Friday, October 29, 2010

Back to Oz.

Tonight B and I fly back to Australia for a bit of recharging and reconnecting with the ol' motherland.

Well, motherland in my case; step-motherland in his case, as he's a Canadian who carries an Australian passport.

But more to the point, has it really been that long since I last went home to Sydney?

It seems like yesterday I was having these same thoughts, writing a similar post. Except last time, I was much more nervous.

I am looking forward to so many things...

Sitting in the company of my amazing family without a webcam in the way.

Raising a glass to my dad's birthday on his Sunday-happy balcony.

Waking up in my mum's house and stepping onto the back porch with a coffee, breathing in the fresh air and listening to that incredible sound we call silence. Hong Kong hasn't quite discovered it yet.

Having B by my side this time... the way it should be.

A week of no Chinese food. Yes I do love you Chinese food, but we need a break.

Seeing Reggie, our snake, again! What up, Reg.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just call me Miss Dior.

That may be because I heart Miss Dior pics.

It may be because my two adorable puppies are playing together below my feet as I write this and are making cute squeaky noises.

It may be because I spoke to my spunky boyfriend on the phone no less than ten minutes ago.

It may be because I've had a fantastically busy day at work and that's how I like to roll.

It may be because I'm flying to Sydney this Friday to see my family and friends, and smell the wonderful Australian fresh air.

It may be because, even though I currently have a head cold, it's nothing more than that and could always be something worse.

It may be because I walked around Ikea today, one of my secret happy places.

It may be because the gum I'm currently chewing hasn't lost it's flavour after over an hour.

It may be because the nice Chinese cleaner in my building smiled at me when I returned home today.

It may be because there was a huge freaky insect flying around my apartment and I managed to get rid of it before closing all the windows.

It may be because the sky was so clear today in Hong Kong, I could see all the way to Kowloon.

It may be all of those things.

It's likely all of those things.

I hope your day has been filled with as many special moments as mine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My weekend in the kitchen.

So this weekend I decided to pull out the old Martha Stewarts and bake.
You know, in a kitchen, with like flour and stuff. I do that sometimes. And this year I've vowed to become better at it.
Both recipes were from a new food blog I just found called Frills in the Hills... full of pretty recipes that taste good too! 
On my hit list were dog biscuits (insert Exhibit A - pampered pooches) and lemon & date scones
Both turned out all delicious and stuff. Try em out! 
Anyone know any other great food blogs? I also just discovered Iron Chef Shellie; one of her savouries has got my name on it this week.

Masterchef attempt #1: Dog biscuits

Masterchef attempt #2: Lemon and date scones

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shooting guns just 'because'. Is it wrong?

I recently received a comment, which you can read below, from a soldier who found this post disrespectful. My intention was never to dishonour the heroic work that military persons do. Quite the opposite, ironically. I was just wondering if paying money to shoot guns for fun (not sport, not education, just fun) was disrespectful to soldiers who died at this very spot. I guess I hadn't thought of the fact that it might help us to understand the war better, although, having been there, I'm not sure that was the point of the exercise. Many people died at the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. While I understand the need for guns, something about 'playing soldier' just didn't feel right. There are a number of old war tunnels in Hong Kong, and many are marked by signs that say it is illegal to play war games inside, because it's disrespectful. So, that's where I was coming from. But, I'm sorry to anyone I may have offended. It was not my intention. p.s. I'm really not all that prissy - really.

Shooting guns, just 'because'. Is it wrong?

This curly question came a' knockin' when I was visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam last year, where tourists are offered vintage guns to shoot as part of the package.
Want to throw in a little Agent Orange with that? I find it all very bizarre and a tad disturbing.
In case you don't know, the Cu Chi tunnels are an underground tunnel system close to Ho Chi Minh City that were dug out by the Vietcong and served as their base during the Tet Offensive in 1968. As a sprawling network of tiny channels only large enough for the petite Vietnamese, it really was quite a genius idea.

Unless you're claustrophobic. Then the Cu Chi tunnels are really not that genius at all.

At this historical site today, visitors can buy bullets and shoot historical Vietnam War guns, like AK-47s, M16s and even M60s (machine gun).

The whole exercise is really, really ridiculously loud. Guns - I found out - are really, really ridiculously loud.

The sounds of the Vietnam War must have been horrifying.

B and I were weighing up whether to participate in this activity or not, and he raised the very valid point that it was disrespectful to the people that died in the Vietnam War.

