August 2005 Archives
Yup, I messed around with templates, OpenID auth, and inadvertedly destroyed my styles. So now showing off the MT 3.2 default stylesheet... Which isn't that bad after all, but I suppose if I went out there, I'll realize I'm not the only person using MT-3.2. :P
Moving on... So I was trying a few plugins for 3.2, including one that allows authentication using OpenID, and Livejournal IDs. But unfortunately, yours truly is not very methodical in figuring out the use of MT tags, therefore I'll leave this for another night. It's not like troops of people are, like, dying to comment on my blog using their Livejournal IDs.
In other news, I activated some "tagging" plugin, which I guess, should help me classify the mess that is my blog?
I made a Shepherd's Pie tonight (known as Pâté Chinois here in the Belle Province). Problems encountered: potatoes-to-meat ratio was too high, cheese would've been nice, and maybe smoother type of potatoes would've been nice too.
If you are in Hong Kong for a while and wanted to go somewhere relatively urban, and cheaper than Japan... then Singapore could be a great stop for you too. The ticket cost me something like 1100HKD with all taxes included (roughly 185CAD), and a youth hostel is about 18SGD (14CAD) per night.
Was in S'pore in end of May, beginning of June. Was so hot, unbelievable hot. Not sure if Singapore is a sunnier town than HK, but it was mostly on the sunshine side most of the days I was in the Malaysian peninsula. Had not posted many pics after the first day, so here we are.
Bunk bed at my youth hostel in Singapore, the Betel Nut.
Finest xiao long bao skins ever, at the Singapore branch of famous Chinese dining chain from Taiwan, Din Tai Fung.
Me, enjoying a not-oversweet-like-in-North-America lime juice, from Old chang Kee, a famous counter 小吃 (xiao chi) chain in Singapore.
Feet of me and K, my guide in S'pore. ^^;
Kaya toasts must be enjoyed with runny and wet eggs... (Ced: "Hmm, not so bad, maybe I should order one for myself lah")
Eggs, runny and wet, with soya sauce, the Singapore-style (Ced: "Hmm, maybe I'll settle with my okonomiyaki then...")
It's not an impression... We spent the whole day eating. :D This is a so-called "hawker centre", an organized outdoor food court selling street-side-ish foods, another particularity of Singapore (and variants can be found elsewhere in the Malaysian peninsula, I guess, but surely not as organized, with the scoring system, as in S'pore...).
Smoking kills. :P
MRT station at Ang Mo Kio, one of the most well-known new towns of Singapore.
Durian is a public threat in any Southeast Asian country.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is probably (on par with HKU, I think) one of the top universities in Asia. A nice campus (in a tropical country - so that kicks our McGill campus good for only 3 months a year, in the ass) southwest of central Singapore.
Tastes like Pocari Sweat, but isn't Pocari Sweat. It's 100-Plus, one of Singapore/Malaysia's home brew (and distributed by Coca-Cola).
Chicken rice from the Makansutra Gluttons Bay venue on the Esplanade (aka The Durian, see two pics down). And some sort of Indian-style pain-doré with ground meat...
Spicy noodles wrapped in banana (?) leaves. Huge lineup to that particular stand, had time to ponder about getting chicken rice, get it, and get the Indian bread, eat both, before K arrived with them noodles (and they would've been better if I weren't complaining of heat-related sickness of too-much-food, bleh).
Beautiful Esplanade at night from the bridge to the Merlion.
A statue of a giant overweight pigeon (if you see what I see), near the United Overseas Bank Centre on Boat Quay.
Hmm! Merlion chocolates!
Joo Chiat Avenue, on which the hostel was located. Famous, picturesque street of southeast Singapore quarter by day, what seems to be a red-light district by night.
Another one of those hawker centres.
Rows of colourful houses.
More houses (and the guy living behind where I stood came to ask what I was doing on a Thursday morning taking pictures of private houses like that...).
The Katong/Joo Chiat neighborhood is home to members of several cultures found in Singapore, including the Hindu one.
Warning sign, to be understood by everyone...
My plane leaving Changi Airport, flying above the rows of ships supplying/transiting by Singapore.
Food unboard the Cathay Pacific flight taking me back to Hong Kong, my temporary home.
If only skies could be as beautiful over here...
