Friday, March 29, 2013
We've finally had some good news out of Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston. The night nurse and doctors reported tonight that my father has been 'responsive' -- squeezing their hands and blinking on command -- for the first time since his disastrous surgery. This confirms what I've known in my heart for some time, that he's in there and very gradually starting to come back to us. Thank you for all your kind words and prayers. We still need them, but I know he's going to make it through this.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Sorry I haven't updated lately, but there's been some sad news in my family. My father, who was in the hospital for what was supposed to be a relatively routine elective procedure, is not doing well. The operation went horribly wrong, caused seizures and bleeding in his brain and we're left hoping and praying for his recovery. Currently, he's in an induced coma but the doctors have been having a tough time waking him. Until he wakes, we have no idea how badly the operation has hurt him. I've been at the hospital in Boston praying for him, which is about all we can do right now. In fact, we could use your thoughts and prayers, as well. Will keep you posted.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Either someone slipped something into my sake, or a very unusual welcoming committee greeted me shortly after my arrival in Okinawa today. I was originally supposed to be in Okinawa all week, but when I saw how busy things were in our Hong Kong office, I decided to cut the trip short. I'm here for little over a day. But that's obviously enough time to see at least one of the local attractions: Miss Okinawa and her chaperone made the scene at a welcome banquet organized by my corporate 'hosts.' Miss Okinawa, a local beauty contest winner, seems very down-to-earth. Her chaperone, however, looked a bit bizarre, like a larger-than-life parody of Miss Okinawa, complete with an inverted rice bowl for a hat. Now that's something you don't see every day, not even at 7th and Montana ...!
Monday, March 11, 2013
Buddah’s Belly isn’t just the name of a restaurant in Santa Monica, it’s a real destination in Hong Kong. Imagine my surprise when, during a Sunday afternoon excursion to the peaceful island of Lantau, I found myself walking through a doorway into the belly of the world’s largest bronze, seated Buddah. The locals call it “Big Buddah” and, at 112 feet tall, it’s a major tourist attraction. The monks who operate the nearby temple have turned the whole thing into a ‘meal ticket.’ They’ve opened a vegetarian restaurant deep inside the statue and in order to gain admittance you have to purchase either a lunch or snack ticket. I paid the minimum and got a bottle of water.
Right next to the “Big Buddah” is Lantau Peak, one of the largest mountains in Hong Kong. My colleague wanted to hike to the summit, taking a “path” that consisted of thousands of rocks placed into the side of the mountain, forming a nearly 80-degree climb that makes the stairs on Adelaide look like a walk down Rodeo Drive. And it gets better: There are snakes. I foolishly agreed to the climb, despite the fact that I was wearing a wool sweater and sport coat. 25-minutes and one snake later, I knew I had made a mistake. “Does the rest of the ‘path’ look like this … and how much longer is it?,” I asked a couple of hikers who were on their way down.” “For an experienced hiker, it’s about another hour to the summit,” one of them replied, “And the rest of the trail is just as steep as this, with no break in the ascent.” “Hasta La Vista, Baby,” I called to my colleague, “I’m heading back to Buddah’s Belly for some grub.” But we didn’t go back to the Buddah. We spent a pleasant hour wandering through pathways that led to the town below.
No visit to Lantau would be complete without a quick visit to the Tai O fishing village. The guidebooks call it the "Venice of Hong Kong," but -- while some spots in Hong Kong have a European feel -- Tai O is distinctly Asian. Small houses are built on stilts and weave their way through a series of winding docks and bridges. Everything in Tai O revolves around the ocean. Area residents leave plates of fish in the sun in front of their homes to dry. They sell all kinds of fishy merchandise -- everything from dried fish necklaces to stewed fish heads -- in an outdoor market. I ordered something they call "Chinese Pizza" -- a crepe filled with local greenery and special sauce -- and it was delicious.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
I'm still busy working out of our Hong Kong office, but thought I'd provide a quick update and share a few photos from my travels. Hong Kong is a fascinating city. It includes a series of islands, each with its own personality. I'm staying in Kowloon, one of the most heavily populated areas of the city, across the bay from Hong Kong island and about 30-minutes -- or two train rides and a bus -- from our office in the New Territories. The photo above is from the Man Mo temple on Hong Kong island. Man Mo, built in 1847, is dedicated to the gods of Literature and the Martial Arts. Especially during the Chinese New Year, hordes of people flock here to make offerings to the Gods and burn incense. Every time you burn incense, you're supposed to make a wish, which is carried to the Gods on whisps of smoke. One zealot standing in front of me last Saturday lit so much insence that an enormous pile of ash fell on my shoulder.
I also took a sampan around the Aberdeen Fishing Village. A friend of mine told me these boats are also known as "Wala Walas" because of the distinct sound they make as they tool around the harbor ("walalalalalalala ...."). My sampan ride culminated in a trip to a restaurant called "Jumbo," otherwise known as the world's largest floating Chinese restaurant. I won't bore you with a picture of that ... just imagine the Titanic covered from stem to stern with tacky golden dragons.
Here is a shot of Repulse Bay, a nice area of Hong Kong island that reminds me a bit of Santa Monica with mountains that go right to the beach. Some of the area's wealthiest people live around Repulse Bay because, according to local custom, it has the best Fung Shui. Ocean breezes supposedly blow good fortune right into the homes and the mountains keep it there.
This final shot is of my office at Hong Kong Science Park. The egg shape is actually a conference room (called, appropriately enough, "the Egg."). Our building across from the Egg but we use the Egg for company-wide meetings. I've been busy, but my local colleagues have been terrific, hosting me for dinners at nice restaurants, and taking me around the area. Will try to post some more photos later ...!
Saturday, March 2, 2013
What do you get when you put Foghorn Leghorn on a plate, pluck off all his feathers and bake him at 350 degrees until he’s a crisp, golden brown? Lunch at the café across from my office in Hong Kong, that’s what! Imagine my surprise as a group of specimens like the one pictured above, heads held high, wings tucked neatly by their sides, sat in a perfect semi-circle as if ready to perform a cock-a-mamie Buzby Berkley number. A matronly chef smiled and waved her meat cleaver at me as I walked by. I'm always willing to try something new, but this particular lunch special was a definite cock-a-doodle don't!