Happy New Year!

31 12 2005

8 hours into the New Year here!  Happy New Year to all of you!  May 2006 find you and your family safe, and healthy.  Rich or poor, these are the most important things!





Hong Kong Day 7 (December 31, 2005) part 1

31 12 2005

We’re taking a bit of a down day today.  Both Mrs D and I have headaches.  I think I have a cold.  I hope to have some exciting pictures and stories from New Year’s eve though.  I’ll let you know!





Hong Kong (Guangzhou) Day 6 (December 30, 2005)

31 12 2005

Day 2 in Gaungzhou.

I woke up around 0730. My nose was itchy and killing me. I popped an antihistamine which really helped. The family was awake, but not the rest of my fellow travelers. I had a nice Chinese breakfast of “Chinese donut”, some buns, and some papaya flavored milk. It was a bit awkward, as my Chinese is non-existent, and they have some challenges with English. At the stadium next to Simon’s place a company was preparing to have their field exercise day – somehow something that I can fully imagine happening in China. Strange.

We had a tour guide today! Vicki’s Mom. After breakfast, the driver came around with the van, and we were off to see the sights and historic points of Guangzhou. First stop was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen memorial. This is a beautiful octagonal building built all from concrete. The inside is 47 metres tall, and 70 metres wide, and has no support columns. Quite the engineering feat for the 1930’s. Here I learned that Sun Yat-Sen was the father of the revolution which formed the People’s Republic of China, back in 1910. We all heard of Chairman Mao, but I admit I was seriously underinformed regarding Sun Yat-Sen, and that the birthplace of the revolution was in Guangzhou. (It seems ironically fitting that the economic revolution in China is being powered by the capitalistic changes underway in Guangzhou) It was very interesting, and they even had an English speaking tour guide who could inform us of things in English for me, and Cantonese for my fellow travelers. The gardens were immaculately kept. After that tour we headed off to the Sun Yat-Sen memorial. On top of a HILL again! The memorial was in Yuuxiu park, and there were many locals taking advantage of the beautiful shade trees to play a Chinese version of hacky sack, play “go”, practice tai chi, or learn how to ballroom dance – Oh…mustn’t forget the amateur opera ensemble that was practicing (They NEED the practice.) The monument was a large concrete obelisk, with Sun Yat-Sen’s last will and testament engraved upon it. Loosely translated: “The revolution has a long way to go…don’t give up the fight”

The actual testament (abrev):

The Testament made by Sun Yat-sen on his deathbed on March 11,1925. reads as follows:

For forty years I have devoted myself to the cause of the national revolution with the aim of winning freedom and equality for China. My experience during these forty years has firmly convinced me that to achieve this aim we must arouse the masses of the people and unite in a common fight with those nations of the world which treat us as equals. At present the revolution is not yet completed. All my comrades must Programme of National Reconstruction, the Three People’s Principles written by me, and the Manifesto of the First National Congress of the Kuomintang, until this aim is advocated recently must be realized within the shortest possible time. This is what I wished to call your attention to.

I wonder what Sun Yat-sen would think about his China now. Did his revolution succeed, fail, or surpass itself?

Also in Yue Xiu park was a statue of 5 goats. This statue is apparently a landmark of Guangzhou. Again, I must confess my lack of knowledge of the area prior to my visit, so it was new to me. It is quite an impressive statue. Here’s one of the sides. Excellent work with concrete.

After walking up this hill, and down that hill, and up another hill, and down another, it was time for lunch. Whew!

We went to a Dim Sum place owned by Simon’s company (what DON’T they own?) and it was lavish. Private room, very attentive service, and excellent fresh food. Of course the constant challenge that I have is finding ice water. At this place, they took a HUGE glass full of ice,and poured boiling water into it…Ice water! (doh!) Oh, I also got to try “Corn Juice” Basically, it’s drinking creamed corn from a glass. Something that takes a bit of getting used to. Good, but not for my everyday drink 😉

After lunch Mrs D and I went with “Auntie” to a place a fair piece out of the city. Lianhuashan resort is the name of the place. They appear to have a whole resort built around these ancient cliffs from which they’ve quarried rock.

