Monday, July 23, 2012

Rain, rain, please stay

2nd T8 this year and it's also hitting after work hours. This one was a little better since it started storming really hard early afternoon. I was supposed to go to a meeting at 4pm and it just didn't look possible. Shortly before lunch, the Observatory posted warnings about an upcoming T8 in the evening. Lunch time was spent discussing the meaning of "evening".

I left work at around 6pm (!!) and spent some time in the really hectic grocery store downstairs. It seemed like everyone was stocking up for the night. Got home a little past 7pm, which is very early for me, especially for a Monday. I managed to cook dinner, watch some Conan episodes, napped, played games on the iPad, and even get some work done. I brought a report home with me. No need to worry about not having enough things to do in my little apartment if I ever decide to get home early.

Got my hair straightened again yesterday. It took 3 hrs. The place was okay overall. I will have to wait another day or two and wash my hair to find out the actual quality of their work. I felt that the apprentice at the place was very careless. The actual hair guy was a lot better. They were very busy though. Lots of customers.

They are also right next to a pizza place that sells large slices of pizza. I was thinking about this pizza for the entire 3 hrs. I went there afterwards for a slice. It was so good! The bread was freshly made. You can see the bread rising in the backroom. The actual pie was freshly baked.

This storm seems fairly intense. Hope it lasts until tomorrow!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Random updates

Been leaving the office at really unhealthy times the past few weeks. Last night (Friday), I left at around 8pm, which can be considered early, and went to the Dragon Centre (mall) near where I live. I ate at a burger joint, which was okay. The burger was definitely big and juicy but the bun was super big and fluffy. I feel like the bun should sit within the patty and not cover it like a hat. I walked around the mall a little bit afterwards and got pretty big ice cream cone for $10 HKD.

I woke up this morning (Saturday) thinking that it was already Sunday. This is purely because I was able to do things outside of work the night before. Usually my bit of entertainment is limited to what I can fit in before I arrive at the office on Saturday. Very sad. I feel like I should be able to get back to my apartment at a decent time and do other stuff.

Got a bit of studying done for the PE exam today. I took over a meeting room and studied for 3 hrs before doing work stuff. I used my iPad as a big clock so that I didn't slack off. I also set an alarm for every hour. I feel like I tend to waste a lot of time on Saturdays.

Getting my hair straightened again tomorrow. Another Groupon deal. Hopefully this place is okay. The last place was very good but I think it would be very expensive without a coupon.

I'm really looking forward to watching an upcoming movie, Recall. It comes out in the US next week but the HK release isn't until early August. I just got the short story that the movie is based on as an epub. Looking forward to using my Kobo again and reading sci-fi!

Rainbow from outside of the office

After a sudden thunderstorm:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guilin and Yangshuo

Taking a break from work to blog about my vacation. It's actually Sunday night over here and I'm still in the office. Anyway, I'm really glad I went on this vacation. It was really good to be away. I felt like I needed this break because the past couple of months have been so stressful. Pictures in the next post after I get them off of my friend.

I caught a cold two weeks ago (a week before the vacation) and spent a lot of time sleeping. I think there is a cold virus going around the office because a lot of people have been getting sick. I went to see a doctor and got some bags of prescription drugs. I think the normal practice here is that they prescribe 3 days worth of medicine and you go back if you need more. Prescription is included in the doctor's fees, which is really inexpensive compared to the US. The nurse prepares everything right away so there's no need to go somewhere else separately to get your medicine.

I was still sniffling a bit when I went on this vacation. I went with a coworker who is Chinese-Australian. We left the office a bit after lunch on Friday. There was an incoming typhoon but we managed to get out before it go to HK. Our flight changed gates and we nearly thought we weren't going to make it. But it turned out that it was delayed. We managed to find out way to the shuttle bus that takes us to Guilin city and then a taxi to our hostel. The hostel is very cute, with lots of art on the walls. We found food at a nearby restaurant and then wandered around the pedestrian streets that night.

The next day (Saturday), we decided to walk to the Seven Star Park, which was really close by. I think we made the most out of this park. We managed to find a less touristy part of it for the first half of the day and then joined the crowds and tour groups to see some of the other parts. At around 3 or 4pm, we were just too tired to keep going to another park. It was also really hot out so we went back to our hostel to shower and nap. We wandered around the city some more in the evening.

On Sunday, we joined a local tour group with a really random mix of people for a river cruise on the Li River. The tour group took us on a bus to a pier outside of Guilin. We went on motored bamboo boats that took us down the river and back up to the pier again. The scenery was really nice. The motor in the background not so much. We all got talked into going on an extended part of the tour to "the countryside". We stopped at this village on the way to Yangshuo for a "real" bamboo boat ride (no motors) to enjoy the scenery, see water buffaloes, and cormmorant fishing. So by the time we got to Yangshuo, it was nearly evening.

It took us a bit to find our hostel in Yangshuo because the it was down a small alley. This town is basically a vacation town with a ton of tourists from everywhere. There's even a pedestrian street called "West Street" that has lots of bars, hostels, and souvenir shops. We had a really good meal that night with beer fish, crayfish, and a taro dish.

The next day was a big biking adventure. We rented out bikes in the morning and biked down the a scenic road with lots of parks. We saw the 400 yr old bayan tree and then hiked up the Moon Hill. The bike ride was pretty easy since it was on the side of a big road. There weren't a lot of traffic and the road shoulder was really wide. There were a ton of people trying to sell us tickets and other things though. After a late lunch, we decided to take this country road that looked like it was supposed to be twice the distance of what we had ridden already. We thought this was doable so we embarked on this journey.

The start of the country road was pretty nice. It was good to be away from the big trucks. But then at some point, the road started to get really rough. There were a ton of rocks and the road stopped being paved. We were really glad we went for the mountain bikes at this point. The road wasn't hilly so we were still enjoying the scenery until we got to a point where there were a ton of forks in the road. We had to ask at every fork and I swear we asked more than 10 people total. At one point, this guy told us we were 20km away from where we want to be. I think we should probably just gone back to the highway at this point but we continued on this "country road" and made it back to Yanghuo a little after 7pm (before dark). It would not have been good to be on these roads after dark. I'm not sure I've ever been so soaked in sweat before.

We had an early evening flight back to HK the next day so we took it easy and booked a cooking class. These things are apparently very popular. We got taken through the wet market and then to the cooking school. They had burners and everything ready. We got to chop the veggies and meat. We cooked 4 dishes with a wok and 1 dish went in a steamer. It was really fun! Cooking with the wok was really fast as well. Wish I can do the same in HK but I think the wok really needs a gas stove.

Overall, it was a really great trip. We did a lot of stuff but didn't over stretch ourselves. Felt so refreshing to take some time off. Looking forward to more weekend trips to nearby cities now that I have a one year China visa!