Every few weeks I write an update, for those who like to stay in touch!
Our 2017 Blog ⇔ (Clicking on photos reveals the entire caption and often makes pictures bigger)
Jan-Oct (click here for Jul-Dec 2016)
Oct 30, 2017
Another month has flown by. We are still waiting for our curtains, but they couldn’t exactly install them while we traveled in China for most of the month! It was a work-related trip, but we also got to see a number of old friends in the places we worked or studied many years (even decades) ago.
“Welcome to the Park.” As a friend’s son stared at this sign, outside a Beijing park, it reminded me of Andrew looking at an almost-identical sign in 2003! He asked, “But what CAN we do?”
While Vivian took part in meetings with some of our female associates, I enjoyed afternoon tea at this restaurant, overlooking Xiamen’s harbor.
Qingdao is famous for seaside sports (including Olympic yachts in 2008), and for “Tsingtao” beer (whose logo features the pagoda at the end of this pier).
A trip to Beijing isn’t complete without good food in the company of my best friend from “college days” in Xiamen (1985).
We got back in time for Vivian to participate in a weekend retreat at this beautiful centre in Hong Kong.
Sep 28, 2017
Our new bed arrived on Sep 11, the day we returned from China (good timing–for otherwise we’d have not had a place to sleep!). A friend from church helped me build my wardrobe a few days later, and our final storage space (a chest of drawers) arrived Sep 22. Now we were finally able to start unloading suitcases and boxes, to begin making this little place our home.
Once in a while you just have to stop to enjoy the “color” of Hong Kong. A bank near work had hired these lions to dance for their branch opening.
You can’t really back up very far to get a good picture in a 310 sq ft apartment! The double bed fits with a few inches to spare at the bottom, and enough room to one side to place a thin chest-of-drawers.
Here’s what our chest-of-drawers looked like when it arrived. I was glad we decided to pay Ikea to put it together. In 20 minutes, these guys did what would have taken me hours!
Into every life a little rain must fall. Ours came into the kitchen during our first rainstorm (in the NEXT rainstorm, we’ll know if it’s been fixed). The other photo is our uncrated wardrobe. Unfortunately, I told Ikea we’d build this one ourselves! It took two hours.
These screenshots show the changing data speed in our apartment, at different times, using “data” vs “wifi”
Our den from the bedroom. By putting keepsakes in the curio cabinet, we are saying we’re here to stay for a while. Like Biblical “stones of remembrance,” they remind us of friends and experiences of joy and grace. And we love it when a visitor asks for the back story!
Tall buildings. The view on the left is of Langham Place, from my office window (we’re already 9 floors up). The other “needle” is our apartment building–we live on the top floor.
Here’s another pair of photos from our bedroom (and closet) window. The “laser show” happens every night at the harbour.
Sep 11, 2017
As many of our family and friends in America are in our prayers, dealing with Hurricane Irma, Vivian and I have just returned from a quick work-trip into China, in the midst of our relocation. As usual, I’m too busy to write much, but here are a few pictures worth seeing.
We spotted this variety of Lays potato chips yesterday in northern China. “How about some Numb and Spicy chips? You’ll feel your tongue again in a few days.”
While looking for an apartment, all our stuff started making it’s way into stacks and piles in the old living room.
That’s Vivian is the little circle, after our van dropped us off “as close as possible” (i.e., a block away from our new apartment)… in the rain… next to a construction site… on a really busy road… Well, we and the “bunk bed” and various other things made it into the apartment, but one could hardly have picked a worse place and time.
Eventually, piles become boxes, waiting for moving day. On the right, you see our only storage space (a tiny “bedroom”), and the “bunk” we use to give us extra storage space. (HK apartments rarely have closets, so HK people can’t believe the vast “walk-ins” and attics they see in American movies.)
Thursday night, another relative blessed us with a visit during a 18-hour layover. We took Jayma to several of the places we’d taken her mother in Feb 2016 (see http://wp.krigline.com/2016a-blog/)
Here’s a Google map to show you what I was looking at from the plane [next photo], namely the top part of Hong Kong Island, and the Kowloon peninsula. We live and work in the center of the latter (can you find that spot on the arial photo?). There’s a white block in the middle that shows 2 km (1.25 miles), just to give you some idea of scale.
As we flew into China on Friday, I couldn’t believe the view of HK below! I grabbed my iPhone6 and got some wonderful photos of “home.” (Write to me if you want a bigger image.)
Aug 26, 2017
While yet another typhoon approaches, our “housing storm” just took an unexpected course, but nonetheless has blown over. (The next typhoon is still officially called “Tropical Storm Pakhar”, but the “T1” signal is already up–see explanation in Aug 23 entry–along with the “Very Hot” warning).
