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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day 7 of Asia Trip

I woke up at 7:30, dreaming about picnic foods - Boston baked beans, Southern pinto beans, fried chicken and brownies. I must be in serious need of some American food.  When we got back into Hong Kong the night before, I took my co-worker to Ruth Chris Steakhouse, it's 100% American but on a more refined palette so no baked beans or fried chicken here!  The waiter still remembers my name, even though it's been 2 years since I was last in Hong Kong!

  • back story - in 2007 I came to Asia for 2 trips, one of which I got so tired of the local food that I started going to Ruth Chris Steakhouse every night for a week straight.  I'd sit at the bar and read a book and just order something simple because I'm not a big steak fan and I was worried the bill might raise alarms at accounting so I kept it simple.  The bartender got to know me and remembered my name.  I came home, got pregnant with Charlotte, and didn't go back for 18 months wherein he immediately recognized me and remembered my name.  So we're going on almost 10 years now and even though it's been 2 years since I was here last, he still remembered my name when we walked in.  He also remembers my favorite hot mustard sauce without me even asking for it!  
Back to Sunday!  One full glorious day to ourselves with no work responsibilities!!  After working 65 hours this past week, we deserve it!

I start the day with a Jillian Michael's Shred workout using giant 3lb water bottles in my room for weights.  I'm energized and ready for the day!

Still making my own coffee, but note the China hot pot gets to level scalding while the Hong Kong hot pot is just hot.

Pull together my stuff in a cute Duffy/Shellie May bag that my team made, it's one of a kind because it's had changes since this was made, then I go on a hunt for cheap sunglasses because mine kinda broke.  Instead I find this adorable 3 part travel kit that I can transfer my Rodan + Fields into for short trips and a tiny spray bottle!  So happy!  I also find another 7-Eleven with more Disney face masks so I'm up to Alien, Stitch and Baymax for the kids.  Just need one more for Evie.

I come back to the hotel, collect co-worker, and after a quick money exchange we're off to Hullett House for lunch.  I love visiting Hullet House because the restaurants are always really good and trendy but they seem to change every 2 years so with the frequency that I visit Asia it's always a new experience.  This time we ate at Stables Grill and the food was excellent!

After lunch I took my co-worker down to Star Ferry Harbour and we took photos of the really old trees that the Hullet House is built around.  

Photos do not do the trees justice, they are very old and it's fascinating to me that Hong Kong has taken such care to build their structures around the trees.  

We looked at the movie options but there was only Captain America playing so we moved onto The Langham for afternoon tea.  I've always wanted to do British Tea with someone else but I'm almost always traveling solo so it was really nice to have tea with my co-worker, especially since she's a huge fan of tea.  It was truly an epic experience.  

We were so full at the end that we had to save most of the biscuits for later.  After this we returned to the hotel and went our separate ways for a few hours.  I got caught up on personal bills and then at 7pm we went out for dinner at Ruth Steak house again.  What a lovely day, I'm so glad we got to spend at least one day in Hong Kong without working.  

Day 6 of Asia Trip

Today is our last work day in China for this week and we get to go back to Hong Kong for the weekend!!!

Happy Dance!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 5 of Asia Trip

It's Friday, meaning we still have a Saturday work day ahead of us.

Happy Friday the 13th, I text my husband.

I trudge out of bed and make my morning coffee, thankful that the weather hasn't been as bad as Tuesday and that we are done with open markets and printing shops for the week.  Looking forward to a day of sitting in a sample room all day and working with the pattern designers on their developments.

We head back to the Sushi place for lunch followed by Starbucks, they do know how to spoil me.  In the evening after work, our Hong Kong GM announces she's going out with a friend so my US co-worker and I are left to our own devices in the hotel.  We find a lounge and order pizza.  The guy who showed us to the lounge says it's the movie room, which sounds exciting until you see it's just a bunch of screens with sports.

The pizza's good and we then retired to our rooms with nothing to do but read books for 2 hours before bedtime.  I can't post any blogs in China because it's through Google and Google is blocked in China so any post from this week are written in Hong Kong and post dated.

I spend the 2 hours packing, reading and playing games on my phone.  The only snafu is my laundry was not returned and we are checking out the next day so I call with some trepidation as sometimes they don't speak enough English but an hour later my laundry showed up.

