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September 15, 2011 12:43 PM Travel  |   Link
When we head out...

On days when my husband heads out for a business trip, I try to find activities outside the house to help me keep from going insane. Some of the typical places include many of the local parks(open spaces) & libraries. Here on the mid-Peninsula there are many options that sound really appealing for parents trying to get out of the house. Some are free and others have a fee for entry or membership.

Rancho San Antonio
Hidden Villa Farms
Stanford University(Lake Lagunita, Cantor Art Museum, etc.)
Shoreline Park
Palo Alto Jr Museum & Zoo
Bumble Cafe

I'll get links and write up some thoughts on kid & parent friendly reasons why I like these places. Of course there are a ton of indoor bounce house locations and places like MyGym/LittleGym but it takes my kids a long time to warm up to these drop-in play places with such a limited time, it didn't feel worth it.

October 02, 2010 10:09 AM Travel  |   Link
Testing Shuttefly Widget Embed

June 18, 2010 01:05 PM Travel  |   Link
Ice Cream at Jardin du Luxumborg Summer 2009


Some blast from the past. We had just finished watching the puppet show that was in French and it was just too hot to sit still for so long. No A/C in the theatre. We left at the break and got some ice cream. Of course I had to share. She loved to say "ICE CREAM" while eating it. So cute we took lots of photos.

February 25, 2009 07:11 PM Travel  |   Link
She's Doing What We Did in 2005

Almost Fearless found through Delicious Baby travel website. Christine is just amazing. She totally reminds me of that time we took off for Hong Kong for several months. Read her About section and you'll get what I mean from quitting jobs, giving up stuff, and just having this overall lifestyle renewal. Well to earn her keep she's doing freelance writing and doing the travel blog. It's pretty interesting material and very inspiring. I think the next time we do a get up and go moment I wonder what it would be like with B in tow and if J could continue to telecommute.

October 29, 2008 09:19 AM Travel  |   Link
Where to Stay on vacation

Not a hotel...it seems for us that a rental home/condo/townhouse is really the best way to travel with an infant or child. Last Christmas we rented a townhouse in Irvine that was pretty good; central to all our relatives, actually fit almost 30 people for an informal gathering of family, and was relatively close to shopping, park, and the freeway. I'm hoping we can stay with family to save money but with lots of busy schedules and coordinating, this may prove more difficult.

Vacation Rentals SFGate.com

July 18, 2008 11:09 AM Travel  |   Link
Prius Rentals Article

Was interviewed again for another article after a recent Toyota Prius rental from our LA trip last month.

Hybrid Car Rentals Go on Vacation, by Nicole Fracher at TravelMuse.com.

I will write up more details along with J since we both did our share of driving from LA, Pasadena, Whittier and Irvine.

April 08, 2008 04:28 PM Travel  |   Link
Tips for Traveling with Babies

Delicious Baby.com
Has a great blog, tips and guides for all your traveling questions. I highly recommend this as a first stop.

One blog I floow, MightyGirl.com had a great post a few weeks back, 12 Tips for Traveling for flying with baby.

Update: Travel Products by Babies Travel Lite

April 23, 2007 04:50 PM Whine  |   Link
Key Ordeals

So we began our vacation to Hawaii two weeks ago with some frustration. Enroute from home to the airport gate, I had lost the house keys. I was the last to leave the house. I know it was somewhere in my bag, or was it? We were the last group to board so I had J contact his sister and one of our neighbors to double check that I did not leave it on the door or dropped in on the driveway. So for two weeks I didn't know where they were. When we arrived at the airport I checked lost and found. A whole drawer full of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, key fobs, including some key fobs that resembled security passes for buildings. Wow a whole drawer of 2 weeks worth of lost keys. To no avail mine were not there.

So we got a lift home and luckily J had his house key. We brought in all our stuff and headed out for late dinner. Unfortunately when we returned we had no house key and the door to the kitchen was locked. So J tried to get into the house and to our satisfaction the house is completely secure! But how do we get in, we called J's sister and we picked up our extra set at her house and came back home. What a crazy series of events, we start our trip losing a key and even after getting into the house we still had to face being locked out.

Well the last place to check was the transport shuttle we used, they had my keys. I'll be picking them up tomorrow.

Btw, 24 hour locksmith goes for about $125 in our area, which we didn't want to pay.

April 21, 2007 10:16 AM Travel  |   Link
Photos from Hawaii

April 16, 2007 12:59 PM Travel  |   Link
Maui Rainbows, Amazing!

The G Clan is fun and wacky as usual. The house is totally amazing.

The first morning we woke up there was a rainbow outside the big windows. It was such an amazing view.

Went to a luau last night and went as a whole gang to shop at Costco. Talk about madhouse. I wish I could have had a drink, all I could get was fruit drinks. Major bummer. The food was not amazing and my nausea was full-on during dinner. I ended up tossing my cookies just after 3 bites of dinner. Dessert was uneventful. But the dancers were truly amazing. No fire related dancing.


I promise photos will come up when I'm back. Connection is shared with several here so would take a while to upload stuff.

April 12, 2007 04:36 PM Travel  |   Link
Kauai Weather

Been in North Shore since Saturday. Having a blast! The weather was amazing when we woke up, amazing view from our room and we ended up at the beach around 9am this morning. Meeting up with the G Clan in Maui on Saturday for a few days to celebrate some monumental birthdays! Photos will come up shortly. Lots of drama when we left...more later.

April 06, 2007 10:19 AM Travel  |   Link
36 Hours in Hong Kong

NY Times did a short but sweet short trip down memory lane for me.

36 Hours in Hong Kong(Free Reg Required)

One thing is they focused too much on Kowloon which is more like the old school touristy spots. While on the other hand there is alot more to see in Causeway Bay, Lai Kwai Fong, Central, and even parts of Wan Chai. I think they failed to mention Hong Kong Disney too :) I would have added more food places near SoHo as well. I wish we could go back before the baby is born.

February 15, 2007 03:53 PM Travel  |   Link
NYC in the Winter

Went to NYC this past weekend for multiple events.

SCBWI NY Conference, notes to follow.
Met with my client.
Met with potential contractors.
Visited with friends and family.

I was semi-prepared for the weather. When I first stepped off the plane it was a very balmy 20 and when I left it was around 33. My cousin recommended ski jacket and gloves over long wool coat. I'm so glad since along with my rain/snow thinsulated boots I was nice and toasty while we walked around. For the most part the skies were clear. I left Monday evening and very glad I did since a storm hit the city just after I left and has had bad effects on the airlines since then. I'll post photos shortly.

January 15, 2007 09:28 AM Travel  |   Link
Flu vs. the OC

Went down for an ICS reunion but was battling a cold that turned into a sever cold/flu-like over the weekend. I lost my voice on Sunday and had a "great" time teaching a workshop on financial planning to my brothers. 3 hours was definitely not enough but it was a great start. I'm seriously considering getting my CFP and teaching workshops for high school/college students. It's falls along the lines of helping people empower themselves and making a difference in the world.

I got this super cool t-shirt from my cousin.

Also courtesy of my cousin K, she was wearing these shoes that were absolutely cute and they looked super comfy.

I think I want my own pair of these shoes. I wonder if they have something in orange or green.

Restaurant reviews to follow at MetaFooder
Pacific Whey Cafe & Bakery, Newport Beach
Shake Shack, Newport Beach(as featured in one of Rachel Ray's cooking shows)
Aire Restaurant, Costa Mesa

January 08, 2007 04:02 PM Travel  |   Link
Job Posting for Friend

I have a friend who is currently hiring for sales positions in her fashion retail shop. The shops are totally amazing.

Leap & Petal Job Posting

Feel free to contact them directly!

September 04, 2006 08:12 PM Travel  |   Link
36 Hours in Steinbeck Country

We began our summer celebrating our anniversary at Half Moon Bay for a smooth jazz show...now we ended our summer by the water again and with lots of music(classic, folk, jazz) every night. Pacific Grove/Monterey/Carmel for almost 4 days of an unplugged vacation. This is a very rare occasion for us not be on our laptops. However we did manage to get about a year's worth of television viewing in between sightseeings. More stories shortly, need to catch up on homework(I have 2 more units and then my final for accounting)!

Inn at 17 Mile Drive, Pacific Grove

Hike along coastal trails from Lover's Point to Cannery Row
Cannery Row
Historic Dowtown Pacific Grove
Historic Downtown Salinas
Downtown Carmel (Ocean Ave.)
Asilomar State Beach

Red House Cafe
Passionfish Restaurant
International Restaurant

The Works Cafe & Bookstore (live music each time we went, classical guitar w/ flute, folk music w/ singer)
667 Lighthouse Avenue , Pacific Grove CA 93950 , 831-372-2242, fax 831-372 9184
Bookstore and Full-Serve Tea/Coffeehouse.

Lattitudes/Loungetitudes Restaurant at Lover's Point Famous television chef Tene Shake greets you at the door. Great view of Lover's Point during Sunset.

Toastie's Cafe
The Grill at Carmel

John Steinback Museum, Salinas, CA

July 19, 2006 01:37 PM Travel  |   Link
No PDA for me... just my moleskin

This has to be the best use of Moleskin notebook.

City Notebooks

I tend to use my moleskin to track recommendations for places to see, eat, stay, visit...and having a collection of these moleskins is purely ideal. Will probably get one for SF/NY...I hope they add Hong Kong and Seattle on that list at some point.

