A load of old parabolics
After our brilliant visit to Disneyland a few days ago, Hong Kong's other big theme park had a lot to live up to. "Ocean Park" opened nearly 30 years before Disney and, to be honest, it showed. We made the best of the day but there were frequent disappointments and long queues for everything. JD found that nearly all the rides required him to be older or taller. We did find one roller coaster which let him on [see bottom left - we are circled in red] but even that entailed queuing for over an hour. The shows were not a patch on Disney's epics either [though I managed to take part in a kung fu demo - see bottom right].
Heavy rain showers and large crowds didn't help the atmosphere. We finished off the trip with a cable car ride and their large aquarium, which turned out to be the highlights.
A viary nice park
We spent today in Hong Kong Park, a very nice, if small and hilly, place. There's a free aviary full of wild birds which, though wild, were surprisingly unconcerned by the line of people wandering through their enormous cage and a multi-level children's play area with a 10m long slide which JD loved. When it started to rain late afternoon, we slid into a Pizza Hut and had a cheese fondue, something Jiajia and JD hadn't experienced before, but really enjoyed.
Today was the start of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster. We enjoyed spotting Peppa Pig and her family celebrating on adverts in a shopping mall today. Copyright infringement, anyone?
Taking a peak
We had a look-see around central Hong Kong today after an early dim sum lunch, starting with a wander down Nathan Rd, then a trip on the Star Ferry and finally a bus up Victoria peak for the classic view of the city.
We does Disney
Jiajia, JD and I crossed the border from Shenzhen (Mainland China) to Hong Kong yesterday. We had feared long queues with the onset of Spring Festival, but it was fairly quiet. One of the main reasons to visit Hong Kong was to take JD to Disneyland. He's not a big fan of the classic shows (Mickey Mouse, Jungle Book etc) but he does love Winnie the Pooh and, especially, Toy Story.
Despite a poor weather forecast, we enjoyed a dry and sunny day there today. There were plenty of rides which JD could do (despite his lowly one metre stature) and he loved them all.
Ava's favourite ride was "Small, small world" [photo below, right], and with the lack of queues for it, we rode it twice in a row.
The highlight for me was meeting R2D2 - a long-term childhood favourite and for JD it was meeting Woody from Toy Story. "But was he the real one?" was JD's constant refrain as we headed home!
Air we go
Jiajia, JD and I flew off yesterday from Kunming Airport [see photo] to Shenzhen and Hong Kong for a couple of weeks' holiday.
Apparently Kunming has the seventh worst traffic congestion of any city in China. Nice to be in the top ten for something. Let's squeeze some more cars onto the roads and push up into the top five.
JD had lots of fun at his friend Kaiya's birthday party yesterday. He took great delight in trying to smash the piñata open and was very disciplined about not using his hands to eat the crisps-on-a-string! He left with his pass-the-parcel prize safely tucked in his pocket - an eraser! He's not see a real one before, although he regularly uses the eraser icon on the iPad, so he made the connection quite quickly.
Brightening the mood?
We had our new living room light fitted yesterday:
Jiajia: Oooo, I like it.
Me: It really brightens up the room.
JD: I can see my toys more gooder.
Ma-in-law: It's terrible. A waste of money.
Some people just prefer to live their life in a daily gloom of negativity.
I spotted this statue in a park the other day. Still not quite sure whether it is something meaningful or just a really poor repair. For a start, the head seems to be from another statue entirely! Even the seagulls seem a bit perplexed...
I was delighted to be invited to Robert's School's Spring Festival Meal today. Although I only work for the school periodically they still treat me as "part of the family" and it was great to meet up with past colleagues. JD was on his best behaviour, chatting politely with folk, helping to hand out the raffle prizes and playing with balloons with the other children. It was a delicious meal with every table having a hot pot and barbecue plate, plus an all-you-can-eat (and drink) buffet.
Cruising to the cinema
I rewatched the film "Oblivion" yesterday. What a quality movie! It looks amazing and there are some very clever and thought-provoking themes in there too. Hard sci-fi, that’s my thing. You can keep your superhero and fantasy blockbusters. Give me Tom Cruise, androids and spaceships any day.
I also got to see "Star Wars: Rogue One" in 3D at the cinema (having watched a poor quality download a month ago). A great film which leads right into the first Star Wars movie, which I must have watched about 20 times in my youth.
KInds of Kindies
I've spent most of this week doing demonstration classes in various Kindergartens in and around Kunming on behalf of my old employers at Robert's School. It's not really the age-group I'm best with but, as it was the same lesson six times over, it got fairly good by the end. There was a big difference in the look, resources and students' ability levels between the various schools, with the private ones in the city centre looking spotless with focused and talented students. The countryside schools, less so. It was a fascinating, if exhausting, week.
Sticking my neck out
Last week I got a call from an agency who supply foreign teachers to private Kindergartens in Kunming. I had contacted them a year or so ago when I was looking for some part time work and they had kept my details on file. I met with their Director of Studies and watched him do two excellent demo classes in a pleasantly decorated Kindergarten [see below]. The company are keen to have me on board, doing as much or little teaching as I can fit in. It seems a good opportunity if I can find time.
And then, out of the blue, Robert's School rang me 2 days ago to see if I could help them do some classes in various Kunming Kindergartens. They had arranged a teacher to do the demos, but she had pulled out at the last moment. So this week I will be trying my hand at Kindergarten teaching a little sooner than I planned.
Brush with death
Taking your breath away
Here in Kunming, it's been very cold and rainy for the last few days, but at least we don't have to cope with the pollution seen in many Chinese cities, such as Hangzhou where Ava is currently away on a stock purchasing trip. It can be pretty here in the Southwest some days, but how people on the smoggy East coast cope day to day, I just don't know!
Bite to eat
We invited a couple of JD's schoolfriends and their parents, to the Animal Museum the other day. They had never been before, so JD took great delight in showing them where everything was (having been there 30+ times himself!).
Afterwards, we went to a nearby Thai restaurant for lunch. The two families had been very generous to us on a visit their hometown last year, so the museum and meal was our little thank you treat.
When JD sees buses around town with this advertisement on the side he always shouts, "Hey, that's MY bus!!"
Last week we had a University departmental meeting to wrap things up for this term and these are my colleagues and I.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries