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Hong Kong pt. 2: Victoria Peak and the Star Ferry

One of my travel traditions is to obsessively plan beforehand using The Lonely Planet.  I’ve had such good luck with those guidebooks–they’re the best!

For this trip, I basically stole one of the suggested itineraries, which took me first to brunch in Soho at The Brunch Club (no pictures because I was too hungry!).  I left Soho via an area of Hong Kong known as “Ladder Street”–so named because it is so steep that ladders were used to climb it in the past.

The Peak

Victoria Peak was next on my list.  “The Peak” is famous for its panoramic views and history as a strategic stronghold.  I was glad for the historic tram that took me easily to the top.

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The Octopus card, Hong Kong’s metro card, was the best!  Instead of waiting in the long cash only line, I got to skip ahead with my Octopus card.  Oh yeah!

 

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Exploring the gardens and panoramic views

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Star Ferry

On my Lonely Planet itinerary of must-see attractions was the Star Ferry.  The whole time I was riding the cute little ferry across Victoria Harbour, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much Carl would love it!  The view was amazing, but somehow I only managed to take pictures of myself.

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I finished my second perfect day in Hong Kong with a fancy movie in a 4D theater with special seats marked “NOT FOR PREGNANT”.  Ummm, okay.

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Hong Kong Disneyland

I’m posting about a month late because thing have been a little busy on this side of the world.  I LOVED Hong Kong!

Because Disney is amazing, one of the first stops I made was Hong Kong Disney.

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So many of the rides were the same, but there were absolutely NO LINES!

Even the big rides like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain had absolutely no line, which made it all a lot more fun.img_0896

One of the coolest rides was called Mystic Manor–it’s about Lord Mystic, some fancy guy living in a mansion who invents all kinds of magical things.  It was totally creative!img_0899

Hong Kong Disneyland was a perfect start to the trip.

An Early Thanksgiving

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about Carl’s upcoming trip, and in a lot of ways I am so excited for him! He is going to be able to do so many things and travel to new places–it will be a great opportunity for him.

One thing that I’m NOT as excited about is the face that he is going to miss several holidays.  He’ll be gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day– all the big ones.  To make up for at least one of the holidays, we had the idea to host an early Thanksgiving dinner with our dearest friends here in Okinawa.  Even though it was almost a month early, everyone got into it.

We haven’t really had anyone over to our new house yet, and of course I was a little nervous.  When the count kept growing, I was scared there wouldn’t be enough food.  In the end, about twenty people showed up, and there was more than enough food for everyone!

The nurses I work with love to eat and share food together, so I can’t claim credit for all of this feast.  It was more fun than I’d expected to have so many friends over and so many kids!

Once the sun went down, we headed up to the roof and watched the ocean and the stars.  The kiddos loved the occasional airplanes flying past, and the adults loved the cool breeze.

All in all, it was a great day and I was so glad that we got to have a family Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s easy to be thankful with so much to be grateful for.

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Currently reading: You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

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Weekend Update: A Little Me Time

This week, Carl left for the Philippines.   This trip was only a few days, but soon he will be there for a good long while.  When he’s gone for short trips like this, I love to live it up!

I took myself out to lunch by the beach, I had lunch with friends, I got myself a pedicure.  The house stayed exactly as clean as I wanted, and it was me running the show.  I even assembled a bookshelf that’s been sitting in the garage waiting to be made for weeks.  And yes, the bottom of it is on backward, but I’m no carpenter.  What more can you ask for?

Halloween

In other news, Japan is fully prepared for Halloween.  I will be in Hong Kong this year for Halloween, so I won’t be dressing up.  Hopefully we get some trick-or-treaters!

I was amazed when I first moved here at how the Japanese people are so into the holiday–they traditionally don’t celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, so why would Halloween be such a thing?  I still don’t quite get it, but it’s adorable.  The mall has been completely decked out since mid-September, and people dress up in costume for events you wouldn’t even expect.  A few days ago, we had visitors at work–a whole family of minions.  They’d come to see a friend’s newborn babe while in costume.  It was adorable.

Lately, life has been somewhat calm and I am incredibly grateful.  What a blessing to live on a beautiful tropical island with delicious food and wonderful people.  Today, Sunday, I am thanking God for all that I have.