June 28, 2006 08:56 PM Travel  |   Link
The Only UC in the OC

Sounds pretty cheesy but heck it's true. I guess they are piggy backing off the popularity of "The OC." We took a stroll down memory walking around campus. As usual UCI, was under construction indefinitely. They were literally ripping out the student center when we drove up the street. I was hoping to hit up the cafe for ice cream or iced tea since it must have been in the 90s that day. We walked around and just hung out, saw a kettle corn vender and of course hit up the bookstore to stock up on UCI gear. J couldn't help but get the shirt that had the above "tagline" on the shirt. The most fun we had was bumping into SKS and catching up. We had not seen her for a good 10 years. And then a really fun coincidence was seeing AT teaching ICS 23 for summer session. Wow to see him in action was giving me flasbacks to my own days in the 20 series. And to see the kids are sitting in nice comfy movie theatre style captain seats...I was soooo jealous.

We had such a wonderful visit with friends and family. We missed a few but it's ok maybe next time we'll just have to extend it to a whole week. Gosh it makes us wonder if we should live in LA for 6 months and SF for 6 months. It's quite difficult to try to keep track of everyone.

Some notable places to eat:
California Pizza Kitchen
We actually haven't been there in years and actually enjoyed some of the salads and the pizza with a salad on top. We ended up going there twice but in those cases it really was about hanging out and not so much about the food.

The Original Pancake House (San Diego/Encintas/Vista)
Awesome German Pancake...a pie pastry thing that you douse with lemon juice, powedered sugar, and lots of butter. Truly amazing, J's cousin took us after service at _The Rock_ and then we headed there again Monday morning after we left M&M's house.

Capital Seafood, Monterey Park, CA (located at the 99 Ranch Market square)
Awesome dim sum. It opened in December and everything about it looks new. It's more traditional with ladies wandering around the restaurant with their carts trying to "sell" their tasty goodies. We had some great desserts as well. We went on a Tuesday before lunch time and the place was packed. I always though these places were only buzzing on Sunday mornings. Great food and even with just one bite of a few items, I was very stuffed. Definitely "hou sikh."

And last but not least...our favorite chicken place has gone a little more upscale
Charro Chicken, many locations (our favorite in Seal Beach)
Some would compare it to El Pollo Loco, but it's not! The last time we were there was probably 10 years ago but it looks as though they have definitely gone more commercial and no longer your typical mom/pop restaurant.

Thanks again for friends and family who let us stay in their homes. I promise next time to take more photos.

May 31, 2006 10:22 AM Travel  |   Link
KKSF Smooth Jazz at Ritz Carlton

We had a wonderul time celebrating our annivesary out in Half Moon Bay.

Photos from the concert

May 22, 2006 01:42 PM Travel  |   Link
For the Kid Inside Who Never Went to Summer Camp

I'm not going to complain that I never went to summer camp. I just remember how poor we were growing up. Of course I can rant about how my parents didn't know how to save or manage or even budget their income...but of course summers were left running around the park, ducking into the George Nye library or Cerritos mall for really hot days...and just staying home doing nothing like most kids. But one thing that I had always wanted to do was go to summer camp. So when KJR sent me a link for luxury camp for grownups I just had to write about it. Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

I think I'll have to consider this for J's sabbatical.

March 30, 2006 07:06 PM Travel  |   Link
From HK Archives: Shop 'Til You Drop

I was in for a real treat when relatives asked us to join them for a day shopping of shopping in Shenzhen, China. It was not at all what I expected. Living in Causeway Bay, I thought living in the middle of meter upon meter of shopping centers and boutique shops was overwhelming. It did not compare to the sheer density and hustling going on at Shenzhen that day.

“The tea is good, but not great. I would pay $150 for a quarter kilo for each tea.”
“It’s a special tea from very special tea regions of China. $200 for both teas and I’ll throw in some rosehips.”
“No there are six of us who want to buy. We’re firm.”

The sales assistant starts to ponder the offer. We put our bags of tea down on the chair and begin to walk out. The sales assistant begins to casually tug the lead negotiator’s arm and have her return to her seat. We walk back to our seats.

“$175 is all I can offer. We will loose money with such a discount.”
“Ok then.”


January 27, 2006 12:59 PM Travel  |   Link
What Time Is It In...?

I thought this was a helpful site for those out there who call or IM with folks around the world.

World Clock

January 18, 2006 05:41 PM Travel  |   Link
Very very short stories from Hong Kong

I have a friend working in Hong Kong who is originally from California who started a creative writing site that is pretty good. Gives you a little taste of coffee breaks over there.

12 Minutes
"Everyday, I sit in a local coffeehouse and observe my surroundings for twelve minutes. I write about the things that I see. Since I currently live in Hong Kong, I'll usually be observing at Starbucks or the Pacific Coffee Company."

October 28, 2005 08:18 PM Travel  |   Link
A Tourist Even in My Own Bay Area

Nathan Shedroff created this handy SF Guide for DUX2005. I can't wit to dig into it.

October 23, 2005 05:46 PM Travel  |   Link
Live October 2005 NYC

We didn't take as many photos as we wanted. We forgot to take photos with Lorenzo and Marissa the wonderful couple I stayed with in Napa in 2004 who we stumbled across at Century 21...nor St. Luke's AME in Harlem where Al Sharpton was speaking...nor did we take photos at all the food places we went to...and unfortunately no photo with Michael A and other relatives...major bummer!!!! Either way here are a few of sights we did remember to take photos.

We arrived and the rain stopped...when we were sitting on the airplace to return home it began to rain hard again. Wow we totally missed it. It would have been a miserable trip walking around in the rain. More details shortly for each of the restaurants, clubs, bars, lounges and places we saw shortly.

The best tea I've ever had was at the T Salon. Purchased a dozen oz of 4 blends for a hefty price but it's so worth it. Just a little goes a long way without steeping for less than a minute...rich and bold...with nice aromas...I think my wine training is effecting how i drink tea now ;) Maybe someday I'll have to open a Tea Bar or Tea Salon...maybe something like Moby's Teany but with real eletronic music and a dj. Had a fun time people watching and having a nice afternoon tea at both places with my fav cuzn.

We're definitely adding NYC to our friends and family "Share the Love" annual tour of San Diego, Lakewood, DC and Chicago. Stay tuned for additional locations and tour dates!

October 19, 2005 09:59 AM Travel  |   Link
Overview of NYC Sights

Yup we're in New York City! Having a wonderful time. Here are some highlights.

Rev. Al Sharpton at St. Luke's AME Church
Visiting with Joyce
Staying across from central park in front of Lincoln Center
Dinner at Dos Caminos or was it called Dos Compadres
Lunch at Fraicha
Hanging with AG
Curry Hill in search of a jal neti pot
Empire State Building Observation Deck
Walking all through midtown, soho, greenwich village, tribeca, harold square...
Dinner at EN
The Producers
Dinner Le Madeleine
BSF on Madison Pres
...more to come

October 06, 2005 04:11 PM Travel  |   Link
Friend's Blog from HK

I made friends with lots while in HK. Even folks in my chinese classes. One fellow who happened to also be from Kali-fornia...just moved there the same time we arrived. Well he's decided to blog experience however he's missing the past year. Oh well...will have to make him remember the long hours in chinese classes.

Hey there welcome to the blog world, Jimmy!

September 19, 2005 06:30 PM Travel  |   Link
What a trip!

Photos from recent trips.

San Antonio, TX
Really enjoyed the McNay Museum. Great food all around Riverwalk required a good walk as well.

Stefano's Private Screening of new movie, at the dinner party
Awesome story done in computer animation.

Michelle's 30th
Best margarita on the rocks so far...made with El Tesoro de Don Felipe Anejo We used the Platinum version at my 30th. I think for sipping it has to be the Anejo. Smooth and good bang!

Checking out model homes in Antioch, IL
Huge homes, around 2500-3100 sq ft going for 300-400K. We're debating about buying a house or land out in IL. Our neighbor just sold their house. It was probably only on the market for a week. I can't wait to find out how much it sold. Had a wonderful time with my family out in IL. If we do move, it would have to be next door to them.

Pictures of red boots shortly...

September 12, 2005 10:00 AM Travel  |   Link
Food Reviews of San Antonio

Pappadeux Seafood Kitchen
Pretty large portions. We split the Pappadeux Combo which consisted of crawfish, shrimp, stuffed crab claw, crabcake, halibut, and dirty rice. We split it and when the waiter came out to hand us the plate I thought it had too much food already. I asked him if he could split it...he said it was already split. J and I laughed. The fresh oysters were also pretty good. Everything was served cajun style. We passed on dessert since we were so full.

Copper Kitchen at the Southwest Arts and Crafts School
Cafeteria style located in one of the buildings of the A&C school. The food is made by folks from a local exclusive dining club(members only). So at lunch time this place is really packed. I got the special of the day, chicken enchiladas. Pretty nice dining room, very casual and food was good and not expensive.

County Line BBQ House
Along the Riverwalk next door to the Hard Rock Cafe. Had some pretty good bbq. I had chicken and a sausage...both very spicey and very messy good. A side salad and corn on the cob rounded out the meal. No dessert again, still trying to stick to WW. We had just enough food without being stuffed and strolled/hobbled along the Riverwalk until the RiverCenter Mall.

Tia Maria's at Market Square
Rated best Mexican Restaurant in town(not sure who really thought it was the best). However just the same it was convenient since I was at the Market Square shopping. I got chicken taquitos with beans, rice, and tortilla. Nice festive environment with lots of family pictures plastered all over the place and it has free wifi.

