HKP2 in Pictures (and some words)

Basically just pictures this post ๐Ÿ™‚ Hong Kong was great, but I am happy to be going home! We went to a dim sum tonight and it was exquisite! Steamed pork dumplings, steamed pork dumplings with black truffle (we splurged!), spicy shrimp/pork, pork bun, beef noodle and oolong tea (which I much prefer hot). It was the perfect ending dinner!

Green rice is a mint/coconut mile Indonesian rice. It was most delish as well. That was last night’s dinner with beef satay. The end of the conference was really nice, and I am looking forward to starting some new things!

We leave HK tomorrow and should be home by 4:00!
Thanks to Luci for being a great travel companion! We had a lot of fun exploring and shopping together! It was great getting to know Erik more-he is a fellow buttercream frosting lover…one who will take frosting over the cake. That’s a person I get along with!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Luci and I finished the night with martini’s on the 47th floor rooftop bar.
SO with that, good night!


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konnichiwa! Oh wait, I am in Hong Kong…so

ไฝ ๅฅฝ

ni hao!

If you haven’t figured it out already, I am in Hong Kong this weekend! Well, extended weekend really. Saturday-Wednesday. I was of course very excited to find out I would be coming for an inclusion conference-and only slightly apprehensive that it was on my birthday (mostly this summer I felt apprehensive because I didn’t know if Paul could/would go and I didn’t know the other people yet).

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The view from the plane was magnificent! The islands are amazing.ย 
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But, it’s been great. I miss my hubs and my family and friends whom I would normally spend my day of birth with, but I also kind of like that I spent it with total strangers and new friends who tried to make it special (and they succeeded!)

Leaving Japan for Hong Kong was kind of weird because this kind of starts my first international experience. I know that sounds weird…like, hey Kelli, you just MOVED to Japan…isn’t that an international experience? Well, yes it is. But that was the move. This is travel. Here, when asked where I am, I say I live in Japan, and originally from ATL. So the fact that I am traveling outside of Japan, and saying Japan is my home, is weird. But I love it! I love people asking me about it, and comparing it to HK. Speaking of comparing, I still prefer Japan.

HK is a lovely island-the mountains surrounding the city are breathtaking-the water is green-it’s so tropical in a not Caribbean way. I am used to FL/Caribbean/Mexico tropical. This is different. Beautiful, and still painfully hot. It’s started cooling off in Japan (a bit early I believe), so here it’s very hot!

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This is the view from our hotel-I’m on the 16th floor. I can’t even explain how many of these high rise apartments there are in the city. It looks like this in pockets everywhere. All different kinds! It kind of reminds me of a sci-fi movie! I mean, how many people live in this block alone??
Hong Kong dollars are pretty…and it’s really hard to convert HK$…like a dessert is HK$48. What? It’s strange.
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Downtown Hong Kong Island views. Our hotel is in Kowloon…on another island. We can
take the subway on the Island Line to central station where the ferry is and these wonderful night views!
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It’s also a bit dirty-the smog isn’t as bad as other parts of China, but it’s worse that Japan…so I keep coughing and sometimes I get a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s the car exhaust from the old taxi that just went by?

I still prefer American style Chinese food. At this moment anyway-

Our first day was exciting as we explored via taxi and subway (preferring subway-traffic!), shopping, harbour cruise, bottle of wine on a rooftop deck looking up at the amazing skyline-a light show and touristy shopping (I have gifts people!). I also ran out of money…due to said wine and shopping spree for gifts ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s worth it! Buying gifts for people is a WHOLE lot more fun now that it’s ever been.

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The school, Hong Kong Academy (conference location) is about 30 minutes from out hotel up the mountains, on a beautiful coast line. The building itself is gorgeous and brand new, built specifically how all the teachers envisioned learning to take place. It’s amazing. So is the view. Walls of windows and playground area overlooking the scenery. Please see pictures for full breathtaking views.

The conference is going well so far and I am so lucky to be here. There is loads of great conversation happening and I think we are really able to take away from this conference. Plus it’s at a school so we can see inclusion happening. Plus, it’s really cool to see another international school.

Last night was a brief orientation and we planned on leaving early before the social to have dinner and drinks to celebrate my birthday. I am glad we didn’t (couldn’t really…the bus was taking us home at 8 and it’s too far for a taxi). They provided dinner at a restaurant-we thought we chose from the menu they presented us…nope. They brought all 13 dishes on the menu. They were huge portions!

