Archive for the ‘Activities’ Category

Attending a Movie Premiere & Party

December 16th, 2010 at 8:07 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I was in New York City last week on business, and my timing was good because a contact had a couple of tickets available to the world premiere of the movie “The Tourist“, and the party afterwards.

Tickets to the The Tourist world premiere and after-party

Tickets to the The Tourist world premiere and after-party

As the rest of the family was still on Bonaire, I invited our family friend Eva to join me at the premiere.

Never having been to a world premiere (shocking, I know), I had no idea what to expect. We arrived at the Ziegfield Theatre at around 5:30pm to pick up the tickets shown above (my name was “on a list”), had a nice dinner at Molyvos, a nearby Greek restaurant I highly recommend, and just before 7pm walked down our private side of the sidewalk, through security, and into the theater. Alas, we did not get to walk the red carpet – obviously they didn’t know us well enough. As we entered the theater the street exploded with cheers, apparently as the real stars arrived.

The theater slowly filled, and around 7:20pm, Angelina Jolie (one of the two major stars of the film) and hubby Brad Pitt showed up and were seated. Johnny Depp (the other major star) stayed out in the lobby for a while since apparently he never watches his own movies. The movie started at 7:30pm, thankfully without the previews movie goers are typically subjected to.

Enjoyable film, but certainly no masterpiece. I had figured out the major plot twist less than half-way through the film, but if you’re looking for entertainment and good performances by Depp and Jolie, it’s worth a look.

After the film those of us with tickets to the after-party were ushered out to buses in the back of the theater, but as we took our time to leave, it ended up being a long wait for the next bus, so we cabbed it to Gotham Hall, the location of the party.

The party was an interesting experience – we saw some faces we recognized, but no one we personally knew. Everyone there seemed to have an agenda, and was trying to determine whether the people around them were “someone” they needed to talk to. One woman I spoke to referred to the event as a “celebrity petting zoo”. I thought that was pretty funny. We did spot Brad, Angelina, Brooke Shields (just visiting), and Danny Strong (whom I recognized from a small part on the last season of Mad Men.

In any event, the party offered a great venue for people watching, food, and an open bar, and was its own form of entertainment.

Photos from our world premiere and party experience, including a photo of Eva with Brad Pitt, can be found here on Flickr.


Off to Spain with a Jaunt to France

September 23rd, 2010 at 3:04 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We had not planned on going anywhere for exploration for the rest of the year, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose for us (the adult half of The Traveling Richters) to dine at the famed elBulli restaurant in Spain and personally meet famed chef Ferran Adrià, so we have wrapped an expedition for all of The Traveling Richters to explore parts of Spain around that event to take advantage of being in Spain for the special occasion at elBulli.

Our Itinerary:

  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2010 – Bilbao & San Sebastian, Spain
  • Oct. 1 – 2, 2010 – Toulouse, France. Just passing through southern France
  • Oct. 2 – 4, 2010 – Roses, Costa Brava, Spain
  • Oct. 4 – 5, 2010 – Zaragoza, Spain
  • Oct. 5 – 8, 2010 – Madrid, Alcala de Henares, and Toledo, Spain

In addition to having secured reservations at three of the top restaurants in the world for this trip, we’ll be exploring various museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Prado and Reina Sofia in Madrid. We also have a docent to guide us through the history of Toledo, the life and times of Cervantes (author of “Don Quixote”), and an olive oil, ham, chocolate, and Tapas tasting tour in Madrid. It will be tiring, but we’re up for the challenge!

And we’ll be home just in time for our country to change on 10-10-10. We stay on the same island, of Bonaire, but the country of the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved on 10-10-10, and Bonaire will become a municipality of The Netherlands. More on that here.

Depending on how busy we are in our travels, we may or may not post travelogues. Jake has started an on-line graduate program in photography, so we expect most of his on-line time on the road will be spent meeting his obligations for his classes.

However, if any of you have recommendations on other places we should not miss in the areas we will be traveling in, please let us know!


Eaten Alive By Little Fish in Hong Kong

September 6th, 2010 at 2:22 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yes. It’s true. We (our feet, actually) were eaten alive by hundreds of voracious little fish.

Fortunately the effects were temporary.

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

One of our last days in Hong Kong in July was spent taking a trip up to Victoria Peak – the highest point of Hong Kong island.

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

Located at the top of the Peak is the Peak Galleria Shopping Centre (pictured above), where we found ourselves confronted and intrigued by the sign below.

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

We made our way to the advertised Wonderfish! Spa tucked away on an upper floor of the Peak Galleria mall, and committed to the 20-minute treatment (which cost about US$20 per person).

