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“When do you fly?”

Thdsafasdfaaaais seems to have taken a place of prominence following a short salutation with any teacher in Hong Kong. School is winding down, and teachers are already dreaming of their long awaited vacation plans. Teachers from our school will spread across the globe in search of a recharge from the school year.

Its a bit strange not being able to talk about going home and the friends and family that I will be reunited with. I already think about all the things that I will not be able to do, but I also think of all the friends and things that I will get to experience in Europe.

All tickets are booked, car reserved, facebook messages sent. Now just to two short weeks to go! One more week is spent with kids, and then we have 1 week of teacher work days with an awards ceremony mixed in there.

Planning on keeping up with the blog as thoughts and experiences come my way.

I am glad no one was holding their breath for this post, other wise they would already be dead. Hopefully I can write a bit more over the summer!

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rain-umbrellaThats right, I woke up this morning to the unexpected buzzing of my cell phone. Chatter from other teachers, filled with giddy excitement about a “Black Rain” warning that had been issued at 6:00. According to school policy, any time the local observatory hoists a black rain signal, all schools must be cancelled for the day. You can imagine my reaction as an “Oregon-grown Boy.” A day off of school because of rain??? Crazy!

Apparently there was thunder and lightning all through the night, which I was lucky enough to sleep through. Looking out my window, it was pretty impressive to see sheets of rain pounding relentlessly against the ground. At 10 the warning was lowered to amber, which meant that teachers were required to be at school from 1:00. Much more relaxing than 7:30! I think I could get used to this!

My excitement level was not quite the same as a snow day back home, but I did have the urge to jump in a few puddles on the way to the subway station.

Similar to the feeling of watching the snow melt, I can see clear(ish) skies on the horizon rolling in over the water. Tomorrow, I might just have kids to teach!

Summer Plans- Help Wanted!

Good news, and bad news. This summer, I will not be heading back to beautiful Oregon. (That is the very bad news) The good news is that I will be traveling in Europe, visiting friends with my good friend from OSU, Kat.

Most of the destinations have been determined by friends that I know living there. Others like Prague, and Budapest, are potentially awesome cities that can be made on the way. Here is a ROUGH idea of a plan, along with a map for reference.

Here is what I would like from you: The information that I cannot find on the internet such as: “You gotta try the local ______” or, “That road is way too busy, try this one” or “Don’t be in ____ during _____. or any other helpful hints you might have! Thanks in advance, getting super stoked for this adventure ahead!

July 2 Cam arrives in Belgium- Stays with friends in Amsterdam/Rotterdam (3-4 day bike trip?)

July 10–  Fly to meet up with Kat in Derry (Northern Ireland)
July 17  Head to London for several nights  (ferry +bus?) (Stay with Kat’s friends)
July 20– To Frankfurt (Kat’s friend) Via _________??? (Maybe something on the way?) Fly?
July 23  Start driving trip. Prague?, Vienna?, Munich?, Concentration camps? Budapest? To Slovenia.
August 1– Slovenia with Shauna

August 6– Croatia (Dora, and explore beaches/ islands)

August 12– Fly to Brussels,

August 13– Cam flies back to HK.

Europe Map

Well, maybe the title is a little misleading. With about 400 sq. miles, a trip from the far outreaching corners of H.K. only takes several hours.

One of my favorite things to do is look at Google Maps and find an area that looks cool, or way out of the beaten path. I sometimes will map it out, but it is more fun for me to see it with my own eyes. I had the idea to explore the border area towards the East. I had no idea what was out there, so with an adventurous friend, an open afternoon, and a moped with a full tank of gas, we headed out to seek our adventure.

The first stop was a waterfall, tucked 1km in from a small village. The main trail was well established, but we discovered an “Adventure Trail” That lead to the top of a waterfall called Mirror Pond. It was an incredible natural formation of a pool right at the top of  a 50 ft. waterfall. We didn’t climb down for a dip, but thinking about how to do it next time!

We passed fishermen, white cranes chilling on an island, herb harvesters, and lots of bikers.

After traversing through the hills, we popped out into a small village on the border of China. There was actually a border crossing there! Neither of us had any idea! There is also a special part of HK that is connected to China, but you need a special permit to enter this zone. Pictures by the fence was as close as we got that day.

A top at a local restaurant near the coast for a local lunch was our last stop before heading home.

Seeing the border, and noticing distinct difference between the two countries made me  think about how things will change with there is a “complete” handover of HK to China. Each has developed so independently of the the other, that the differences are outstanding. Maybe it is difficult to understand what that means unless you have been here. With that said, let me know if you are interested in experiencing it first hand! I have lots of extra room!

