Monthly Archives: August 2010

China in China on a card table.

Since the Mr. planned the honeymoon (I literally didn’t know where we were going until we showed up at the airport), we’re alternating who plans the anniversaries. We really like surprises and this way it’s clear who is in charge of what… so this year was my turn! I decided that it would be fun if we had our first meal in our apartment on our anniversary. Given that I forced the Mr. to schlep our wedding China all the way to China, I knew it had to be the star of the show.

The first issue is that, thanks to my ongoing deliberation, we don’t yet have a dining room table, or even a coffee table for that matter. I went to Ikea to try to find something, but couldn’t bite the bullet on something I didn’t love as cheap as it was, so I ended up buying a little card table with four stools for about $25 total US dollars. (I was very proud of myself for bargaining the lady down and this little table was way cheaper than anything I could find at Ikea and more stable as well.)

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A heartfelt apology.

During Mass on Sunday right after communion, a middle-aged female Phillipino woman came up to the pulpit. She was sobbing into her handkerchief and started profusely apologizing. Of course, the Mr. and I had no idea what was going on… it was  a little difficult to understand her, but she was apologizing for her government’s response to the bus hijacking that killed eight Hong Kong residents. She kept asking that employers not take out their anger on them, and we’re assuming she meant the large maid’s community here. It was a bit awkward as people looked at one another trying to figure out what was going on, but it soon became clear that this woman was just very emotional and was issuing a genuine, heartfelt apology.

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Dating again.

So I’ve been married for exactly one year, but I find myself dating again. Having come to Hong Kong knowing literally no one, we’re aggressively trying to make friends. Out to dinner with the Mr., I find myself longingly looking at groups of girls chatting away. Sometimes, I try to get just the right table next to a couple that looks like we could be friends with in hopes of maybe somehow catching their eye and exchanging a few words… despite my really wanting to make new friends here, when we’re in a big group, happy hour-type situation I get sudden stage fright and the Mr. has to give me a pep talk because I suddenly don’t even want to go afterall!

All that being said, lots of our friends and colleagues have been super nice about putting us in touch with friends here so we have been meeting up with other couples a lot as of late. We’re both struck by how friendly and welcoming everyone we have met has been! But dating in tandem is a little challenging–we both have to like both of them to make it work. Unlike dating pre-marriage though, you have someone to compare notes with after the date… the Mr. has been very reassuring. I almost always say something along the lines of ‘do you think she liked me?’ And then he makes the obligatory response of, ‘of course she liked you, she thought you were cool’ or this that and the other thing.

Like first dates, couples dating also has the list of requisite questions and topics that always come up… regardless of whether the couple was born and raised in HK or are expats like us, we still talk about the same things. Some of the stand bys include:

  • What you do and where you both went to school (just like singles dating).
  • How you met (my personal favorite).
  • Where you got married. And how big the wedding was.
  • How you get on with your in-laws.
  • How much time the Mr. or Mrs. spends at work (too much).
  • What TV shows you watch together (Jersey Shore and Mad Men mainly) on either iTunes or some Chinese site where you can get them from free or on your Sling Box.
  • What movies you’ve seen (lately Inception).
  • What you like to do (Which is, by the way, pretty much the same things… go out to eat, hike, maybe play tennis or scuba dive or ski).
  • What surprised you most about HK.
  • Where you want to travel to in Asia or where you’ve been most recently if you’ve been here a while.
  • The MRs will at some point bring up their wives either talking too much or melting down. (One Mrs. I met recently said her husband wears ‘wife protectors’ aka noise canceling Bose headphones on any flight so as to not be an entirely captive audience to her incessant questions and longing for deep conversation while the Mr. is ‘trapped’).

Then there is the playing hard to get, which applies in couples dating as well. There are so many people we would both love to hang out with again, but we don’t want to seem too eager! And to think that I thought I was done dating.

A new book.

Can you guess which one it is?
Didn’t think so!

It’s not even a book… it’s a MacBOOK pro. I’m pretty excited, both about a new computer and about this awesome case I found for it here. I think it’s so perfect that the newest technology is encased in disguise of the books of old that I love so much.

Not only is it super-protective, but you can keep the computer in its case while you work! Fun, huh?

Birdcage envy.

I fell in love with a pair of $40,000 birdcages today while shopping for furniture for the apartment today. These birdcages are entirely made out of bronze–the enamel is painted on top and then sealed into the metal. They are quite detailed and colorful, which is a little hard to tell from the pictures. The cages are over 400 years old and apparently from just when this technique was invented… the dealer told me it was an international combination of Chinese craftsmanship, Arab influence, and European technique.

I really think you could design an entire home around these two pieces alone! Isn’t the heart shape quite lovely?The main design is the beloved lotus flower. Oh, and you’d have to make sure the table you put them on was insanely sturdy–these each weigh a ton! (Chinese tables, by the way, come in two types: those that are super strong for support large vases, idols, or statues and those that are built to look very delicate and can’t support anything at all.)

Smoking on the john.

Seriously. I had to ask our landlord what these little porcelain trays were for.

See: you can remove the tray to dump your ashes!

What really cracks me up is that these are all the way from America!!! Our landlord told me over and over that he personally imported all of the apt’s fixtures from America when he built the building in the seventies. Although he is Chinese himself, he seems to think anything from China is complete crap!

Review: Waiting, by Ha Jin

Also on Krissy’s list of recommended books about China: Waiting by Ha Jin.

What I liked about it:

  • This book went a long way to helping me understand what life has been like for the Chinese. The title could not be more accurate… life in China for the last fifty years has been a lot of patient waiting… waiting for something better to come along, for someone else to figure out whether traditional values or the party would win out,  for the government to actually recognize its people as individuals, for reform to catch up to the needs of your personal life hopefully in your lifetime, for a better promotion to maybe or maybe not come your way, for a party official to decide to make you his wife–or not, for the leaders in power to die off, or for 18 years to pass so you can marry your first love.
  • Patiently plodding through this rather slow moving book made me really realize how big of a luxury all the immediate gratification we have in the States is. In every way, but especially as related to the main storyline in this book: being able to decide whom to marry. Continue reading