Thursday, April 21, 2011

Understated Elegance

This beauty was spotted on our ferry at 3pm in the afternoon.

No, she (yes, SHE) was not a clown.  They aren't pajamas or hospital scrubs.  It was a legitimate outfit (in her mind) that she wore with a straight face...on a Thursday afternoon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Street Art in DB

You've gotta love DB-ers.  Someone decided to create this street art (?) near the ferry.  I'm not sure what to make of it...but think it's totally blog-worthy.

You've Got (no) Mail

One of the things I miss most about living in the States?  Getting mail.  We don't get any mail here - and what we do get is total crap.  We get bills, about 10 circulars from real estate agencies (all showing the same 20 properties) and 5 completely random, typo-riddled fliers from contractors and illegal massage parlors.  We also get the latest version of InsideDB - a "magazine" (not sure it qualifies) that is so boring I don't even bother opening it anymore.  (I stopped when I found a typo in their cover story headline! How hard is it to proof your cover?!)

Oh how I remember the days of mindlessly throwing out my J Crew and Pottery Barn catalogs. Now when I'm back in the States I covet them and try not to flip through them all at once.  No more excitement when my Vanity Fair or New York Magazine arrives (because they don't ship to HK).  No more "We know you like this [insert Magazine or Store here], so we thought you might enjoy [insert Magazine or Store here]."  Not even a freakin menu!

Just my lonely little metal mail box filled with air.

Secret Ziplock Stashes (and the People Who "Guard" DB)

Here is another random, bizarre element of Discovery Bay... Have a look at the pictures below and note the Ziplock bag containing some sort of pamphlet inside, which is zip-tied to the railing. 

This is one of many secretive little stashes that can be found hidden in spots around my neighborhood.  This one is pretty conspicuous.  Most are hidden behind shrubbery or between slats in a fence.  I've even seen one hidden up underneath someone's window!

They came to my attention when I saw a guard writing in one with her stubby little golf course pencil (also attached via string to zip lock bag) and then furtively stuff it back in in and walk away like nothing happened.  I was very curious, but late for the ferry so I didn't stop to check it out.  Now, when I'm out walking Victor, I see these little hot pockets hidden everywhere!  In our neighborhood alone (La Costa, for all you DB-ers reading this), I've spotted at least six.

So what on earth is kept inside these sandwich bags?!  Is it a census - are they keeping track of the number of bike-riders and dog-walkers they see in a given day?  Or is it a weird version of a time card - seems like a clandestine spot for punching in on the clock.  Or is it their way of tracking anything out of place - like "3:20pm Friday - child's bicycle leaned up against house #12"?? It's all in Chinese, so I can't tell.

Whatever it is, I love that they're storing it in Ziplock bags out in the open.  Cutting edge storage system, don't ya say?!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cheeky and Chuffed

Sounds like the title of a really bad porn, but these are actually terms used in everyday life around here.  If you're ever traveling abroad or are a total Cliff Clavin (a know-it-all who knows just enough about a topic to show off at a dinner party), here's a few more you should know:

~A way someone acts that is cute and desirable
~An annoying person who plays sneaky tricks on people
~A bit on the mischievous side
Usage: "Did you see the way she winked at my boyfriend?  Cheeky bee-atch."
**Full disclosure, I'm not even sure I used it correctly there.  It's like Italian - I know it when I hear it, but struggle to speak it.

~ Delighted, pleased, satisfied
Usage: "I was quite chuffed when the scale showed I'd lost 5 lbs."

Happy Days:
OK, get The Fonz out of your head.  It's more like...
Usage: "I will go on this diet because I want to get healthy and if I just so happen to lose weight - happy days!"

Much like "mate" it's very hard to get away with saying these things if you're American.  I've started saying "happy days" but won't go near "cheeky" or "chuffed".  Just can't do it...  To clarify, I would *like* to say them, but it would sound forced coming from me.  It's like hot pants or a string bikini - I'd love to wear them, but just shouldn't.

While we're on the topic, you'll find that Aussies say:

"Good on you" instead of "good for you"

"How are you going?" instead of "How are you doing?"

They also love to shorten things and will say "uni" instead of university and "dero" instead of "derelict" which apparently is a common insult to throw around Down Under.

And that concludes today's anthropological language study...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hamburger: Used or Unused?

Perusing the menu at our local Japanese restaurant and came across the following:

Call me crazy, but I prefer my hamburger unused.  :(

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011

The stand-off is over. 

The duffel bag was put away (and not by me). 

Are you as relieved as I am?

