Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I *heart* HK!

Hong Kong is AWESOME! I’m having such a fun time here and have been since Monday when the Kitty Hawk pulled into Victoria Harbor.  After feeling pins-and-needles-y all weekend, things were looking pretty good on Monday. We dropped anchor! We were going to be let in! Hooray!

I was on the first liberty boat and was very happy as the KH receded into the distance as we headed to Fenwick pier. We arrived in Hong Kong and headed straight to the hotel for check-in. Sue and I are staying at the Jia, which is a really nice boutique hotel designed by Phillipe Stark. Now this means very little to me, but it’s a pretty sweet place. After walking around in the afternoon, we went out for dinner at a great Mediterranean restaurant in Soho. It was delicious and we ordered way too much food. Then Knutsford terrace in Kowloon was awesome where I had my second-ever hooka experience. Minimal coughing involved!

On Tuesday, I went on a Lantau Island tour with several friends. It was sponsored by the ship’s MWR. We went on a little cruise to find pink dolphins (no luck! But I got to ride a boat- novel! Then, onto a fishing village with the coolest dried fish market. The guide took us through and explained what different things were, which definitely added a LOT to the market experience. Then we went to the Lantau Island Big Budha and Ngong Ping monastery. I climbed all ~270 steps to the Buddha after a vegetarian lunch in the monastery. Tuesday night, we went to Lan Kwai Fong, where I had margaritas at Agave. We also went to a very chic outdoor terrace bar for drinks. Finally, we ended a night at this random bar before heading to an all-night live band place where we left I-have-no-idea-when.

Yesterday, I went to Maxim’s Place in City Hall for Dim Sum- awesome, awesome time! Then to Stanley Market with a death-defying bus ride there and back. Finally, I went on a MWR tour with the same crowd from Lantau. We went up Victoria’s peak in the tram, then went on a harbor cruise. That was pretty sweet b/c we saw both sides (Hong Kong and Kowloon) of the Victoria Harbor laser show. It was a pretty cool light show, mostly on the buildings themselves rather than the Laaa-sers.

Ok, exploring today! I’ll write more later!

Monday, April 14, 2008


I really am planning on finishing the description of the best mother-daughter trip ever. I also need to talk about Thailand (awesome!) and even my few days back in Japan. When I think about Yokohama, all I hear is, " Whooooooo-oooohhhh-oooohhhhh, Yokohama Baystahs." It's a song, one of many, that is sung during baseball games. I LOVE Japanese baseball games. And this time, I even bought the noisemaker bats. I got to bang them together (in time!) and even do a dance that involved the bats. It was awesome! Ok, biggest synopsis ever but here we go...

After Mom and I did all things "local," we headed down to Kyoto. We saw the Golden Pavilion, the Ryoangi temple, Sanjusangendo temple, and Nijo castle. I loved Nijo castle the most, mainly b/c that was the new sight for me. But also, the wood-working and panel work inside the main castle were incredible. Detail work always impresses me, just the cumulative effect of lots of meticulous planned out work and vision. It's not a way of thinking that comes naturally to me, but I appreciate the results.

Also, the Ryoangi temple with its 15 rock garden fame now has one less rock thanks to us. That, or we threw a rock from our pocket in to make an even 16. I can't remember! Mom and I are so naughty!

The next day, we went to Nara where we did a lot more walking. The Daibutsu (Big Buddha) in Nara was very impressive, as was the wooden building housing it. We also went to a few other temples in a rather large loop. Overall, we had a great time. I did not, however, love the famous deer. I thought they were rather mangy and we did not feed them stupid deer cookies that one could buy. We did see a Buddhist temple from the 700s though- the oldest in Japan. 700 A.D. is when Buddhism was introduced by a Chinese monk who really went through a lot to get Buddhism to Japan. From the sounds of it.

The next day, we saw Sanjusanjendo (see above) before heading to Osaka where we saw the castle and a pretty plum tree garden. We also went to one of the oldest Buddist temple SITES in Japan. Please note that the building were all much newer and it pays to read Frodors carefully, those over-enthusiastic nincompoops. Curses.

Then we headed to Hiroshima, where we saw the Peace Park and the museum, the Atomic Dome, Miyajima with the floating Tori, and we ate magnificent okonomiyaki, a local dish with a thin pancake/tortilla/crepeish base, cabbage, chicken, seafood, egg, and NOODLES. There is also a delicious sauce, which I bought so I can try my hand at making them at some point. Hiroshima was definitely a highlight as I really wanted to go, plus the city was way more vibrant and new than I was expecting. They did a good job of balancing legacy with living in the present.

