Thursday, April 27, 2006

What a noise!

Here, I am safely tucked up in the wonderful isolation of a luxury hotel in the middle of Mumbai, and in many ways, that is how I like it. However, as much as I am protected and cosseted here in this manner, there is one thing that I cannot escape from, and that is the continuous cacophony of noise.

The noise makers work in shifts around the clock; during the day time it is the continuous use of car horns by impatient drivers trying to warn other drivers of their approach, or venting their frustrations on their lack of progress through the jammed streets around the hotels.

At nights, when the traffic has eased off, the packs of wild dogs take up the orchestral baton to disturb the peace. Occasionally the sounds are superimposed with the wailings of an ambulance siren.

Such a series of discordant clamours will leave a lasting memory for me of this wonderful city. Today my conference has finished, and tomorrow I am visitting a training school, before heading off on my holidays.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sorry for not posting for a while

OK I haven't posted for a while, a variety of reasons for that:-
1) I have moved into my apartment and I don't get broadband for a while,
2) I did try and post last week, but my page wouldn't publish
3) Doing a lot of travelling.

Last week I was in Dalien in northern China. It is a city full of beatiful women. OK they are not all beautiful, but I am sure that it has more than its fair share.

This week I am in Bombay at a conference. I am glad I don't have to drive here! Its like something out of the Wack Races and everyone else is driving Boulder Mobiles.

Next week I am in Phuket, and I will try to post more when I get there

Monday, April 24, 2006

Traveling in Dalien

The last few days have been quiet, because I have been on a business trip to Dalien. This thriving port, in northern China, has certainly changed a lot since I first came here in 1983.

In those days, the atmosphere was thick with smoke and the steam trains carried the cargo of the docks and into the warehouses. Nowadays, the city thrives with new technology, and the population have the convenience of a light rail system to move about.

The one thing that struck me about this city is how beautiful the ladies are, it is hard to describe, but rarely have I seen so many stunning women in one place.

I arrived up here on Monday evening, and having checked in at the Shangri-La Hotel, went to their bar called F2. This claimed to be the most chic nightspot in Dalien. If this is the case, then I do not hold out much hope for the rest, but it is pleasant enough. As soon as I entered this lovely young lady came over and started chatting to me in faultless English. Unfortunately I was to tired to take this any further, but she gave me her phone number if I wanted to see her again in the next few days.

Last night we entertained the people we are here, doing business with, to a nice meal at a restaurant near the beech. The food was very pleasant, but, as usual the continuous rounds of toasting each other, got a bit too much, and at the end I was glad to leave and return to the hotel.

I am flying back to Hong Kong this afternoon, and looking forward to getting back to my apartment and having my airfreight delivered tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Good news! Bad News!

In a gesture of marvellous generosity, the local powers that be have re-opened the aviary in the Hong Kong Park. It had been closed as a precaution against bird flu.
Whatever the reasoning behind letting the public back in was, it is to be welcomed.
I have yet to venture in there, but it is on my list of things to do. I pass it each day on my walk back up from Admiralty Station, so when I come back from my travels…..

And now for the bad news:- Carneggies, that oasis of peace and tranquillity in Wanchai is shutting down, for a couple of weeks for major renovation. It seems that the balcony in there is not allowed under local regulations, so Sunem has decided to get it sorted. I look forward to seeing the new look Carneggies, when it re-opens in May.

Oh, my Buddha! What a relief

I was getting very stressed in the last few days – the apartment still wasn’t ready, and there was no sign of my employment visa. Living in a hotel, even one so nice as the JW Marriott, can make one go stir crazy.

Then, yesterday afternoon, it all just fell into place – my visa turned up and ten minutes later the keys to my apartment (but I wouldn’t be able to move in until this morning).

Last night, I paid my final visit to the happy hour at JWM’s bar; and, was I a happy bunny – I had a massive grin on my faced from ear to ear. Every flash of an ankle from the girls who serve there, was a like a little jolt that on Friday night I could slob out in my underwear, if I so wanted to.

Like an excitable schoolboy, I woke up early on Friday morning – far too early, so I managed to go back to sleep and got up around 8.30. I went down to breakfast and it was really heaving, but I managed to get a smoking table in the corner, and had a long drawn out brekkie.

