Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I lost my hand chicken

OK the word for mobile phone in mandarin translates as "hand device". The word for device is ji, different symbol, but same pronounciation as the word for chicken. I wear my hand chicken on my belt; Its a nice phone, nothing fancy in the way of added features, but it does what it says on the tin.
Yesterday evening, I was heading down to the reception and banquet, and sure enough my mobile phone wasn't where it should be: no phone, no case. Because I was running a little late, and I didn't want to be disturbed during the meal, I didn't worry too much. I had it in the afternoon, early on so it can't have gone far.
After the meal where the speeches were longer than the time spent earing the food (which was really nice, by the way), I returned to my room to track down the phone. OK I had had a few drinks at the meal, but I wasn't totally blotto, and I couldn't find my phone, I looked everywhere in the room. Dash and bother, was the polite way of saying what I was thinking. I would have to contact my hosts in the morning and ask them to check the coach and the training school I had visitted in the afternoon.
Anyway, I sent an email to my company, asking them to put a block on my mobile phone and issue me with a new SIM card, and then went down to the hotel bar to have a few drinks to get over the inconvenience of losing my hand chicken.
This morning I was woken up by the sound of the alarm on my mobile phone going off! When I had gone to the toilet, and dropped my trousers the phone must have dropped off the belt and found its way behind the bowl. So now I am reunited with my mobile phone, and have made a resolution to back up all my contacts onto my PC when I get home.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"If you see abeautiful building, its a hotel!"

We had a quick guided tour of Qingdao this morning, and we didn't even visit the brewery! Setting off in our coach, our guide, Nancy, armed with a microphone shouted the itinerary to us. First stop was Little Fish Hill Park in the old part of the town. Set on a hill is a lighthouse. It is said that if you climb to the top of the lighthouse you will find eternal life, and we were made to climb the bloody thing. The views from the top were nice, you could see a lot of the old gothic style buildings. Around this area were a lot of people selling cheap, tacky souvenirs, which had a negative impact on the serenity of the park.
From there we got back into our charabang and drove along the coast, past various points of interest. We drove past several new-looking and several scruffy, dilapidated buildings, and, Nancy advised us that if we saw a beautiful building it was probably a hotel. Eventually we ended up at May 4th park.
Its hard to describe what this is all about, but after Hong Kong was taken over by the British, the Germans invaded and took control of Qingdao. During World War 1, Qingdao was taken over by the Japanese. During the talks at the Treaty of Versailles, the plan was to hand back Qingdao to the Germans; but there was an outcry of intellectual opinion against this that lead to strikes, demonstrations and so on. The outcome of this is that China refused to sign a peace treaty with Germany. It means a lot to the people here, so they named a square after it. In the middle of the square is a huge red steel sculpture thatr weighs about 500 tons (nice bit of scrap value there).
There is a lot of building work going on for the Olympics, and a lot of it is already finished, in good time.
I suppose I may have to come back up here for the beer feswtival in August, to get a better feel for this place.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Between the mountain and the sea

Well I have arrived in Qingdao, and it seems to be a nice, small (by Chinese standards) city. We landed through smoke coming from the stacks of several factories and a power station. It seems strange to me, to put these on the approach path of an airport, but, hey, what the heck. Clearing formalities here was a breeze, and very soon we were in our bus heading on the highway into the city. It seems that the driver only new two modes of driving: second gear and freewheeling, but we got to the hotel safely enough.
Qingdao is the venue for the sailing in the 2008 olympics and there is a lot of building going on, just don't look too closely at some of the lifting gear hanging off the cranes. The internet is painfully slow here, apparently due to the earthquake off Taiwan; I wonder how long they will continue to use that excuse?
It seems that this will be a boozy couple of days: tonight its a meal, probably followed by karaoke, then tomorrow we are going on a city tour in the morning, before heading up to Laoshan in the afternoon, then in the evening its pre-dinner cocktails, speeches and a dinner, no doubt followed by more karaoke. I just hope my body can handle it!