I’m not a “morning person,” but a friend was speaking at the HSBC Breakfast Fellowship Aug 25, so we got up at 5 to enjoy a nice breakfast and speech atop the HSBC building in Central Hong Kong.
Yesterday started with breakfast in the glass dining room atop the HSBC building in Central. Rain from the Aug 23-24 typhoon had streaked the window behind us, but you can still tell it has a remarkable view. The breakfast and my friends’ speech were also very nice!
As explained below, I took Vivian to see “apartment no. 24” on the morning of Aug 24; she liked it too, so we said we’d take it. The realtor (Candy) sought to get in touch with the landlord about some issues (no toilet seat, etc) and to tender our offer, but couldn’t reach him until yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, another realtor (Joe) had showed us “no. 27” (terrible location), and yesterday afternoon yet another Realtor (Rachel) showed me “no. 28.” [As explained elsewhere, HK realtors share only a limited amount of information, so you need to be talking to several–unlike the US where everyone has access to most of the listings, so you need only one good one.] In fact, I was standing (and sweating) in “no. 28” when Candy called with the bad news that “no. 24” had already been leased, as had it’s twin “no. 25”–and thus we were back in the “homeless” category. All of sudden, “no. 28” took on added brightness! We were supposed to be going to see “no. 29” but I’d agreed to see a “too small” apartment along the way. I’ll say a bit more in captions, but to make a long story short, it is in the perfect location, just two blocks from the office; it has a nice kitchen and bathroom, along with two new air conditioners; we won’t have to do anything but buy and add furniture–unlike “no. 24” which needed a kitchen and other things. “No. 28” is smaller than our present apartment (we are downsizing from 380 sq ft to 310), but it is also cheaper, which will save us 2500HKD ($320US) per month. So at 8 pm last night, we signed the preliminary contract and put down the deposit; the balance will be paid on Monday. Unless something weird happens over the weekend, we are no longer “homeless”!
If you view this full-size on a computer, you’ll get a 180-degree view out our new sitting-room window at dusk. Indeed, “the view” was a big selling point, and answer to prayer, since most apartment windows present only a view of other apartment windows.
Here’s the view of our office from the apartment, and the view of the apartment from the office. “Honey, dinner’s ready.” “I’ll be there in five minutes.”
You can only “back up” so far in 310ft apartment (on the 22nd floor), so getting good photos is difficult, but here you see the kitchen and bathroom from the sitting room.
Having just put a (rejected) offer on a place with no kitchen, this attractive kitchen certainly was a big selling point. And yes, once Vivian came over, I crawled around on the floor with my tape measure, trying to show that a bed and other things could be squeezed in.
Hopefully, this floor plan (posted by the elevator) will help you “see” it. Each floor has only one apartment, and we are on the top floor. I believe they said it was built in 1997.
Here’s a piece of “the view” for those of you viewing on a phone. In the distance, you see HK’s tallest building. And fortunately the 22nd floor is higher than most neighbors so we have a good view in every direction.
Once we get the key, we’ll “bugbomb” and deplete a few cans of Raid, then we’ll clean it and start looking for furniture. Fortunately, since I work for a charity, we should be able to get some things from a local sister-charity called Crossroads. We have an appointment to visit them on Sept 5, and we have to vacate our current flat on by Sept 10.
Aug 23, 2017
We are once again sitting out a typhoon. The HK Observatory has a useful app, and they monitor storms closely so (if you are paying attention) you know they are coming long in advance. A series of warnings lets us know as a typhoon or other serious storm is approaching: thunderstorm, amber thunderstorm (then red then black), T1 (typhoon on the way), T3, T8, T9, +10. When it gets to T8, buses stop running, and soon thereafter the subways stop too (at least the parts that are above ground). We’ve been through several T8 storms, but today’s was the first +10 we’d seen; indeed there have been only 15 or so “+10” storms since 1949. If you Google “Typhoon Hato Hong Kong” you’ll see some remarkable videos! (You can see my thoughts on “public transportation in storms” on my “factors” page.)
This photo was in the paper; even this sturdy banyan tree (near a favorite bus stop close to church) finally succumbed to the strong winds. I wonder how many typhoons it saw in its long life?
Severe Typhoon Hato is our second typhoon this season, and the strongest we’ve seen so far (strongest in five years). In our experience, typhoons normally blow over in 8-10 hours.
