Thursday, March 16, 2017

Amazon delivers......

Y'all know how much I love Amazon. Even being across the world, Amazon is my friend. No, I don't know what I pay for shipping. And I don't care. I do know that I am a member of Amazon Smiles and am supporting Abby's Angels Foundation with every purchase. Therefore, the more Amazon I buy, the better.

Today, Katie sent me a text saying she used my Amazon account to purchase an item for a China friend. Said gift was being mailed to NY for another China buddy to retrieve during spring break and take back to Shanghai.

No problem. As long as you are using your own credit card, I don't care if you use my account.

Well, within reason.

Email from Amazon received. And this is what I saw:

You see what I saw, right? She was shipping kettle bell weights to NY to be carried back to China.

What the heck? That's insane.

Sent a text back. "Heavy gift to bring back."

Reply: "It's a charm. Pretty light. Can't tell if you are joking or not."

Me: "Oh, all I saw in the preview was 3D kettle bell."

Foiled once again by Amazon and it's ability to shorten the names of items shipped.

I"m not sure Katie has stopped laughing at me yet.

She did say that was the best thing she heard all day.

Glad I could oblige. Geesh.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Quest for Black Pants

When one finds out on Wednesday that a pair of dress black pants is needed for chorus in one week, the quest for the aforementioned pants begins.

Let's follow the trek to the city, shall we?

Exit the apartment complex via taxi to the nearest MTR station. 

Pay the necessary 70HKD fare, keeping in mind it's really only $9 USD. 

(This money thing is taking time to get used to, let me just say.)

Enter the station via escalator. (Note: to the right is the street where we were dropped off. To the left is a small mall.)

Once inside the MT R station, pull out your handy dandy Octopus card.

This card has money loaded on it for use on the MTR, city buses, school lunches, Starbucks, 7-11, McDonald's, and more. In other words, don't lose it or you lose your money. 

Guess who lost their Octopus card first? Me. Yep. Somewhere at the high school. But, I digress.

Scan the Octopus card, find your necessary train, and board. If you are lucky, you will find a seat. 

Sit back and enjoy the ride for a bit. Our journey today does not involve changing to a different line but does involve traveling past nine different stations. 

Finally arrive at your stop. 

As you exit the station, scan your Octopus card one more time for the fare to be deducted. Today's fare was about 9HKD.

Before walking too far, search the walls for the nearest maps. Locate your destination and the appropriate exit.

Exit A it is. Now, according to the map, Times Square Mall is a short distance from the station. But like most stations and malls in Hong Kong, they are connected by underground walkways. 

So as you follow the signs to Exit A, you will end up directly in the mall. 

If you enter from the street, this is what you'd see.

Destination reached. Thus begins the search for the elusive black pants. 

All possible stores on 13 floors are searched but to no avail. Seriously. 

As grumpiness ensues, it's best to stop for food. 

Once nourishment has occurred, it's time to continue the search. 

Head outdoors to find the next possible mall. After all, they are located everywhere. 

And google is an awesome thing, let me just say. 

Or, if you are sick of the whole adventure, just find the street of taxis and abort your mission. 

But, alas, that is not a choice for you today. 

Next mall located just up the street. Pants found and purchased. Guess where?

Yep, The Gap. Good grief. 

But, due to the mid-Autumn holiday today, they were on sale for only 170HKD.

In other words, $22USD. 

Mission accomplished. Now, figure out how to go home. 

Enter the closest MTR station scanning your Octopus card once again. 

Find the blue Island line with the train heading to your destination. 

Board the train, stand through several stops until seats become available, and eventually end up back where you started. 

To complete the trip home, choose between your personal driver via the red taxi or the crazy man driving the public mini-bus. 

Today's journey included the crazy man and the mini-bus. Oh heavens. 

Board the bus for the short ride home. When approaching your stop, yell at the driver.

He will stop at your complex where you walk the short distance up the hill to your building. 