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shrimp with heads and everything (eewww), lobster and pasta, scallops and broccoli (I tried lobster, not a fan. Scallops were good and headless/tailess/legless shrimp also good).
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so….this ^ is what was outside the restaurant. That’s someone from the restaurant, collecting the fresh fish
for someone’s meal. The tanks were huge and there were TONS of them. This is kind of creepy. Just saying. The other picture above shows a vegetable plate, chicken, and razor clams, which I also tried. They aren’t too bad.

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we were served beer and water, so beer I had. It wasn’t too bad! I had maybe 4 glasses…the most beer I have ever had. at once. Damn shrimp. Those antennae…getting caught on everything!
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I want these round lanterns! They are gorgeous!

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Why???? Poor chicken!

The restaurant was on the waterfront of the small village which had breathtaking views, and culturally was such an experience. Also, please see pictures for full effect ๐Ÿ™‚

I do have one question though…

why do people keep bring me food with heads? EEEEEK. I can’t handle it. However, my table mates made my evening fun and enjoyable as we celebrated my birthday together, with lots of beer, toasting, and questioning the questionable food.

And, my hero of the night, Erik…who cut off the heads and peeled the legs/tail from the shrimp and put them on my plate!!! They were then normal enough to eat. I am still wigged out by the long antennae that kept getting stuck to other shrimp…:/

Tomorrow is our last full day-I will have breakfast at the hotel (included, yay), catch the bus to the school, visit classrooms, eat lunch, drink lots of coffee (love free coffee), get inspired, and ride the bus home at 4. I will chill out in the room for about an hour, then we will get food. Where? Not sure yet. Still need to try traditional dim sum. I will call it a night and catch the plane home Wednesday morning.

Hopefully this plane ride is as great as the way here…row of seats to myself, I could spread out, I watched a great movie (Noah…good job Emma!!), and a fairly decent lunch. Cheers to Cathay Airlines.

So, without further ado, please enjoy pictures…and I might tell you the story about “Monsieur peepee” whom Luci and I had the opportunity to avoid whilst enjoying our crisp New Zealand wine!

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View from the 47th floor rooftop bar! So scary that high up and the railings were clear glass! Yikes!

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Crazy Howard street market/ladies market. We were so overwhelmed by street dancers, singers, shop owners…we took a quick lap, which didn’t even cover a fraction of it…and left. This is china town extraordinaire…on crack. and why was michael jackson so popular? Everyone was dancing to michael jackson…from the old lady who used to be a clown, to the man balancing a giant pottery vase on his head. these folks are strange.

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wan nan!



What is Normal?


It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here in Moriyama-ku. Drinking coffee, listening to music, looking out at the blue sky through open doors on this breezy September day. It’s mornings like this that I miss being able to chat and have morning coffee with my mummy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can pretend. Got to chat with my puppy this morning-it always makes me sad but I am thankful I get to see him “in person” when we video chat. But anyway-I don’t want to be depressing!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
I did wear this necklace my mummy made me the other day as a tribute…:) She will know why! I love you!!!


The past week has been calm-not much going on. Last weekend we finally got our internet going after a visit downtown to the apple store for wifi-it’s amazing! We tried a restaurant called Desperadoes! It’s mexican food and I have missed it! I think we are going tonight actually-again! I worked at school a bit on Saturday, which is just fine with me. It’s quiet and I am more awake and focused meaning I work much faster!


I have really enjoyed this past week at school. The kids are finally settling into their routine-they are working better together which is so much better…kids who struggle to work cooperatively is tough. I think we are finally getting somewhere!

I have attended my 4th or 5th…I can’t keep track…yoga session with friends. One of our teachers leads it after work on Wednesday’s and I really like it. I look forward to it each week which is something for me. I also joined our choir (it’s 2 students and 3 teachers, although we had 2 more join yesterday). It’s just us sitting around a piano trying to harmonize… which, you know me, I can’t sing. But, I love to sing, and we are doing “ok”-I just can’t remember the pitch when we start over which is frustrating. I can read music thanks to band, but I have no idea what a note is supposed to sound like. I downloaded a piano app on my phone so I can practice singing at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next week I think our Japanese lessons start on Thursday after school. I am really excited to start these. I used Rosetta stone over the summer which has been helpful, but our account expired when Paul left Kennesaw and so I haven’t been doing much since we moved here. I have learned some very helpful expressions, and have even given advice (in broken Japanese) to people…but I want more. I won’t ever be fluent, but I want to be able to communicate more!

