Wow, finishing up my MBA this year took a toll on all creative outlets. I’m not sure I’ve edited photos since this summer!
In other big news Ian and I got married and I’m moving to Hong Kong!
(Photo by Callan Photo. This is just the preview – I’m so excited for the rest)
I’m moving everything from this site over to AmandaJoyceSmith.com and we will be starting our own travel/adventure blog – Adventuring Smiths. I won’t be updating AmandaJoyceSmith very much – at least until we move back state side.
Just a bit of a new song from Spirit Family Reunion at the Sinclair last night.
School has taken over this semester. This show was such a worthwhile break. Fell in love with Hurray for the Riff Raff and the Deslondes. Soul is happy again. Great first experience at the Sinclair.
For the first time in three months I’m on my own for the evenings. Ian unexpectedly has to work at the Vietnam office for the last two weeks of my HK adventure. Thankfully he is (fingers crossed) coming home for the weekends. Anyways that tidbit is just to explain that I’ve had a disrupt in the normal schedule of things in HK. Usually post work its yoga, climbing, running or having dinner with Ian. Tonight none of these usual rituals. Instead I took the time to wander the city and ended up experiencing it in a new way: sans camera.
The wandering started with a trip to Teakha. It was my third attempt at trying out this so amazingly perfect cafe/tea house. I had book marked it on my Hong Kong To Do list way back in May – now that I’m leaving in two weeks it’s a rush to get everything done! Finally it was open and not crowded! I won’t say much about it – as that’s not the point of this ramble – except that the keemun milk tea with date & honey and roselle scone made me feel warm, content and contemplative. Just the type of mood that leads to wanderings and deep thoughts.
The shop was closing not too long after I arrived (I was fully aware of this going in, so not annoyed in the slightest) and I took the rest of my tea to go. Seven in the evening in area of Tai Ping Shan Street in Sheung Wan with no plans or direction. As I stepped outside I realized how perfect the lighting was – that time of night when no flash is needed to capture beautiful evening scenes. The area has many quieter hilly streets and eclectic stores that reminded me of La Croix-Rousse neighborhood in Lyon. Many were closing down, but the light of those still open spilled out onto the streets in such a welcoming and warm way. Why no photos? I took thousands tonight, but do not have a single one I can show you. It’s not a travesty though – as I stood there with the tea in one hand, I framed photo after photo in my mind and realized how different it felt just to be in the moment. It sounds so naive, dumb, cliche, rube writing it down, but it was the most wonderful feeling to just experience the city I either always rush through or try to document in photos.
Beautiful shot after beautiful shot came upon me. The locals lighting fires and burning paper in their red ceremonial tins on the sidewalk (for the ancestors?). The glow of the store front on the sidewalk. The back lit woman in a poofy dress. The mural on a cobblestone wall lit to look like a quilted painting. I remember all of these by channeling Cam Jansen. Like the book, I would stare at the scene and tell myself to remember it (no as bad as saying “click” as Cam did!)
It felt new and liberating to just look and wander. I might add that at the time I was listening to Children are Bored on Sundays again, which highly influenced my contemplative nature. For such a creature of habit as myself Hong Kong is sometimes such a frustrating place. Newly discovered favorite restaurants close within months. At the same time there is so much history and intrigue. It was so wonderful to find a balance for the evening.
This round in Hong Kong is almost up, but happily I’ll be back for winter break! I’m trying not to dwell on all I’ll miss here and looking forward to being back in Boston with my bike, McIntosh apples (the one thing HK doesn’t import), and my sewing machine (notice I’m in denial about having another year of MBA to return to…). I miss crafting! One of the few crafty things I was able to do this summer was a leather works class via the Snail Group Workshop. I signed up for the 3 hour class and chose to make a “makeup case” aka the perfect going out pouch.
Finding the workshop was quite the adventure. It was located in North Point on Hong Kong island in what I like to call the warehouse district – more aptly described as the abandoned warehouse district. I jest, there were plenty of people around – the type you expect to be working at a warehouse not crafty looking folks. When I arrived at the location listed on the website there was no one to be found, but there was a sign… in Cantonese. Language hasn’t really been a barrier. Thankfully a few other girls showed up for the class and explained from the sign that we had to go a few buildings down. After wandering through a few construction zones, we found it!
It was so much fun. Exactly the stress relief I look for with crafting – especially because you get to whack at the metal fork with a big ole’ mallet! The sewing technique was beautiful. After poking all the holes we used double needles and waxed thread. I couldn’t decided on a color scheme for mine and ended up switching colors with each new section.
I took the class just in time for our trip to Seoul (which I loved and promise to post about). The pouch is big enough to carry, a phone, passport, big Asian bills and coins! Family, you should be expecting similar gifts for Christmas.
