Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas in Shekou, China

The View today off our deck

The Ship and a blue animated light very tall tree.
Notice the title Starry Christmas



They have started to celebrate Christmas in China. I am told that they did not do this five years ago. I think they are somewhat mixed up on the meaning of Christmas. The two Santas that appear in our little Seaworld area are both drinking beer! The large one on the building is a animation that shows a reindeer with a magic lamp and a genie Santa chugging a large mug of Beer. The plastic one is for tourist to take pictures in front of. It is like getting your picture taken standing in front of any great monument.



video

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hong Kong Tramways






Hong Kong Tramways owns and operates a fleet of 163 tramcars. These are electric powered and are a cross between buses and a trains coach car as they operate on a fixed railway. The link will give you much info including the sound of the bell. Bruce told me about these and I have to agree with him they are great fun. They provide a great view of the city especially from the top level. Many are colored with advertisements and most are similar in design. They are apparently making some new ones to replace some of the oldest ones. 240,000 daily tram rides are taken, and at $2.00 HK dollars it is a great deal, that is about 27 cents US. The trams have a great history. They have been in continuous service since 1904.

Hong Kong Trams

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lantau Island

Bev and Tim by Harbor Steps in Hong Kong with Christmas Decor

The News Bar near The Steps Restaurant

The Steps Restaurant


Bev's Ceasar Salad

Dried Fish for Sale

Dragon Boat
Bev on the Beach in front of the Steps restaurant on Lantau Island

This last Saturday we went to Lantau Island which is part of Hong Kong. It is the island that is famous for the Big Buddah, Disneyland Hong Kong, Hong Kong International Airport. We traveled for much of the day with some friends and had a great time. We found a great restaurant on the beach and had quite an adventure getting to it via some cryptic message a friend of theirs had given them. It ended up that we had to take three ferries, and a bus to get to the place, but the end result was fantastic. Good food, great beach, fun friends. What a blast. We did not see the Buddah we will keep that for another visit. Bev walked out into the water, yes it is was November 24th. Lots of people were wind surfing, kayaking and just enjoying the beach. We'll be back to this place but probably try to stay over night next time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Star Ferry, Hong Kong


Most of the Star Ferries are Green

This is Lower Deck Seating, it is less expensive than the high priced upper deck
(saves about 10 cents per ride, our Dutch friends told us never to use the upper deck)


I like the red Star Ferry
I don't always see it though


Looking toward Central, the main part of Hong Kong


Also Looking Toward part of Central

The Star Ferry has been taking passengers across Victoria Harbor for many years. Connect to the link called Star Ferry History below if you are interested. This is the best tourist attraction of all time. Where can you take a boat ride on a piece of history in one of the most unbelievable cities in the world and do it for about 25 cents.


Star Ferry History

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cash

Cash from my plastic container I keep in the drawer

This is a cash society. I did not realize how little I used cash in the states until I came over here. I operated on a daily basis in the US with a couple of visa cards and a gas card and of course a Starbucks card. Over here you never leave home without cash in your pocket. You don't necessarily need a lot but you need some. Cash covers most everything and can get most anything done that you need. Credit cards don't work at all, but I do have a debit card that works for some large purchases in department stores that I take with me if I know I am going to buy a pricier item, otherwise it is cash and that goes for Hong Kong and Macau also. I can't believe it but I have to keep a certain amount of cash on hand at all times, just in case. We are paid in US $100 dollar bills and can draw on our account every Friday.