We went and saw the giant Guiynam Buddha, or goddess of mercy. It stands about 40 feet tall, and there is a temple to her behind it. At the entrance steps to the temple are two bronze lions guarding the temple.

Lions:

Guangzhou temple Guinyan lotus lion

The temple and the Buddha is apparently only about 10 years old, although there is a stone tower which is about 400 years old near by. Quite a few people come up and pray, and offer food and incense to the goddess, while others burn paper lotuses in offering. Quite interesting to see. It was pretty quiet around,so I could get some good pictures.

Here is the statue of the Goddess of Mercy:

The pagoda tower was neat. It was VERY thin, and at times, I was afraid that I couldn’t get through the staircase, due to the low ceiling, and narrow passageway. Due to it’s age of 400 years, you could understand that some of the steps were higher than others, but still a remarkable engineering feat. Going down was tricky, since my size blocked the light from the small windows, and it meant stepping into the blackness hoping you hit a step. Luckily – I made it!

After the pagoda, we went for a walk out to the “swallow cliffs”. WOW! They have quarried large rocks out of the hills, in the past, leaving intricate and massive patterns in the remaining cliffs.

For a bit more on the area, check out: http://www.conferencenet.org/conference/IAVCEI2006/htm/Tourism/Lianhuashan.htm

Here’s a picture of the cliffs… WOW!

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The drive back was typical Guangzhou driving. “Hold on, shut up, and enjoy the ride!” You can see from the picture below that the lines are just “guidelines” and that at any time you could have bikes, motorbikes, cars, and busses all cutting in front of you from either side, at varying speeds. I thought we were going to die! No such luck!

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When we got back home, I had a short rest. Not really sure if I had a headache from the stress of the ride, or what, but I needed a rest. Next thing I know it’s time to go to dinner. Spicy Northern food. Ouch! Spicy is a good word. Everything had chilies with it. It was a step from one “mouth-on-fire” thing to another. They had a corn bread which helped cool things down, but Youch! It was good, but due to the incredibly spicy nature, I didn’t eat too much.

After a hearty, and spicy dinner, Simon took us over to one of the construction sites, and we saw the building under construction. They work until midnight! Then it was down to the train, and we were off, back to Hong Kong, leaving behind the wierd and wonderful city of Guangzhou. By the time we got off the train(more paperwork) and back to the apartment by taxi, it was again 0030, so I set up the photo transfers and crashed. I felt I might have a cold coming on 😦





Hong Kong(Guangzhou) Day 5 (December 29, 2005)

30 12 2005

Day 5 (December 29, 2005)

It was a whirlwind 24 hours!  We got up in the morning, and headed off to lunch with Color, and Shirley (a cousin from England).  I had no idea what I was in for.  The ride was fun.  Today we took the bus, to the tram, and that’s a scary thing!  The tram is about 6 feet wide, and has two levels.  They are skinny, rickety old things, that run on tracks. I kept having a feeling that it would tip over at any moment.  The way the tram careened through Causeway bay, down to central made for some good pictures though.

Here’s the Bank of China Tower and another, unknown one towering up and away. [edit 2006.01.01 – Apparently the building on the right is the Lippo Centre I ]

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Since we were early for lunch, went down to the old western market.  It used to be a meat and produce market in the early days of Hong Kong, but now houses a restaurant, and some touristy places.  Very posh, and not like a market at all, somewhat disappointing.  Then, it was back on the tram, down to Central where we went to the Island Shangri La for lunch buffet.  I have NEVER seen a buffet like this.  It was incredible.  You had a choice of Indian, Western, Chinese, Japanese.  5 serving areas each at least 3 feet long.  Then, there was the salad bar, as well as dessert stand that was just screaming, “Come – fatten up!”  We met Color, Larry, Shirley, Kin Yin, Alistair and their youngest whose name I can’t remember.  We all ate sumptuously for over 2 hours.  When people in Hong Kong decide to go overboard, they know how to do it right!  I got one picture of the dessert bar, before I was asked not to take any pictures (Interior design, trade secrets….)