Far from the madding crowd

Saturday was such a nice day, weather wise that I decided to go out and take some photos. My plan was to go to Diamond Hill and take some shots in Chi-Lin nunnery, then to go visit the new garden park at NaiLan, then to take the MTR to WaiTin and visit the temple there.
I had been to the nunnery before, but the last time I went it wasn't nearly so crowded. Its still a nice spot, and I enjoy the calm there and admire the skill of the craftsmen who put the buildings together without a single screw or nail.
The new gardens at Nailan were a bit of a disappointment. Beautifully laid out and cared for, but there are so many areas you can't go to, or areas that have been turned over to food franchises; it spoiled the atmosphere for me. The centrepiece of the garden is a golden pavillion in the middle of a pond that is reached by two orange bridges. And when I say orange, I mean bright orange. The only thing is you can't get over these bridges. There is a couple of nice water features there as well, but when I tried to take a photograph, I was told that I wasn't allowed to use a tripod. Now, I have sen this before, in the aviary in Hong Kong park, but I am unsure about the reasoning behind this rule.
Off to the temple at Wai Tin, and it was absolutely heaving. I don't know if it was some kind of religious festival or if its always so busy at weekends, but it wasn't very comfortable in the main temple area. At the back is a confucious garden, and this was really nice and calming. I was particularly impressed with the nine dragon wall and garden.
I did take loads of photos, but sorry they are on my other 'puter. After all this walking around I headed for Wanchai for a bite to eat, but ended up in Carnegies, getting drunk in the afternoon. I was so bladdered that I had to head home before Crazy hour started.
Now I am at the airport on my way to Qingdao. The airplane has just arrived, and we will be boarding soon

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not tonight, Darling

I have a friend in Dalian, called Chrissie. She is a sweet girl, who works as a translator. When I was up there last time, she was admiring my mobile phone, saying how expensive it was in China, but she thought it would be cheaper in Hong Kong, and could I find out the price for her.

I was wandering along Stanley Street the other night when I saw the Nokia 8800 on sale for about HKD7350, so I sent her a text about it and letting her know that I would soon be back in Dalian. Soon I got a text back:- "Darling Welcome U bk soon! Could U also check the price of iphone from Apple? Does the system work in China? I am interested in new Nokia8800 in black"

So I replied that as far as I know the iPhone won't be available in Aisa until 2008, and as far as I knew the black Nokia 8800 was only available in Russia.

Last night I was browsing through Wanchai Computer mall when there it was, a black Nokia 8800. So I asked the salesman how much it was and he quoted a price of HKD6,300, so I quickly sent this fact to Chrissie. This resulted in a flurry of text messages heading my way from China:- "That's good! Try to make sure they have the guarantee certificate for 1 or 2 years free repair. Its a newer model comparing to yrs, I suppose.", then: "Oh, I think I miss you and I dream to visit u in HK, its a fantastic place, I love it!" and then the classic: "Oh, I think that's the one I adore! Honey, will you buy for me as a new year present!".

This last one elicited the following response from me:"If I was to buy such nice presents for all my friends, then I would soon be very poor - see you in February". And after that, I haven't received anymore messages from her. I was impressed with the camera shop next to Macdonalds, very helpful staff and not a bad price for the Canon EOS 1Ds mark II - but I will have to wait a little while before I can afford to layout that ammount of cash, especially when my 5D is working so well.

After that I headed of to Carnegies for the end of happy hour, then to Thai Food Hut for some grub to take home and eat on the sofa.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail

Friday night, I didn't go out until later on, about ten pm. I got a taxi from outside my apartment and asked him to take me to Joe Bananas. I didn't want to go to Joe Bananas, but from experience this is a landmark that most drivers know how to get to, that is close to my destination. Apart from this driver who hadn't a clue, so I told him it was near Lockhard Road at the Admiralty end, and he tries to take me the long way round, which would have meant driving the full length of Lockhard Road. Haven got him to go the correct way, I got him to drop me near Carnegies, which looked as if it was absolutely packed, so I headed staright for Neptune II.
As soon as I got there Hera came up behind me, reached round and tweaked my nipples. "Happy New Year", she said. "Happy New Year to you as well", I replied, "but, inflicting pain is not a good way to get people to buy you drinks".

We settled down at the bar for a chat, she had been home for the holidays. Hera is a great one for introducing her friends to me, and she has a lot of friends. She introduced me to a couple of girls from Issan, that had just arrived yesterday (Hong Kong Airport must have been full of Thai girls arriving judging by the number of people who told me: "they had just arrived yesterday" - maybe it's because the 13th was Children's Day in Thailand?), and, although they were very attractive, they had just arrived and wanted to scope the place out.

Then I spotted K, the proud bird with the golden tail, okay, she's not proud, but she has a golden tail, and the other parts of her are gold standard, too. She spotted me and came over to say Hi, and we had a chat for about ten minutes, then she told me thagt she was sitting at the back of the bar with her Thai friends and to come and join her, which I did. We had a good laugh there, before heading back to my apartment.

