Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hot Sushi

On Friday night as I returned home from my sightseeing adventures I stopped at City Super and picked up some sushi as they were closing. They put their big assortment platters on sale at the end of the night and I couldn't resist buying this huge spread of nigiri and maki for $60 HKD ($10 CAD). When I got home I savoured the rolls with rich chinese soya sauce and fresh, chunky wasabi, but I could even finish half of the feast I had brought home. So the leftovers went into my fridge. It wasn't until dinner time the next day that I remembered it and a quick smell told me I couldn't stomach the salmon and tuna raw, so I decided to flash fry all the fish, eel and squid (toppings form the sashimi) and microwave the rice balls after soaking them in more soya sauce. I put it all together with some more fresh wasabi and pickled ginger and, I have to say, it was one of the best meals I have cooked for myself recently! Whoda thunkit? And although I am sure most chefs would cringe at the mere thought of it, I think cooked sushi is awesome. As explained in Sushi Etiquette, in Chinese, sushi consists of two characters: Fish on the left and Delicious on the right.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tourist for a day

Yesterday was one of the clearest, and coldest, days I have experienced in Hong Kong. After my busy day at school I rushed home, grabbed my camera and took off for the Peak. I decided to take the Peak Tram, a tourist attraction, that goes straight up the hill from Central to the Peak. I arrived up there at dusk and watched the sunset turn the sky orange and yellow over Lamma Island, and the HK skyline come to twinkly life below me. It was very cold, so once I had taken about 100 photos, I took the Tram back down to Cental.Then I took the MTR over to the Kowloon side to watch the Symphony of Lights. I grabbed a chai latte to warm up and found a perfect perch along the Avenue of Stars. The light show starts at 8pm and is even more elaborate now that the Christmas season is upon us. I took around 100 more photos, from that side, of the Hong Kong Island skyline and the Peak rising up behind it. I didn't talk to anyone, I just enjoyed being out in the few places I know of in Hong Kong where the view extends, unobstructed, for as far as you can see. I find that I need that sometimes. It is nice to feel the wide open sky all around you, even if it's night time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Carried away

I got a little busy for a few days (well let's say busier then my normal busy). I had a formal teaching evaluation on Thursday, and then a full day of Parent-Teacher conferences today with an after school follow-up to my evaluation afterwards. Everything included excellent learning and loads of new insights which is always good. Now I have an empty weekend ahead of me to digest and contemplate it all. I am looking forward to the reflection time. I'm going to explore a bit, take some photos, watch episodes of Weeds in bed, and clean my apartment. I'll be daydreaming about how to improve my instructional strategies, how to assess more for learning, how to strengthen my leadership skills and school contributions, and about what it would be like to teach a high school film course.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We are sinking!

So in my classroom we have a system where I say "Land A'hoy!" and raise my hand to my forehead in search of the horizon and all my students stop, look, and listen with their hands also raised to shade the imaginary sun from their view of an imaginary horizon in the distance. It is cute, it works well, and it reinforces our Explorer spirit.

They other day Explorer 11 suggested that we change the call to "Mayday, Mayday!" and the students all put their hands on their heads above a shocked and horrified open mouthed silent scream. For a few days this worked brilliantly and we were all happy with the new attention call. Until last Friday when Explorer 7 decided to tell a funny joke during our class community circle. It was a joke he had seen on YouTube and it made the entire class cry in laughter. This kid is a pretty fantastic joke teller. We were already sitting on the floor, but had we been standing up I am sure some of us would have fallen to our knees with uncontrollable exuberance.

Here's the joke,

So now when I say "Mayday! Mayday!" the class bursts into fits of laughter and a few of them yell, "We are sinking, we are sinking!"

I think we'll go back to "Land A'Hoy"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you hear what I hear?

They started playing Christmas carols today in the IFC mall.

I need to find an alternative route home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


John and I went to Macau today. It takes one hour from Hong Kong on a high speed ferry. It is the gambling mecca of Asia, and very interesting place. We didn't have too much time for the regular touristy sights, but we managed to walk around and see a bit. At 4pm we went to see Cirque du Soleil's permanent show, Zaia, at the Venetian. Check out the show's website for more details.This was my first live Cirque performance, and even though people give this show mixed reviews and the theater was half empty, I thought it was spectacular. The Venetian is quite a spectacle itself. We strolled along the Grand Canal while people were being serenaded by gondoliers, we watched and played a little bit in the Casino, and we enjoyed a pint of Guinness, jumbo wings and some fuss ball.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Emergency First Responder

Today I became a certified Emergency First Responder, which is a certification course designed by PADI. It was a full day session, full of acting and scenario games. I did some marking in the afternoon and then met up with s couple friends for a birthday dinner celebration at a fancy little Italian place near my house. It was nice. Then I came home and planned a BIG surprise for tomorrow. You'll have to check back to find out what it is...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Today was a busy Friday. Our class enjoyed a 1-hour presentation by author and screenwriter, Morris Gleitzman, who writes great books for young readers. I sent home my first term report cards at the end of the day and actually made one student cry and scream, with joy, at the best report card she has even gotten. That was nice. After school I attended an introductory session about working with and making Adobe Flash animations. It was interesting and fun. This is the very first thing I made. (You're allowed to laugh.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A foot traffic lesson