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I must be assimilating because I've taken a liking to instant ramen noodles.  My handy electric tea kettle (an appliance, like my rice maker, that I never in a million years thought I would own) makes preparing these suckers a cinch.  That is, until you read the directions...

Have you ever seen this many microwave directions?!  Convenience store microwave oven, domestic microwave oven...and then there's 2 different sets of directions for the domestic one (e.g., the one I'm using!)

Is it really necessary to provide FOUR sets of directions for something like instant noodles??  A souffle - perhaps.  Beef Bourguignon - definitely. Instant noodles - don't be ridiculous.

And can someone please tell me how to make cold boiling water?  (The camera flash kind of covers this up, but you can see it if you look closely.) No really, I'd LOVE to see some cold boiling water.

In case you're wondering I use #3.

The Stand-Off

This post has nothing to do with Hong Kong and everything to do with being married.

This is a duffel bag from our not-so-recent trip to Barcelona. (We landed back in HK on March 9th - a month ago.)

A certain husband decided it would be a good idea to pack one of those cardboard silo-like tubs of Quaker oatmeal in this duffel bag.  Whereas his wife wouldn't have dared to pack something so un-sturdy in a soft duffel bag that will surely get tossed around like a rag doll by airline baggage guys, this husband didn't think twice.

It's probably unsurprising (if you're a woman) to hear that when the bag arrived in HK and was opened, the tub of oatmeal had exploded.  Oatmeal EVERYWHERE.  Wife says to husband, "Clearly you - and not I - will be cleaning this up."  After some hemming and hawing, husband reluctantly agrees.

A week goes by and the duffel bag sits untouched.  Wife decides to collect her belongings from the bag, clean oatmeal off of them and leaves the rest for husband to deal with.  Husband still does nothing.

Another week goes by and the helper takes matters into her own hands and vacuums all the oatmeal out of the duffel bag and leaves all the oatmeal-free contents in the bag.  Mildly annoyed wife tells very elated hubby that the duffel bag is now oatmeal-free thanks to lovely helper and that now all he needs to do is take his clean crap out of the bag and put it all away.  Hubby has the gall to ask if helper would put things away.  Wife vetoes this idea immediately.

That was two weeks ago...  As you can see, the duffel bag and all of its contents are still sitting in the bedroom waiting to be put away.

Wife is no dummy; she knows that hubby is hoping presence of bag will get to be so much that she'll just put everything away for him.  But oh no, wife will not give in.  She will let that bag sit there until Christmas if that's what it takes.

Dezigner Brandz

Everyone says Hong Kong is known for its shopping.  I think that's a bit of a misnomer.

On one end of the spectrum, HK has mega malls filled with luxury brands and on the other end are hidden away shops and street vendors who sell cheap knock-offs.  The middle -- where in normal cities you find affordable retail chains and trendy boutiques that sell off-label brands - is a barren wasteland.

I know there will be comments (written or just yelled at the computer) by Hong Kongers who vehemently disagree.  Yes we have H&M, Zara and Club Monaco and there are a sprinkling of unique boutiques throughout the city, but that's it.  You go to Tokyo or New York, London or Paris and you'll find street after street of cool stores and shops -- for New Yorkers, I'm talking things like Scoop and Intermix.  Nothing ground-breaking.

I can name 3 H&Ms in the entire city.  I can also name 7 Armani stores in the same mall!  Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, AX Armani Exchange, Dolci Armani (chocolate), Armani Fiori (flowers), Armani fragrance, Armani makeup and finally Armani Casa (homewares).  I am not making this up - each of these is their own store in the same mall.

Needless-to-say, it doesn't give a girl in my budget bracket a lot to work with...which is why I find myself doing a lot of shopping online or stocking up when I'm back in NYC.  What also happens is that every expat woman here ends up buying the same Zara shirt or H&M dress.  We're all little clones of each other running around.

And don't get me started on sizes...  You're a size 6 US?  Look in the "Large" section or if you're in a boutique, don't expect to find anything in your size.

Having said all that, I do take advantage of the underground shopping outlets here.  V and I come back from Shenzhen with a Santa-like bag filled with the latest season of Weeds, severely discounted tennis rackets and are-they-really-knock-off designer handbags.  So, I was thrilled to discover the Temple Street Night Market, which is a version of that but in HK.  Finally I don't have to buy a $150USD visa to get all my cheap crap.  You can also find "designer" underwear at Temple Street:

Take a closer look.  They're "Calven Klein"and my personal favorite - "Doicf Gabbana".  I love that their sign has "underwear" in quotation marks.  Apropos for a pair of Calven Kleins, no?!