And just like that, the expedition for the black pants has come to an end. 

(by the way, if you take multiple pictures of things in public, your children will accuse you of acting like a tourist)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Trip to the Grocery Store

Buying groceries around here can be a daily experience, which is ever so much fun.

Let me walk you through a typical visit. 

Since we have not bitten the bullet to buy a car, much less drive one, we rely on public or apartment provided transportation.  

To begin my journey, I hop aboard the apartment shuttle bus to our neighboring town of Stanley, carrying my empty bags to be reloaded with groceries. 

The nice bus driver man greets everyone as we settle in to enjoy our five minute drive. 

He makes two stops, the final being Stanley Plaza where the grocery store is located. 

Exit at the top of the complex, and take three escalators down to the second floor. Yep, escalators. 

Unless I need money. Then I'll stop on the third floor at the ATM. 

Folks, we aren't in Newnan anymore!

On the second floor, I have my choice of two places. We shall start our tour at A & M today. 

A & M is an American grocery store that only sells items in bulk. And only dry goods. Evidently, they buy shipping containers of items from Costco. So, what you found there one time, you may not find the next time. Just depends on what was on the container. 

I stopped there today for paper towels, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, and a few other comfort items from home. You know, like a big bag of M & M's. 

And, best thing, they box it all up and deliver it to me. After all, I can't carry home a package of 16 rolls of paper towels. 

Well, maybe I could but why bother?

Across the floor from A & M is the main grocery store. 

This is Taste. It carries everything you need. Plus things you don't need.

Personally, I don't need to buy a fully intact, albeit dead, fish. Blech. But, they are available at the meat counter if you feel a great desire to imbibe. Just don't invite me over. 

At Taste, I take a grocery cart (where all four wheels go in their own direction), and head down the aisles for produce, meat, frozen items, bread, wine, and more. 

Keeping in mind, of course, that whatever I buy, I have to carry home. Alone. 

Which means, I have to pick and choose the items I buy. And also explains why I am there so often. 

Stores don't like you to take pictures of their items but I did sneak this one of the cookie aisle. You know I don't skip that section. 

After waiting in line with a few Western moms and a bunch of Asian helpers (nanny/maid), I exit the store with my bags in tow. If you forget bags, you may purchase plastic ones at the checkout for fifty HK cents, which is the equivalent of about seven US cents. 

I haul my trusty bags up three escalators and await my chariot home. 

My ride home could be the shuttle bus if I'm timed my visit correctly. You see, he makes the trip to Stanley every thirty minutes. So, if I miss a pick up, I have to wait another thirty minutes for the next trip. 

Or, I could take the handy dandy red taxi. 

The shuttle bus man or the handy dandy taxi man drops me off at our building. 

The doorman rushes to open the door for me, pushes the elevator button for our floor, and sends me on my way. 

Elevator door opens on Floor 3 and I am greeted by my door. 

Groceries unpacked and new list started for another day. 

Likely that day will be tomorrow. 

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Pictures I Didn't Take

We've had a week of all six of us under one roof. For the first time in years. Even at home, we didn't have all of us for that long. So, you'd think I'd have documentation of this extraordinary experience. 

Nope. I have two pictures. One of all four kids when Alex arrived. And one at Disney. That's it. 

I had good intentions though. 

If I'd been a better mom, we would have shots to include:

*two big kids holding hands with two little kids while out and about

*smiles and giggles from four kiddos

*people taking pictures of the big ones in public (yep, for real---they are celebrities)

*four kids playing games together

*little ones cuddles up with big ones on the couch

*hanging on for dear life on taxi rides

*Alex playing drums on girls' heads

*strolling the mall in search of Dave's birthday gift and Anna's birthday cake

*my face on Space Mountain (well, it's Hyperspace Mountain here)

*Anna Grace navigating the Metro station (going the wrong way)

*six faces dripping with sweat in 90 degree weather but feels like 110

*taxi buddies--Abby said, "I love my taxi buddies (Alex and Dave). 

