August 6, 2007

So, we’ve decided to move one last time.  It’s a little place of our own this time.  And no, I don’t mean physically, but virtually.  This site will stop being updated, but you can head over (and change your bookmarks to)  Nice and easy, no?   So, expect a few nice goodies, and for things to change a LOT as we learn how it all works.  It’s very cool, so go the now!

That is all.

Hong Kong One

August 1, 2007

Well, I could tell you what we’ve been doing since we got to SA, but to be honest, apart from Richie and Pip’s wedding, its been more mission than excitement.  Well, not totally without excitement.  We’ve been seeing most of you folks, and that’s been pretty exciting.  Savanas and poppers and tea and lemon curd.  All good.  BUT, the real entertainment of this blog comes from our travels, I think.  I mean, most of you were AT the get-togethers and will know when I’m lying.  So, lets fill you in a little on the journey we took.

So, Hong Kong.  Getting there turned out to be fairly easy.  By easy, I mean “direct”, and not “with lots of legroom and plenty of food”, in case that wasn’t clear.  However, 13 hours was plenty of time to get excited and learn that mandarin and cantonese are HARD!  I foolishly believed that “the basics” would be easy to pick up, using only a guidebook and 2 hours on a flight.  Very foolish.  I thought I had “Thank You”.  Trying it out on the locals over the next few days proved I was wrong.  Eventually I learned that sounding like an english dude trying to speak cantonese was better than trying to make the CORRECT sounds.  Laughter and nodding and more laughing is better than a blank stare, every time.

So, we bussed into our hotel, and immediately headed out on the town to get something to eat.  The heat was delightful.   I felt like I was in Durban.  Turns out we were right in the middle of the Thai quarter, which meant the search wasn’t long.  It was scary though, because it wasn’t touristy enough to be dual-signposted in English and Chinese.  The “live” ingredients on display also had the opposite effect on us to what they were obviously intended to have on the locals.  I prefer, as many do, to abstract the idea of my food into less animal-y things.  Mutton, Beef, Pork.  These are things designed to help me eat enough protien.  I got the feeling while browsing the “wares” offered at some of these restaurants that they are one step away from a full life history, so you KNOW what youre getting.  “Beatrice.  Mallard.  Mother of 9.  Lived freerange on farm in northern territories.  Grain fed.  Once ate a locust.”  Mash it up behind a closed door for me any day.  I came close to joining your camp, Matt.  (He’s a vegitarian, for those who don’t know.  A real one.  Not a vegi-fishi-chickeni-liveri-tarian).

Needless to say, neither of us had frog or ducks webbing.  Fortunately the “odd” stuff seemed fancy, so we aimed at low prices.

The next day we went on our first mega-tourist day.  Seeing as Hong Kong invented the idea of taking a holiday through the lens of a camera, I felt very much at home.  Taking pictures turned out to be more difficult though, because coming out of a dry, cool hotel into a hot humid day has a similar effect to looking into a hot oven with glasses on.  Fortunately it equalises eventually.
So, we subwayed, walked, ferried and even rickshawed our way up and down, basically following our guidebook and stopping to see whatever took our fancy on the way.  3 days really isn’t long enough to take your sweet time.  The rickshaw ride did only last about 20 seconds though, since we didn’t initially realise the guy we chose was just there for photos.  He ran in a circle.  A small circle.  I took a photo.  It cost $20 (roughly R20 or $3 CAD).  We also spent a fair amount of time looking upwards, as the buildings are super impressive – they even let us go up to the 55th floor of one of the tallest buildings in the world.

After coming down, we went up again.  Up the steepest fernicular in the world, or something, to “The Peak”.  It was pretty awesome.  Now, when you are living somewhere, touristy places are a bit annoying, but when you’re a tourist, THEY ROCK!  The Peak was a perfect fit for us (well, apart from the fact that Claire is scared of heights and it’s all about being HIGH! She had to stand about a MILE from the edge).  It had noodles, dim sum, trinkets and I even haggled.  Admittedly, I wasn’t really trying to.  I really didn’t want the thing, and really DID want to leave.  But, I did manage to get the price of a radio controlled helicopter down to less than 1/3 of it’s original price.

So, we learned a few things while there.  Firstly, we like “barbecue” style dim sum, but not any other style, really.  I’m sure once you get over the slimy texture of the coating thing, it might be quite lovely, but well, we struggled.  I was tempted to try a shark-fin dim sum, since it’s all exotic and stuff, but I realise that would have been a mistake.  We also learned that when speaking a totally foreign language, don’t try sound correct.  If you say ‘thank you’ in Cantonese or Mandarin, say it slowly like you don’t know what you’re saying.  The locals will giggle and nod and say “Mmm goy sai, mm goi sai” (rough phonetic approx of Cantonese) over and over.  If you try say it like you’ve been speaking it since you were 2, it just doesn’t fly.  I mean, I don’t know what I thought.  “Yeah, they will think I’m not a tourist, despite being a total white-boy with a huge camera around my neck”.  Finally, its hot in Hong Kong.  Oh wait, we covered that already.  Nevermind.

Now, I would normally pop a bunch of photos in here, but I have decided not to do that for a few reasons.  One, I’m blogging from Claire’s computer, and all the photos are on mine.  Beee, there are going to be some changes here on snowblindness.  I would tell you what they are, but sometimes secrets are fun.  Thirdly, it’s taken me like a month to get THIS up, so can you imagine how long a photo-included post would take?

So, I’m gonna try get all the text stuff done and dusted and up so you can know all.  So get ready for a little more Hong Kong, a short flight to Dubai (don’t worry.  Although we land at 4am, Geoff is there to fetch us.  Not before Claire ordered a nice VAT of coffee though.  Seriously, it had two handles) where we had fun, laughter and some fancy cocktails.  Wow, excitement excitement.

That is all.