Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Toy Story at Harbour City

There is a new Toy Story themed section at the HK Disneyland. So of course, they need to advertise it all over the place. Disneyland/the Harbour City mall, has put up a massive Toy Story Christmas decorations outside the mall. They are very nicely done and I wanted to get more pictures. But so did everyone else:

This is the start, the mall is on the other end of this crowded craziness:

Standing on the steps of the entrance to the mall and looking back:

The entrance to the mall:

Overhead decorations: 

Tree inside the mall. Those are aliens!! So cute. 

Holiday decorations at IFC

Holiday decorations at the IFC Mall:

The 2-3 story main piece, very impressive:

Christmas Holiday weekend

Happy holidays!! I have so much stuff I want to write about. I guess I'll start with posting some pictures. I went mall hopping yesterday (Monday) in order to take pictures of Christmas decorations before they get taken down. I have to say, the ones at Festival Walk are still the best ones I've seen so far. 

Finishing a 4 day weekend that consisted of not working at all! Must be a record... I left a little bit after 5:30pm on Friday to take the bus back to Zhongshan. I slept the entire way from HK to Shenzhen border and then it started to get colder and colder. It was so much colder in Zhongshan than in HK! I did a lot of eating and not too much else. I wish I hadn't been fed enormous meals because there were a lot of really good looking street food that I wanted to try. Sigh... 

I came back to HK Sunday afternoon and went to the gym to use the sauna. There were so many people using the sauna. I don't really like it when people chat very loudly. Maybe it's just the one in Mongkok. The one in TST doesn't seem to be very crowded at all. I went to a bento takeout place that I walked by once and got my Christmas meal of sushi rice and chicken wings:

Woke up on Monday and skyped with family while they opened presents. I got passed around and was even in a family photo or two. Man, that picture must be weird... Anyway, it was fun. Glad we managed to get Skype working on both ends.

I went to get my hair straightened in the afternoon using a Groupon deal. Alas, they made me pay more because they claimed that my deal didn't cover straightening. And then the guy talked me into using better chemicals. The process took forever as usual. They only did the flat ironing once. I still managed to finish two books on my Kobo and started on a third book. I have to say, I think the end product is much better than last time. I don't see any fried or split ends so far. Hopefully the quality will still be the same after I wash my hair.

Then I went to redeem two more Groupon deals, one for a Vietnamese sandwich and another for pasta takeout. The Vietnamese sandwich was not bad. Still not like the ones back home but definitely better than the other place I found. Their coffee was pretty good as well. I think if I end up working at a site in Central, I'll be visiting this place a lot. 

Then I carried my pasta takeout around with me mall hopping. I went to the IFC and Ocean Terminal/Harbour City. These malls are very big so this is no small feat. Pictures in upcoming posts. Bought another pair of hiking boots at Timberlands in Harbour City.

Today (Tuesday) is still a public holiday. I decided to go museum hopping. I realized I haven't been to any of the museums around town and felt that I should go. The admission fee is pretty cheap, at least, reasonable compared to US prices. I went for the year-long pass, which gives me unlimited access to all the museums for the price of 100 HKD. The family deal is $200 for 4 people, which is even better. Some of these museums are made for kids and buying a year-long pass means you don't have to force yourself to go through the entire museum in one go. 

I started off at the Space Museum. I thought the exhibits were very old and not too interesting. There were some games and simulations for kids though, like a moon walk, glider simulation, etc. They were pretty interesting looking but I didn't bother to try. Didn't want to be fighting little kids over them. The Art Museum had pretty interesting exhibits. I think I would go back once they change their exhibits. The Science Museum was definitely for little kids. There were a lot of interactive stuff but they were not as involved as the ones at the Space museum. There is a huge Gutenberg contraption that circles around the inside of the museum. Really want to see that in action. 

