Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hong Kong

Saturday, December 20, 2008 3
Hello Family & Friends!  I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures from our trip to Hong Kong.  The trip was Carol's anniversary present.  I know that 15 years of pure bliss with me is reward enough, but I thought I'd get Carol something special anyway.  We went over Thanksgiving break.  Although we weren't watching the Cowboys or Lions, or having turkey-induced comas after overeating, it didn't deter us from having one of the most memorable Thanksgivings ever.

A rarity - simultaneous ice cream headaches in an ice cream shop in Hong Kong.

CJ was braver than usual with his meal selection.  I was surprised at how difficult it was to get straight up Chinese food like we're used to in the States.  So in China, do they just call it "food"?  Can a brother just get some beef and broccoli or shrimp fried rice?

Carol with a big bright purple piece of eggplant.  She's getting better with those chopsticks.  I still do a double-take every time Carol straightens out her hair.

One of the boys' favorite things about Hong Kong - Toys R Us!

Shopping at Stanley Market.

Notice my technique as I prepare to haggle prices with shopkeepers.  I still can't hold a candle to my sister Darby's haggling prowess, but I'm getting there.

The weather was perfect for the pose.

The waterfront area by Stanley Market.

This is from a beautiful beach area called Repulse Bay.  Pirates used to pillage this area and use it as a base.  The British Fleet repulsed the pirates, hence the name "Repulse Bay."  I love using the word "hence" because it makes me sound more polished than I actually am.  It's a travesty to the English language though when people use the term improperly.

This is a famous bridge in Hong Kong.  Legend has it that every time you cross this foot bridge, you add three days to your life.  Hence, we walked across the bridge several times, hence, making our trip even more worthwhile.  

Chillin' under a Chinese pavilion.

The place was filled with statues like this one.  CJ is saying, "Can we go to Toys R Us now?"

Our next stop was to the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  To get to the restaurant, you had to hop on a water taxi from this dock for a grueling 2 minute 7 second ride. 

Not only was the restaurant Jumbo, so was the bill.  I'm guessing they don't have too many people doing the dine and dash thing cause of all the surrounding water.  Almost every dish in the place had shark fin something or other in it.  It was a good meal but where were the fortune cookies?

Oh yes!  Hong Kong Disneyland!

They even got to see the big guy!

This guy was the best Buzz Lightyear ever!  It's amazing how much personality he exuded even though he couldn't talk.  He had some great moves.  Or maybe he just had to pee real bad.

Although you can't see it in this picture, we had snow at Disney!  Okay, so it was fake snow but it was a really nice touch during the big Christmas parade.

It was almost like we were in Orlando!

"When you wish upon a star..."  What a great day that was.  My favorite part of our Disney day was the Winnie the Pooh ride where Carol, CJ and Jake all sat together happily in one car, and I was in the car behind them, all by myself.  If I had a big pillow with me, I would've laid my big head on it and cried some big tears.  I would've taken a picture of that ride but I was too sad to pick up the camera.

The Hong Kong subway was crazy packed!  At least my family let me stay in the same subway car with them.

This magnificent view is from Victoria's Peak, one of the most famous spots in all of Hong Kong.  Unfortunately, Carol was not feeling so great.  This is how Carol looks when she needs to hurl.

Beautiful Hong Kong.  One of these building is where the famous Hong Kong scene in Dark Knight took place.  In one of these alleys is probably where the bootleg Dark Knight DVD came out even before the movie was released.

I would love to go back to this magnificent city.  So many great memories to take away from this place.  Allow me to share two of them with you - hacking and hovering.

What was up with all the hacking and hocking up lugeys?  Every time I turned around, some guy was gyrating his facial muscles, inhaling strongly from the nostrils, preparing to expel mucous from the deepest bowels of his inner core.  I shouldn't talk though.  I pride myself on my advanced phlegm removal techniques, specifically my ability to execute the patented high school gym teacher method of quickly blowing snot out of your nose by closing one nostril shut with one finger while leaving the opposite nostril open for mass mucous evacuation.

And the waiters at restaurants with all the hovering during bill time.  They leave you alone during the entire meal, then when it's time to pay, they hover over you and don't let you breathe, looking over your shoulder and peering.  Maybe it's because they don't want you to inspect your bill very closely - which you should, cause some restaurants add all sorts of charges on there.  Charges for garnishes, sharing, cover charge, salt, pepper, napkin, oxygen - it's a little ridiculous.  

