Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Typhoon Nesat

Typhoon Nesat just tore through the Philippines. It’s expected to hit Vietnam or southern China, but it’s a category 3 so it’s big enough to change direction whenever it wants.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong part 5

Ryan’s family went home. It was fun having them here and I think everyone had a great time. It’s funny how everyone’s idea of a great time is so different. Ryan’s mom loved all the shopping & food – Chinese food in Hong Kong is nothing like Chinese food in Minneapolis. I don’t know whether she put more souvenirs in her luggage or stomach!

The highlight of the trip for Ally was definitely Disneyland. She goes to Mall of America all the time, but Disneyland is different. MOA is great for teenagers, but Disneyland brings out the little kid in everyone.

Shane liked the bars and nightlife. He spent a lot of time trying to pick up Chinese chicks with Ryan as his wingman. Americans think all Chinese girls are passive & demure – from what I’ve seen that’s anything but true. If you want that stereotype go to Japan – unless that’s also a bad stereotype. Chinese girls won’t do whatever you want. From what I’ve seen they control the guys.

My favorite part was taking everyone around to see everything and playing tour guide. I never get to do that here. Most of my friends here and most people I meet have been here longer than I have. It was nice to be the one who knew where everything was for a little while.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong part 4

I took Ryan’s mom & sister up to the Peak yesterday. Before they came to Hong Kong they read that the best views of Hong Kong are from the Peak. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes you can’t see anything with all the smog & clouds. Yesterday was a pretty clear day.

View of Hong Kong Harbour from the Peak in March

The same view in September

It’s still supposed to be typhoon season, but the weather was on our side. When we were on top of the tower there were a bunch of Chinese people wearing sweaters & jackets. It wasn’t cold at all, but it’s September in typhoon season so you see people wearing light jackets a lot. It was a little windy on the tower, but we’re from Minnesota – a Hong Kong gale would be a light breeze to us!

Taking the tram up the Peak really made me feel like a local. All the tourists were taking pics during the tram ride while I sat back knowing the views would be a million times better at the top. The first time I rode the tram I was taking pics just like everyone else. Now it’s like riding the bus. Seen it, done it.

Ryan’s mom wanted to see the longest escalator in the world – the Mid-level one. I told her it’s really several different escalators all lined up and each one isn’t very long, but she read about it and wanted to see it. So we went up the escalators. Nobody was impressed. While we were in the neighborhood we had lunch at IFC – that’s the tallest tower in the middle of the 2nd pic.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Causeway Bay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong part 3

We all went to Disneyland yesterday – Ryan’s mom, sister, brother, Ryan and me. Ordinarily it would cost HK$1995 for 5 people – that’s almost $300 American. One of the perks of working at Disney is that we can get family in free. We could take all of them every day and it wouldn’t cost a penny. We also get huge discounts at all the stores so they can pack their suitcases full of Disney merchandise if they want.

The amazing thing about Disneyland is how it’s open to everyone – no matter how old or young you are. Ally is 16 and too cool to do most of the things her mom wants to do, but she wasn’t too cool to run around Disneyland and jump on the rides. She even hugged Mickey! I know the girl playing Mickey that day so we didn’t have to wait in the ridiculously long line – another perk of working there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong part 2

Ryan’s been spending a lot of time with his brother. He’s older than Ryan and they’ve spent practically every night bar hopping. I’m not complaining – they haven’t seen each other in months.

His mom & sister aren’t into bars – his sister’s only 16 – so I’ve been playing tour guide. I already took them around the harbor – which is right outside their hotel. We saw the Avenue of the Stars & the Symphony of Lights, the Science Museum, which wasn’t very interesting – it’s aimed at children, Temple Street night market & Flower market. We did some Tsim Sha Tsui shopping because it’s close to their hotel, but I told them the best shopping is on Hong Kong island – I prefer Pacific Place & Times Square – I think Ally will love Times Square.

We’ll do the Peak & Kowloon park later. Tomorrow we go to Disneyland!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong part 1

Ryan’s family is in Hong Kong! We haven’t seen them in 7 months. It’s great to have visitors – and they’re the first. No one else from home has come to visit us in Hong Kong. I guess I can’t complain – it’s pretty far away and it’s not like everyone we know is rich. We haven’t gone back to visit them yet either.

