Saturday, July 25, 2009

"There was a star danced, and under that was {she} born." - William Shakespeare

Post by: Raja
Surprise - I am back for another blog post! Today is Beth's birthday so I thought I'd post a little something on the blog to 1) give her a little break from all the blogging she's done lately 2) wish her a happy birthday via the interweb (I already did it in person...two is better than one, right?) and 3) update all of our (her) readers about what we have planned for this weekend. Also, this post better prompt some comments to wish Beth a Happy Birthday...I've been disappointed with the lack of comments from our readers....although... I've also been disappointed with my lack of posts for our readers. Let's just all make a clean start today, ok?

First, the birthday celebrations. We were planning to go away to the Philippines for the weekend, but some last minute work stuff came up and we weren't able to go (hopefully we can still plan the trip for another weekend). In lieu of a fun-filled weekend at the beach, Beth decided that she'd like to take advantage of some of the great restaurants and nightlife that HK has to offer and share the experience with some of our close friends here in HK. We're going to go to a restaurant called Isola first which is located in the IFC building in Central. It is an Itallian restaurant and is supposed to be reeaally good and have some stunning views of the HK harbour. You can check it out here. I'll post some pics and some comments about the place tomorrow (I's the gift that keeps on giving!).

After dinner, Beth's Birthday Entourage will be heading to Lan Kwai Fong to go guessed it... Hotel LKF (for our less astute readers: LKF = Lan Kwai Fong)! Specifically, we'll be going to the rooftop bar, Azure. We came here once before and Beth really liked it - it has good music, places to dance and places to sit, and best of all (for her) they serve Chocolate Martinis just like we used to get from our good friend Andrea at Pepper Lounge in STL (side note...If you ever go to STL, you should visit Pepper Lounge in downtown - great place). You can check out Azure here.

Sunday brings us to maybe the most exciting part of the birthday weekend. For Beth's birthday, she decided that she wanted to get a new handbag. Who am I to stand in the way? She's been looking for a handbag for quite a while, and unfortunately, she just hasn't been able to find one that she absolutely loved. Actually, I take that back. She did find one she loved, but the price tag and my Visa card weren't playing nice so we had to leave one behind...the handbag got the boot. Instead of continuing to look for the perfect handbag, we decided to make the perfect handbag come to us! There is a little store that we ran across a while back called "Zee's Leather" in TST that makes custom handbags and shoes, so we're going to pay them a visit and see if they can make Beth's dream bag. I bet they can and I bet that will make Beth very happy. Score one for Husbands who find and deliver the perfect gift!

Well, those are the big things happening this weekend for Beth's birthday. I hope she likes it and I hope all of you enjoyed hearing about it. Like I said, I'll make some follow-up posts so you can see exactly how the food was at Isola, what kind of place Azure really is, and whether Mr. Zee is actually able to put together the perfect handbag. I's a cliffhanger.

P.S. Since this post is largely a preview of the weekend's activities, I don't have any great pictures to post. Instead, and in an attempt not to make this post boring and just all text, you get random pictures of things the Beth and I like. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." -John Muir

Post by: Beth

I'm sometimes amazed by what Hong Kong offers in the way of sights. Even looking out a window here can sometimes introduce me to views unmatched by any I've seen before, and I have yet to decide if this city is prettier by day or by night. A trip to The Peak almost clinched a victory in favor of "day," but I held strong and am reserving judgment until I've seen the view from the top of this highest mountain on the island proper (1,810 ft) during the evening hours. It's just not fair to "night"...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"There is nothing more poetic and terrible than the skyscrapers' battle with the heavens that cover them." -Federico Garcia Lorca

Post by: Beth

It's unsurprising that one of the best things about Hong Kong is the skyline. An uninterrupted view of the skyline yields views of mountains, sea, peninsulas, islands, and countless skyscrapers.... all at the same time. It's this crazy clash of city and nature that's beautiful both at night and day.

To showcase the architectural development of the city, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau puts on a show on a nightly basis, billed as the largest permanent light and sound show worldwide. "A Symphony of Lights" is a synchronized building exterior decorative light and laser multimedia display, featuring 44 buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong accompanied by symphonic music.

To view the show, there are several spots available that offer unobstructed views of the city, or you can take a ferry ride through Victoria Harbour while the light and sound show is being conducted. During Mom's visit, we chose to do just that, and it was well worth it. It's easily one of the experiences I've enjoyed most during our stay here.

