Thursday, September 25, 2008

Flight of the Valkyries

OK there I was in Singapore and due to fly back to Hong Kong. Knowing that there was a storm brewing, I checked the internet and was grateful to see that my flight was scheduled to depart on time, so I hussled my bootie out to the airport and checked in.
At 8.11 I received a text from Cathay saying my flight would depart at 10:15, and that the weather in Hong Kong was thunderstorms, 24-28C.
We boarded the flight on time, and got settled. The ground staff departed, they closed the doors and showed the safety video. Then the Pilot told us that our take off slot was in an hour and a half. Groans all around. Switched mobile phone back on, got out my lap top, had a beer, switched on the in flight entertainment, had another beer. At 11.02 I received a text from Cathay saying my flight would land at 14.02. Craned my neck to see if airbus had retrofitted RR Olympus engines from an old concord or something. Had another beer. At 11L47 I get another text to say we would land at 15.40, which seemed a lot more realistic. At 11.48 I get another text saying we would depart at 11.50, which was only about fifteen minutes out from our time we pushed away from the stand.
The flight towards Hong Kong was uneventful, as much as the food was unappetising. Once we got within about 60 miles of Hong Kong we just went into a holding pattern. People were getting tetchy, because they had connections and no information. I was getting tetchy because on the info they had us disembarking at gate 0, which I took to mean that we would be bussed to the terminal.
When we finally got on the ground, we did go to a gate, number 68 about as far away from anywhere as you can get; but, of course we had to wait half an hour for the airbridge operator to turn up. To give them, their due the airport was coping pretty well with the chaos. Going through the luggage reclaim, there were so many flights landing that they had this huge projection screen with the flights and their belt numbers. After that everything went smoothly, got to the airport express three minutes before the train arrived and got to Central where there were plenty of taxis and no queues. Got home and it was in one piece - no food in the house, so I headed out to get something to eat.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A quick visit to Singapoops

Had to come here for a day or two - we will have to see how the typhoon heading towards Hong Kong fares. First time I have travelled economy on Cathay for a while, and its a shame that the flight isn't half an hour longer, because i do prefer CX business class on their regional flights.
Met a guy at the airport waiting by the ATM machine who had flown to Singapore from London, via Hong Kong. It seems the grand prix is making the direct flights too expensive. Getting to the hotel was hassle free, and they have upgraded me to the garden wing. Its a non-smoking room, but no hassle because I have a balcony.
Because I often stay at Shangri-La hotels there is normally two bottles of beer waiting for me in the room. Nice touch here in Singapore they are in an ice bucket (Shangri-La Hotel in Dalian, please note, I like my beer cold). The only problem is there isn't a bottle opener to be found anywhere in the room. I suppose I could have called reception, but that would have been a hassle; then I had a eureka moment - the slot you put the chain in to secure the hotel door should do the trick. OK so its a little bit bent now, but I can enjoy a cold beer on the balcony with a cigarette.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jessica all tied up

This sexy ad featuring Jessica Abla is creating quite a vibration. The website a group that encourages young Americans to register and vote shows Alba in bondage, all tied up in tears. She does look stressed. I am sure there was no real torture here.
After the screaming and whipping the duct tape was removed from Jessica’s mouth, with tears running down her face she had this to say:

“I really don’t see the point in not registering to vote. We sign up for MySpace pages and Facebook pages, and download music off the internet. The least people can do is register to vote online, actually making a difference in their world, not just making their lives a little bit cooler. It makes more sense to spend your time making a change in society—and it actually doesn’t take that much time! It takes more time to make a music playlist than it does to register to vote.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Better to think ahead

A man lost in the desert, desperate for water, was trudging along when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried towards it, only to find a little old man at a small stand selling ties.

The lost man asked, "Do you have water?"

The stall man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

The lst man shouted, I do not need an over-priced tie! I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!"

"OK, OK" said the old man, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need."

Muttering, the man staggered away over the hill. Several hours later he staggered back, almost dead.

"Your brother won't let me in without a tie!"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The doctor is to be feared more than the disease

So after a weekend of painful elbows, I made an appointment to see my doctor, here in Hong Kong. I was fortunate to get an appointment the same day, and left work a little early to go see him.

When I went into his surgery he greeted me with, "Hello Mr O, how are you, today?"
Surely it is blindingly obvious that, having made an appointment to see him that day, I haven't come to tell him that I am perfectly well.