We put our belongings in a basket which was stashed away in cubby holes in full sight, then had our feet washed, and then were seated on the edge of large square tiled “tub”, filled with about 18 inches of water and hundreds of small (2-3 inches long) fish. We were directed to slowly put our feet in the water.

As soon as our feet touched water, the small fish swarmed all over them, creating an odd tickling/scratching sensation that at first was a bit discomforting, but soon became quite entertaining – both from a sensation of touch as well as visually.

Here’s the video of our experience:

I had a small waterproof camera with me, which helped in capturing some of the above clips, in case you wonder.

The fish are related to carp, and legend has it that a farmer in Turkey discovered the foot fetish properties of these fish by accident some thousand(s) of years ago.

They are apparently strongly attracted to dead skin, and that’s what they focus on as they munch their way over your feet, although I can’t help but wonder what happens after they have consumed all the dead skin there is to be had.

We found 20 minutes to be just about long enough. Our feet felt refreshed and tingly after the treatment. And we had a good time with the whole experience.

However, I found that my feet, ankles, and lower calf, where the fish had dined, were still extra sensitive to excessive heat for several days afterwards. Linda did not have a similar issue.

It was a really entertaining and fascinating experience, but not one that either Linda or I have any need to experience again anytime soon. Once was probably sufficient.

The Wonderfish! Spa web site has ample details on the process.


Hong Kong – All About Shopping?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:14 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

“You can see all there is to see around Hong Kong in a couple of days, Mr. Richter.

People really come to Hong Kong for the shopping.”

So said one of the concierges at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Hong Kong island, where we had just checked in after spending a couple of days in Macao (or Macau – both appear correct spellings) and a few more days across the harbor from Hong Kong island in Kowloon back in July.

The concierge was mostly right – shopping does seem to be the big draw in Hong Kong, with high end brands offered left and right in excess beyond compare. And while fashion – ranging from Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, to Prada, Chanel, and Gucci – is ever present, even more rampant are jewelry (spelled locally as “jewellery”) stores. We thought Aruba’s dozens of jewelry stores were bad, but in Hong Kong shopping areas (which seems to be pretty much everywhere that tourists might wander), there are hundreds if not thousands of jewelry shops. Most numerous among those appear to be the chains of Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook, of which there are dozens on the so-called Golden Mile of Nathan Road, Kowloon-side.

And expensive watches from Rolex, Piaget, Patek Philippe, and a host of others are easily found at either their own stores, or any of the countless jewelry stores.

While we are certainly materialists and capitalists ourselves (my weakness being technology “toys” and kitchen equipment), the sheer materialistic excess we saw in Hong Kong was beyond comprehension.

And more interesting is that the primary wealthy consumer who comes to Hong Kong to shop for jewelry and name brand couture is Asian, frequently from mainland China, a communist country. I won’t even pretend to understand the sorts of economics that would allow someone from mainland China afford one or more $20,000 Rolex watches.

The other thing we found prevalent in Kowloon (but not Hong Kong island) were touts, typically all of Indian background, offering replica watches, like Rolexes and bespoke (custom, made to order) tailoring services. It was almost impossible to walk down Nathan Road without a dozen approaches for a custom suit or a knock off watch.

In any event, not being consumers of fashion and bling, we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. And we did. More on that in upcoming posts.

A small photo gallery is below. Click on the images to get slightly larger versions. Larger versions are on Flickr.


Is ‘Robert’ A Girl’s Name in Hong Kong?

July 18th, 2010 at 9:50 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I was looking through some of the photos I took in the last week here in Hong Kong, and found the one below, of a movie poster for “Eclipse”, the third film in the Twilight saga.

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Gender Name Confusion in Hong Kong?

Either the actors now have new names, or someone creating the Chinese version of this movie poster hasn’t a clue about the gender of names like Robert and Kristen.

I shot a few other confused/amusing signs that I will try and dig up and post in the coming week or two.


Views of Hong Kong Across Victoria Harbour

July 18th, 2010 at 4:16 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Victoria Harbour, also known as Hong Kong Harbour, is an amazing place – both in terms of traffic and adjacent building density as well as in terms of sheer imagery. The harbor is a natural one, located between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.

We had booked a Harbour View room at The Peninsula, which is located on the southern-most portion of Kowloon, and the view from our 25th floor room was certainly a sight to behold. In fact we spent several hours just sitting in chairs facing the harbor, watching the lights and boat traffic.

View from our room at The Peninsula, by day

View from our room at The Peninsula, by day

View from our room at The Peninsula, at night

View from our room at The Peninsula, at night

While the images above are just a portion of the entire view, below is a panorama stitched together from multiple shots. If you click on it you’ll go to Flickr where you can view the entire 7,389 pixel wide panorama. You can also click on the above images to see larger versions of those shots.

Panoramic view from our room at The Peninsula by day

Panoramic view from our room at The Peninsula by day