The hours before these storms can be almost unbearably hot. Here’s what I wrote to family members yesterday:
America got an eclipse to block the sun’s rays; we felt the sun’s inferno. Today (Aug 22) reportedly broke records in Hong Kong, with 102 degree heat and high humidity. And what a day to be out house-hunting, as the places we visit have no windows open nor air moving. I was thanking the Lord for designing us with eyebrows, for without them I’d be looking through a waterfall (eyebrows make the rivers of sweat roll to the side!). I could also feel the water trickling down my back. Nonetheless, the 24th apartment (this season) I saw was bigger and cheaper than where we currently live. When the weather permits, I’ll take Vivian to see it, and then we’ll decide. (It’s been so hot that I’ve been acting as “screener”–going to see everything but only dragging her to the best ones!) This “prospect” is just over a mile from work, but close to the subway (two stops away from work), as well as to the subway line that goes to the airport. It’s also in walking distance to church and to Kowloon Park (one of Vivian’s favorites). It is basically two rooms (“large” by HK standards at 8’ by 15′ and 21′), with a kitchen alcove at one end, that leads to the small bathroom. Like every flat we’ve seen, there’s no closet, and few other storage places. We currently use a small “bedroom” as a closet; we’ll miss that, but we can cordon-off part of the bedroom for storage. It is basically a “blank slate,” so there’s no ugly furniture to argue with the landlord about or deal with (we’ll have to get furniture, of course). We’ll also need to install kitchen cabinets and hire an electrician to put power in the kitchen, at our own expense. But if the price holds until the contract is sold, we’ll save 3500HKD per month ($450US) compared to what our current landlord wants, so we can buy a lot of furniture etc and still save money over a year or two. We’ll also pay only $766US in realtor fees, compared to $1000 we were expecting (in HK, this fee is half a month’s rent). It isn’t perfect, but it beats anything else we’ve seen (27 places by the end of today). So if Vivian thinks she can deal with it, we may have a new home lined up in a day or two… DEPENDING on what the coming typhoon does tomorrow. It is supposed to be at it’s worst in the morning. Today’s heat was apparently related to the approaching storm.
Several apartments, esp the newer, more expensive ones, feature a bedroom in which the bed is against THREE of the walls. How do you take a photo of something that small? And how do you live in it? In America, we call that a “closet”!
A blank slate. Many apartments had an ugly sofa or useless shelf taking up space. This one had absolutely nothing. Both “furnished” and “unfurnished” come with pros and cons.
This “blank slate” apartment doesn’t even have a kitchen. But the landlord will be happy to let us pay for one to be installed!
The view from what might become our second Hong Kong apartment. The tall building is actually the tallest in HK, and tenth tallest in the world.
Aug 3, 2017
While Vivian was away, I stayed busy in the office (in part, piling things on her desk to deal with after she returned!). I never find time to say as much here as I’d like, but here’s a few more photos…
Vivian, her mom, our daughter, and all three grandchildren. Nice family photo!
I bought these “minority” outfits for the kids in Dali recently, which Vivian delivered. Here, the grandkids show me how good they look! On the right is our selfie at the HK airport, after a long trip.
Life is not all work. I enjoy being part of a small group at our church. On this occasion, I was leading the group to watch and discuss a short film.
Two years ago, we signed a 2-yr contract for our tiny apartment, which has been under construction for half of that time. Our landlord celebrated Vivian’s return by saying the rent is going up substantially (in spite of this view!). Thus, we are now looking for a new apartment!
Four of my staff have August birthdays; the other celebrates 15 years with the company this month. That sounded like a great reason to celebrate!
July 10, 2017
Just as I returned to Hong Kong, Vivian was packing for her next trip. She had planned to be in South Carolina when our newest grandchild was born, but Caroline couldn’t wait and made her debut a few days early! Vivian is enjoying her part in caring for the family. We’re also thankful that mommy (Beth) and baby are doing well, and that Vivian has already had the chance to see other members of her family. She will be back in HK by the end of the month. Unfortunately, grandpa (me) won’t get the chance to join in the fun in person, but I’m enjoying the photos from 12 time zones away!
Vivian’s first picture with our three grandchildren.
June 29, 2017
As is my habit, I’m working on this blog after midnight when I have to get up early for a flight back to HK in the morning. So “more” about my wonderful ten days in Yunnan will have to wait. But I was struck today while wandering around Lijiang at how people’s expectations can be so different from the realities we meet. I’ll explain with a few photos below, the first of which shows a new friend I met on the train from Dali this morning.
Our lives touch so many others every day. Jody and I enjoyed pleasant conversation on the trip from Dali to Lijiang today.
