Thursday, January 31, 2008

Question of the Day

I was snooping around on an acquantance's blog (is it really snooping if they publish something on the world wide web?), and I guess her blog host Vox offers a question of the day. I should probably move towards the question of the day rather than indulge myself in the same ol myspace survey, twice a day.

What are 10 things you've done that other people probably haven't?

1. Swimming with Stingrays.
I gotta start off big and then work my way down to some obscure facts. This was possibly the coolest thing I've ever done in my life. So cool, we went back for a second round on our last day in the Caymans. Because of Steve Irwin people are even more terrified, and it's just hilarious to see a big group of people freak out or grown men yelping and jumping. Once you get over the fear, if you ever do, it's an awesome experience. These animals are graceful and massive and it's like a little slice of heaven when they swim up against you, and it's terrifying when you feed them because they suck out the food with their teeth. You have to tuck in your fingers so you don't lose a digit.

2. Remained BFFs with my BFF from kindergarten.
Yes, she is the genius in front of the camera, and I'm the genius behind it. Sarah and I met in kindergarten and the rest is history. We had a fabulous childhood of playing outdoors and with She-ra and swimming and climbing up to the roof and making up dances... imagination was always in full force. We were pretty hideous children so we had to do our best to keep ourselves entertained.

3. I once lived in a football stadium. Seriously.
I liked it so much, I went back for a second year. The Arizona football stadium dorm (aka Navajo/Pinal) was spacious, compared to most dorm rooms. It was not loud during games, and there were always interesting people around. Laundry boy, Racoon girl, oh yeah, and this guy.

It was the bestest. That's where I met Meredith, Jay, Lexie and Gill. Sometimes we'd do Tae Bo in our room, or even worse, Jennie Garth's workout video! We'd cook strange meals and one time we broke the stove and managed to cut the power in the whole building. Jay worked the front desk and we would keep him company and draft renovations for the entry way. But mostly, we sat on our bench.

As you can see, years later, our butt prints are still there.

4. I got three stitches in my right index finger from opening a can of soup.
This happened while I lived in the stadium, sophomore year. I was by myself in the kitchen, opening a can of soup. I'm not so handy with the can opener, so I had to pull open the top and then sliced my finger. Three stitches. Yeah.

5. I peed in my pants several times in the first grade.

6. I threw up during morning prayer/Pledge of Allegiance in the 5th grade.

Musee du Louvre
7. Decided I would rather go to Paris than get married.
Tis the season for my generation to be getting married and having babies. 12 years later, we're still not there yet, but that's ok. There's a group on Facebook called Everyone's getting married and I'm getting drunk. That's about right.

8. I finished my Bachelors before I was the legal drinking age.
My parents pushed my kindergarten to let me in, even though I was a few months past the cut off age. So, I was always the youngest. Last one to be able to drive, you know the story. I got to college at 17, and by OD'ing on the units and testing out of Spanish, I finished a little early. My last day of class, Anthropology and Minds, Brains, and Computers (psych/philosophy), was on my 21st bday.

My first Philly Cheesesteak, Doin it Right!
9. I waited to have a cheesesteak until I got to Philly.
Maybe some people aren't that crazy, but I'm sure I'm not the only one out there. This was 26 years in the making, and I did it right with both Pat's AND Geno's. OMFG, that sounds so good right about now...

Happy Halloween!
10. I had back to back gay halloweens. No really. 2006 San Francisco, 2007 West Hollywood. I guess this is only original if you're not a queen.


Props to anyone else who wants to tackle the Question of the Day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad Mouthing in English and Cantonese

Usually at lunch, Vicky and I have some kind of cultural exchange so I can better understand Chinese and Hongkongese peeps, and she can have a better understanding of Americans.

Yesterday we exchanged bad words. Turns out many of our expressions are the same, and turns out a lot of them have to do with "your mom."


Some pictures I forgot about:
This one I took for my mum, the big Spiderman fan.

The line of Jager bombs from Saturday

The line of tequila shots from Saturday

Who says bankers and lawyers are no fun?

A fountain I came across outside IFC mall. I was on a quest for a hat, and failed.

If I come across those ninjas tonight, I'll be sure to let them know how I feel about their mother.

Monday, January 28, 2008

They Asked for Shenanigans. I insisted on Tomfoolery. And yet, it was Quite Civilized.

stormies tuesday
If you can believe it, 8 weeks after my arrival in HK, I finally had a civilized weekend. Breaking it down, it means we enjoyed a nice dinner before drinks and I was home at an almost reasonable hour.

Friday was sushi. Sushi Friday still lives on. Saturday was a really really nice French dinner with some new and less new pals. There was lots of sleeping in and lots of reading. It felt really good. And I tried my best to lay low and not spend money.

