Monday, December 21, 2009

Meat

Roasted pumpkin, green papaya salad, rice with lemongrass... these things are all nice, but you need a trip back home to Texas to put it all in perspective. This slab of meat will be my dinner tonight:


The beer is there for scale. And because I was drinking it this morning when I took the picture.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Modern farming. And vampires.

Spent last night at the honky-tonk getting drunk with old cowboys and discussing the best crops to plant in Farmville. Then took my parents to see "New Moon." Apparently my father is neither Team Edward nor Team Jacob, but is Team Pissed As Hell at Being Promised a 'Supernatural Thriller' and Instead Being Treated to 2+ Hours of Teen Angst. He's known for his violent diatribes, but the car ride home last night was particularly spectacular.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home again

After 32 hours of travel, I'm finally back in Texas. It was a great trip and the time just flew by. I'd especially like to thank the two women who sat on either side of me (score! I had the coveted middle seat!) on the 16-hour flight from Hong Kong to New York for sleeping peacefully throughout the flight, thereby preventing me from getting up to urinate or stretch my legs for long periods of time. Oh, and I can't forget the drunk Rastafarian who sat next to me on the flight from NY to Texas - thanks for immediately passing out on my shoulder, then engaging in a five-hour-long flatulence session that had my eyes watering all the way to Texas. Sorry mom and dad, those weren't tears of joy upon seeing you again. I could barely see anything at that point.

So even with only three hours of sleep in the past two days, it's been an enjoyable morning back in the bosom of the family. Cleaned the chicken coop, collected the eggs, went to the feed store, and had a greasefest of a lunch (jalapeno burger and tater tots) with dad while we discussed whether Baudrillard's notion of the hyperreal is more relevant to McDonalds or reality TV and he filled me in on the progression of his plans to construct a catapult large enough to launch a grand piano over the river that runs through downtown. Good to be home again.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home for the holidays

Looking forward to twenty-eight hours of transport tomorrow to go home for x-mas.

What the hell happened to teleporters? I was promised those as a child.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I now understand so much...

Kelly and I hopped in a cab the other night and asked the cabbie to take us to Whitty Street. We pronounced it the typical American way - “Whiddy” Street. The cabbie was completely befuddled (and a little pissed off) until we handed him a map and pointed out where we wanted to go. “Oh! WHIT-tee Street!” And he proceeded to instruct us on the proper way to pronounce all of the roads we were passing. This was helpful, as we’re trying to improve our Cantonese. But then things got…strange.

First was his monologue on (we think) the difference between animals (for some reason he focused primarily on pigs - complete with pig noises) and people. It went something like this:

“Animal sleep-eat-f**k-sleep-f**k-f**k-eat! Person sleep-eat-f**k…THINK.”

Okay, we can agree on that.

Next came something like this: “You American. Next life, I Spanish, I Chinese, We same!”

Okay, all people are the same inside. I can get behind that.

Then it gets a little scary (it’s important to keep in mind that while he’s giving us this philosophical diatribe he’s getting more and more excited and paying less and less attention to the road so that he can make eye contact with us in the rearview mirror and punctuate his most important points with violent hand gestures):

“My father, if he calls right now and says I kill you, I need to know REASON.”

Wait…what?

Apparently this had something to do with the ignorance of people who haven’t had education, and rampant xenophobia in people over a certain age. I mean, that’s what we hope it meant. Because now he’s driving faster and faster and talking about killing us, and we’re just hoping he gets us to our destination without doing so (but he said he needed a REASON!).

The tirade continues, but degenerates into something about the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy, which we can’t figure out the cabbie’s stance on.

We finally arrive at our destination and attempt to get out, but he keeps talking and won’t unlock the doors. Finally he lets us out, but rolls down the window so he can make one more point. Then one more. Then another. Bystanders gather to listen to the harangue. We both shake his hand, several times, then he belatedly pulls away and we’re left stunned and confused.

But at least now we know how to say “road” in Cantonese. *


* Actually, I forgot how to say "road" once he started talking about killing us. But at least I can pronounce Whitty Street correctly.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tram party

The earlier part of the day was spent suffering from food poisoning (Again. And no, I will never learn). But the evening was an improvement. One of the various modes of Hong Kong transportation is the tram. These can be rented for private parties, so tonight we spent a couple of hours on a tram tooling around the city. We had lots of beer, lots of food, and lots of friends. Some views of and from the top deck of the tram:










Afterwards, we ended up at a basement nightclub to see some local bands. A good one:

video

And a bad one:

video

Even if the music's okay (which it wasn't), the amount of hair gel caked on the singer makes it totally unacceptable.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adventures in fast food

This morning I'm walking along, minding my own business, when I pass a McDonalds and see a sign for a new breakfast item - "sausage and egg cheesy twisty pasta." I must try it.

It is every bit as bad as it looks, which is not surprising in the least.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The sandwich of life

Picnic at Hollywood Road park:


And the sandwich of life, containing (among other things) foie gras, Vietnamese ham, pork knuckle, and chicken floss:


I do not know what a "pork knuckle" is, but that was a damn fine sandwich.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Greasefest

Dinner at Temple Street Night Market:


Fried duck:

Oyster pancake:

That is all.