After a quick shower together, we jumped in the sack and had a great sex session, well it was great for me, anyway, and that's what counts (he said selfishly). After that the weekend was a bit of an anticlimax, just pottering around doing housework, ironing and such.

I found a website the other day that claims to match the face on a photograph to a celebrity. You need to register, but its free. It seems to think that I resemble Dvorjak?

Friday, January 19, 2007

There is no smoke without fire

When Carnegies decided to become a non smoking bar, it was crossed off my list of establishments to frequent; but yesterday, I found out that they are now a qualified smoking bar. I was at Wanchai Computer mall, pricing up a Nintendo Wii, for a friend in Thailand. I couldn't find any in stock, but I did find a shop that had a reasonable selection of Canon lenses at better prices than Stanley Street, so I bought myself a new wide angled zoom lens.
After that I wanted a pint and some grub, so I headed to Carnegies (as the grub was more important than the cigarette). I had only planned to have some food and move on somewhere else, but when I got there I found ashtrays on the bar, so that was great. Sat at the bar and ordered a pint. Quite by chance, my arrival coincided with the end of happy hour, so I ordered an extra pint, and of course they brought out the food.
I ended up chatting for a couple of hours with an antipodean lady, who was in Hong Kong for a trade fair. It was a good way to spend a couple of hours, and I staggered home to a peaceful slumber.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

China blue

Well, the band in the bar at the hotel were not up to much, so went to bed quite early, and I wasn't solicited in the lift last night.

Back to the work site today, a miserable, grey today, with almost continuous, and everywhere I turned I uncovered more glitches: either poor design or poor quality. Yep it looks like I will be coming up here alot after the spring festival.

Going for a slap up meal, and looking forward to going home tomorrow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Only following orders"

This one is more suited to Fumier, but...
A driver in Germany caused chaos, after his satnav system directed him onto a tram line. The un-named 46-year-old, tried to back up and got stuck. A dozen trams were held up in Bremen, before the car was towed to safety. Apparently the “friendly voice” on his satnav told him to turn left, so he did and turned his Audi up the curb on to the track of a streetcar. Police said it was one of several incidents recently where drivers claimed they were only obeying orders. An Audi... isn’t that Vorsprung durch Technik?

Slow boat to China

I arrived in Shanghai last evening, and its good to be in a country where people are free to spit and smoke as they wish. I do like China, but I have to admit that Shanghai is one of my least favourite cities here.
It was a quiet night last night, just a few scoops in the hotel bar. The bar was quiet as the Filippino band had a night off. Was propositioned in the lift on my way back to my room by a cute lady, from Qingdao. I turned down her kind offer of: "Do you want a girlfriend tonight", but my trip to Qingdao in a couple of weeks could be interesting.
Down at the work site, today, and it seems that all is not well there. The site supervision team are having a really hard time up here, and it seems that I will have to come up here more often - oh, well!
Back in Hong Kong on Wednesday night, but won't be going to the Clapton concert.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lang May Yer Lum Reek - but not in Hong Kong

Well I have returned from my holiday, relaxed and ready to do battle with the challenges that will arise this year. The holiday was great; full of culinary delights tasted at various eateries, hedonistic honeys, nights of drunken debauchery and sunburning siestas on the beach, interspersed with regular sessions of Thai massage.

This is the first time I have actually been sad to return to Hong Kong. I had several long chats with Peanut, and also with some of her close friends. The long and the short of it is that she says that she still loves me, but realizes that she is not right for me.

Back here in Hong Kong, I find they have introduced the new Smoking (public health) (Amendment) Ordinance. A couple of observations on this:- there used to be a smoking room in the arrivals hall of Hong Kong Airport (between Travellex and the toilets) – its gone, the security guards in our office building have become smoking Nazis since the ban came into force, stopping people from smoking even if they are in an area where technically they are allowed to, the Bulldog Bar in LKF was a lot quieter the other evening when I went in there. It has become non-smoking, despite the manager telling me previously that the balcony and bar areas would still be smoking areas, I was previously told the t the smoking area at Champions Bar at the airport would become non-smoking.

In the long term I will just find bars that have applied for the exemption (until 2009) to drink in. I understand that the new Bulldog Bar in Wanchai will be one such place. This new bar will be located above Joe Bananas, and is due to open the week before the rugby sevens.