Of course, it takes two to tango, or to anything-anything. But abruptly, the lights in the house flickered, and first thing I notice is that the streetlights are out (but a few lights outside our house, and the neighbors, are still working), and the neighborhood looks a suburb saving on electricity (of course, we are in Montreal, where energy is of hydroelectric origin, thus popularly thought to be free). It's prettier that way, nonetheless.
I'm going to post pics of Singapore and Hong Kong in a sec. Yay, so much free time to slay...
For the good reason that I almost slept 12 hours, but at least slightly intercepted twice or thrice by random noises in the house (like father + brother going to work at 8AM and mother going to work at 9AM). I do a good job repressing. What usually upsets me in real life, instead comes to upset me in dream life. So this is all good, b/c dreaming something upsetting and then waking up, is somewhat better than dreaming something that you like and realizing all along that it was a dream. And then I guess it's like contemplating that picture of Mount Fuji with some sakura branches in the foreground; or that empty field in the middle of nowhere/Iwate; or that impossible certainly Photoshopped view of the Pyramids (b/c you don't see tourists, nor city of Cairo blocking the view). I do a good job repressing. It's a change in attitude that I need/needed. You know, things are never as bad, and you're the only one who can make it worse (by consciously thinking about it in a bad way).
Sleeping 12 hours is always a bit strange, like a special thing that only happens once or twice a year (although it must've happened several times already this year). There was no particular reason why I was going to sleep 12 hours, just that I felt extremely bleh all the way from Ile Ste-Helene to home. I might have slept 6-7 hours the nights before, but I'm not making an effort to do anything hard during my days. In the end of this, I'd like to find some job that I like and can spend entire days on.
In the "letting go" category, I've stopped answering daily affairs issues on the CTF mailing list... That must've been a realization made somewhere during my stayaway in Asia. I only reply to various occasional geekish, joke-ish stuff that passes on the list, even if once in a while I feel like saying how little tech-g33kness there's left in that group.
The trip in Asia lasted four months and a half (19 weeks and a half), including a 3-week hiatus in Egypt, of all places. It gave me that much time leaving behind Montreal and everything else that the change in the landscape/weather would be the best imagery to describe what it felt like (departing as the city was covered in white, but starting to melt, as per the not-so-cold temperature, and then coming back home when we're well into the beginning of the end, with everyone in town wearing shorts, and our house A/C'ed to the max).
Clubbing outdoors. Woaw. And midway into the activity, a summer end-of-afternoon shower poured on the happy dancers (and picnickers; as the name of the activity implies, it was a mainly a picnic, until the rain made the grass un-picnickable). I like electronica... but I like cute/baby Japanese electronic pop better? It's the story again of what's whose reference.
[Music: Glen Matlock & The Philistines featuring Holly Coock (from SEX PISTOLS) - Sleepwalking (Love for Nana tribute album)]
S called me a second time for the picnic on Ile Ste-Helene... And I was in the neo-FFVI part of my dream. Right after my characters transferred to the other side of the portal (in Civ3 mode, no less), I followed randomly suspicious monster-dude/Great Evil Lord around into its dungeon, just to find myself in a battle with the boss music, and my party stuck defending a Rosa-lookalike (it was a white mage, that I can be sure), forming the line behind her, while the Great Evil Lord took shape (in all its neo-FFVI splendor).
Whatever neo-FFVI means. All the FF have been bleh to play since FFVII. Maybe the next great thing will be on a portable system?
(Neo-FFVI means using this sort of FFVI-sprite-based video game, but in better resolution. Like a sort of 8-bit Theatre, if rendered into a game in PS3, say... You know, like that Mario Paper or Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga retro?)
It started off wandering up on St-Denis Street from Sherbrooke Metro, up to Mont-Royal Avenue. A beautiful end of summer day, but ever since HK, I can't be moved by weather below 35C. Anyways, if you're fed up with downtown Montreal, la Rue St-Denis is a good place to start.
The MT uploader is kind of hard to deal with tonight, so go see it on Flickr...
First, you ask for a mezzo iced coffee. Pay the $2.30 ($2.05 + tax), and don't forget to tip the dude/gal. Get your coffee and go directly to the cream and sugar counter. Fill the rest of the plastic glass with cream... Voila! You've got a sort of iced caffe latte for half the price...
I feel fine. Prolly dreaming dream dream about that fantastic-sounding job. I got "screened" for almost an hour on the phone. I feel fine, but so incompetent. It's all about mental discipline. Must stop the daydreaming. Bleh.