Then, back to my room to pack, and a quick call to reception to ask the porter to help me with my six bags. Paid my bill and found a taxi driver who spoke English enough to understand where I wanted to go (not so important as the porter translated the address into Cantonese for me.

Got to the apartment block unloaded the taxi, and I don’t think the concierge was going to let me in. Fortunately, my landlord’s sister came out of the lift at that stage, so it all got sorted and the lady even helped me with my cases!

Oh what a feeling of relaxation and distressing came over me when I finally had the apartment to myself, start to look around. There’s a bottle of wine from the relocation agency and a card, that’s nice, carry on poking around. OK no toilet paper hmm didn’t think of packing any. Hang on where’s my welcome pack? My colleague, Eric, got one with toilet paper, soap, etc in it.

At about eleven thirty the landlord turned up with a bottle of Champagne and the other set of keys. He seems like a really pleasant chap, and was telling me that I only secured this apartment by two hours. And I beat a German who works for Deutschebank to it. HA! Now I don’t care if the Germans do get up really early and reserve the sun beds, because I have the better apartment!!!!!!

Once the locksmith had come and changed the locks, I was off to Park’n’Shop to get some bare essentials like loo paper! I was amazed that a locksmith would come out on a public holiday. You wouldn’t get that in the UK and it would cost a lot more than forty pounds!

Still need to sort out some other things like a telephone, tv, internet access, etc. But I would be just as happy slobbing out here!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A little bit about me....

Six foot six he stood on the ground,
weighed two hundred and thirty five pounds
but I saw this giant of a man brought down..
by a thing called love..

Johnny Cash could have been singing about me when he sung "A Thing called Love", certainly the physical size matches, and my reaction to falling in love is very similar; but, I am not the subject of any old country and western song, I am a real life and blood human being.

I have spent a lot of my life traveling:- when I was sixteen, I left home and joined the Merchant Navy. At the time, my parents were horrified and my friends thought I was mad, but it was a reasonably good life in those days. Like, a lot of ambitious people starting out in a new career, I wanted the top job, to be a ship's Captain. I got there in the end, and it wasn't easy: especially, balancing the need to work hard to earn promotion, and fulfilling the needs of a family at home.

Having got that far, I sat back and thought to myself "Right, you can't do this for the next twenty-five or thirty years. What are you going to do now?" So, I made the choice to get a job ashore. Strangely enough, that was the cause of my divorce. Isn't it strange how two people can love each other so much for short periods of time, and the love endures over months of absence and many thousands of miles (every time I came home it was like a second honeymoon), but as soon as you are with each other all the time things go totally pear shaped?

You can't see it with your eyes; hold it in your hand;
But like the wind that covers our land;
Strong enough to rule the heart of any man,
This thing called love.
It can lift you up; never let you down;
Take your world and turn it all around.
Ever since time nothing's ever been found,
That's stronger than love.

Back in 2004, I was asked to go and work in Jakarta for a few months on a project the company, I worked for, was involved in. It was there that I met my present boss. Obviously I impressed him enough for him to offer me this job in Hong Kong, for the next few years.

I still do a lot of travelling: next week its Dalien, the week after its Mumbai, and the following week its Phuket (but that's a holiday).

The weekend

All I am going to say about the weekend, was that it was all a big mistake!

It took me the most of Saturday, to get over Friday’s hangover – and then like a stupid prat I went out and got pissed again. Ended up back at the hotel with Filippinas, and woke up on Sunday feeling really rough, but at least I made it up for breakfast, even though I went back to bed, again straight afterwards.

On reflection, the whole weekend was wasted. I don’t really want to waste my time here, there is so much to see and do – so I am going to have to watch the drinking – ha, fat chance of that!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hey, I am sorry if posting has been a bit light - its just that I have been really busy.

I will try and get my adventures up to date over the weekend.

Next week I am up in the "Hong Kong of the North", as Dalien calls itself; so I need to get some writing done!

Monday, April 10, 2006


Friday was not a very good day, all in all. I was supposed to hear that my apartment was safe to move into, but unfortunately another leaking pipe meant that I was condemned to stay for longer in my hotel – it’s a great hardship, you know!

On a better note, my first day at work was quite successful, and everyone seems very friendly and helpful.

