Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in Hong Kong

We have enjoyed our first holiday season here in Hong Kong. We've not been crazy busy, but had some special activities and shopping trips and even a couple parties!

Lizzy finished a successful season of gymnastics. They had an end of the term showcase for the parents and Lizzy did so well. She was given a patch and placed in level 8. I don't know what that means exactly, but she was pleased.

Our younger kids homeschool group had two Christmas events. The first I have no photos of.... We met at the local community center and made Christmas ornaments. I led this little endeavor and in two hours, each kid left with four handmade ornaments and a little snowman candle holder. Here are a few photos of the finished products.

This is made from cardboard tubes inside paper towels.
This one is also made from cardboard tubes.

Popsicle sticks are still a staple of ornament makers everywhere....

And these I crocheted for our tree. I hope to be good enough next Christmas to make the snowflakes with the tiny thread like my Mamaw made. I'm kinda proud of our little tree. We didn't bring any ornaments. Our landlady left this tree and I saved it dump pile, then the kids and I made all the ornaments to go on the tree. It turned out sweet.

Our church here in DB has a sweet tradition of hosting Mary and Joseph for 25 days leading up to Christmas. A different family signs up to host the holy family each night of the week. We meet new people as we pass them off and along with the holy family comes an ornament for a church wide Jesse tree. Lizzy colored two ornaments for the Jesse tree and was an excellent host for the holy family. She brushed their hair, fed them a snack and made them a nice bed for the evening. She really enjoyed this little project. It was also a really nice way to meet a couple new families.

The boys ended a successful session of music jam with other homeschooled teens in Hong Kong. They formed a band, learned a lot of new songs, were filmed by a local news crew, and performed for parents at the end. We were impressed by this little group. I can't figure out how to add a video, but I'll keep trying and maybe send out a link to a YouTube video of them.


We took a family trip to Stanley Market. Stanley is a very old section of HK. There was an original Chinese village and then was taken by the British in 1840s. It is still home to locals and expats and is very western in shopping, house style, and schools. We enjoyed the shopping day, but the bus ride over was an event by itself! Very twisty roads in a double decker bus driven by an experienced bus driver....who goes to fast. The kids wanted to ride up top and I did it, but I won't do it again. The road widths haven't changed in 100 years...the route is up and over the hills....the bus is a regular route and stops and other double decker buses are going both was like a 30 minute roller coaster ride! The kids loved it.


This is looking at Stanley from the pier.
This is the pier. It is over 100 years old and has been moved twice.

Looking over the beach area of Stanley at sunset. A good day.

Lizzy and Sam and a few other homeschoolers spent one morning making gingerbread houses,


playing Christmas games...made a snowman out of each other!

Our Christmas activities concluded Christmas Eve night with a lovely interactive nativity program called CrisTingle. I'm told it isn't a standard CrisTingle service, but a Hong Kong adaptation. CrisTingle originated in Scandinavia and has its own traditional service...but here it is a portion of a larger service designed to include the whole community. Our church gathers the day before Christmas Eve and makes all the preparations. They have costumes for up to 200 children to participate, which they iron and mend as needed. They make 400 CrisTingles...a decorated orange with a candle in the middle. The orange is the world, there is all the way red tape around the middle of the orange that symbolizes the blood of Christ. There are four toothpicks with marshmallows, raisins, and candy that symbolize the blessings of life. And the candle in the middle is our light for the world. Lizzy was a shepherd in the boys helped make the CrisTingles and we all enjoyed this service.


Lizzy and her friend Ariane.

We had a good Christmas...which isn't exactly over yet. I've prepped a Christmas feast and am cooking it right now. We are eating it today since Steve arrived late Christmas night. I'm looking forward to eating it...If it is half as good as our traditional family Christmas dinners, I'll be pleased.

Merry Christmas to everyone! Love you all and miss you especially during this season.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hiking from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo

Thanksgiving and the weeks around it were especially busy for us. We did a homeschool outing with the teen group...a hike from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo, a family trip to Stanley Market, had a thanksgiving feast with friends, "high tea" with the younger homeschool group, and a trip to the playground in Tung Chung to hang out and play with the larger Hong Kong meet up group. Throw in church and gymnastics and when this week rolled around, we were all pretty tired!

