Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Missive from Hong Kong

Have now been here nearly two weeks and am getting ready to return to Australia. It's been a long haul this time, with lots of training and meetings and discussions. Too tired even to read most nights! And although I did discover a local cyber place, I can only come here in school hours as after school, the place fills with screaming teenagers playing online games.
The Blogger site is in Chinese so I'm not sure how to use it - am guessing most of the time!
The weather has been mostly grey with a bit of rain. Everyone keeps telling us how unusual it is, and we should be having cool sunny days. Hmmm. And the pollution is a huge issue. I went out to Lantau Island yesterday (climbed the 260 steps to the big Buddha, with lots of rest stops) and it was so hazy you could hardly see two kilometres. Apart from the fact that people living here are starting to think about leaving, and some big companies are looking at relocating so they don't get sued by sick employees, they will kill tourism if they don't do something. No point going up the Peak if you can't see a thing.
A lot of Hong Kong-owned factories have apparently relocated into China and the pollution is coming from there where there are few emission controls.
But Hong Kong itself is as lively as ever. I'm staying in Wanchai and have wandered through the local markets a few times, staring at live fish in tanks, meat being cut up and displayed on the street, huge piles of dried seafood and flower shops that sell a bunch of orchids for the equivalent of AU$1.20.
The tourist markets are the same - lots of Americans here this time, and not just because the Kittyhawk is in the bay and sailors are everywhere (you can tell them by the really short hair). I have become used to eating noodles nearly every day, haven't missed coffee at all, and haven't been brave enough to try duck tongues or pig's knuckles.
Bought a collection of Chinese short stories but haven't read them yet. I've been deep in Louisiana, reading James Lee Burke's new Robicheaux novel. As always, fantastic description and a good story with lots of flawed characters that make you think about who is who in the world, and how do we really know the inner workings of most people.
Food for thought.

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