We went to explore the Elements mall a bit more after yesterday's brief visit to eat dinner in a restaurant. It is like living above an upscale Bluewater (for those in the UK) or Beachwood mall (in the US) and we do not have to exit the building to go directly into the mall - pretty handy in tropical heat and heavy rain. As it was not raining this afternoon we stopped briefly outside and Theo and I agreed that yes, it was hot - the temperature and humidity felt like this time of year in Miami so not unpleasant but not suitable for sustained outdoor exploration with a baby.
Theo decided to wear his knight's tunic from Disneyland Paris. I thought, why not, we are just going to the mall. I had at least four people ask me where they could buy an outfit like Theo's so he oddly became a conversation piece and fashion setter - look out for knight tunic's on next year's Hong Kong fashion runway. Other questions included why he was wearing the costume - I explained that we had just moved from London where there are many castles and Theo is a knight. As I said, a great conversation starter!
In the mall they are featuring Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) and have lovely exhibits with scenes from the book scattered around the mall. With his blond hair and size Theo (plus knight tunic!) he appeared similar to the little prince and was the source of some excitement when he sat down on a bench for a picture with a little prince statue.
Having seen the little prince statues last night one of our objectives for today's mall visit was to read some of the book together at a reading station by a statue of the elephant being eaten by a boa constrictor. There was a little table but, alas, though it appeared to have Le Petit Prince in a host of languages they were merely props of book covers glued to a bookshelf. So I told a disappointed Theo we would find a book shop to buy our very own copy.
The Metro bookshop in Elements is brilliant with a huge selection of English language books. The staff were very friendly and helped us find the book. The version we got is all the original text but in pop-up version of some of the pictures - the reading interaction is entertaining for an almost 4 year old. Theo also picked out a Clifford book and a 3D Toy Story book.
The bookshop overlooked - of all things - an ice rink. We watched people of various skills ice skate and they also were taking lessons and practicing ice hockey. After the book shop we went to Starbucks for a snack. As a frequent visitor of Starbucks in London I was surprised by this one as it had many of the same things but also a much wider range of food choices and some additional drink choices (like my favorite from the US - iced green tea which is for some reason not available in the UK). I think that the surprising thing though was the heightened emphasis on sustainability, which exceeded the visible sustainability message of London and also NYC Starbucks.
At this point Quentin was approaching a meltdown so rather than find the supermarket (which is also in the mall) as planned we headed back to our room. After tending to Quentin's basic needs the three of us got ready to try out the rooftop pool. The boys wore their matching swim outfits and looked adorable. To get there we had to descend from the 57th floor to floor 2, change elevators and then take another lift to the 76th floor. The pool is pretty amazing and offers breathtaking views of the city skyline. Perhaps most interesting though is to be in the pool on floor 76 and able to look up at the adjacent ICC building (3rd tallest in the world and the largest in Hong Kong) rise significantly higher above us.
While pleasant the pool is all the same depth of 1.2 meters - which is taller than Theo and just below my shoulder height. I definitely got a work out as I had Quentin on one shoulder and then held Theo with the other arm by the waist as he swam. We did laps up and down the pool and then also under little fountains of water from the glass infinity wall. Theo also jumped in and swam to Q and me. Thank goodness I enjoy swimming!
We were having a great time but then could clearly see a storm rolling in. The clouds descended around us and were dark gray. The winds also picked up. We headed back down to our room where we got ready for Martin's arrival home from work.
This evening we again went to a (different) Chinese restaurant in the Elements mall. The food was good but I did not like it as much as the place we ate last night which had the most amazing scallops and also delicious rice. Dinner again proved entertaining. Last night we spent about 10 minutes trying to learn how to say sparkling water from the wait staff. I thought I had it down but had forgotten by the end of the meal. I decided to not be too hard on myself as I was jet lagged, tired and had just arrived. I can remember how to say thank you in Cantonese which is useful. A lot of the words to my Ohio ear sound like two or three random sounds put together and while I can (sort of) repeat the sounds I don't yet have the recall to remember which sounds go together when I want to say something as it all sounds rather sing song to me.
Tonight we sat next to a table with two little boys about age 6. They were fascinated by Quentin and made all kinds of faces at him - including one where they pull down the lower lids of their eyes which apparently is the Chinese inverse of what American and English kids do (e.g. making their eyes look either Sino or Anglo). They had play cell phones and pretended to take his picture and just generally got him laughing and smiling. All this was great for me as it distracted Quentin while I was eating. Then Quentin starting blowing raspberries at the two boys and they (fair enough) decided to do that back to him. When they became rather vigorous in their blowing to the point where phlegm was going to cover his face I rescued Quentin from this good hearted germ exchange.
At both restaurants we were the only white people. This is not terribly surprising considering we are in China but worth mentioning as I had been told that Hong Kong was filled with expats - I guess not everywhere. On the first night when Quentin got fussy at dinner I took him for a walk around the mall and I also only saw Chinese people. It was weird as I had this vague feeling of being dropped into a parallel universe to Canary Wharf in London. So it at the same time felt familiar and foreign.
Theo seems to be adjusting best of all of us to the time change. Quentin - who normally eats every four hours so for whom you would think this would be easy - is having issues. It's now 2 am Hong Kong time and Martin and I have been tag-teaming him to try to get him to sleep. Hopefully we will succeed soon!