Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Literary pursuits and excercise

I haven't said much lately about what I am reading. On the Kindle I'm reading some memoirs about a Hong Kong childhood, Evanescent isles, by Xu Xi and in paperback I'm reading Zoe Heller's Everything you know. Never did get to read the whole Orange shorlist, I managed 3 and read the Kindle sample downloads for the rest. So here in order is how I liked them: No 1 (Winner)Grace Williams says it loud.2 Annabel. 3 Great House. 4 Tigers wife. 5 Room. 6 Memory of love. The 3 I didn't finish were: Grace Williams says it loud, Annabel and Memory of love.I think GWSIL should win because it tackles difficult matter in an interesting way; it is written from the perspective of a disabled girl limited in her world who gets the chance to vicariously experience an environment beyond what her personal circumstances would permit. If it wins, I'll buy it!
On another literary front, I'm going to a poetry reading tomorrow evening, drinks on a roof garden first, so hopefully I'll get to meet a few more people. Oh, and I read the South China Morning Post every day, it keeps me up to date with which food manufacturers have been fined for adding illegal additives to supermarket foodstuffs. Mmm.Mind you, Les heard screaming in the supermarket in Shenzhen the other day and as a big rat ran past him, he aimed a kick at it, knocked it sideways into a box and stunned it momentarily before it ran off again.So I guess he won't be buying his sandwiches from there anymore! What's a few additives in comparison to that!
I haven't yet joined any zumba or water aerobics classes but the other morning at 7.00am a movement in the square 61 floors below caught my eye. I had a squint through the binoculars and watched about 10 ladies all doing their morning Tai Chi. It looked so elegant. I made a cuppa, went back to bed with the paper and when I got up again at 8.00am they were all still at it. A good hours worth of workout there, and for free, maybe I should take it up.With all the walking I'm doing and all the stairs I'm trudging up, you'd think I'd be a skelf by now... but it just makes me hungry!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Trip to Lamma Island

Sunday was hot and sunny, a perfect day to take a ferry trip to Lamma Island for a walk on the beach, a paddle in the sea and a wonderful fresh seafood lunch. The pavement restaurant reminded me of similar ones on the Greek Islands or coastal Spain; just a few tables under a plastic awning by a whitewashed wall overlooking the sea. In case you think I am a sad case, no, I didn't go alone! I've met a very nice girl from USA who is teaching here and we've met a couple of times now.

This is the inside on the top deck of the iconic Star Ferry which I took on Sunday to meet my friend and get on another ferry to Lamma Island
Here is a view of Central Pier; I got off here and walked about 500yds to the right to the next terminal for the Island ferry
Approaching Yung Shue Wan harbour on Lamma

This small ferry was coming in to harbour alongside our big one.

Lamma Main Street

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Scottish shop names....( Bored? Me? Oh no!)

Chewing the Fat Pawn shop, Ford and Greg are away for fags that's why they are out of the picture

This one sells cosmetics and shampoo to stop your hair getting in a fankle!

This is where smelly fishermen and sailors get their supplies.

Friday, May 27, 2011

House hunting success?

I met with the 2 agents to view 4 apartments on Thursday... and selected one...now we need to wait to see if the landlord will accept the offer to rent. I've asked for a few things to be added before we move in, such as built in wardrobes, blackout blinds, a dishwasher, wall mounted TV, landline phone, light fittings. I think that's all. I am taking advice from the agents when asking for all this, not being picky! It's on the 38th floor of a block nearer the hustle and bustle of the city, with stunning harbour views, much better than at present where we have that enormous tower in front of us. It has open plan living/dining, small kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and in addition has a study, a "maids room" and toilet with shower ( for the maid). It is brand new, never been lived in.So anyway there is plenty of room for visitors. Who will be first?
On Friday I took a bus trip over to Ap Lei Chau, a small island across the harbour from Aberdeen. I spent the morning wandering along the waterfront, lovely to be by the sea and see all the fishing boats, small ferries, sampans and junks. In the afternoon, I went to look at furniture in a huge 28 story mall... and met someone I knew! It was the first time this has happened! I heard, "Fancy meeting you here!" and turned round to see one of the agents, with another client! I looked at designer shops full of sofas, beds, tables, chairs till I was confused, then took the bus all the way back and rounded off with a price comparison visit to good old Ikea. Then I treated myself to dinner at our "local" where I was recognised and welcomed by the staff like a long lost friend. It was lovely, made me feel a bit more at home here.
Today I need to go grocery shopping, I'll be trundling my trusty shopping trolley out to get supplies, so much easier than hauling it in a bag. Shopping trollies are very trendy here, not just for pensioners I'll have you know.
Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend to go out to one of the islands for the day and on Monday I'm meeting another friend for coffee. 2 friends already, what a socialite I am becoming! Poor Les is still in China,but he hopes to get back in a week or two.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Being a Tourist; becoming a resident