I am stereotypically a bad host. Or it doesn't need to be stereotypical, a host is a host, and really should be some definite way to be a "good" one. Not a self-dismissal, just an observation. It's great for a few things to have friends over, instead of having some party at some restaurant. First, you get to cook. Second, you can hang-out indefinitely, until mom/dad kicks you out, if you live with them. Third, perhaps you pick up some habits, for the next time... Well, it's fine, it wasn't a "party" in that sense, but it's great to have friends over. The big party thing is hard to have. To have it, and feel great about it, I would have to have my own little flat. I just thought about it for 3 secs, no, make that 1 and a half sec, and the problem is not about being host by yourself, it's rather being host in a home that isn't totally your alone. It's a different matter altogether when you live with colocs, or married (and in my ideal thinking, I should be married to someone who can throw a party once in a while with me, w/o falling into a manic state).
Oh, and while we're at it: an account of tonight's dinner. Aimee and Sabina are staying over. Wee came in with Sabina, left a bit earlier. Sayena introduced me the new boyfriend. We had chinese dumplings, but the skins were too thick, like the time we made xiao long bao - and really, this time I feel like giving up the making of dumplings. I suppose the process remains fun, and is a binding experience - as a stereotypically girly thing - I guess it's the equivalent of going hunting, for men? (some things are more easily doable in a suburban setting, then) I plugged in my MP3 player, but then soon decided to ask Sabster to plug in hers, which, for the first few randomly shuffled songs, didn't make a difference at all (hey, we're neighbors on last.fm). And when everyone left, we hung out, Aimee, Sabina, and me, each reading something different. I was hooked on Vince's reading suggestion related to that discussion I had the other day. Sabina snatched up one of HK's free English-language weeklies (unlike Montreal's, those in HK cater to that rich, educated English-speaking minority). And Aimee caught a bunch of my Maxim magazines, Singapore version, to analyze the cultural phenomenon. (And there I go, showing up in all the wrong Google searches)
The weirdest proposal of all came crashing into my inbox. To leave all behind to go to China, for the 30RMB Peking Duck (with two side dishes) perhaps? Or for *real* adventure (the one you have to jump head first into)! So yeah... So YEAH?! >_> I am not patient, I am not this or that. But am I fooling myself (in the sense of blocking all these possible facets of my personality)? Or would one rather find a job comme-il-le-faut in the field he studied in? Anyways, whatever, if it's for the money...
It did, for a few days, I couldn't access the mt.cgi interface script for Movable Type, because smurfmatic.net was to be physically transferred to a server in Europe (and I was stupid, b/c I did get that e-mail saying that I could reply to be relocated to a server in the States... but I guess it's somehow cool to be able to say, dude, my website runs from France/UK/Czech Republic!), and the dudes didn't install Perl yet.
Anyways, it really felt like being isolated, with noone (nothing) to talk with. For two days. Can you imagine?
I registered an account on Last.fm...
Various hair products of the "Gatsby" brand. I bought two extra bottles in HK...
Sake comes in various grades, including "window-washer". (That must've been below 20CAD?)
A meal at a "family" restaurant near Murone village in Iwate.
Mystery pic! (First hint: pixelated)
Wanted for pickpocketing. As a measure to curb pickpocketing on public transports, the authorities use "shame-based" incentives.
A bowl of ramen noodles, "Hokkaido style", from the Ramen museum in the Shin-Yokohama area.
An O-bento bought at Shin-Osaka for about 1000¥ for the lunch on the Shinkansen between Osaka and Hiroshima. A slab of rice, dried/preserved veggies and cooked fish...
Yuki's Joy album, which came out the month before. I bought it at the music store in Hiroshima's Shinkansen station, and remember it as being what I put in my walkman to quiet the snoring at the various youth hostels I stayed at.
The interior of a pachinko parlor. Pachinko is a sort of hybrid between pinball and slot machines (with the addiction aspect of slots).
"Love. Lab. Love." Indeed. (For my friends formerly or currently working in labs)
Springtime in Nagasaki, Kyushu.
You get yourself a box-shaped glass (traditionally in wood, now in plastic) and line up in front of one of those buckets. Japanese springtime picnics are the greatest.
An O-bento at the Himeji castle. I had the chance to hit the yearly O-hanami on the Himeji castle grounds (without the sakuras).
