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Showing posts from June, 2009

Hong Kong and Home

A little before midday I woke from my slumber, still sleepy, but determined to do something in Hong Kong. I already had a shopping list and, thanks to our location, an easy place to start. The air of Hong Kong was distinctly tropical. A reminder of the local weather was a chart in the hotel lobby warning of the potential approach of a typhoon. Thankfully, it looked like I would be flying out before I would have a chance to feel any effects from it. The hotel is connected to the Citygate shopping centre, which houses various discount outlets of well known chains. First stop before shopping was food. There are a few restaurants and cafes in the centre, but I wanted something quick and simple so I went for the food court and ate noodles. Then it was time to hit the shops. I bought yet more clothes for Alex, clothes for B from Esprit and shoes for the two of us. My shoes would have cost at least double the price in Sydney and I needed them so much I disposed of my existing pair in the hot

Goodbye London, Hello Honkers

Not enough sleep, never enough sleep. You would think that I would take advantage of being away from my restless baby to finally get a whole night's undisturbed rest, but somehow it never worked out like that. For starters, I don't think that I ever adapted entirely to the different time zone. I would come back from the lessons, maybe sleep for a while in the evening, wake up in time to talk to B, fall asleep again, wake up for breakfast and to talk some more. My bags were quickly packed, in a sense they were never really unpacked, I ate my breakfast of croissant and fruit, and checked out of the hotel. This time the Piccadilly Line train took me all the way from Earl's Court to Heathrow's Terminal 4. Outside, there was a clear blue sky and I felt comfortable about the upcoming flight. I watched other aircraft on descent into Heathrow as we too approached it in the train. Terminal 4's check in area is small and dingy. There seems nothing at all to do on that side of

Last day in London

Finally, I have found something decent on British TV. Or actually rather indecent. I was just watching the first episode of Psychoville, the new comedy thriller from a couple of the folks behind the League of Gentlemen. In other words, a very twisted and depraved program. Damn, now I want to watch the rest of the episodes. Just have to hope that the ABC buys the series. Today was my last day in London. Tomorrow, around midday, I fly out for Hong Kong and then home to Sydney. The Plone course has left me buzzing with ideas and the confidence to make changes to our website, but I felt like I should make an effort to do something touristy before I depart this city. I figured that there wasn't enough time to see any more museums or galleries before they closed for the day, so instead I would just wander. From the course location on Oxford Street, I walked to Oxford Circus, then turned left into Regent Street. According to my Lonely Planet guide Londons most famous toy store, Hamleys,

The streets of London

Men wearing pearl necklaces. That's the weird thing for today. I'm not talking Ian Thorpe necklaces either, but the full set. The two young blokes looked reasonably normal other than that. Lots of Eastern European folk smoking, their guttural accents belying their origins. But London doesn't feel like a healthy city. It exudes a sense of weary decay under its energetic exterior. Not much time for sightseeing now, as I am busy with the course. Talking with an expert has given me a whole new perspective on our website, along with the knowledge of how the system works. I try to squeeze in what little sightseeing I can. The shops along Oxford Street, where the course is being run, don't open until 10am. The museums and galleries generally close for new visitors around 5:30pm, so there is not much opportunity to see more of those attractions. Instead, I wander the streets, trying to get a feel for the city and its people. Try to get lost, following interesting paths, before

A little bit of Britain

Britain, Britain, Britain. Or at least the little bit of it called London. To me it's not the mother country, not a spiritual home. Just a place that makes some damn fine comedy and the occasional great science fiction drama. Speaking of which, there is a TARDIS in front of Earl Court Station. Walking through London is more an exercise in time travel than in an Australian city. There is much history and many stories everywhere you go. It is also a very cosmopolitan city. It often feels like the recent immigrants outnumber the locals, who themselves may have come from many ethnic backgrounds. Chinatown London is without doubt one of the world's great cities. Yet, it feels rather dysfunctional, in the same way that Sydney does. Cancelled rail services, entertainment streets that are eyesores, young males who roam the streets oozing violence. Your typical British hoon I do not feel comfortable here, despite the shared language and heritage. There are so many Australians here that

I went to Ghent

The European Parliament, child rapists, fine chocolates, waffles, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Almost-Aussie-Kim Clijsters. Does anyone know anything else about Belgium? I admit to being quite ignorant about the rather forgotten country of Belgium. Okay, I also admit to knowing a bit about their devastating colonialism in the African Congo and that our old Holden Astra was actually built there, but in terms of world significance Belgium is often the forgotten companion of its better known neighbours France, Germany and the Netherlands. Maybe not Luxembourg. After flying all this way across the world I felt the need to visit continental Europe. I wanted to gauge my reaction to historical European architecture and design after the near continuous exposure to Asia over the past four years. The Eurostar train service presented two options, France or Belgium. I felt that I couldn't return to France without B, so I chose Belgium. Possession of a Eurostar ticket permi