Zuni Grill
Not too crowded. We decided to sit indoors and the atmosphere was nice and casual. We got salads and one of the seafood specials that included crab cakes and 5 grilled shrimps with lots of veggies. We decided to do the chocolate cake and it was absolutely wonderful. 7 layers of different types of chocolate ecstasy. We walked around a bit to walk off the dessert.

Unfortunatley didn't drink much on this trip. Just had a margarita with my bbq but overall had a nice time. J went out more often with co-workers and hit up the more popular local restaurants. One of our friends even relived her favorites through J recounting his dining experiences. I guess I'll have to try those places next time we head out there.

September 08, 2005 12:58 PM Travel  |   Link
SA and Boots

It's pretty hot walking around. I've done already 6 miles wandering around the riverwalk and now just hanging out at a cafe that has free wifi(with purchase of item). The porch is nice and cool with the breeze. It's not as hot as DC but still hot if you're wearing jeans and a backpack with all your techno geek gear. One old lady at the Art and Craft school visitorm musuem even offerend to babysit my pack while I ate lunch at Copper Kitchen...but I couldn't let go. It's like my life. I got myself a pair of nice bright red boots. I never thought I would ever do it but heck I'm in TX, couldn't pass it up.

September 07, 2005 09:50 PM Travel  |   Link
Everything Is So Big

Hated the plane ride...I thought I was going to puke again...argh! However I love having a mascot on the tail of the plane.

All the food is sooo big! San Antonio has big food, big boots, and big hats. I'm so glad J and I split our meal at Pappadeaux Seafood. Hoping to find good bbq tomorrow. J is limping along ok but I doubt we'll be strolling Riverwalk after dinner. Will try to hit Austin on Friday and still determined to get some boots tomorrow.

Will probably do the main tourist attractions and look around for volunteer opportunities. I called 211 but they said they are totally ok with volunteers...they mentioned to check back in 2 weeks. Then I remembered it's usually few weeks later that it's difficult to find volunteers to be relief for the first round...I'll have to to see if I can do that. The news coverage is alot more intense here on evacuees that have been transferred here. I hope I can do something of value...hopefully get more writing done too!

June 27, 2005 12:30 PM Travel  |   Link
Busy Weekend Down in LA

Drove down on Friday early in the morning on 101. I really like that path even though it takes longer, we know all the places to stop and switch. Also it's quite curvy so a slower paced drive.

We were down primarily for a wedding of some good friends. However my best friend KM just had a baby and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit. The funny thing, she showed us the birthing video. I'm not sure if it discouraged me or if I was in awe, but boy was it totally gross! He he he. Later that night I met up with my brothers at Irvine Spectrum. Hoping to visit a fun bar, turned out to be closed so ended up eating at D&B and having cocoa at B&N. Drove back up to LA. It was a very LONG day and was slow due to some bad accidents.

The wedding was so wonderful. Afternoon ceremony at St. Brendan's Catholic Church and then cocktails and dinner dancing at LA Athletic Club. Marie definitely knows how to throw a party! Lots of drinks and great food. The music was awesome as well. I thought I'd splurge and got 2 outfits. A churchy pink thing and for evening all black pants and beaded top with silver jacket.

On our way back we decided to take Hwy 5...boy was it a big mistake. Traffic on the grapevine and then big accident somewhere before Los Banos which had all traffic at a stop for a good 30 minutes and then a crawl at 10mph for a good 30 minutes. Also we were so close getting into an accident. Some college kids were swerving in and out of traffic in their raised up Mazda truck and cut a huge semitruck. The semi swerved into the shoulder and it totally looked like it was going to jack-knife. And then it swerved back into the lane since he was still speeding and there was a parked BMW on the shoulder with hazard lights. I could feel my heartrate go up at that moment. I think the 5 is dangerous since folks were flying at 85-90mph. I'll take slower, leisure drive on the 101 anytime over these dangerous accidents.

New Addition to Stelmar-Martin Clan
Dixon-Hsing Wedding
Taday-Aldana Hangout

June 11, 2005 10:12 AM Travel  |   Link
Not Really

I found a link that referenced me as an HK blog...funny thing is that it was posted the week I had just left HK.

June 01, 2005 02:07 PM Travel  |   Link
Feel the Love

We have a couple of friends who have just quit their jobs as teachers in Hong Kong to help rebuild a community in Nias, Indonesia. Nias is a tiny island off the coast of Indonesia and was most recently in the news over Easter when another earthquake hit this tsunami ravaged area. Their website is an overview of their plans in Nias as well as information about Nias.

Please support Feel the Love.

May 03, 2005 09:08 AM Travel  |   Link
What Happened to Me During the Mission Trip(Part 2)

This past Sunday I shared with our church about our adventure in Hong Kong exploding into a life changing experience at the end in Davao, Philippines. The following is what I wrote to our church in Hong Kong since I had a better idea of how to organize my thoughts. It's pretty long and it's only a small fraction of the total experience. Feel free to email me if you'd like to know more.

Previous Mission Trip Part 1


April 14, 2005 04:00 PM Travel  |   Link
Mission Trip Part 1

We've been back 2 weeks now, and everything feels different. Not because things here changed all that much, but we've changed alot. How we feel and how we analyze things, and even the things we buy. I thought it would be easier mentally to go back to the shops I used to go to but right now it just seems so wrong to pay the high prices for things that are so temporary.

Most of the day I think back to the mission trip. They never really tell you what happens at a missionary trip except that you do good things to help people. I think this was a good thing because they never really know what's going to happen next. Yes there are schedules and plans since activities have to be coordinated especially at locations where security is an issue. You just have to be flexible and adjust to whatever is happening at any moment. Since we were in a developing country you never how traffic will be, if there are terrorist groups in the area, or even if supplies can be transported easily or safely to its destination. Lastly, I do believe miracles happen and that God has a reason for them to happen. I can't really explain what happened since writing it up in this blog could not do it justice. Perhaps when I have digested the whole experience I'll have the courage to share more online.

I miss many aspects of Davao and the team we went with. Right now we're waiting to figure out if this is something we can really do full time or at least more often than once a year. I wish I could say I can share photos or video, but you know it's quite an intimate experience and the stuff we could show is probably more of the team. We didn't want the people we were sharing with to think they were part of a show or anything so we held off on taping them. I'm just so glad we were able to this and we hope that more out there will make the leap of faith and jump outside of their box and join a short-term mission trip. Not only does it change the lives of those you interact with, it will definitely transform your outlook on life. All I know is everyone I met and got to know have a place in my heart. Most of all I went with a team who taught us what love meant.

April 11, 2005 01:51 PM Travel  |   Link
A Whirlwind of Travels

I was down in San Diego for several days for an IA seminar, networking to jumpstart my consulting/freelance business, and visiting many family and friends. Oh and I also picked up my car, bright yellow Miata!!! On our drive back up we stopped in Arroyo Grande for lunch at El Taco Loco on Branch St. Take the Grand Ave exit from 101 and head east.

Oh my gosh we got carne asada burritos and a plate of nachos. Did I mention we had horrible Mexican food in Hong Kong. One day I was craving nachos for a snack. We ducked into a cafe that mentioned nachos on their menu. I ordered the nachos and Jeff got a scone. His was a fresh baked blueberry scone with his cup of tea. Nothing unusual for a former British colony. However when I got my nachos, they didn't even look like nachos. It was a plate of nacho-flavored Doritos, shredded cheese that wasn't even melted, and sprinkled with pickles. Yes PICKLES! I was so depressed. I think I ate one chip but was so sad that Jeff shared his scone with me. So with that kind of experience we have been eating lots of Mexican food recently. And Taco Loco in Arroyo Grande has to be the best mexican food in CA...and the nachos were exactly what I expected. I have finally satisfied my cravings for really good Mexican food. Now I have to find a place close to home.

The restaurant is low profile. You order at the counter and they call out your number. Ample refills of all the drinks. There's a picture of the family with Anthony Hopkins all over the place. We went on Sunday afternoon so it was quiet and not crowded. The bathrooms were very clean and well stocked.

Thanks Ryan for the recommendation. This is definitely a must stop when on the 101.

Visiting Friends and Family

April 04, 2005 12:57 PM Travel  |   Link
Last Images of HK

Nothing too exciting but thought I'd share just the same.

Lisa with Her HK Library Card

Dim Sum After Returning with some of Davao Missionary Team

Dinner with Language Partners

Video will come shortly from our mission trip.

March 28, 2005 08:51 AM Travel  |   Link
Extreme Spiritual Experience

We made it safely back today after some delays and cancelled flights. We were not near any of the terrorist bombings in the Philippines. I will share more later when we get back.

March 15, 2005 08:11 AM Travel  |   Link
Wealth in your face

Ok today was the lowest of lows for flaunting wealth. As I was returning to the ladies' locker room, I saw a woman dressed to work out talking to her maid to put all her street clothes into the locker and to wait outside of the gym until she was done with her workout. Oh my gosh! I've never seen anything like this before. I've seen maids go to restaurants and go shopping with the family they work for, but to actually accompany them to the gym and pick up after them in the locker room. Come on people...can't you even carry your own gym bag? So things like this really make me upset...I though Silicon Valley was bad...nope I think Hong Kong is worse in this category of the "I'm richer than thou syndrome."

March 10, 2005 03:44 AM Travel  |   Link
The Comforts of Going Home

I'm sitting here with my Total Greek Yogurt with Greek Honey, something of a sweet treat from back home(Trader Joe's) that I found at the local grocery store here. I'm not Greek, but it was something I bought quite often before we left CA. Each time I take a spoonful I start thinking of back home. You know the comforts of favorite places, our soft bed, lots of space at home to retreat to after a long day at work, and best of all the familiarity of everything around you.