A Hong Kong Wedding!

Last weekend I had a new experience, my first wedding in Hong Kong! On Saturday two of the members of the dragonboat team decided to tie the knot.

The wedding was held in a historical cathedral in the heart of Hong Kong, surrounded by sky scrapers. The ceremony was all in English and very western.

The big surprise can at the after party which started at 10:30 PM!!! Yikes! With the wedding from 2-3 the bride and groom spent a LONG family dinner together and then met up with their closest friends at a restaurant with a balcony overlooking the harbor. Live music, drinks, pool, and dancing. It was quite the night and ended up in my bed well after 2:30.

A good night, and a big congratulations to two good friends.

Camping on Lantau Peak

For the Easter break, I made a choice to stay in HK to try to save some pennies for  a trip I am planning to Eruope. I was able to host an Easter dinner (with Vollstedt egg fighting), settle into my new place (thanks Ikea) and manage a short camping trip with some friends.

Spring in Hong Kong is just about the most dangerous time to do anything outside. One minute it might be blazing hot and humid, and the other minute windy and cold. For some strange reason, it was during this week that some of my friends pitched the idea of going camping for two nights in the great outdoors on Lantau Peak. Sounds awesome! Being the true Oregonian that I am, I could not let the possibility of a little rain hold me back.

After a metro ride to the end of the line with all my camping gear, we stocked up on food, including 6 live crab for dinner on night 2! We loaded a bus to nearly the top of the mountain. It was about a 20 minute hike into the site, which doesn’t sound too bad, but with Hong Kongers planning the meals, we were carrying more than double our weight in food.

Our side was nice, settled right in between two peaks with a fire pit, and tables and room for the tents. The sun even decided to peak out a bit, making out journey nice and sweaty. We set up our tents, and tarps over a table for meals. Just after we got the fire started, the rain came. The first round was pretty comical. We were in high spirits, and feeling pretty smart about ourselves for having prepared well for the rain. Compared to another set of campers across the way, that were forced to retreat to their tents the moment the rain started to fall.

It was a heavy rain, but passed after about 20 minutes. We survived our first challenge. The night was filled with eating, talking, more eating, stories, more eating and ended with a surprise homemade chocolate birthday cake!

Off to our respective tents for what was to be a long night ahead.

First the wind. Remember those peaks that I mentioned earlier? Well, they were beautiful during the day, but at night they created a perfect wind tunnel for furious gusts to come through and wreck havoc on our site. With flaps flapping and poles creaking we tried to get some sleep, praying that our poles were stronger enough to handle the pressure.

Then, the rain. Sheets of large heavy drops that put our Gortex to the test. Taking turns like a tag team of professional wrestlers, the wind and rain continued their relentless assault well into the morning.

Motivation for food, and a chance to relieve myself were the only reasons I ever left that tent. A quick decision was made to scrap any attempt to make breakfast, and we quickly hiked back to town for hot noodles and Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks 20 minutes for our camp site. Not quite “away from it all.”

The morning weather continued to crush our hopes of the weather turning. Our dreams of hiking the peak quickly dwindled, and the decision to pack up and head home a day early was solidified when we returned to the campsite to find that the wind had snapped my tent pole, shooting it through both layers of my tent.

A quick, wet, pack-up and we were on a bus back down the mountain sloshing inside a steamy bus filled with tourists on their way back from visiting the nearby Big Buddha.

Oh, the 6 live crabs that we had planned to eat? We kept them alive through the storm, and carried them back down the mountain and they made a nice little dinner for some lucky friends.

 

 

HY0NJ2weVI will let the pictures do most of the talking, but some highlights first:

  • 10 minute moped ride to school.
  • 20 minutes ride to HK Island (church, friends, downtown)
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 Balconies
  • And now, I can’t cook dinner while sitting on my bed.
  • Newer building, but surrounded by “Old HK”

Come and visit!

Surfing Hong Kong

Yes, this is a post about REAL surfing, not just the internet.

Most people would not consider H.K. a major surfing destination, as well they shouldn’t. However, there are plenty of fun waves for local to play around on!

Last season (October-March) I logged in about 15 days at Big Wave Bay. Now, they name sounds a bit intimidating, but there were only several days where the waves were over 4 ft. For the most part, this is a nice protected bay, sandy bottom with short, closeout waves.

There are 2 rental shops near the beach. I got to know one of the families that runs the place pretty well. They run a great business. Board, and wetsuit rentals, and delicious milk tea and hot food for post-surfing!

