Thursday, April 16, 2009

Savouring smells, sights & sounds

Well it is now day 7 in Hong Kong and I feel as though I have been here forever. The place is just teeming with olfactory overtones which immediately trigger emotional memories which I'm sure will transport me right back to the city in the coming years. Such a city of juxtapositions, beggars and coffee shops, swarovski crystals and tacky plastic "jewels", Dim sum (steamed dumplings filled with a varity of ingredients but all seem to taste the same) and exorbitantly priced upmarket eateries. American influences of fashion design and need for espresso bars and Ben and Jerry icecream, ex pats galore living on Discovery bay with their designer poodles and garden workers wearing the traditional domed straw hat.

Saturday we travelled to see the "Big Buddha". To get there we took a cable car cabin across the sea and the mountains which involved 30 minutes of dangling at perilous heights with a 360 degree vista views. The little touristy village with japanese graden was a nice stop point for Starbucks and a blueberry muffin before climbing the numerous stairs to reach the 34 metre bronze buddha statue. Guarded by statue attendants, he perches on the hill facing the monastery. Large brightly painted and gold leaf encased incense sticks are burnt inside the monastery gates and people bow and wave them in the direction of the temple.

We travelled back by "crystal cabin", this time having a completely glass floor in which to view the plummeting depths and let the imagination plot the safest place to fall in worst case scenarios. Thrilling! We saw pin pricks of fisher people in the shallow seas below through the glass floor.

Must relieve my post for another eager tourist wishing to us the free internet now!

Well it's been day 1 in Hong Kong. The flight from Adelaide to Singapore felt luxurious. I love being on a plane and having no control over my life in that moment. I was seated next to a mother and her teenage daughter who were on their way to Cairo. Unfortunately just us three had technical difficulties with our TV screens for the first 2 hours, despite them being reset twice. As an apology, Singapore air gave us each a $75 US gift voucher to use on their in-flight gift shop! Loving it! Free perfume and chocololate compensated for the inconvenience nicely! Just a tip, halfway through I worked out you can actually rewind the movies to the start, rather than watching the end of one as I did initally. Plus you can pause them when you go to the loo! Brilliant! There was quite the drama on the plane. In the row adjacent to us an elderly woman had a few low blood sugar episodes, including fainting, vomiting and repetitive moaning. She drew a crowd of about 8 personnel, conveniently the doctor was seated just nearby. Anyhow a couple of movies later (Revolutionary Road and half of Marley and Me), a cat nap and a quick attempt at playing Mario, we were in Singapore. The airport was humid and tranquil with tinkling water features, fresh orchid displays, and synthesized music to increase the zen. I spent the hour transfer time wandering the computer shops, watching tourists whack a hammer on a scale to win prizes, drinking copious amounts of FREE water from the drinking fountain, trying to clean up the mess my exploded toiletries made in my bag and using the free internet. This flight I was seated in the aisle next to a quiet young chinese couple. After a welcoming hot towel and orange juice, another movie (Yes Man) I opted for the "western" style meal of chicken and veg, as the chinese version looked a quite non-descript. Arrived at 10:45pm and successfully followed the crowd through vistor checks, travellators, escalators and a train trip, through customs (where I was approached by a guard saying "Where did you come from?" ["Singapore"] "Are you travelling alone?" ["yes"] "Do you have cigarettes or alcohol?" ["no"]. Maybe I looked like Schappelle that day?) Found Aunty Sally (yay!) and we bussed it back to her apartment. The one bedroom place that takes 4 steps any way to reach the outer walls is quaint and on the 15th floor overlooking Discovery Bay harbour. With a cup of packet Hot Chocolate that was bound to contain melamine instead of powdered milk, a quick introduction to the much loved "Australia Channel" it was time to sleep, about 2:30am Adelaide time. Day 1 and the weather was around about 22 degrees. We walked down to the bay precinct and stumbled upon an easter festival sponsered by "Playright" a child's play company. Took photos of kids on mini flying foxes, sumo wrestling with padding and helmets, thrashing around in a portable plastic room with balls and foam bits and stalls to paint and glitter foam easter eggs. Quick coffee at Pacific Coffee and then onto the ferry to the main island. Oddly shaped sky scrapers, the "onion cutter" buliding (apparently when my nanna visited that's what she called it due to the blade like structure on the roof), a shopping mall that out rivals New York anyday filled with every designer skin care, cosmetic and jewellery store known to human kind and Pret a Manger, an amazing cafe selling freshly made salads, sandwiches and wraps. Being a public holiday, the maids (mostly Phillipino) would gather in the town as the familes they worked for would dismiss them for the day. Public conveniences were often locked, and patrons needed to collect the key, supposedly to prevent such lowly servant people using the facilities. Toilet attendants fold hand towels and keep the bathrooms clean all day. After window shopping we caught bus 15 to the top of "the peak". A harrowing ride up a narrow winding road through the mountains where the drop down rugged escarpments was way too close for comfort, was quite the thrill. At the top was another designer shopping centre, complete with a giant plasma screen, Ben and Jerry's icecream and an amazing view down to the valley and harbour. We browsed the chinese trinkets (jewel encrusted animal jewellery boxes, chinese lanterns, enamel and gold leaf Klimt replicas, keyrings with chinese birth year animals, and majong sets) and stopped for more coffee. Up the flights of escalators where more shops awaited, included one devoted entirely to Astro Boy, then a much needed de-tour to Burger King where you can buy swiss mushroom burgers and cheese filled tots. The chips were weirdly rough textured and over fried. After such a snack, we felt the need to tackle the walk around the peak. All the slopes are coated with a layer of cement, which encase the already existing trees. Each slope has a sign quoting it's slope protection number. The rubbish bins on the way had signage saying they were emptied 3 times a day (poor sod with that job!). We passed by poodles and minature dog varieties toted by enthusiatic owners, people jogging and young western mothers pushing prams. Mysterious upward driveways to opulent private residences dotted the strip, completed with gilded gates and razor wire spiralling the perimeter. Spectacular views of the harbour, cruise ships, ferries and liners. Seemed rather eerie though that not a single sign of fauna was evident. No birds, lizards, insects to be found just a strange chorus of unseen cicadas. Exhausted we made it back to the start and lined up for the tram cars that flings you down a very sharp gradient to the bottom of the mountain whilst you sit backwards. Perused the shops on the way back to the ferry, imacculate shopping malls complete with fresh growing orchid arrangments in the shiny floored corners, not a single sign of rubbish or graffiti to be found. Such a weird and wonderful city. Consumerist capital of the world, oddly reminds me of New York with the juxtaposed St John's Cathedral (completed with bamboo scaffolding) against ultra modern skyscrapers. Apparently crime is very low, the people are quite decent and the living standard in these parts is not too shabby if you treat outside your micro anominity-apartment as your playground. Still quite surreal.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chip thief

