Saturday, Febrauary 26th 2005

HELEN AT WORK 

Like my picture?! This is me at work, having a meeting at my computer.

Sunday, February 13th, 2005

PETALS AROUND THE ROSE 

For those of you who like brain teasers, try and get this one!

It's called: "Petals Around the Rose" http://www.borrett.id.au/computing/petals-j.htm

If you don't get the answer for a while, don't worry; Bill Gates was among a group of friends who played this game, and he was the last one to get it!

Have fun!

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

HIKING 

This week has been full of hiking for us. On Monday, we climbed the hill behind where we live, with fanastic views of the other side, the sea, Shenzhen and other nearby parts of China. Tuesday we spent fighting off the creatures on Golden Hill, also known as "monkey hill". At one stage, we turned a hill and came across a car surrounded by about 50 monkeys, several jumping up and banging on the car windows and even one on the roof! The occupants of the car were throwing food out of the windows and the monkeys have become so tame that they will boldly approach anything or anyone who they suspect has food. We managed to pass without too much fuss, after taking some photos, of course.

The hike over Monkey hill is part of a much longer walk that crosses the whole of Hong Kong, called the Macklehose trail. We've decided to tackle the whole trail over thes first few months of this year, definitely before we go to England in July. We've already walked stage 10, which ends where we live. Monkey hill is stage 6 and today we walked stage 7, over Needle hill and Grassy hill. Both are very aptly named. The former is very steep in parts and the summit sticks up like the tip of a needle. Grasy hill is covered in grass, while the other hils are more barren or covered in trees. In total we walked 14km today, 10km, and around 6km on Monday. Good fun, and a great chance to see a bit more of Hong Kong.

Wednesday, January 10th, 2005

KUNG HEI FAAT CHOI! 

As they say round here... "Kung Hei Faat Choi!" and Sam Nin Faai Lok. For the record, according to a Chinese-speaking friend of mine, the first phrase literally means 'Wishing You Prosperity' and the second one means 'Happy New Year'.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2005

CHINESE NEW YEAR PARADE! 

Today we went into the centre of Hong Kong for a special new year parade.

On the way, there was an announcement telling us that Admiralty, an area of Hong Kong, was "overclouded". At first we thought it was a weather report. Then we realised he meant "overcrowded"! Even so, quite an interesting point to make, given that HK is one of the most densely populated places in the world!

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

GMAIL 

We have more than 10 Gmail invites to give away. First come first served! "What's Gmail?" did you say? It's a new email service offered by google, that gives you a fast web-interface, free POP access for reading email in Outlook, and 1GB of space! We've got one and you can too, if you like! (Only for subscribers to our newsletter.)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2005

GANDALF 

Mike's been reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy over the last few months. His favourite quote so far comes from the wise wizard:

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."

Monday, February 7th, 2005

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIGHT 

Climbed a mountain today. At the top we said 'Oh, let's take this other way down we don't know, even though the sun is about to set.' It got dark after about an hour. We weren't that far from the end of the path, but it got pitch black, except for a little light from the nearby skyscrapers. In the end we called a friend who lived nearby and he came up the path with torches and rescued us. We were glad to see him!

Sunday, February 6th, 2005

SWISS PHOTOS 

We went on a 4 week trip to the UK and Switzerland over Christmas. We had a great time, running around seeing friends and family in England, and then attending a conference in Switzerland. Check out our new photos on our Yahoo photo album:

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

LONDON'S BURNING 

London - Panic gripped the streets of London this morning when patches of sky took on an unusual blue color and a ball of fire appeared above the city. The phenomenon, known as 'The Sun' and commonly found in Mediterranean countries, unleashed a terrifying heat and brightness upon the capital, causing many pedestrians to take off their hats and scarves, while motorists were able to turn both their headlights and wipers off. Tony Blair urged people to be calm and return to work as normal stating: "We've seen this sort of thing before", he said,"but it never lasts." There are forecasts that 'The Sun' could be seen throughout the weekend but a spokesman for No.10 said, "I wouldn't hold my breath."

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

CANTONESE 

We had a bit of fun on Friday evening, with some friends round for dinner. They included 3 chinese students, friends of a work colleague, who taught us a few new words in cantonese. The best lesson was learning that 'cheese', 'crazy' and the first part of the word 'charity' all sound very similar in cantonese! All 3 have the word 'chee-sin' but with slightly dufferent tones. So next time you meet someone who speaks cantonese, ask them to say 'crazy cheese charity', and see if you can tell the difference!

