Wednesday 10 November 2004

The Appointment

Auntie Pammie shares about
her trip to Hong Kong.
Today was a special day, as it was the day the whole triplet clan went for a "check-up" at the hospital (thankfully it is located next door to where Tess lives). Tess headed over quite early with Sela and went to pre-pay for the appointments. She headed over shortly after 9:30AM, the appointment was not until 11:30AM. The hospital has a worse "over-booking" procedure protocol than Canada does. After Tess pre-paid we (Dad and I) strolled over with Carys (nicknamed "Carrots and Peas") as she is so tiny and cute) and Jasper (aptly named Tank after the character "Hank the Tank" from the movie Old School). The babies weighed in at 13, 15,and 17lbs respectively, Carys being the smallest, Jasper being the largest. All the babies were so well behaved, and even though they were hungry and not allowed their morning nap, they did very well .

The two girls got "good" bills of health , except for the fact that Sela had now contracted my flu/cold and had been quite sick the night before with a very high temp. They were prescribed cough medication.

Jasper was in fine form , and was drooling and smiling as usual. He also had Auntie's cold,and was coughing from it. He also got a prescription for his lungs and for his coughing..

As soon as all babes had come home, and been fed, we 3 headed out for lunch at one of Richard's restaurants. We had a fantastic lunch consisting of (crab cakes /seabass) for myself,we all even had dessert ( something I do once a year). It was a great afternoon spent chatting with Richard and Nat.

After lunch we were slowly strolling towards the area where we could catch the bus back to the flat, when we ran into Sandi (Yes, "The " Sandi who had spent the American election night with Blake). We ended up going shopping/ window and such with her and had a blast! One store in particular stuck out in my brain , that being the store that supplies paper mache items to be burned with a person when they are cremated. We say items ranging from fake $ to a life sized pingpong table to a small scale of the concord. We were in hysterics in the store at some of the items they offered to sell.

We got home and had a light dinner and went to bed early.
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Tuesday 9 November 2004

Stanley, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

Ahhh, Stanley. After a quick breakfast we were out the door and on our way to Stanley. This is a small former fishing village on the south shore of the island. You get there by double decker bus and the view when you are sitting on top is amazing. The road out to Stanley is very windy and at times it looks like you are going to drop right off the edge of the road into the ocean below.

It has become a Mecca for the shoppers here in Hong Kong. It is a small area cramped with tiny little stores that sell everything from sunglasses, to carvings, to clothes, to flowers, every kind of souvenir you can think of. PLUS it has some great restaurants that overlook the ocean. We did a bit of window-shopping before stopping for lunch. Tess and I were in heaven as we had Indian food (some great curry and tandoori chicken), Dad played it safe with a tuna sandwich.

Then the shopping frenzy began, it was slow at first and then worked its way up to a frenzied pace as it gets so busy there. We did our best , shopping until we had no sensation left in our hands due to the lack of circulation. I call this syndrome the "shoppers syndrome" ... it is caused by carrying too many bags all at once while your hands and arms suffer due to lack of blood. Its all a matter of priority of course.

After all that shopping we had a nice quiet evening.
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Sunday 7 November 2004

Quiet Day

Sunday was a quieter day, as we found ourselves needing a day to relax and spend it with the kids. We played and played with Sebastian, changed many many diapers and fed many bottles. In the late afternoon, Angela Pasceri (a friend of the family’s) came over with her little girl and the older kids played together and the adults sat back and enjoyed the sun, and visiting.

We retired early tonight.

Saturday 6 November 2004

A Dolphin Slimed Me

Up early and off to Seb's swimming lessons. I could see that he had regained his "no fear" attitude since last class. He loves going to these classes with his Dad and he does love the water. After classes we raced home, changed our clothes and then Charles, Sebastian and myself headed off to Ocean Park. This place is best described as a combination of West Ed’s Galaxy land/ Water park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park all combined into one huge amusement/play area. It also has an Amazon bird area, a panda bear exhibit, a Japan botanical garden section, and it goes on and on. The only way to access the aquarium part of the park is by a 10 minute long cable car ride up and along the side of the mountain. Yes this park is up on top of a mountain. Seb was almost inside out as we approached the entrance as he was pointing and exclaiming “Look Auntie Pammie, cable cars!” On we got and started the ride. The view was incredible from this cable car, you overlook the ocean and some incredibly $$ homes that are built on the mountain. It was very peaceful and quiet up there. Once we arrived at the main area it was very busy and swarming with tour groups and kids running around that were higher on sugar than I ever remember being as a kid.