*Alex nailing a Chinese guy on bumper cars after the dude took his picture

*our furniture arriving and rental furniture leaving at the same time. Oh my. 

*Katie doing funky hair styles on short girls

*dinner on the waterfront

*riding the cable car over the mountain while at Ocean Park (think HK Sea World)-----I faced the floor the whole time

*the fish counter at the grocery store (alive and dead----yuck!!!)

*all the obvious stares from Chinese people upon seeing our family 

*the last hugs when Alex walked out the door this morning

Our next visit will be at Christmas time. Don't know where we will meet but it will happen. 

Until then, I'm going to pretend we moved to Hawaii. 

Because that's not as far from Georgia as Hong Kong. 

Still can't get home quickly but it makes it seem like we are closer. 

Go with it.......

Monday, July 25, 2016

First Week Observations

And in no particular order......

**City streets are labeled with the appropriate "look left" or "look right" for those of us who fail to remember that cars drive on the left side of the road here. Nice of the city to not cause a game of "flatten the American" as we are out and about.

**Within the city center, there are indoor malls with the same stores seemingly on every corner. I mean really, how do they all stay in business?

**People here love their cell phones. I thought the US was bad. But, nope. Folks walk around FaceTiming each other, watching movies, watching tv, or just reading. And, I mean walk around the crowded streets, the mall, and the MTR (subway). Not just sitting on the train or a taxi. Craziness.

**Speaking of cell phones, trying to get service set up involves having to give up your first born kid. Sorry, Katie. But seriously, it was annoying and full of paperwork. Process made even more fun when the US bank freezes your account, even though they know we are here, which made our cards not work. Happened more than one time.....ugh.

**From the city to our apartment complex involves taking a taxi along curvy, narrow roads over the mountain. Gee, my favorite kind of driving. I can't even ride rollercoasters without feeling nauseous. Geesh. Toss in taxi drivers who are trying to make a NASCAR team, and I'll be popping lots of Dramamine.

**The hot water heater for each bathroom (kitchen) is a separate switch you must turn on before using. To make it more fun, the switch is located in the hallway outside the bathroom door. I've heard many calls for "can someone turn on the hot water?" from wet people in showers. One of these days, I'm not going to hear that cry for help.......fair warning.

**The bathroom does not have an outlet to plug in a hair dryer. But it does have a wall of mirrors right by the toilet. Awesome. I just love the idea of watching myself taking care of business. Oh, there is an outlet in the closet. Maybe I'll just stand in the closet with my dryer. Good grief.

** The washer and dryer can each do one small load at a time. Takes 60 minutes to wash and 80 minutes to dry. I'll be doing laundry Every. Single. Day.

**Groceries here are sold in smaller packages than at home, unless you find US brands. Loaves of bread have about 10 pieces, crackers have one sleeve, meat is sold in half pound packages, ice cream cartons are half the size. Which means you are likely at the grocery store daily. Whoo hoo.

**Getting home with groceries involves hauling bags into a taxi or the apartment complex shuttle bus. If you are only carrying a few small things, it's easy. But, if you are like us crazy Americans, you are hauling multiple bottles of wine, beer, dry goods, and fresh foods. But, we had an Australian guy check out our groceries versus his....he wanted to come home with us. Ha!

**A plus to grocery shopping that I've discovered is that all the stores deliver or offer online shopping. One store already knows us by name and account number. Yep. It's a really small version of Sam's Club. Sells their things in bulk which, of course, makes carrying it with you rather challenging. I mean, have you tried to carry home a 35 pack of water, 12 pack of paper towels. and a 24 pack of toilet paper? All by taxi?

**Very thankful that at the end of the day, we are in a quiet "suburb" of the city, only a mile from the girls school (can't sidewalks), ten minute walk to the beach or grocery store, (or a 3 minute drive). and with an awesome view out our living room window.