Country road, take me home

30 03 2008

In an hour or so, I’ll call my friends to come and pick me up from the motel where I stayed overnight. My car is at their place, and, after catching up with them, I’ll hit the road to home. And after the 3+ hour drive home, this month-long journey will be over.

I’ll be very glad to be home. While travelling is great and seeing new and old friends and places is uplifting and energising, being back with my dearly beloved and in my own bed and comfort zone is pretty darned good too! I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Update: I arrived home safe and sound!

Take it easy

29 03 2008

I must take my hat off to Australian Customs and Immigration. Compared to the hour-long lines for immigration in the US and Hong Kong, Perth was a piece of cake. They had sufficient staff on who were ready and waiting for us as we came through the doors. I went straight to the counter (no waiting in line at all) and was through in about 15-30 seconds. In contrast, Hong Kong immigration had many unstaffed booths, which contributed greatly to the long wait times. From memory, the US had all booths staffed – it was just the sheer number of arrivals in LAX at the same time that caused the wait.

The wait for bags was a little longer – maybe about 10 minutes? – then the three quick checks by customs and quarantine took about 2 mins and I was through. After that, it was about a 15-20 minute wait for the motel shuttle bus.

Admittedly ours was the only flight that had come in to Perth International Airport at that late hour, so maybe immigration and customs at other times is a trial. But for our flight, it was quick, easy, and painless.

I get no kick from champagne

29 03 2008

It was like something out of a 1930s movie depicting British colonial times. In front and to the side of me on the flight from Hong Kong was a family of six: grandparents, parents, and two toddlers. The first thing I noticed about this family was the incredibly plummy English accents, and the exclamatory statements about everything. You know, “Thenk ewe!”, “Oh, Betsy has a glass of champagne! Jolly good, Betsy!” etc. So, everyone has an accent and some people talk in exclamation marks – big deal. It was what happened next that made this like something out of an old movie.

As the family arrived and started settling in to their seats, I noticed that there were another two people with them – an aging Chinese woman (Betsy) and a youngish Chinese boy perhaps in his late teens. This was the Betsy of the champagne.

After a short while, Betsy and the young boy handed the toddlers back to the parents, then were shoo-ed back to their Economy class seats by the “oh, so colonial” grandparents. Both carers popped back in to Business class during the flight, presumably to take care of the toddlers. We couldn’t have Mummy and Daddy doing that, now could we?

Something in the air tonight

29 03 2008

I had my fill of Cathay Pacific’s movies on the flight to Hong Kong from Vancouver the other night, so I really didn’t want to watch any on the 8 hour flight to Perth. I had a spare seat next to me, so I could get out the laptop without disturbing anyone else, and catch up on some reading. Before leaving Australia, I’d downloaded a heap of “Change This” manifestos, with the intention of reading them when I was at a loose end. Ha! It wasn’t until I was in the final stage of the journey that I had a chance to read them, and I still didn’t read them all.

Two that stood out, and that I recommend you read are:

BTW, I only watched three movies coming over from Vancouver, even though there was time to watch at least seven. The three I saw were:

  • Juno – terrific performance by Ellen Page as the intelligent and sassy 16 year old girl; good movie
  • The Martian Child – quirky movie about a young boy who thinks he’s from Mars; starred John and Joan Cusack who played a brother and sister
  • Bee Movie, the animation starring Jerry Seinfeld. I like good animations, but I hadn’t been taken with the trailers I’d seen of Bee Movie. However, I quite enjoyed it.

Hungry like a wolf

29 03 2008

My inner wolf got the better of me and I’ve just returned from breakfast in the hotel. Gee, they encourage you to overeat! The price of the full buffet (EVERYTHING you could imagine, and more…) was HK$155 (about AU$22). I really didn’t want the full buffet, but when I saw the a la carte prices, I was swayed. An Eggs Benedict plus a cup of green tea was just a tad under the price of the full buffet.

So, like any good wolf on the prowl for food, I savaged the buffet offerings. It was all very nice, but as with any buffet, there’s a temptation to eat way more than normal, especially the things you love but rarely eat at home (like bacon and eggs and French toast and maple syrup…). I steered clear of the Asian breakfast makings – congee and the like. I wouldn’t know what I was eating in some cases, and I really didn’t feel like a Chinese feed at this time of day.

Leaving on a jet plane

29 03 2008

My last full day outside Australia. I get picked up from the hotel just after 11am; my Cathay Pacific flight to Perth is due to leave Hong Kong around 2:15pm, arriving in Perth around midnight tonight.