Thankful for a mostly quiet and easy day.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 4 of Asia Trip

Today we went to the open market.  This was probably the most frightening experience of my entire life!  The market is a giant sprawling building with roads built between the rows of material vendors so that bicycles, motorcycles, 3-wheeled vehicles and even small trucks can zoom through and drop off/pick up loads of materials.  Everyone is going in a crazy zig zag pattern as we do our best to walk in a consistent straight line to the sides and not get hit.  I swear there was one point where I got so tired from the heat that I had that deer in the headlight look as a motorcycle headed straight my way.  I'ts not death I fear, but getting injured badly and stuck in a hospital in China with legs in traction for months at a time; thankfully we all survived!

This is definitely not a job for the weak, my hat goes off to the guys who come here to pick up all the fabrics needed for our developments and I can certainly see how they might get a little distraught when we suddenly change our minds on which fabrics to use!  I shall certainly be more careful from now on!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 3 of Asia Trip

Today was a tour of printing factories.  I really enjoyed this part because I like to have a better understanding of the challenges the team faces so we can do a better job in creating the artwork they need to make the printing process more efficient.

I got to learn about how pop printing is made and it is so time intensive that I will probably never spec this again!  It was crazy the number of steps needed to get to a finished product.

These tentacles are for Hank, the octopus from Finding Dory.  They have to run this silk screen 3 times to build up the color.

After every time the silk screen is run over the fabric, this machine stamps it firmly into the fabric.

This is the fabric after one run of print and one run of stamping.

Finally, after the 3 rounds of printing and stamping, the fabric is laser cut, then put through this pressing machine which finally makes the print POP.

Here is the final popped print.

I also got to eat Sushi for lunch and again to Starbucks so that was totally awesome.  It's the little things that makes working a 12 hour day bearable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 2 of Asia Trip

I woke at 5:30am to the sound of thunder and lightning.  I couldn't get back to sleep because the rain was so loud.  The view from my window after 7am was still black as night.

I pulled out my coffee maker, the one I had shipped in advance of my trip and plugged it in. Pop!  It was not designed to withstand China voltage.  Undeterred I heated water in the hot pot and simply poured it over the coffee grinds and it worked just as well.

The backstory on my coffee obsession, well it depends on how far back I want to go, but for now let's say I am tired of traveling and drinking crap hotel coffee.  So after hearing that my entire week would be spent in China, I decided to take matters into my own hands and ship ahead a very old coffee maker that if it doesn't make it back, will not be devastating.  Well, after the popping sound, it's not coming back, but now that I realize all rooms seem to come equipped with a hot pot, I only need to bring my french press next time which is much smaller and more portable.

The coffee was very good and helped me feel slightly better about the possible impending doom of a stormy day outside.

I met my work partner in the lobby at 8:30am and she announced there was already flooding in the streets.  The rain was literally coming down sideways!

I spent the entire 10 minute drive praying that we would not float away.  Every story I'd ever read of cars getting bashed around in a flood went through my head.  Then, when we finally got to our office building, they were able to drive the car practically up to the doorway and we actually got in without getting too wet.

By lunch time the rain had stopped and we managed to go out for lunch and Starbucks.  Here are some giant sculpted birds in front of the mall where we had our Starbucks along with a map of my location in China.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Day 1 of Asia trip

This is my first day of working in Snap's new Hong Kong office.  I'm surprised at how well I slept and felt great all day. We had lunch at my favorite Thai fusion place followed by coffee and around 6pm we left for China.

We got into China around 9pm, too late for dinner so we ate whatever snacks we had packed.  I'd brought this chicken salad in a tiny tin can with crackers.  It was weird but whatever, food is food when you're tired and a little bit hungry.  

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

My very first Mother's Day was in 2009 and I found myself booked on a trip to Asia because my boss's daughter had an important Catholic ceremony that same weekend and could not miss it.  I remember feeling a bit discombobulated, disconnected and just weird about being away.  Since then I've had some good Mother's days and some where I had to adjust my expectations on what to expect of my family that day.  I remember last year feeling overwhelmed with the amount of dishes and lunch that needed to be made and then my brother came and blessed us with a Mother's Day meal and in the evening my little family rallied and got flowers.  At times I've wanted a break for Mother's Day, a place to just go and be alone for the day to catch my breath, read a book, get room service.

This year I'm in a 5 star hotel in Hong Kong, with room service and I find myself texting the family during my waking hours, missing them, wishing I could be there with them.