Here's some old pics from Rachel's cam:

bar george

You're right, that's not my Heini

And since I know you really want to know, the best way to defeat the evil ninjas is one part sauvignon blanc, one part vodka redbull, one part heineken.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Ledger, Why'd You Go Away?

I'm so sad. We were ripped off.

He wasn't a president or a princess, but I will always remember the moment I found out. I stepped out of the shower, and saw the headline on CNN International, and I had to do a double take because, there must be some mistake...

The last thing I saw him in was probably Candy. I watched it in Memphis with Turnip.

Goodbye Mr. Ledger, you are missed.

Maybe someday I'll marry a Heath Ledger lookalike. Cover his nose, and you'll see a hint of Pepper in there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Weekend is Gone, but the Bruises Remain.

The weekend is gone, but the bruises remain

Sorry. That's not cute, I know. It looks much worse today. But it's still no broken leg. I wonder how it's possible that I get all these mystery bruises. I still have one on my leg from the hike a while back.

PART II: The Weekend is Gone, but the Pictures Remain

The night before last, while I was waiting for an eternity for my Mexican takeaway dinner, I discovered pictures I have no recollection taking.

Peace, bitches.
The Floridian and citrus fruits.

The Brit, from Britain.

Bringing Peeps Together
The Eastcoasters

Hugs.  Not Drugs.
The Youngster, who can't wait to get out of Hong Kong, and the Pilot that won't let him.

Where's your mom?
The kids on the sidwalk at 3 AM. I gave them my half of the falafal. And I actually remember taking this picture.

PART III: The Weekend is Gone, but We Can Travel Back in Time

Some pictures from my pals:

Alexis' Housewarming Party
Alexis' housewarming party. I was smart enough to wear a black dress. I was also smartest enough to wear a lil green jacket.

The expat hiking crew. You can click on it for the larger size. That's me, Louise, Rachel, Charles, David, Christina, Mark, Davin and Wilsan.

The post hike BBQ

I think the ninjas kick my ass in my sleep. Damn.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eat Crow? Try Frog.

Last weekend was a riot.

Closing the office at 5:30 pm never happens. Even on a Friday. Am I a bad boss? Well, I was out early enough to make it to the GeoExpat happy hour. I met Rachel in LKF, guzzled a cheap drink on the street and went in. Even though we were only fashionably late by an hour, everyone was heavily involved in conversation and mingling wasn't really happening. Whatever, I met some of Rachel's friends and we had a ball. We also ran into a couple of our hiking buds.

Expats like to drink

The View from Bulldogs
The view of LKF from my prime seat.

From there we cabbed to WanChai where we shared dancefloor space with old men and working girls. The music was pretty good and we rocked out to the coverband of the moment. Since closing time irrelevant here, I have to be aware of when I'm tired and not being/having fun any more and go home. I was a complete old fart and called it a night at 1 am both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I tried to get into my regular weekend routine of waking up and popping in a DVD, but I think the DVD player is a piece of crap. I only got through half of Chinatown before it refused to continue reading the disc.

Saturday night I met up with my hiking buddies for hot pot, which is the Chinese version of fondue.

Hot Pot Dinner
This is the not yet hot, pot.

It's all you can eat, so you pick what you want from a very large menu and thow it in. I took this one for Turnipseed.

We ordered a ton of veggies and corn which was awesome, beef, lamb, squid, fish, tofu, wontons, and.... frog.

Louise shows off a plate of frog.

I tried it, cause I've never had it before, and jumped on the chance since I didn't get the opportunity in Paris. It tasted like nothing. Completely pointless. I'll never do it again.

Louise, the temperature monitor
And this is Louise monitoring the temperature of our hot pot. I'm not sure how exactly the hot pot works, because the heat came from the table and the tablecloths don't catch on fire. If anyone has any answers, please enlighten.

After that I went to Alexis' housewarming party. She has a great flat on the 28th floor of a building in Mid-Levels. It's phat, yo.

HongKong2007-8 117
The view from the living room.

View from Alexis' apartment
Yeah, it's pretty sick. You can probably see the water during the day. The sad thing is, by midnight, this view was gone. HK is protected by a haze that can wreck any good view.

Alexis n Me
Me N Alexis after our shot of Jaeger.

T Minus 30 hours until the next round.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Truth About Hong Kong

The picture above was not taken by me, but this is the HK version of the Sunset Strip, Vegas Strip, 4th Ave, Mardi Gras, whatever.