Caught this dietetic bomb on my way back to the Shin station in Himeji, the Okonomiyaki, a sort of pancake that's egg-based with onions, maybe mushrooms, meat, and a few things I don't recognize, sprinkled with bonito flakes and topped with soya sauce...
Trip to Japan was seriously hectic. Unlike other half-day stops, where there were lockers to stock things for a few hours, this time in Kobe, I had to walk from one station to the other to see something. And I did Shin-Kobe to Kobe station (which isn't even the most downtown-ish JR station) carrying this stupid bag with me, and forgot to see the Earthquake memorial in the process...
My room (shared with four others - potentially 6 people could fit in one) at the youth hostel near the Shin-Osaka station. Opened last year, and is a bargain at 3300¥/night...
10,000¥. The Japanese Yen is worth less and less Canadian Dollars (it was 76¥/CAD in summer of 2002, 85¥ in April 2005, and now hovering just below 93¥).
Apparently they got sued by Starbucks Coffee, I wonder why...
When circulating between the blooming peach trees, you really really hate being by yourself.
Umbrellas, on a typical cool spring afternoon at the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
Heh, 'nuff said.
Taken April 4th on my last morning in Osaka. The closest thing I've got of sakura with a Japanese castle background...
As I went back to the youth hostel to pick up my bag, I bumped into this regiment of men in blue uniforms (what you saw was just the end of the column...).
Ketchup at McDonald's.
I'm fine with Expo 2005 stuffies...
...but Expo 2005 popcorn?
It was Canada Day at the Expo, on April 5th, and besides Corneille, and a few other performers, there was the treat of the day, Ms Alanis Morissette, of Ottawa.
Hot dogs sausages in Japan don't taste like they do in North America... It's either b/c it's closer to the European style, or because it's typically Asian? Typically, they are juicier, and you can still feel the consistency of the meat (cartillage parts, etc), while the North American sausage is just some really uniform "meat".
The bathtub in the Satsuki and Mei's House.
A tempura-don (with Udon in broth on-the-side) ordered at the JR station in Iidabashi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.
Some delicious sushi from a sushi bar in Akasaka.
Sakura trees in the quiet Western Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, as I walked down Sakuradori in the wrong direction, and suffering one of the worse allergic reactions to pollen of the whole trip.
A giant stuffed Totoro guarding the entrance to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka (the reflexion of some random HK/Cantonese tourist).
Table hockey found in the Omote-sando branch of toy store Kiddy Land.
Merchandise from the My Neighbor Totoro cute-cult movie of the early 90s. So expensive... :/
Crossing on the Omote-sando in Harujuku district, complete with a giant screen blasting Top 10 music videos in the back (not shown).
They really don't understand what they're wishing for. -_-;;
A real Green Tea Frappuccino from Starbucks in Japan.
White and predominant variety of sakura.
Dark pink-red sakura, somewhat spotted less frequently.
Eventually lost those.
Enough of running around Japan, and gladly Hong Kong, thinks Cedric. It's also terribly lonely, he thinks, but it was only two weeks, what about the four more months to come? Well, it didn't help, did it?
Of course, you got to have sake on a Japanese airline company. it helps to forget, for a while.
And Chicken Teriyaki to fill up the stomach inthe meanwhile.
Kimura Kaela - rirura riruha
I picked up this single by Miss Kimura, who I think was poster girl for Vodafone in Japan. I was expecting something very candy pop, but it's actually rock, or pop rock. I don't know, she reminds me of a Japanese Avril Lavigne in looks (probably not in music, even if I don't currently a mental recording of the latter's songs). I also have the music video, but it's 147Mb, so I'm not going to put it up. :/
(The B-side "TWINKIE" is on the "LOVE for NANA" album (a tribute album, or an originally-recorded fan soundtrack?)), which came out the week I arrived in Japan back in March, and which was to be seen in every single bookstore/musicstore. I should've gotten it, if not for me, at least for people I know who fan about Nana - it also had a Tommy heavenly song, and some other bands I recognize.)
My Little Airport - I Don't Know How To Download Good AV Like Iris's
It's definitely a change from Cantopop... I love those people's choice of song titles.
Cloudy South China Sea skies, but still better skies to be under
Lots are now indeed happening, or being said. To elaborate a plan, I cannot be alone to do it. It came crashing (?) that I liked go-carting and whatever feeling of control and speed which came with it. The feeling is also analogous to which I lived in Saigon, riding that bike in the midst of that river of motorcycles at rush hour (with a lesser amount of being in "full control" than an actual car in a (muddy) river of other cars, at rush hour). The conclusion being, why is it so hard to walk down the street to the driving school? (Is it the prospect to selling your soul to North American Lifestyle?)