Here are the little chocolate wraps, which have a creamy mousse, and raspberries inside.

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After lunch we had to roll ourselves down to the bus, so that we could hurry up and meet Christine and Barry to head to Guangzhou, and meet Simon, Vicki, Justin and the family.  The bus seemed to take forever, and I was afraid we were going to be late, but not so… in good time.  Christine had already bought our tickets, and we couldn’t get 4 tickets next to each other, so it was a bit disappointing.  When leaving Hong Kong, we had to fill out an EXIT card (These people are going to singlehandedly kill the forests with all this documentation!), and then it was on to the train.  The train was much nicer than I had imagined, and Irene and I had two seats across a table from two Chinese gentlemen.  Christine asked them if we could swap seats, and they gladly obliged.  We DID get to sit together as a group.  The train trip was interesting, as we went from the Dense highrises of Hong Kong to the more open land of the  Chinese mainland.  There doesn’t seem to be a full appreciation for the effect of littering and burning in China, as everyone was burning something, somewhere.  There were small garbage piles right outside of people’s apartments – It would appear that they just tossed their garbage out the window when disposing of it 😦  Overall the atmosphere seemed hazy and smoky…that of an industrial area without environmental controls.  I could feel the air in my lungs, and a slight stinging in my eyes.

When we arrived at Guangzhou, the station was nice and clean, and I was looking forward to a cleaner environment that what I saw in the area out of the city.  The air was still harsh, but things were cleaner.  We had to clear Chinese immigration on the way into the city.  More paper work, and man were they slow 😦  We got out of the train station and took a subway to Simon’s home.  The subway was busy, as is usually the case in a large urban city around 1730. I had been warned many times about pickpockets,and thieves, so  I was keeping a close eye on my belongings as we wended our way through the subway halls, on our way up to Simon’s.  Simon lives 1/2 a block from the subway, in the penthouse of a 26 floor apartment building!

You see, Simon’s wife’s Uncle happens to be a construction magnate.  (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/74/Rank_1.html)  This means that you accommodations are a bit nicer than average.  Simon, Vicki, and Justin share a 4000 sqft appartment with Mr. Li’s parents.  Quite the spread.  It was luxury beyond my imagination.  Simon manages 8 of the large construction sites in the city, so he is working very hard, and I can imagine that maybe one day he may find himself in that list.  After arrival we chatted for a bit, and played with Justin (12 mos) and told people of our plans to visit Beijing and Xian.  It was then that Grandpa showed us a beautiful 3D model of the terracotta army (encased in lexan), and Mr’s D and I both commented on how beautiful it was.  Upon hearing that, he GAVE it to us!!!  Beyond my dreams.  Truly kind.  Wow!

Now is when things got really interesting!  We went out for dinner.  I had been saying that I looked forward to trying out snake somewhere that you pick it out, and in a short bit, it’s dinner.  Simon had found just the place for us.  When we arrived at the restaurant, the ground floor looks like a fish market.  Actually, it’s where you order your dinner if you wish the live goods.  We picked a nice snake for frying, and a turtle for soup, and a nice sole, some scallops, and 2nd fish which nobody could name for me.  Much to the turtle’s happiness, it was too late to make soup, so he got spared.  There were sand worms, and cockroaches, but I turned them down… A little too exotic for me.

We went upstairs, and drank local Chinese beer, and the dishes came one by one.  They were all excellent.  The snake was great.  It tasted like pork, and they prepared it with a light batter.

Here’s the snake plate served up.

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Then, it was surprise time for me.  They actually had ordered the roaches, so due to peer pressure, I HAD to try one.  EEEEEEWWWWW.  Crunchy, with the guts being kind of creamy/slimy.  That’s it.  Only one.

Here’s me and my one bug.