We made our way over to a few of the smaller rides and did them with Seb, he loved them and was wearing a perma grin on his face! We went and saw the harbour seals and the Wharf display, which is modeled after Pier 39 in San Francisco. We did some fun gag photos that showed him being eaten by a dinosaur, with myself on the ground watching, hands on my face as I am screaming in fear. Charles is doing a karate kick at the Dinosaur's face (matrix style type of kicks), we were in hysterics while this was being done. Also trying to get a small child to stay still while pretending to be eaten by a dinosaur is not an easy task.

After getting our photos back, we asked Seb if he wanted to see the dolphin show, he was excited about that. After getting great seats the show started a few minutes after. The announcer came out on stage and asked if she could have a volunteer to help with the dolphins, you had to not be afraid of getting wet. I thought why not and my hand shot up before I had a chance to re-think my decision. The announcer picked a lady not too far from us; my hand went back down, until I saw him looking again. Next thing I know, I am headed down to the stage area. She asked both of us volunteers what our names were and where we were from. I have full blown laryngitis and as my voice cracked while trying to say my name, it came out sounding like, "amela from anada" ( Pamela from Canada). The crowd loved it and clapped for us both.

We were then shuttled to behind the scenes and were taught 4 hand signals to use on the dolphins. We were to dance and wave our arms (they do the same), we were to do the twist (they do the same), we were to flap our hand back and forth (the dolphins wave their tales, and finally we were to use our arms and imitate a orchestra conductor, at which point they ‘sing”.

The announcer fitted us with life jackets and some pretty sweet little white rubber boots (I loved the boots). After this, we were shuttled behind the stage and watched the show from behind. There were over 300 people in the stands watching and the kids loved the show. Then it was our turn, I was re-introduced as "Pammie" and I guess the Chinese people loved my name. It was so wild to be standing not 10 feet from dolphins and seals. We stood on the edge of the pool area and did our signals, the dolphins did their act and it went off without a hitch. I looked up at Sebastian and Charles at one point and waved, I got a wave back from them, and Seb had the biggest grin on his face.

The trainer(s) then got the dolphins to jump out of the pool and glide their way up to the platform area (about 10 feet from pools edge), At which point I was crouching beside “Molly” who was a 19 year old dolphin, and she was actually a boy. He then said smile, and I put my hand on Molly and stroked her back while my pictures was taken. It was one of the COOLEST things I have ever done in my life. Molly decided I was not wet enough and opened up her little blowhole and let me have it twice, right smack in the face. I took it was a compliment and kept stroking her back. What a beautiful animal. Then back we went to the dressing area; I had to return the boots L and then rejoined Charles and Sebastian. Seb thought it was pretty cool that Auntie Pammie got to play with the dolphins. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day! I got a great shot of myself with Molly, which I will proudly display.

Lunch at McDonald's, rides on the ferris wheel, went to the shark tank and it was wild! Seb went on a few kids rides before he had reached his limit. We then came home, all tuckered out, but thrilled. Ocean Park was a blast. We spent a quiet night at home and relaxed.
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Friday 5 November 2004

Seb's Audio exam

It’s funny how you can work somewhere all your life and never really understand what it is that certain people do in a neighbouring department. Yesterday I got a crash course in what goes on in the Audiology Department; there is one right beside my office at the hospital I work at. I of course knew if was for testing one’s hearing and assessing the level of assistance one would need if necessary. I accompanied Tess and Seb up to the appointment; the first fun part is the waiting. Thankfully there were other children in the waiting area also and so Seb had others to run around with.