Periods of shattered-dreams-ness are just periods, and the dreams were pretty shallow. Maybe it's like the guest said on that noon-time popular debate show (on whether men are irresponsible in love), that we live in a remote control era, that if something doesn't work, just sit there and change it by the press of a button. I'm not making a honest effort, even if so far so good, and I am squandering my luck. I guess there's an amount of "talent" (as a raw array of pseudo-inate skills), and the optimistic thing is that it's never too late to make good use of it.
[じてんしゃ! I want to ride a bike! Whee!]
A HK flag (and three small hand-wavable flags not shown). <3 (And my room becomes the Chinese Central Govt Branch of Montreal)
HK swimsuit chick with impossible physics. I thought the text besides the pictures (inside the book) was cute ("Just because someone doesn't / love you the way you want them to / doesn't mean they don't / love you with all they have"), until I realized it was prolly copy-pasted from an e-mail forward. >_> (After I blogged about it, my mom seized the book and is arguing whether the girl is Taiwanese or Mainlandese)
I gathered a lot of those free newspapers, and the Sunday magazine edition of the SCMP, and a few Economist copies.
A bottle of chewing gum, of course. :P
Funniest shit (if you're really into burlesque HK comedies, and mahjong - a pre-req for this one).
Disneyland Hong Kong is opening its doors on September 12th, and Giordano is its bitch, selling Disney-themed tees at 80HKD a pop.
Uniball pens are made by Mitsubishi? Anyways, it's got cool parallel-market-product-ness.
I didn't particularly like mooncakes, but peer pressure had the best of me. -_-;
It's going to be cloudy on Friday, and rain on Saturday. Way to go to reminisce about HK weather... So forget about any party, b/c it's not going to be indoors. Return to monotony has kicked in, despite my will to not let it happen. Willpower is such an uncontrollable thing sometimes... in the midst of it, I'm going to stay home all day counting flies on the ceiling (whose numbers range from none to none, my house is A/C'ed).
So the peak is going to be August 12th, so expect me to plant myself somewhere dark stargazing.
Then, on Saturday, I am hoping to throw some sort of summer party. Time is not going to be so bad. It's starting to get colder. And I really hate this country. Except for its close-to-free corn in August. Yummers. I should be able to negociate the house from my mother (provided I clean up my room from post-travel mess), and should be able to make it a cozy house get-together. I'm no longer sure about inviting tons of people, especially that I've understood it's pretty ackward to call up all those people. It's always very ackward, well.
To me, the biggest news this morning is Japan's Upper House vote against the privatization of Japan Post, that big behomoth keeping the equivalent of 3 fucking trillion US dollars in assets. I don't know anything in economics, but I understand it's meant to protect election money, and a sign of holding on to old institutions. Unlike in most countries I'm used to, Japan's postal system also sells insurance and offers financial services. In fact, a post office in Japan looks more like a sort of bank / government welfare office (in that it's not necessarily all well-decorated, at least not those I've been to, like I've come to expect from banks), than your regular post office which deals only with sending letters and packets to the right people.
In some more fantastic manner, I see it as a turning point of Japan's decline, versus, say, China's rise. Maybe it will create a backlash towards reform, if the LDP are set to lose the upcoming elections. (more on BBC)
Anyways, I always read my news from the SCMP. In Friday's edition...
Hong Kong residents seeking to work in the mainland and their employers would have to pay extra taxes, money for health benefits.
The Kissel case, a weird murder case of a banker-husband who allegedly abused his wife. At first they suspected the Fillipino maid, and then the eyes turned to the wife, who was then said to have had an affair with a Vermont repairman (where the couple had a house). On top of abusing wife, the banker-husband was said to be a drug addict, sexual delinquant. Passioned the HK public for months.
Harry's View, one of the Post's caricaturists, and my favourite of them all (3 or 4 four of them, splitting the job of illustrating the editorial page), as being the most caustic, with its depiction of a chicken-teeth HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang with a bigger-than-his-head trademark bowtie, the Central government represented as some mean-looking pandas, and a Mickey Mouse into the shark's fin commerce. This one talks about Mr Tsang's controversial decision to send HK ministers to Beijing, and the frontpage about a rise in health-related costs for HK workers on the Mainland. Just like during Tung Chee Hwa's tenure, the current HK CE is seen as Beijing's lackey, even after working many years as a highly-placed public servant for the British Colonial Government.
