Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tokyo Trip

Finding flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo is pretty easy. All the Japanese airlines go to Hong Kong. Most of the Chinese airlines go to Japan. A lot of other airlines go to both on their way back and forth to other places. Even a couple of American airlines go through both on their way to Seattle or San Francisco.

Our only challenge is that Ryan is in Fuzhou, not Hong Kong. We either need a flight that leaves late enough in the day for him to get here in time or he needs to come to Hong Kong the day before and spend the night. If he comes to Hong Kong the day before, that takes a day away from our trip. He can only take so many days off work. It’s a lot better for the rest of us if he comes to Hong Kong in the morning and we take an afternoon flight to Tokyo. That’s not so good for Ryan since it means he has to actually wake up before noon. The later he gets into Hong Kong, the later we get into Tokyo.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Typhoon Matmo

It’s typhoon season once again. Japan got hit by a big one earlier this month. It weakened just before it hit Japan, so it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it would be.

Right after that, Typhoon Rammasun slammed into the Philippines. They’ll probably see a dozen more large typhoons before the year is over.

Now we have Typhoon Matmo crashing through Taiwan and heading straight to Fuzhou. Since it went through Taiwan, it’s not supposed to be as big when it hits Fuzhou, but they’ll have plenty of rain and wind. Ryan has been hit by more typhoons in Fuzhou than we’ll ever see here in Hong Kong.

A lot of people died in Taiwan, but that was because of a plane crash. I don’t know why anyone would fly a plane in the middle of a typhoon. You’d think the people in charge would never let that happen. Taiwan must have some version of the FAA. They seriously dropped the ball.

A lot of people are criticizing Malaysia Airlines for flying over war zones, but flying in a typhoon has to be a million times worse. Flying 30,000 feet over a conflict is potentially dangerous, but the odds are nothing will ever touch your plane. Flying in a typhoon is like putting a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacation to Somewhere part 9

We finally decided where to go. I’m very glad we did since we’re supposed to leave in 3 weeks. We’ve known about this trip for 4 months but only just figured out where we’re going. So instead of having 4 months to find a great hotel and hopefully get a good deal on plane tickets, we have 3 weeks.

Since we couldn’t find any common ground between all of our choices, Lily suggested we go somewhere else entirely. The idea was that if we picked a completely different place, no one would have to give up their first choice at the expense of someone else’s first choice.

Kevin immediately suggested Tokyo. His company always sends people there on business trips and he’s always wanted to go, but they never send him. A vacation is a lot better than a business trip since you can spend the day seeing and doing things rather than sitting in some meeting.

Ryan & I thought about Tokyo when we went to Bali, but we wanted something more private and relaxing. Since this is a trip with 4 people, it’s not going to be as private as the Bali trip, so we really don’t need a tropical island. A big city will work.

None of us have ever been to Tokyo, but Japan is one of those places that most of us want to see. We live very close, but none of us have ever bothered to go there. When I told Ryan that Lily, Kevin and I all thought Tokyo would be a good idea, he wasn’t very excited about it. When he goes on vacation, he wants to get as far from Chinese culture as he can. I tried to convince him that China and Japan are very different, but since I’ve never been to Japan I’m just assuming it’s nothing like China the way he’s assuming it’s just like China.

It took some convincing – and a promise that Ryan & Kevin would have some time to themselves while Lily & I go off and do things they’re not interested in. Eventually Ryan was on board with Tokyo.

Now we just have to plan everything.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vacation to Somewhere part 8

It doesn’t look like we’re going to find a place that all of us can agree on. We might just have to draw straws or play rock paper scissors, which is called scissors paper stone in Chinese.

At the top of my list is Amsterdam. Ryan & I went there 3 years ago, but the main part of that trip was Rome. Amsterdam was just something extra we added because our flights went through Amsterdam airport. I liked Amsterdam a lot more than I expected and I’d love to see more of it and spend more time there.

At the top of Lily’s list is Bali. She’s looked at a lot of villas online and likes the idea of a private pool as much as I do. Ryan & I have been there also, but we only saw a fraction of the island. August is the dry season in Bali and it would be nice to walk around with a little less humidity than what we experienced in the middle of the wet season.

