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


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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A close call

Thank god this safety notice from the gas company came in the mail today. I was just about to store my dynamite by the stove.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The stuff of nightmares

The husband is out of town for a few days, so I'm indulging in all my favorite foods that make his skin crawl. This morning's breakfast was scrambled eggs with kimchi. But this is the (warning?) label on my kimchi:

"Attention in the use: For degasing it by the fermentation, it is not complete sealing up. Liquid leaks by reverse and toppling over. Because it is fermentation food, please refrigerate it by all means. The normal temperature leaving hastens fermentation without being concerned in the expiration date, and acidity is reflected early."

Okay, I get that it should be refrigerated, but what the hell is "liquid leaks by reverse and toppling over"? Will the jar soak up all the water in the air and then fall out of my fridge? Should I tie it down? The thought of water-logged kimchi rattling around in my fridge is a little disconcerting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A serious philosophical dilemma

I think this poop wants me to help it commit suicide, but I'm pretty sure that's a crime in Hong Kong.

Do I risk going to prison for doing the right thing? Discuss.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mid-levels carnival

This weekend there was some sort of carnival in our neighborhood. Local restaurants had wine and food pairings, so we did a tour. We started at Bourbon, where we had wine and mini pulled-pork sandwiches. I wolfed mine too fast to get a photo, so here's a picture of a harlequin instead:

It was then on to Fat Angelo's, for wine and antipasti:

Then Rick's for wine and olives:

And finally, Portobello for irish coffee and dessert:

I think we must have stopped at a few other places, because I actually didn't remember going to Portobello until I looked at the photos the next morning. Or afternoon. Whatever.

The carnival was partly sponsored by The Venetian in Macau. Here's a street scene including the "three tenors," who I'm pretty sure are drunk.

The other big hit was the Vitamin Water pop-up store, which opened a couple of weeks ago. Vitamin Water is new to the Hong Kong market, and apparently the huge variety of sugary drinks available locally just isn't cutting it - the line for this place was out the door.

I saved money and time by heading to the grocery store and buying some pineapple-flavored Tang. Mmmm.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

My new obsession

For every $20 you spend at 7-11, you get a sticker. Once you get 10 of these stickers, you can redeem them for a small kewpie doll shaped like a product sold by 7-11. I am obsessed with collecting all of these kewpies. So far I have...

Chocolate milk:

Instant noodle:


And mystery food item:

I still need several more to complete the collection, and I'm desperately hoping that I get fish balls next. It's going to be a festive christmas tree this year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

High tea

Girls' afternoon out - high tea at The Parlour in Tsim Tsa Tsui, located in the restored Marine Police Headquarters:

It felt very colonial.