We found another restaurant this week that was amazing. Thai food outside on the sidewalk in Sakae. The food was amazing, and pretty cheap too. I had the best coconut soup I’ve ever had-and ย I am sure it will be even better in Thailand…whenever we get there!

We had spring rolls, red curry, coconut soup and pad thai, which they called “patthai”-other than the small shrimp things that looked like krill or something-it was delightful. All for about $30!

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Last night a friend had a birthday party and half the staff was there ๐Ÿ™‚ It was really great to let loose-I think I drank almost a whole bottle of gin…oops. You know it was a good night when we were having a dance party in the living room at 2 am! Paul stayed home to catch up on sleep, which worked out because he was our taxi home. Thanks babe!

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Tomorrow (Sunday) we are meeting our new friends (we went with us to Tokyo) for Chinese dinner at their hotel. They finally found an apartment and move in soon-and then we can get watching outlander! I have been holding out on episodes so we can watch together. And have tea and biscuits while we are at it.

Next week is my birthday-and my trip to Hong Kong! Paul will stay here-it’s just too expensive to fly him out I think…so we will go back or try another city in China some other time (Great Wall of China…got to see that!)

We wanted to try for another night of karaoke-so maybe Friday night before we leave on Saturday-pizza and karaoke!

That’s pretty much it-the honeymoon period is slowly leaving-but not in a bad way. I don’t feel so much like I am on vacation anymore-things are getting normal-and routine-and I LOVE adding new experiences to those routines-making new routines. My next new routine goal is to get a bike and ride to and/or from work. My neighbour does it and she says it’s a nice ride, about 30 minutes. Plus I would love to explore a bit further than I will if I walk!

For now!
K + P

ps-Paul is settling into work as well-he follows his students to class-helping with classwork, homework, organizing, being comedic relief for the teachers, and even passing for a student (ask him, it’s a funny story). His SAT prep course is going well-he’s got a class of 21eager kids to not fail at life!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Basketball starts in November!

More Pictures of foods and things over the past two weeks

Singing something I think…and dancing?

Custard, banana, and choc chip crepe. Yum!

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Happy Birthday NIS!
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ย couldn’t eat the heads! This was so weird. bleh

Tokyo in 2 Days


This weekend was a whirlwind experience! We were up at 7am packing and prepping-catching the bus and then 2 trains to make it to Nagoya station by 930 to buy tickets to catch the 10 something Shinkansen to Tokyo.

We did all that, without getting lost, confused, or the wrong ticket! That’s quite the accomplishment I assure you! Even though it was about $400 for a round trip ticket, we only took an hour or so to get to Tokyo. It’s normally a 5 hour drive! Seriously!

Now, we met up with some friends who we were meeting for the first time. Sounds weird, but it was really great!

Quick story time. Meet Meryl and Kevin!
We bonded over Outlander (book/tv series) and Japan through Facebook. I happened to click on something the author posted and out of hundreds, saw hers saying she was moving to Japan in August. For some reason I decided to stalk her fb to learn more about her. Ie, if we could be friends. Again, don’t ask me why! After I messaged her, it took a week to respond but we realised that she too was moving to Nagoya, about 2 weeks after us!! WHoa right?!

We chatted a lot after that and realised we had a lot in common-and decided to invite them to Tokyo with us this weekend. We met at the train station and rode up there together-and had a GREAT weekend! She and her husband are terrific and we are excited to hang out with them again! (Plus she’s my outlander buddy and as soon as she get’s her house settled, we have weekly tv dates planned! With tea and biscuits!!)

Saturday-after the train we grabbed lunch at the station (which is gigantic)-a great tapas place. We walked to our hotel (APA hotels, great chain!), left our bags, and took a walk down town. We stayed in the Chuo area, which is just near the train station. The city is huge though, we didn’t know what we thought, but it’s huge. Biggest city I have EVER been to (New York, LA, London, Paris…all pretty big). We found a street that was shut down during the weekend due to the number of people shopping. It was great to window shop, people watch, and take pictures. Do you know how many men we saw wearing matching outfits…with their tiny puppy? Seriously…dozens. It’s an eclectic city-electrifying and vibrant, and way too much for the senses!

Robot Restaurant

Now, I know this is what you all are REALLY waiting to hear about. We take our taxi into the heart of the “Red light” district…yea, we won’t mention that too loudly! We pulled up the bar and this was our face…
The, “oh what the hell did we just get ourselves into” face. And that was our face throughout the show. See, Paul found this place back in the states before we left and couldn’t wait to go. SO of course for his birthday, it’s the place we had to be. The pictures and video will tell you everything you need to know…but just in case…

it’s a tiny place, and several floors underground (via stair case or elevator-that would give you a stroke) and seats on either side of a small narrow arena. So small, I couldn’t keep my feet out of the first row. Props and dancers came right up to our table! There were several “acts”-singing, dancing, robots, fights, stuffed animal things….

