helen and i left school about 4ish to walk down the hill to catch the airport bus at 4:25. we got some dinner at the airport and then walked around. the most exciting part of this was that in one of the duty-free shops i found an ORIGINS shop. yes, i said it......an ORIGINS shop. i was thrilled and had to make a purchase. origins in korea.....i was in disbelief. i even had helen take a pic of me under the sign. i could not believe it. woo hoo for origins.
we left seoul about 7:45pm and did not arrive to hong kong until 11pm or so. i watched a great movie on the plane called "A Good Day". the food was ok.....standard airline food. although cathay pacific, the airline, is generous with the beverages. i was able to enjoy a glass of white wine with dinner at no charge. that was nice! a side note---this is the first trip i have evern taken when my back pack was sooooo light. i did not make note of the actual weight at the airport, but it was light traveling for me. :) i was proud of myself.
when we arrived in hong kong helen had a plan for which bus to take to our hotel. all of the buses are double decker ones like in london which makes since hong kong was ruled by britain for a long time. we managed to find the bus, get ourselves aboard with the luggage, and find seats. it took about 30 minutes to arrive to the hotel. upon attempting to check in we were told that we were at the wrong hotel.......ugh! same name, different location. the lady made a note in chinese (cantonese) for us to give to the taxi driver. so nice of her. we made our way to the correct hotel and then rested. i was exhausted!
we slept in on wednesday morning to get some rest b/c we knew that once the course started it would be really tiring. it was nice to rest. the funny part about the hotel was that there was a card in our room that stated that the quality of our sleep was of the upmost importance and we had choices of 4 different pillows if needed. it was funny! we got moving and checked out the grocery store across the street from the hotel. lots of great western food! then we went down the underground to an area near the harbor called Tsim Sha Tsui (aka TST). we found a place to eat lunch that was little. the menu was on the walls and the guys who waited tables wore blue button down shirts that remind me of the cuban shirts that they were at many mexican restaurants. it was good. i got a dumpling & noodle soup. helen and i were sitting at a table when we were joined by two different women that shared our table with us. this is common practice there. after lunch we walked around and looked at all the shops. in the middle of the city was this great park, kowloon park. it was beautiful and quite peaceful. we stopped and soaked in the green and nature. we even stopped at a starbucks. YES, the starbucks in hong kong has decaf! WOO HOO! i was thrilled. after a bit we took a ferry across the water to hong kong island. we were to meet a friend of helen's that used to teach at SFS in the british school about three years ago. liz met us at the piers and then we took another ferry to lantau island where she lives in an area called discovery bay. DB is a large ex-pat community. it is nice and they do not allow folks to have cars. so people use buses and such to get around. at the pier in DB there is a large new plaza that is really nice. we went into a small store before going to liz's apartment. it was small, but really cozy. over the head of her bed she has a large picture window that looks out over the water to disneyland hong kong. so every night she gets a fireworks show. :) we had tea and nibbles while helen and liz caught up and we all hung out. she has a cute cat that a friend rescued. moo schoo (sp?) is her name. she is small and spunky. i enjoyed loving on her while i was there. we went to a thai restaurant for dinner which was really yummy. after dinner we walked around and then went to the park-n-shop (grocery store). they have lots of western food in hong kong. the highlight of the shopping for me was the whole wheat fusilli noodles that i bought in addition to the cadbury's chocolates. after dinner helen and i caught the ferry back to TST and then got in a cab to take us to the hotel. it was a great day!
on thursday morning helen had found an island she wanted to go to, cheung chau. we took a ferry to it and spent the day walking around. in the guidebook there was a map with points to see on the walk. it was really nice. the island reminded me a lot of cinque terre in italy. small and quaint and there are no cars here either. the only transportation is bikes and a small machine like a john deere gator. we looked for a pub for lunch, but ended up at the little chinese place. we weren't sure what they had. we were pointed to take a table upstairs. we sat down and waited. there was no menu and the waitress just brought us food. it was quite an experience. we had no idea what any of it was, but happily tried it. the first item was three meatball looking things in a bamboo steamer thing. not sure what kind of meat or anything. i tried it but was not really thrilled with it. helen liked it better than i. then she brought us another bamboo steamer thing with three smaller ball like deals, but these were wrapped in a thin, rice paper like stuff. i took a bite and discovered it had seafood in it and i liked this one. yum! finally we received a last dish on a plate and the objects on it looked like white biscuity dough balls with some sort of brown stuff on the inside. i was hesitant, but took the risk. it was quite good. the bread part was sweet and the brown stuff was like barbqued meat. we weren't sure how much it all was or anything. it was definitely an experience. it was not that expensive so we were thankful. after lunch we began the journey of the walk around the island. we saw lots of temples, greenery and trees, and the ocean. it was really nice to get away from the bustling city and breath in the fresh air. we walked down back streets and saw lots of stuff including chinese medicine shops, incense stores, fruit and veg stands, and other random things. the last stop on the walk was a cave where pirates used to hide their loot. we were going to go in, but there was no light or anything. helen and i then got shown up by some older chinese folks that were at least 70. they went down and through it with out a second thought. we made our way back to the pier to catch the ferry to hong kong island and then we took the subway back to mong kok near the hotel. we were invited to an intro course that night at the center where we took the workshop. we got some dinner at the food court a few blocks away. i had indian and the main reason i went with it was the name of the restaurant---"indian by curry-in-a-hurry". too funny to resist. i liked what i had---double happiness. we had an intro talk about reflexes and development. it was interesting and i was intrigued by much the lady shared.
