Beijing Olympics / Bethany / Hong Kong / Lisamaree

A week in….

And we’re still trying to acclimatise. Bethany and Mitchell are struggling with the heat. Bethany is frustrated, because she doesn’t want to be in the hotel room (understandable) and she doesn’t want to go outside because she gets too hot too quickly. Mitchell on the other hand is fine inside (although his typical mischievous getting-into-trouble self), and while he is happy out, he starts to slow down pretty quickly in the heat to the point where we have been worried he was going to faint once while we were out, so we’ve taken to ensuring we always have a bottle of water on hand to cool him down. The kids (and us to a lesser extent) just aren’t used to the humidity, which makes the heat feel even more cumbersome than it is. Because of the heat, our outings during the day aren’t as long as I would like, and we’re not exploring as much as I had hoped.. but such is life while acclimatising from the middle of winter down under to the middle of a humid summer in Asia. 

In good news, we’ve found an apartment. We thought it would take weeks, but we were pleasantly surprised to find two which met our requirements. The apartment we’ve decided on is on the border of Jardines Lookout half way up the mountain on the city side of Hong Kong Island (the main island). It doesn’t have water views, but it does have views to some jungle like areas next to the building as well as the buildings around it… It is 1350 sq ft and has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, combined lounge/dining, a large (by Hong Kong standards) kitchen with oven (super rare on Hong Kong Island), and a maids quarters. The complex has a 24 hour guard, swimming pool (complete with lifeguard!) and a children’s playground. It has a regular minibus down the mountain to the bustle of Hong Kong, but also comes with an undercover car space… so it looks like a car might be one of the next things on our list. We don’t move in until September, but I am looking forward to having a “home” again… living out of a suitcase in a hotel is vastly over-rated.

Over the last few days, out exploration has been limited, but I’ve decided to try and share with you all the mystery of Hong Kong as we unravel it. Most people think of Hong Kong as high rise buildings, a congested city, black and polluted (but with pretty lights). Well ya know… while it is full of high rise buildings, and can be quite overwhelming with the volume of people (and cars), and does have it’s fair share of smog (much of which comes over the border and is not necessarily generated within Hong Kong), it also has hidden gems of green. Yes… green… let me show you:

 

This garden is one of many in Victoria Park, a large open area of green gardens, public sporting areas and playgrounds within walking distance of the hustle and bustle that is Hong Kong’s enormous CBD.. in fact, in some ways, it is encapsulated by the CBD, but so peaceful. The kids loved it because not only did it have several playgrounds, but also a pond where locals use their remote controlled boats.. Mitchell was fascinated by the boats whizzing around. 

Tonight we amused ourselves by trying the ‘Outback Steakhouse’. Perhaps we were craving a taste of home, but in reality I think we wanted to see how hysterical it was to have a supposedly Australian-style restaurant taunting off US dishes in an Asian city. Amused is certainly the right word for this restaurant. There was only one item on the menu that could “possibly” claim to be ‘Australian’ as opposed to American… and that was fish and chips. Even then, you can get fish and chips in any british colony pretty much. We laughed as we perused the menu to find ‘monterey jack’ cheese on stuff. Do you know how HARD it is to buy monterey jack in Australia? And then there was the Alaskan crab.. I didn’t know Alaska was a state of Australia.. or how about the New England Clam Chowder. I don’t think I have once seen a clam chowder on a menu in Sydney… let alone anything with clams really. Australians tend to think of clams and pipi’s as fishing bait…

Once we got over the amusement of the menu, we chowed down on lamb ribs, steak, and the kids shared a cheeseburger. The food was actually really fresh, good cuts, and extremely tasty. We were pleasantly surprised. It was even cooked correctly the whole way through (Although they couldn’t accomodate my request for a blue steak… what can I say… I like my cow on the verge of moo’ing). They had a decent selection of Aussie bears to keep Titus happy, and the desserts, while only a selection of 3 (and completely NOT Australian), we’re also very tasty, although rich…

On our way back from dinner, we happened to encounter another of the Beijing Olympics Mascots.

 The first thing Bethany said was ‘I think that’s Kungfu Panda’s cousin’. Unlike the first mascot we encountered, she couldn’t wait to go up to JingJing and have a photo. So it kind of balances things out… Mitchell has a picture with a Beijing Olympic Mascot, now Bethany does too.

After seeing these mascots on tv (believe it or not they seem to have their own cartoon series to teach people about the Olympic sports), I’ve discovered there are 5 mascots called Fuwa collectively. Each has a name that when you put all 5 together says ‘Welcome to Beijing’ in mandarin… cute huh? This one ‘JingJing’ represents the panda and offers the blessing of happiness as well as signifying the Black Olympic Ring. The one Mitchell had his picture with the other day is ‘Huanhuan’ – symbolizing the olympic flame and the passion of sport and representing the Red Olympic Ring. I doubt we’ll see any more of these characters as the Olympics are now so close… but I think it is nice to have something to remember these events by. For Titus and I, this is our second Olympics city in 8 years (we were in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics), and who knows when our kids will next see an Olympics in our part of the world…

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3 thoughts on “A week in….

  1. Hey Lisa, I’m enjoying the updates and pictures. 😀 Congrats on the apartment. I’m sure you can’t wait to get into it. Hotels are nice for vacation, but they sure aren’t home!

  2. That is so awesome that your kids get the Olympics experience. I have a feeling some if it will trickle down to Seattle when the winter ones are in Vancouver in 2010. You’ll just have to move here before then.

    Congrats on the apartment. Sounds like you’re putting your stamp on HK already and taking it by storm. 😉

  3. Hi, I am so excited that you found an appartment so quickly!! I am glad you got one with a pool and park, that will help keep the kids happy.
    I have actually updated my blog a little and will try to maintain it!
    Missing you- we have out dinner out this Friday- it won’t be the same without you!
    Love Nicole

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