Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Asia Trip I: Welcome to Hong Kong

We felt very welcomed in Hong Kong. It seemed like everywhere we went, people were shouting our names...

Phineas in Lan Kwai Fong, the ex-pat entertainment district

We arrived in Hong Kong in the evening, and only had time for a walk, dinner and a drink at the hotel bar before hitting the hay on our first night. But I already knew that I liked Hong Kong. It didn't hurt that we were upgraded to an enormous suite.

"The Fong" - a mixture of lemon vodka, apple liqueur, white wine, mango and lychee served at our hotel bar.

Hong Kong is a busy and bustling city with a pace and vibe not unlike New York - parts of it are just like Chinatown but larger, and other areas are more like Wall Street. At the same time it reminded me of London in some of its sensibilities, as well as the side of the road they drive on. On our first full day in Hong Kong, we took a LONG walk. We started at the Yuen Po Street bird garden and finished at the Star Ferry pier several hours and a bowl of noodles later.

Yours truly at the ferry promenade. Shortly after this shot was taken we had one of our few unfortunate food episodes, which I shall cover in the chapter on Dim Sum.

During our walk we hit the Flower Market, the Goldfish Market, and a few other outdoor markets including a food market where I noticed a cage with enormous live frogs (or were they toads?). We also strolled thru Kowloon Park and down Nathan Road, the shopping boulevard on Kowloon Island.

In the evening we hit Lan Kwai Fong, which is where the ex-pats go to party. Then we dined on a real Hong Kong specialty, roast goose. In my estimation, nearly as good as roast duck, which did live up to my expectations. Mmmm...

The next morning we got up early (well, really, we were jet lagged and not going to sleep in if ourlives depended on it) and took the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak for coffee and a view of Hong Kong from where the British colonialists used to live.

And then we were off to Taipei, Taiwan...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wonderful Wedding, Wonderful Trip

Dress 1 of 3; Hairstyle 1 of 4
So, Dr Colin and Mandie tied the knot (3rd time's the charm), this time in Taiwan at a resort near Sinying, the town where Mandie grew up. I tell you, Chinese girls get it right - many dress and hair changes, elaborate photography sessions with additional dresses and venues... it's all very fairytale like.

And did I mention the food? Not your standard wedding rubber chicken dinner. A full Chinese banquet with all kinds of seafood and exotic dishes (abalone, sea cucumber, black chicken, some things I couldn't identify, but were tasty). There were one or two times during our stay in Taiwan when I had to ask Mandie's sister if the dish I was eating was animal, vegetable or mineral... keep in mind this didn't lessen the appeal of whatever it was, and she didn't always know the answer.

Dress 2 of 3; hairstyle 3 of 4

In lieu of a wedding cake there was a champagne tower. However, as is traditional for Taiwanese weddings, we were all sent home with an enormous box of cookies. A tasty reminder of a wonderful day!

Congratulations, Colin and Mandie!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Greetings from Kaoshing, Taiwan

Today we are in Kaoshing, Taiwan's second largest city. Later we will head to the resort where Colin and Mandie's wedding will take place. Mandie's family is giving us a grand tour and feeding us at every opportunity. Needless to say, Phineas and I are adapting quite well to this treatment. Walk, shop, eat, walk, shop, eat... repeat...

So far, we've spent 2 days in Hong Kong (LOVED it), a day and a half in Taipei, and yesterday and this morning in Kaoshing. After the wedding on Sunday, we head to Macao for 2 days and then Hong Kong for 2 more.

I have LOTS to blog about when I get home, so stay tuned...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Off to Asia

Phineas and I are off to Asia - Hong Kong, Taipei, Tainan, Macau and then back thru Hong Kong. Fifteen hours on an airplane each way!

I'm not sure if I'll be able to post while I'm gone, but I hope so. If not, there will be plenty of updates on the back end.

Have fun while I'm gone!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Siu ngaap

Here you are my lovelies.

Now if I could just learn how to pronounce ngaap.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Countdown to Taiwan

In 6 days I will be on a plane to Hong Kong with the final destination of Taiwan. I've never been to Asia before and am looking forward to touring Taiwan with Mandie and her family. It will be nice to have a Mandarin speaker as our guide! But there will be times when Phineas and I are on our own, and knowing a few words will be a plus.

Here is my language lesson for the day:

Ni hao

Thank you
Xie xie


ce suo

mi fan (chao fan = fried rice)


veggie (generic for green veg)
choy (choi)

The nice thing about having not one, but two sisters-in-law who speak Mandarin Chinese is that I actually know how to pronounce xie xie; I'm still working on ce suo.

Now, I just need to learn how to say "duck", as in the peking variety of crispy skinned succulent moist bird. Even if I can't read a menu, if I can ask for duck, rice and veg, I will be a very happy camper.

Pop in Ghana II

For the official story of my Pop's trip to Ghana, click here.

His unofficial story, including eating grass cutter, to follow shortly.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pop in Ghana

Kente Cloth that Pop brought me from Ghana

So my Pop has returned from Ghana. Ten thousand people came to see Father (now Bishop) Dominick ordained and his new Diocese created. Pop and the other parishioner who went on the trip were introduced to the tribes as "the honored delegates from Brooklyn", which tickles me.

Anyway, Pop has agreed to write a guest post about his trip - a once in a lifetime experience, he says. Stay tuned.

On marriage

A good marriage is a bit like a pet boa constrictor: either you feed it every day or bad things happen.

I read this quote on line yesterday and couldn't stop chuckling about it all afternoon. Since Phineas and I are so busy right now with work, family weddings and travel, I think it is a good reminder not to neglect each other in all the chaos.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blitz Part 2

Phineas pointed out that I didn't do justice to just how much cooking was actually involved in Saturday's dinner party. So, here is the menu:

Fried Wontons with soy dipping sauce
Pan Fried Dumplings with soy scallion dipping sauce
Chili-Garlic Shrimp
Deconstructed Peking Duck aka Chinese Nachos
Chinese BBQ ribs
Chinese BBQ chicken wings

Winter melon soup
Poached Chicken with Scallion-Ginger Dipping Sauce
Assorted chinese meats (roast pork, roast pig)
Sauteed pea shoot tips
House Special Lo Mein (shrimp, duck, pork, veggies)
Veggie Lo Mein
Pork Fried Rice

Wontellas (nutella filled wontons)
Chocolate Covered Strawberries

We cooked everything except the roast pork and roast pig. I think we both have cooking fatigue.