Friday, June 23, 2006

Hong Kong. An amazing place indeed. On Hong Kong Island all I do is look up, and up. So many skyscrapers and very tall apartment buildings, rising up the hill everywhere you look. You catch a glimpse of an alleyway and at the end, more tall buildings. Hardly anyone here lives in a house with a garden - they all live in apartments, some up 70 floors or more.
It has been 5 days so far of books, writing, speaking, getting people started on their novels and picture books and short stories. Meeting Hong Kong's Women in Publishing group and the Society of Children's Book Writers, talking to publishers and authors and checking out bookshops.
No time to read except last thing before sleep,and then only for a few minutes. Night after night of midnight bedtimes, crawling out of bed to go to the next class, fitting in sightseeing whenever we can, eating lots of Chinese food (but not beef gristle or beef stomach or ox intestines) and drinking beer. It is way too hot for me to contemplate wine. But gin and tonic is OK.
So many people here, thousands of red taxis whose drivers would do well in a Grand Prix. First time I have been in taxis where the driver controls the rear doors, letting you in and out. In the mini-buses there is a digital sign up the front that tells you how fast the bus is going. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if he's exceeding the speed limit.
Have mastered the public transport system, using an Octopus card that you swipe over the card reader each time you travel on a train, tram, bus or ferry. The morning ferry ride across the harbour is a wonderfully calming way to start the day.
The down side is the heat and humidity. Both of my cameras have stopped working properly and I had to buy a new digital camera, but the lens keeps fogging up as I move from air conditioning to outside. My mobile phone is also having hissy fits, and my watch strap broke - but I have kind of fixed both of them for now.
The street markets are full of fascinating cheap stuff and a few bargains. And the number of designer clothes shops and branches of Tiffanys, Versace, Gucci etc is amazing. Am keeping a diary but almost too much to take in.

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