So I tell him that my left elbow is swollen and painful, but that the earlier proble I had with my knee is OK. So he looks at my elbow, moves my arm around, looks at other parts of me and asks me some questions. Then its time for the diagnosis, "well your elbow is inflamed".

No shit, Sherlock! This is a great job, the patient tells you what's wrong and you turn it into medical language, "doctor, I have broken my leg", "yes, you have a fracture of the femur, that's 700 HKD please"

Any way he is not sure why my elbow is inflamed, so he has given me loads of tablets and told me to come back in a fortnight. To give hime his due the tablets seem to be helping a little bit, but I am probably growing a massive stomach ulcer from all the anti-inflammatories I am shoving down my throat.

As Voltaire said, “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”

Friday, September 05, 2008

Do you like fish? Yes, of course?

Tucked away behind Renmin Square, in Dalian, is Gao’erji Lu. This tree-lined avenue is unremarkable. It consists of a hotchpotch of different styles of architecture ranging from Stalinist era, gothic buildings to more modern, urban housing. Towards the eastern end of the street is a strip of bars and cafes, which includes the Bavarian Beer Hall. This is where I had arranged to meet Wendy, last night.

I arrived there early, and spend a little time looking around the area for photo opportunities, but these where hard to find, so I entered the cavern. Quite naturally, for China, it resembled nothing like a Bavarian Beer Hall, but was more akin to a Parisian café with a B&Q pine floor and Ikean tables and a wrought iron, spiral staircase. However, it had many saving graces: a good selection of German style beers, a plentiful supply of beer nuts, pleasant staff and modern music, played at a volume that didn’t prevent conversation.

One of the girls, Yoyo, was extremely eye-catching. Fortunately they hadn’t tried to imitate Bavarian beer waitresses, as she didn’t have the build for it, but she was one of those beautiful girls that seem to be in abundance in Dalian. By the time she had poured my second glass of beer, Wendy arrived, directly from her dance class.

We moved to a table at the back, and ordered some food. Wendy had a plate of salad, and I decided to try the selection of German sausages with sauerkraut and mashed potato. I was not expecting a great deal from this order, but I was pleasantly surprised; it seems they order their sausages direct from Germany. The serving was far too large for me, but it was very pleasant to tuck in to decent bangers and mash.

The conversation turned to European food and different kinds of sausage. Some how I don’t think Wendy believed me when I told her about haggis. It may have been the part about it being a small Scottish animal that lives in the mountains, and because of the steep slopes, its front legs are shorter than its hind legs.

After this, the conversation did turn to more profound things. This is one of the reasons that enjoy spending time with her; we are able to have a good conversation together. Of course it helps that she is attractive, but on the other hand she is married, so I can’t see us becoming more than good friends. Of course that doesn’t stop has having good fun, and the evening was good fun. The time came, eventually, when she had to head home to her husband and I headed back to the hotel. I did go down to the F2 Bar for a couple of drinks, but it was not very exciting, so eventually I retired to my hotel room.

On the way through the security check at Dalian, today, the scanner operator spotted a lighter in my hand luggage, so the security lady asked me to give it hand it over to her, which, of course I did. As I left the security area, my colleague overheard her saying to the others, “Oh, he is such a handsome man”. Some of these Chinese ladies have very strange tastes.

I wonder what they do with all these cigarette lighters that they collect at Chinese airports? Two airports, which I am aware of: Xiamen and Shenzen are to be praised for giving away free lighters to arriving passengers. These have been collected at security and are just recycled into the public domain. I wished that more airports in China adopted this practice. Of course it doesn’t help when I am flying to Hong Kong. At least, there, the smoking rooms normally have people who will give you a light.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

I suppose that when you write a journal and post it on the internet, you should expect it to come back and bite you on the ass some time in the future. I have not posted on this blog for some time, mainly because I haven’t had anything I feel worthwhile sharing with my readers. So, you can imagine my surprise, when in a dark nightclub, I am approached by a girl and she tells me that she has read my blog!

Fortunately, she seems to like what I have written, including what I have written about her. What is more surprising is that she has started to read the whole thing; going back to when I started it over two years ago. In typical direct Chinese style, she was asking me questions about Peanut, and the whole shebang.

Well Chrissie, I am glad you are enjoying this, and I hope you enjoy your fame on the internet, and I hope you get something from it.

I did ask her how she found my blog, and she said she was searching for something on the internet and found it with my photo, which she recognized. I wondered how my blog reached so far up the search engine listings – then I remembered that I used to spell Dalian as Dalain, and if Chrissie also made a mistake in her spelling then “Voila”