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After dinner we went for a walk along the “Beijing Road“, it’s like a pedestrian mall equivalent of Robson Street in Vancouver.  Being the big white tourist, I think I had about 15 people try to sell me Rolex’s DVD’s Shoes….  No, No, No!  Geesh.  It was certainly interesting.  Also, back in 2002, they discovered the old roads of the Ming and another dynasty UNDER the present day Beijing road, so they have small areas where you can see the different archeological openings showing roads that were 600 years old.

When we were done walking, it was time to go home.  After uploading some pics it was past midnight, and definitely time to sleep.

Pics at http://www.fotothing.com/dragonspeed





Hong Kong Day 4 ( December 28, 2005)

29 12 2005

Today was a good day.  We got up in the morning and went down to Stanley to meet Christine and Barry.  Once there, we got to go up to her place.  More stairs.  4th floor.  Of course people in the rest of world cheat.  The 1st floor is actually the 1st floor above the ground floor, so the 4th floor is actually the 5th.  Ugh.  Got some nice shots down to the Murray House where Mr’s D’s dad used to work.  They apparently moved the building brick by brick from it’s original location to there.  Christine’s apartment, like many in Hong Kong, is “cosy”.  500 sq. ft of luxurious closet 😉  She’s got a prime location right above all the tourist shops.  sweatshirts for $2CDN!  LOL!  We had a classic Hong Kong breakfast down in the back area of the tourist shops.  Coffee with egg and ham toasted sandwiches. After breakfast, we wandered around the tourist shops a bit and I decided to buy an onyx stamp with my “Chinese  Name” – Shan Long, “Mountain Dragon”.  Very cool.  I came up with that myself!

We took a crazy minibus from Stanley to Central to meet Mr’s D’s uncle number 4 on her dad’s side. This guy is 80 years old (turned on the 27th – Happy Birthday), and is really quite spry.  I can see him going for quite a few years still!  The bus ride was painful.  Wednesday was back to work day in Hong Kong, so the construction crews were out in force.  Our bus stopped a number of times for 10 minutes sometimes!  So, we ended up late to meet Uncle number 4.  Thank goodness he’s patient.  We ate at Hat Ka Hut. Dim sum along the style of the South China villages.  Some good stuff.  Very different from some of the food at the Vancouver Dim sum.   After lunch we went to try and get Mrs D’s Hong Kong ID card updated, but apparently they only take a certain number of drop-ins per day, and we were past that 😦  We then went back to the apartment to take stock of what we had, and where we were going that night. Man oh man was it tempting to just take a long nap…. No – I refuse to let Jet Lag catch me!

Dinner was a meet up with Peggy and Raymond.  Raymond works at the Regal Hotel down in Tsim Tsha Tsui(TST), so we were to meet up at a restaurant there called “L.A. Brasserie”,  American cuisine in Hong Kong!  Because my tour guide hasn’t been here in 6 years, it means we travel a bit early everywhere.  We arrived in TST an hour early, so we wandered around and checked out all the hotels.  Wow!  They know how to do hotels right!  We also had a look at the myriad of tailor shops.  I might get a couple of dress shirts tailored.  It would be nice to have one that fits perfectly, instead of having arms to short, or neck too large. The real question is can I bargain a better deal, and is there a better location in town for good shirts? We also found a store entirely devoted to selling Casio watches.  If Casio sells it, and it keeps time – They have it!  1830, we went up to the restaurant.  Wow. Nice place (you’ll have to excuse all the “WOW’s” Things are a bit overwhelming most of the time.)  Dinner was superb.  on par with some of the finest dining in Vancouver area – albeit also on par pricewise.  After the luxurious dinner of ribs, and wine, and good company we decided to head back via the ferry.  Taking the ferry meant that we got to see all the cool Christmas lights in central.  They don’t spare any expense on these things.  60 story office buildings with animated waving Santa lights! Wow! (there I go again).

After a brief foot race to catch the bus, we were back home by about 2230.  I was so tired, all I had time to do was transfer my photos, and crash.