Whenever I buy a US imported product I get all homesick. I know that it's expensive but somehow knowing that I can get my Tide or my box of Honey Nut Cheerios just makes me feel a little bit better about being here. It's not that I don't want to be here, but it gets a little frustrating to pick up items with Chinese written all over them and not knowing what exactly is in it. We have friends who have recommended more local products for basic needs which are inexpensive. I've tried them and they are pretty good quality stuff. However I can imagine expats here pretty much pay for the expensive stuff just to have something resembling a life back home. I can see that I'm in their camp once in a while.

Growing up in Cerritos(a suburb of LA County) I remember my family pretty much shopping 90% of the time at asian markets(which were pretty much everywhere in Cerritos), 5% Costco, and 5% the local market . The local chain of Albertson's or Safeway was just a block away from our house but mom would go at least 2 miles to an asian market. So being on the opposite side of the situation I can totally relate to looking for imported goods from my "motherland."

All I know is right now, I'm enjoying my yogurt and I'm really missing home. 3 weeks more until we're back!

March 01, 2005 08:21 AM Travel  |   Link
Winchester Mystery House Meets Urban Mega Mall

We started doing tourist stuff today since our time is starting to run out here. We went to the new Langham Place in Mongkok. The escalators went up/down to floors of unknown destinations. The many stairs were difficult to tell which floors they went to. So unlike the stairs of Winchester which really lead to no where, the Langham Place escalators really didn't go to every single floor. One would go up 3 floors while another went up 5 floors. Argh!! It's definitely a wonderful place if you like to browse aimlessly and definitely targeted towards the young 20-something chuppie(Chinese Yuppie).

It also sort of reminded me of the 1/2 floors at the UIUC main library stacks. Very frustrating signage as well. I'll post photos later. At least we managed to get some lunch and duck back into the MTR to get to TST.

February 24, 2005 08:22 AM Travel  |   Link
HK Blogs Collected Recently

February 21, 2005 11:33 PM Travel  |   Link
When there is no English

After a 2 hour workout, I was super hungry and didn't want to stand in line waiting for a table or food near the gym. So I headed home to a cafe close to home with good food at a cheap price and hoping the lunch crowd was back at their offices.

I've been to Red Mountain Cafe several times with Jeff. Of course in many situations Jeff always orders for us since he knows Chinese and I don't. But this time I was on my own. I was scared but I knew what I wanted in Chinese and I was really really hungry, so I made my attempt to order. I already knew the set menu is only in chinese and the staff only spoke in Chinese. I'd mess up but I tried my hardest. So in my mixed up tones/pronunciation I ordered my lunch and thankfully the waiter repeated the choices a few times...it helped since after the third time I actually understood what he asked me.

I've noticed recently as well that I'm no longer translating what I hear into English in my head...it's like I know what it means. To get to the 7th floor where the restaurant was, the elevator guy asked me what floor I wanted in Chinese...and I automatically said "chaat" exactly how it should be said...I didn't even have to think "7." I'm wondering if we stay another year that living in Chinese will really sink into my head.

Hopfully going back to the US won't mess up all that I've learned in the past 6 months. So if I know you know Cantonese, I WILL speak to you in Cantonese. Please oblige and speak to me in Cantonese as well. I've worked too hard to learn this language and I don't want to lose it.

February 17, 2005 06:09 AM Travel  |   Link
Catching Up on Uploading Photos

Chinese New Year
Eating in HK
HKU Science and Technology
Photos in and around Causeway Bay
Product and Brand Expo
December School Outreach

Sorry these are like 3 months old but you know how you forget to develop film in your camera...well not uploading is the same experience. It just sits in your camera until you notice the next time you use it that you have lots of stuff.

Our time is winding down here but it hasn't stopped me from meeting more interesting people. For instance I took a day trip to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Clearwater Bay. I had a marvelous time chatting with VC about HKUST Library/life and it turned out she knew one of my colleagues at GSB Jackson Library. What a small world!

I'm really going to miss this place. While HK is small on the map there is just so much to do here. It turns out that a few more miles north of Clearwater Bay is Sai Kung where there is great windsurfing. Jeff hasn't had a chance to go but our friends G &S went a while ago and enjoyed it.

Ooh..and we just found a HK edition of Monopoly! We're buying a copy and bringing it home to stack on top of our Dotcom edition.

February 16, 2005 05:22 PM Travel  |   Link
It's getting hot in here

I can't believe this...it's in the 70s with lots of humidity/showers...you would think it's summer already. I decided to check Yahoo weather for Hong Kong and from mid-70s the last couple of days to mid-50s this coming weekend. Midwest folks can probably relate but more like in the middle of summer not late winter!

February 06, 2005 01:06 AM Travel  |   Link
Gung hei fat choy or Sai Nihn Fei Lok

It's Chinese New Year and Causeway Bay is party central. The Victoria Park Festival has begun where there are rows and rows of toys, rooster theme stuff, and of course the famous flower market.

I'll post more photos of the festival shortly. But it's very difficult to really capture how many people have descended upon CWB except LOTS O' PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. There's a 3 days public holiday and most people have just taken the whole week off. With end of the year sales and CWB being shopping mecca, you can only imagine the density of people who are on holiday just hanging out, shopping for new clothes(you have to wear new clothes/shoes on the first day of the new year), flowers(each flower has a significance for what kind of virtue you want upon yourself or your family) and chocolates/fruits for visiting gifts. Also since it's the end of the year there are SO MANY sales because it's a bad omen for your business to keep goods from last year. So I've been eyeing some things to buy on New Year's Eve when they slash prices to 75-80% off. There are so many traditions for the new year that Jeff is kind of overwhelmed but he has been diligent about finding out we need to do.

So over the next few days we'll be eating out alot with relatives, I'm going to get a new pair of shoes since it's a tradition(CWB is shoe heaven), and probably have to go to the gym more since there will be lots of sweets served over the whole week. Oh God, please help me from gaining the weight I just lost... 45lbs and counting...

I'll post more photos and traditions as I encounter them. Oh btw, SFGATE has a story on some traditions going on in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Happy chinese new year everyone!

PS: It's my mom's 60th birthday the day of Chinese New Year. Happy birthday mom!!!!

January 25, 2005 10:14 PM Travel  |   Link
Crossing a street, a crisis

So I almost got hit by a taxi today while crossing to catch a tram in the middle of the road. Good thing the driver saw me coming and didn't freak me out or anything. I still have difficulty looking to the right first especially since I'm not driving anymore it's difficult to remember. Ok, major mental note...ALWAYS LOOK RIGHT FIRST!

January 24, 2005 06:01 AM Travel  |   Link
Taking the Bus

While it can get hectic to figure out all the bus systems in Hong Kong, it turns out that there is some logic to some of them. The numbering scheme actually corresponds to general destinations or where the bus passes. Some things I learned today:

M### - implies that the bus will be headed to the HK MTR Station or Airport Express.
###M - implies that the bus will pass a major MTR Station or drop off really close to an MTR station

9## - signifies the bus will take the west tunnel to Kowloon
6##- signifies the bus will take the east tunnel to Kowloon
1##- signifies the bus will take the middle tunnel to Kowloon in the area of TST or Hung Hum.

The funny thing is that the guide books never mentioned this convention. I'll probably add to this list especially since I'm still learning the whole system.


January 20, 2005 06:01 AM Travel  |   Link
1st Nudist Beach in Asia

Ok it's not really something to write home about but since it's a first for Asia I thought I'd mention it.

Hong Kong naturists pass hurdle to Asia's first nude beach

I doubt I'll be headed there but thought it was interesting.

January 18, 2005 07:19 AM Whine  |   Link
From the Vineyards in Napa to The Vine in Hong Kong

It still amazes me that God had plans for me in the vinyeards of Napa last May and to actually find myself settled down here in Hong Kong in The Vine. I wasn't thinking about it at first when Jeff found their website, but tonight when recounting my story about the dead lizard it hit me. Strange coincidence but I think it's divine intervention.

Coming here to HK has been a continuation of my spiritual and emotional growing from Napa. I have been able to slowly incorporate my analysis in my daily life and in some perhaps spread it to others. I feel refreshed here(despite the pollution of our neighborhood) and I don't feel so anxious about returning to the US. I feel stronger both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have learned that for everything that might appear bad it may reveal something actually good. I can't do everything on my own.

I actually don't want to leave but we have obligations and responsibilities that require us to return. However I do see us coming back in the near future. Perhaps new opportunities will present themselves when we return? But whatever happens, I have so much faith that there is a purpose to it.

Travel  |   Link
Leisure and Pleasure

Yes that is the label for a floor at Sogo here in CWB. But I also thought it was cool to use because we have some new photos of spending our free time here in HK.

Ping Pong with the Nieces
I wasn't feeling well again(I think it's the pollution making me nauseated) so was unable to participate.

Bowling with the Guys
The boys went bowling while the girls had a civilized evening of chatting about books over cheese, wine, and brownies.

Walk through HK Park
One quiet afternoon we took a break from our workout and took a stroll through the park and visited the Tea Museum. Kind of chilly but it was probably more chilly for the brides(in sleeveless gowns) taking photos in and around the park.

