Archive for January, 2009

So it’s all over, CNY has been and gone. Although the festivities last for an official 15 days. That means we can still give little red envelopes to people. Great.
Over the three official public holiday days the streets did not empty out and the shops did not close. We rambled around a bit and were still swamped by the usual arterial flow between Sogo and Times Square. This city never sleeps. Ever.
We also handed over one of the coveted red envelopes to our doorman who looked extremely shocked and delighted at the Gweilo’s attempt at assimilating his culture. It was a fantastic moment. We were instructed to eat an orange on New Year’s Day so we also bought two oranges (luckiness in pairs). Unfortunately I don’t think we ate them until the next day.

We still have work off until 9th February so that is good. We haven’t done much and just enjoyed chilling out and relaxing. Our first week of hiking went out the window as some local dude tried to get the football through my thigh muscle with his knee in a football match last Thursday. Sore. Still sore. Getting better. We will try next week some time to get some walking in.

What I have done is book a few nights in Macau from next Tuesday until Thursday. We will go by ferry (about 55 mins journey) and stay one night in The Venetian and one night in the Star World Hotel. Looking forward to it. Will take pics!

Here are a few pics from the last few days:

Times Square is always quick off the mark to…um, mark a calendar occasion and so was the case with CNY. Not as utterly horrible as the Christmas decorations but just…nice. Note the prevalence of bull shaped things.

Inside Times Square there is always an accompanying interior decoration to counterpoint the exterior decoration. And this is it. A circular sitting down contraption.

From inside

From above

In nearby Victoria Park there was a CNY fair on so we decided to go and check it out. We were told by our ever reliable insider source person that if you walked around the fair once it would mean good luck. Well, after walking 100 metres inside I would rather take my chances with lady luck than walk around that unholy mess of a place. I expect a fair to have little shooting games, grab a duck in a barrel, maybe a few wheel of fortunes. Nah, this was a selling fair with auctions thrown in for good measure and things on sale being scrubbing brushes, detergent and towels. Sure there were balloons and toys for sale…in between the hyped up on goofballs auctioneers and the hundreds of willing buyers who must have all run out of toilet brushes at the same time. And the millions of people there, my God the people. I laughed out loud at the signs indicating a one way system. Hahahaha. First exit please.

Yippeeee, the fair entrance. Man, I’m gonna win some fluffy toys in here. Yes sir!

Abort, abort!

Which brings us up to last night and dinner. We walked around C-Town** for a bit scoping things out. We ended up in World Trade Centre on the 11th floor at a very, very traditional Chinese restaurant called the Dragon King restaurant. We were feeling adventurous, especially Sharyn as who knew what the hell she was gonna end up with!

Before the Tofu lumps and nuts. Before the Japanese Pumpkin with seasonable vegetables.

Liked by the vegetarian. Hated by the omnivore.

My very tasty sauteed beef with scallions and onions.

When the pumpkin is taken. The green stuff took up much of the dish. Not liked by vegetarian.

Kinda looks like it could be in The Shining

And the total bill payable is….

Hey, wait a minute, I don’t remember ordering the chest of drawers.

I would go back, don’t think Sharyn would…

* Chinese New Year, Be Right Back, Laugh Out Loud

** Causeway Bay

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This dude is instantly annoying when you see him. It means that 90 percent of the sidewalk you are walking on is cordoned off and drops to a 100 foot cavern. Perhaps with a nasty smell that takes your breath away.
The info on the board basically tells you when this bottle neck started cramming people even closer together and when they expect to finish up the work and you can walk in a fashion that somewhat resembles civilisation.

So this guy looks like he is channeling all his psychic energy to visualise the completion date for all our goodness and convenience. His intense black soul sapping eyes work fearlessly, relentlessly for you, the dear Honkers citizen.

God bless you Psychic Construction Worker!

Either that or he’s just fixing his hard hat.

Or has a really bad migraine.

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Lamma Island is a small enough island lying a mile or two of the south of Hong Kong Island. It’s a mecca for hikers and dog walkers and hippies and tourists. And ex-pats who want to get away from maid strewn sidewalks on a Sunday.

A quick ferry ride from Central Pier Number 4 and you arrive on Lamma where you can hike a number of different paths. It’s really nice and we walked a nice undulating path for 2 hours. We ended up at a small enclave of seafood restaurants and a pier where ferries head back to Central.
We will definitely go back over the CNY period and do choose some more trails to vary it a little. And of course it’s exciting to see what type of dog is around the next corner.

Lamma Island has a couple of nice beaches also.

For the dogs in a little bother

Kamikaze Grottos. When the Japanese occupied Honkers. They built these on Lamma to put speed boats into so when British Ships went by they would speed out loaded up with kaboom sticks and Kamikaze the ship. The war ended before they could use them.

Sharyn’s prize at the end of the hike. A vegetarian rice dish.

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This is a new acronym that has to be shoved in to my already overflowing brain.

So what does it all mean??

Well…..its pertinent to this time of the year in Hong Kong/China…….


Yes, that right smarty pants it stands for Chinese New Year (Jan 26th this year) and the acronym stops you getting rsi every time you need to type it out.
– Traditional Chinese for CNY. Simple!

This is how to write the Chinese word for Year. Practice it and fax it to be on my desk by Monday morning.

January 26th marks the start of the year of the Ox. I won’t write down my humorous musings on the year ahead referring to certain oxen related words.

So it’s a big deal over here but there is a lot of stuff and superfluous traditions and superstitions that come along with it that all us non-Chinese are scared of, bemused by and will probably try and ignore.
For one thing, it pays to be either a kid or single around this time because all us old folks who are married should buy a bunch of red envelopes from the local markets, fill it with crisp bank notes and present it to them!

Yeah, I’ll present all my single friends with these envelopes but I’ll stick a little note inside with “Loser” written on it.

Actually we are going to fold under Chinese pressure and present a red envelope to our overly cheerful and friendly security guy in our apartment building. Who probably hates us.
Money must be crisp, no coins, no multiple notes, no odd numbers and no number 4 involved in the monetary value.  And you must give them a big kiss too.Only joking with that last one. Although I could start a trend.
And we have to wear new clothes on New Year’s Day. And no black. Which rules out most of our wardrobe.

So it’s a big family deal and all families travel home to eat and have arguments. You would want to be a stark raving lunatic to travel to Chinese territories over CNY. Very busy is one way to describe the transport system.

Hong Kong will be quiet and shops will shut over a few days.
We have decided to stay at home over our two break and just relax, sleep in and do normal stuff. Can’t wait really.
Our final day of school is next Friday when probably there will be no classes and we will all be involved in some sort of shenanigans.

Stay tuned for my “Beers of Vietnam” collage in my next post

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After arriving back in Honkers on the 31st, I had an idea to go to a local hotel to bring in the New Year. One quick call to the hotel and I felt it was the best option and within stumbling distance from our apartment. The party was on the 34th floor of The Excelsior Hotel in a bar/club called TOTT (talk of the town). It had good views of the IFC2 building which was the main focal point for the fireworks display at midnight. There was a soul group playing stuff and we got two free glasses of champagne to bring the New Year in.

Wasn’t the cheapest option, the cheapest option would have been to stand down on the harbour front and drink from a paper bag and take in the fireworks. But we were warm and could drink out of glasses.


reflection on window didn’t help here

Video of fireworks and countdown at midnight. Hello ’09!

We stayed till 2am and then wandered home and the streets were already empty after being jam packed with revellers only hours earlier congregating around Times Square and Victoria Park.

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