See you tomorrow!

photos at: http://www.fotothing.com/dragonspeed





No details yet for Today, but a few pics

28 12 2005

Three pics uploaded at My Fotothing.  I’ll post today’s events tomorrow morning.  I’m exhausted!





Hong Kong Day 1-3 (Dec 25-Dec 27 2005)

27 12 2005

[edit Having some problems with the image hosting source…. if they don’t show, try again later]

Wow – what an odyssey it was getting this far.

Back on the 25th, we left home at 2130, and arrived at YVR at 22:10 (3 hours prior to our flight).  According to the ticket agent, they were looking for someone willing to be bumped to the next day’s flight, and they would put you in business, pay for your taxi back, put your bags in storage.. a great deal, which we promptly….  TURNED DOWN!!  I don’t know why, but Mrs. Dragonspeed wanted to get on that plane, and she wasn’t going to let a small thing like comfort get in the way. 🙂

After we got our bags checked in, we settled down for Christmas dinner.  I had the bacon double cheeseburger, and Mrs. D had the 6 “chicken fries”.  Ah…the spirit of Christmas.  You do what you have to do when you can’t leave any food in your fridge.  Security check in was quick, and we zipped over to Duty Free to pick up alcohol orders for people in HK.  These relatives of ours have some pretty expensive tastes in scotch!

Finally at 0100, they begin to board our flight.  As usual, as soon as they call the first people to board, EVERYONE wants to board, and they have to beat people back. LOL!  Personally, I like to wait as long as possible before boarding, since I’m going to be sitting for at least 13 hours.  Why make it longer?  We had scored two seats on the Emergency exit Row, and as such we had a lot of leg room, but the seat width certainly wasn’t as wide as Business class.  Since I was pretty exhausted getting on the plane, the Mrs and I slept for a significant portion of that 13 hour trip.  Thank God, because it’s mostly just dark and boring.

At Hong Kong International Airport (very nice, modern and empty at 0700) we were met by Maggie and Francis with a CAR!  I had been afraid that we were going to have to take the train with the 100lbs of luggage that we had.  What a relief!  They drove us to our apartment in Aberdeen, and after figuring out how to unlock the door (yeah – it shouldn’t REALLY be that hard) we hiked up the 4 flights of stairs to the apartment, with the 100lbs of luggage!

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[View from Hong Kong International Airport on a “clear day @ 0700- check out the tall thin appartments in the distance]

After some basic settling, we went for a small walk around the neighborhood and saw the local meat market (always make sure your meat in well cooked in HK…ick!) and the live chickens, doves etc.  I’m surprised that there were as many as there were, due to the whole avian flu scare.  I’ll have some pics of the chickens up soon.

Later we went out to Stanley to have Dim Sum with some relatives. It was good to see Andrew, Colour and Larry again.  The scary thing about Dim Sum in Hong Kong is that it is almost like Dim Sum in Vancouver – Excellent food, and almost no Caucasians.

Having filled up on Dim Sum, we headed down to Mong Kok.  A shopping stall mecca!  You can pretty much buy ANYTHING legal, from about 30 different stores, all trying to convince you that they have the best deal.  Even ticketed prices were negotiable, and those that didn’t want to wheel and deal got passed up for those that would.  It’s a cutthroat market.  I’m looking for a cell phone, so we stopped and shopped quite a bit.  I might get the Sony Ericsson v800 but, of course, that is subject to change later.  I also picked up the aluminium case for my PDA that I wanted, as well as SOCOM US Navy Seals for the PSP.  Now I’ve got a game for my new PSP!  One of the camera stores had the remote for my digital rebel so we picked that up for cheap.  Great prices.  Crazy place. 

 

All Rights Reserved Click icons below for more information[Mong Kock – Crazy busy with people and Advertising]

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[Mong Kok at night]

We got home around 2030, and Mrs D has crashed.  I’m just finishing up the blog entry now, and will be packing it in shortly too.

Keep an eye out at http://www.fotothing.com/dragonspeed for photo updates throughout the trip.

Tomorrow’s another day!








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