Don’t these rocks look like night skies of constellations? I found them while climbing a few weeks ago. They were scattered across the rocky beach and I fell in love. I keep thinking of the universe contained in Orion’s belt. Makes me miss seeing the night sky and Orion outside my childhood bedroom window. Such a comforting view. I do carry around a constellation with me – this bracelet in Pegasus as it is another comforting childhood memory, but wishing I also had one in Orion (no longer available).
Speaking of space and constellations, the two songs below are some of my favorites from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. I just learned that John Cardwell has left the band. Sad that I’ll never get to hear him sing some of these songs again.
The lyrics kill me in such a good way.
Finally took the time to figure out videos on my camera. While Ian and Co were off doing harder climbs at Cape Collinson on Saturday, I became obsessed with these little snails. There’s even more video of them dancing, but it’s a bit shaky. A new hobby is born.
Hooray, Mei Mei Street Kitchen is building a brick and mortar restaurant! I had heard rumors of this months ago (love Boston Restaurant Talk), and am so excited by their progress. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign and now successfully secured funding to make their store as sustainable as possible.
Where I eat out and how my food is made is of growing importance to me. I’ve found a few really spectacular eco friendly places in Hong Kong so I’m very happy I’ll have this to come home to. More about the restaurants here soon.
Fingers crossed they’ll be open by the time I return to Boston in September. Did I mention the restaurant will be in Audubon Circle (St. Mary’s T stop on the green line, south campus, etc.)! Conveniently between home and class. I’ll need their dumplings to get through my last year of grad school.
Last week I had the opportunity to see Girl Rising. The screening was put on by Room to Read and The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong. It was hosted by UBS in their screening room on the 52nd floor of the IFC building high above Hong Kong. The room had sweeping rounded views of the Hong Kong mountains and skyline. It was surreal watching the stories of these girls against the view of some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
My reaction to the film was wishing I had seen this as a young girl. Growing up I was always told how fortunate I am, and I understood to a point. But this film made the girls so normal and real. You immediately related to them – not pity them. The pain of the girls came across clear. The examples of girls still in horrible situations were hard to watch and tear inducing. And while progress was made in most situations, you can’t help but recognize these girls are only on the beginning of their journey.
A second thought is that the gender inequalities faced in my life seem so manageable compared to theirs. On a happy note, since being in Hong Kong, I’ve experienced no cat calls, no whistles, and no creeping hands. I’ve heard of instances so perhaps I just don’t understand what people are saying… but I feel safer walking around in Hong Kong than most new places.
This morning was a good example of adjusting to new places. Never in my life have I woken up, gotten dressed, sat down to breakfast and then told not to go to work because it was raining. Truthfully it was Hong Kong’s highest rain warning at “Black Rain”, but I never even thought to check the weather because of a thunder and lightening storm. Thankfully both Ian and my office let me know to stay put. The lack of anticipation was the strangest element. For years, I would wake up on a snowy morning to check the news hoping that the snow predictions would cancel school. Last night, there was no discussion that perhaps we would wake up to a great storm. This was not a frightening storm, but just unannounced. Happy to say that the warning has since been downgraded and off to work I go!
It’s been a few months since I become so utterly obsessed with an album that it stayed on repeat for a week on end. Thank goodness Thao & the Get Down Stay Down came into my life. This is how we were introduced:
I can’t remember where I saw it, but anything with Ira Glass and John Hodgman is going to get my attention. We the Common has been getting me through finals every since.
Holy Roller. My goodness, I just can’t stop listening.
Guys. I’m so excited. Finally a climbing gym within biking distance (or a short T and bus ride). Since bouldering in Hawaii, I’ve been aching to up my climbing skills. Partially inspired by the amazing trips Ian has been taking climbing in Asia (Thailand (Chiang Mai), China (Yungshou), and Taiwan. Not to mention the amazing places in Hong Kong. Where I will officially be living for the summer! (more on this later) Very excited I will have this gym to come back to next fall.
PS. Very happy to have my website back. There was an unfortunate misunderstanding between me and some files that lead to a complete deletion of all content. Thank goodness for my host green geeks!
Many start off the New Year pledging to try new things. I ended it fulfilling them. This past New Years was spent in Thailand where Ian introduced me to yet another new hobby: scuba diving.
(The only photo that exists of me snorkeling. Suffice to say that I haven’t quite got the hang of keeping water out of the snorkel. Goal for Hawaii?)