I went to the beach on Thursday last week (and sent most of you a postcard from there), but that week was marked by a strike by the lifeguard corps, to protest against the government's intention to outsource their jobs to what the government lifeguards see as under-qualified personnel. Laurent pointed out to me that HK beaches, facilities are free, whereas ours in Montreal aren't (I would've never known, for not having been to a beach here since probably half-a-decade). Not to mention how beautifully South-China-sea they can get (no clear water - but still white-ish, albeit artificially gathered, sand). The photo with the article is actually taken in Repulse Bay beach, where I was, arguably the nicest beach in HK, and surely one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in on the HK SAR territory.
Starbucks' Canadian version of the Green Tea Frappucino tastes like shit. They add melon flavouring. Still the same buzz/diabetes-inducing sweetness to it, with an aftertaste like banana-flavoured antibiotics I was taking as a kid.
Otherwise I'm fine. I just came back from lunch in Chinatown with Grandma and parents. Then hung out at Fairview Shopping Mall, in its empty suburbbish vastitude.
In summary, I feel boredom of a city like Montreal seizing up on me. And as I suspect, it's a bit my fault, and a bit of Montreal's, for not being an island of occident in a sea of orient, but rather just a island of some occident in a sea of some other occident. Bleh, whatever, I'm making this up, I'm in denial of my own identity, cue-in identity crisis.
At the same time, Hong Kong is not a place that welcomes me. I am a non-Cantonese speaker, who has lived all his life in North America. Wanting to establish oneself in it comes across more as a fetish, than something "normal". As my aunts/uncles ask, well, if we grew up in Hong Kong, there's a reason we wanted to come back to live. But you, who cannot speak the language, and has no ties with the place from your childhood, why do you want to stay there? And the answer is probably that something different is a lesser evil than continuity, if continuity doesn't satisfy you. Or said in a more happy tone, change is good, and it's not a bad thing to abuse of it.
I hate Montreal. I don't hate Montreal. I pretty much like Montreal. It's great, it's bilingual. It's like being married for too long. The twenty-something questionning. I don't know. And Hong Kong is that new girl you just found, and want to have an affair with, just to get out of monotony.
I don't know. I wanted to come back, because it was going nowhere. Without a job, what can I do in a foreign city (spend all your money by having fun). I'm confused lah.
A few things actually happened in my last few days in HK. There was a Comics Festival in HK, which is at the same time a Game Fair (the dream of any Fan-girl/boy out there - complete with product-promoting chicks and cosplaying). I went on the last day of an event spanning a long-weekend (Friday to Tuesday, last week), and didn't have to queue up for at least an hour (the queue could circle up all the way from the HK Convention Centre to Great Eagle Centre, nearby Wan Chai ferry). I am far from being a fanboy, by any standards possible. But I read/watch manga/anime, and enjoy the culture, as if it was mainstream (which it really is in the Far-East).
In short, b/c I am not a fanboy, the only marking thing I get from the Comics Festival is the experience of being stuck in crowds and crowds of fanboys/fangirls flocking from booth to booth in search of things to buy.
Home, I am! Etc, etc, I am very tired, I'm 12hrs-lagged, can't get worse than that, yadadi yadada.
Ok. Plane in 30 minutes. Gate is just a two-minute walk, so I'll type an entry.
I'm tired, for not managing to sleep yesterday night. It must be my one-hour lag with HK time. :P
(Those freakin Japanese keyboards... almost like the US one, but just not quite, and therefore extremely annoying.)
First, I read the news, the NHL feels very weird with all those free agent signings.
Anyways. I bought a modelized Boeing 747-400, the plane I took to get to Japan yesterday (and perhaps the same I need to take for Chicago?). Also, weird thing, they didn't want me to keep my largish umbrella unboard the aircraft, so had it checked-in for me...
I'm in Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong. My flight for Tokyo leaves in about 1 hour, and tomorrow night, I'm back in Canada.
Right now, I wish I wasn't so nervous, anxious, sleep-deprived, b/c I would've like to have appetite (just for a last real meal in HK - a siu yok fan at Cafe de Coral, is really what I'd like).
