American consumerism

My Macau friend recently told me a new policy in China about anti-food waste. In a restaurant if you finish your meal, cleaning your plate fully, you receive a discount on the bill. If you take the leftovers to go, you receive a smaller discount. If you leave food, you are taxed. It is a new government campaign to reduce lavish spending and not necessarily waste.

Today, we did the main tourist activities by visiting the flower market, fish market, bird garden and the Mong Kok shopping area known as the “ladies market”.

Apparently, in any language I know how to shop. I was a bit surprised that I was able to converse/buy in Cantonese pretty well. I suppose it’s not too difficult to say how much does this cost? That is too expensive. Most everyone was pretty reasonable and willingly to bargain. In Singapore I brought shoes. In Hong Kong, I brought bags. My friend says today I was eased back into American consumerism. I justified buying today because it is my last day in Asia.

At snack time (for the baby), I loved hearing at the cafe – “dan tat chut lo” – egg tarts coming out of the oven.

See you next time Hong Kong. It’s been great.

Photos:
At the flower wholesale market – why buy bouquet of flowers when you can buy a bouquet of stuffed animals?

Bird market – there is an area where you can bring your bird in it’s cage and chat with other bird owners.

Photos of mostly live grasshoppers, crickets, meal worms to feed the birds.

On the subway, my friend’s 4 year old son calls the priority seating, “happy seats”.

Fish, turtles, hermit crabs, lotus buns cakes, cooked duck heads.

Cool signage on the streets. I love that they are pictures, even the menu. If you can’t read the English, or chinese, you should at least understand the picture of a pig.

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The glass elevator

There is nothing new about seeing laundry hanging out of someone’s window, but in Hong Kong it is 5 stories up.

I went in a glass elevator to the 56th floor. It was an amazing view and the quietness was breath taking. It made me think, this is what it must feel like to be in the glass elevator from “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory” by R. Dahl.

In traveling in Asia, I have eaten meals at 75% capacity, not intentionally. Meals are served in smaller portions than in America, and there are no seconds. There are no fabulous carbs available, no bread, no pasta, just rice and noodles. These last few days in Hong Kong, I have eaten at 110% of capacity. I am almost shocked at the amount of food available.

I will miss the simplicity of living in Asia and mostly I will miss being in the majority. I blend in to the crowd and it’s been nice to walk among many.

Photos: laundry and cake on a wheel.

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Worlds away

Photos in Hong Kong:

Parking lot sign tells you which parking spaces are available and the spaces light up from green to red when occupied.

Shroff – a new word for me, is bank or teller, the place where you pay for your parking.

Mid level travelator sign… (moving walkways)

The no eating sign on the subway looks like a McDonald’s big mac.

Each place I visit in Asia is different and special. Yesterday, I was sitting at the dining table holding my friend’s not yet 1 year old baby while playing Monopoly Junior with her 7 year old son. He said it was going to be a short game. Growing up, I have never known Monopoly to be a short game.

It is 60 degrees F, 15C, worlds away from the beaches of Bali. I have needed to wear jeans, a jacket and socks for the first time in several months. I miss the beach and now realize, I could be that person who lives in a bikini and on the beach for 6 months of the year. I feel in shock that I will be back in San Francisco in a few days.

It has been an extraordinary 6 months in Asia: Reaching the peaks of the Himalayas in Nepal, witnessing a country – Myanmar, on the brink of transformation and social change, learning the healing traditional arts of Thai massage in Thailand, learning to find peace from within through Vipassana meditation in the Philippines, and learning to scuba dive in Bali, Indonesia.

I have loved each and every day. I return to the States with an ambitious plan for the next few months, summoning all the physical and mental courage I have to summit my first mountain, cycle across the US again on the way to being an Ironman finisher.

Thank you for following my adventures, keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I have never once felt alone traveling (except at the silent meditation) because I know you are reading and with me every day of my journey. Thank you. See you soon, back on the other side of the world.

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Sleeping under palm trees

The Singapore airport is nicer than some of the places I have slept over the last few months. I could easily have slept on the floor and not worried about bacteria or bugs. I initially was lying uncomfortably on a chair but then I found some padded round leather seats to lie on. I took a photo of some of the people sleeping next to the artificial palm tree island next to me. I didn’t really go to sleep but rested my eyes for a few hours. On the signage board, there was a flight departing at 2:30 am. Why would anyone take that flight? At 3:40 am., several armed guards came by to see our passports and boarding pass. Quite surprised to see them so heavily armed.

Other signage – moving walkways are called travellators. At the Hong Kong airport, they have a video screen showing people exiting gates A and B. I thought that was clever. In HK, sign for a clothing store.

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Ugh missed flight again

I own a watch but apparently, time is no longer a concern. I’ll be on time when it concerns others, but if it’s just me, apparently it doesn’t matter that much.

Today was the second international flight I missed. In October, when leaving San Francisco, I missed my flight to Nepal. I arrived at the wrong time, completely unaware my flight was listed in military time. I was rebooked on a flight leaving at the time I thought was my original flight time so it was not too much of an inconvenience for me.

I made my departing Nepal flight to Hong Kong only because someone drove me and pre-arranged the car meeting time.

I missed my flight today to Vietnam, not for any good reason. I was late. I arrived 60 minutes before departure
and they had already closed check in. They said I should have arrived at a minimum of 90 minutes prior to departure. I was a bit sad but not overwhelmed at my options. I thought 60 minutes was adequate because last time I flew from Hong Kong to Nepal, I had plenty of time. Maybe all airlines have different cut off times.

Back to the airport tomorrow, same flight time, just 90 minutes earlier. Maybe the new me, the one who is no longer concerned with time, will always be a day later than expected.

Macau

Macau is a hybrid of Portuguese rule with a Chinese twist. The colonial architecture was nice and the new casinos made it feel a little like Vegas, but all the tourists are from mainland China.

Wing Li and I visited St. Paulo’s cathedral (from 16th century).
We had lunch at the Venetian Hotel in a Portuguese restaurant. At the Venetian we passed a Victoria Secret’s display of Heidi Klum’s wings. In the square, we passed a woman in a wedding dress and I loved that she was wearing black high tops under the dress.

Evening – reunion with Cheline and Rishi at Happy Valley race course. My first night at the races. 20121107-224307.jpg20121107-224316.jpgled 20121107-224352.jpg20121107-224338.jpg</20121107-224359.jpg</a20121107-224324.jpg20121107-224346.jpg20121107-224407.jpg20121107-224422.jpg20121107-224413.jpg