On the other hand, we wondered if choosing not to shoot a gun was actually giving guns too much respect.

Again with the curly.

In the end we decided to shoot one round each and (crossing fingers and toes) never, ever shoot a gun of any form again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

So for around US$20 each we received a round of bullets (really, really ridiculously large sized ones) and were shown the basics of how to load and shoot.

There were two things that baffled me (aside from the ear-splitting noise):

1. How hard the butt of the gun would slam into my shoulder every time I took a shot. Shooting big guns is hard work and not at all comfortable. You could lose a shoulder. Or perhaps just take home a really big bruise.

2. I kept hitting the target. I am one of those embarrassingly unco people who swings at a tennis ball that goes sailing right past... I can't catch... I am usually terrible at anything involving aiming. Perhaps I'm just half blind. But I nailed that distant target like it was three inches from my face. I think B was shocked.

Maybe a new career as a sniper?

No, no, no, never ever.

No more guns for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recap post: Seven* Things About Me

I am FINALLY back in Hong Kong after yet another whirlwind, immigration-related visit to Los Angeles... I have jumped through so many American hoops these past few months I should try out for cheerleading.

This also means I am too mentally bankrupt to post today, so I am cheating and posting one of my past pages, in case you haven't read it. It's really not that interesting, just seven* random facts about myself. It may explain a few things. Read on, if you dare, otherwise, see you when I'm next looking at you.
N x

*The number 7 symbolizes "togetherness". It is a lucky number for relationships. It is also recognized as the luckiest number in the West, and is one of the rare numbers that is great in both Chinese and many Western cultures. It is a lucky number in Chinese culture, because it sounds alike to the Chinese character , meaning ‘arise’.

1. I live in Hong Kong.

I started this blog in 2009 when I ditched my Sydney job and life to follow Mr Right to the crazy world of Hong Kong. I’d always dreamt of living abroad – of Italian piazzas, French coffee, New York nightlife or London chic. China? Uh, not so much. But as John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you are making other plans”, and here is where we ended up. What a ride.

Three things I love about Hong Kong:

(a) This city is ALIVE and makes most others look rather drowsy. People say Hong Kong is like New York, but sped up. They were right.
(b) It’s the safest city I’ve ever been to. There’s something in the water here that makes people non-loopy. I love not feeling creeped out when walking home after dark; it’s a big perk for a chicken like me.
(c) You can be whoever you want to be here. There are so many people - you soon realize that no one could care less what you do. Think of it as a backhanded compliment.

Three things I don’t love about Hong Kong:

(a) It’s exhausting (see first point above). An empty beach where I can be totally alone and contemplate my navel wouldn’t go astray. This doesn’t happen here, there’s always someone pushing you out of the way.
(b) The Chinese eat things like pig's ear, congealed blood and birds nest; and hang raw meat outside all day long, which stinks up the place. This behaviour is odd to me.
(c) My family doesn’t live here. ‘Nuff said.

2. I secretly love acting and always wanted to be a film star.

I'm a TV presenter and writer by trade and LOVE it, however there is only one place I’d rather be: playing a fantastically complex role in a movie or theatre production. It was my childhood dream, and once upon a time I even gave it a good solid go – but at some point being able to afford food and shelter became more important. I still act where and when I can and have played some interesting roles, including a tattooed gothic with suicidal tendencies, a high-class prostitute, and a foul-mouthed British ladette. My break in Hollywood: TBC.

Three movies I love:

(a) Amadeus – The drama! The music! The scandal! The acting! This movie had me at 'hello Mozart'.
(b) Pretty Woman – Do I need to explain? The ultimate romance with sprinklings of salt & pepper-haired Richard Gere. Love stories don’t get any better than this.
(c) The Breakfast Club – defined my early years. It’s incredible how one supremely-aware director captured an entire generation within 2 hours.

Three movies I don’t love:

(a) Anything based on war – Violent, colourless, and little chance for a romantic storyline. There is zero appeal.
(b) Land of the Lost – A Will Ferrell movie. Anyone seen it? Don’t. It’s like a low-budget, badly acted, awkwardly unfunny student film. Actually, it's worse.
(c) The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I think I first saw this film when I was around 8. I still can’t sleep right.