The first part of the appointment was sitting with the Dr. for maybe 2 minutes; he looked in Seb’s ears and said, ok, you need the following tests done. So down the hallway we went and once again waited until the “testing” area was free. Once inside I felt strangely as if I was on Star Trek. The assistant explained that Seb would have to sit still for approx 20-30minutes to complete the test. (How many 2/3 year olds can sit still for 10 minutes?). She then explained how the test worked and how when she pit the earphones on him, he was to listen for a sound and then drop a block into a bucket to signify he had heard the sound. So on went the earphones and the first 3 blocks were dropped without a problem. A co-worked of hers barged in twice to the sound proof testing area without any prior warning and interrupted the exam. Then Seb got bored and wanted to play with all of the knobs and instruments that were conveniently within his reach. He basically was being a typical kid. The assistant was saying he was being bad, I reassured he was being good and that this was too complicated for someone his age.

She then informed us that the next test to do would not be ready for a few hours, as it required specialized equipment to do so and it was in use. When Tess then told her that we did not have the time for this and that she would not be able to wait, she went off to check on the equipment and it suddenly was available. This test consisted of sticking a small sponge probe in his ear, drape the cording around his neck and then get him to sit still for 15 minutes on Tess’ lap. He made it approx 5 minutes before the probe would fall out, etc. I asked her if it would possible be easier to put a small piece of tape over the cord as it would stop it from falling out of his ear. This did help, but not for too long. She said she got an “ok” reading and we were to go and wait again in the waiting area (which was now packed).

So we waited, and waited, Seb was starting to power down by this point and he was hungry. Tess and Seb went off the ward for one small moment and sure enough they called his name. Make a long story short, they wouldn’t wait for the 2 minutes needed, and instead made them wait (Tess and Seb) even more. Finally she went in and spoke to the Dr. This whole process took in total close to 2 hours.

After this, Dad and I went downtown, we walked there which takes about an hour, we picked up the 5 rolls of developed film I had dropped off 2 days prior, and picked up some groceries. We got home, checked out the pics and then got ready to go out for dinner with Tess and Charles’s good friend(s) Richard and Natt. I have spoken of Richard before in the last year’s letters. He is a Canadian who has lived here for years and owns many restaurants in the Hong Kong area. He is an avid dog lover, and a good friend to this family. He has met our entire family as everyone who visits here meets and loves Richard. We met at Tony Roma’s after walking approx 20 blocks in high-heeled boots. I am speaking on my own behalf here. I felt like the Jolly Green Giant.

We met at Tony Roma’s (it was nearly impossible to get a reservation), and it was packed. We got a great table, overlooking the harbour, and the 6 of us sat there for 4 hours, chatting, having a good dinner, discussing everything from unions, to government, to taxes, to Canada, etc, etc. It was a great evening. I think Richard, Natt, and Sandi have all now met every member of our family. We piled into Charles’s car and drove home with full intentions of watching a movie, but we all ended up heading straight to bed. It had been a wonderful evening
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Thursday 4 November 2004

Shenzhen Bound!! Be still my beating heart

Up with the babies (at the crack of dawn) kisses to Sebastian as he leaves for school, drive downtown with Charles as he went off to work, and then we began our journey to the border of China. I call it my own personal wall of China, as I know that being that wall is Gods Country (shopping heaven).

It takes a total of 3 separate trains / subways to reach Shenzhen. Then you have to clear HK customs, pay for Shenzhen visa ($150HKD approx $25-30 CDN) for Canadians we pay a small fee vs. US citizens who pay 400HKD per person, the Brits pay more. Then you clear China Customs and then go through security before walking over the bridge that links the two countries together. Last time I had walked the bridge it was open to see outside as you crossed over. It is now covered, perhaps so that you don’t notice the barbed wire fences, the guard towers and the knowing fact that the police on the China side of the border not only have a few more German Sheppards around for security, but that the gun power they supply has gone from handguns to machine guns. Always such a comforting thought.

I am worried as we cross into customs as they have nurses with thermometers checking peoples temps, I had night sweats the whole night prior and am feeling about as dreadful as one can feel (but I had told Tess, even if I slip into a coma, I am going to Shenzhen), I feel quite liberated as I slip past their highly trained medical experts and cross over into Shoppers Mecca.