There are some people who think my Hong Kong existence is not nearly exciting enough. No, I haven't had a kung-fu battle on bamboo scaffolding. No, I haven't had any encounters with Triads at seedy tattoo parlors. And no, I have yet to eat anything that looks like birds nest or shark fin. But give it time.

I work in an office with one other person and stare at excel spreadsheets all day. I eat Subway for dinner several times a week because that's all I can afford, and if it worked for Jared it can work for me too. I'm also trying to avoid McDonalds as much as possible but sweet fatty america, they serve egg mcmuffins all day. Yes, I shop at Ikea cause I can't afford the gorgeous antiques on Hollywood Road, and don't want to come home with a cheap shelf from Mon Kok that could give me tetanus. Yes, I pick up Starbucks every morning on the way to work because I don't have a coffee maker at home or at work yet, and that's the only coffee shop in the area. And I kinda like that they already know my name.

Alexis said Hong Kong is Asia Lite, which is the truth.

It's a big city with people from all over the world and you don't need to take the time to learn the language. There are some seedy parts but everywhere is pretty sanitary because of SARS and Bird Flu. I've seen one homeless person.

So if you wanna know what it's really like, keep reading or click here for the original article.


You get off the plane and a man holding a sign which reads: "Lee Trevino" looks you in the eye and nods in your direction with the assurance of a samurai that you are indeed Mr. Trevino. You laugh at the misidentification but quickly realize that you are the only Caucasian person in the vicinity and understand that we must all look the same to him.

- You sit to take a shit in the public restroom at the airport and your testicles dangle above the water level at the same altitude Tom Cruise hovered above the floor in Mission Impossible. Any aquatic disturbance whatsoever will surely increase the moisture content on your scrotum. So a free falling trans-Pacific-brewing turd definitely soaks the pendulum sack and undercarriage with a wave of poo water.

- Your English speaking tour guide is on her first day of work. She can't speak discernable English. You spend most of the day squinting as you try to understand her.

- You get mugged by Asian school girls thinking you're a movie star simply because you don't look Asian. Still, this does wonders for the ego.

- While you're not getting mugged by Asian school girls, you are constantly being gawked and pointed at by everyone else because you tower over their entire population and just flat out look weird to them. You are average looking and only six feet tall but they make you feel like you were Chunk from The Goonies. Like Barry Bonds in a "Smallest Head Contest", no matter what you do, you stick out like a sore thumb.

- Your nostrils want to quit. Imagine a scent made of exhaust, shit, piss, sweat, incense, rotting food, and various cooked/uncooked/dried sealife being sold for consumption. Imagine that stench as a smelling salt. Now visualize that miasma being shoved up your nose. Your nostrils plead for you to not inhale again.

- Yes, there are Chinatowns. Even here.

- You ate ferret at a meal and didn't realize it.

- Your insanely delicious lunch cost you $1.

- Every intersection looks like a 50-car pile up is about to breakout at any time.

- You see a family of 5 on one moped like they were performing a tightrope walking routine. And helmets must have been outlawed in the city or something.

- Each new driving maneuver you witness subsequently becomes 'the craziest shit you've ever seen.'

- Pulling out a map in a crowded place turns out to be the dumbest thing you could ever do. Like lions on a wounded buffalo, everyone swarms you. They will point out suggestions of where you should go next and what you should do with your life in the subsequent hour like they were part of your team on a treasure hunt and a group decision needed to be made. If you don't go where they suggest you should go, you will get yelled at like you've insulted them in some way.

- Yes, everyone else is laughing at you in their mother tongue.

- You think that Los Angeles' air quality is like a biologic clean room in comparison to whatever city you are in.

- You realize that pedestrians don't have the right of way, ever. The faded crosswalk is there as a suggestion to where you should play "Frogger". It's also the same place where the police will find your body.

- The super new cool cell phone you bought for $500 a month ago is most definitely NOT the most advanced phone out there. We are at least a year behind in technology. In comparison, your phone looks like the big white behemoth cell phones mobsters used in the back of limousines in any movie made in the 80's.

- It's 95 degrees in the shade and yet everyone around you is in jeans looking surprisingly comfortable. You seem to be the only person wearing shorts and sunglasses and sweating profusely. It's so hot that you feel like Clark W. Griswold in Vacation as he stumbles out of the desert and utters, "Water! Water!" You wonder what genetic advantages the white man has when it comes to heat or adverse climates in general, but can't think of any.

- Someone just tried to sell you a squirrel on a leash.

- People own elephants and monkeys like you would own a dog or say, a cat.

- You're sure that PETA most definitely does not have offices in South East Asia.

- While on a public train you fall asleep but are woken up by a man playing with your arm hair. He does not stop playing with it.

