Hong Kong – Day 5


Heading home.

Our flight wasn’t until noon or one but we’re always a bit paranoid about missing flights (maybe the LA-> Beijing flight has done that to us). Buddy and I bought breakfast and grocery shopped for airplane snacks for the world’s pickiest eater (Squidgems) and we packed up and left. The hotel shuttle took us to the airport express and from there to the airport. Once we’d checked our bags, the kids and I went through security to find our gate while B figured out where to sell back our Octopus cards and exchange our money back to Chinese Yuan. It was a little stressful being separate, waiting for a flight, and not having working phones but he found us in plenty of time and with a small child, we were among the first to board our flight. The flight home was two rows of three. B, Little Guy and Princess Sparkley sat in front of Squidgems, Buddy and I.

We arrived at the Beijing airport, went through immigration, got our luggage, rode the airport express to Dongzhimen (line 2) where we exited the station and B surprised us with his birthday (his birthday was the next day, a Sunday) dinner at his favorite restaurant, Ganges Indian Restaurant.

On the subway ride home from dinner, we split up because Little Guy needed to go to the bathroom. He and B got off and used a subway station bathroom while the rest of us stayed on the train. At our stop, I put Squidgems in the baby carrier on PS’s back and she and Buddy each wheeled one of our suitcases home and I hurried to get groceries at our grocery store which closes at 8:30 or 9 (the next day was Sunday).  B and Little Guy beat me home.

Our Hong Kong adventure was over.


Hong Kong – Day 4


Merry Christmas!


I took the kids to Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island (sort of like Sea World) so B could stay at the hotel and get some reading and dissertation work done. 

We had to catch a double decker bus outside our hotel, across the street by the race track. We got on, got seats on top deck in the front row, waved to B up in our hotel room, went through a tunnel, and then were there. None of us had any idea the bus ride was going to be so short. This was a huge disappointment for Squidgems. Once off the bus, we followed the little crowd that was with us and the signs indicating where to go for Ocean Park. We’d bought our tickets from the hotel concierge the day before, so no lines, just entering.

Ocean Park is two levels connected by cable cars. We started below where there are mostly animals and some kiddie carnival/theme park rides.





 I think we spent too long on the lower level, not really knowing how much there was to do once we took the cable cars up. 


 Once we got to the upper level, we wandered all over trying to find the promised McDonald’s. The other options for food we’d passed had been strange Chinese food that isn’t  something we’re eager to eat, let alone pay amusement park prices for. When we found McDonald’s, they had normal prices AND served breakfast all day. Win. Win.  Then we explored. Penguins, more string rays and sharks. Buddy liked spotting cargo ships in the Pacific.


 Squidgems and I waited for an hour (and used the bathroom several times, giving up our seat on a bench each time) while the three big kids waited in line for a roller coaster. The upper level of Ocean Park was were all the big roller coasters were, but there were long lines and we were supposed to meet B at Stanley Market in the later afternoon. 


Stanley Market is on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, sort of near Ocean Park. By the time the kids got off the roller coaster, we waited in line to take the cable car down, exited the park, found the right bus, rode the windy bus ride to Stanley Market it was almost dark and the market was closing. We looked around quickly, bought some Hong Kong magnets for our fridge and ate dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant. Then we took the bus back to our hotel.


The bus back to our hotel didn’t stop where we thought it did and took us all the way back to the northern harbor side of HK Island. When we exited, we found ourselves at an LDS church just starting to clean up the nativity display they’d had for Christmas. We went in for a few minutes and chatted with the missionaries there and looked at the nativities. It was a nice end to our not typical Christmas day.

Hong Kong – Day 3



Our hotel.

Subway ride.


Across from the Nunnery is Nan Lian Garden.

Snoopy’s World!!

(3rd floor of the Sha Tin New Town Plaza Shopping Mall, Sha Tin Metro Station, exit A)

Several months ago I made a note that there was a Snoopy’s World in Hong Kong. Then I forgot about it because we had no plans to go to Hong Kong. Then, in researching stuff to do with kids in Hong Kong, I happened upon a brief mention of Snoopy’s World again. It’s not big. It’s free. It’s basically a small outside play area part of a mall. But for our Peanuts lover (Princess Sparkley) it warranted a visit by our family.

We at a late lunch in the mall. Dim sum, won ton noodles, spring rolls and BBQ pork buns. This bakery looked delicious but was a Japanese bakery, apparently and the stuff was… okay. When we tried the one near our hotel for breakfast the next morning, it had a MUCH smaller selection and was a disappointment.

Next, we visited 10,000 Buddhas Monastery at the same subway stop, just behind the Ikea.

B said to Little Guy, “count these Buddhas and if there aren’t 10,000 we’ll sue!” Little Guy responded, “I won’t count.” [later] “Buddha 173’s weird”

 B took the three big kids to the top while Squidgems and I hung out near the pagoda.

Later, B tweeted, “Me: I made it to the top of the Ten-Thousand Buddha Monastery pathway!” Buddhists: “You don’t get Buddhism, do you?”