January 15, 2005 05:21 AM Travel  |   Link
Parody of Kung Fu and other classic movie elements

We've been here for a few months but tonight was the first time we actually went to the theature to watch a HK film. Kung Fu Hustle, a Stephen Chow production, was absolutely engaging and hilarious. At the same time there were various movie elements you'd recognize from both HK and US films sprinkled through the story line. It was like a mix of West Side Story, Matrix, Bruce Lee movies, Forrest Gump, and a host of other great US and Chinese films. Stephen Chow is very talented playing multiple roles as the director, producer and the main character. I'm starting to make a list of other Chow films to watch before we head home. According to the yahoo site it will be in limited release in the US sometime in March.

January 08, 2005 07:51 PM Travel  |   Link
Tennis is BIG here

So when some top seated women tennis players show up for a tournament and fundraiser, it's pretty much sold out. I unfortunately was still recovering from my cold and Jeff went to the main event. The final match of the Watson's Water Challenge 2004. Venus Williams(USA) vs. E. Dementieva(Russia)

Jeff also had a chance to see the Williams sisters play doubles.

Even with Jeff's seats from 10 rows from the back he was able to use his super zoom camera to get some of these great shots. Maria Sharapova was on hand for an auction of her racket and signed shirt that went to aid tsunami victims. Her auctioned item alone brought in $500,000HKD($65K USD). There was also an autographs line for Sharapova that Jeff said was super long.

In and around HK, tennis and golf are big. There are so many boutique shops dedidcated to tennis and golf gear. While tennis is a little more accessible to the masses with courts in and around parks, golf on the other is quite exclusive here. Most folks go to mainland China to play for a weekend of golf and it's still cheaper than playing around here. It's pretty amazing.

January 02, 2005 01:24 AM Travel  |   Link
Mainland China 2004 etc.

I guess this has to be the most extensive traveling we've ever done before. Knowing it was going to be snowing and cold we took the packaged tour route for embarking on this trip. 11 days and 5 cities (Guangzhou, Guilin, Beijing, Xian, Shanghai) at the end of 2004 brought us a white Christmas, a renewed interest in Asian history especially the elaborate chinese dynasties, and a new appreciation for Charmin toilet paper and western style toilets. Funny enough the toilets here have a rating system just like hotels. The best rated toilet was at the Summer Palace at 4 stars.

Many folks mentioned that Christmas was not going to be fun in Asia since much of the people are not Christian. Boy would you be wrong, for instance here in HK the whole city of lights were in full swing in November. You would have thought the whole island was Christian. Of course all the wonderful light shows and Christmas displays were all in the name of tourism and consumerism. Even in mainland China I was impressed with how the hotels and main streets were all lit up with various holiday greetings and imagery with the faint sounds of holiday music echoing in the background. Even one night when I was cuped up in the hotel room recovering from food poisoning, I could hear children singing "Silent Night" down in the lobby, one floor below. It made me miss my family and friends.

So at the Great Wall, yes "the" great wall our travel companions were able to get a cell phone signal and called their relatives down in Australia. Boy technology is truly amazing. Unfortunately I don't have international direct dialing on my cell phone so was unable to call anyone. It was fun having a father/daughter duo as traveling companions in Beijing and Xian. Along with our personal tour guides giving us truncated overview of chinese history, we had a blast over our Peking duck and wandering around trying not to fall on the icy paths.

What was most interesting over the trip was not just the old sites, but how there was a Starbucks even in the center of the Forbidden City. I could just imagine if the spirits of the emperors were hanging out amazed not just to see tourists hanging out and gawking at their old things(or at least the replicas of old things since much of the place was pillaged during the wars) but to see the familiar Starbucks logo plastered on an old chinese styled building jammed packed with Western tourists ordering their tall non-fat double macchiato. Most of the large cities we went to had a Starbucks every few blocks. It was amazing and sick at the same time, but it wasn't as bad as hearing KFC celebrating their 1200 KFC restaurants in China last week.

I guess the closest you can get to the Forbidden City without being there is watching the movie _The Last Emperor_. I'm currently reading the autobiography of the emperor that inspired the movie and it's kind of interesting.

Links to recent photos:
Hong Kong Christmas Lights along TST waterfront
Jeff's niece plays, little drummer girl at the Ritz Carlton Tea Room
Mainland China Albums

December 14, 2004 05:01 AM Travel  |   Link
Abbrev and Acronyms in HK

Ok, I thought Stanford was really bad with all their acronyms for frequently used words: Mem Chu, fro yo, foam, eanab...

Well here's a short list:
TST - Tsim Sha Tui, a district in Kowloon
DB - Discovery Bay, expat commune, oops I mean expat community on Lantau Island soon to be next to Disney Hong Kong in 2005-6
DPD - dai pai dong (food vendor stalls, that are illegal and probably will give you a bad tummy ache)
KCR - Kowloon-Canton Railways, gets you to the China border and New Territories
MTR - Mass Transit Railway, subway system
LKF - Lai Kwai Fong, party central of SOHO
SOHO - South of Hollywood Rd in the Mid-Levels district

There are more, just can't remember them off the top of my head. I'll probably add more just to archive :)

December 13, 2004 05:20 AM Travel  |   Link
You know you're a local when...

Hong Kong Island isn't that big. In fact, most of the island is uninhabited because of preserved natural lands. However, there are about 8-10 million people on HK Island. Dense living conditions in many high rise buildings allows for that many people to live here. But the oddest thing is you do bump into people you know randomly in and around places you tend to hang out. For instance, I've bumped into one of my former classmates from chinese school two times now (once at our gym and the other night at the escalators in SOHO) and just today we saw a friend from church in the Hong Kong MTR Station. I remember a few weeks back we saw Jeff's cousin crossing the street towards us. Who knows we'll probably bump into more people we know more often. While there are days I just feel like any other anonymous person walking to my destination, it's quite nice to bump into folks I know and feel part of the whole eco-system of friendly faces.

December 12, 2004 06:17 AM Travel  |   Link
Bookstore Apartment

I never noticed until the other day that one of our elevators is actually the service elevator to the bookstore next door. I thought it was already cool that I was next door to a bookstore and stationary store. How cool is it or what? Instant gratification to all the books I like :) And then to see the service entrance off one of the floors of the elevator I rode in. Ok I know my librarian friends out there would appreciate that! I just couldn't help but share.

December 09, 2004 06:00 AM Travel  |   Link
Shopping Bags Everywhere

It's definitely obvious when you come here that everything you see is disposable. From the fashion to moon cakes packaging, everything finds its way into the trash bin; or in most people's cases, the back of the cupboard.

One aspect of HK culture that I find fascinating is the reuse of shopping bags. Everywhere you go you get a shopping bag, my collection fills a whole cupboard in the kitchen. Mind you it's not the typical plastic bags you get from the grocery store, it's all the different sized bags you get from the department store, the Sony store, Aveda store, and all the variety of stores you can shop at here in CWB. What I find myself doing these days instead of using my backpack or my recent y purchased bag from Shenzhen is reusing these shopping bags. I'm not alone. You go on the MTR, the tram, or the bus and you see many people reusing their various bags. In some way it almost gives you a glimpse of people's buying habits here...or at least the types of stores they frequent. There are days where I wonder what was the original item purchased to get this or that type of bag. I start to daydream about a tai tai's fancy shopping spree at the local Lane Crawford or the high school student's trek to the CWB Plaza for the latest in this winter's fashion accessory using what would have been one week's worth of lunch money.

The most seen bag near my neighborhood has to be the large Sogo bags. These days I use one of my Aveda bags. It's practical and keeps me looking local. I usually walk around with a travel bag with my gym clothes and now I'm thinking I should just reuse one of the other shopping bags. I guess I'm not ready to give in fully yet.

The only thing frustrating about these bags is that their lifespan is not long especially if it gets wet. So on dry days I use the paper bags and probably on the rainy days I'll use the mound of plastic bags I have from the grocery store. Also if you overstuff the bags, the handles break or they tear easily. I recall one time seeing someone on the street just put two bags together just to reinforce its carrying potential. I guess it didn't take too long for me to pick up another local habit.

Speaking of packaging and bags. I can't wait to share my Ikea handles collection. Since not too many people have cars here the Ikea here has a bagging/packing your packages area after you pay for your items. Here you can tie up your goods, wrap the glassware in paper, and put these handles on large items that are difficult to hold or put them in large bags. With our treks to Ikea, we've amassed quite a collection of handles.

December 04, 2004 06:16 AM Travel  |   Link
A little more about Causeway Bay

Found this interesting site that describes a little bit of what you can do and see in Causeway Bay.

Travel  |   Link
Nobody dines alone in Hong Kong

One of the most interesting aspects of HK dining is the fact that you rarely dine alone. There's no such thing as personal space. (You get a good understanding of this when you take the public transportation or elevators) So in most of the casual restaurants or soup/noodle shops you can be at a table for 6 with 2 other couples or be at a table for 2 dining with another solo diner. It's not unusual and there are no expectations to talk to this other person. It works out for the restaurant and for the solo diner; fill the seats quickly and no dining alone. This can be disconcerting for most but it kind of gets interesting. For one, you can see what others are ordering and just tell the waitress you want the same thing.

However there was one time Jeff and I were eating at our favorite noodle shop on a large table. We were happily seated and ordered our meal. While we were waiting at least 3 sets of couples came and went from our table. I guess some folks don't like to share but we were content and we took no offense. But it was kind of funny that in the 30 minutes we were there that the others didn't sit across from us for too long before spotting a free table for 2. We ate in silence the whole time but grinned that nobody wanted to be with us.