I had 228HKD in my wallet before entering the bookstore, close to nil upon leaving. I bought some magazines for men (you won't find those in Mtl for less than 20$CAD), a copy of The Economist, a South China Morning Post, a few TVB-ish magazines, one fancy fashion mag called Jet with Sun Yanzi on it. I guess I can find a good use to my 15,000yen over at Narita.
Hand-carry is extremely heavy. Actually, all was heavy. My aunt helped me carry my luggage on the bus. We took the 14M minibus instead of catching one of the 11 Citybus, or even less conspicuously, the 21M minibus. Instead, we circled up on Jardine's Lookout, and came all the way down from the Eastern flank (near Wan Chai) of Causeway Bay, just to be caught having to walk 100 meters with 32kg + 20kg + 10kg worth of luggage under the sun. All for the adventure - just like how all this has started.
Now venturing back into the recursion. Japan is the next stop, for a day. What can you do during a night transit?
A day I started in Repulse Bay and Stanley, showing my friend about some of the calmer places in HK. Then it's an intense buying spree, which included a dinner for my Aunt Nathalie's birthday at Uncle Jimmy's restaurant, the "Red Pepper" in Causeway Bay (Northern Chinese cuisine, for Westernized tastebuds), some intense mooncake buying, and a camera for Wee (which I will be using to "try out" - I have a gig to document the way home). I bought a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. I bought some goggles with prescription. I emptied my pockets. I owe 33.000-something HK dollars for four months of intense consumerism. :(
Basically, you can greet me at the Dorval airport. It will make me feel better. It's going to be a AA flight from Chicago, arriving at 15:11 in Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau International Airport.
Anyways. It's the end of a great adventure. The start of another, I hope. I like Hong Kong more than any other place; but it might just be a symptom of "hating home". I wouldn't travel to another place. Except perhaps Tokyo. Europe is cool, if I wasn't responsible for paying for it, but it isn't my cup of tea. It's cold, and old, and Western. I need Oriental. In China, I see more than my country of origin. I see a source of pride. A part of me (but just a part of me). I like reading the South China Morning Post - the news are interesting to me, whereas any Canadian newspaper makes me fall asleep (or want to rush to the Maison de la Presse Internationale or Chinatown). Take skin magazines for instance. Well, anyways, that's background. The food is also pretty fabulous, and I feel stupid to have forgotten about it. Can you get a BBQ Pork Rice for 26HKD at your local fast-food shop? Or even just Xiao Long Bao that have soup inside them. Sigh. How about Made In China clothes starting at 30HKD a t-shirt at Giordano or Bossini or Baleno? Whatever... Or "seuil fo" electronics for a fraction of the regular price, and no sales taxes? And teh bargaining...
Indeed this time I've brought back stuff that made me long for HK starting three years ago. It's impossible. I don't know how I can live like this. It's a dream. Like dating the girl of your dreams. There might be so many great things about her, but can it really work out?
So it's set. I have a ticket for Friday the 5th flying me to Narita at 14:35. And then stay overnight, and 12 hours flight to Chicago, and finally in Montreal. Arrival at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau at 3PM-ish on this Saturday the 6th. Yeh~~
Greater Cairo encompasses some of the most cliche parts of Egypt. You have the Pyramids of Giza (Giza is a suburb of Cairo, like Longueuil to Montreal), and the Sphinx in the same area. The Cairo/Egypt museum is also a sight, as it gathers together many of the Ancient Egypt artifacts dug out from their original site (of course some statues are conveniently placed in the open, so that people can have the chance to touch, rub and graffitize some 2000-to-4000-year old objects -_-). I left a day before everyone, so missed what I would've like seeing, a Cairo Bazaar, and a Mosque (so the only real mosque in a muslim country I've been into is Muar's in Malaysia ^^;).
Camel shit? Looks like dates to me...
Woohoo, one classic.
Another classic (credit to cousin Nicholas for picture).
Ads all over.
McArabia Meal at McDonald's (and it's of course worse than it looks like).
Me, my mother and Bro-Dave in hotel room at Movenpick Hotel in Giza.
The highlight of the second cruise (July 22-25) was the ship we were on, the M/S Eugenie, named after Empress Eugenie of the French (and one of my favourite female names - b/c 19th Century aristocratic names are all sort of in again, right?). It was decorated in this really-19th Century English Nile cruise boat, complete with its hard-wood lounge, and tea time at 5PM every day.
