Irregular Post; Hong Kong2

Wednesday, December 23, 2015   Hong Kong Good Evening?Morning? I just finished washing dishes from dinner at 9P; two kids are trying to go to bed.  I realize that back home it is 8A and everyone is up and starting the day.  And when I get up and have coffee at 8A, the previous day is ending in Andover. It is never dark here.  This southern suburb of HK is made of apartment buildings on steep hillsides that slope into Deepwater Bay.  Lights from buildings in this complex light the night.  At home in the forest in Andover, there may be a twinkling of a light through the trees, but not so much.  Across the Deepwater Bay is Ocean Park, an amusement park, and Aberdeen, three miles away.  Aberdeen is a geographically small neighborhood but with a population of 300,000 and very Chinese.  Apartment buildings can rise 30 stories above the steep hillsides, narrow streets, and busy harbor. Repulse Bay is a couple of miles further south from Deepwater Bay, and Stanley is another 3 miles or so. These communities are expat havens. French, German, English (along with Cantonese) are the languages heard, and English and Cantonese are read. In Aberdeen, English is definitely not the language of choice.  Many stores/eateries do not have signs in English.  Expat HK and Chinese HK are heads and tails of the suburb coin.  That doesn’t even talk about downtown HK!!  That is a very different “currency”. We can easily walk the promenade from Deepwater Bay to Repulse Bay in 40 minutes.  Tristan rides in the stroller and/or runs along the promenade beside the...

Irregular Posts; Bangkok Bhutan HongKong

  Dec 11, 2015       Andover HomeAgainHomeAgain…JiggidtyJig. “What?  You are in Andover and Meg is in Hong Kong?” “Yupe.  I departed HK on Dec 1st at 6P and arrived in Boston at 9P.”  The joys of timezones.  Good flight as I had been bumped up to “Premium” Economy from the regular economy.  Perks? for a single frequent flyer with a loyalty card?  But my checked luggage was the last of the plane ;~{ Jetlag has gotten to me.  I wake at 2-4AM and cannot stay in bed more than an hour of awake time, even in the dark.  Coffee and at computer work in the before dawn dark.  By sunrise, I have done a few hours of work on projects; prints for Holiday Open Studios, people images for Karen our Teacher/Leader in Bhutan, scanning some very old slides and negatives for a show in January, and plowing through mail/tasks held for three weeks.  Dinner at 10A and a nap in front of a European soccer match in afternoon.  My eyes and brain say “Enough” about 6-7P.  In bed and asleep around 8P. “So, Bhutan?” “Amazing place.”  Bhutanese often call their country “Druk Yul”; land of Druk.  Druk is thunder dragon and the symbol on the national flag AND on my yellow and orange knit toque.  It is strongly Buddhist, with Hindu as a minority religion especially in the lowland south bordering India.  Everywhere there are dzongs, ancient fortifications, now housing a Buddhist monastery and government administrations offices.  We visited many and found many cultural and photographic opportunities. Chilies are a vegetable!! On corrugated metal roofs, red ones are drying in the...

Irregular Posts; Hong Kong

Thursday, Nov 26, 2015                 Deepwater Bay, Hong Kong Happy TDay, Wowzah it sure is different here in Hong Kong.  Bhutan was amazing; a truly beautiful country and vibrant Buddhist culture. The crowds of HK was a culture shock!  We had spent all our Nu in Bhutan, converted all our Baht in Bangkok and ATMed some more HK dollars at the airport. The ticket agent recognized that we deserved senior passes, 160 HK$, for the express train into Central HK; the machine did not recognize seniors and did not accept my 500 HK$ bill for the 200 HK$. Good! I saved 40 HK$.  25 minutes later In Central, son David picked us up.  Later we picked up Alice and grandson Tristan. Chillin’ in Deepwater Bay, an ex-pat suburb of HK; south shore hillside with views of lights on other hillsides and lining the roadway from HK proper! Tristan knows “Uppy” for a “pick-me-up, Papi”.  He also says “Encore.” when he wants more of my dinner fed to him sitting in my lap.  Alice’s fine bolognese sauce on noodles and some Australian merlot for TDay supper.  “Encore.” Tristan said from my lap.  “Hey, you already had your supper!”, I said as I gave him a noodle on my fork. Then “Encore for Papi.” I said as the full fork flew over his head and into my mouth.  He can be unhappy if I say “No mas.” or “C’est fini.”  He squirms and I say “Down.” and off he goes on nimble feet. He saw a tiny picture of Mao on a book end and pointed and said “Nai Nai.” for Meg. ...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan4

