Causeway Bay

We went to Causeway Bay (CWB) today to play some mini-golf at Strokes! I haven’t played in yeeeears, it was actually a lot of fun 😊 It was entirely indoors, which was new for me, as most mini-golf places I’ve been to have been outdoors, or at least semi-outdoors, as in we were under cover. But as with all things in HK, space is a luxury, so the 18 holes were crammed in this tiny space inside one of the malls. And sometimes when I had to take a particularly awkward shot, I’d have to step into one of the neighbouring courses, as they’re literally all right next to each other 😆 And N had a few wild hits, one of which actually flew almost the entire length of the room 🤣 🤣 Luckily no one was around to get hit! 🎯 It was quite fun, though, with some crazy courses to get through 😆

I think this was actually just before he hit the ball almost across the entire length of the room 😂
The craziness of a few of the courses – and look how close they are to one another!
They had a few of these inspirational quotes scattered all around the room, which I thought was pretty cool 😊

We then just wandered around CWB to do a bit of shopping, one of the shopping Meccas in HK. There is also an IKEA at CWB, and we stopped by to pick up a few boxes to store some of our crap in, rather than having them spilling out everywhere in the house. Hopefully once we’ve put stuff inside them, it’ll make me feel a little better about the house not being so messy! But being back in IKEA after not having visited for a few months now brought back some fond memories of when I was practically living there 😂 I walked past the study desks and chairs and I’d reminisce about all the time I spent trying to figure out which study desk and chair to put into our study; and then the same would happen when we walked past their dining tables and chairs, and this would happen in virtually every other room in the store. I still remember the layout of the store all too well 😆

It was a fun day 😊

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Happy to be the weirdo

I had a good productive evening. My sesh at the gym was really good. I did a few basics on the treadmill, as per usual. I had one guy on the treadmill next to mine as I was doing Ballroom basics, and then a new guy replaced him when I switched over to Latin 😂 I still wonder what people think when they see me do these basics on the treadmill. Afterwards I do actually dance a bit in the small space available near the equipment, so hopefully people put two and two together! Not that it matters, I’m happy to be the weirdo at the gym 🤪

And then when N came home from karate, for some reason he had decided to only speak Chinese for the rest of the evening. Sometimes I think to do this, but it is so much effort that once I say a sentence, I then revert to English pretty much straight after that. But for whatever reason, he persevered tonight, and so we had a good – and very challenging – practice session! 👍 We probably said a bajillion things incorrectly, but that’s ok, it’s all about getting the message across to the other person, and I understood him most of the time, which is the whole point of language. Native speakers and teachers can correct us as we go along this language journey, but we have to make the mistakes first in order to be corrected. Ah, it’s all part of the fun 😊

Van Gogh Alive exhibition

We went to see the Van Gogh Alive exhibition today. As per usual, directions to get there were lacking. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, HK is not very tourist friendly, and so you’re pretty much on your own in terms of finding venues around the city, and today was no exception. We took Google Maps’ suggestion, which was not the best route 😂 So we had to endure the heat as we walked the lonnng way to the venue – and let’s just say that the weather today could have taken on SG and would’ve put up a good fight 😂

And then when we finally found the venue, the exhibition itself wasn’t all that fantastic. There were effectively four rooms:

– The first room was more the typical art gallery room, where they had descriptions of his life and his paintings;

– The second and third rooms were where they had his paintings projected up on all the surfaces in the room, and added a bit of movement to them, making them a bit more “alive”. So, for example, if he had a windmill in his original paining, they’d have that windmill actually turning in their display, which was a nice effect. They also had classical music playing as they moved through his paintings. I don’t know what the difference was between these two rooms, though. They seemed pretty much the same to me…

– And then the fourth room was just a drawing room where you could follow a looping film showing a 5min drawing workshop on how to draw people. It wasn’t Van Gogh specific, but somewhat related to painting, I suppose 😊 Most of the people using the easels were kids who couldn’t care less about the workshop, so perhaps the organisers could have set up a separate area for them, so the adults could actually have a bit of a go. And an adult would look rather mean kicking off a child who wanted to use an easel, right?! 😂 There weren’t any spare easels available when we got to the room, and we didn’t stick around and wait for one to free up, so it was a bit of a shame that we never got to have a go.

