotic plants for sale in the space of just a couple of city blocks. There were probably a couple hundred vendors, selling everything from bamboo to orchids to papaya trees and everything in between. We actually visited the flower market twice this weekend - both Saturday and Sunday (we had only planned on going on Saturday but we could only carry two plants back with us on the MTR, so we had to go back today to buy our bamboo). The first thing we bought was an orchid. Here's a picture:
This afternoon, on the way back from church, we decided to take the scenic route. We took a trolley from church (on Hong Kong Island) to the pier (still on the island), then caught a ferry over to Kowloon. Once there, we realized that we still hadn't bought the bamboo that we'd wanted for the kitchen, so we hopped on the MTR train and went to the flower market (only 2 stations away). We kept it brief and only bought bamboo:
And of course, we can't write a post without showing you just what the inside of a flower shop looks like. Here's one of the shops that sells only orchids (there were about a dozen of these):
Hong Kong is a bit like the Middle East in that stores tend to be grouped by the type of goods that they sell. We told you a few days ago about our visit to kitchen street. Well, kitchen street and flower market road aren't the only streets devoted to one type of product. There's also a street in Kowloon specializing in fish. They've got everything from goldfish to beta fish to clown fish. We also noticed (somewhat disturbingly) that interspersed among the pet fish stores were a few restaurants serving (you guessed it)... fish! It kind of made us wonder where they got their meat. Here's one of the vendors that was selling fish on the street:
Feng Shui dictates that apartments should have a view of the water. We've read that in extreme circumstances, a fish bowl can be a suitable substitute. While we've resisted the temptation so far to buy a fish, it's not outside of the realm of possibility. If you'd like to comment, here's a possible topic: what kind of fish do you think would go well with our new orchid and bamboo decor?


We miss our pup so we thought we would put a few cute pictures of him up on the blog :-)