Do you think it's bad that I keep eating the chips bought as therapy incentives for students at school? I don't believe in food as a reward anyway. So there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

real smiles

Today I realised something about my students. When they smile they mean it. They don't know how to fake a smile or fake happiness. When they smile their eyes crinkle at the edges, so I know they are real.


I've decided to always have flowers in my house. It would be great to have flowers in every room, but at the moment three arrangements suffice. They all have a story. Yellow easter lilies given to me by mum when I was blue, white daisies rescued from a dying bunch from Coles and white arum lilies from a roadside sale at a whim.

Riding blind

So on Saturday we rode Seacliff to Henley. The nature of this route is that you can only ride part the way along the beach and the best part of the trip along the backstreets of Brighton, the patawalonga and busy Military Road. The head wind was insane on the trip there and we got there just in time for a glass of wine and dinner with the setting sun. The way back was more perilous in the dark with no bike lights, but it made the bumps and dips in the road an exhilarating surprise everytime. Still, I think I prefer the horses, river, wilderness and playgrounds of the linear park ride.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Ok, so today I went back to work after being away for two days. You'd think two days absence would not warrant the pilfering of my specialised OT resources. Why oh why would anyone remove the projector wheel and not replace it with a new one (and especially being my favourite one where the light heats up the coloured liquid oils and projects them in patterns on the wall). And who took my step ladder? Actually if I find out who took the step ladder then maybe I can find the person who used that step ladder to reach the projector to remove the colour wheel.

And who is letting the kids bite through the gel filled balls so that the gooey highly TOXIC contents spill over the equipment to leave a glue like residue? And what the hell is that dry white drippy pattern on the mats under the swing? And if I have to turn off the freaking heater in that room when I leave at 5'o clock one more time I will be hiding the remote!

Oh and what did I do wrong to wait 3 years to get an office, only to have to share it with 4 early 20's speech pathology students who sing hokey pokey and Old Macdonald with inserted words as a 'preparation' for their therapy sessions whilst I am on the PHONE!!! Seriously what is with uni students these days, haven't they learnt respectful workplace practices for goodness sake! In my day I was so scared of my supervisor (who by the way was frightful) I ate lunch by myself in the therapy kitchen!

Grrr, I just want things to run smoothly, I want equipment to be where I left it or at least someone could leave a note so I can track its journey. And why do I have to wait a week for the maintenance man to screw a flopping pin wheel projector to a shelf when I have waited 8 weeks for it to arrive from the UK and I'm itching to use it?

I'm sorry but the sensory room is far from relaxing right now!