And then at the end, there was the obligatory gift shop and refreshments. We stopped at Artisan Room‘s pop-up store there for afternoon tea, which was really nice! I’m definitely going to go check out their cafe now near HK University 👍

We bought tickets at the door, which cost HK$250 (~A$45) each, which we thought was a bit pricey. I don’t know if it was worth it… I still think I would have preferred to have seen the actual paintings. We went to a Van Gogh exhibition a few years ago now, somewhere in Oz, and I think I still preferred that to this one. There’s something about seeing the real artwork on display. This Alive exhibition was a work in itself, so I guess I should appreciate it for that. But if I had a choice, I think I’d still go for seeing the real paintings, even if they don’t move 😊

And maybe I was also a bit disappointed because we have seen the real works, and this didn’t stand up enough on its own in terms of being its own work of art, if that makes sense. And then also not having much of a distinction between the second and third rooms, as well as not separating the kids’ and adults’ drawing rooms, overall it just didn’t leave me with the best of impressions.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this exhibition! Did anyone actually enjoy it and thought it was good value??

Chinese Taipei controversy

I looked up “Chinese Taipei“, as they were one of the countries participating in the karate comp on the weekend. So N and I were wondering why they are officially known as Chinese Taipei at these Olympic type events, but they are known as Taiwan to the rest of the world. Well it’s all in the above very interesting Wikipedia link! It’s all very complicated, if you ask me, but I now understand the situation that they find themselves in. It’s all so hard!

I continued studying the Chinese version of The Little Prince tonight. I’m reading about a page a day at the moment. At this rate, it’s going to take me the rest of the year to finish it! 😱😩 I’m still hoping that there will come a point where I will know enough words that I don’t have to constantly refer to the dictionary anymore, and that I can just figure out the words that I don’t know from the context 🤞

Someone mentioned in one of the language exchange apps that I should read an official Chinese version, not the version that I am reading (which happens to be from Taiwan), as it will ruin my learning of the language. Hmmm… I don’t quite agree with that. It’s like saying that reading a British version of it will ruin my understanding of English. So it may have slightly different ways of expressing certain things, but by and large, it’s still Chinese! Anyway, I suspect there is an element of what is mentioned in the Wikipedia article influencing them… and I shall leave it at that 🤐

They also feel strongly about traditional vs simplified Chinese characters, and a lot of people persuade me not to bother learning the former. I am actually learning both styles, as I have friends who can read one or the other, but not necessarily both, and I’d like to be able to message everyone 😆 Plus I like Taiwan, and we now live in HK, and both these places use traditional characters. AND Japanese uses them both in their kanji 😂 So basically I don’t want to restrict my learning to just one style. And the simplified characters are usually derived from its traditional equivalent anyway, so it’s not really all that hard to learn them. But yes, there is the occasional character that is like whaaaat, that’s an insane looking mother F! 🤣 🤣 Case in point is this character:

The left hand side is the traditional, the one in brackets is simplified. Good luck with that one! 🤣🤣

Another public holiday

It was another public holiday here in HK today, woohoo! 🎉 Not that we did much, though 😂 We went and had brunch at one of my favourite local cafes, and while we were at the cafe, I decided that we should go and vote today. We can actually vote any time during the two weeks leading up to the election, so that’s pretty handy. But of course you need photo ID – and I forgot to bring our passports with me today. And ironically, I carried them with me the last two days! Yesterday would’ve been the perfect day to go, but it was the only day that the embassy was closed – argh! 😤 So I decided to head back home and pick up our passports anyway, otherwise the next time we can vote will be on Election Day itself, and I have a feeling the rest of the Australian expat community in HK will be voting on that day, so I wanted to avoid going on that day.