I went to the History Museum last. That was the most interesting one! It starts off with the natural history of HK. They had a lot of displays of how the HK islands were formed, the geological processes, and also rock samples. This was very interesting for me because I've been learning a lot about HK geology at work and haven't had the chance to actually see these rocks. There are actually some geo-parks managed by the government with well marked trails that lets you see all the interesting rock formations in HK. These parks are out of the way to get to so they're definitely a whole day thing. Anyway, after the geology stuff, the exhibits then talk about ancient people, how they lived, artifacts recovered, etc. Then there are there is a section on more modern stuff about the different Chinese people and cultures. Upstairs has recent history stuff but I was too tired to keep going. 

I nearly forgot to go to the flower street to get more plants for the office. My basil plant has officially died so now I need to replace it with something. I got a small bamboo plant and a bulb for a water flower. Not sure how this water flower is supposed to work but I'll look it up. Hopefully they won't all die at the office again. I also got some seeds but I'll work on the living plants first.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Outdoor concert under a lunar eclipse

Apologies in advance for no pictures in this post. I want to finish this quickly so that I can go to sleep and then wake up to go to the gym tomorrow. I've been slacking on this morning gym attendance. I've been keeping track of the number of times I've been to the gym. I read a book where the author kept track of his gym attendance using (total amount spent)/(number of times) to get the amount of money paid per visit. The amount of money paid goes down every time he goes to the gym. His goal was to get the $$/session to be below the one time fee (because otherwise he could have just paid the one time fee every time) and then he can stop going! I have some work to do if I want to follow this.

This weekend was relaxing and eventful at the same time. I didn't do much Saturday morning other than buying my flight to Thailand! So excited for this vacation!! More on this later. I made some blueberry pancakes for breakfast and lunch. I went to Ikea and got one more set of comforter covers. Now my bed is very appealing, with two sets of down covers. Also got another bag of Swedish meatballs. I can't help myself! Then I went to TST for another massage. The masseuse kept saying I'm very stiff and that I needed to relax. I swear I wasn't being tense on purpose.

After this, I found my way to an outdoor concert and met up with a friend there. The place was filled with foreigners and expats. I'm not sure I enjoy being around so many drunk people. We tried to squeeze to the front of the main stage because it was impossible to see anything from the back. People were very tightly packed in. The music wasn't all that great, to be honest. I couldn't really hear much of the music at all, nevermind the lyrics to the songs. Anyway, the cool part was that there was a total lunar eclipse going on. The band on stage pointed it out. We basically got to watch the whole eclipse happen during the performance. The nice part about this event was that they ended it at around 10:30pm so that people can still take public transit back home. I'm very against having to take a cab because we overstayed by 5 minutes. Anyhow, I chatted with friends of my friend on the way back. I suppose I should get more exposed to the expat world here since people's stories are very interesting. Actually, people generally find my story to be pretty interesting and it's always nice to talk about myself. hahaha.

Sunday morning was not very productive either. I did managed to go get my laundry, drop off more laundry, and buy food before coming back and talking to friends and family online. At around 3pm, I really wanted to get out of the house and walk around nature so I took the bus to the monkey mountain again. There were a lot more monkeys and people this time of the day. I think next time I should go earlier. I'm not actually all that fond of the monkeys. So many trails to explore in this region! I have to say, I have a lot more confidence in my hiking abilities after the Inner Challenge.

I didn't hike for too long because I didn't want to be somewhere in the mountains when it got dark. I took the bus back down to the city and went to the gym. I used to really dislike the stationary bikes but then I discovered some that would let me sit very comfortably while reading a book. This made the bikes a lot more appealing. I had dinner at a Japanese place because I really wanted raw salmon. They're so good! Eating fatty stuff without feeling guilty.

I did some massive cleaning after I got back, mostly of the bathroom. Even though my space is not that big, it's still a big effort to clean the entire place in one go. So I switch off between the bathroom, the kitchen, and the rest of the place. I usually find a dead cockroach after I do a lot of cleaning though (usually after I move the couch around). Cockroaches are so gross! We'll see what happens tomorrow morning...