The streets and walkways of Hong Kong can be crazy. As you have seen in some of my pictures, and as you can imagine from other images of the city, there are a lot of people walking around at any given moment of the day. I get off the school bus every evening at the Ferry Terminals and I have a 20 minute trek home, through the International Finance Center, across a few foot bridges and building connectors, and then up the Mid-levels Escalator through the rush hour foot of Central Hong Kong. My feet don't touch a sidewalk and I don't cross a single street in that entire journey because I am one level above the streets the whole time. I am nicely removed from the vehicle traffic and yet, sometimes, it feels like I am a vehicle. I have learned the skill of crowd walking, and believe me, I didn't know how to do this very well when I first arrived. Now I maneuver through the crowd, keeping a safe pace, trying to stay on the correct side (which is hard here because people drive on the left, but have no definite walking side), aware of every little thing around me. Like the oblivious tourists taking pictures (stumbling straight across the steady flow with little awareness of how this all works, much like me when I first arrived), the arrogant head-down texters on their mobile devices with a 2 meter buffer of empty space around them as people carefully divert their paths, the iPod rhythm walkers, the slow old men, the uber-rushed business suits and the swarms of students in uniform who walk in tight groups of 10 or more. I noticed tonight as I walked home that I did a quick blind-spot check over my left shoulder as I made my way across and down the stairs at IFC. I had my iPod on (I am a rhythm walker) and it was so subtle, so natural, and yet so traffic-like.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning and Teaching Technologies at my School

Today I had a professional development day at my school. I was given the option of signing up for one of many technology sessions; I could choose from workshops on how to design and publish websites, skills for working with iMovie and iPhoto, making presentations with Keynote, making Enhanced Podcasts, etc. The list goes on and on. I chose Enhanced Podcasting.

So I spent the entire day totally engrossed in learning new skills and programs that I can use for lesson plans in my classroom, and even things to teach to my kids how to do themselves. Soooo fantastic! Best of all, I didn't have to go across the city or even to another country for this workshop - it was right here in my own school provided by the experts of the L.T.T. (learning and teaching technology) team.

So I made my very first Podcast! It's a public service announcement example to show my kids as we begin our new unit of inquiry - Waste Management. My students will use this example, along with my instruction (and fresh expertise) to create their own public service announcements.


Monday, November 17, 2008

My new place

On Sunday, I made 9 trips in and out of my flat. First I took my laundry to the laundry place, which is about 6 blocks from my flat. You simply drop it off and pick it up in about 6 hours, or the next day. Then I went home and cleaned house for a few hours. Next I decided to go out and walk around the wet markets to take pictures and just explore. I bought some fruit and went home and had a fruit salad. A little while later I was bored again, and to avoid sitting down to edit my repost cards, I went out again. This time I found a plant vendor at the market and bargained for 3 medium sized, gorgeous house plants. Home again. Then right back out to find a place to buy potting soil and some ceramic pots. Home again with 4 lime green pots and 2 bags of soil. When I was potting the plants and deciding where they should live, I decided it was time to arrange my flat differently. Since the day I moved in, the furniture has been the way it was when the last tenant lived there. It is 500 small square feet, so there aren't exactly endless ways to rearrange the place. I only moved a few things, but it changed everything. All of a sudden it felt like my own space, a layout that I designed, and I love it. The plants are such a huge improvement to the space as well. Satisfied temporarily, I sat down to edit my reports. Next, I went out to get a few things a the grocery store. Home again. Bored, avoiding the stack of marking on the desk (which is now situated in the wonderful sunlit corner of 2 windows). Out again. I found another gorgeous lime green antique Chinese plant pot and bought it for $40 HKD ($6.50 CAD). Home again. Oopps, I forgot to get soy milk. Out to the grocery store again. Back home with 10 other items I didn't really need from the grocery store. Home for a bit, and then I remembered my laundry. Out again to pick it up and then home again to make dinner (thai red rice and veggies) and get that marking done. After my marking I went out for one last treat, my favorite, the frozen yogurt place 3 blocks away that serves tangy-sour frozen yogurt with your choice of toppings. I usually get walnuts and mocchi. Yum.

Ahhh, I sure am glad I chose to live in Central!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Saturday Hike with the Royal Geographical Society

Today I went on a prearranged hike with the RGS of HK to Tung Peng Chau Island, just kilometers from the coast of China. A teacher from school invited me because her husband was leading the excursion, and she thought I may enjoy the trip.

The day included 3+ hours on a ferry boat with spectacular views, a hike around the circumference of a beautiful, and historically significant, semi-deserted island, and an interesting lunch prepared by local villagers. We didn't get a chance to swim, although it would have been a perfect oasis for a quick dip.