- Personal space is not part of the common understanding of daily life. Asia excels at 'persons in a space' not personal space.

- You are asked by 98% of the female population if you would like a massage.

- Yes, she is shooting ping pong balls out of her vagina.

- You are asked by one distinct Thai male on the side of the street if you would like - in this progression mind you - "Thai Massage?...Oil Massage?...Dick Massage?"

- Every English speaking person you meet is either from England or Australia.

- Every Asian person who is not in a suit is trying to rip off English speakers one way or another.

- You think to yourself that anyone selling anything in South East Asia would be thrown in jail for harassment or assault in the U.S. You withstand such strategies such as, "You buy!" as you pass a vendor. Then there's the old trick of them putting a watch on your wrist without your consent and then demanding payment for said watch. By "demanding" I mean that they basically try to rob you.

- You buy 2 shirts for $3 and think you got the deal of the century. "I just got 2 shirts for $3!!!" You find out that your friend got 2 shirts for $2 and you quickly feel like you've been had. "2 shirts for $3?!?! That BASTARD!!" Price is all relative at that moment. No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes to feel bamboozled by some street merchant especially when your friend paid 33% less than you did for the same goods. You break into a cold sweat and lose sleep that night as you think of a way to find the robber baron that took you for a ride and somehow get your dollar back.

- You get in a tuk tuk (rickshaw) and there is no meter. You have to guess how much your journey should cost, low ball the driver, have him laugh at you and double the price. You threaten to get out of the tuk tuk, and he tells you to go ahead. You get out of the tuk tuk and he agrees to your original price. You get back in the tuk tuk. This is pretty much standard operations.

- Every tuk tuk driver tells you that the place you want to go to is closed and that they will take you to special places and temples that are open. They are of course lying and they take you to textile shops in the middle of Timbuktu where they get a commission off anything you buy. It's like East Germany in the 80's. Everyone's in on it. It's fucking lawless.

- The real cab drivers don't know the city anymore than a blind tourist does. You get in a cab at the Bangkok Airport. It is a city sponsored proper cab with a meter! You tell the driver to take you to the intersection of the 2 busiest roads in Bangkok (i.e. Times Square if you were in NYC). He proceeds to take you in the complete wrong direction for 20 miles before you recognize that the population density should be increasing per every minute of the drive instead of rapidly decreasing. He still truly believes he is going the right way. He speaks less English than a Chimpanzee.

- You keep thinking you've seen the biggest Buddha statue you've ever seen until you walk down the street a little further and see a bigger one.

- You realize that people take their Buddha more seriously than whatever God you think you believe in. They just seem surer than you do.

- From what you've witnessed, you're quite certain that slavery still exists in the world.

- You are somehow able to buy DVD's for $1 of movies that haven't even been filmed yet.

- You are on a puddle hopping flight in Thailand. There pretty much is no security in the airport. You'd feel safer walking drunk through Deadwood with money hanging out of every pocket than you do getting on this plane.

- You get on the puddle hopping flight and sit down in seat 13F. 'F' must stand for fetal because that is the position you find yourself in. The seat in front of you is so close that your thighs and chest become best buds. When the person in front of you decides to recline, you get the wind knocked out of you. Being shipped across the sea in a row boat wearing a straight jacket while lying in a hidden compartment of some magicians prop would be first class travel in comparison.

- You order 'nachos' at a restaurant and what you receive is actually quite different. It's a plate of stale bread chips covered with ONE partially melted Kraft square cheese on top. i.e. the entire piece of cheese travels with one particular bread chip leaving you with a whole lot of cheese and not a lot of chips for one bite...and a whole lot of chips and no cheese for the rest of the meal.

- You order something with mild spice. You feel like you are eating burning embers.

- You think to yourself, "Wow! Is that a swarm of bats over there? Or maybe they are mini helicopters!" Nope. Those are mosquitoes.

- Everytime it rains, it floods...biblically speaking

- You see a reticulated python on the side of the road on your jungle trek. It looks peaceful. Your tour guide tells you that it is safe to touch it since it is shedding it's skin. You lean in. He backs away. You do not attempt to touch it. You don't see the humor in the joke, at all.

- You have to wear leech socks on the jungle trek. You get covered in leeches regardless. This is of course nowhere in the brochure.

- You are lying on the beach sleeping but every 12 seconds you are woken up by a different person each time trying to sell you some jewelry. You wonder if the involuntary eye twitch of REM sleep was Morse code for, "I like."

- A fellow passenger on the bus you're on has a dispute with the bus driver and his crew. It escalates quickly and one of the crew members removes a machete and holds it to the guy's face. Argument over. I wish I was joking.