Tuesday, June 22nd 2004

BACK IN HK 

We are back in Hong Kong now! We have spent the last 2 days sleeping and trying to get the house ready for our special guest who arrives tomorrow. :)

Mike put up our first curtain today! It looks great. We now have curtains in one room but the rest of the windows still need some loving.

We are now going off to dinner for a friendís birthday dinner.

Friday, May 29th 2004

Airport bound 

We're on our way to the airport... Well, almost! We still have a day left, before we head off to Kazakhstan, but I doubt we'll have time to post anything here in the next twenty four hours, as we both still need to pack, Helen needs to finish some documentation for a container we packed today that is heading off to the Philippines, and Mike is finalising a directory for the conference.

We hope you're all well, and we'll be in touch in 3 weeks when we get back. You might even hear from us when we're in Central Asia, although we're not sure whether time and internet availability will allow us to do so!

Sunday, May 23rd 2004

MUSIC TO OUR EARS 

We had and interesting afternoon today, listening to a chamber orchestra, which included a fellow Crossroads volunteer, playing the violin. There was some bits from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet overture, one other piece by Brahms and then a fantastic performance of Elgar's cello concerto, featuring Richard Bamping, a guy who has been 'Principal Cellist' of the HK Philharmonic for about 15 years. It really was spectacular!

Info on the concert


Saturday, May 22nd 2004

MONKEY!! 

This morning I saw a monkey from my office window! It was walking around on top of the next building, our medical goods department, just a few metres away! Then it jumped up into a tree for a while before going back onto the roof. Not sure what type of monkey - it kind of looked like a baboon, and was really quite large. One of our friends got a few great snaps:

Oh, and yesterday was Orange day at work, as you probably could have guessed from this picture:


Saturday, May 8th 2004

FLAG DAY 

Flag Day is a big fund-raising event where volunteers from Crossroads go out on the streets of HK, for few hours and ask passers-by (mainly business people & shoppers but some tourists) for donations. Last year we raised almost half a million HK dollars, but sadly this year there was suddenly a huge down-pour of rain, heavy even by tropical standards, during the early hours of the morning. The 'Black Rain Warning' that was issued by the Hong Kong observatory meant that we lost almost half our collection time. This also meant that many of the groups had to cancel, and so only about 20% of the 800 volunteers were able to come. But we still collected a sizeable amount of money and we all had a lot of fun taking part.

In a matter of hours after the event, Crossroads had some pictures up on the website! See:

Crossroads Flag Day 2004


Wednesday, May 5th 2004

ECLIPSE 

If you happened to wake up (or planned it, like us!) at about 4am this morning (6am in Sydney), you might have caught a glimpse of an eclipse of the moon.

Here's a picture of the eclipse taken by astronomer Stephen Thorley, looking out across the skyline of Sydney. He captured this striking image of a nearly eclipsed lunar disk sliding past the beacon and lights of Centerpoint Tower, one of Sydney's familiar landmarks, just before the moon set below the horizon. See: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040508.html

But we missed it, as Hong Kong was completly covered in cloud that night!

Tuesday, May 4th 2004

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME 

Football. I miss football. In fact, I miss most sports. We really don't have enough sport in our lives at the moment. But thankfully we do have a big area of concrete that we can use when we do have the time, after work some evenings.

We're playing a gig tomorrow, so I spent a big chunk of time this evening trying to fix my guitar. One of the electric contacts had all but snapped off, and was making a horrid crackling noise. After much fiddling, it was finally fixed, in a temporary way, at least.

Monday, May 3rd 2004

GUILIN PHOTOS 

See our new photos Click here


Sunday, May 2nd 2004

COFFEE 

I've decided that this is certainly worth blogging about: we've ran out of coffee. We had some delicious English coffee from Mike's youngest sister for Christmas and also we had some high quality Danes coffee sent up from Sydney recently. But just as we were getting stuck into these they ran out. Oh well, I guess it will help us make sure we're not addicted to caffiene! Except we still have a few bags of English Breakfast Tea!!


Saturday, May 1st 2004

BUSY HELEN 

Helen was doing a few calculations yesterday on some of the last year's work and discovered that in the last year her department has sent out over 330 cubic metres of 'Carry out' shipments (these are shipments where an organisation sends staff to 'carry out' the goods and take them as luggage on a plane, rather than send them in a container). That's equivalent to more than 11 twenty foot shipping containers full of goods - which is a lot of things that are now in the hands of those that need them!!


