Sunday, August 30, 2009

And So On

Upon return to Hong Kong, the first thing I noticed was a major change to the train system. It's still taking me time to adjust. However, I went clothes shopping today and a salesgirl approached me with a particular item and said, "This one we have in big size," followed by a sweet smile and an affirming nod. Glad to know that some things never change. I think I've lost about 15 pounds since I moved here, but I'm still a giant. Shoes are worse. I wear a size 8 1/2 which most stores here don't even carry because that so ridiculously huge that Guinness should probably call me soon. Mom--send shoes. Anything except those creepy feet slippers you always wore in the early 90s. Flats, so the men I date aren't intimidated by my stature.

So now on to more pertinent and universally fascinating issues. The new TIE team has assembled and completed one week of rehearsals. We have Lindsey from South Dakota and Michael from Australia. We work so well together--Lindsey's amazing with characters, Michael is jumping in with the choreography. I'm there, too. I want to rename us "The Hong Kong Danger Duo" it.

And now, more retrospection. Alert readers will remember that my original plan was to visit Alison in Switzerland, then go to Scotland to visit the incomparable Mark. Mark, unfortunately, was diagnosed with the A1H1 strain of flu, commonly known as Swine Flu by everyone except people in Hong Kong and hog farmers. So I skipped my return flight to London and stayed with Alison. I didn't have a plan on how I would get back to London, but as we said whenever it came up, "Future Camber will figure that out." And she did...I took a lovely train from Geneva to Paris. Once I got there, I had about 12 hours to get to London in time for my flight to Chicago. No problem, it's not far. People have been known to swim across that thing. However, at the station, I searched for trains to London, only to discover that there aren't any. Had I not been able to speak French, I may still be wandering the streets of Paris. I asked around and someone told me that there are trains to London from the other station. Of course. So I got on the Metro and went to the other station and found a train to London leaving in about an hour. I decided to walk around the city. When I exited the station, I actually thought (in my sleep-deprived delusional state) that there had been a terrible mistake and I was in India. I still can't prove that I wasn't, except for the France passport stamp, which I guess is pretty solid.
On the train, I sat by a handsome and charming laser guy from Colorado, now doing a masters in Laser stuff at Princeton, with a summer internship in Europe. It's almost like we're twins, really.
We arrived in London, unscathed by our trip from Paris or India, and parted ways. I took the tube to Heathrow, where I half-slept/half-kept watch of my 'valuables' for about 6 hours until I could check in. The flight to Chicago seemed so short compared to HK flights. Plus, I sat by a guy who travels internationally with race horses. At the airport was the surprise of all surprises. I had expected that my mom would be there to collect me, but it was The Mother, The, Dad, Ann Coultas, and Daniel Coultas! They had even considered bringing a life-size cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama.
After lunch and much joyous reverie, mom, Ann, and I set out for South Dakota. I'm feeling I'm getting long-winded, so I'll quickly summarize in photographs the fantastic American tour.

I met up with Amber, poet:

Pat, Ann, and I went to Pipestone, MN, also known as Piperock:

Nikki had a birthday. The three roommates from 07-08 reunited for the first time since our dispersal in May 08. We had a thing when we lived together that whenever one of us shouted out "Trigonometry", all three would unite in the kitchen and strike the below pose. It was a glorious effort for us, with hectic schedules, to at least see eachother sometimes:

Of course, South Dakota's main attraction, Grandma, after treating us at Pizza Ranch:

I flew from South Dakota to Phoenix, where I stayed with Kristen (an SD friend) and had dinner with her and Kent, yet another SD friend. They showed me a giant cactus and helped me carry things:

Sorry for the long post, I should probably get away from the computer and go for a run so people will stop pointing out the big sized clothes to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Around the World in 13 Days...part 1

With time off between contracts, and a severe itch to get away from the pollution and slow walkers of Hong Kong, I embarked on an epic journey to Switzerland to visit my friend Alison. First stop, Zurich:

Alison is living in Ermatingen, a small town about a 90 minute train ride from Zurich. The main attraction:

We explored Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, upon arrival. The next day, we walked the entire area of Ermatingen in about an hour, including the time we took to feed the sheep. Basically, small-town Switzerland is like a sophisticated vintage cartoon:

I took a ridiculous amount of pictures, so instead of attempting to post them here, I'll just plan to host a slideshow next time I'm in the U.S. I'll somehow force all my estranged neighbors to come to it and feed them cheese on toothpicks while I spew interesting annecdotes about the Swiss Confederation. Do people still do that? I remember being dragged to one when I was a kid. Apparently, it scarred me for life because I keep talking about it.