friday morning the workshop, braingym, began at 9am. it was a good course. i learned many things i can use with my kiddos and i also was pushed to have many questions. some of the things we talked about "pushed the envelope" for me. all day i questioned things that were shared and taught. i began to process and ask questions. we had taiwanese food for lunch. after lunch my internal questioning continued. i chewed on many things and made notes in my brain. day one ended and i was thoroughly tired. we went back to the hotel and had junk food for dinner from the grocery store near the hotel.
day two continued with more questions. i finally at one point spoke up and for the first time felt alienated because of my faith. i openly said i was a christian and i was not quite sure of the some of the theories. i felt as though some of the thinking was teaching people to take control of their lives and reprogram. it is difficult to share this as i know it may sound confusing and not real clear. here is the example.........a lady that was in the course had come to amy, the instructor, seven months prior with questions about whether or not she should pursue her PhD or not. amy performed a "balance" with this woman. a balance consists of creating a goal and going through the braingym movements that stimulate parts of the brain to help sift out "stuff" that is creating obstacles for the goal. the stuff can be fears, questions, misconceptions, etc. so why they are talking about this is when i decided to speak up and ask questions. i then asked does that seem realistic? i proposed a situation of me wanting to get a "balance" for a goal that i want to be a millionaire. i thought it was silly, but was told that it was possible. i then said i felt like this was a bit too much for me in the fact that i believe that God has a plan for my life and that i am not in control. there was no real answer to any of my questions provided. i knew there might not be and i was ok with that. i just felt like some of the thinking and teaching was flirting with a fine line that i was not so sure about playing with. i feel like i can sort myself out with God and ask Him for direction and healing. that is what i believe. so through out the rest of day two and most of day three i kept asking questions internally and praying that God would sort out this skepticism inside myself. i wanted answer or direction. at lunch on say two one of the other chinese women taking the course approached me and said that she was glad i had asked my questions. for she too is a christian and is not sure that some of the ideas match up with the Bible. i felt better and much more comfortable after our talk. her speaking to me was confirmation that i was not being too critical or crazy about what i was hearing and thinking. it was a nice way for God to speak to me. i was thankful. so i took the rest of the course not judging but with a caution that was helping me to discern. i am interested in what was shared and definitely have questions, but feel like i need to read more and learn more before figuring it all out. i am going to use some of the stuff in my classroom that i think are ok and based on facts and science. the other part that pushed the envelope for me will have to wait until i figure out more and can decide whether or not it is in alignment with my beliefs.
all this said, it was weekend of growth spiritually for me. never before have i had such a stir in my heart to be cautious or skeptical. it was a moment of excitement and wonder for me. i usually am pretty "head first" in believing things that are shared with me. for the first time i had been more slow to just agree and dive in. this is a huge thing for me and i felt close to God all weekend.
saturday night helen and i walked through one of the street markets on our way back to the hotel. it was busy and there were lots of people. nothing really jumped out at me as much of the stuff we have in korea. fake bags and watches were bountiful! :)
sunday we found an irish pub in TST to eat dinner at. i had fish and chips and tried an irish beer called kilkenny. it was creamy and really nice. the fish and chips were lovely too. we also got to watch some football on the big screen. the FA cup is on in europe at the moment so we watched chelsea play tottenham hot spurs. it was quite the game. tottenham was ahead when we left at the half. lots of folks came into the pub though to watch the match. we were surrounded by foreigners many of whom were from the UK.
monday morning we woke up and went to the grocery store for the last minute food purchases to bring back to korea. i got some thai rice which i heard was yummy. i got brown, red and black. i have yet to try them. i also got some ginger nut cookies that are english and are great with tea. with all my goodies my bag weighed only 17.5 kilograms. after packing up and checking out we went took the bus to the airport. the trip was back was good. i watched the movie "deja vu" on the flight. food was ok but i did get to have a glass of white wine with my meal again which was again free. :) nice touch when you travel.
all in all...........hong kong is great! i would like to go back and i know i will b/c paul is hip on going back. :)