Friday, April 29, 2004

THE PHOTOSHOOT 

We've just uploaded some new pics of ... us. You can see them at:

Click here


Wednesday, April 27, 2004

NEAR MISS 

Mike's parents have been in Malaysia the past two weeks, having a well earned holiday, and visiting the place where Mike's Dad spent some of his earliest years. They nearly made it to HK too, but, sadly, they couldn't get flights for the days they wanted. We hope they still had a good time and look forward to hearing all about it.


Tuesday, April 26, 2004

GUILIN 

We spent last weekend in Guilin, one of if not the most beautiful place in China. It really was amazing - mountains sticking straight. We did a few things in the 2 day trip, including visiting friends, eating some amazing food and enjoying a river tour on bamboo rafts. A very peaceful place. It was cool to spend time with the group of Aussies who we went with - they've been working with is for 2 weeks and it was good to get to know them a bit. One of the team is an old time family friend of Helen's and she worked out she half known Bill and his family frove 18 guns! Bill was kind enough to bring a package up for us, as well as some sweets for the team. Thanks Bill!


Saturday, April 10, 2004

OUR NEW HOUSE 

!!!Newsflash!!!
We've finally had our photos of our new house developed, for you all to see. Our scanner has been causing a few headaches in getting them into soft copy, but I've had to let the scanner win and so all of the pictures are way too dark. Even my photo editing program can't rescue them. I'm sure you'll enjoy them anyway. Together with some photos of a certain wedding, and some pics of the container loading last week, you can see the new photos at:

New photo album


Friday, April 2, 2004

WHERE HELEN TALKS TO THE WORLD 

This is my first blog! As you have all probably noticed Mike writes most of the blogs. But he has now empowered me to use the system so I can write my own thoughts. So I really don't have anymore excuses!!

One of the things that I found hard about writing these things is what do I actually write about. I love reading what other people have written but when it comes to me it's a bit harder. So if you would like to hear anything in particular about our life here in Hong Kong then please feel free to post comments!

A topic that has received a bit of publicity is the movie "The Passion". We saw it last night. I guess there is heaps of stuff you can talk about in terms of how it portrays the characters, the gruesome beating, as well as the cinema photography. My opinions come from a purely emotional perspective. I left feeling overwhelmed by the truth of the story. It made me hungry for more of him. I think it is worth watching.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

THE WORLD MOVES CLOSER 

It felt like our two home countries moved ever so closer to Hong Kong over the weekend. Last week, the UK was 8 hours behind, and it is now only 7; meanwhile Australia has slipped from 3 hours ahead to only 2. And is if that wasn't enough, next Sunday the US jumps on the band wagon, with every US zone moving an hour closer than currently. Before we know it, we'll be able to swim home! :)


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

US 

Here's yet another picture from our New Zealand friends, taken back in January. We're standing in the canteen area, where we have our lunch.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

DUCHESS 

We'd like to introduce you to a very good friend of ours. She used to live on Lantau, so we only got to see her in the evenings. Now that we live and work in the same place, we get to see her all the time which is a real blessing! She's really friendly, and often accompanies us on walks to the back gate, although it took her a while to learn that she's not allowed to go through it. The funniest thing she does is whenever she sees someone she knows, she'll go and find a leaf from the ground, and will bring it in her mouth toward you, without actually giving it to you. And she's great at play fighting!

Before you get too worried about our colleageues, it might be good to point out that she is a dog. Her name is Duchess, and here is a photo of her looking rather regal, we think. The photo (and those of the pre-renovated rooms from Tuesday's post) was taken by some two-legged friends of ours from New-Zealand, who did some awesome work, helping, among other things, to paint many of the offices, including Mike's and Helen's offices. We're grateful for the photos and for their help here.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

We've moved... again! 

This is just a quick note to let you all know that we've safely moved into our new home! With the help of 4 and at some points 6 friends, we moved all of our stuff in just over an hour. I don't know many people that have moved quicker than that... but then again, not many people get to move between appartments in the same building.

The floor looks fantastic, although it's now all covered in boxes and furniture. Of course, the paint and the new air-cons look great, too. As does the spice rack that Mike somehow found the energy to put up, with more help from a friend, while sorting out the kitchen. So, we're off to try and make a path through all the furniture to get to our bedroom, for some well-earned rest!

And here's Mike concentrating on writing the blog:


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