Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two Bowls of Painful

Many "firsts" have happened in Hong Kong: recording a hip hop song, rolling a giant ball down the highway, swearing in Chinese, and ingestion of chicken feet just to name a few. And now we add to that list: survival of my first loathsome disease.

I contracted some sort of respiratory infection which I, in true Carpenter form, pointedly ignored for several days. The day I decided to see the doctor, something of a medical miracle occurred. As I drew close to the doctor's office, my symptoms quickly and mysteriously diminished. I think that the aura of Dr. Kam Yue was so strong that it reached me before I even entered his office. Nevertheless, I went in and paid less than $8US for consultation and 3 different medications (which they have directly at the doc-o-man's office). 'Doc-o-man' is how we say "doctor" in my family. It's a bit sexist, but we're generally not concerned with political correctness.

Anyway, back to the excitement of my affliction. I tried to heal myself with soup one night, only to discover that my stove is broken. So I went out to buy soup. Soup in Canto is "tong," but I forgot which tone. When my "tong" was met with a confused look, I said "tong" in every possible tone. Therefore, I asked for 2 bowls of 'sugar,' 'rubbish bin,' 'painful,' and probably other stuff too.

I went to far northwest HK to load a truck with chairs, clothes, school supplies, and toys to be sent to Kazakhstan. They basically collect donations and send things out where people need it. It was the first project for the new "outreach" group that I helped to start at my church. Our group after we finished packing the semi:

The guy on the far left with the pink shirt used to be in a gospel rock band and once shared a stage with U2. "They were on the way up and we were definitely on the way out." Hip dude.

Tim, Man, and I recorded a CD (music and poetry) which will accompany a new English language book Man wrote. I can start taking orders now.

Last week we finally had our first voice recording for "Hollywood Road," the film where I'm a sarcastic florist. I probably last mentioned this in October. Things are moving now.

At last, I met my neighbor. His name is Boon and he's old, which is great because geriatrics are cool.

I met with my tutee at--get this---Choco Cat Cafe. Devon, get over here. This cafe specializes in chocolate and has about 10 cats roaming freely. They also have a giant stuffed Garfield. Unfortunately, I can't ever go back there because I picked up a cat, which I now know is against Cat Cafe law.

Yesterday, I went on a bike ride with a potential suitor, Chris. We biked about 10km to this place, Ma On Shan ('horse mountain', I think):

And post-ride:It was not Halloween, but 80s night. The picture really says it all:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Singapore, Or "Shoot that where?"

Fact: Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore, punishable by a hefty $1000 fine.
Joan and I ceremoniously discarded our Orbit, along with all other illegal items of which we were in possession, at the KL airport.
The iconic symbol of Singapore is this:The Merlion. Half-lion, half-fish. It was created in 1972, which seems young to be iconic, but this is how tourism survives--make something up, take enough pictures and voila, you have an instant cultural attraction. This is representative of the fishing past of the city and the legend that someone saw a lion there once, granting the name "Lion City" to the republic. Singapore is a city-state, with a president who lives in what appears to be a jungle.
On our first day in Singapore, we went to the zoo, proud care-takers of my favorite primate, the Orang Utan.
They had this informative sign, talking about how each orang utan (which means "wild man" in Malay) is unique. My favorite was Satria, who often refuses to go back to his night quarters. Perhaps he needs to set some goals. After the day at the zoo, we went on a "night safari" which is riding a tram through another, different, zoo-type thing in the dark. After that, we killed some time before our bus departure by seeing a fire show. We watched as men in tribal Malay garb breathed fire and swallowed fire. Soon, they had opened the gate and pulled me onto the stage. In no time, I was holding a long spear, surrounded by 3/4 naked sweaty fire-breathers. Fairly typical at this point. I, of course, threatened to dismember them with the spear they had bestowed upon me. They recoiled and indicated that the spear was a blow-dart and I was to shoot the dart near the nether-region of a fellow tribesman, in a effort to pop a balloon which he had placed there. I indicated my reluctance, but they assured me that they would guide it.
Photographic evidence is unavailable at this time, as all pictures are on Joan's camera. I believe she took a plethora.
This place advertised a pink dolphin show:We settled for pink jellyfish:Japanese Something Crab. And Joan:White tiger on the prowl:Hanging out with giant fruit:
Almost every neighborhood in Singapore looks like this architecturally:Hindu temple; we don't have these in Hong Kong. I have seen innumerable Buddhist temples, but this was a first:And at night:Speaking of religious places, this mosque was just down the block from our hostel in Little India:
Speaking of Little India, Singapore's is legit. In our quest to find authentic Singaporean cuisine, we pretty much just ate curry and masala.
The second day, we toured the city, ate at Chocolate by the Bald Man (NYCers know), and went out dancing that night.
The last day, we went to Sentosa Island, just south of Singapore. We did touristy things, and then relaxed on a beach until we went to a show that night:
Considering my geographical obsession, imagine my excitement when I saw this sign:On the bridge:
Back in Singapore that night, we tried to cross another bridge:

If our cattle and horses can't come with us, no one goes. And we weren't sure if we exceeded 3cwt and didn't want to risk it.
Then we found some friends:
Our last morning in Singapore, taken in front of The Countryside Cafe, where we befriended the staff and ate several meals and had a Singapore Sling:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Laurence Olivier VS The, Dad

SINGAPORE post coming soon, probably tomorrow.

For now, a story, which I already reported to my sister via the spacebook.

This morning, I woke up and realized it was getting too late at night to call my grandma to inform her of my safe arrival. I quickly threw wrinkled, yet semi-clean clothes and a hat to cover my mangled and on the verge of greasy hair. I brushed my teeth quickly, inadvertantly leaving toothpaste on my face and bolted to the elevator (I still have no internet, and must go to a cafe to write magic like this). The lift stopped on floor 19 and a dashing young man entered. He commented on my hip headgear and we bonded until the ground floor. He told me his English name was Laurence because he likes Laurence Olivier:

"My dad looks like Laurence Olivier."
"No way! He must be very handsome."
"Well, more like the 1980s King Lear Olivier."

Malaysia, Or "Where'd you get those glasses?"

Joan and I set out on our excellent adventure after work on Thursday. We first sailed the high seas to the land of Macau, taxi to the "aeroporto" (this was a Portuguese colony), only to discover our flight was delayed. We took the time to find internet and book a hostel for that night. A 3 -hour flight later, we landed at the Kuala Lumpur (KL) airport, which is actually a Morrison building. We split a taxi, or "tecksi" in Malay, with a self-important Canadian banker from HK for the 73km ride into the city. We dropped him off at his posh hotel and then the driver had a difficult time finding our humble accommodation. Around 2am, we arrived at this beautiful place:This innovated design combines a shower and sink in one easy-to-use facility:We weren't sure, so we ate Corn Flakes:Malaysia is a strongly Muslim country, and this was the first time I'd ever visited one. I was initially apprehensive--mostly a fear of being feared, but that proved to have no grounds, as no one ever seemed to judge the fact that Joan and I didn't have burkas on like every other woman in the city. I'm so thankful that the U.S. has a president with sympathies to--or at least an awareness of--the Muslim community.

Understanding is the essential first step to peace. We don't have to agree--I certainly don't agree with Islam, but ignorant hate on all sides cannot possibly end well. Malaysia, at least on the surface of Kuala Lumpur, seems to have the harmony thing (between Indians, Chinese, and Malays) working. And the food looks like this: Almost every meal looked identical to this. And is was delicious and cheap. The above cost the equivalent of 95 U.S. cents.

A minaret to call Muslims to pray:

The Petronas Towers. The tallest twin-towers IN THE WORLD!:
It was the tallest building from about 1998 to 2003 when Taipei 101 overtook it (and I hear that in a few years, there will be 7 buildings in Dubai taller than that). We even walked across that "Skybridge" between the towers:

We only had a few hours in KL before we needed to go back to the Morrison Building to fly to Singapore, so we did a "Hop On, Hop Off" bus tour. For a mere 38 ringgits (Malay currency), we hopped on a pink bus and periodically alighted, or hopped off, to see the sights. However when.we hopped off in Little India (which was not very Indian, except for a Bollywood song I heard coming out of a cycle shop), we were unable to locate the next place to hop on and ended up taking a tecksi back to the hostel, loading our belongings into the tecksi we had booked, and headed to the airport. En route, I practiced my Malay with the driver. My Malay consists of "please," "thank you" and "dugong", the three things which will get you by in any country.

But I get ahead of myself...more pictures, mostly from the bus.