But I was so hacked off at not being able to move into my apartment, that I decided a few beers were in order. First stop was the wine bar in the hotel, where, not only do they serve a nice glass of Stella, but very are some very nice young ladies to serve you. One in particular has a very shapely calf on show when she reaches up to the wine cabinets, but I digress. After a while, I was getting bored so I headed down to Neptune, where I quickly spotted Hera sat at the bar, so I went over and said hello. After a while, I spotted Aphrodite around the other side of the bar; she soon came over to and we got chatting. It seemed she was having problems with her sister, so she wasn’t really focussed on being sociable.

In fact, I was starting to find the whole evening a bit of a drag, so I headed off to my last chance saloon to see if I could run into an old friend again. Sure enough, as soon as I went through the curtain she came over to greet me, and in her usual style order me some food. For the purpose of this column I will call her Demeter. She has the mobile phone number of some Thai fast food outlet, and very soon we were tucking into pad kaprow gai, and very tasty it was too even if it was a little bit mai phet for my taste.

I don’t know what time I staggered back to the hotel, but it seems to have cured the jet lag. Saturday morning I woke up at 10am, great, but, I had missed breakfast, and felt really rough.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thursday night

I am playing catch up with my posts, but bear with me, it will soon be up to date.

I had planned to start the evening with Happy Hour at the JW Marriott's bar, but when I got there it was already packed with people, who, I guess, were part of the US Navy contingent that had arrived in Hong Kong, so I decided to cut straight to the chase and head down Wanchai.

A lot of the bars had "We welcome US Navy" signs, and displayed US flags. A lot of them were offering special prices for US Navy - its strange, but to me the only thing special about these prices is that they were more expensive than usual.

Headed down to Neptune II, which was also packed, but I managed to find a seat at the corner of the bar, where I could just about make out the goings on on the stage. There were a couple of girls next to me at the bar giving me "the look", which I was not returning - they weren't my type. There seemed to be a shortage of people working behind the bar at this time, and I was having difficulty in attracting anyone's attention to serve me; so one of these not-so-fair maidens helped me out.

I smiled my thanks, and, too late you've done it now, she came over. I said to her "Khun chew arai?". I was betting she was Thai, and I guess its a fairly safe bet in Neptune II. I was spot on. "Oh you speak Thai". Anyway we chatted for a while, she was stroking my thigh and telling me she wanted to come to my hotel room and give me a massage. "I work massage parlour in Bangkok before. I give you good massage". I explained to her that I was too tired and jet-lagged, and really wasn't interested. Her and her friend left to go onto the dance floor.

A short while later Hera comes over and greets me like a long lost friend. Hera seems to know everyone, and I met her when I came on my reconnaissance visit. She is getting a bit long in the tooth, but has got very firm hands to give you a massage whilst you are sitting having a drink; all she asks in return is a drink for her. She asked how I was, and I told her I was tired - she jumps up and starts to massage my neck and shoulders. Then she introduces me to Aphrodite, a classic Thai beauty who speaks very good English, and is dressed with some style and panache; of course she has a friend with her, but the friend was not in the same beauty league. We chatted for a while, and I said that I hoped to see her the next night.

After that I decided it was time to go home, so I strolled back to the hotel, hoping that I had drunk enough beer to sort out the jet lag.

Fat chance! In the morning I was wide awake at 4 am.

The Eagle has landed

The plane landed firmly after an eleven hour flight, and the stewardess welcomed me to Hong Kong, and thanked me for flying British Airways.

The adventure had started; a three year posting in the Pearl of the Orient. Luke, you have landed on your feet, big time. Off the plane and into the smoking room. After twelve hours I needed a cigarette. I put my Hong Kong SIM card in my phone and immediately I am told I have 5 voicemails. I can't be that popular surely? No I am not: 4 blank messages and a message from CSL telling me how to manage my account.

I join the queue for immigration, and shortly I am through to the carousel where my cases are already to pick up ( I am so happy that the nice girl, who checked me in, didn't consider 39kg worthwhile charging excess baggage for) and then to the hotel.

I had planned to move straight in to an apartment, but a leaking gas pipe has put paid to that little plan, and I am stuck here in the JW Marriott for a few days