We stayed in peaceful Railay in a pleasantly non luxury resort area that was only accessible by water taxi. It felt like a grownup summer camp in a tropical forest. Scuba diving is by far the most peaceful and relaxing activity I’ve picked up. There are many safety precautions (I took a 3 day course to get certified), but this just gave me all the more peace of mind underwater. I knew exactly what was going on and quickly picked up how to gently move through the water. We went down as far as 18 meters – too far for Ian’s tough camera to travel! Perhaps my next big purchase will be a deep water camera? For someone who’s foiled childhood dream was to be an astronaut (curse you motion sickness!) the seafloor feels pretty darn close to outer space. It was an entirely different world. You can’t speak underwater. The only way to communicate is by hand motions. I found this so simple and reassuring.
More photos of Thailand here.
In a week I’ll be on a quarter globe rendezvous with Ian in Hawaii. Predictably I’m researching climbs and hikes to explore. This is how I came upon the aptly named Unreal Hawaii. It was so hard to choose a series of photos for Photographer vs. Nature, but I settled on Mauna Kea Stargazing and Moonrise due to the absolute galactic beauty and discussion of photography.
For now Ian and I only plan to visit family on Oahu. Perhaps I can convince him to take a detour…
Sometimes I wonder if illustrator Lizzy Stewart has left the UK and is actually in Boston spying on my life. Her illustrations make me chuckle and give a great insight into the life of a twenty something.
Add a pair of boots and you have my “anti-cold daywear ensemble.” When worn to class or the bar it’s known as the “I’m unavailable ensemble.” I wear this far too often.
No Children by the Mountain Goats is one of the best songs to sing to with your headphones on. Do it on the T and no one will sit next to you.
I once wore a salamander suit for a fundraiser at school. I was nicked named: Salamanda.
This lady. How awesome is she? This was the blizzard of ’78 on Comm ave. There are more photos of the green line during the storm here. I especially love the snow plow train.
via Universal Hub
I’m forever in awe of the majestic and seemingly fantastical nature photos that make you forget what you were doing and daydream about being immersed in the scene. Especially when they involve the juxtaposition of man and nature. Let’s try and make this a new series?! Once a week for the next year: an awe inspiring nature shot that makes you wonder just how the photographer captured it.
Video via The Proceedings of the Ever So Strange Photo via National Geographic
Making time for anything but school is tough (as evidenced by my lack of posts…) Classes, consulting, and internship searching leaves little time to experience my favorite things about Boston – especially the music. I’m fortunate to have come to know a few outstanding bands who call Boston home. One of my favorites is Velah. A group of personally fantastic people, their music continues to amaze me and leaves me wanting more:
They’ll be playing at Kingsley Flood‘s (a long time favorite) album release show this Saturday with Air Traffic Controller.
I’m hoping I can combine my other past time and take some more photos too! The last ones are from 2010 eek!
I was so delighted when I discovered that Brookline is hosting its own Winter Farmer’s Market this year. It is held at the Coolidge Corner Arcade on Sundays from 12-5 just around the corner from my house.
The market is testing with just a few select vendors, but I was so happy with the choices. Silverbrook Farm was such a great surprise with both micro beets and cranberries (photos at the bottom). And I was blown away by Clear Flour‘s awesome bread display (see below). It was like they transported their store to the arcade!
More photos posted over at flickr!
Now that I’m without a work subsidized T (subway) pass, I’ve been biking absolutely everywhere. Read: I’m a grad student and refuse to pay for a T ride in tiny Boston. This has been pretty obvious to my classmates as I show up to class, bars and other events on a bike*. The reactions have been intriguing. Some are surprised I ride to and from bars and others don’t understand why I will not ride the wrong way down a street. It has made me think a lot about bike safety and culture in Boston and professional life.
First a fun bit on safety. Helmets make my hair gross. I have to run into the bathroom once I get to school to fix my hair before class. Obviously once I start going for interviews, I’ll need to reevaluate transportation preference vs. looking professional. However a solution is currently in the works:
The technology is very impressive. I have a lot of questions regarding the safety of it, size and convenience. But it is promising to think the helmet as we know it may be changing.
I was also happy to read Jonathan Simmon’s piece in the “On Biking” column at Boston.com. Titled “How to Encourage Cyclists to Ride Safely,” Simmons approached how to make other bikers follow street laws and make the road safer for everyone from a behavioral science perspective. The ultimate recommendation was that of social sanctioning. Put crudely – people will follow by example. This is my current m.o. – I’ll sit at a red light to make a point that while it stinks to wait, I recognize that as a biker on the road in Massachusetts I need to follow traffic laws too. I’m not just showing other bikers, but also cars. I want other bikers to recognize that it’s in their own interest to stop at lights and to show cars that I’m respecting you, so you need to respect me on the road. It’s small but a start. This article makes me wonder what else I can do.
*Sometimes I end up with well done bike shop marketing in my basket like the awesome postcard above from UrbandAdventours.