Saturday November 21, 2015        Paro, Bhutan KuzuKuzu, Saturday dawned blue and cold. Dogs in the neighborhood, birds in the eaves of the hotel. The room is quite cool, 56F. Camera batteries charged overnight. We dress in all our layers, not because of the room but because it is hike day. The goal is the Tiger’s Nest, Takshang Goemba. The prediction is for clear blue skies, temps 29 – 74F.  Wow, that’s a range of layers! Breakfast for me is oatmeal porridge with honey, “baked” beans and bacon, bananas, and coffee. Meg and Karen get eggs, toast and honey, and beans. Micheline has altitude issues and will not be hiking. Guide Pema’s bad throat will not let him climb either. He has arranged for a relative and employee, Ugen, to hike in his place.  He had guided Karen the last time she was here. 8AM. Time to go. Frost on the grass. Frost melting in the sun; needles becoming drops. My visible breath leads the way to the van. Tension. Will we be able to climb in altitude? All the way to Tiger’s Nest? My New Balance 1260s and Karen’s 980s seem ready for the trail. Meg has her 500 mile Camino hikers on. Our feet are ready. Are our lungs and quads ready? Guide Ugen and driver Tshiren will accompany us. Guides MUST hike with their clients.  Lone foreign hikers are not allowed. There is a horde of tourist with their guides. The parking lot is full of vehicles. There will be traffic on the trail. Off we go. Then trail is hard-pack dirt, some roots, and foot...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan3

Monday November 16, 2015         Bumthang River Lodge Kuzugangbo la, Quiet in this friendly Chamkhar valley. Clouds cling to the tops of the ridges. Bits and patches of blue surrounded by bright sunlit white cloud move overhead. Some feral dogs are yipping nearby. A row of prayer flag poles standing tall, their narrow flags with prayers holds to the length of the pole. Wind shakes the prayers from them into the sky, up into the clouds. The day begins. We are at RiverLodge, which is run by the guide’s family for three nights. Just outside of the village, it sits on a low ridge overlooking the road into town and fields that line the narrow river. Agriculture and tourism is the main economy. Breakfast of tea, scrambled egg, local cheese, buckwheat pancakes, toast and homemade jams and honey, chili in cheese sauce (ema datshi), melon and apple. Products grown locally are eaten locally. Karen has a project on this trip in addition/conjunction with the photo workshop is to distribute reading glasses to local folk. In Thimbu it was to weavers who work in not well lit rooms with tiny thread. The glasses are of different power and the “task” is to match the lady’s need to see well to the power of the glasses. It is amazing and heart warming to see their expression when they work well. Karen photographs them with her iphone and then shares it with the recipient. Much smiling and enjoyment. There is a wonderful and positive naiveté in the Bhutanese people. Cynicism does NOT seem to abound. They are warm and welcoming. In Bumthang, this...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan2

Saturday November 14, 2015        Trongsa Kuzugangbo la, The road to Trongsa is HORRENDOUS. 160 km of 12 foot wide road clinging to almost vertical mountain sides a “thousand” feet above the unseen valley. They are repairing it and widening it. The power shovels jumble massive and small boulders and rocks and dirt on the road. We left Thimbu at 8AM and arrived at 6:30P, after dark :-{ at the lodge in Trongsa. Road repair equipment works it as vehicles try to get by.  Power shovels on tractor treads lift and dump boulders in to the dump trucks. On one corner, parked deep along the cliff side, was a crushed power shovel with a tread askew and the shovel bentbroken. We sat waiting for a car to squeeze by us; a dirt slide fell in a small torrent in front of us. The driver looked over at the guide and said something low in Bhutanese. He QUICKLY first geared out of that space and bumped up the dirt road, bumped around over and through potholes and roadbed embedded rock . The road workers seem to be mix of temporary imported Indians and Bhutanese. They live in neat hovel camps clinging to the valley side of the road. Some women and a few children can be seen in the area of the camps. During the busiest part of the travel day some of the power shovels are not working. It seems after 3PM all are in operation. Squeezing past construction vehicles or vaseline-slipping past another van is almost a relief from the constant bumpingtossing inside the van.! I should mention that...