Between acts was time or drink refills and bathroom breaks. It was a little over an hour-and very colourful, sparkly, loud, and bright. It really was fun, and I am glad we went, but it was the most bizarre thing. Now, for pictures!
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After the show we found coffee and dessert, and took a break at the hotel before dinner. Paul found a restaurant in our neighbourhood on foursquare-which ended with us walking down a small alley toward sliding bamboo doors covered by traditional Japanese hangings. We went in, out, in again, stood there pondering what we should do, out again…then I went in alone and all these cute old men started waving to come in…you see, it was a dingy looking place inside, smoky, and everyone sharing long tables. We were ushered to a seat but benches, like tree stumps, and looked for a menu. Our server (owner?) didn’t speak ANY English, and we couldn’t figure out a menu. The people next to us were asked to translate by the server…and informed us the menu was on the wall…all in Kanji, no pictures. I thought it was just decoration…

Finally, we ordered fried shrimp (without heads this time!), fried squid, and clams in butter sauce. Everything was delish! (well, I didn’t like the squid, too chewy but they liked it). Their tempura was soo good-we had sake too. It was some of the best I’d tasted. The man next to us kept giggling at our attempts to communicate and eat, and we had good conversation. I also learned that Japanese people do not eat clams with chopsticks. I was told to slurp it right out of the shell…that was going well until I bit into the shell…it was not so tasty.

We paid, lots of thank yous and goodbyes, and went to a bar in a cellar called whiskeys-it was very prohibition style-very cool. I had a yummy tropical whiskey drink (with banana liquor, mango, pineapple…and Japanese whiskey?…not sure). We stayed there until we about passed out! It was so late!!

We made it back to the hotel about 10 or 1030, and crashed ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I know, I said it was late. You were thinking like midnight or 2am right….nope. sorry.

Breakfast on Sunday was an adventure…we got lost several times looking for a place that we don’t think existed. Gave up, ate somewhere else. In fact, it was so long, that it was lunch time. We left during breakfast, arrived during full lunch hour. We decided at lunch to catch the sight seeing bus and tour the city…that’d be the best way to see it all-or, at least some. We walked there…got the bus, went to the skytree. That’s this structure…the tallest in the world! Took about 35 minutes to get tickets, then took the 50 second elevator ride over 300 meters up (major ear popping) and got this view!!
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To bad it was cloudy…should have been able to see Mt. Fuji ๐Ÿ˜ฆ When we finally got back down, we had missed our bus. It was pulling away and we were standing there staring…dejected. We walked to the next stop…visited the temple in the park (gorgeous…see pictures).

We had walked soooo much that day (hours, and miles worth) that we decided to get on the bus and stay there. Just see everything and listen to our little English guide (via headphones) until we made it back to the starting/ending point by Tokyo station.

Here are some pictures from the bus and the tour. The station is gorgeous too. Built in 1914-this structure looks so European compared to most of the city!
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The only hiccup along the way was our friends getting caught in the ticket machine with the wrong ticket-we went on and caught the next Shinkansen while they sorted it out. Luckily, they were able to get on a bit later, without trouble/paying anything. We made it home around 1030 following the transfers and bus ride-showered, and crashed.

Tokyo-do it more than 2 days! I have a feeling we will be back (well, literally. October 10/11 for a training, LO)-and have more to explore.

Other than that, work is great. The schedule is so different-relaxed-I am really liking it. It’s the 3rd week of school already. I can’t believe it’s flown by so fast!

Friday night (before Tokyo) we had the welcome back dinner hosted by PTA. Everyone (but us newbies) brought food, potluck style. It was delicious! Plus, they had a cash bar. Gotta love a school who doesn’t mind letting you drink on campus!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I started meeting with my National Honor society students last week. They are a great group of kids and very organised! Can’t wait to work with them this year! We keep trying new restaurants-getting bolder in trying out places we can’t understand-or read menus very well. Routines are pretty much settled…

It’s going great! The next big trip is for my birthday…I will be in Hong Kong for a conference! I can’t wait-for several reasons…but I am looking forward to spending time with Luci! I miss all my co-workers back home…but I have met some amazing people here!
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For now,