I think the best way to enjoy Mother's Day is this:

  1. Ignore the Facebook posts where Mother gets breakfast in bed and don't expect it of your family
  2. Look at your little miracles and realize that through their loud clamoring ways, they are the ones who made you a Mother
  3. Your husband and children love you so very much, they just don't always know how to show their love, so accept their little gifts and treasure them
I love my little tribe, and I'm so proud to be called their Moma, even when it's repeated 50 billion times in a single day :)

Break down of time spent on flight to Asia

When faced with a trip to Asia, I often forget how I managed to survive the flight.  The following was tapped into my phone during the trip.

I thought it was 16 hours but just before we left the monitor said 14.5 I believe.

I tried to watch "By the Sea" but there was so little dialogue and Angelina Jolie was just lying around in beds or draped over chairs that I dozed off.  I woke to hear her swearing so much that I turned it off to find another movie then dozed off again.

I woke a short time later when lunch was announced and jumped up to use the bathroom.  Lunch was a really good pasta, salad and roll followed by green tea ice cream which I ate while watching "Pan".

Pan was really an enjoyable movie!  Now I've got 11:38 hours left and I'm a bit depressed about that.  Seems more time should have passed with the nap earlier.

Lights are down and my eyes hurt.  Guess I'll get up, use the loo again and take my contacts out.  Also, it's 6:30 pm on the East Coast.  Missing my family.

11:02 hours remaining.  Guess I've managed to kill 30 minutes by using the loo, getting ready for bed, reorganizing my cords and plugging in my phone (surprisingly hard with seat in front of me pushed back).  Guy next to me has a light on, not sure if I could sleep, guess I'll watch another movie.

Watched Hancock for five minutes, it's really stupid.  Will Smith plays a drunk super hero that makes a mess of the city.  Moving onto Shutter Island.  

Lol, I spent 38 minutes thinking my neighbors light was on when it was mine.

Shutter Island got really weird, flash backs of dead people, dead people talking and too much swearing, stopped at one hour. Tried to sleep, couldn't, so trying another movie.  Bridge of Spies.  Took 2 Tylenol for back pain.

Accidentally started the movie in another language but didn't realize it for 10 minutes because it had no speaking until then.

8:55 hours left, try to sleep again.

Actually managed to sleep 6 hours!

Breakfast served, eggs, too spicy.

One hour flight left, one hour left in the movie, actually had to fast forward parts to get through it.  Was kinda boring but wanted to see the ending.

Lots of turbulence, threw up the eggs :(

Landed 5:26pm, which is 6:26am in MD

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Back to Asia

I've lost track of the number of times I've been to Asia but I think I'm over 15.  I've been working in the toy industry for 15 years, and while I don't go to Asia every year, some years I went twice or 3 times per year.  This time it's been 2 years since I was last there.  I remember telling a co-worker that I was tired and feeling burned out.  I had plans to return later that fall but she said maybe I didn't need to.  I got pregnant when I got home, and no one asked me to go back until now.

It's almost like putting running shoes on and picking up running again after two years.  I'm a little tired at first but it doesn't take long to find my groove.

The main difference between traveling now and before I had kids is that I must keep myself to a very strict schedule.  Two weeks max.  I had the opportunity to see the new Shanghai Disneyland and Vietnam but both would have meant an extra week and missing the kids last day of school.  Plus we have plans to go to Texas after they get out of school, so I'm on an ironclad tight schedule.  In fact it was May or Fall.  It's okay though, I'd rather get it over with, work a bizzion hours while in Asia, then come home and vacation like it's my job.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Hey Kids, lets go float some boats!

I got the idea to make paper boats with the kids and then float them on the C&O canal.  The kids thought that was brilliant, although we might have picked a bad spot to launch our boats because there was not a great view to watch them sail away and there was a fish dying in the water right in front of us.

Violette's boat capsized almost immediately from getting dunked in the water when she tried to push it with a stick, but she didn't want to put her's in the water and was quite sad to have lost her boat.  

The older two were happy though, and raced down the path to get a glimpse of their boats.  One got caught in the bushes and we just barely made it back to the van before it rained.

Spring Flowers 2016

I had to take photos of our gorgeous spring flowers before leaving because I'm afraid they will all be gone by the time I get home.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cinco De Mayo and Mother's Day

Since I'm going to be away for Mother's day, the family decided to get together on Thursday for dinner which just happens to also be Cinco De Mayo.  We made quesadillas and everyone wore festive hats and got quite carried away with the mustaches.  My brother made some amazing cupcakes so it was really a lovely evening, glad we could fit in this family time before my trip.