First, the homeschool teen group decided to hike from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo. Mui Wo is a neighboring village...probably the closest village to Discovery Bay, BUT there is no road between the two. You can travel by ferry a couple times a day, but there is also a well traveled hiking trail. It is about 6 miles long, up and over the mountain between the villages. It is quite a hike... But we did it and enjoyed it. Once we arrived, we walked through the village of Mui Wo and up to the Silver Mine waterfall and had a BBQ. Here are some pictures from that day.


The hike begins along the beach front in Discovery Bay, basically through people's yards and gardens!

There is a gentle slope up as you walk. Here you can see the bay and someones garden.

We stopped at the monastery about halfway up. Once the trail left the beachfront, it was steep!


There is a pretty garden outside of the monastery.


You must hike down a different trail to get to the actual monastery. We didn't go that way, but the sign was cool.

When you finally climb up to the top, the views are stunning.


We took a short break at the top.


And then started the long walk down, down,'s the thing about steps in Hong Kong. No two steps are the same height, but they are all the same width...way too small for my giant feet. The steps are simply so tall you cannot gracefully walk down them. I sort of lurched and stomped all the way down.



We arrive in Mui Wo late in the afternoon, went by one of the family's homes, gathered things for the BBQ and then walked on through town to go to the waterfall.


Cows just roam free in this village. They are all tagged and cared for, but they just walk through town...lick random Americans and moo loudly when you tell them to stop.

The Mui Wo ferry is an older one....a throw back to an older Hong Kong...but safe!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Outings and LineUps.

What an interesting week!! Paul , Sam, and Lizzy had scout outings, we visited the Hong Kong science museum and John was in a police lineup.

Starting with the most unusual happening of our week....I received a call from a friend of a friend who has teen boys, too. Her sons have often worked for a talent agency doing various extra type work for commercials and print ads when they need Anglo boys. So she received a call from the talent company asking if her sons could be the extras in a police lineup at the Mongkok police station the following day. Apparently an Anglo teenager committed a crime and a witness needed to ID him in a lineup. Her sons couldn't go because of a prior commitment, so she thought of John. I contacted the talent person and got all the details. Steve and I discussed it and decided to let John do it if he wanted. He did! Especially when he heard it paid $800 HK (about $103 USD). He called his friend Oliver and Oliver fit the bill, too, so they went together. I believe it was worth it without the money, because all afternoon whenever someone asked where John was...I got to say, "At the police station....doing a lineup".

Paul and Sam spent Saturday doing a modern navigation exercise. The troop is divided into 4 patrols consisting of 5-6 scouts each. Paul and Sam are in different patrols. The patrols are led by an older scout. At their last meeting, each patrol chose a museum in Hong Kong and they made plans to go together the following Saturday. Pauls patrol went to the Hong Kong university museum of art. Sam's patrol went to the Hong Kong History Museum. They each had to meet their patrol at the nearest MTR station then navigate together to the museum and home again safely. Steve and I spent some time going over the route with each one and making sure phones were charged, etc... They each got off at the appointed time and both returned safe and happy. Whew...

Lizzy and I boarded a bus in the Discovery Bay north plaza and rode for about an hour till we arrived at the Pak Tam Chung park about an hour later. We met hundreds of other scouts from our district (the 29th Silver Jubilee Discovery Scouts) for a fun day. Lizzy and her fellow Beavers participated in an orienteering activity, an activity about explorers, a cookout, and a campfire. We sang songs and watched skits...Very similar to scouts back home...some of the same songs, some of the same skits, and lots of the same scout fun. Pretty cool! Lizzy and her friend, Lucy had a wonderful time together. Lucy is the daughter of a missionary couple who are now ministering as full time pastors of a local English speaking church, while the pastor husband attends seminary for his D.Min. Nice young couple who've been in China for 6 years, Hong Kong for mom of this couple grew up in Deatsville, Alabama! Nice family and Lizzy and Lucy at two peas in a pod. This family homeschools, too!

