Hi everyone. We’re back, and we’ve arrived in Bangkok after a restful week in Hong Kong. We stayed with John Hulpke (Kate’s dad) at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Clearwater Bay. After living in a van for a month, it was terrific to stay with Kate’s dad in his comfy and roomy flat at HKUST faculty quarters.

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We got an Octopus Card so we could zip all around Hong Kong on the very clean and efficient public transporatation system. The Octopus Card works not only on subways and buses, but also at grocery stores and cafes. It’s even better than a debit card — no swiping, no PIN, just touch the card to a sensor pad and away you go. The subway system is huge yet easy to use, making it easy to get from Clearwater Bay to Hong Kong’s “Central” District, one of Asia’s — and the world’s — financial hubs. Dodging all those Armani-suited captains of the universe on Central’s busy streets was hard work; good thing the subway home is the perfect place for some shut-eye.

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(It wasn’t just sleepy-head Kate — we saw lots of people riding home from work asleep, some standing up!)

More interesting than banks in Central, was Kowloon, where there are many street markets selling everything from fresh flowers and live fish to “Gucci” bags and “Rolex” watches.

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One afternoon, while Kate was barginning hard for a pair of socks (she managed to get the merchant “down” to full price) we noticed another little reminder of home:

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We were tempted by the delicious-looking street food…

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…but decided to indulge ourselves on great Dim Sum, instead.  More than once.  (Hope we don’t come home too much bigger than when we left!)

Even though Hong Kong is on the water, it gets tons of pollution drifting over from the mainland’s nearby “special enterprise zones.” As a result vistas were a bit hazy, giving distant skyscrapers an otherworldly aspect.  Kind of lovely, actually (but not so good for the lungs).

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John shared with us one of his favorite neighborhoods, Sai Kung. It has winding streets with tiny shops and numerous good cafes — including Honeymoon Dessert, which has special separate “Durian” and “Non-Durian” seating areas. (Try googling it!) Sai Kung also has a wonderful harbor, filled with fishing junks.

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On Sunday afternoons everyone and their dog — literally — comes to Sai Kung’s waterfront park to play. Kate had a chance to commune with several of the denizens.

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And believe it or not, in Sai Kung’s park we actually saw “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”!  We ate some, which John graciously purchased after Kate angered the chestnut vendor by taking pictures. (Sorry ’bout that!)

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After a week that went way too quickly we had a fun dinner with John and his girlfriend Cubie. Note the ketchup: it was for our hamburger and fries at Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill. Brought up fond memories for former Chicagoan Derry.

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Thanks John and Cubie (and Teresa and Grace) for a great visit! Now we’re in Bangkok, gearing up for some snorkelling on the Andaman Coast…. Hope this finds you all well and enjoying December.

Happy Solstice, with love, Derry & Kate

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