September HK update
Other than Veronica’s birthday I haven’t been putting much up. It has been a busy month for us with work and getting back into the Kindrgarten routine. But I have been taking plenty of pictures and finally got around to sorting out the goodies. So grab a look when you have a minute.
Also Veronica put together a nice long update of what is going on with us all so I have added on to this post as well.
On my birthday we went up the Peak did the walk around the top. Clemency commented on how quiet it was – still tonnes of people though. The air was so much fresher too. The lookout there has been renovated (under construction when Julie was here) which makes such a difference to the view – glass walls all the way up the escalators. We went out to dinner and I got a free dessert with candles much to C & H’s delight. We had to take Clemency and Hadley because we don’t seem to have a babysitter anymore and they were a bit restless unfortunately. That night I got the vomiting bug that had gone around everyone but it didn’t last long.
Mum and Dad will be over from the 2nd to the 17th of October so we are looking forward to that. We have booked tickets to Beijing for three nights – not really a break but it will be good to see. In Hong Kong there is a new cable car ride here that takes you to the Big Buddha on Lantau Island so we will do that and Mum hasn’t been to Disneyland so hopefully we can go there too.
I have a course at Clemency’s school that runs for six mornings on a Thursday. It is based on a Christian book ‘Children with Boundaries’ – you probably know it. I’ve read the book and it is common sense but interesting to hear about the possible outcomes if you aren’t consistent with discipline. I had to take Hadley along and people looked at me like I had two heads but he was really the model child, playing for two and a half hours beside me. Actually I had a trial run when I took him to the coffee morning the week before and he was good for the 30 minute talk. Next week a woman is going to bring her helper and her boy (same age) to school and they can play in another room together. I have just got to know her but she is due to leave HK anytime soon typically. There are a lot of people from all different nationalities going who couldn’t wait to vent their frustrations in particular mixed nationalities like a Japanese woman married to an American man. I just said I had thought Clemency was a bit stubborn, when asked to introduce myself and children, and then her teacher told me that was the case – people seemed to think this was funny I’m not sure why after some of the stories I heard – maybe people could relate!
Actually we had an interesting situation on the day of the coffee morning. Children whose parents had taken them to school arrived but buses hadn’t and the education department closed the schools just as the first students had been dropped off. There was a sudden severe thunderstorm and rain warning and black skies (a change from the usual grey), flash floods, land slides and traffic jams. We weren’t allowed to take students home and they had to stay until the warning was lifted. Hadley and I were stuck not knowing what to do and even the principal admitted she didn’t even know. That wasn’t a surprise as no one can ever tell you what the difference between the warnings are. When you ask everyone just shrugs their shoulders. I did find out the education dept can override the warning and make up their own just to add to the confusion but if you can understand Cantonese you can listen to the radio (no English channel) to know whether or not to send your children to school. Sometimes it can look like a black storm outside but it is nothing and other times it looks fine and there is a typhoon so people don’t automatically listen to the radio. Sometimes the school closes just because people think the typhoon warning three might go up even though it is currently number one or vice versa so you don’t think to call the school. I’ve said to other people if the children I taught in the UK ever had those excuses they’d never turn up (it only works in Asian countries).
A friend in our apartment block was due to go back to the US by the end of the month but her husband’s visa is being extended so a nice surprise to have a friend around a little longer. It was also a surprise for them as it was extended somehow without their knowledge!?! They find out today how long they will be here. It might be a month, maybe longer which will mean they will have to have more negotiations with the company. She is a bit tired of moving around and not knowing where they will end up or when so I can sympathise with that! She is a journalist so she is slowly writing a piece on HK which she hopes to sell to a Portuguese newspaper in Brazil. It would be interesting to read if I could.
It is Autumn Festival here soon and the Shopping Festival (only in HK) has finished. The children go out with the beautiful paper or sometimes tacky plastic Hello Kitty lanterns (you can guess which one Clemency wants). We will probably get given horrid traditional mooncakes filled with egg and lotus paste (H & C eat!). They make cool (literally) icy mooncakes and chocolate ones which look much more enticing but these rarely get given by people due to the problem of keeping them cold.
We have a little garden on the roof terrace so there will be a party for the opening on the 5th. That should be quite fun to see. The owner said there was a swing but my friend found out it is an adults’ swing (I think she means one of those ones with a canopy). My friend and I are trying to lobby for some Little Tykes plastic climbing toys and slide which the children would love. She tells me today that they think they are too dangerous up on the roof!!! We have new massage chairs in the ‘relax zone’ here. I have been using them occasionally in the evening because we have been given a lot of free coupons. Craig isn’t interested because they used to have one at his work. It must look ridiculous when people walk past through the relax zone to the laundry and your whole body is being jiggled about on the chair. It seems to work okay.
Clemency isn’t going to ballet at the moment but she goes to Antonia’s (Fairmaid – Miranda’s sister) drama class which she seems to really love. She came home telling us she is studying a play by William Spakeshare (Shakespeare) and that he is dead but he made a play about fairies. I told her I studied Shakespeare at university and she promptly told me she was going to study that too when she goes to Cambridge University. I said Oxford is pretty good as well but she said ‘No Cambridge and you go there without your Mummy like Auntie Rach does’. She told me to take her there and I said she has been already but she said ‘You have to take me there again’. I would have been surprised had I not heard of other four year olds talking about future universities. The pressure here is enormous. The parents that drop off the children for my classes are nice but so strung out and overbearing towards their children – even the helpers are the same because of pressure from their employers. I found out today that she thinks you go from pre-school to Cambridge and I can’t seem to convince her otherwise.
Clemency’s teacher this year tells me she is stubborn (same report as last year!). She has sense of humour and can’t resist something naughty so had to sit on the thinking chair this week. She told me quite seriously one day that she had been good because she couldn’t think of anything naughty to do (I think what she meant was quite different to how it sounded). Today she was told by her Chinese support teacher that guns are not allowed in the classroom as she was making one so she turned it into a giant tank which she thought was so funny. I was horrified and Craig was confused. At least in my new ‘support’ group ‘Kids with Boundaries’ I’m sure I’ll have the psychologist flummoxed!!! All the more politically incorrect with our upcoming visit to Tiananmen Square!
Hadley really wants to go to a baby group which I can’t really get involved in now until Mum and Dad leave HK. When Clemency gets her backpack on for school he goes to collect his tiny Buzz Lightyear one too and tries to escape. He is a real hard case now. He tries to frighten me by hiding and saying ‘Boo’ with a big grin. He also won’t get in the buggy until I agree it is a ‘car’. I almost caught him out the other day when I asked him where his buggy was and he said ‘Bug… Car gone’. When I tell him to get in the buggy he says ‘ah ah (as in ‘no’) car’ and grins. Even if I say look at that baby in the buggy in town he will correct me and say ‘car’ with a big grin. He loves ‘Buzz Lightyear’, cars, airplanes, Richard Scary books, Harold the helicopter and all the trains from the Thomas books. His language is only taking off now really and he is putting about three words together. He sleep talks about cars and milk. He wants to walk more which is good and bad. Mostly when I try to take them both out Hadley shakes his hand free then runs like the wind with Clemency getting caught up in the excitement and deciding to also shake free and run along beside saying ‘Go Hadley, go’ then of course they conspire to split up and I am forced to start yelling for them. This never happens with Chinese children who seem to sit perfectly in restaurants even when they are finished and walk holding their helpers hand. Even though bedtime is between 11pm-1am if they are tired they just fall asleep on their helper when she carries them or sit subdued at dinner.
Well Craig has been busy with work. He is at a wine tasting this evening (Friday) which is probably good to take his mind off what has to be done. We have a few parties coming up: fireworks (1st October), family day at C’s work (4th Nov), Party at the Bauhinia (5 – 9pm, 5th October), lantern festival, Work party (5th December), birthday party for Clemency’s classmate Moses (27th Sept). Lots to look forward to and visitors of course.
I teach again tomorrow. It seems fun so far and very easy with minimal preparation. The children want marshmallows and stickers for good work so I will bring those along. Bribery and corruption is not only allowed here in HK but is actively encouraged. Judging by the news from other parts of Asia, especially Thailand and Taiwan, it isn’t too different.
Sorry I have taken so long to write. I started this letter on Wednesday and it got too late so I tried again today but then a friend needed an urgent letter. The news I’d written was then old so I’ve gone back and updated the letter. Now I’ve just realised I’ve written a book rather than a letter but oh well I hope it makes sense. Craig is still out at 11pm and it was supposed to finish at 8.30pm so he must be having a good time or waiting for the left over food to bring home. Craig is desperate for someone to blog on his site and he keeps asking me. He will say I should have written this as a blog but I’ve seen some egocentric blogs by other people so I am reluctant. Maybe if Rach wants to blog something that would get me off the hook. I’ll finish now anyway before I start on the next chapter.
Love from all of us in HK,