Saturday, June 9, 2012

Art and Culture

Yes, dear readers, I've been to still more cultural events. I visited H K Museum of Art to see an exhibition by a famous Chinese cartoonist, Feng Zikai and bough two tiny prints. He looked at the world through humanistic eyes and captured everyday happenings in a humourous yet thought provoking way. He was also a philosopher and there were quotes of his round the walls. Funny yet serious. Anyway, I enjoyed it.
I had a morning at the US Consul General's home...he was out of town, so we either had permission or we gatecrashed! The occasion was the presentation of grants from our organisation to charities in Hong Kong. A very heartwarming morning and of course another outing for a posh frock.
I am taking on a role on the Board of one my societies, so I had to attend a morning of training which was interesting and hopefully will keep the brain cells from withering.
We had an outing this week to see the big summer exhibition of Picasso's works. It was amazing. First of all, our group of about 30 was only one of say 10 groups of that size waiting outside well in advance of the 10.00am kick off. I've never seen anything like it. You can't just turn up, tickets are sold out for weeks in advance. We had a guide who was so knowledgeable. It made a big difference when she explained how Picaso painted "layers" and "planes" of faces. And here's me thinking he just gave them all 3 eyes.
Les and I went out for dinner on Thursday before he flew back to the UK to see his mother who sadly is ill in hospital.We hope she improves soon. On Friday evening I atended the AGM of my group attached to the Chinese Uni Art Museum. It was an AGM with class. We took a coach out to the venue and had champagne and savouries en route. The meeting was conducted outside in a beautiful courtyard with fish ponds and huge illuminated dragons.The wine was plentiful and the canapes were fab. Oh yes, we did conduct the business too, then had a tour of some of the collection . I chatted to an elderly lady whose name tag proclaimed "Jessie Stewart", a good old Scottish name. She was born in Shanghai to a Chinese mother and Scottish father and has lived most of her (very long) life in Hong Kong. However, she still has relatives in Scotland and has visited Uddingston, of all not-so-picturesque places.
Saturday morning was a little drizzly with a slight breeze, still very hot and of course the ever present  Hong Kong humidity. An early start, 8.30am to meet friends to share a taxi over to Sai Kung where 30 friends boarded a boat for a cruise round some of the fantastic geological sites on the islands. We boarded at 10 ish and soon realised the water was choppy. Er, very choppy. Within the first hour, I had been sick, one lady had to lie down in a darkened cabin and at least 3 others were a tad peaky to say the least. However, we all recovered in time to see the amazing caves and arches caused by the sea. We saw blue herons, huge sea eagles and kites too. The island are now protected and it is not possible to walk on them due to danger from falling stones . The formations originated from cooling lava after a volcanic eruption and as it cooled it formed hexagonal columns, a bit like the Giant's causeway, but pale yellow in colour. The guide was amazing and I now know all about the release of magma, the formation of the caldera and so forth. Meantime I had my own volcanic eruptions to deal with. When we disembarked at 1pm we were all ready for lunch. First though we visited an exquisitely ornate Tin Hau temple. Tin Hau is the Taoist goddess of the sea  and protector of fisherman and sailors. I bet I was not the only one to toss her a quick prayer for a less choppy afternoon's sail! We then walked on a steep path for 20 minutes to reach the restaurant. We passed an amazing number of strange bugs and beasties; huge black and yellow spiders on webs the size of tablecloths, 2inch long grey hairy caterpillars, bright orange catepillars with big red eyes, shiny blue black beetles the size of , oh,say  a Millars black currant liquorice sweetie? And birdsong everywhere.
Lunch was delicious, although I mainly stuck to rice and vegetables, I didn't think scallops and clams would last long if the water was as choppy! However, Tin Hau did the business and we had a lovely sail back, first mooring in a sheltered bay for half an hour for swimming. The back of the boat had a platform, complete with steps into the water and they also supplied "noodles" and a couple of lilos.
I don't do that. I enjoyed watching, though. Next we disembarked at Yim Tin Tsai to visit a Hakka village and one of the few Catholic enclaves among the Chinese. The church is dedicated to an Italian monk, Joseph Freinademetz who was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
We got back to terra firma around 5pm, then a hour transfer to Tsim sha Tsui, so I finally arrived home around 6pm.A wonderful day.I thought a bit of TV would round off the day, but all the English stations are still showing programmes about the Queen. The concert was on ...again, so was the St Paul's gig and I've aso previously seen the stuff about Diana, but I finally managed to find Homeland and caught up on two episodes, now at 8 which I think is halfway. Superb.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Here I am!

I hadn't realised that it had been almost three weeks since my last post. What's very flattering is that some of my readers did notice! So I'm back. I've had a very interesting time in between posts. Let me see... I won a raffle! Yes, I won the lucky ticket draw at our very posh afternoon tea and got $500 M&S vouchers. Since we all looked so pretty in our tea dresses, I suggested some of us go on for cocktails at a top class hotel. It was expensive, but hey, we're worth it. I've also attended a Book Group, a film about the handover of HK to China, saw "Best exotic Marigold Hotel" What a cast! These women are fabulous, and not a trace of botox or surgeon's knife to be seen. Their faces have so much character. If you haven't seen it, I'm talking Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celie Imrie et al. Go! After the cinema, a friend and I went for a few drinks as both our husbands were out of town. It is a pleasant experience to walk home in the balmy air at 11.30 with no fear of anything scary happening.
I spent an interesting morning in Kowloon City where there are lots of Thai shops selling unusual vegetables and fabby take away lunches; home made curry in a plastic bag like a goldfish at a fairground. Afterwards, our hostess provided a wonderful Thai lunch and what with the walking, the food and the wine, I didn't get back until 4pm. Just time for a quick nap and shower then I went to meet friends for dinner. I only managed a salad.
I went up to China for the weekend as Les was incarcerated there for two weeks whilst they checked out his work and residency permits. (That's a year we've been here! )We went to revisit some of the spots we saw last November when we did the fact finding trip for Les' company. We found a butcher shop selling all sorts of UK pies and cheeses and bought some black pudding! We also spent a day shopping and each bought two pairs of shoes. Unfortunately despite best advice and my own prior knowledge, I wore mine for a whole day and my feet were torn to shreds. But when they heal, I just know they will be the most comfortable shoes imagineable!
I went from Shenzhen to the HK airport on Monday to meet a friend who was passing through HK enroute from Vietnam to New York. We spent 3 days and had a wonderful time together. She is an ace photographer, has had an exhibition, so I can't  wait to see her photos. She took over 1,000 during her ten days away. I was intrigued by her subject matter here in HK; also how she would notice something, then get down close to it, or take the picture through a window or doorway opening,etc.
Last Thursday I nipped up to China  just for dinner!On Friday Les got home and we lazed around on Saturday then went out to Lamma Island on Sunday before watching the Queen's Jubilee River Pageant live on TV at night. I saw the wee harbourmaster vessel from Eyemouth! The Biscoe Kid looked great, freshly painted in bright red and was fairly skelping along the Thames.
This coming week looks to be just as busy as the last two. As we approach the summer break, a lot of people go back to their home country so right now there seems to be a flurry of activity; boat trips, art exhibitions, coffee mornings...So I better get my skates on or I'll be late for this morning's lecture, which is on "sounds, crystals, mantras and scarves" Hmm. Will report back afterwards!