Here are some photos of the scout fun day:

Lucy and Lizzy on the bus.

Discovery Bay Beavers waiting instructions with other Beaver scout troops
Playing during a break
Lizzy is writing down the clues for her group during the orienteering scavenger hunt

Climbing wall


Not quite a real challenge for monkey girl

Getting ready for the campfire

This is only one side of the crowd. There were 300 scouts total there.

And because it was so is a picture of a dog waiting on its owner outside a shop in the plaza the other day. Lizzy and I laughed and laughed at it.


And here is a picture of our sweet Dixie playing ball in the grassy area outside our flat.



Monday, November 9, 2015

Scouts, Library cards, and other stuff...

This was a big week for the Glenn scouts. They were all invested into their respective groups and became full members of the Silver Jubilee District 29th scout troop. Lizzy is a Grasshopper, while Sam and Paul are scouts. Not Boy Scouts...just scouts. Each group is coed.

Lizzys group reminds me of Tiger Cubs in USA cub scouts. They have lots of fun and learn through playing games. So far they have covered map and compass skills, learned about airplanes and learned cooperation and sharing with large group games, scavenger hunts and a paper airplane assembly and launch. She likes scouts a lot.


Lizzy beginning invested into scouts

Paul and Sam are in the older scout group for 11-16 yr olds. All their meetings are outside in a nice playground area of one of the local schools. The activities are similar to BSA (Boy Scouts of America), the promise and law are similar. It was founded based on Lord Baden Powells British boys scouts, so much is very British. The troop comes in full dress uniform to every meeting. They learn to stand at ease and at alert (attention) and they are very rigid about procedures during the meetings. The scout master leads the meetings (different that Boy Scouts lead the meetings in the USA) and older Boy Scouts called patrol leaders help. There are four patrols in the troop, each is a group of 5-7 scouts led by an older Boy Scout. The boys like the troop very much. Paul likes the strictness of the meetings. Sam likes the uniform and the military way.



Paul being invested into scouts


Sam being invested into scouts

All three of our Hong Kong Scouts

All three want to continue participating in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. So we have signed each one of them up as lone scouts, even John. Steve and I are also signed up as leaders. This way each of them can continue progressing in their respective programs and earn merit badges and patches along with their groups from home. Sam especially was saddened at the thought of "falling behind" his friends. This reassures him he can and will keep progressing. It also helps that Paul is willing to teach Sam rank advancements. They worked on lashing yesterday together for a long time. John will join the Order of the Arrow group here in Hong Kong. Not sure yet how active it is or where the group meets, but he will begin as soon as his registration for the lodge goes through.

We've really missed our library visits, so I made it a priority to learn about the library system of Hong Kong. Started the process by visiting the Hong Kong Central Library.


It is a beautiful building near where the boys are taking a music class, so that helped to spur me on! We arrived and talked to the registration folks and like everything here...there are lots of forms to fill out and many items of personal ID are required. So we got the forms and left. Today, Lizzy, Sam, Paul, and I set out on a quest to find the nearest branch in the nearby town of Tung Chung.


Everything begins with a bus ride...


Short walk and we found it! Hooray, it is bigger than I thought it would be and has nice facilities.


First we did schoolwork.



Some of us more diligent than others...


They processed our paperwork...took some blood of the firstborn...ok, maybe not, but we finally got our cards! Hooray!

We checked out books
And more books...
So comforting to have familiar favorites to read.

And now this is what the bus ride looked like going home. Ahhh...success.

And just because he is so funny so much...a few pictures of RickyBobby.
Lizzy and I were watching Aristrocrats and RB jumped up and tried to catch the images on TV.

His favorite perch. The cat tower Paul built sitting beside a nice sunny window.

Now, I'm going to go enjoy my afternoon. School is done, supper is in the crockpot and my new helper came today and the house is sparkling clean!