The ship navigated Lake Nasser, between the city of Aswan in Upper Egypt, where the Monte Carlo left us, from the pier behind the high dam, all the way to the Abu-Simbel archeological site. Abu-Simbel itself is not at its original location, but moved uphill following the construction of the high dam, which flooded essentially all inhabitable lands upstream of Aswan, to create Lake Nasser (in honour of Egypt's first modern time ruler).
More tight security, even if the prospect of a terrorist attack there are sort of dim. (We were just given news about the Sharm-el-Sheikh attacks in the afternoon only, being right in the middle of nowhere sans communication means)
Upper deck of the M/S Eugenie (and my aunt Ellen talking with some strangers).
Me and the right side of Abu-Simbel (whose front consists of four statues of Pharaoh Ramses II, probably one of the biggest egos mankind ever knew (he fathered 164!!)).
Ok. Just as I thought. If I'm not getting a phone call from my parents, or an e-mail in my Inbox from my agent, that means I am not going home today. In different circumstances, I would've liked staying here, but now it's a different story. For instance, I would've liked finding a job here, but it's difficult for someone like me, who doesn't have a qualification a local doesn't already have, and who doesn't speak the local language good enough for the working world. That's how I see it. And we're not even mentionning the warnings family and friends give me about cut-throat-society HK, but I guess I already understand a bit of it.
In the meanwhile, Laurent is improvising a trip from his Tianjin, where he has been learning Chinese for the past year, to Hong Kong (and then Yunnan - I might join or not, depending on budget and time). Actually, he told me on Sunday, and I am supposed to meet him up later at the Causeway Bay MTR (we didn't say where, or what time exactly, so I guess it takes all the meaning of improvisation!).
Also, in the meanwhile, I stop pondering, and just want to let out all that I've absorbed from Hong Kong, good or bad. I don't know. But is Western Civilization on the verge of collapse? Or at least, about to be passed in front by Asia? So many questions. In a sense, Hong Kong has rejected me, but it's possibly because I have not tried hard enough. Or that we're not made for each other. Or something like that. Sometimes, you just can't force things to happen: they just happen. Some relationships are like that. Or actually most my human relations are like that anyways.
I've become quite good at talking. I talk to the blog. It wouldn't be very different if I had someone in front of me to talk with. So, for what I lacked in self-expression during childhood, I now catch up with it in young-adult age.
Anyways, I must be one of those foreigners/tourists with the most familiarity with HK. It hits me that now I need to take a big breath out, or I'm going to choke pretty soon.
That will be for an undetermined date however. Off for more adventures in the Fragranced Port! Whee.
I'm "babysitting" my cousin Nicholas at the HK Central Public Library in Causeway Bay, right down the hill where my Aunt Nathalie lives. I've not yet seen the Grande Bibliotheque of Quebec in Montreal, but this library I'm in is pretty huge, and tall.
I'm now on one of the LAN Workstation - the same ones I used back in 2002 for most of my postings.
I'm still prepping up to go back home. I just checked my baggage allowance on JAL - it's got a section about "carry-on baggage", and another about "free baggage allowance: checked baggage". At first, I understood that I could have one carry-on of 10kg, and two check-in of 32kg ea.; but that sounds a bit excessive - especially when Asian airlines, for inter-Europe/Asia/Africa flights, only allow you 20kg of checked-in stuff... Excessive indeed. I need to call them.
I'm to leave the territory at any time. My uncle invited me over to his flat, along with Nat and Nic and perhaps uncle Peter if he can make it on time from the factory in Shenzhen.
My feet smell like HK again (it was meant to happen - even after 3 weeks spent in the drought), and both sides neighbors peeked at me when I tried putting my right foot up on my left leg...
I don't know. I liken this to the end of a relationship. Hong Kong is rejecting me - but it could be that I am rejecting Hong Kong, just by lack of true enthusiasm and go-getting-ism. Having stayed here almost 3x the length of last time, I could probably expect the effects to be even more long-lasting that last time. But what if I did everything, and this was just the fling I needed to get over it?
I've mentally prepared for coming back. My bags are packed (roughly stuffed - but I know I have space), and I'm almost ready to go. I've sporadically job-hunted back in the country of the cold, but I could probably find something: I assume that the job market must be pretty good, since noone is mentionning it in the news. And I have friends I want to see. And I have the feeling Montreal is not so bad, when you're enthusiastic about it. All a question of how much you can self-motivate.
Anyways. Wasting time all the time is not an easy thing to do (on a small budget).