That's all for now. Next week will be my last massage at the massage place I've been going to. And lots of Skype appointments next week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas decorations

Left work at 7pm today (Friday). So early that I don't know what to do with myself now. haha. I had time to go buy some turtle jelly, cook pasta, wash my hair at night, do some budgeting calculations to make sure I have enough money for a Thailand vacation, and blog!

I've been meaning to post some pictures of Christmas in HK. The malls go all out with decorations! Here's a HUGE pyramid made with Ferrero Rocher:

I hope you can get a sense of how big this thing is. A lot of people were taking pictures so I took some too.

The office has its own Christmas tree and "Christmas flowers". We are also getting a delivery of "Christmas flowers" on Saturday. I don't think we get to keep them though because there's a removal date scheduled.

Festival Walk, the mall attached to my office building has gone all out with Christmas decorations. They took a week or so to put up. They have all very nice! I think the reindeer are very cute. I want a picture of me riding one. But I think that has to happen when the security aren't around. Maybe one of these late nights...

(these are all in different places around the mall)

And of course, the tree. This tree is so huge that I couldn't get it all in one shot. It's not a real tree. It took a couple of weeks to put up. The total height is 5 tall stories.

This is under the tree. There's a whole exhibit under the tree with a bench for Santa. 

 I've heard that the other fancy malls also go all out with decorations. I guess I should do some mall hopping the next few weekends. I'm also starting a Hello Kitty spotting photo collection on Facebook.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Annual Dinner

Every weekend is another adventure. The highlight of this weekend was the company's Annual Dinner. This has to be the biggest company event every year. The entire office of 1,000+ people is invited, along with the option to bring one guest. So there were 150+ tables (12 people per table). It was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, which is another huge venue in itself. The convention center is gigantic. They can accommodate a crazy number of events at once. Not that I've been to very many convention centers but this one has to be the biggest one I've ever been to.

The evening consisted of lots and lots of picture taking, eating, and watching the entertainment provided. The pictures will surface very soon, I think. There were so many people that I didn't even get a chance to find everyone I knew. The event was more than just dinner. We had live music and dance. They hired some celebrities to MC the event. There were mini contests and raffle drawings. Most people left after the final drawing for $10,000 HKD. Some of us stayed behind to take more pictures and dance with the dancers. There were less awards and ceremony than I had anticipated though. They started the evening out with recognizing the 10 year and 25 year Long Service Award recipients. You get a silver bar for the 10 year one. Not sure about the 25 year one (gold bar?). Even if I end up at a different office, if I manage to last 10 years with this company, I would fly back and get my silver bar here.

This past week was a very tiring week. I went to a three day training course for Plaxis, a finite element program that is made for soil modeling. We use it a lot at work and I thought it would be useful to go and learn the ins and outs of the program. I don't think my supervisor entirely agreed with us spending three days on such a training course. But I felt like I learned quite a bit. Anyway, the classes took the entire day and were held on HK Island. Everyday, the few of us from the company would surround the instructors and badger them with questions. I went back to work afterwards, which naturally meant really long days. I felt pretty drained by Friday and decided not to go back to work on Saturday even though it seems like we keep having more deadlines to meet.

I spent Saturday mostly hanging around the house. I managed to put up some wall decals that I bought a while back from Groupon:

This one is in my living room:

This one is in my bedroom:

They make my space happier. I wish they had some color though. I didn't like the designs with color so I picked out these two. I've seen wall decals at other stores as well so maybe I'll get one more to add some color to these.

I also bought some green tea toilet paper. I ran out of toilet paper earlier this week and hadn't had time to go buy any.

I met up with a high school friend who was in town for her cousin's wedding. I took her to the dim sum place that I always take my guests to. We ordered way too much food. I wasn't all that into eating either since my stomach wasn't feeling that well after the annual dinner (too much alcohol!). We each did a little summary of what we've been up to for the last 6 years. Can't believe it's been 6 years since I graduated high school. That means it's been 10 years since I started high school. I feel old...