Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas vacation....t-1hour

School ends in ONE HOUR and Christmas break begins! I have been listening to Christmas music all day and to be honest it has been hard to get much of anything done. Maybe I am feeling a little spent because in record time I got Christmas cards out (I needed to send them with a girl on our hall who leave for the US tomorrow).

Mom and dad get here in two days, then all the fun begins. YAY

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas sneak peak

This Christmas my parents in law gave Brad and I money for Christmas. I think Brad is going to spend his money on something boring like a visa to India (we are going the end of January). But not me! There were a few things on my list so I went with Ruthie to go clothes shopping. My stylish sister helped me pick out some cute "skinny" jeans and a new top. I tried them on at home when we were on Skype with Tom and Lorna so they could see what they "bought" me. I made sure that they saw me wrap up the present again and put it under the tree. I think I have shown great restraint this year, as I know what all my gifts are and I have kept them under the tree. :-) Kalina requested a picture so here it is. Sorry for the squinty eyes, I can't help it with my Condie eyes and I can't unwrap the present again to take another picture. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hiking the "Dragon's Back"

Last weekend (on the Saturday following Thanksgiving), we went with some friends from school to Hong Kong Island to do the "Dragon's Back" hike. Apparently, it's one of the most famous hikes in Hong Kong (and has been named one of the "world's best urban hikes").
This particular hike gets its name from the landscape that it covers. It runs along a ridge for much of its course, and at times when you look behind you, the sandy-brown trail over the sharp green hilltops actually looks a bit like a giant dragon's back (although, as it's a mythical creature, I suppose it's anyone's guess what a dragon's back actually looks like):
Hiking across a ridge makes for a very breezy walk, and as it was a warm day, we enjoyed the cool wind that swept across much of the path. The height of this hike also makes for some stunning scenery (below is the town of "Shek O," on the Southeast corner of Hong Kong Island):
The hike took about 2 hours or so (I think it's about 7 km or so), and it gave us a chance to chat with some of our co-workers. Most of them we already knew (in fact, Rus & Mel - also pictured in our last Shenzhen post - will be traveling to India with us next month). But, one teacher (Mary) is new to ICS, and we got a chance to get to know her during our hike.
(from the left: Emily, Maria, Mary, & Mel)

We enjoyed both the company and the scenery. It is constantly surprising to us how varied the Hong Kong landscape is. Our hike took us through sub-tropical forest, wind-swept hilltops, and ultimately ended at a beautiful beach. All of these landscapes exist within 15 miles of Hong Kong's downtown area (which we all know is one of the most densely populated places on the planet).
We finished our hike at the appropriately named town of "Big Wave Bay," where we spent the next couple of hours lounging at a beach-side cafe. We watched the surfers until the sun went down, played cards for awhile, then had a great meal. Surprisingly enough, that evening was the first time in our 4+ months in Hong Kong that we've felt like we needed to wear jackets (and of course, we had forgotten to bring them).
This week's question (post a comment so Emily knows that you're still out there!):
We travel a fair bit, and even when we visit cities, we seek out green space. Can you recommend to us (and the rest of our readers) a good "urban hike?" (or really any hike within a half-hour's drive of an urban area?)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Christmas Tree!

We had 4 days off work for Thanksgiving (I love being a teacher!), so on Friday we took off for China to do some Christmas shopping. We were in search of a fake tree, our rationale being that those sorts of things all seem to be made in China (and therefore must be cheap there too, right?). Well, thanks to some handwritten Chinese directions (courtesy of our kind Chinese co-workers at school), we were able to find a "wholesale" mall in Shenzhen, China. The mall was all decked out for Christmas, with fake reindeer on the sidewalk, blinking lights in the doorways, and forests of fake Christmas trees set up in the parking lot. Emily commented that the process of tree selection felt a lot like a visit to a tree lot in the US (except these trees smelled a bit like Benzene). After much serious conversation (and comments like "this one looks a bit thin," and "that one's too short," and "the fumes from this one are making me dizzy), we finally decided on a 7 foot beauty. We bought it a little too early in the day and I (Brad) wound up carrying it around Shenzhen for another 2 hours. However, we were also able to find Christmas ornaments and several strings of lights (that we are praying won't burn our house down).

So, as you can see from the picture, our home looks very festive now! Thanks to Ruthie for helping us decorate the tree!

My question (feel free to leave a comment): How much do you think we paid for our fake Chinese Christmas tree?