I'm splitting hairs though.  Just like me to go to one of the finest places on the planet and I end up blogging about hocking up lugeys.  If you ever get the opportunity, go to Hong Kong.  Great sights, great food, incredible shopping and countless things to do.  You'll love it.  Until next time -- C2

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jake's Thoughts

Saturday, December 13, 2008 1
Hello!  This is Jake.  I'm free (three) years old.  Daddy is typing for me.  Santa bring stuff to me.  I'm gonna get a present from Santa.  I love Santa.  I saw Santa Claus and sat in his lap and took a picture and I love CJ.

The boys with the big guy at Hong Kong Disneyland.  CJ had a "Christmas Story" moment when he blanked out while telling Santa what he wanted.  There's a Lego Bionicle set that CJ really wants.  Under the immense pressure and the confusion that this Santa had a British accent, CJ lost his mind and told Santa he wants a model airplane.  Oh my, what's gonna end up under the tree?

Back to Jake:
One to two,  three to four, five to six, seven to eight, nine to six, eleven to six, how many?

Yesterday we played ball outside with Daddy and CJ.  I was trying to use the bat and Daddy teached me to use the bat and I can play baseball.  It was cold.  

Me and the boys before we head out to the park across the street.  Notice the Ronnie Brown Miami Dolphins jersey I'm sporting.  The Fins are undergoing one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history.  We will name our third child "Tuna Pennington."

This is my babysitter.  She plays with me.  CJ plays lots of games.  CJ knows his name and I can know my name.  I have Play Doh all on my arm.  I eat something at lunch at school.  I eat rice and meat and I drink milk and water.  I think that's enough for the blog -- Jake

Friday, December 12, 2008

Star Blazers

Friday, December 12, 2008 2
I'm not sure how many people besides my siblings and I will appreciate this blog entry.  Growing up as a kid, a very fond memory of mine was dismounting the crowded school bus and rushing home to watch the best Japanese animated show ever - Star Blazers!  A valiant group of space heroes called the Star Force, led by Captain Avatar, would trek across the galaxy aboard the space battleship Argo trying to save Mother Earth from destruction.  Other cartoons during that time paled in comparison.  A continuous cliffhanger type series just wasn't the norm for cartoons that day.  The plot and character development was great.  So when I saw this juicy morsel of a model in the window of a toy store in Hong Kong during Thanksgiving break, I freaked out:

This is the battleship Argo from the Star Blazers series.  Anyone familiar with the show can tell you about it's bread and butter weapon - the wave motion gun.  In the heat of battle, when all seemed lost, Captain Avatar would call upon this mighty weapon.  I can hear the sound effects of the gun right now, a slow crescendo of muffled mechanical noise building up, second by second, into a frenzied overload.  Imagine the sound of when grownups talk on a Charlie Brown Peanuts cartoon, getting louder and louder - wah, wah, Wah, WAh, WAH, WAH!!!  Okay, so maybe the audio was a little better than that.  The wave motion gun was so powerful, the crewmembers had to wear special protective eyewear so they wouldn't be blinded and strap themselves tightly into their seats.

Here's a picture of the wave motion gun in action.

I found the Star Blazers series on Netflix about a year ago and watched them with CJ.  He absolutely loved it.  Fast forward to this summer in Korea.  The family is enjoying the day walking around one of the big shopping areas in Busan.  We turn the corner and see this on the side of a building:

CJ and I were both psyched.  Twenty-plus years later, the Star Blazers is still alive and kicking.  The guy with the beard and hat is Captain Avatar.  Derek Wildstar to his left took over later in the series after Captain Avatar was kicked out of the Star Force for sexual harassment and a bad habit of dropping trow at social events.  

I digress.  I only thought I got into the Navy business because of growing up around Navy bases, my Dad being a sailor and of course, those cool air shows and the Blue Angels.  Maybe it was a little more than that though.  Maybe the military themes and the wave motion gun from the Star Blazers series burned an indelible yet subliminal Navy recruiting message into my brain.  At any rate, I thought this was cool stuff as a kid.  It was additionally cool that CJ got into it as well, rather than thinking his dad was an anime dork.  

So what childhood enthusiasms did you have that you'd like to revisit?  The Solid Gold dancers don't count.  That one is a given.  Did you want to join Smurfette so she wouldn't be the only girl among a sausage party of blue dudes with white hats?  Does "By the power of Gray Skull" mean anything to you?  What was better than watching the Superfriends while chowing down on a big bowl of Golden Grahams cereal on a Saturday morning?  Don't be afraid to revisit those happy memories.  Netflix is great for that.  You can find all those old DVD series there.  I gotta tell you that sharing some of my childhood joys with CJ has been an absolute blast.  I highly encourage it.  Well, you don't have to share it with CJ.  It's probably better to do it with your own kids.  Until next time -- C2

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Things I Like About Korea

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 2
In no particular order, here are some of the things that I like about Korea:

- my fabulous staff at Military Sealift Command Korea

Here are two pics of members of the staff at the house for a get together.  I have no idea where those brown bottles in the corner came from.