When I get on a train in China, most people just ignore me, most likely because they are afraid that we won’t be able to communicate. Likewise, I expect to sleep (uncomfortably) or read, instead of “making a new friend.” But today Jody and I talked for about half of the three-hour trip–sometimes in Mandarin, sometimes in English. We talked about traveling (like the “longest trip” I’ve ever taken), EFL–English as a Foreign Language, and family; she seemed interested in the textbook I’ve got published in China, as well in the book on “reconciliation” that I was reading. Just before we went our separate ways, she said she’d tell her friends she met an author today, and I asked if I could put a selfie on my blog. I’m sure we were both “unsure” of our ability to communicate with a stranger from another country, but I enjoyed our talk. She reminded me of the many students I’ve enjoyed teaching all over China.
In addition to the photos below, you can see our older photos of Lijiang here.
Millions of tourists visit Lijiang every year. I’m sure they expect to see the beautiful Jade Dragon Mtn, like Vivian and I did on our first visit (2006).
But I’ve only seen the mountain once in my half-dozen visits! It rains a lot, and the mountain stays behind clouds (not to mention big tour buses)–yes, these two photos were taken at about the same place.
Black-Dragon-Lake looked awesome when Vivian took this great photo in 2006.
But today I couldn’t even find the same angle (trees and bushes are probably blocking it). And of course, the rain and umbrellas limit one’s view.
But even in the rain, you can find beauty if you look for it. I couldn’t see “the mountain” but enjoyed my quiet, wet walk anyway!
Here are two old Lijiang photos I love. In the first, I snapped The Chairman “reaching for the moon” (this statue is one of the few that still remain; in the 1980s I saw them in many cities). And this ornate antique door beckons us to enter Lijiang’s cultural heritage and beauty.
Colorful Yunnan – Over half of China’s 55 minorities live in this province.
June 24, 2017
I’m traveling in Yunnan at the moment. I hope to add new photos later, but for now, I’ve brought some photos of Kunming from my old website to this (click here) new page.
June 13, 2017
In June 2017, I thought of one more reason to rent close to where I work: typhoons (or to be more precise: avoiding transport in bad weather). Hong Kong’s public transportation system is normally wonderful, but Mother Nature can play havoc with everything. A series of warnings lets us know as a typhoon or other serious storm is approaching. When it gets to a certain level, buses stop running, and soon thereafter the subways stop too (some parts are above ground). The law says that unessential personnel have the right to head home before the transportation system shuts down. Well, on June 12, I let my staff leave at 4 pm, but I stayed at the office until 6 pm–when even I thought it would be better to be at home than to keep working at the office. I ducked into the Mongkok station (as I often do, because it is dry and air conditioned–and gets me half-way home), and saw one of the biggest crowds I’d ever seen. It looked like this in all directions, and the “subway mall” is almost a quarter mile long. Within the turnstiles, people were wall-to-wall, so the workers (yellow shirts) had closed the turnstiles. I can only imagine what it looked like down on the train platforms! Here you see people, wall-to-wall, waiting for the chance to join the wall-to-wall crowd inside the turnstiles. NO THANK YOU! And in the next storm, I’ll know better than to “duck into the station,” and just take my chances in the typhoon!
As Typhoon Merbok tripped the “close down” signal, the Mongkok MTR station came to a standstill.
Outside the turnstiles
Inside the turnstiles
May 15, 2017
Between mid March and early May, we logged 7500 miles in the USA, visiting colleagues, partners and relatives in OR, WA, CO, OH, PA, VA, DC, DE, NC, SC. Vivian says we unpacked our suitcases in 16 places! No time to explain now, but here’s a few photos to prove we were there and back again.
With good friends on Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. Tim was “best man” in our wedding; his daughter is about the same age as our son. And yes, it was VERY cold up there!
We started the trip at a conference in Portland Oregon. One unique feature of this city is the cable car that takes doctors and students (and tourists) between a major hospital by the river, and the medical university high above the city!
We also attended a mini-conference in Philadelphia, and got the chance to meet with several Board members of a US charity that partners with us.
As the saying goes: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” In Delaware Vivian and I had a great time visiting two friends from my Eastern University days.
Here’s Vivian with our daughter and two grandchildren.
We spent about two weeks in S Carolina, meeting with partners, and spending time with family. Vivian’s mother is seated; Beth’s husband is next to Michael.
My father’s 17 year struggle with Parkinson’s Disease ended the day after Easter. My brother and sister (and family), Mom and Andrew gather to celebrate a life worth living.
Our son recently moved to an apartment (still in Cleveland) that allows dogs–and promptly rescued Murphy from an animal shelter. He and Andrew have really taken a liking to each other!