I spent the morning gettng my HKID (Hong Kong Identity Card) and after trailing round the shops, tried out the rooftop jacuzzi on the 76th floor. Yesterday I went up "The Peak" on Hong Kong Island so here are some pictures of both these events!In the left hand picture, the very faint hazy tower in the distance is the ICC the block in front our ours. In the right hand picture, The Peak would be the next hill to the left but it isn't visible from our block, due to the ICC being in front of it!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Spent the weekend in Shenzhen, China. Les has to stay there for three weeks to meet work permit regs. I arrived about 4pm on Friday and the arrival hall was very noisy; lots of children travel across the border to school in the New Territories every day. They have a special cross border student gate and it was swarming with cute 7-10 year olds, in brightly coloured uniforms; yellow, pink, a lot of white, sky blue, all chattering, giggling and screaming. It was like being among flocks of tropical birds!
The hotel was very grand but as there was a lot of building work around it, it was quite noisy. Dinner was fabulous! The Fire and Ice buffet was an incredible selection of seafood, fish and meats, all raw, to be served grilled to one's liking or in the case of oysters, eaten raw. Lovely. The desserts were wonderful, mainly served in shot glasses.
On Saturday , a work colleague took us to a 360 viewing deck in one of Shenzhen's tallest buildings. The views of Shenzhen and across to the New Territories were amazing. Lunch was interesting...I ordered a speciality steak on the host's recommendation. It truly would have served a family!
After a rest to sleep off lunch, we ventured to an Irish pub for a beer. The couple at the next table had a familiar accent; they were from Falkirk!
Sunday's weather was atrocious, a "red" rainstorm signal was posted. The streets were like a river. We tried to visit a famous theme park and cultural village but even the ticket seller advised us not to spend the money as most of the displays were closed due to the weather. Still, we got to see a bit of the suburbs during the two taxi rides!In the evening we ate in an Italian cafe where an American man was reading a Stieg Larsen novel in Mandarin, painstakingly looking up words on his i-phone and sometimes writing them down to check with the waiter. It looked like a lot of hard work!
This morning at breakfast the girl at the next table was wearing a t shirt, shorts and floral wellies. Her breakfast comprised a fried egg, sausage, a Danish pastry, sliced orange and noodles, all on the same plate,all eaten with chopsticks, a bite (or slurp) from each item in rotation.Still, she would have thought it odd to watch me eat chicken and rice with a fork, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Took some pics of the apartment : kitchen, small but has everything we need; living room; office, where I am right now. The bedroom and livingroom both have big flat screen TVs and there is a tiny TV built into a bathroom mirror.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time exploring in the area where we hope to live. It's much busier and more "real" than where we are currently. All the gardens here are beautiful...but too manicured. All the shops are lovely...but expensive.Even the name of this complex sounds like something out of a futuristic movie: "The Megalopolis" and with all the fingers of buildings stretching up to the sky, it's not unlike where Superman came from!
Anyway, I had lunch in a Singaporean cafe on Knutsford Steps,touristy, but comfortable feeling: I ordered nasi goreng, which comprised fried rice with chicken and shrimp topped with a fried egg, a side salad of pickles, tomato and cucumber, 2 chicken satay sticks, a huge thick prawn cracker and a serving of peanuts, nesting in which was a wee, tiny, whole, dried and fried fishy!Accompanying this was a bowl of chicken soup with large chunks of carrot and large chunks of an unidentified slippery whitish/clearish vegetable which tasted of...nothing, but was edible; the veg thing, I mean, the rest was delicious! Washed down with a mug of lemon tea, all for less than £5.
In the afternoon, 2 different people asked for directions...and I was able to help them! The first asked if I was English but I just said yes and didn't argue...she wanted a museum I'd just spotted round the corner. Easy! The second was in a station, two girls looking for Wan Chai, they were well lost, it's on the island and we were in Kowloon, but I got out my trusty MTR map and sorted them out too!
No luck with the dentist as we don't have our health insurance cards yet but I bought stuff and removed the remaining talons myself!Now all I need is a manicure...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tempis fugit

