Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eclipse Returns to China!

So, the reason for Eclipse's trip to Hong Kong was to perform at the 2010 International A Cappella Festival. They brought over two groups from the US (Eclipse & Noteworthy), as well as groups from Sweden, Singapore, Japan and, of course, Hong Kong:

Our main performance was at the opening concert, called the "A Cappella Extravaganza," which was attended by about 4000 people:

The crowd was amazing! So enthusiastic and LOUD! They really made us feel like rock stars:

Here's a taste of what it was like from our wives' perspective (though, the video doesn't do justice to how loud it was):

The festival was put on by an organization called the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.
Since 1960, they have been providing opportunities and facilities for social, educational, cultural, and physical development of young people. The a cappella festival is one of many events and activities they put on each year. In fact, last year their combined attendance at all of their activities was over five million!

In addition to our performances, they set up workshops and masterclasses for us throughout the week we were there. Here we are working with a men's choir at one of the local high schools:

Paul teaching them the "Hoook" breathing exercise:

We were very impressed when we found out that they showed up even though school was not being held that day:

Here we are performing a mini-concert at an all girls school:

Here we are at the entrance of Ocean Park with Riltons Vanner (one of the groups from Sweden) and a few of the members of the Hong Kong Melody Makers (a choir sponsored by the Federation of Youth Groups):
Ocean Park is part amusement park and part zoo. The biggest attractions on the zoo side are the dolphin shows and the panda exhibit:
Until this trip, I didn't know there two different types of pandas. As it turns out, the black & white variety that most people are familiar with is called the Giant Panda:
The other type, which we got to see up close, is the much smaller Red Panda (closer to the size of a koala bear):

Next up: Eclipse takes in the sights of Hong Kong

Shayne, Heather, & Isis in Hong Kong!

So, we got back to Hong Kong and had a few days to play before the rest of the group arrived. if you've never been to Hong Kong before, you just cannot believe how many skyscrapers there are.
The day after we got there we got the chance to spend the evening with Emily Liu--a girl we met three years ago when we went to Shanghai. Proselyting is not allowed in China, so we had never mentioned the church while we were there. She found out about the church on the internet after we left and visited the Hong Kong Temple in June 2007. Long story short: She joined the church in August 2008 and received a mission call to Vancouver, Canada in 2009. When we met with her in Hong Kong she had already had her visa application denied twice and was waiting to hear back on her third attempt. We found out later that her visa was denied again, but in the meantime she had met an RM from Taiwan and when it became clear she was not going to be able to go on her mission he proposed! They were married in September 2010 in the Hong Kong Temple. Emily is an amazing girl and we were so glad we were able to see her again.
One of the excursions we took was to the Po Lin monastery, which boasts the world's largest seated bronze Buddha:

In order to get there, we took a cable car over a bay and a mountain. Even though it was overcast, the views were absolutely beautiful.

Here we are in front of the Hong Kong temple:

In addition to the floors that serve as the temple, the building houses a stake center and the mission offices for the China Hong Kong mission, which is where this picture was taken. My uncle, Brent Hardy, was the president of the mission from 1968-1971. He later served as the Hong Kong temple president from 1998-2001:

Next up, Eclipse arrives!

Shayne, Heather, & Isis in Singapore!

Well, it's only taken six months to post pictures from our trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. Eclipse had been asked to perform in Hong Kong during the last week of March. Heather and I decided that if we were going to be that close, we might as well try to visit Heather's brother, Eric, and his family in Singapore. We left a week before the rest of the group, stayed overnight in Hong Kong, then caught a flight to Singapore (which is about 1500 miles from HK).

Isis was 4 months old the day we left and she was a trooper. We were able to get special seats in front of the bulkhead on the main flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. They have small bassinets that attach to the bulkhead wall, which is a great blessing when the alternative is holding your baby for 14 hours straight. The above photo is Isis waiting patiently in the baby backback while we were waiting to get off the much smaller plane that took us to Singapore.

Eric met us at the airport with his 4 daughters: Kierica, Kasia, Kosette, and Kalista.

His wife, Keesha, then joined us and they took us out to eat and showed us around downtown Singapore.

Kalista is 9 months older than Isis.

The McPhersons were wonderful hosts. It worked out perfectly because the girls were on a break from school and Eric had some time off work. We got there on a Friday and left the following Tuesday. They gave us a whirlwind tour of the island (which is a country that consists of a single city). Some of the highlights included:

--The Singapore Flyer: This is a 165-meter-high observation wheel that takes 30 minutes to make one rotation and gives amazing views and an audio tour of the entire island.

--Ferry boat tour on Clarke Quay
--Ski-360: Wakeboarding by being pulled by a cable system around a man-made lake
--Sentosa Island theme park: This included an attraction that gave a history of Singapore and an amazing show on the beach that had a live cast as well as a laser light show with animated characters projected on sprays of water, choreographed water jets (like Bellagio fountains in Vegas) flame bursts, and pyrotechnics. Here's us at the Ski-360 park:
And here are some video clips:

We also got to go to the mall that has advertisements that feature a picture of the 3 older girls. It was a great time! Thanks McPhersons!

Next up, Hong Kong!