Ryan & Kevin both want to go to Thailand, but not the same place. Ryan wants to go back to Bangkok, where we spent a couple of days at the end of our big cruise last year. I’d love to see more of Bangkok since we saw so little, but I think I’d rather go to Amsterdam. There are also some political issues in Bangkok right now, but I’m sure that wouldn’t affect us.

Kevin wants to go to Chiang Mai. I like that none of us have ever been there before, but I’m not crazy about the fact that August is the wet season. In fact, it rains more in August than any other month. A little rain here and there is no big deal, but constant downpours can really put a dent in your trip. August is also the wet season in Bangkok, but September is supposed to be the worst month by a mile.

We could always spend half the time in Bangkok and half in Chiang Mai, but that’s really not my favorite way to do things. You have to pack your junk in the middle of the trip, take a plane or train to the other city and then check in and unpack at a new hotel or villa. That eats up a lot of time. I’d rather just spend the entire trip in one place. No matter where we go, we’re going to have to deal with enough waiting around at airports anyway. I don’t really want to waste even more time playing hurry up and wait.

It almost looks like we’re going to Thailand since it has 2 votes, but since we’ve all been living in Hong Kong for a few years, we know what it’s like to be somewhere when it’s raining every single day. One of the benefits of getting out of Hong Kong is getting away from the rain and constant humidity. Going to Thailand in August might not be the best idea. As far as the weather is concerned, we should head north. Like Amsterdam, for example.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vacation to Somewhere, Anywhere

The big Fourth of July party was very nice. Everyone had a good time. It didn’t rain and it wasn’t especially cloudy, so we could go outside and enjoy that wonderful pool deck. Most importantly, no one got hurt.

We still have a big vacation coming up next month and we have no idea where we’re going. I always thought taking a trip with 4 people would be easier since we could get a bigger hotel suite or villa, but it’s a lot harder since we all have to decide where to go. Going somewhere with just Ryan is pretty easy. He has a few places he doesn’t want to go, but most of the time I can talk him into going where I want to go. Lily & Kevin are a lot harder.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fourth of July 2014

Sometimes nothing works out the way you want it to no matter how hard you try. Sometimes everything just falls into place and all the stars align when you’re not even trying.

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s ok
And everything’s going right
Life has a funny way of helping you out
When you think everything’s gone wrong
And everything blows up in your face.

Every year, usually during the summer, Kevin’s boss goes out of town and Kevin looks after his house at Clear Water Bay. While Kevin lives there, Lily and I tag along. Mainly because it’s a really nice house. This tradition started back when we lived in a tiny little 1 bedroom apartment, so sleeping in a large 4 bedroom house was a nice way to spend the summer. The big house has a lot of things that our old apartment never had, like more than enough bedrooms, a private bathroom for everybody, a real kitchen, a pool and hot tub, a large outdoor pool deck and plenty of space.

Now we have a much larger apartment and we’re not nearly as crowded as we were in the old apartment. We’re still all staying at the big house, though. The new apartment has plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms, a nice kitchen and far more space than the old apartment. But it doesn’t have a private pool or that beautiful pool deck. It also doesn’t have amazing views of the ocean. The new apartment would be a great place to take a vacation from the old apartment, but the big house is still a great place to vacation from everywhere else.

Not only do we have the big house, but we have it during Fourth of July. That means a big party. This is a great house for a party and from that pool deck we can watch fireworks over the bay. Hong Kong doesn’t celebrate Fourth of July, of course, but the last time we were at the big house during this time of year, we saw fireworks for some reason. We’re not facing the harbor, so it’s not the Symphony of Lights fireworks.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Ryan will be in town. So I get to spend Fourth of July with my boyfriend at the big house. You can’t ask for much more. There’s nothing wrong with spending Fourth of July with Lily & Kevin, but they’re Canadian, so it’s not the same. They understand what it’s all about, of course, but national holidays are always better spent with people who grew up celebrating them and have all those memories. My Chinese friends like having me around during Chinese New Year, but it all means a lot more to their Chinese friends.

This looks to be the best Fourth of July in a long time.