Monthly Archives: July 2011

Happy First Birthday HKHousewife.

I can hardly believe it! We’ve been here over a year. I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on my personal top twelve favorite posts–one from every month we’ve been here.

  1. Hotel life (before we had our apt). Bonus: Mustard Chicken.
  2. Anniversary dinner menu. A simple celebration abroad.
  3. Sleep Chart. When to talk to loved ones at home. Thanks Sydney!
  4. Shoe Valet. A great gift for the impossible-to-shop-for male.
  5. Transcontinental Jetsetting. What to pack: part one, part two, reader’s edition, and kids part one and part two.
  6. Chinese Medicine. Seriously intense.
  7. Pollution. Seriously depressing.
  8. Friends moving abroad? Great gifts for expats.
  9. Peking  Duck at home. A do-able take on my favorite Asian dish.
  10. St. Paddy’s day dinner and pots of gold. Sharing our traditions here.
  11. Templing in Angkor Wat. Definitely the coolest temples ever.
  12. Bake sale for Japan. Helping out our neighbors.

Whenever you come up on an anniversary it makes you a bit reflective… I feel so thankful for this opportunity to be abroad–it has taught me so much! The world is so much bigger of a place than I ever imagined. I am so beyond glad we decided to do this. There are just some things and perspectives I don’t think you can learn without living out of your comfort zone. And honestly Hong Kong is pretty comfortable (although it is pretty hot out there right now!) and probably one of the “lighter” expat experiences one could have.

A few lessons learned:

  • Americans, no matter whether they’re rich or poor, are in the lucky sperm club. Our quality of life and the availability of opportunities in the U.S. is unbelievable. I am now so thankful, despite all of her shortcomings, that I was born in the U.S.
  • My baseline for “normal” has changed and it will never be the same agian. The big benefit of changing everything about your life… your home, friends, drug store, way of transport… all at once is that you suddenly realize all of the various iterations of how life could be lived that you never even considered or could even conceive of.

And a few pieces of advice to anyone moving somewhere new:

  • East of West, Home is Best. It’s important to accept your new home and acknowledge it as such right away. There is such a big tendency to compare how they do it back home with how they do it here. It’s also hard at first to believe that you really do live in this crazy place. We were lucky enough to get to take a lot of our things with us… but even if you can’t take furniture, I would recommend taking whatever makes your home feel homey… your duvet cover, your two favorite knives, a half dozen of your favorite coffee table books. There’s something about seeing the picture your grandmother painted for you hanging on a wall that makes you believe that, yes, you do in fact live here. I can honestly say that when “I’m going home” it means to our apartment in Hong Kong and I felt that way within two months of moving here. Don’t fight it! Accept it.
  • Meet your neighbors!! Seriously. I literally wrote a note and left it on my next door neighbor’s mat… and now she is a good friend… had I not taken that first step, we might have missed one another for months. It is so nice to know that if something were to happen you can ring on their door or that you can borrow a cup of sugar. As our good fortune would have it, two of our neighbors are now my best friends here. And, let me tell you, friends of convenience are better friends because you just see them more often.
  • Never say ‘no’ to a social invite in the first three months. Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you will have other things to do. Yes, your first five “blind dates” may go terribly, but eventually you’ll meet that one “connector” who you hit it off with. I literally met 75% of my girlfriends through one blind date with one very sweet and hospitable gal.
  • Don’t be afraid to be-friend people outside of your demographic. Back in San Francisco, we pretty much only hung out with people just like us. But here in Hong Kong, I have friends of all ages… one of my friends is a native Hong Konger in her sixties named Elaine. There will come a day when you do get homesick and one of the things you will miss is family, which means grandparents and little cousins running around. And if you’ve cultivated relationships with a diverse group of people you’ll know where to go when you miss things like someone telling you what to do!
  • Do something to be a part of the local community. This is obvious and a little cheesy, but it can be really hard to succumb to the expat bubble! I take cooking classes quite regularly with a bunch of local ladies. The bake sale I helped put on for Japan was certainly a tem effort. Studying Mandarin has definitely given me insight into the Chinese culture. I honestly could do a better job at this one… that’s what year two is for I suppose.
  • Share your traditions. While you’ll spend most of your time learning about and absorbing new traditions, don’t be afraid to share your traditions with others! It will also help with the homesickness and make the cultural exchange go both directions. Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are honestly so much more fun abroad for example. And we loved sharing St. Paddy’s day with our friends.

One thing is for sure, I never tire of Hong Kong’s skyline. I truly think it’s the best in the world!

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Baby’s fingerprint necklace.

My incredibly thoughtful friend Ricky took his newborn daughter out shopping for mother’s day… and a few weeks later my friend Samantha ended up with this lovely necklace–a gold print cast from their daughter Veronica’s little finger.

It will be such a wonderful reminder for her in years to come of how small Veronica once was! Dad’s-to-be: take note of this incredibly touching gift.

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Why learning Mandarin is tough.

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Watch my tutor Alyssa explain what “ji” in it’s four tones means and sounds like.

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Painting elephants.

Who knew that elephants could paint?
Their guides show them where to paint by signaling to them on their big ear flaps. They’ll even clean up afterwards.

I am so obsessed with how great it would be to have a fifth appendage.

We got to see them play soccer, throw darts, and even take a bath!
Hasn’t that fella picked a nice place for a nap?

Maesa is right outside Chiang Mai. Visiting an elephant camp (especially one with a reputation for treating their animals well) is a cross between going to the circus and the zoo, but in a natural setting. I thought it was a lot of fun and would recommend it!

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Loveramics new Tripod Porcelain Collection + GIVEAWAY: Salad bowl.

Loveramics, one of my favorite stores in Hong Kong, just came out with a new collection: Tripod!

The whole collection is so practical–everything is stackable to save cupboard space.

I really want to mix up a sauce in one of these bowls and then use the nice lip to pour it over something.

Wouldn’t these food storage pieces really dress up your pantry? I really love the different shades of blue they’ve chosen. The collection actually already won the Design Plus Award for 2011.

Loveramics is giving away their large salad bowl to one lucky HKHousewife reader. HKHousewife will cover the shipping to anywhere in the world–so anyone is welcome to enter!

To enter, simply leave a comment with the name and ingredients in your favorite salad. A winner will be chosen on August 29th! Good luck!!

If you’re local and haven’t been to the Loveramics shop in Sheung Wan, you must visit: 37 Tung St, Hollywood Road.

And, while we’re on the subject of giveaways, the winner of our Hocusadabra blocks giveway was Mary. Random.com spit out the number four. Her answer was:

“Oh, my favorite gift to give at a baby shower is a silver baby cup for the little one. My grandmother gave one to my siblings and I and it has proved to be such a great tradition, I am more than pleased to pass it along.”

Be sure to check out the comments in the post for some really great baby shower gift ideas. Congratulations to Mary and good luck to everyone in our current giveaway.

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