Isn't that enough?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sympathy lost (at 11 a.m.)

Okay German lady, when I saw your boyfriend/husband pushing you around on the escalator this morning and asked you (through your screams) if you wanted me to call the police, and you said 'yes!' so I did, and then saw you run into the 7-11 for refuge, return holding a beer and telling me to cancel the 999 call, you officially lost my sympathy. Although I really liked the way your male partner glared at me.

Welcome to the Mid-Levels.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving

Things I am thankful for:

1. My husband
2. Living in Hong Kong
3. Having a job
4. Beer
5. Beer

(Beer got put on the list twice because without it numbers one through three would've driven me batshit crazy by now.)

We went out last night for our Thanksgiving feast (a day late, but better late than never). The star of the meal was baby clams in butter and garlic. They're delivered to your table on a hot clay pot. When you lift up each of the cones, there are baby clams swimming in tons of garlic and butter, which you spread on toast and wolf.


We also had pumpkin curry in an elaborately carved roasted pumpkin:


chicken with chilies and cashews:

and grilled whole fish with lemongrass:

Later in the meal I ate one of the fish's eyeballs. I do not know why, nor do I know what the hard part was that I had to spit out. The cornea maybe?


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear snotty lady on the MTR -

Dear snotty middle-class lady on the metro:

I'm so sorry that you were forced to sit between two Filipina workers on Sunday. I'm sure those were a difficult thirty seconds for you before you got up, sighed, and stalked down the train. Thanks so much for putting those women in their place. God knows, after six days of working around the clock to take care of your house, your husband, and your children, they could've been more considerate and not tried to actually talk to each other in your presence. The sight of the smiles melting off of their faces when you made your stand really brightened up my day.

Also, I hope you didn't properly "mind the gap" when disembarking and that you have a nasty Philippines-shaped bruise on your thigh. Kisses!

For anyone who's interested, Maid to Order in Hong Kong is a great ethnography.

And here are some photos of the Filipina workers who gather on Sundays, their only day off, to socialize, eat, give each other manicures, try to remember they're human, and get snubbed by passersby:


Good vegetarian eatin'

Last night's pre-Thanksgiving dinner - curried pumpkin rice and spicy greens (how did I ever live without a rice cooker?):

And lunch at a Buddhist restaurant this weekend - sweet and sour "pork":

and "shrimp" with cashews:

But...I still miss meat. Looking forward to a Texas meatfest over Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why I always carry an umbrella

Recently this notice was posted in our building. If you're like me, you'll read the first paragraph and think to yourself, "Gross - who would throw cigarette butts out the window of a high-rise?"

And then you'll read the second paragraph, and think "AAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"




Sunday, November 22, 2009

Freedom Ball!

Kelly and I spent this morning at Shatin Park, volunteering with a group called "Freedom Ball."


They stage interventions around the city's public spaces to protest the strict government control over activities permitted there. For example, please see the second rule here:


Today's activity involved inflating five hundred "freedom balls" and placing them around the park for people to play with. Unfortunately, Kelly and I could only stay for a few hours (but we managed to inflate several balls in that time!). It's amazing how many people, when confronted with a big inflated ball in their path (or even a bit out of their way) will proceed to kick it, pass it, roll it, and otherwise enjoy it - regardless of age. The balls ended up scattered all over the park:

Sorry we couldn't stay to see how it turned out, but when we left, a good time was being had by all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A rough beginning, a tasty middle, a perilous end


Today got off to a rough start when I was teaching my Saturday morning kindergarten classes:

Me: (writes "BLUE" on the board). "Okay class, what letter does 'blue' start with?"
Class: "MONKEYS!"
Me: (begins weeping inside)

So I needed some dim sum for a lunchtime pick-me-up. The nice ladies wheel around baskets of all sorts of delicacies.

We had shrimp shumai:

wontons and spring rolls:

fish pastries and beef balls with mushroom and abalone:

and egg custard buns:

My psychological state was much improved after lunch, and we walked home past the harbor:

saw some fish sun-drying on the median:

and stumbled across a cart selling roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts. Of course we got some of each.



Roasted chestnuts are good. Who knew?

When we got back to our apartment, there was a woman with several cameras standing out front. Turns out that she's a photographer for National Geographic, and was desperately trying to get a good photo of the mosque next door. We invited her up to snap the photo from our guest room, which is currently being used as a storage/junk room.


I'm sure that when she became a National Geographic photographer she knew she was signing on for some perilous assignments - war zones, poachers, natural disasters - but did she ever, in her most vivid nightmares, imagine the enormous pile of dirty clothes that she'd have to push out of the way to get this photo?

Please look for the photo of the mosque in the May/June issue of National Geographic Traveler, and while you're enjoying its stately elegance, try to imagine the smell of Kelly's dirty socks wafting around you. This is the true on-the-ground experience.