So although Hong Kong is largely irreligious (and now so am I) we had four days of holidays for Easter. Nene had been on leave for two weeks leading up to it, and Mimi will be the following week (of course, they did not overlap their spring break, except for the public holidays). I had spent the weeks leading up to Easter in something of a frenzy, and I felt guilty that I had not really taken time off for Nene or even organized anything for him in his break, though he insisted that he enjoyed it (because holidays are holidays right?). So during the public holidays, I was determined to do something every day, especially since this seems to be our last bout of bearable weather before everything descends into mould and mugginess.
We kicked off the holiday with an Easter party at Mimi’s school, where there was Easter Bonnet parade. This is a tradition I’d not heard of earlier but we’ve been doing it for three years now. Thank God for Pinterest, from which I could quickly get some ideas. I thought the Batman hat was cool and was trying to edge Mimi towards it but she waned something more cutesy. Since Nene was on holiday, he got a hat too and came to the event, but unfortunately, couldn’t join the parade. There were prizes for the best hat, and though I think I did fairly well – my craft skills have been getting better – the competition in Mimi’s class was stiff. Mimi was not happy to have not won.
On the first day of the break proper, we headed to Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens. On our trip to Japan, I had packed in as many animal related activities as I could, and at one point, I wondered why if I was prepared to schlepp way across town in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t do this at home (where okay, I also don’t speak the language, but know how to get around). It was quite a trek there on public transport, but now that the kids are older, they handled it well. The farm itself is super beautiful, though I dare say adults might appreciate it more than kids. Because it is more sanctuary than zoo, there’s no guarantee that the animals will come out at all, and there are no regular feeding times except on Sundays (and of course I chose a Friday to go). The farm is huge, and there is a shuttle bus to the upper area which I would encourage you to take if you’re with kids, or skip altogether. That area has a spectacular view but it’s somewhat lost on the kids. The highlight for the kids overall were probably these pigs.
The next day was supposed to be rainy, so I took the kids down to the Science Museum. Although we’ve been before, we haven’t been since the new children’s gallery was renovated. There is a new construction area, but unfortunately only Mimi could enter, just meeting the below-120 cm mark. Ah the perils of tall children. The children ran about madly pressing buttons, while I chased them determined to impart some education. Probably the thing they most enjoyed this time was this road safety ride where you get to drive a virtual car/train. Here’s a pic of Mimi and me in the hall of mirrors.
Another place we haven’t been to for ages is Hong Kong Zoo. This is a very small zoo, with mostly monkeys as has come under some criticism for the depressed condition of the orangutang, but it’s there and it’s what we have. This time instead of taking a cab to the zoo from the MTR we decided to walk through Hong Kong Park, which is actually quite beautiful.
Hong Kong Park also has a beautiful aviary.
Finally, we reached the zoo proper – which weirdly is not connected to Hong Kong Park as I remembered it. The kids weren’t as interested in the monkeys as I would have thought, but this tortoise got (and gave) a lot of attention. Also, the organgutang situation is deeply sad – this time, the male and the female were actually having sex while a crowd of people stood there and gaped, seemingly unaware that they were watching monkey porn.
Finally, on the last day, having wavered madly about this, I decided to do an Easter egg hunt. Part of my motivation was that it would be a way to invite over some of the kids’ friends and compensate (the friends not the kids) for not having had birthday parties for them this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide until quite late, and when I did, Nene’s two friends were out of town, and Mimi said she didn’t want to ask anyone, then changed her mind. So I put word on Mimi’s class group but only one kid and her sibling could come. While this was not a kid Mimi particularly liked, I felt some obligation because Mimi had been hosted by her twice and we had hosted only once (actually at the time I thought we hadn’t hosted at all). Anyway I thought it would be fun to have more kids though the day before Mimi had a fit when she realized they’d have to collaborate not compete. In her mind, this was only tolerable if she and Nene were in one team and wouldn’t have to share with the others. However to her chagrin I insisted on organizing the thing so that all of them would search based on clues and share the spoils with all the kids (there would be four of each in each find).
I got the idea from Pinterest that in order to stretch the activity one could have clues rather than make it a free for all. So I planned a few tasks that the kids would have to achieve and then I’d hand out candy. Yeah I caved and got a lot of candy. I toyed with doing little toys but they were either too expensive or just pointless pieces of plastic and I decided contributing more plastic to our overflowing landfills I’d let our own kids take a sugar hit.
So the day dawned bright and very sunny. As sort of expected the friend was late which as expected sort of pissed me off. Then they arrived and we got the hunt under way. It went better than expected though my kids were quicker to complete the tasks than the other kids who didn’t know the park so well. The free for all hunt in the maze seemed to enthuse everyone more so I guess it’s a better call for younger kids. Then we proceeded to our clubhouse where things started to get unfortunate. Partly fueled by sugar my kids wanted to run and jump around, and the other two were a bit left out. I had to give Mimi a stern talking to and she agreed to play with the other girl but then that girl kept kicking her in the butt. Then Nene said he wanted to go home as he was hungry so I said ok. Big mistake. Mimi insisted she wanted to go too and I insisted she had to stay with her guest and she had a screaming meltdown. Not our finest moment by far and the other mum may have witnessed some of it. She said it was fine if we go up – her kid wanted to stay – but I felt bad to. So I sent Mimi up and sat there with her which I guess eventually made her feel obliged to leave. A less than happy end to a nice weekend.
Writing this with the distance of time I can see that Mimi’s behavior was in large part fueled by hunger, sugar, and being forced to hang out with someone she really didn’t like. I have finally accepted after this that there is no use trying to find Mimi friends or even worry excessively about it. She is – just as I was – picky about people and prefers the company of her family, especially her sibling. So be it.