3. My boyfriend makes me lolly-eyed.

Let’s not get too mushy here, but well, this is kind of a mushy topic. I’m dating my best friend, who also happens to be rather hot. This is a truly excellent combination. 'B' makes my heart soar; he’s kind, generous, smart, funny, talented, and a super duper cook. He’s deeply loyal, and we have never stopped dating. I doubt we ever will. Of course we fight now and again. Keeps the fire alive.

Three things I love about B:

(a) He calls me every morning for a chat, and often leaves me love notes when he leaves the house. I still get excited when I answer the phone and hear his voice.
(b) He’s smart and worldly, and often says things that results in me thinking, “wow, I never knew that... tell me more!"
(c) He bashfully loves our puppy Otto and spends so much time playing and cuddling him… I smell a dad in the making.

Three things I don’t love (as much) about B:

(a) A basketball obsession, which equates to endless ear chewing facts about the Toronto Raptors, of which my care factor is less than good. Of course I listen though, and nod, and occasionally say things like “wow!” and “really?” But mostly, I'm not listening all that much.
(b) I can’t think of anything else right now! (Can I have more ‘things I love’??)

4. I have this weird thing where I can Latin dance really well.

When I was around 18 years old I thought I wanted to be a professional dancer (don't worry, the kind with clothes) and I was doing ‘street funk’ classes five nights a week. One evening I accidentally wandered into a Latin dance class, and the Peruvian teacher offered me a job at the end of the lesson. With no Latin blood (except in a past life, I’m convinced) I picked up the rhythm like a local, and have never looked back. I went on to perform and teach salsa, and think I’m truly at my happiest on a salsa dance floor.

5. I love it when I get goose bumps.

Oh and not in the “I’m cold” sense, I hate that. I’m not sure why the same bodily reaction can happen when something moves you, inspires you, or resonates with you on a cellular level. It intrigues me. When I’m listening to a song lyric or watching a film and goose bumps dance up the side of my body, I feel like I've been touched by something from another world. God? Maybe.

6. Reading books has made me the person I am.

I was one of those kids who grew up with their nose in a book. I remember stacked under the back window of our car was a library of books for me to pick out and read, even if we were just driving to the corner store. I was allowed to take my Enid Blyton and Babysitters Club books to outings, rather than have to play with the other kids if I didn’t want to (what a snob, ha!). But I believe the imagination found only in books has taught me everything I know and made me a better writer.

7. I only have one more goal in life.

This sounds strange and a little morbid, I know. Only one more goal?? But I kind of like that I have removed all pressure from myself (as I am prone to becoming a pressure cooker at times). About five years ago I sat down and said to myself: Natalie, there are only two things in life that you will really regret if you never do. 1. Live overseas for awhile (tick!). 2. Have a child. So now that I’ve packed up and moved to China, I only have one more goal in life. Which will come when it’s ready. The rest is just a bonus.

It seems as if...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tutors and cheetahs.

So what the heck do those two things have in common? Well, since you asked (no you didn't), I'll tell you.

For those who don't know, I'm currently dating a Canadian, referred to as 'B' on my blog. Actually 'dating' is underselling it; we live together and we're bonded. We share two dogs and wonderful memories. We love each other.

Well I love him and I hope that he loves me.

So what does this have to do with tutors and cheetahs?

Nothing at all, I'm just going off on a B-tra-la-la tangent again.

But I do love the fact that he's Canadian, it's part of the appeal. Call me irresponsible, but I find it a little exotic to date someone from another country, who has his own set of food names and pop culture references.

Of course there are some things we disagree on, like whether it's 'math' class, as said in North America, or 'maths', as we say in Australia.

When we were disputing it, B said, "Well if it's 'maths', then why don't you call 'English', 'Englishes?'"

Well yes, B, you've got me there.

Anyhoo, aside from the word debates, there is, of course, an accent difference. That too is part of the appeal. But occasionally things get a wee bit lost in translation because of it.

Like the time I was telling him about a person in Hong Kong who tutors students for a living.

When Australians say 'tutor', we pronounce it like this: 'tyooduh.'

So I was telling B all about this tutor (or tyooduh) and he was listening attentively to the whole story, nodding, uh-hah-ing, politely smiling, but he had started to develop a frown by the end.

I said to him, "What's wrong?"

B replied, "Well I totally get the whole story, except one thing... why was there a cheetah in with the students? I mean, how was that allowed??"

I said, "Huh?? I never said there was a cheetah there!"

And he answered, "You've just spent the last ten minutes talking to me about this cheetah in Hong Kong, working with the students!"



Yup. Lost in translation.

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