You can find the RGS write-up here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Giant Small Child Eater

I have a very funny student who likes to stay after school with his best friend and sometimes one other friend. Together they make quite a comedy team. I teach them silly games, I let they draw on the white board, we play wicker ball challenge and dynamite balloon, or they make up wildly random games like marker-bat baseball.

Yesterday my class comedian tells me that he had a dream the night before that I was a giant cartoon who locked the three of them (who are all in my class) in the Simpson's garage. I told they had ten days to find a way out and then they had to make it to the airport to obtain freedom, otherwise I would eat them! On the ninth day one of then busted a hole in the garage wall with a giant hammer and they all began running towards the airport. I guess they only made it about half way before a giant me came crashing after them, snatched them up and ATE THEM! We all laughed a lot during his narrative recount of his dream, and now we make silly jokes about "Ms. Cahusac, the giant small child eater".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Views

Here is a shot of what I see every morning as I wait for the school bus to pick me up around 7am. This is a 10 minute walk from my flat.

And this is what I see every afternoon as I leave school to catch the 5:20 bus after a my workout in the school gym. This is a 20 second walk from my classroom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tram View

The looming deadline of first term report cards, and the entire high school staff gone off on exciting Experience Week trips, meant that last weekend was the first weekend since I moved to Hong Kong where I made no plans. I had no obligations, no invitations, no engagements. I was socially commitment free and I spent the entire weekend with myself. It was wonderful.

Having a few errands to run on both Saturday and Sunday, I opted to take the tram instead of the crowded and speedy MTR (mass transit railway). I love the tram. If you get a seat up top, the view is fabulous. Fabulous for taking pictures. You can look up and around and down and see things happening all around you. Hong Kong Tramways was founded in 1904. It is the world's largest fleet of double-decker tramcars (2 antique wood) still in operation, carrying an average of 240,000 passengers every day! The fare is 2 Hong Kong dollars (roughly $0.25 CAD), and the route follows the north shore of Hong Kong Island, East to West.

Here are a couple photographs I took from the tram.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mmmm Mochi

This past summer, I fell in love with Korean food, especially tteok, a glorious glutinous rice ball sometimes filled with sweet bean paste, or rolled in sesame, or studded with walnuts. I am pretty sure I have been searching for tteok my whole life, binging on refined sugar gummie bears in University, super-sweet morasitas in Colombia, and not to mention spurts of licorce addiction, sour keys, sour kids, real fruit gummies, goodies and the occasional dino-sours. I LOVE chewy sweets! And tteok is not only healthier, with a lot less sugar and even better chewiness, it is the best form of chewy I have ever tasted.

When I arrived in Hong Kong, I looked for tteok treats everywhere I went, and sadly couldn't find any. Packaging here can be indecipherable, pictures don't tend to sell me, and local bakeries had nothing resembling Korean tteok. But I was relentless. One day in a wet market I found a package of 4 softly-white glutinous balls, with a circumference comparable to a tennis ball, squished into a saran wrapped package. It was lightly dusted with powder on the outside (a good sign) and when I bit into it I was joyously surprised to find a sticky sesame and shredded coconut filling surrounded by familiar chewy tteok. This was amazing! But aside from that wonderful day in the market, I have not been able to track down a consistent supplier of tteok. How could this be? Hong Kong is the center of the Asian Universe, there had to be tteok somewhere.

And then about a 2 weeks ago I learned something that changed my Hong Kong life. Mochi. Yes, there is tteok here (of course), and it is everywhere, it is called Mochi. Now that I know what I am looking for, I find everywhere I go. In my cupboard, at the moment, you can find Japanese-style green tea mochi, black sesame mochi, red bean mochi and even peanut mochi.

Mmmmmmmmm mochi

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Building Materials

Hong Kong has surprised and intrigued me with its diversity of buildings. Last summer, as a prepared myself for a life here, looking at Google images of the skyline, and watching YouTube videos of the symphony of lights, I assumed that the city was made up, homogeneously, of shiny glass, skyscraper silver and twinkly lights. And while those elements exist, in abundance, so do grungy old apartment complexes, grandly deteriorating office buildings, dingy alleyways and endless amounts of bamboo scaffolding and green mesh. But the most amusing of all, for me, are the reflective surfaces that exist everywhere. At every height, of every colour, in every neighbourhood, and around every corner. In a city so dank with pollution, it seems fairy-tale-like at times, there are collages of squeaky clean mirrored surfaces all around me, bouncing images off one another, magnifying an illusion of depth and open space, and grabbing my attention out of my peripheral vision. I am captivated by them, and the art they compose, which changes each time I move the position of my own feet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New city, new job, new blog, new style.

I must apologize for taking such a long hiatus from blogging. You'd be surprised to learn just how much I missed this form of expression in my life. The truth is, I just haven't been able to make time for it. Until now.

I have decided (since everything is so new in my life) to try a new blogging style. I am putting the long, well-thought-out, weekly or bi-weekly story telling on hold. And replacing it with short, in-the-moment, painfully accurate daily entires about my minute-to-minute life here.

As I am tempted to write more, it conflicts with my desire to keep these new blog posts succinct. So you (and I) will just have to wait until tomorrow. How's that for a hook :)