Yes, it's technically Friday here in Asia but it's still Thursday in the states so my list still counts as timely! I've been using local time for my posts since I've gotten here but this time, I'll make an exception.
1. I know you all want to hear about my trip but first things first. My first short story is going to be published!!! It'll be in Mosaic Minds in November. So check it out!
2. Our trip to Asia is great but it's going so fast. We love being a family again and I'm glad it'll only be three weeks until they're home again.
3. Two days ago we went to the New Territories which are on the Kowloon side close to the border with mainland China. They're still part of Hong Kong, kind of like suburbs. We were "sponsored" by a family of expats that are here working as missionaries and English teachers. They have four kids in school here.
4. We went to the school that their kids attend - it's a Chinese school, not an expat school. Four of the kids from the cast, including A-Girl were there. The school organized a big assembly for them and the kids sang a few songs and had the whole school sing along with Do Re Mi. Then the school gave them gifts - they each got a picture painted in Chinese style by one of the kids from the school and a beautiful placemat/chopsticks set.
5. We were able to talk to the school children during their recess and the kids were so excited to talk to us. They had the kids (including M-Girl!) signing autographs. I was even asked to sign some! M-Girl was a little overwhelmed - the kids would crowd around her, touching her hair and asking her name. She got used to it after a little while. Things were even better when one of the teachers gave her a "juice box" with chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is universal, I guess.
6. Because it was a Lutheran school, all of the kids had "Christian" names like Tiffany, Joanne and Ellen. One girl discovered that she had the same name as A-Girl and was so excited that she grabbed A-Girl's hand and pulled her all around the playground telling everyone that they had the same name.
7. I was surrounded by a group of girls when another girl came running over with a look of pride on her face. She held up a piece of paper so everyone could see. On it, she had the email address for one of the boys in the cast. He's a cute boy but I'm sure he doesn't get that same kind of attention from the girls back home!
8. The hallways have green and pink tile. The pink tile is in a line down the center. Teachers walk on the pink tile, children walk on the green tiles around the center - girls on one side, boys on the other.
9. We got to walk around the school and see the classrooms. We sat in on a Chinese language class, too. The teachers don't have desks in the classrooms. Instead, they all share one room that has three or four tables that run the length of the room. These tables are divided into small "desks" for each of the teachers. They have no private space. They have very little space at all!
10. Speaking of space, or lack thereof, we went to the expats' house for a brief visit. Pretty much everyone in this "sub-division" lives in one half of a duplex-type home. This family has four children, two boys (7 and 13) and twin twelve year old girls. The two boys share a bunk bed in a room that fits only the bunk bed. The two girls share a room that is essentially in the attic. The ceiling is so low, they can't stand up. M-Girl couldn't stand up straight! I am totally serious when I say that every single inch of space is used.
11. Yesterday we went to Aberdeen Harbor and Stanley Market. At Aberdeen, you can take a tour of the harbor on a Sam Pam, a boat that can fit 10 people max. Before you get on the boat, you have to negotiate the price with a weathered old woman in a woven hat. The man running the boat was nice enough to let me take a picture of him with the girls. He even let M-Girl help steer for most of the ride. She likes to be an active participant in things. We saw many fishing boats and we also saw where the boat people live. It's hard to believe that people live under those conditions but on the other hand, are government sponsored housing projects any better?
12. Stanley Market is incredible. We just didn't have enough time to do a lot of shopping. We're going to go back this weekend. I got some gifts for people and the kids got some clothes and the prices are amazingly low. A-Girl has grown about two inches in the last two months so she needed new pants! We had gone to a couple of other markets in central Hong Kong but most of the stuff there was cheap quality. Stanley Market is much better quality and there are also a few places to buy art. Big D and I have always bought at least one piece of art everywhere we've visited so we'll definitely get something there.
13. I saw the show from the audience on Wednesday night - I sat in the front row which wasn't bad at all because the stage isn't really high up. I can't describe the feeling of seeing A-Girl on the stage. My face hurt from smiling so much. The show is really good - I wasn't sure what to expect but the two leads are incredibly good, especially Jennifer Semrick who plays Maria. She's also a very nice person and has helped A-Girl (and the other kids) feel comfortable on stage. A-Girl loves her. A-Girl is doing well here but I can tell that she's really tired. Having us here has thrown her off of her schedule. She's been waking up earlier than usual, too which doesn't help. When she gets back from the show, she needs some time to wind down before she goes to bed. So she doesn't go to sleep until after midnight most nights. With M-Girl and I here, she gets up early but can't make up for it by going to bed earlier. This is a tough gig for an 8-year old. I was so proud of her, seeing her on stage putting on a great show with energy and enthusiasm, knowing how tired she is. I ask her every day if she likes it and if she's ok and she tells me how much she loves it. And she was so excited for me to be in the audience. I think she only wishes that M-Girl and I could be here with them full time. Maybe I could win the lottery . . .
Ok - I stretched my Thirteen to the breaking point. This was the first time I didn't have trouble thinking of 13 things to say! I promise to post pictures at some point - probably not until I get home, though. In the meantime, go check out other Thursday Thirteens, starting with Leanne. If you do a Thirteen, post a link in my comments and I'll come visit!