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.

Little Boet

July 28, 2007

So, the little boy got married. It looked like this to me. Well, when I could see that is…

Not long nowDoneMacsaydiesRichYaySpecsHappyShineyFamily

That is all.

Home again, home again jiggidy jig

July 24, 2007

We are safely back in Vancouver, phew. We left Cape Town on Sunday morning and got into Vancouver on Tuesday evening. And we pretty much repeated Tuesday too, we left Hong Kong later than we got to Vancouver. Weird, very odd, a little trippy if you think about it too much, but basically our Tuesday lasted about 40hours. Am I younger? Can I change the past……

Our day started with a search for a great final chineese meal. We failed. I pointed at something that sounded okay and got basically part of a whole chicken cut into slices, bone and guts and everything . Cold. With some watery noodles. Yum. It smelled funny too. Yes I’m fussy.

Our first leg was so uneventful that I can’t even think of anything to write about it. We then sat around a very crowed Dubai airport for a few hours. Very crowded, people lying on the floor all over the place, queues of 20+ for the loo and nowhere to sit. Eventually we got on our plane with a large crowd of Ugandans who wore the blankets as shrowds? and then when we landed asked the quickest way to get to China. I hope they are okay. China is not as easy as Hong Kong to get into.

We had a wonderful 24 hours in Hong Kong – I think Andrew will fill you in and put up photos, I really like it there and will definitely go back. Our flight to Vancouver is with a new airline.  In fact, on our way to Hong Kong we were their first flight, so now I think we may well be their most frequent flyers. Cheap, cheap, cheap, but like Kalula for long haul. Little leg room, little food, tiny loos. Plus we had the pleasure of sitting next to a group of hippies/rastas on their way back from Tibet or something, all smelly, playing their hand luggage drums and singing. Oh, and they shared a toothbrush while sitting in their seats. All 6 of them, I thought it was very gross, very. I was very thankful for my noise canceling headphones. We moved seats so they could all be closer which benefited all involved.

It was weird to be greeted at customs with “welcome back”, slowly slowly this is becoming home.

Anyway time to eat, probably my eighth meal in this long day….

Photos to follow


July 7, 2007

That’s what we’ve been doing.  Me more than Claire (sorry if the name at the bottom of the posts has been confusing).  Since our last update we’ve had two wonderful days in Dubai after one more in Hong Kong.  Our gracious hosts organised drinks at the burj al arab which we just got back from now, and I have one word: Spectacular.  Never have I felt like what I wanted was more important.  “how is your drink?” “It’s pretty good, but might be more sour” “well, I’ll take that one from you and bring you a brand new one”.  That was what our PERSONAL bar-dude said.  He brought the bar to our couches and designed cocktails to our desire.  “Something sour, but with a tang”.  Between us we had 10 different drinks including such ingredients as chilli, chocolate, basil, mint jelly, balsamic vinegar and even blue cheese.  Like nothing on earth, I’m quite sure.

The water spout as smooth as glass REALLY blew me away.  Until next time (photos soon, I promise)…

That is all.

So far so good

July 2, 2007

We’re in Hong Kong. Okay, so technically we are in Kowloon, which is over the water from Hong Kong, but really, its all much the same. One mega-long, mega-cramped flight during which half the plane was in the future at one point, and we were here. We landed at 10:30pm local time, so there wasn’t a ton of time to do things, but we went out for some food (we considered fried frogs – haha – yeah right!) and a drink and a few photos and then came back to the hotel to lie around in the dark. It’s now morning and we’re off for a monster day. We’ll keep you basically up to date and then do a whole big update when we get to SA. See you later

That is all.

Out and about in greater Vancouver

June 10, 2007

So last night we decided to go to the only night club in the “lower main land” (I’m still not entirely sure what that is). It’s called “The Vanilla Room” and its in Langley, about 30km away. Anyway as we should have learned by now, all clubs/bars/dodgey small town places in Canada ask for ID before they let you in. We have been bounced for being foreign for being dodgey looking, and my favorite – for looking so young:) All in Moose Jaw, all by the same short memory having bouncer. Anyway, so this being a “proper” club, they were even stricter, dress code etc. So they check your ID, scan it and take your photo before they let you in. I only realised once we were there that I had no ID, and for the first time since we’ve been here(Canada) I thought – hey I sound like a tourist, I can pretend I’m just visiting. So after the bouncers frisked Andrew and Chris and scanned their driver’s licences and took their photos, I just said, “I’m just here on holiday from South Africa, I’m sorry I have no ID with me.” The huge bouncer smiled and told me to have a good time. Hee hee.

Not such an amusing story now that I write it down, but it really is. I have been bounced so often since being here – drinking age is 19 and obviously I look 17 (I know I don’t, but I can dream, they probably just ask to irritate me) – and until last night I’d never thought of playing the tourist card. I’ll do it more.

Other. Please don’t go to your doctor to say you don’t like the look of the veins in your feet, that you had a spot on your arm last week but its gone now but you want to know what it was, or to ask what my feelings are about pharmaceutical advertising on TV. Please.

Photos will hopefully follow. It was a very nice club, could have been Jo’burg, it made me feel like we were in a real place again. Oh, and apparently shorts are okay to wear out again, as long as you wear heels. News to me.

Unrelated photo of me at the Tate in December ’06

Claire at the Tate thumbnail