Saturday, November 28, 2009
Once recovered from the birthday party, Joey and mom headed out on a tour of the George Washington with our friend Tyler. The George Washington is the largest forward deployed aircraft carrier of the US fleet. Its port is in Japan and when on the water it is home to over 5000 sailors. We took the morning tour and were lucky to have beautiful weather. The trip to the ship took about 45 minutes. We climbed aboard and walked through the ship to the hanger. We viewed the planes in the hanger. We also saw the storage room where the large long anchor chains are kept. We saw the aircraft on the top deck and learned how they maneuver the planes during practice flights. We sat in the "Captain's seat" and felt like we were roaming the high seas.
A couple days later we welcomed Uncle Neil and Aunt Maria Elena to Hong Kong. We had a whirlwind trip to Macau and Tai O. Macau is an island once governed by the Portuguese. The old architecture can still be found in parts of the old city with ruins of catholic churches including the remains (I saw the bones) of some of the early saints and fathers who established the church in Macau. There are also large modern casinos filled with people wanting to gamble away thousands and millions of dollars. Like Las Vegas, there are shows and the hotels are tourist attractions even if one is not a gambler. We spent the day walking the streets seeing the ancient and modern sights. There are still pedicabs for those who like to ride "in style" through the streets.
Tai O is a fascinating contrast to Macau. Located on the far northwestern coast of Lantau Island it is the home to the Tanka people, a community of fisherfolk who have built their homes on stilts above the tidal flats for generations because they do not feel safe on land. After a ferry trip and a 40 minute bus ride on a winding narrow road, the tight walkways between homes allows one to see the personal living spaces of the people.
Before Neil and Maria Elena got on their cruise, Nadine left for Utah to hold our new grandson, David for herself. With only a week in the States, each day was packed with things to do and friends to see. The cheap flights made for long layovers in the airports and Nadine even had time to go on a tour of a couple small cities close to the airport in Taiwan.
After returning from the States, Nadine hit the ground running to prepare with the support team for the Maclehose Trailwalker. November 20 at 9am the Apples and Pears (a British term meaning "up the stairs") started on their 100km (62+ mile) hike. They beat their time goal to the first support station and headed out to the second where they were still ahead of time. The weather was unusually cold for November and the team was chilled as the temperatures went as low as 5 degrees Centigrade (41 degrees Farenheit). The good news is that the monkeys who plague section six were no where to be found. Apparently the Macaque monkeys find a place for shelter in the cold so this year on Monkey Mountain there were no monkeys. Ahead of time still at section 8, the team warmed up with hot chocolate and hot wild rice chicken soup. They didn't stay at any of the support team stops for more than one hour, and crossed the finish line at 28 hours 27 minutes!!! Over one and a half hours earlier than planned. Well done Apples and Pears!
Finally Thanksgiving arrived. We had a lovely day with our family and a few friends. The usual fixins of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatos, sweet potatoes, salad and various pies adorned the table. We feasted and socialized and enjoyed a relaxing day. We have so much for which to give thanks. We are thankful for God, our Eternal Father, who loves us and sent His Son to die for us and prepare the way for us to be forgiven of our sins so we can live with Him again. We are thankful for family; the people in our lives who knows so much about us, the good and the bad, and love us anyway. We are thankful for friends; those who lift us with their smiles and laughter and with whom our family forms eternal memories. We are thankful for the opportunity to live in Hong Kong and experience life in a culture and among a people unfamiliar to our youth. We are grateful for our many years in Asia where we have learned so many important life lessons.
Now we begin our Christmas traditions. One of which is getting a Christmas tree. We still have not given in to the boxed kind. We like the fresh cut and in Asia have spent a good deal on this tradition. The tradition is that we go as a family to scour the tree lot and find just the right tree with the right height and the right space between limbs to be balanced for all of our decorations and with the right top where we can set our handmade angel.
In Hong Kong the tradition takes on a different twist. In stead of a lot with trees spaced nicely to allow each family to circle the tree and observe its qualities, the trees are roped up with twine and the only choice to picking out the choice tree to adorn the living room is by height. 3 - 4 feet, 5 - 6 feet, or 6 - 7 feet. Sold by the foot, each tree is guaranteed to be "just right" by the anxious salesperson at the store. So instead of being a family outing, Brian and I went out to the "flower market" chose a 5 - 6 foot tree and ordered it to be delivered on Monday just in time for Family Home Evening when we will decorate our home for the season.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Surpise!!! Brian was surprised when he walked in the door. He had no idea. We had a great gathering of friends. We played games, ate food and mingled. Everyone brought an ingredient for gorp and in the end everyone got a bag of gorp to take home along with a plant. Our hiking theme was a hit. The cake even had a little lego guy with Brian's Maclehose team number from 2008. The kids added snakes, Ben 10 and a Yeti!