December 02, 2004 06:21 AM Travel  |   Link
The Chan Hong Kong Tours Ltd

We love it when we play tour guide. It gets us out of day to day routine. Forutnately for us we got to play host for a friend of a friend. Starting off with a nice lunch of dim sum at Jade Garden where we had all the classic dim sum from shrimp dumplings to pork buns.

Jeff was able to go to Victoria Peak which funny enough he had not seen in a couple of years. I was actually at the Peak playing tour guide a couple months ago. This time we added an open top double decker bus through Central and a Star Ferry ride to Kowloon. We then headed to Harbor City of noodle soup and scallion bread. To top it off we went to Temple Street Night Market where our new friend Andrea had a blast bargaining with one of the vendors.

Perhaps we should start our own tour guide business of the city?

Photos of our Grand Day Out with Andrea.

November 29, 2004 08:43 PM Travel  |   Link
Side trips and other news

Sorry no new news recently, we've been traveling alot the past week. We'll be posting to hkupdate mailing list shortly. If you're not already on the list, please email me (lchan at this domain). We've been writing more personal notes through the mailing list and write about 2-3 times a month.

Some highlights:
Repulse Bay
Macau Grand Prix

November 20, 2004 06:31 AM Travel  |   Link
You can't get any whiter...really!

Can't anyone get a facial moisturizer here without skin whitening? Living in CWB, I've noticed there's a big fascination with skin care or more specifically skin whitening, make-up, and weight lose.

Weight lose is a also big deal here. If you're bigger than a size 6 you're pretty much considered obese here. It's amazing how skinny many of the women are here. I remember seeing an ad on the bus for someone who was probably a size 6 saying she was sooo fat and then get hooked up to some kind of contraption that got her to a size 0. Imagine my frustration of knowing I've lost over 40 lbs. already and arrive here to hear that I'm still obese from various fitness trainers. Aiya! Of course I know none of the products you smear on your body or ingest will help whiten your skin or help you loose your weight.

If anything some people are pretty vain about staying white and being super skinny. If they were skinny and had lots of muscle tone that's one thing, but most of the folks here are just really skinny. If anything there are no J-Lo or Beyonce shapes here. It's almost like their bodies are in a transitory pre-pubscent state.

In some way I've fallen for it, but there's no getting around it. I still need a moisturizer and I like getting massage oils. It just seems that they try to sell harder by telling you the product will make my skin whiter or the oil will help combat fatty deposits in your legs...or something like that. Gosh with my working out for 2 hours every other day and trying really hard to stay vegetarian, I know I'm doing it the old fashion way...I'm working it off! As for my freckles, I really like them. They set me apart from most folks and they build character :)

Maybe in the US people are really in an unhealthy state and I was desensitized that it was ok to be fat. But here, I've swung the other way. You definitely stand out if you're bigger than say a size 6.

November 08, 2004 06:43 AM Travel  |   Link
What is China?

Interesting article at the Guardian about China's political/social/economic ideology, "One week in the life of the Chinese miracle."

November 07, 2004 05:40 PM Travel  |   Link
As I was walking down the street one day...

So in front of our building there's a major crosswalk that gets you to many buses and trams. Once you get the green light you have a mad rush to get to the other side. It's like the game of Frogger as you try to dodge other peds toting children, pets and handtrucks. I usually walk through the crowds in a quick pace since if you walk to slow you get run over by other peds and if you're holding hands people will walk through. Crossing the street is not a casual affair here, especially in Causeway Bay.

Yesterday I was crossing with Jeff and I happened upon a mother and child holding hands. I didn't notice the child until he was standing right in front of me looking up at me. His mother had just let go of his hand. There was this moment were we were just "shocked" to see each other stopped in the middle of the crosswalk of a busy intersection. After I got to the other side, I just started to laugh. This poor kid is probably 6 years old staring up atsome person not knowing what to do since his mom just let go of his hand while crossing the street.

I think it's very difficult to walk around this part of town with kids because everyone walks with focused purpose of everyone at eye level. It's rare to see children and so anywhere you go you don't expect to see a kid there.

Speaking of height...another reason I think I like this place is I AM the average height. I can easily blend in without having someone who is 6 feet tall walking around. I also feel tall since many of the ceilings of public transportation and hallways are not so tall so I feel taller. The other challenge on the other hand is when I have to meet someone who does not know what I look like and say "I'm asian with medium length black hair." It's not quite helpful here

November 02, 2004 08:19 AM Travel  |   Link
HK High Stress Place to Live

How ironic that we decide to take some time off from living in the US to a more stressful area? According to Reuters, people working in Hong Kong are the most stressed out people in Asia.

I'm not surprised. The people here work crazy long hours. It reminds me of the startup/dotcom boom days a few years ago, but the folks do it here for many many years.

Please pray that they realign their focus and priorities more properly.

Here's a list of the most/least stressful careers based on ulcers.

Here's a list of most/least stressful cities to live.

Travel  |   Link
Voice Over IP

One of the cool aspects of Jeff's work is he still is in close contact with his colleagues through Voice Over IP. His company just setup the system and he is able to connect with them online. It works pretty well.

Also Jeff and I were playing around with Yahoo IM and the voice chat works ok. So any friends and family who want to get a hold of us over phone just initiate a chat room and you can hear our voices. Don't do the Internet Call because that feature actually costs real money. Just create a chat room and invite either of us and we can initiate the voice chat.

Isn't technology just kewl!

PS: Staying up to watch the results tonight :)

October 31, 2004 05:27 AM Travel  |   Link
Halloween in Lan Kwai Fong

So last night we had dinner with Cousin Perran in Lan Kwai Fong's Reggatta, a really good New York based Italian restaurant. Following the dinner we decided to go check out the scene at Lan Kwai Fong which was already known as the place to see and be seen. Well before we ventured down the street we found a balcony to check out the crowd. Boy it was really a crowd. It was actually kind of overwhelming, like the mosh pit at a rave concert (yes, I know what it's like to be in a most pit). The street is closed off for pedestrian but the trick is that the direction is to walk through only ONE WAY. A few years ago drunk patrons of a bar started throwing beer bottles into the crowd. A stampede ensued and several people died. Police officers made their presence known but looking down from the balcony it really was quite overwhelming.

Lan Kwai Fong Halloween 2004

People were everywhere this weekend, the crowds were still out and about in CWB late on Friday night.

History of Halloween
Pretty good overview of the origins and intermingling of traditions.

October 27, 2004 09:26 PM Food & Wine  |   Link
Minimal Cooking

So you might not remember but our place is really small. I have no oven or dishwasher or even a microwave. Just a 2 burner stove. Here's a photo of the kitchen. After finding CitySuper we bought some groceries(some, since our fridge is just a little bigger than a dorm fridge) I started to really get into cooking. Yesterday I made an omellete and today for lunch I made our favorite lentils with rice. It was ok. I remember back in Napa in May I just had a hot plate, microwave, mini convection/toaster oven in a room the size of a small closet with a little sink. I was able to cook some elaborate dinner. I guess sometimes we get spoiled with all the gadgets that Williams Sonoma and other cookware stores sell you. We also have become dependent on modern appliances. But it comes back down to is what are you trying to make and what tools are really necessary to make it. Also with the dinky fridge I shop more often which means the ingredients are fresher. Which brings me back to kitchens and cooking technique.

Before I left for Napa in May I was really thinking of renovating the kitchen for more space. After Napa and especially after living here in HK, I don't think it's about space. It's about getting rid of junk. I probably have lots of things I only take out once a year and then it's really just for decorative reasons. But I remember watching tv shows about Galley kitchens on boats. Aesthetics are important as well to create a mood, but with simple dishware and stemware I think you can still pull off a nice dining experience.

What I noticed that with minimal space you can really cook up a storm. It's all about efficiency of tools and not wasting. I can imagine in Japan and other places with dense living space that's the case as well. Hopfully with more practice cooking here, I'll probably still remodel the kitchen back home but to modernize the space and increase the dining/socializing area. I'll have to read up on Galley kitchens as well.

October 25, 2004 08:43 PM Travel  |   Link
K700i photos

The photos are ok. I think our Canon is better (even if it is 3 years old) for more special outings. The photos come out ok indoors but better outdoors in natural light.

I've figured out the FM radio stations here and have preset them for my phone. I like the lightweight aspect and the nice clear screen. The buttons are a reasonable size and maneuvering the menu options is fine. I think if you are already a Sony owner then you should be fine. My favorite feature so far is the game that lets you mix your own mp3s.

I'm still trying to figure out the calendar/notes features. I also can't figure out the T9 shortcut writing which is critical here since more folks SMS here. The infrared/bluetooth are really cool too since it helps me download the files to my computer. For the price it's reasonable(close to $350USD). Since this is the first time I've ever bought a phone I'm pretty excited. Up until now I always got the free phone that came with service contracts. I like the idea of convergence but you can't expect all the features to perform 100% to your liking.

Travel  |   Link
Halloween in HK

Ok, it's one of those western imports again...Halloween. I think originally the expats celebrated halloween for their kids to be able to feel like their home. But of course it has become a commercial venture for retailers and restaurants/bars. Many of the high end places have all night parties for the low price of $666HK. And being expats we've fallen for it. We're headed out Saturday night for an all night party of champagne. I just hope I don't have to wear a costume. I'm really not into halloween. Yes the kids are cute and everything but it's not me.

October 21, 2004 06:39 AM Travel  |   Link
Not Too Far from Home

What do you get when you cross Draeger's, Andronico's, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods.

City Super!

