Have returned from Hong Kong, and Melbourne seems quite sedate. I had to do grocery shopping today at my local centre (mall) and found myself greeting people and being very friendly - a HK hangover, as everyone there is so polite and helpful, even if you are asking dumb questions (such as "where is the tram stop?" and they point just behind you).
We packed in a huge amount while we were there, running a wide range of classes and seminars, building our "client base" (feels strange saying that - I still think of everyone as students or fellow teachers or trainers - the difference between business and education, I guess, but don't get me started on the new university culture where business takes precedence over education).
We had classes at the YWCA, training sessions in editing and writing with Women in Publishing, more training in creative writing with secondary students with Chinese-school teachers, I had a great day with the Grades 4, 5 and 6 at Peak School and another inspiring day writing with kids in Repulse Bay. Also spoke to SCBWI members one night. Time off? Well...
One day in Shenzen, shopping in the madness that is Wo Lu - a building filled with five floors of little shops, all with sales people who follow you and tug at your arm while trying to persuade you to buy something (and offering lower and lower prices the further you go from their shop). We had a shopping guide book that helped us to find our way around what must have been at least 1500 shops.
Another day at Hong Kong Park in the huge bird aviary (and by the turtle pond), then over to Kowloon to look at clothes, ones which I was more likely to afford. The branches of Gucci, Versace, Chanel etc were avoided.
One afternoon at Stanley Market, which was a welcome change as no one pursues you down the street and you rarely need to think about haggling. I think only the strong and the brave can endure more than two full-on haggling days.
My favourite place was Wanchai, where our hotel was - lots of lanes filled with the local market stalls selling everything from live fish to dried seafood, all kinds of vegetables and fruit, and live chickens beheaded and plucked while you wait (no, don't look, Sue!). Once again, I ate many bowls of noodles and drank my favourite ginger tea with black honey.
My last night was spent at the Happy Valley race track with the EMB social club outing. All my chosen horses did dismally, so I came home with a lighter purse but a happy heart.