- Your friend points out a particular Rolex in the store magazine to the owner knowing damn well that what he's probably going to get is a 'Folex'. The watch isn't in the store. His associate has it. You have to follow his associate to get it. You're not sure why you two follow but you do. 10 minutes later you are sitting at the kitchen table in the apartment of some unknown person who resides at the end of a shady-ass back alley. As he goes and gets the watch out of his drawer, his roommate sits with you at the table. When he sees the watch, your friend silently tells you that he doesn't like the watch. You tell your friend that he can't NOT want the watch at this point because you value your life.

- The Rolex your friend just bought dies 5 days later but he keeps it on his wrist so people at least THINK he has an actual Rolex.

- One night, a transvestite with a kung-fu death grip steals his Rolex. You choose not to fight with someone who has tits that nice and an Adam's apple so prominent.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Real World: Hong Kong, Episode 1 - Take a Hike

This is the true story...of nine strangers...picked to go on a together, and have their lives find out what happens when people stop being polite...and start getting real...The Real World: Hong Kong.

Believe it or not, I got myself out of bed early on a Saturday to go on a hike with a bunch of strangers. Right before Christmas I made the realization that I'm not going to make any friends through work (since I work with only one other person who lives far away) and I don't wanna go around picking up friends at the bar. So, I've been relying heavily on GeoExpat for everything. I've been on this expat forum since the second I knew I was moving and it's a superfantastic resource. So far I've met all my friends through this forum.

I had met David before at Falafal and Carbomb night last week, and he and a few others came up with the hike idea. I had to take 3 different MTR lines and 1 KCR line totalling over an hour to get to our meeting place. It was a great turn out. There were nine of us from all over the planet who had never met or were barely acquainted. A few of us from the US, a few from the UK, Vancouver, Singapore, it was fabulous. We hopped on a bus for about half an hour until we got to our destination, Tai Me Duk.

We had all bundled up because we were unsure about the weather, but it was a beautiful day and slightly on the warm side. I was told, and re-confirmed upon arrival that this would be a LEISURELY hike. Well, they were wrong.


Within the first few minutes I was ready to turn around. Me and the other American gal could barely breathe. I don't know how long we were climbing steps. An hour? Two hours?

Here's a bus stop along the trail. Not exactly sure what it's purpose is since there's no way a bus could get up there.

And an emergency phone since by that time our mobiles were roaming in China. We weren't actually that close to China but I am lead to believe we were able to see it in the distance.

If you click on the bigger version of this picture you'll see the buildings in the distance which are allegedly on the China side. I cannot confirm or deny this statement.

But somehow, some way, after praying to be put out of my misery, we made it to the top.


Unfortunately, this is not the view from the top. The top was very anticlimactic. It was just the trail with no view or water feature. Rachel and I were just happy to be done with the steps.

After that Trail of Tears the rest of the hike was, what I would define as leisurely. Still a bit of an incline, some rough terrain, but nothing too strenuous.

Some stairs we did NOT climb, praise Jesus.





Go me and my super straight teeth!


The end. But not the end because we had to walk back on the main road for another 45 minutes to get to our bus stop.


We were afraid of getting kidnapped by opium smugglers.

By the end of it we were famished. The original plan was to go get hot pot or the chinese version of fondue after the hike, but it would have taken us at least half an hour to get to a restaurant. So, we settled for BBQ at the end of our trail. This was a good idea in theory, however, it took us FOREVER to cook our food. We were like sad, homeless kids cooking around a garbage can.


At this particular establishment, we ordered our meat and rented the BBQ and utensils. It would have been fun if we weren't so desperate to eat.

And then we were on our way home.

Sunday I met Alexis for brunch, which so hit the spot since I haven't had real breakfast food in so long. Then we went to get our nails done with Christina, who happened to be one of my hiking pals. I talked to PhatPhat for a little bit, then hauled it to Causeway Bay, thinking I would pick up a few things at Ikea. I was so hungry and when I came across this I couldn't turn it down.

You are not allowed to judge me for eating here. I like it. Back off. I will give you 10 points if you know where this salad is from.

The Hongkongese version of a salad is a potato salad smothered in mayo. The first time is good, all other times, you just want a good ole real salad.

I journied up 13 flights of escalator to find this restaurant, which is not the best thing in the world for one with vertigo.

I didn't make it to Ikea, but I managed to buy some regular groceries which made me very happy. Stouffers mac and cheese, pita and hummus, pepper jack cheese, some fruit and yogurt... all for the bargain price of two or three times the local US market. But if I'm jonzing for a Hot Pocket I'll know where to get one.

So it was a fantabulous weekend... until evil ninjas crashed through my window!