Anyway, Ermatingen is really close to the German border, so we walked across to the charming German town of Konstanz. There's no border control there, so it felt really rebellious to do so. And the obligatory photo of one foot in Switzerland, one in Germany:

On Day 3, we took a train to two other quaint towns, where I bought chocolate and took more pictures, including this one of the largest waterfall in Europe:

We had an interesting time getting to and from this waterfall. It may or may not have involved missing a couple trains, a bus, unnecessary running, and a fear of missing the all-important train to Geneva, which we did, but were able to take another one later. That night, we made it to Lousanne, which is on the French side (definitely a linguistic plus for me), where we basically climbed a mountain to get to our hotel.
We trekked through Lousanne the next morning--I love this city--historically preserved with an artistic and youthful vibe. Later on, we went to Geneva, where Alison, photographer extraordinaire, took pictures for an X-games type event. I went off to check out the sights. First on my list was of course the UN European headquarters:

So much more to talk about, but I need to go. Rehearsal tonight for "Millie"--5 more weeks to opening night!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Parental Invasion: Part Five, the Final Quest

Great risk accompanies the confusion of the captions of the following photos, so I'll summarize them and leave it to the reader to decide what is what.
I took the parentals to Lantau, home of the Big Buddha, which is an epic experience until you learn that it was built in 1996. Two of the three Carpenters present climbed the steps; we counted the steps using our knowledge of multiplication.
The, Dad, and I also went on a journey to the Wisdom Path, which you may think is grand until you learn it was built in 2005. You will notice a photo of The, Dad, in deep and great thought. Serendipitously, at the Path, we met a girl with whom I did a homeless ministry a few weeks ago. None of the below photos contain her. There are, I believe two stunning photos of docile bovines.
I've been to Lantau several times, but never had seen such creatures. They were in full force and caused our bus driver to avert collisions on two occasions.

The next set of photos includes a shot of all of us in the village of Mui Wo on Lantau Island, taken by a friendly Aussie who had a barbecue during the typhoon.
There's also an artsy one of a lighthouse. The, Dad and I ventured to this place in Macau. I'm not sure we ever told The Mother, but we got somewhat lost as we descended from this elevated location. We ended up on a jogging trail, which we believed would eventually take us to where we had left The Mother, but instead we did a complete lap (over a mile) until we ascended the mount again and found the trail of rice we had so cleverly strewn. We followed it back to The Mother, who was not in the best form at that moment. However, I decided against photographing that moment; you will, however, notice a seemingly unstaged photo of them--all smiles, even The, Dad. I should get a medal. Another one is of them at the Venetian--a hotel in Macau that thinks it's in Venice. It even has canals and gondolas running through it. We went there to see Cirque du Soleil's Zaia.

I think The, Dad, took more photos, which I'm sure he'll upload and send to me just as soon as he figures out how. Experts are pegging mid-2013 for that one. Stay tuned.

Life returned to normal after their departure. There was even a rainbow:

I'm not suggesting their departure and the rainbow are connected, I'm just observing. Since then, Tim and I recorded the music for the new TIE shows, Vera had a birthday, we had two Seussical performances, I got 3 guy's numbers in one night--and it was a Wednesday (the taxidermist is out of the picture due to incompatibility), I've signed up to run a 10K race with Dragon, the guitar guy (mom and Paloma, you met him) in November, and also started "training," only I don't know what I'm doing, so I make it up.
I leave tomorrow night for Switzerland and Alisun! (Scotland is out due to swine flu, which has infected my friend, Mark, further strengthening my parents' suspicions that he doesn't exist) so I'll tag along with Alisun for a couple more days before taking off for the US (South Dakota only; sorry Illinois friends and readers)

I may not be able to blog for a couple weeks (grandma's internet is realllllly slow, so slow it's like it doesn't exist, much like my imaginary British friend, Mark.)