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for those who have lost track, today is blursday the fortyteenth of mayapril

 Slowly but surely, Hong Kong is starting to open back up a bit. Daily cases are, for the most part, in the single digits. Restrictions now allow 4 people to go out in public, longer hours to dine in restaurants, and most recreational facilities to open. There is still no official word from HK Disney on opening, but I am remaining positive about it. 

Even with the park remaining closed, we had our contract meetings to renew, and are officially renewed to stay through April! Everyone wanting to stay will have the opportunity, which is great, since we actually only officially did our job for 3 weeks of this 6 month contract. 

In other exciting news, Mike also was offered a job! He will be teaching STEAM classes at Genius Development, which is like an after school program for kiddos. He started on Monday, September 14, and we are excited for him to have something to do during his days. 

First Day of School!
With still a lot of down time, and now things being a little more open, we have had the opportunity to go out a little more and explore. Mike's birthday was on September 10, and to celebrate, we went camping at Saiyuen Adventure Campground on Cheung Chau Island. In order to get there, we had to take a multiple buses to a ferry and then a small fishing boat, however, this made it feel like a real get away staycation. 

After we checked in, we went to find our stargazing geode tent we'd be staying in for the night. Mike knew for his birthday we were going glamping, but he didn't really know what that meant and what kind of accommodation I had in store for us. 

The outdoor bathroom was a bit interesting though....(complete with a LOT of bugs inside...).

Our view was a surprise to both of us though with sounds of the ocean below. 

After settling in, we went on a small hike nearby to the pirates cove (said to be where a pirate once buried treasure), and stumbled upon some insanely beautiful views (and some dark, small, sketchy caves).

cactus in hk?

When we got back from our little hike, we did some exploration of the campground. There was a small maze, several different kinds of tents to see, a large swing, a bbq area, and a few other fun little features. We most enjoyed sitting on the swing listening to some campers nearby playing American oldies music, while watching the sun go down.  

We bbq-ed for dinner, but we brought all our traditional American bbq foods instead of having HK bbq that the type of stove was a little more meant for. 

Can't go camping without s'mores!
The next morning was Mike's actual birthday, and after he saw a few birthday messages from our friends and family, we were surprised by walking outside and being surrounded by goats!

I had one more surprise in store the morning of his actual birthday, and that was taking a bubble waffle workshop to learn how to make one of our favorite HK treats!

It was finally time to say farewell to our staycation and head back home to reality. We said our goodbyes to Saiyuen, and had a few stops on Cheung Chau (like getting their signature red bean bun & frozen pineapple) before taking our boat back to the city for lunch. 

We finally got home and had some homemade ice cream cake that Mike has made his favorite birthday tradition and opened presents. 

All in all, it was a really great quarantine birthday (according to the birthday boy himself), and we had a really enjoyable day. One birthday treat Mike really wanted was to try Paradise Dynasty's 8 flavored Xiao Long Bao (or Shanghai Soup Dumping). With flavors like crab and truffle in the mix, I was not sure I would be a big fan. Mike really enjoyed them however!

Since there is hot soup inside of these dumping, you have to pick them up really carefully so you don't break them and lose the inside. 
Then you suck the soup out before eating the rest of the dumpling. It's really quite an art....
We had had another version of these soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung that I personally like a lot more, but the real winner was their beef noodle soup. 

Some other foodie highlights have been- 
BBQ from The Roundhouse (now that my favorite 85 South is closed). 
and bubble tea from Xing Fu Tang especially this Ramune soda with homemade jellies drink

Not real food, but I was super impressed with the Lego Store here and this beautiful display. 

We still haven't done a lot of eating out with the pandemic, but we have had quite a few outdoor adventures. One of my favorite days was going snorkeling and kayaking at Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. We saw a lot of sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and little tropical fishies. 


And like you see in many places in HK, the wild roaming cows just chilling at the beach entryway. 
We also recently saw cows when visiting Tai-O, HK's famous fishing village, aka, one of my favorite places always. 

We were a little sad since we did not see the pink dolphins on this trip this time, but it just means we will have to return again (and the boat ride is always the best part anyways). 

Had to try the warm Tai-O donut from the Tai-o Bakery too and it did not disappoint!

Another day of adventuring outdoors led us to Ma Dai Stream. It was a little difficult to find at first, and it was raining, making the rocks we were climbing really slippery, however, we really loved it here. Some of the stones reminded me of Pride Rock from the Lion King. It was a really unique location, and it's always nice to have water to cool down in in the heat. 
Since we were basically hiking up a stream, some of the spots were really difficult and you had to use the ropes and ladders people had left behind to make it a little easier. 

Our calendar will be coming out soon, don't worry. 
It has definitely been challenging during this time to stay busy, but staying positive can be even more difficult sometimes. I have wanted a dog for the longest time, but between moving around a lot and traveling international rather frequently, now is just not the time. Something that really helps fulfill both of these needs is visiting the Mame and Shiba Cafe. When we visited, not only we were the only ones there, we got to spend a little extra time with the owner and learn all about his pups including all their food related names. 

At some point I do hope to return to work, and I do think that time is soon, but until then, I am taking things one day at a time.

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