Dad quickly found himself being “attacked” by throngs of people offering him watches, dvds, massages, pedicures, manicures, etc etc. We 3 decided to split up and go our separate ways after we dropped off some material at a seamstress, so that Tess could get her whole couch/loveseat re-upholstered for a killer deal! Tess and I then power shopped until lunch at which time we re-aligned ourselves with Dad and headed to the Golden Elephant for some lunch.

I was not able to get my turnip pastry (the ones I had been secretly fantasizing about for the last 2 years), but we got some fried turnip, many shrimp rolls, dumplings, bok choy, rice and dejarling tea. We ordered so much food that we were forced to bring the leftovers home with us. More shopping followed lunch, purses, shoes, babies clothes and clothes for the big kids.

By the time we cleared customs and Immigration on the China side, we were then ready to clear it on the Hong Kong side, I was once again able to avoid the dreaded temperature check. We took the subway/tram home and then were able to spend the late afternoon and evening with the babies and of course Seb.
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Wednesday 3 November 2004

Dad's Excellent Adventure

Ok, so yesterday I wake up and feel as if I had been partying for a week straight. Everything is aching. Then the cough comes back, a slight fever, and a really sore throat. To make the matter worse, I am now loosing my voice (something I am famous for having happen every fall/spring). I don’t want people to know how cruddy I feel, because there is so much more to see and do before we leave next week.

Jasper has an eye exam this morning. I accompanied Tess over to the Queen Mary Hospital to give her some support during this rotten test. Jasper is not thrilled by it, but is a good little trooper and gets through it. He hates having his pupils dilated and then his eyes forced open. Not that a lot of people enjoy that. This was a test to see how his ROP was doing (if it was advancing or not). The good news is that he does not have to go back again for another 6 months. Secondly they said it has not worsened, and thirdly, they feel that there has been some improvement! Yeah! Poor J looked like he had been raving at Woodstock all night long and had pupils the size of quarters for the remainder of the day.

Tess thinks that some shopping intervention therapy might help us to feel more welcomed back to HK, so off the 3 of us go. Dad’s full intentions are to go to the War Museum (actually it is the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence it is free admission on Wednesday). It is the day of the American Election and a dear friend of Tess’s (an American) is at the Ritz Carlton watching the results as they come in. Tess mentions this to Dad who is following the results the best he can as the day went by. Sandi mentions to him that if he has any trouble getting in, to drop her name. We gals go in our direction, and Dad to his.

Tess and I found some killer deals and then decided to go for lunch. We found a great little fish and chips place, which was very tasty. The restaurant we went to was the size of my bedroom closet, but somehow seated 5 tables. You got to know the people at the next table quite well by end of meal. The food was fantastic. I had poached sole, and Tess had beer battered fish and chips. We enjoyed the food and listened as the results were being announced on the radio. We figured that the results would wait, and we continued on with our day of shopping and dropping off film, getting a few groceries etc.

Spent a quiet afternoon at home wondering how Dad was doing with his adventures, i.e. museum visit. Around suppertime both Tess and I figured that Dad had found Sandi (the dear friend), and that somehow they/he had not made it to the museum. She and I decided to start making bets as to what time he would call, if he would call, if he was out with Sandi, if he had been abducted etc. We had more variations and odds than any bookies I had ever known.

Around 7pm, the phone rang, it was Dad (I won the phone call time), he and Sandi were now heading out on a private “junk” to go on a wine testing tour. He couldn’t remember his bank pin # and he was hoping Tess had it. (We know nothing). Around 10:30 that night Dad came home quite proud of himself and was going on and on about how he had been interviewed by 2 Chinese newspapers re: the American election**. Imagine the irony in that, a Canadian, being interviewed about an American election while in Hong Kong. The rest of the evening was uneventful. I know that Tess and Dad were impressed that I had no voice left, and I think they secretly enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t talk.

Blake never made it to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence. Maybe another day.

** Blake reports: Just to set the record straight I asked not to be interviewed but it seems the political mandarins in the crowd recognized the (ahem) famous Blake Lyons and the rest is history. Modesty prevents me from saying more. **