Perowne Barracks Phantoms

January 30, 2009

perowne-barracks.jpgI am staying at the old Gurkha (British Army) Barracks at Perowne in Hong Kong. Tuen Mun to be precise. 2 Castle Road to be even more exact. It is a visit that is strangely affecting me in a way I was not expecting at all. Let me test the feelings and see what it is that is moving me.(Photo: Michael) Read more

Maid of Honour

January 29, 2009

filipino-maids.jpgSunday is “maids day” in Hong Kong. We passed a flood of them pouring down the hill towards Central as we made our way to the tram terminus. Filipinos and Indonesians mainly. Like their sisters in the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore. But my experience of them here in China is coloured by the abuse I know they suffer in Saudi Arabia (this BBC article only touches the tip of the iceberg)  and other places, and as they wave and smile at us I wonder how many suffer the same afflictions here. Read more

A Silent Death in Hong Kong

January 28, 2009

peak-view-of-hong-kong290.jpgCultural impressions can occur in a range of different ways. You can walk up the back streets of Beijing and watch a man have his ablutions on a tin tray at one o’clock in the morning. Or drive the escarpments of Eastern Tibet and take an English class in a village which cannot ever recall a Caucasian visitor. Or you can spend five hours in the middle of the night in a post check Accident and Emergency ward in Hong Kong with a friend awaiting test results taken by an attentive doctor. Read more

To Haggle or Not?

January 14, 2009

haggle.jpgPickledeel views on this subject can be found on  Eric’s page. Though I don’t really believe haggling is necessary, culturally relevant/observant or otherwise in a visitor’s interests the Saudi’s in the Riyadh gold souk are certainly up for some negotiation. Just make it loud!

Who Are You?

January 14, 2009

vicky_cristina_barcelona_movie_poster-woody_allen-javier_bardem-penelope_cruz-scarlett_johansson.jpgTravel is a great introspective tool, strangely mixed up with the opportunity to step outside of yourself to see how you fit in the world. An existential flux if you will.  The more I travel the more I want to do more, not for the sake of travel (though worthy a motivation in itself as any) but for the greater awareness you get of how much we are defined by our neighbours, regardless of where they live on this globe. Consequently there is a gnawing feeling as time passes, not that you might miss some exotic destination, but that there are conversations being left unspoken, relationships unformed, and interactions that are spoken into empty space.

Something in what Josephine Tovey of the  Sydney Morning Herald wrote on the 13 January therefore touched  chord. “Who are we?” is a vastly more important question that “What do you do?” “Who are we to others?” is vastly more important again. How do we find the answer to that? Part of me thinks Jack Kerouac certainly had the answer – well, some of it at any rate. He of course was the first to admit he had no answer in the end. But the journey was worth the discovery and the desire to engage in the same journey only fuels the gnawing. Tovey’s piece copied below. Read more

Sydney 2009 New Years Eve/Day

January 12, 2009

sydneyharbourbridge2009.jpg2009 starts as it does with any other year – with plenty of colour and noise,  folk travelling from all over the world to start the year here. It helps that the weather is hot and humid at this time, though new year in a snow bound New York has a certain appeal I have to confess.  Matt, who took this excellent photo (another work colleague talented with the camera), came all the way from the UK via all points of the compass to take this photo. OK, he has been living here a few years now. Pretty hard to dislodge him from this part of the world now I think.

Southern Leaf Tailed Gecko

January 11, 2009

leaftailedgecko.jpg At this time of the year I am especially alert to potentially lethal spiders that lurk in our gardens and right now are running about a bit earlier than usual looking for mates. Over the last week I have been digging trenches for new plumbing and have found a handful of their tunnels so am extra careful in the garden. But you can’t relax inside either, just in case they decide to hide in a shoe or similar. At the other extreme is this placid and very clearly non agitated gecko which tolerated me swinging a shovel past his head for five minutes before I noticed he was there. Hanging  on a vertical brick wall (I have flipped the photo) he was nicely blended into the dappled sunlight, taking on the  reddish tone of the brick – they are normally a darker shade of brown. In the middle of town it is nice to have your own zoo – or in this case a menagerie, for the placid nature of this little beast is more in keeping with the meaning of that word.

She Served me Up a Dose of Giardia

January 2, 2009

merkava_prayer.jpgBut she meant well. It was a roast meat meal cooked on a spit which, when it took its full course disabled me in a hotel in Bangladesh two weeks later. Her two small boys hung around in the back of the stall. No one else had come near her stall all day and she was desperate. A Russian Jew, she had emigrated to Israel, ironically to avoid the racism of her home town. Jews were not welcome. Read more