The mist has lifted a little,, so here are a few views from the apartment, looking out beyond the harbour and across to the island.

Didn't do much on my to do list for yesterday! At 9.45am, I had just arrived in one of the areas we are considering for permanent housing when Les txt to ask me to bring my passport to his office. So, 2 trains back home, picked up passport took a taxi ride to his office. Passport duly delivered and it was 12.10. Had a quick lunch in the shopping mall under his office and was in a shop when he sent another txt asking me to come back to the office to sign a form. By the time I found the office again, they were all preparing to go out to a fancy restaurant for a welcome lunch, so I was asked too. I made a dent in it, despite having already eaten! Then the admin lady said it would have been useful to have your old passport too, the one with the Chinese visa in it. So...another taxi ride, then up to the 69th floor to our storage locker, got the old passport then another two trains to take it back, followed by another two home. By then it was 4.50pm and I was exhausted. Don't forget, this was all in temperatures in 30s with humidity of 85%

So now Les is away to China and I am about to embark on the househunting and nail bar hunting again...unless something else happens!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First day at work

I peeled a dragon fruit for breakfast, a spectacular brilliant red fruit with kind of soft spikes all over. Once you get inside though, it is quite uneventful, grey mush full of tiny black seeds and it tastes of absolutely nothing!

The New Boy has just departed for his first day at work. I'm about to start my first day as a Househunter.The weekend was very misty, we couldn't see across the harbour to the island at all. We went down to Tsim Sha Tsui (pronounced chim sha choy) to walk along the Avenue of the Stars and we saw Bruce Lee's star, it's just like Hollywood. We noticed loads and loads of fishing boats all moving very very slowly up and down the harbour. Today's newspaper (we get a comp one every morning) tells us it was a protest against a government ban on trawler fishing Just like Eyemouth! Fishermen everywhere are unhappy with government imposed quotas. The difference is the Hong Kong fleet is 3,900. I doubt there are that many boats in the whole of the UK! I think the Eyemouth fleet is about 50.
We skyped the family over the weekend, great to see Callum.He seemed to think it OK to see us on the computer and not in the flesh. He's so used to seeing Janie and Martin on there, it is natural for him, a true digital native.
The coffee machine in the flat is fabulous, I've redicovered my liking for The Bean and even went to a specialist shop yesterday to buy more supplies. You get to sit down, they present the range and then let you taste a couple to make your mind up, then once you've decided, they pour you a cup of your choice to enjoy whilst they prepare your order. Service or what!!
On my to do list today: find a nail bar and a dentist. I seem to be shedding body prostheses all over the place. I jammed my fingers in a cupboard door and three of my very expensive gel nails fell off. Then I had some chocolate from the fridge and out popped my bridge. I look like a country yokel with stubby fingers and a gap toothed smile. Still, nobody knows me here!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Settling in

Top, middle and bottom of building opposite.Remember all are taken from Floor 61, not the ground! Sometimes the top is hidden in the clouds. We can also see the harbour, more pics to follow

It's been an amazing two days. We've opened a bank account, mastered the MTR and shopped at a street market. We cooked and ate the results and survived! I'm already brave enough to sit on the window ledge and look down to the ground 61 floors below (and another 60 odd above on the building opposite). Here are some views:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Still here

Ok I know this is meant to be about Hong Kong....but we are still in Scotland! Departure date now set for sure for Wednesday 11th. So, meantime, here are a couple of pictures of Callum playing on Eyemouth beach.