After Hiroshima, we went to Nagoya for a fertility festival which was SO MUCH FUN. Not so much for the floats, which were very interesting, but more for the street fair atmosphere with lots of people, food stands and live musical performances by Taiko drummers.

Finally, Mom and I had a picnic in Yoyogi park on her last day. We also went to the Meiji temple. Here's a hint- although nice to see (and I'm glad we went Mom!), dragging a suitcase through a half-mile of gravel does NOT make you the most inconspicuous pair of people around. Wheelie wheels don't work so well off pavement or flooring. Boo!

Then, I got underway the next day. Meh. Fairly uneventful- no port calls to speak of. Right now, I'm hard at work on my SWMDO pin so that I can wear a shiny gold badge on my uni and show people that I made a modicum of effort to learn about the ship and other people's job. It's actually led me to some pretty cool places on the ship, although most of the aviation cool stuff I'm saving for afterwards since it's not actually part of the SWMDO board.

Then we came back and Sue and I went to Thailand for 2.5 days/2 nights. Way short, although I still managed to burn despite 30 and 55 S.P.F. Reapply! That's my takeaway point o' the day! It was really beautiful. I really do love the beach!

Then we came home, work was insane (in a WAY unfun type of way) but the weekend was a lot of fun. Saturday, I crashed after Friday duty but on Sunday, I browsed in my favorite store that I finally figured out where it was after a months long hunt for it (BTW, Loft on level 7F in the Sogo Building near Yokohama Station). That's definitely one thing about Japan- even though there aren't a lot of very tall buildings due to earthquake fears (Landmark Tower in Yokohama is Japan's tallest at 70 stories), there are a lot of medium sized buildings and businesses are stacked vertically for several floors. And it's not like a mall with picture maps and central open areas so you can spy stores across the way. All the stores are in normal building buildings. So, when I can't read the signs very well, I'm at a little bit of a loss. This verticalness also applies to restaurants and clubs, which is a little weird since I'm used to being able to look into ground level establishments and checking out the busy-ness of the scene prior to deciding to go in.

Rereading the above paragraph leads me to believe that I really need to get some sleep. Apparently when I'm sleepy, I think that as long as I use different inflection (which works oh so well in an electronic medium), I can use the same word as a noun, adjective, and verb. So succinct!

Oh, also on Sunday, "Whooooaaa-oooohh-ooooohhhhh- Yokohama Baystahs!" Baseball. I loved it. And now it's Monday night (actually Tuesday morning just before 2) and the ship's getting underway. So, the blog will be sadly quiet for little bit. Curse blogger and its hungriness for cookies that the ship's firewall says "Dame" to. (Dame, pronounced DA-MAY, is always accompanied by an X gesture with fingers for small things, forearms for more emphatic gestures. It means no, no good, no more, etc. Very useful gesture- it's helped me figure a bunch of stuff out where I would otherwise be completely lost.)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hello! I'm here!

I dropped off the face of bloggy-hood! I'm sorry! Can we still be friends? What?!?! Biggest fight ever? Let me see if I can explain...

So, Mom and I had an awesome trip! My lil' Mac, not so much. I did something quite unfortunate during a software update and thought I had torched my computer (and worse, my pictures) in the process. I had to wait until I got back to the ship to reinstall Leopard and then we were underway. (BTW, pictures were saved!) The ship's firewall does NOT like the cookie hungriness of so I was blog update-less for weeks. Although now I've taken care of enough IT folks onboard that maybe I can get around that during our upcoming cruises. I will ask.

So, right now I REALLY need to be packing for Thailand since all I've done so far is make sure I know where my passport is. I'm meeting Sue in an hour and a half before we take the YCAT bus to Narita airport. I can't wait. We're going to Phuket for a couple of days. I can only go for a short while, since I need to be back for work. I have taken an insane amount of leave this year, so I have to play nicely with the other kids and come back so my boss can take a few days off.

But I will update! I have to write about the rest of my trip with Mom (awesome!) and being underway which, as all you Imogen fans out there know, included MY BIRTHDAY!!!! Kind of low-key but I got a few presents and Pepe and Sue had a huge pink and purple cake made for me. It was great. But more later! Must pack!