Speaking of rich – they’re staying at the Sheraton on Nathan Rd. That’s a nice hotel. The rooms are huge and the view of the harbor is amazing. They have 2 rooms – Ryan’s mom & sister are sharing and Ryan’s brother has his own room.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Was it really 10 years ago? It’s hard to believe it’s been so long.

I was only 10 years old when it happened. I don’t think I really understood what was going on. The enormity of the situation just isn’t something a 10 year old can really grasp.

Now 10 years later I’m a little upset that I didn’t get to grow up in the America that other people got. They got the indestructible, unbeatable America. We were #1 at everything – we built the best cars, had the best schools, beat the Nazis. I grew up after all that. Our cars fall apart and the companies go broke. We can’t seem to win wars anymore. Our schools are war zones. Did your high school have metal detectors? Mine did – and I grew up in the suburbs. They told us to live in fear for the last 10 years. Now I’m genuinely afraid for my country.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Typhoon Nanmadol part 3

Typhoon Nanmadol never hit Hong Kong. It made its third landfall in China. By then it was too weak to be a typhoon.

Along the way it caused a lot of damage and killed a couple dozen people – mostly where it hit the first time in the Philippines. There was less damage in Taiwan and not much in China.

At its strongest Nanmadol was just over 100mph and brought a year’s worth of rain to some places. People are going to be talking about this one for a long time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ryan's Family in Hong Kong

Ryan’s family is coming to Hong Kong! – most of them anyway. His dad has to stay in Minneapolis and work. They were all going to come out on his birthday, but since we’ll be in Amsterdam they’re coming early. The original plan was to go to Rome and be back before they got here, but Ryan really wants to go to Amsterdam – and it’s his birthday. His family didn’t have a hard time changing their plans at the last minute – except that now his dad can’t come.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fully Booked

Finding a hotel in Amsterdam was really easy. When I was looking up Rome hotels there were pages and pages of listings. I guess there aren’t as many hotels in Amsterdam. The best part is that most of them seem to be the smaller boutique hotels that I like. There are a few large chains, but those are the most expensive places anyway. Since we’re not going to be in Amsterdam as long as Rome I didn’t spend as much time looking around.

Everything’s booked, confirmed and ready to go. We’ve got all of our plane tickets and hotels in Rome and Amsterdam. All that’s left is packing and waiting.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Amsterdam Extension

Since we’re flying to Amsterdam on the way to Rome anyway Ryan wants to spend a couple extra days there. Amsterdam was his first choice when we made our lists of places to go in Europe.

We decided to go to Amsterdam on the way back to Hong Kong since the flight times are better. Our flight from Hong Kong to Amsterdam arrives at 5:30am – maybe not the best time to see the sights – but our flight from Rome to Amsterdam arrives at 8pm. Changing the Amsterdam to Hong Kong flight to a different day cost us more money – and now we have to find a hotel in Amsterdam – but at this point we’re spending so much that a little extra doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Since we’ve extended our vacation we won’t be back in Hong Kong in time for Ryan’s birthday. I was going to do a surprise party and invite everyone we know in Hong Kong. I guess I can still do it after we get back, but now I have to come up with something for his actual birthday. I don’t know what I can get him in Amsterdam. I know what he’d like – a big bag of Amsterdam weed, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t care if it’s legal – I’m not buying any.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Europe Vacation part 9

We finally found a travel agent that’s willing to just sell plane tickets and not try to get us onto any tours or any of that. So now we have plane tickets to Amsterdam and then a quick flight to Rome. We leave Hong Kong at 11:30pm and arrive in Rome at 9:30am. That couldn’t be better. I can sleep on the plane and we’ll still have the whole day in Rome. Because of the time difference we’ll arrive in Rome 10 hours after we leave – even though it’s a 16 hour flight. The flipside to that is even though the return flight is 15 hours we’ll lose a day. We leave Rome at 5:30pm and arrive in Hong Kong at 2:30pm – the next day! The tickets are $600 more than what I found online last month, but now those tickets are even higher. The prices seem to go up every day.