- bulgogi (Korean barbecue)

- red traffic lights are optional and advisory in nature

- the fact that the baggy pants hanging off and showing your underwear and half your butt crack fad has not made its way to Busan

- taxi fares are cheap

- the strong alliance between Korea and the US

Me with some Korean Officers in my office.  I'm the one in green.  It really is an honor for me to work with such professionals.  Korean males have mandatory service in the military.  We can learn a lot about national pride from the Republic of Korea.

This is from a visit to the Korean War Veteran's Hospital.  One of the things that make my tour here in Korea so great is the strong Korean-US relationship.   

- people are normal sized, like me

- it's a hard working society

- people flash their hazard lights at you for a second when you let them ahead of you on the roads, like a quick thank you

- the clean subway

This is a quaint man-made babbling brook down in the subway.  Like I said, the subways are clean.  By the way, is a brook really a brook if it isn't babbling?  Just a thought.

- Koreans practicing their English on you

- you can pick your seats in advance at the movie theater;  this is cool cause you can buy your tickets early, pick your favorite seats, then go do dinner or whatever and not have to wait in line at the theater afterward

- the friendly people

-  you don't have to take your shoes off at airport security unless you're flying to the US

- the police rarely give out traffic tickets

- the delicious asian pears

Check out these giant asian pears that Jake, his classmate and their teacher harvested during a field trip to a nearby farm.  These things are juicy and plump.  Here's a little known fact.  The English translation for the Korean term "asian pear" is "J-Lo's rump roast."   

- you're not allowed to ride motorcycles on the highways; yeah, it limits your freedom but also keeps people alive

- girls, young and old, holding each other's hands in public

- coffee shakes

- kim chi (it really grows on you!)

- paper lamps; Carol says we have to get one more before we leave

- spicy octopus

This is nachi boku (I'm sure I've botched up the spelling) or spicy octopus, one of my favorite Korean meals.  There's also the octopus meal where it's alive and it crawls onto your plate.  I haven't had that pleasure yet but I'm willing.

Here are some octopus (octopi?) before they turn spicy.  This was taken at the Jagalchi Fish Market.  What a cool place to visit.

The shocked look on CJ's face is because he just saw a live octopus getting its head squished inside out and then flattened.  That is some seriously fresh seafood at this market.

Back to my rambling about things I like about Korea:

- Koreans respect their elders

- the way Koreans just fawn over children

- last but not least, all the great sights to see.  Here's a sample:

Amman Park - a spectacular cliffside park.

One of the temples in Busan.  This one is along a cliff by the water.

One of the Korean War Memorials in Busan.

Another shot of the temple.

A shot of Haeundae Beach taken from beautiful APEC Park.

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and the pics.  Until next time -- C2

Monday, December 8, 2008

Random Pics

Monday, December 8, 2008 0
I am incredibly behind on blogging.  It's been a hectic several weeks with lots of work, travel, family outings and fun.  Here's a random sampling of pics from the last couple of months:

This is from our trip to Seoul.  This temple was beautiful.  It was incredibly ornate and detailed.  I would've said it was memorable but since I couldn't remember the name of the temple, I struck that adjective from the list.

The classic pose.  I felt a little bad cause the guards in red were very professional and there's CJ and I doing our thing.  Not that we were trying to mock them in any way.  We only do our pose for scenes worthy of framing.

This is from the Korean War Memorial in Seoul.  Even though we didn't have time to go inside, the outside area was very moving all by itself.

Here's Carol and I at the Navy Ball in Seoul.  I'm the one without the cleavage.

Boo!  It's Halloween 2008 with CJ the Zombie and the Hunk-a-hunk-a burning love, Jakey Elvis.  Carol was not a fan of CJ's scary costume.

This is Carol volunteering at a nearby middle school.  It was a great time.  She had a hard time getting the girl to her left to come out of her shell.

This last picture is from Disneyland in Hong Kong.  Oh yes.  That trip was a blast.  We went over Thanksgiving break.  I'll definitely be posting on that when I get more time.  It was awesome!  Carol posted a bunch of Hong Kong pics on her Facebook account if you're interested.  

Well, better go for now.  I'll be putting up more pics soon.  Hope everyone is doing great!  C2
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