My only concern is the weather. There’s a cyclone off Western Australia at the moment and we’ll have to fly over it or through it to land in Perth. If we’re lucky, it may have become a rain-bearing depression by the time we hit the West Australian coast this evening, but there’s likely to be some turbulence the last few hours at least. Good news: I just looked at the satellite photo and it looks as though it’s petering out already. And there’s no rain predicted for Perth, so this cyclone mustn’t have much ‘grunt’.

BTW, I just looked out my hotel window – the weather in Hong Kong is like yesterday. Very low and heavy cloud, rain, humidity at 100%, temperature around 23C. Yuck.

Material girl

29 03 2008

The bed at the Hong Kong hotel had a nice white cover – a perfect background to show off some of the fabric I bought. I couldn’t buy yardage (weight, space in the suitcase), but I could buy fat quarters as they can easily slot into nooks and crannies in the baggage!

Here are the photos of the neutrals and the batiks and brights I purchased; I’m not sure what I’ll make with them, but I need to have a stash to choose from, right?


Batiks and brights

Here comes the rain again

28 03 2008

The bus trip in from the airport last night showed that the weather was cloudy and the roads were wet. I woke this morning to very heavy grey skies. The expected temperature is 23C with 100% humidity! That is, rain all day. I just looked out the window (8:30am), and the cloud cover is really low.

So I’ll wander in to the Harbour City shopping mall which adjoins the hotel, and take a look at some of the 700 stores here. I doubt I’ll buy anything, but I *might* indulge in a good massage in one of the day spas as my body is pretty wrecked from all the driving and the sitting in aircraft. And a foot massage/reflexology wouldn’t go astray either!

If the shopping mall all gets too much (lights, noise, people, stuff I have no intention of buying), and it’s still raining, I’ll probably come back to the room and upload photos etc. It’s definitely not a good day for walking around or touring. I’m really close to the ferry terminals to Hong Kong Island, but I doubt I could see much across the water either.

Update: Two plus hours of walking mall hallways = sore feet! I spent $1 on some tea filter papers, and $3 on two cans of Diet Coke, plus $7 on a Beef Laksa for brunch. And that was it. I’m just not in to label brands and this shopping mall is FULL of stores like Yves St Laurent, Burberry, Cartier, Nike, Sony, Bose, etc., all 700 of them… I was able to get glimpses of the harbour from some of the windows, but as I expected, the weather, the day, and the views were very ordinary. So it was back to the hotel room to write this, do some computer ‘chores’, and take a jet lag nap!

Hong Kong in the rain

Update 2: One of the things on my ‘to do’ list for when I got home was to edit and convert the digital recording I did of my conference presentation into an MP3 and make it available on my website. So that’s what I did this afternoon and evening – downloaded Audacity and taught myself how to do this. It’s not available on the website yet – I’ll upload all my conference presentation material at once after I get back. Because I didn’t finish until after 9pm (yes, this process took some 8+ hours), I decided not to bother with dinner. I know I’ll get at least one, possibly two, great meals on the flight tomorrow. And the Cathay Pacific lounge will have lots of snacks, so I may even skip breakfast too.

Sweet dreams are made of this

28 03 2008

The Marco Polo Gateway in Kowloon, where I’m staying, is a little worn around the edges. But, like many hotels on this trip, the bed was heavenly and the shower had great pressure and temperature. You can’t ask for better than that.

So what’s made the beds on this trip so good? Well, I reckon it’s a combination of:

  • down pillows
  • high thread count sheets and covers, resulting in a sikly feel to the cotton
  • down doonas that are as light as a feather, yet very snuggly and warm (not hot)
  • ‘pillow’ layer on mattresses (US only)

Walk the line

27 03 2008

My flight from Vancouver arrived early, but that meant nothing. The Hong Kong immigration area was pretty full, and I ended up in a line that moved the slowest of them all. I was in line for more than an hour, and after all that waiting and shuffling forward, it took less than one minute to get stamped and allowed in to Hong Kong.

By then, the baggage carousel from our flight was totally empty, except for my bags. At least they were easy to find! Customs was just a walk through too, then I waited close to another hour to get on the bus to the hotel. By the time I got to the hotel and to bed, it’d been 3.5 hours since I’d landed, and some 28+ hours since I’d last slept. I thought LAX was bad – Hong Kong was as bad, but that was for the line I was on only. The other lines all moved fairly quickly, but by the time you realise that, it’s too late to shift.

Oh, and I’d wondered why there were so many boofhead Aussie men, and those with Scottish ad New Zealand passports in the lines – The Hong Kong Sevens Rugby series starts today…