Signs pointing us in the right direction 👉👆👈

It was actually quite quick, and they even had signs at the bottom of the building that the embassy is located in, pointing people in the direction of where to go – and they also had a bajillion people working today to help direct people. Not that there were that many of us there to vote – half a dozen max when we were there! There were more staff working than there were voters 😂 Not that I was complaining, at least we were in and out in no time 👍

We then went to the Wan Chai Computer Centre, which was only a few minutes down the road from the Australian Embassy, just to wander around. It’s a good place for all your electronic stuff, on the HK Island side. I think there’s a similar one on the Kowloon side, I can’t remember what it’s called right now. I’ll have to ask N, it’s more his forte 😊

And then N went to karate and I resumed watching Nice Witch, a Korean drama that I’m still working my way through. I’ve been so focussed on my Chinese language study lately that I’ve barely had time for the Korean dramas. I’m also watching Love O2O, a Chinese drama, but that’s more for listening practice than for personal enjoyment. So I have a bit of a backlog of Korean dramas to watch at the moment! 😆

Our two sports

We went to the second day of the karate comp today, but just to the morning session. They had the official ceremony this morning, which was odd, as I would’ve thought they’d have it at the beginning of day 1?? Perhaps one of the officials wasn’t available to attend yesterday or something, and so they moved it to today.

We went and had lunch with a few of N’s mates from karate, and then after that, we just went home and took a nap before our first proper dance training session since we moved to HK 😱 It wasn’t a complete disaster, we didn’t forget everything 😂 N remembered more of the Ballroom choreography while I remembered more of the Latin, which doesn’t come as a surprise since he prefers Ballroom and I prefer Latin 😆 It was good to get back into it, nonetheless. Plus the room booking fee is way cheaper here than in SG, and for a much larger room: we’re basically paying the same amount here as in SG, but in HK dollars (S$1 is about HK$6 – so wayyy cheaper!). Something that is actually cheaper, for once! And the room was a decent enough size that we could somewhat practise our Ballroom, something which we struggled to find in SG. This too is quite surprising, given the lack of space in this city.

Good size room, good enough even for Ballroom 👍

Afterwards, we then just went to Shake Shack – not quite the best choice in food after a training session! 😂 But it was nice, my first time eating at a Shake Shack in HK 👍

Karate, yum cha, and my new book

We went to watch a karate comp at Happy Valley today. We got there pretty early (well, early for us 😆) as one of N’s friends was competing earlier in the day, and he wanted to get there early to watch her event. We ended up staying for pretty much the entire day! But sitting up in the stands is definitely much better than having to wait out the back, waiting for your events to be called and then waiting again for your results 😊

We briefly stepped out for lunch at Causeway Bay, trying yet another yum cha place. Yum cha is everywhere in this city, it’s sooo good! Well I guess it is The Source 😆 The one we went to today, though, was pretty mediocre and very overpriced, so we won’t be going back there again! I’m surprised it wasn’t all that great, because there was a crowd outside when we arrived, waiting to be seated, so I was expecting the food to be good. Nope, that wasn’t the case at all 😒

Anyway, we’re going back to watch the second day of the comp tomorrow, so maybe we’ll try another yum cha restaurant nearby. Or maybe we’ll just eat something completely different and move on from yum cha, that’s a possibility too 😊 Let’s see how we feel tomorrow…

I also finally decided to buy Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s The Little Prince – in Chinese 😱 They had a good version of it at The Commercial Press, this bookstore that caters specifically for children. One of my local friends introduced me to it, and this is the first time I’ve returned to it. It’s a treasure trove of books for Chinese language learners like me! I wanted to buy a paper version so I could write in it to help me learn the language. I’m three pages in and I absolutely love it! I want to quickly finish the English version so I know the story, to help me with the translating part when I read it in Chinese. It’s at a really good difficulty level, it’s not too hard like high school level books, but it’s also not too easy, like books aimed at infants. It’s at primary school level, which I think is perfect for me. I’m not looking up every second word, but enough so that I am learning new words. The sentence structures are at my level as well, so I haven’t come across anything yet where I was like “wth does this mean??” 🤷‍♀️ Plus I love the author’s writing style – in the English version, of course. I wouldn’t know what any Chinese writing style is at this stage in my learning! 😂 Anyhow, long story short, I’m so happy I bought it!