We finally found a store that has all the same foods we ate back home: nice selection of greens(esp. prebagged salads), my favorite Health Valley soups(yes the 1pt a serving), snacks, a great variety of cheeses from all over the world, great wine selection(kind of pricey), our favorite soy milk(not that I didn't like the local brands), pastas, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I'll have to venture into the sweets area to locate meringue cookies and dried fruits. Of course with much of the goods imported there is a nice price tag on the items.

They also have a great take away deli, candy store, and bakery. Not too far from our gym and another one nearby our flat.

October 20, 2004 06:23 AM Travel  |   Link
Settling In

Lots of great adventures the last few days. The most memorable is dining at Club Fagaro. Fagaro is a special spice that literally makes your mouth numb. Jeff and I had an unfortunate experience of biting into a fagaro spice. It was a scarey and strange feeling. The funny thing is that the hostess at CF was totally excited and wide-eyed about the spice, as though it's some kind of drug. We both know we're not going back the food was Sichuan(sp is local) and definitely puts you into a state of awe of how anything could ever get that spicey. The other notable thing that happened at the restaurant was some kind of food critic was also there and giving some "constructive feedback" to the hostess. I wonder if she started to cry. The critic was pretty harsh about such detail...heck I wouldn't have mind to have a cold plate since all the dishes were so spicey hot. Quick someone pass me some milk or a firehose to cut the spiceyness!

Other news, traveled around Kwun Tong to visit the Nike and Adidas outlets. A great outing since I was determined to find some workout stuff. We just joined this gym called Pure Fitness. It's pretty nice but heck we're here only 5 months and we know we'll never get this kind of experience. They lend you clothes and socks to workout in, but I just feel too weird wearing someone else's clothes especially at a gym. I'm pretty sore after 3 straight days of working out both on weights and machines.

On top of that we get discounts at its sister establishments, Pure Spa & Red. We've dined at Red previously and had a wonderful time, I even took a photo with the dessert.

More photos...in restaurants, Happy Valley, Central, Lan Kwai Fong, Bond, Jim Family Get Together and stuff from the phone.

We were so bummed out at Bond. The tickets and website said no photography. When we arrived folks were toting around cameras and camera phones. During the encore everyone rushed to the front (we were front row) and even the 12 year olds had cameras. I was bummed since we were up front and had good distance to take some shots. Oh well next time I'll just bring my camera with me.

As to settling in...well we have found a church, The Vine. Which just celebrated the grand opening of their more permanent location in Central. It's a great church with a great delivery of the message and a wonderful worship team.

I also have language exchange sessions with a friend of a friend in Kowloon. It gets quite frustrating to get the tones. Sometimes Jeff and the group just laugh at the nonsensical things I say when I mess up the tones. Innocently I just grin until they translate what I just said.

One of Jeff's favorite adventures is getting a reflexology foot massage. Yes that's one hour of pure bliss. First they soak your feet in frangrant water while they massage your shoulders and neck for 15 minutes and then 45 minutes of ultimate feet massage. All for about $120HK(less than $20USD).

October 14, 2004 09:29 AM Food & Wine  |   Link
Random Outing

We did something that we're not accustomed to. We did a wine dinner at the JW Marriott's California with Chef John Sarich of Chateau Ste Michelle. Wonderful opportunity to schmooze with HK elite including the chef and Watson Cellar's Rob Temple. A great opportunity to sample wonderful wine and food from the Pacific Northwest. We thought it would be too forward to take photo of the food so we just took random photos coming home after the meal. We did however get a polaroid photo(shake it...shake it...shake it....) from the restaurant included in this evening's photo shoot.

October 11, 2004 11:48 PM Travel  |   Link
Sushi Shota

So in addition to hitting up Lonely Planet's Hong Kong guide, our family and friends here have been recommending restaurants in and around Causeway Bay. Today we had lunch at Sushi Shota. They have a nice and simple offering for lunch. For 120HKD(less than 20USD) you can get 8 pieces of sushi, 1 roll, miso, a hot egg custard appetizer, coffee, tea, and dessert. You get to choose your sushi and roll too. The fish was very fresh and the variety of choices was manageable.

The restaurant was well lit in a contemporary Japanese decor. The music(equivalent to elevator music of easy rock from the late 80s and early 90s) was appropirate considering the older age crowd. Fortunately we beat the lunch crowd that came in just after 12:30. People here in HK generally have their lunch break anwhere between 12:30 and 2pm.

Sushi Shota
8/F, Kyoto Plaza
491-499 Lockhart Rd,
Causeway Bay, HK

Call to make reservations for a table(Tel:28343031). We came in at 12:20 and it was empty but within 10 minutes the whole place was packed. When we were leaving a waiting crowd started to form.

Hours:11:45-15:00, 18:00-23:00

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It's Bond...

Not James Bond

Went to the Bond concert on Sunday night. Funny we were front row, and most of the concertgoers were not your typical rock concert type. I guess folks got confused when they see 4 beautiful women wielding classical instruments(violin, viola, cello) and they think a nice quiet evening.


Bond reinterprets favorite classical and pop pieces with funk, rock, and avant garde with their electrical and acousic instruments. I thought it was just really fun. For most of the concert folks sat in their seats just bobbing their heads or like me tapping my feet. The backup drums, keyboard, bass, guitar were just amazing in giving the quartet a nice funky rock beat. They even did some disco and hard rock music. Only during the last couple of songs and encore did they let folks in the back row come up front and you can really feel how excited everyone was to be able to see their favorite quartet play some fun rock music.

Of course Jeff appreciated the front row action, he admitted it was more fun than Mariah Carey.

Bond Website

On the same note of something different to classical roots, is the group, Amici Forever, who are opera singers. This is a group of 2 women and 3 men who are all equally attractive and classically trained in opera. Their innovation is not necessarily the music so much as being an "opera band" which happens to be the title of their first CD.

Amici Forever Website

Why does all this new, fresh, innovative talent come from the UK?

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Chinese Desserts

One of my favorite activities here is eating dessert. I'm not talking large mountains of chocolate or plates of almond cookies or oranges. It's been dessert after dessert of lots of tropical fruit(mangos/lychee/jackfruit/coconut), coconut milk, rice, beans. Desserts here are either hot souplike concoctions or nice icy delights.

Besides all the tropical flavored ice creams I have fallen for sesame flavored ice cream. Next to mango, taro and lychee, I think it's my favorite. Alongside Haagen Daz and XTC my favorite ice cream and gelato places, there are various dessert shops everywhere that have both the custard and pudding type desserts as well as the shaved ice with fruit.

It's not that expensive as well. An ice cream sundae at HD would cost around 60HKD and my sticky rice with mango and coconut milk is only 20HKD. To save on the 10% service charge if you sit, I just take mine home to enjoy at home while at the laptop. I'll take photos next time to share what it looks like. You'll have to come here to taste it yourself.

October 06, 2004 02:14 AM Travel  |   Link
Lesson 1: How to Fit In

Today we've officially made the ranks of being a "local." It seems that we have been asked a few times now for directions on how to use the MTR or where some particular point of interest is...as well as which stops that the streetcar we were riding would make. Also while getting a foot massage today the therapist thought I looked familiar.

Here are some obvious tips to fit into the HK lifestyle:
1. Dress like everyone else from local stores and street vendors.
2. Get a local hairstyle.
3. Look at ease in taking the bus, streetcar, or MTR.
4. Don't carry a map and a camera.
5. Always be on your phone or listening to your latest mp3 player.

October 04, 2004 11:03 PM Travel  |   Link
Finally..flat photos

Here are some photos of in and around our flat/building in Causeway Bay.

Travel  |   Link
Trying to Fit In

I sort of look like someone who could fit in. Even the locals think I understand every word they tell me in Chinese. However I'm not Chinese and my native language is English...so heck why not try to fit in as soon as possible...nope not 8 hours of chinese lessons every day...I got a hair cut!

Went to "Headquarters" in Central for an updated hairstyle that is suitable to the local trends and light on the head...I think I lost 2 lbs in the process after looking down at the floor where more than half my hair was. To make the new locks "shine" out, I had highlights as well, nope not in purple or blue, went for red and copper.

Speaking of highlights, the swanky hair salon is frequented by HK celebrities. While I was sitting and and watching chunks of locks falling to the floor, there were a couple of minutes of rushing to another room. It turns out a local HK soap opera mega star just entered the room next door. Gosh too bad I didn't have my camera on me.

Now I guess I should really try to bust out the little chinese I know...

"How much is mango ice cream?"

"I'd like to bargain that price..."

"I don't eat meat."

"Where is the local club?"

PS: We have wifi/internet at home now. I'll catch up on the writing soon enough!

PPS: Guess what...I have a feeling we're slowly become Apple users. We just bought an Airport Express to facilitate the wifi and print server in our flat. I guess it all started with iTunes and our iPod...what a great switch tactic.

October 02, 2004 04:39 AM Travel  |   Link
Holidays = No Routine

Photos of our new flat will be posted shortly...since there have been many holidays, the housekeepers have not made their rounds to our flat...and it looks like Ikea exploded here with all the bits of cardboard and stuff everywhere. Some highlights, it's a 1 bed/1bath in the middle of Causeway Bay that overlooks a McDonalds and KFC(which has wireless access)and is next door to a bookstore. It was furnished really nicely and Jeff has a small area for an office that has a window.

Causeway Bay(CWB)is the shopping mecca for HK. Lots of name brands(Calvin Klein, Coach, Benneton) side by side with nice inexpensive trendy fashions. We're still acclimating to the weather and dense population. Most interesting ice cream so far is Lychee flavored Haagan Daz, most interesting sight is many old men walking around with their prized birds in cages similar to people at home walking their dogs. Birds here are prized for their singing and not necessarily their plumage. The food is amazing especially the fresh, inexpensive seafood. A really good organic vegetarian chinese restaurant around the block and all the wuntun mein soup every 20 ft from our bldg.