Mar 1, 2017
We are into the third month, and weeks keep flying by. Most of the time, I’m busy in an office in Mongkok or meeting with partners in Hong Kong. But from time to time Vivian and I get to visit the people we work for in China and around the world. To that end, we visited NW China last month, and in March and April, we will be visiting at least eight US states. I just hope I can find time, now and again, to post updates here!
Nan Shan is a hilltop park in the middle of this city, providing a bird’s eye view down the valleys that have developed in several directions.
Though the “sail-like” pavilion was closed for the winter season, we enjoyed the park’s quiet beauty and panoramic views.
I was told that in 2000, there were no high-rise buildings in this city. The buildings in these photos testify of the power of China’s modern and rapid development.
You wouldn’t guess it by appearance, but this is an active Moslem mosque, near the park at the top of this mountain.
On our last day, it started to snow. We certainly don’t see this in hot Hong Kong!
Our company has recommended foreign doctors to serve in this hospital over many years, and this top executive was full of praise for the positive contributions they have made in many ways. It was an honor to hear about these dedicated workers.
Not far from the hospital, I enjoyed seeing a wall featuring many Chinese idioms, including this one about friendship. Idioms (in any language) are sometimes difficult to translate, for many words have multiple meanings–but I trust that my Chinese friends will correct me if I’ve “missed the mark” with this translation!
Bad weather delayed our return flight, which made us miss the connection in Shanghai. Here you see Vivian in a long line at 5:30am the next morning, waiting to check in at the Shanghai airport. Such is the life of frequent travelers.
The day after we returned, I got to attend the Global Leadership Summit in Hong Kong (hosted at The Vine), featuring two days of challenging and inspiring speeches. This was the second year I’d had a chance to participate, and I recommend the Summit to any leader (it is broadcast in hundreds of venues around the globe). (See willowcreek.com; and I also highly recommend the free GLSNext App for your phone!)
Last night, Vivian and I had been invited to a special exhibit at the TST YMCA. For the next few weeks, a rare copy of the Torah will be on display in the lobby, as part of a much bigger exhibit of precious scrolls, Bibles and artifacts that will be hosted at St Andrews Church. This exhibit presents the people of HK with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see priceless materials that testify of the reliability of “the most banned and beloved book” in history–the Bible. Additional information is available at http://inspiredexhibit.org/
At the Global Leadership Summit
Unveiling the beautiful scroll, which had miraculously survived the Holocaust in Europe.
Feb 15, 2017
This year, Chinese New Year fell on January 28, but the celebration actually runs for about three weeks.
I’ve always loved the beauty of Chinese lanterns, which are particularly prevalent during the celebration of Chinese New Year.
This week, we had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant, with some friends visiting from abroad. I couldn’t resist taking this photo. In English, the idiom “sacred cow” refers to practices that should not be questioned–though in many cases, they really need to be “touched”! (Now I know where the idiom came from.)
One highlight of most months is a luncheon with HK businessmen. The food is great, but I also appreciate the encouraging lectures and the contact with these leaders.
Feb 8, 2017
Can it be February already? January flew by, and I’m just now getting time to catch my breath and post our first 2017 update. And it looks like 2017 will be as packed as ever, with a trip to China’s western region later this month, followed by six weeks or so in the USA. Here’s a glimpse of how the new year has gotten started for us.
Ben was one of the first friends I made in Xiamen, after we moved there in 2011. He started 2017 with a visit to Hong Kong, and we were blessed to share a part of it together.
While my staff enjoyed time away from the office to celebrate the New Year, I was writing and preparing to mail this “year in review” newsletter to 1300 people worldwide. I didn’t mind being away from the apartment, however, because workmen were often drilling and scraping right outside our window!
For years, Vivian had a “Christmas Cactus,” but we couldn’t bring any plants with us to HK. So, I bought this one for her last Christmas; it is always amazing to watch it “flower” early in the new year.
My biggest reason for not finding time to blog was preparations for our annual conference; this year it was in HK from Jan 23 to Feb 1 (including orientation for new people). The conference features professional development lectures, inspiration, music, and lots of time to reconnect with friends who work all over China.
This year, Chinese New Year started during our conference. As this poster in our apartment lobby proclaims, we are now in the Year of the Rooster!
These two photos provide a striking snapshot of HK culture. On the left, you see a handful of domestic workers from abroad; thousands gather every weekend along public walkways (like this pedestrian overpass) to spend their “day off” with other workers from their home country. On the right, you see HK’s masses at the open market below the walkway, along with a “Lion” dancing to bring shop keepers good luck in the New Year.
(click here for Jul-Dec 2016 blog)
©2017 Michael Krigline. For contact info, visit About Us. To make a contribution, see our Website Standards and Use Policy page (under “About Us”). Pre-2015 blogs can still be found on our old archive pages.