We headed back toward Mongkok area to find food (ate eggettes -delicious bubble-like waffles, and other baked goods from food stands for “dinner”) then waited for the light show to start.

Every night over Victoria Harbor (between Hong Kong Island and the mainland part of Hong Kong) there is a light show. Look up pictures online, it’s awesome. What we saw… the worst excuse for a light show I’ve ever seen. We didn’t know it happened. I had to go ask a first aid volunteer when it was going to happen and she told me it already had. So the 20 green lights or so we saw randomly “spotlight” off the buildings were apparently the light show. We called it a night and took Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island and our hotel… stopping for more Eggettes (egg waffles) and a place called Oddies near our hotel (we got chocolate chip and pineapple ones this time…mmmm).

A conversation between myself and B:

N: That light show was the lamest thing I’ve ever seen. B: That’s saying something ’cause you’ve seen Tonapah [Nevada]. N: Second-lamest, then.

Oddies was like a new, more modern take on eggettes (egg waffles).

Hong Kong – Day 2


Every morning Buddy and I got up, got dressed and went out in the neighborhood in search of bakeries and grocery stores where we could buy breakfast to bring back. The other kids slept in a little (but were usually awake when we returned) and B could start out his morning working on reading, catching up on the news, etc.


Buddy is a HUGE fan of 7-Eleven (and their Slurpees) so we’d been excited to find out that

(some of) the 7-Elevens in Hong Kong have Slurpees.


Money here is way more exciting than in Beijing. First, instead of dividing by 6 (now 6.5) to get the US price, divide by 8 (or more accurately 7.77). But it looks cooler and they have 1, 2, 5 and 10 dollar coins! So British! B tweeted, “My 1st time in a country w/ competitive note issuance. We’ve had money from 3 different banks so far! Might be the highlight of my trip!”

Buddy and I, along with breakfast-like foods, also brought back new candy to try. For some reason, there is no Cadbury chocolate in Beijing so we were excited to have it in Hong Kong.

A lot of the stuff we wanted to do (Big Buddha and Victoria Peak) involved being able to see a view. The air pollution in Hong Kong wasn’t bad (compared to Beijing) but it wasn’t great and add to that fog, so we skipped both of these destinations. Victoria Peak is where the post card pictures of Hong Kong everyone is used to seeing is taken from. It would have been nice, but we’d only be looking at fog.

Outside our hotel there was a double decker tram stop (in Hong Kong, they are called ding dings by the locals because of the bell sound they make). This was super fun for everyone.

 On the tram around Hong Kong Island.



Our first stop was the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators on Hong Kong Island. In the morning, they go down (toward the northern coast of the island) and the rest of the day they go up. It’s a series of maybe eight escalators.

Next would have been Victoria Peak but instead we walked around a bit (making our way back down from the Escalator’s top) and made our way toward Star Ferry to ferry across to the mainland part of Hong Kong.


Next, exploring Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Kowloon areas of Hong Kong. We wandered around looking for lunch and ended up getting a variety of pork buns (zhu par bao or maybe Char Xin), pineapple buns (bo lo bao), cocktail buns (coconut -guy may bow), egg tarts, etc. from a bakery. Then we made our way to the subway and headed toward the Hong Kong LDS Temple.

I wish I’d gotten a picture of our little camera tripod wrapped precariously around a street sign pole in order to capture a self-timer picture of our family in front of the temple.

It was late afternoon by now and we were pretty warn out (and pretty far away from our hotel), so we headed back to Hong Kong Island, had dinner (at Uncle 4… picture below), got Slurpees at 7-Eleven and tried some new candy.


 Once we got the kids in bed, B started flipping through different tv stations and came across a live horse race in Hong Kong. Our hotel was right next to the Happy Valley Racecourse so we looked out the window. The track was lit, but we could only see 1/4 of the track so we had to wait until the next race started on tv and then watch for horses outside. Sure enough, it was live from our race track!


Hong Kong- Day 1

On Friday, December 18, B’s school announced that due to the pollution forecast* they were closing school on Monday, the 21st through Wednesday, the 23rd (and the foreign teachers already had the 24th and 25th off). We frantically decided where we should go for Christmas with our newly extended time off. It was a toss up between Shanghai, Hong Kong or the Philippines, but Hong Kong won in the end because the flights were cheapest. On the evening of Saturday, Dec. 19, we bought our tickets to fly out Tuesday, Dec. 22 in the late morning and return on Saturday, Dec. 26 in the evening. We flew out so late partly because the school was still having a Christmas party Monday night and it’s sort of a big deal that they are having a Christmas party for the foreign staff and since this is only the second year they are doing it, we didn’t want all the foreigners to take off and abandon the party.

*China instituted a new policy last year (?) that if three days of pollution (days over 200) can be forecasted in a row, they cancel school and put into place some restrictions to cut back on the pollution. This new policy was first used in mid December.