We generally change our money with the local money changer that operates in a store on our main route to work. I saw him the other day as he was being delivered a number of bricks of 100 rmb notes, out of a duffel bag. When you go into exchange money they have a couple of guys outside the store, (they also sell booze and pop) that kind of watch, so you step to the back to this grungy old metal desk and pull out your cash he counts it and counts out 100 rmb notes from a metal squeeky draw for you runs them through a machine to insure the count and hands them to you and your out the open doorway. Generally little if any words are exchanged. I always know I got ripped off, but I don't re-count until I am home and always find he was right on. You can get any kind of money you want, Hong Kong, Macau, Euro, US etc. Now your saying why don't you go to a bank? Well generally it takes a lot of time. They have to have someone examine your bills like they are counterfeit or something (This can take 15 min. to an hour) and you get about the same rate as the guy in the back of the store which takes less than a minute. The main bank that we use, (The school helped us set it up) is run by the Chinese Mafia so it really doesn't matter. The pic of the money is just some of what we have to keep on hand for going places and doing things. The funny thing is that I know what most of it is where to use it and how much it is worth. Don't even let me get into the coinage. That is another whole story. The small size coins are generally worthless so you give them to the beggars. A handful of them might buy a can of pop. Sometimes I think the coins are weighing me down as you can accumulate handfuls in a day of shopping. I quit carrying my wallet as have every other guy I talk to at school. It really has no value here. Bev does not carry a purse. I never drive and my ID has no value, nor do any of my bank cards and I am afraid I might loose it. I either need a passport if traveling or nothing, oh wait I do need something else, some CASH!

PS Don't start thinking we have a lot of money. The picture of the above money represents less than $500 US and you can see $200 is US. So lots of bills, not that much value. But you do have to like the color, size and design of the bills which is a lot more fun than just plain old green.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Early Childhood Center


Theresa the new director and a student check out the playground





Bev Checking out the new classrooms



Start them young in the Library

The Brand New ECC, Early Childhood Center, for QSI Shekou opened its doors this last Friday for the first time. It is a converted old restaurant in a primarily housing area. It is not far from the main school where we work. QSI did a complete remodel of the building. It is for 2 year old to 4 year old children. Theresa Brantley is the director, her husband is the director of our school.

These are some pictures of the open house they had this last Saturday. After the open house they increased the number of students by 11!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shanghai Weekend


Looking across the river to the Pudong side from the Bund at night.


One of only a couple reclining Buddah's made from a single piece of Jade.

Mao statues for sale


This is hand embroidery, very beautiful.
We bought some much smaller pieces as they
take months to make and were fairly expensive.


This guy had a knife and other tools and was working on this ladies foot.
I believe his sign says he has some kind of knowledge of hands and feet?



This is how you eat cheap, a complete lunch here cost less than a quarter.





Live Crickets for Sale



These are some pictures from our Shanghai weekend. Bev and I both fell in love with Shanghai. It is a wonderful city. We traveled with another couple that are from Napa, Idaho. We decided to do a one day city tour to get a feel for the city and maximize our time. We visited the Bund and the French Concession district, Shanghai Museum of Ancient Chinese Art which contains over 120,000 pieces of rare and precious art. The Qing Dynasty, Yuyuan Gardens, Jade Buddha Temple called Xin Tian Di, had a tea ceremony, visited a pearl factory. In addition we had visited the Bund on our own in the evening and were treated to a wonderful fireworks show. The opposite side of the Huangpu River is being developed at a very fast rate. It was completely inaccessible just 20 years ago. It is called the Pudong, a district in Shanghai, which has emerged as China\'s financial and commercial hub. Before we left we were able to take a river cruise and visit an antique village area near our hotel where we bought some souvenirs.

Quite a busy three days when you add in travel to Hong Kong and back for our flights. Our passports are getting filled with many stamps as we get four every time we go to Hong Kong, or Macau.

This is a mix of pictures, most of street vendors, which I find quite interesting. We ended up walking a few blocks on Sunday morning and went through an area that has a Sunday morning 2nd hand sales by individuals. Stuff was laid out on blankets. Some amazing things. Everyting can be sold, rocks, crickets, turtles and lots of stuff. Bev picked up some pot holders and was handed additional items, a cell phone I think, and then started to draw a crowd as she looked the items over, she decided she didn't want to make a purchase that was difficult.

If you touch anything or show any interest with your eyes or pointing at something you will have a hard time getting away from the vendor without being rude, which is many times the only thing you can do! Once you agree to a price with ok or yes. It is yours. That is the final word on the sale. There is no I changed my mind. As soon as you pay. You totally own it and a return just 30 seconds later or exchange is going to cost you, or is not possible. You have to be ready for final purchase when you say "ok".