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Universal Studios Japan

I’ve been trying to plan a weekend trip for Carl and I for what feels like forever.  Somehow, the schedules never seem to line up.  My last trip I’d planned to Taiwan was cancelled due to a typhoon, but finally we were able to work out the details and fly out to Osaka after work.

With such a short trip, we had only one thing on the agenda: Universal Studios Japan.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Hogwarts at Universal Studios surpassed my expectations.  We’re Harry Potter superfans, so we were sipping our butterbeers by the Hogwarts Express within minutes.

It was amazing!  Hogsmeade village was perfect, with all the shops we’d read about.  We were literally two kids in a candy store at Honeydukes.  We had lunch in the famous Three Broomsticks, it was heaven.  After some coaxing, I convinced Carl that we’d come back to Harry Potter and take a look at the rest of the park.

Jurassic Park

Again, two superfans! I loved sitting next to Carl on the rides and hearing his reaction to dinosaurs.  During one of the big rides, a huge T-Rex popped out of the darkness and we barely missed its huge jaws.  As usual, I’d packed horribly and was sweating bullets through my double jacket and long pants–the water ride was a godsend.

Side note: Jurassic Park is terrifying if you think about it–it’s just too real!  Can’t you just see genetic experts getting greedy and taking it all a little too far?  And can’t you imagine one of the employees exploiting his access and putting everyone else in danger?  It is way too real for me.

Jaws

This ride had no line!  We rode it twice, and I loved hearing the Japanese guide’s explanation of what was happening.  This is another concept that was a little too real for me.

Japanese Everything!

One of the first things we noticed was that all of the other adventurers were in Halloween costumes.  A group of friends would walk by in matching jailbird costumes or cat outfits, and it was the cutest thing ever!  These weren’t all kids either.  I rode the Flying Dinosaur next to a row of girls dressed as sexy nurses…and then there was me, the regular nurse 🙂

The best costume: a minion-wizard combo.  Have you ever loved Minions and Harry Potter so much that you had to wear them both at once?

We loved our time at Universal Studios Japan.  With our bags full of pumpkin juice and chocolate frogs, we headed home to our AirBnB in Osaka.  I was thankful to finally be able to travel together and happy to be able to finally see Hogwarts.

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Cheers!

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Ie-jima and Our First Anniversary

I’m writing this post a few weeks late because things have been crazy!  Work has been wild, BOTH of our cars broke down, and our credit cards had to be reset after our bank switched card companies without telling us.  No money and no car has been… interesting.  We are lucky to have great friends and island family to help us through!

Anyway, we were totally excited to have the whole weekend off and I’d planned a mini-vacation to Okuma, the nearby military resort.  I was excited to stay up north because of how close it is to Ie Island.

We started our Saturday with a pre-breakfast hike.  What a treat!

Ie Island

Ie-jima is about thirty minutes by ferry from Motobu port.  The ferry even had an option to drive your car onboard, but we opted to rent bikes instead.  It’s much smaller than the main island of Okinawa, but there was a ton to do there!  Even the ferry over was an adventure!

The riding bikes idea turned out to be somewhat of a flop.  I’m not the best biker under good conditions, and I was cooking in the Okinawa sun.  Letting Carl pick the route was another questionable choice: he headed straight to Ie Mountain, which was obviously ALL UPHILL.  Maxi-dress+ 100 degree humid heat+ crashing bike= poor Carl.

Note to self: bike riding is a lot less fun if you’re really, really, hot.

After the ride, we cooled off with some ice cream and headed back to the ferry.  Ie jima was beautiful, and I definitely want to go back.  We didn’t have time to do ocean horseback rides or peanut farm tours–this island had so much to do!

Our First Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since our amazing wedding last year in Milwaukee.  We were showered with love from our friends and family.  This whole year has been full of changes, and I’m loving the adventure.  Cheers to a hundred more years!

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Currently reading: The Gospel of Judas

 

 

 

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Two Earthlings in Love

Dr. Carl Sagan dedicates his epic Cosmos to his wife Anne with these words:

In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it has been my joy to share a planet and an epoch with you, Annie.

  
Soon after reading it, my sweet husband sent me this picture mapping our location. Sigh. Just two Earthlings in love.

Cosmos has already gripped me so tightly that I am barely able to finish a few pages without finding someone to share them with. As Carl Sagan says, when you’re in love, you want to tell the world. His passionate love for science is infectious.