Our flight was in the late morning. We packed two of the small, carry-on sized suitcases, two kid backpacks, my purse/bag, and B’s larger computer bag. We checked the two suitcases so they wouldn’t confiscate Squidgems’s applesauce pouches as liquid more than 4 ounces (which they almost did on the way to Thailand last Christmas). We took our normal subway route to church but instead of switching to line 13, we switched to the Airport Express. Once to the airport we checked in, used the bathrooms, switched our money to Hong Kong dollars and then went through security. Once in line at security, we started panicking that we weren’t going to make our flight. Somehow, we did. When we showed up at our gate, they had just started loading the first buses to transport people to the airplane (we were at a non-airplane pull-up gate).

On the flight to Hong Kong, we were in three rows of two. B with Buddy, Squidgems with me, and Little Guy with Princess Sparkley.

 Squidgems really likes coloring right now, so he was almost a delight on the four hour flight. If only he’d eat normal food…


Leaving Beijing in a Red Alert smog warning was crazy from the plane. There was a point where we definitely rose above the smog and you could see the line of grossness below us. Completely surreal.

It’s fun traveling at Christmas time because there were Santa hats on the baggage claim numbers.



Squidgems studying a map of the airport while we waited for our luggage.

We had several people tell us a lot about Hong Kong, where to stay, what to see, how to get around,etc. People who are from here, who have visited here, who have lived here, etc. Most suggested we stay in Kowloon (on the mainland) but the best deal we got on two connected hotel rooms ended up being at the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Hong Kong Island. It was under construction, but other than that, it wasn’t bad. And B and I both want to live there so we can shower in that shower every day of our life. So, back at the airport, we bought Octopus cards (multipurpose cards like the subway cards here in Beijing that get us on buses and subway trains, but in Hong Kong, you can use them at grocery stores, restaurants, 7-Elevens, etc.). Then we took the Airport Express train to town and waited FOREVER for our hotel’s shuttle to come. During this time, Squidgems made three trips to the bathroom. Just as the shuttle arrived, B and he were on their way there again. Luckily they made it back (I moved really slowly getting all our stuff to the shuttle) or we’d have had to wait even longer.

Once we checked in we left our stuff (and coats) and wandered the neighborhood looking for dinner. We ended up eating at a place called Cafe de Coral. A colleague of B’s had recommended it as a decent meal for a decent price and with locations all over the city. It was pretty good. While everyone waited for food, I ran downstairs and bought water bottles (water in Beijing from a newsstand is about 2-3 yuan, or 33-60 cents. Water bottles in Hong Kong were usually about 6 or 7 Hong Kong dollars, about 75-88 cents). After eating we stopped at McDonald’s to get Squidgems some

 chicken nuggets then we went back to our hotel.

Bonus of our hotel (aside from the awesome shower), they provided one smart phone per room that could act as a Wifi hotspot with unlimited internet access, phone calls (both within Hong Kong and internationally). This was awesome because we could connect our phones to it, look stuff up online, access maps, post to Facebook, WeChat our Hong Kong friends in Beijing with questions, etc.

Making Jiaozi


B’s school announced that they would have a jiaozi (dumpling) making class during lunchtime and he brought me along as his guest. It was amazing to see how good the principal of the international school was at rolling out the dough and folding them… she was just as good as the “chef” that came along to help make everything.

I’ve forgotten how to upload videos… I’ll work on that.

China Life

Some of our new grocery store favorites:

A tiny car I think our entire family could fit in!

I had to take a subway ride across town to buy new air filters for our air purification machine. With all the bad air, they were busy and their one delivery guy wasn’t going to be able to deliver the filters for a week so I went and picked them up. I exited the subway in the Central Business District (CBD) right next to the building that looks like pants!

My visiting teacher took my on an adventure with her to buy cheese at a Costco-like store called Metro. After we finally made it there, this is the cheese!!!

We bought a loaf of mozzarella because it was cheapest (about $10USD if I remember correctly).

 Weird… bike?



Outside our Walmart there are always crowds of people playing Chinese chess, etc.

They released new 100 Yuan notes (new on the bottom).

Kit Kats showed up at our Walmart!  Before, we could only find imported Kit Kats at the expensive import stores on the other side of town. I couldn’t buy any for awhile though. I tried and the lady who weighs and prices the bulk candy waved me away. Eventually, a few weeks after we first spotted them, I was able to buy some. Not sure what the problem was. There are regular (but they taste different to me), dark chocolate, hazelnut, coffee/tiramisu, and almond Kit Kats here.

Ella’s new Ruby Redfort book showed up form BookDepository.com.

Grocery delivery truck squishing down the tiny alley.

2016 is the year of the monkey!


Kit Kat buying success!


The mall across the street from the school is finally filling with stores and opening 12/31!! Yea!


We did some Christmas shopping at the Pearl Market (and the shops behind it) and afterwards at at The Brown Door (just across the street – north) which I’ve heard about from people at church. It was … okay. Maybe we didn’t order well.