They also have storage lockers for people to keep their boards there year around. T’his was an option for me, until I learned that it costs about $200 for 1 year to rent a locker! I am fine for now renting, and choosing a good board for the day for $6 thank you very much.

This spot is about 40 minutes from my house, but my church is conveniently located right in the middle. Surfing after church was the norm when the waves were good!

I took several groups of people out for their first time surfing! It was awesome seeing them catch their first wave. Here are some photos that Gary and Marg took. They will be leaving H.K. after 15 years. It has been awesome having them as part of my life this year. Gary- you totally impressed me, and Marg, you are a great beach bunny/photographer!

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For two quick nights and 1 full day, I was visited by my good friend Chad and his buddy. They were traveling around S.E. Asia, and when he saw that H.K. was the connecting point, he worked his flight plan around to have a couple of days at the end of their trip in H. K. I was totally fine being an afterthought, I’ll take it!

Luckily, I am now all settled in my new flat (2 bdrm. vs. my old studio). Lets just say, it is a HUGE upgrade. The previous tenants left bunk beds in the spare bedroom, so I had 2 short beds for my visitors. Sorry Chad, but a 6’3″ guy is always going to have a challenge finding a big enough bed in Asia.

Here are some of the things that we did in our “jam-packed, whirlwind tour of H.K.”

  • Birthday dinner with my Dragonboat friends
  • 1/2 day in my classroom (The kids learned a new cheer, see video)
  • Lunch in “old Hong Kong”
  • Shopping streets/ antiques in Central
  • Man Mo Temple
  • Ding Ding Ride
  • Wandering around Happy Valley Racecourse (Where I do land training)
  • Tram to The Peak for city views from above.
  • Star Ferry to Avenue of the Stars
  • Cityscape lightshow
  • Temple Street night market
  • Street food
  • Zzzzzz

I showed them a bus for the next morning, and they were off, back to America after 3 weeks on the road. That was the “Best” part. Here is the “Well, almost.”

After they left, I felt like a part of me had gone back with them to the states. Chad and I have so many shared experiences from Oregon, that even though we haven’t been super close these last few months, it was so easy to pick up in our friendship right where it ended. These guys reminded me so much of home, and it was awesome seeing H. K. through their eyes (Which were my eyes 2 years ago).

So, with friends gone, and 2 straight weeks of rain and wind, I was feeling…. yes… I will say it…. homesick. Honestly it was the most homesick I have felt in living abroad for almost 2 years. Part of me was glad to feel that, it let me know that I have strong feelings for my “homeland.” Throughout the week it got better, as I reminded myself of all the things I am involved in here in H.K. which help assured that I am where God has me for now.

Saturday morning, the sun is out, Skype with friends and family, sheets hanging to dry… I think it is time for a cruise on the moped. Where to explore today?

 

 

Arise oh sleeper!

Wow, lets see if I remember how to do this…. It has been nearly 10 months since my last post. I had originally planned to have this blog to share my thoughts and stories about living in China, thus the “Chchchchina.” For the last school year, I have been living, working, playing just across the border in Hong Kong.

My life is quite different now that I live in Hong Kong. For some of you, maybe your are thinking, “Aren’t they the same?” The answer could not be more complicated. Living in Hong Kong has been a world of change from living in China. Although my stories might not be as mind blowing as some of the experiences I had in China, I think they are worth sharing none the less. So if you are interested….. read on!

Housing in Hong Kong is one of the most expensive in the world. With land at a premium, building go up, way up. Typical housing estates will easily soar to 40-50 floors high. When I first moved to Hong Kong, I found a studio apartment that was furnished, in a fun area, and clean! The downside was that it was tiny! I never accurately got a measurement on the place, but I am going to say around 75 SQ total. Yeah, it was tight. There was plenty of built in storage, a bed, a sink, hot plate, TV, fridge, washing machine, and bathroom with a small shower. The best part was access to a little sun balcony overlooking the street. Rent for that little cube was a steal of  a deal in Hong Kong at $900 a month.

Lets just say that doing laundry was a challenge, cooking a small feat, and having guests over was nearly impossible! After 6 months I was ready for a move. The best part about the place was convenience, and the neighborhood. It was close to really good markets, and in an old part of Hong Kong called Sham Shui Po. I made some good friends, and decided to keep close to that area when I looked for a new flat.

Maybe it was silly, you say. Or pointless. For me, it was an experience I was glad that I had, but not excited to ever try again!

Next blog post: A new Flat!IMG_5343 IMG_5344 IMG_5345 IMG_5347 IMG_5348 IMG_5349 IMG_5352