The Moon Festival(known locally here as the Mid-Autumn Fesitval) was really fun. During the festival kids have the opportunity of running around with their music playing mechanical lanterns and glow in the dark trinkets or be like Jeff and me running around with our old-style lanterns that were lit with real candles. Kind of dangerous either way since the high-tech ones may have loose wires and sharp corners that had adults yelling, "Be careful, you might poke out someone's eyes!" And of course running around with paper lanterns with lit candles which could turn into balls of fire with adults reminding children how to drop it and run!

The children stayed up late since the next day was a holiday. All the large parks were crowded with people attending the festivities(music/cantopop, moon/lantern gazing, and just plain socializing). What's a moon festival with out having moon cakes...the latest craze right now are frozen mooncakes made of moshi with sweet fillings like strawberry or nutty like chestnuts. Mooncakes are usually high cholesterol baked pastries filled with lotus paste and an egg. I wrote up about my Starbucks experience previously with their coffee flavored mooncakes.

Friday was National Day(similar to 4th of July) so there were fireworks and another day off for most people. EM came to visit and we sat at Excelsior's top floor bar/lounge to watch more fireworks(probably left over from last nights National Day fireworks) and admire the Kowloon skyline.

We haven't really gotten into a routine since the holidays are throwing us off...also we've been concentrating on visiting relatives and settling down into our new place that all other regular activites are on hold (i.e. Lisa hasn't been running).

September 30, 2004 07:26 PM Travel  |   Link
Sorry little news lately

We just got our apartment on Tuesday and with the Mid-Autumn Festival and locating free wifi we have had little time to be online. However I'm online now and trying to post photos and watching the presidential debate online.

1. Apartment info to be sent out shortly.
2. Photos are uploaded sequentially in the album. I'll organize them when we get wifi at our apartment.
3. Jeff has started working so we're on somewhat Pacific Time now.
4. We're going to check out "Bound" and "The Eagles" this month.
5. Travel arrangements are starting to happen...if anyone visits, we can probably host about 2 people. We have a 1 bedroom place in Causeway Bay. We're planning to head to China in December. Nothing else planned yet.

I promise to write more about our observations in the coming days.

September 26, 2004 06:47 AM Travel  |   Link
Shake Well and Buy Often

I'm adding new photos every day, so please come visit often and feel free to share.

Preview of Lantern Fesitval and various street vendors. (Warning: there are offensive, or may be considered offensive, meat products in the photos!)

We still haven't selected an apartment. We're torn between inexpensive, spacious, "local" living or expensive, upbeat, exciting, dense and cramped quarters. Don't get me wrong local living is still a little dense, but it's "quiet" (loosely interpreted: about a smidge quieter) compared to Causeway Bay or Central.

Jet lag has not been kind ot us. Jeff and I have not had coffee in several months and with the urgency of having to locate housing we have taken up drinking espresso-based beverages to get us through the late afternoons. Also, the verdict is still unknown on whether or not lychee ice cream has impeded on my recent weight loss of 40lbs.

More on the history of mooncakes soon!

September 22, 2004 02:16 AM Travel  |   Link
Outside your window

Arrived at 6am China Standard Time on Wed 9/22. The flight was very rough but we survived after 12 hours of watching Troy, Super Size Me, Stepford Wives and a variety of classic movies. We were both so tired after running around the last day of laundry and packing and getting our important papers notarized, witnessed and sealed away. We thought we were going to crash but it didn't quite happen. We're forcing ourselves to stay awake so that we can adjust to the new time zone. We've already checked out an apartment not too far from our hotel...sort of feels like home when you look out the window and there is a McDonald's and KFC down below and a Starbucks around the corner. Give me a noodle house please!!!!

We took a train ride from the airport to Central where we then caught a free hotel shuttle to Park Lane Hotel. It's raining outside and it is still quite humid. I think I'm going to cut my hair; all of its puffiness is quite a rat's nest. Also I'm thinking going either with blue or purple hair. I'll take votes later.

I think I'm going to invest some money in Travelsmith. I pulled out some new shirts I got from Travelsmith and not one item had a wrinkle. I just love it. Of course the fashions here are very different from back home, but I'll have to get a fashion aware 30-something to help me make the transition.

Anyone out there know why they give you an empty bowl at a certain restaurant before you order dim sum(no carts here since it's not cost efficient)? I couldn't really tell if folks were "sterilizing" their tea cup and chopsticks in the bowl. I'm too embarrassed to ask.

My favorite event so far is a visit to the Haagen Daz at the entrance of the hotel that sells lychee cream and ginger ice cream. It was pure heaven especially since I've been on a lychee craze recently.

We're starting to settle down at our hotel for a bit so that we can concentrate on hitting up more apartments over the next couple of days. We'll send out our HK address as soon as we find a place. Also the blog writing will be a bit short of details of more interesting things since I'm saving the best for the book writing attempt while I'm here.

September 20, 2004 10:47 AM Travel  |   Link
D-Day...Departure Day

In 2 days at this time we'll be in Hong Kong (18 hours ahead + the 16 hour flight). We have been quite busy the last few weeks visiting friends and family. I apologize if we didn't get to your neck of the woods. It was quite hectic to make the visits everywhere. We've been busy the last few days packing up our house as AP moves in to housesit for us and selling the last cars. Gosh, I can't believe we're down to one car.

Thanks again to DT for the phone and travel cards, I know it will come in handy once we arrive. I want to thank our church family for the fun and heartwarming send off party. I also want to thank MC for hosting a sendoff family dinner the other night. Thanks again to the GSB crew for sendoff and afternoon at Malibu Grand Prix. KC, I will have a dirty martini thinking of you when your bundle of joy arrives. EM/SM, goodluck for the century ride. VS/SK, goodluck with your bundle of joy next month. DP/LP, I'll be praying for you both when your bundle arrives as well. Sorry to those who have sent us info about weddings coming up, we'll celebrate with you when we come back.

Now we're down to the last few hours. Pack some meals(airlines are not so vegetarian friendly), finish writing out important documents, and doing another load of laundry.

We'll miss you all. Please keep in touch and hopfully I'll be able to blog from HK here at www.mywhine.com.

See you in 6 months!

August 18, 2004 01:39 PM Travel  |   Link
Hong Kong or Bust, pt 2

We leave 9/21 for 6 months to live in Hong Kong. We'll be visiting friends and family shortly... Antioch/St Charles, Lakewood/Aliso Viejo, Sacramento. Last Thursday was my last day at work. I return on 8/31 for a going away party and other HR stuff. Now I'm off to travel and complete our paperwork.

Part 1

June 28, 2004 06:59 PM Travel  |   Link
Hong Kong or Bust

...I've put in my notice at work and we're working on plans to sell many things...

We've decided to move to Hong Kong to get to know the Chan family, learn more about the Chinese culture and get an Asian perspective of the US. Over the next few weeks we'll be packing up sentimental items, renting the house, selling cars and art. We're aiming to leave around September 15.

Before we leave for Asia we'll be visiting friends and family throughout the US. So you'll be hearing from me soon.

Q: What do you plan to do?
A: We are not planning to work. We plan to just treat this as an extended vacation. However if we get bored or need to brush up on our skills we're still open to any consulting opportunities here in the US.

Q: You're selling the Porsche too?
A: Yes. There were many offers to babysit the Porsche but we've decided we can live more comfortably in HK with the cash from the car.

Q: You just got the BMW, you're selling it too?
A: Yes. Same reason as the porsche answer.

Q: What are some things you plan to do?
A: Hang out with relatives. Learn Chinese. Learn to cook chinese food. Perhaps take up taichi. Continue with my voice lessons. Of course will locate the closest Christian church and join their worship team.

Q: Are you planning to have a baby?
A: We're still not sure since we don't want to have to work while we're gone this might be put on hold until we come back.

Q: Do you plan to do any traveling outside of HK?
A: Yes. We'll probably stop by mainland China, Japan, and Philippines.

Q: Can we visit and stay with you?
A: Of course. We'll probably put a shared calendar on yahoo of any blocked dates. But friends and family are open to visit us, as long as you don't mind cramped accomodations.

Q: Are there IAs in HK?
A: I'm guessing there are since there are many websites in HK, however I'm not sure if doing any cocktail hours would work since folks have very extended work hours there.

Q: How can we get a hold of you? Will you write?
A: I will be keeping this website up. It will probably morph more into a travel log with many photos or insights on our trip. Stay tuned!

April 27, 2004 08:18 PM Travel  |   Link
Gone in May

Taking some time off from work. I am so grateful to my boss for letting me take the whole month of May. Not only is it my 30th birthday, I'm celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary. It's a time for renewal and a time for thanksgiving.

Why I'm taking the time you may ask?...It's what I'm calling a life review retreat. I've been planning this since January and I have slowly been letting go of things that are just not on my priority list. I'm hoping to take advantage of this time to listen to my body, listen to my heart, and listen to God. It's kind of crazy but it's also amazing that knowing that I'm at the right point in time to do this for myself so that I can be more effective in my relationships, my work, and the things that I'm passionate about(which right now is not focused).

I'm hoping to return with a renewed hope in the activities that participate in both for my soul and my mind.

If I write a book or something creative, that would be a great outcome, but most of all, I hope that I come out of it more sure about who I am and what I am on this Earth for.