For The, Dad. A sultan lives here:
For anyone who speaks French:
The Petronas towers as seen from "Little India" which wasn't Indian at all:

A street sign, for those who relish in the ordinary, but do not particularly like relish:Our budget airline, Air Asia, not only provided cheap flight for us (2 round-trip flights for under $300 US total), but also neat umbrellas for the walk in the rain to our plane to Singapore:

Listen to Me/Tim Turns 26/Boogie Down

After a mere 5 months of rehearsal, the high school student musical finally went up in a Broadway-esque blaze of glory. I won't gush, for it is not in my nature and I also need to post about my recent trip, but I was extremely proud of all of them. A few of the actors and I after the final performance:I was "in charge" of the backstage crew, a superfluous position, as they are all, clearly, professionals:

The final pose of "All That Jazz":
A snippet of "Luck be a Lady," which they nailed at the final show:

End pose of "Money, Money" from "Cabaret." Expressive actors, eh?:

And a snippet of "Stud and Babe", a scene I had the privilege to direct. These two really stepped out of their comfort zone. The other cast members would always sit off-stage to watch:
I will really miss those students. When a huge group of screaming teens tackled me to express their thanks, it made it all worth while.
Tim, who is currently stuck in Thailand, celebrated his 26th last week. He got a little carried away with the cake:

Every time we go to a Taoist school, they have this engraving in the theatre. Invariably, it is beneath the screen we use, so I always ask him, "Oh, golden one, where is the screen?" He replies:Oh, it's up there. Thanks. This is the one Tim refers to as Jungle Boogie.

Monday, April 6, 2009

For those of you thinking of names for children:

"Did you name yourself from a Romeo and Juliet character?"
"Yes! Yes!"
These were Taoist students today. Basically the only difference between the Taoist and Christian students is the uniform tie design. The Christians have a cross and the Taoists have the yin and yang symbols. I took a fantastic photo of some sort of gilded spiritual leader today. Tim calls it Jungle Boogie, which will likely come back to haunt him in his next life. As a dung beetle.

My only news is that Tuesday and Wednesday night, my students perform. I'm in charge of the backstage crew, helping with costume changes, set moving, and making sure the fly walls aren't attached to the floor when they fly.

Thursday night, Joan and I will begin our excellent adventure to.....MALAYSIA. We'll spend a day in Kuala Lumpur, where I will assuredly purchase spectacles, then fly to Singapore that night. We're kind of doing this on the fly, so I don't know the specific plan yet, but we're going to take a ferry to Bintan, an island of Indonesia, since apparently there's not much to see in Singapore. Under my mom's advice, I will need to behave in Singapore and try even harder not to get arrested. Chewing gum is illegal. Drug traffickers get the death penalty, so my mom suggested that I leave all my drugs at home. She is an ever-flowing wealth of advice.

I've been researching the political climate of Malaysia in preparation for the trip.
The fun never ceases---

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I hate to be evasive...

My dad refuses to let me evade my taxes this year, which while civically responsible is mildly annoying. After raking it in by scrubbing toilets last year, I'm sure I owe the American government a copious amount of money. I hope they give it to the AIG CEO--he needs a new chopper, really really badly.
Our accountant doesn't speak the English very well, so I'm having a hard time figuring out if/when/how I need to pay Hong Kong taxes. If I don't blog for a few weeks, I've been taken into custody by the HK police force. All will be well. I'll charm them with my Canto skills.

I received an email from a student who saw one of our shows and this is an exact quote:
"I was very impressed with your fluent Cantonese..."
FLUENT! That's right. Actually, that's flatly wrong, but at least I created an illusion. I'm an actor, that's my job.
So now I have a new tutee. I don't have any old tutees, so I guess I have my first tutee. Now I'm just typing "tutee" because it makes immature people like myself snicker.
Gary the Tutee and I will begin tutorial lessons in English starting after the Easter holiday. I will likely be going to Vietnam for Easter, which may not seem apropos, but if you've seen "Platoon" and remember Willem Defoe's character, it makes sense. No plans are set yet--Joan and I will go to a travel agent today to scour the cheap flights--to anywhere, really. Anywhere except Nebraska.
Quick list of memorable names of my dear "panel students":
Michael 2.0
Fat Fat
Bunny A
--and those are just from today...