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!