Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dance and dumplings!

This year, like we do every year, our family went to the ballet to see the holiday classic, the Nutcracker. Watching the Nutcracker here is not much different than watching it in the states but it does have a few unique elements. All in all, we had a lovely day, a great mixture of the familiar, the fun and the still, just a little bit, foreign.

To get to the Nutcracker we take the Star Ferry, Hong Kong’s iconoclastic green and white ferry boat, across Victoria Harbor to the Kowloon side. Though the kids have ridden the Star Ferry many many times, it never disappoints. They love using their Octopus cards, a handy little debit card that can be easily used for public transport as well as Starbucks and McDonalds. They love looking back at the holidays lights put up on most tall buildings in Central. And they love learning the name of the specific boat that we took across, which I think was Northern Star and then Solar Star on the return.

The ballet itself in Hong Kong is enjoyable, particularly now as all three kids can sit through the entire performance. The principal female ballerina was new to us. Actually there was a bit of a scandal last year when the previous ballerina was let go right after the Nutcracker but the new dancer seemed fine to us. The kids all appreciated the return of last year’s lead male dancer from Ukraine. Adam referred to the him as the Ukrainian throughout the performance. Since the new lead ballerina is from Russia, the kids kept saying the Russian, the Ukrainian, etc. It was just like old times.

After the show, we took the kids to Tai Din Fung, a Taiwanese dumpling shop with outlets all over the world. The style of the restaurant is perfect for us. You order your food as soon as you get there and then upon getting a table the food is served almost immediately. The kids ate almost everything, even picking up tricky vegetables with chopsticks. Adam was a little wistful and perhaps still a little hungry when he asked me if I remembered when we used to go out to pizza after the Nutcracker.

To get from the restaurant back to the Star Ferry, we walked a couple blocks along Hong Kong’s major shopping street. The street was essentially wall to wall people. We sort of moved along single file with the kids holding on tight to hands. We got caught in the human traffic and were directed into a mall that we didn’t want to be in but managed to extract ourselves. Finally, we found a little secret to crowd control. All the kids got ice creams cones and ate them on the street as there was no space in the café. Miraculously, the crowds parted and gave our three ice creams eaters some space. As always, it was nice to be in the mix but it was also nice to have a little space, even if only a few inches.


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