Despite the fact that the boat was REALLY rocky, and constantly sailing back and forth in the harbour, Mom actually got some clear photos! A few of them are a bit crooked, but I'm not kidding when I say that the boat was rocking so much it was impossible to walk in a straight line at all. Thanks to Mom, here are some of the sights from our first "Symphony of Lights" show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust

Post by: Beth

Short post today, since I'm supposed to be out the door in 10 minutes, so it's pretty much just pic heavy this time. That's okay.. I don't think there are words that would do these pictures justice anyway, and it's best to let the pictures speak for themselves. These are some of our favorite photographs from our trip to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha, otherwise known as the Big Buddha. This large bronze statue symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. Located near Po Lin Monastery, the statue and its surroundings are truly awe-inspiring to view.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it." -Willy Wonka

Post by: Beth

During both my mom's visit and Raja's family's visit, we made trips to Macau, the other "Special Administrative Region" of the People's Republic of China. Largely developed by the Portugese in the 16th century, it's now a very busy city, boasting a large trade industry and plenty of tourism! There's much to see and do in the area, and between the two family visits, we hit both the tourism and historical highlights.

For a historical highlight, the best part was the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, which is one of Macau's most famous landmarks. Built from 1582 to 1602 by the Jesuit priesthood, the Cathedral was the largest Christian church in Asia at the time. In 1835, it was largely destroyed by a fire caused by a typhoon, and all the remained was the southern facade of the cathedral along with the grand staircase of 66 stairs leading to the facade. Restoration and conservation work has since taken place, and visitors to Macau can walk the remains and visit the crypt underground.

We also took a look around what's known as the "Old Protestant Cemetery." Established by the British East India Company in 1821, this cemetery was created in response to a lack of burial sites for Protestants in the Roman Catholic Portuguese colony. It is the last resting place of the artist George Chinnery, missionaries Robert Morrison and Rev. Samuel Dyer, Royal Navy Captain Henry John Spencer-Churchill (son of the 5th Duke of Marlborough and great-great-grand-uncle of Winston Churchill) and US Naval Lieutenant Joseph Harod Adams (grandson of the second president of the United States, John Adams, and nephew of the sixth, John Quincy Adams).

Much of Macau's tourism is driven by the casinos that dominate the skylines of several islands in the Macau region. Even if you don't love gambling, the casinos are impressive to look at. Mom really wanted to see the Venetian casino and hotel, which is HUGE. Full of shops, restaurants, food courts, candy stores, and plenty of casino games, it's easy to get lost in the endless supply of things to see and do in this one building!

Inside the Venetian:

One of my favorite parts of each trip to Macau was "The Bubble Show." There's a 30-meter dome in one of the casinos on Cotai Island, and inside it, a show described as a "10-minute immersive multimedia experience combining high-definition video content, a sweeping musical score by Klaus Badelt, over 29,000 theatrical LED lights, and a variety of sensory effects to create a stirring multimedia extravaganza." It follows the story of the Dragon Pearl and its mysterious powers as experienced by each of the four Dragon Kings. It's really hard to describe in words, but it's a bit awe-inspiring, and one of the coolest experiences. Smoke, water, lights, fog, and various other elements are used to create these cool sensory effects and make it feel like you are falling into a hole, swimming towards the surface of water, or being breathed on by dragons. Very cool! The show is REALLY fast-paced, so it's almost impossible to capture many pictures during the dragons' chase of the pearl, but between me and Mom, we caught a few that are at least publish-able. :)

These lamps emerge from the ceiling of the dome, dip down into the audience, and use a combination of water and lights to make neat illusions and shapes:

All of the "streamer-like" things you see coming from the lamp are actually lines of water that circle down from the lamps!

Through laser lights, the show creates constant images and illusions... You feel like something is right in front of you and you can touch it, and then it changes shape or colors right before your eyes:

Here is one of the four dragons that race around after the Pearl of Wisdom. It was REALLY hard to get shots of these because they move incredibly quickly around the dome, but Mom managed to capture this one:

Their chase takes them through beautiful underwater scenes:

From the historical sites, to "The Bubble Show," to the casinos, Macau follows suit and really does offer something for everyone. Combine all this with a fun ferry ride from island to island, and it's a great way to spend the day! :)