Sunday, July 31, 2005


In my bid to explore some more of the recommended shopping malls I ventured over to Rockwell today...found the bookstore up on the 6th floor...good selection, if a little chaotic...and classing 'The Da Vinci Code' as a 'new arrival' is a worry!!

One thing that really unnerves me in Manila is that when one gets into a taxi the driver automatically locks all the doors...I understand why they do this and I am sure it is the most sensible thing to do but I don't like it...when I was about 10 years old I was in a fairly bad car accident...the worst part was that the doors were locked and I couldn't get out...I had to be dragged out the window of the car just as the other car exploded...not something I would like to repeat...hence my fear of having the doors locked.

I went to the movies today...a much more pleasant experience than HKG...nobody allowed in late...and no mobiles ringing or bleeping...definitely something I could get used to!

In HKG at the weekends the shopping malls offer musical entertainment which everyone gathers around to watch and the malls provide religious services and choirs singing....totally different but just as popular...the other difference is that in HKG the shops and the malls continue to be busy (during the 'entertainment') the shops empty and the mall corridors are like a ghost town!


Sunday morning humour...

Someone at The Philippine Star has a sense of humour....


Friday, July 29, 2005

The Greatest Painting in Britain

Click here to vote for the Greatest Painting in Britain.

this one gets my vote every time....William turner's 'The Fighting Temeraire'

from the National Gallery's web site

Full title: 'The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up, 1838'

The 98-gun ship 'Temeraire' played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, after which she was known as the 'Fighting Temeraire'. The ship remained in service until 1838 when she was decommissioned and towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up.

The painting was thought to represent the decline of Britain's naval power. The 'Temeraire' is shown travelling east, away from the sunset, even though Rotherhithe is west of Sheerness, but Turner's main concern was to evoke a sense of loss, rather than to give an exact recording of the event. The spectacularly colourful setting of the sun draws a parallel with the passing of the old warship. By contrast the new steam-powered tug is smaller and more prosaic.

Turner was in his sixties when he painted 'The Fighting Temeraire'. It shows his mastery of painting techniques to suggest sea and sky. Paint laid on thickly is used to render the sun's rays striking the clouds. By contrast, the ship's rigging is meticulously painted.


There's good and bad in this.....

Mass wedding to be held today

AMMAN (JT) — Sixty-two couples from across the Kingdom gather today, Friday, to tie the knot in the Kingdom's 12th mass wedding at Dar Al Arqam Islamic Schools in Amman. Wedding guests are expected to total 10,000 relatives and friends, and will be served by over 200 volunteers. The participating couples do not pay for any expenses. They will receive cash as well as home furniture and appliances as gifts. The wedding is organised by Al Afaf (virtue) Charitable Society, a nonprofit organisation that seeks to help young couples get married and defy negative social norms like high dowries and extravagant engagement and marriage parties, which are widely viewed as indicators of social status. It has succeeded in assisting 415 couples over the past decade, with the first mass wedding organised in late 1995 for four couples only.

From the Jordan Times


Thursday, July 28, 2005

In addition....

For those of you who feel that I am not a)giving enough information about the Philippines b)not commenting intelligently or in depth or enough on the present political situation c) being very blog boring...

my answer is simple...I am not leaving the building I work in at present so cannot comment on Manila and its environs...and for political commentary please head on over to Manuel L. Quezon III. What he writes is clear, concise and even for me (a newcomer to these politics) easy to understand...I will never be able to be as factual and informative as he addition he seems to have 'access' to some fairly interesting read him for the real story and my notes for the 'daft' take on the news here.


Politics, The Philippines and the IRA

I have been running a little experiment the last five days....when I am introduced to a Filipino I time how long it takes them to mention politics....results so far are...the shortest time three minutes and the longest was eight minutes!

Politics is everywhere here and every piece of news is being read into in some depth and everyone has conspiracy theories.

And this morning I find myself doing the same thing...

main article on the front page of The Philippine Star was:

GMA open to FM burial at ‘Libingan’

Almost 16 years after dying in exile in Hawaii, former strongman Ferdinand Marcos may be accorded a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Makati City.

instead of me thinking, finally this is going to end...I think....ah...interesting timing for GMA to say that..particularly as the media is presently looking into how many Filipinos seem to prefer Marcos to GMA....

The constitutional change that GMA is 'working on/supporting/seeing as a dignified way out'.....has been labelled by all and sundry as the Cha-Cha short for 'Charter Change'...unfortunately the media here does not dignify politics either and makes a mockery of the whole process giving important political decisions a name like 'Cha-Cha'.

Discussing a staffing issue the other day, the staff's unfortunate decision was described as 'lapse in judgement' and that's how it was offically recorded!

And in other news....

From the 'official' end to hostilities...but only after 4pm (BST)today

Prince Walid bin Talal is making a big gesture by donating 11.7m pounds sterling to fund an Islamic gallery at the Louvre...dare I say that the only thing that will help people to gain an understanding of Islam as a religion of humanity and tolerance is when the fundamentalist practioners of Islam stop their indiscrimate murders and curb their violence. An art gallery will be a fantastic addition to the Louvre, Islamic art is very beautiful and many will enjoy it....but I would rather he would spent that money in trying to eradicate Islamic fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia.

Other than her hands, this 'woman' looks quite 'convincing'

Mother Nature at her most impressive and terrifying

Tourists from Hong Kong and China find out what it is like to be on the end of racial slurs...and they don't like it. Probably one of those times when being a hotel GM is not an attractive position!

To finish...a French joke...I would like to point out that this was sent by a Frenchman who is fortunately able to laugh at his country's rather unfortunate reputation!

Prime Minister Chirac has officially raised the French terror alert from "Run" to "Hide". There are only two higher alert levels in France, which are "Surrender" and "Collaborate". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France's white flag factory - effectively crippling their military.



But every time it rains,
You’re here in my head,
Like the sun coming out--
I just know that something good is going to happen.
And I don’t know when,
But just saying it could even make it happen.

Cloudbusting - Kate Bush


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

News from Jordan...

I am hoping that as the source is maybe not the most reliable in the world...that this is not true.


Asia's World City....

It never ceases to amaze me how a city as sophisticated and advanced as Hong Kong can continually give itself bad press and embarass itself on the world stage. Disneyland seems to have added to Hong Kong's PR woes this year and there I was thinking that Disneyland was supposed to help Hong Kong....

We start off with the whole shark's fin debacle, the problem here was not only that they originally offered shark's fin on their menu but the way in which the ensuing battle unfolded....yes, we will continue to offer shark's fin, yes, we will continue to offer shark's fin but from sustainable sources, then - yes, we will continue to offer shark's fin but those that want to have it at the banquet will be given a leaflet showing how the sharks are killed and the fin harvested....and then finally, we will take shark's fin off the menu. Surely, someone should have had the sense to realise that this was a developing PR nightmare and just removed it immediately instead of it taking them just over a month.

Then reading the Asian Travel Trade Gazette (1st-7th July) I read a couple of letters from overseas travel agents who are not completely happy with the communication process from Disney...

"During the first part of this year we had a lot of difficulty in making contact with Hong Kong Disneyland for advance bookings and there were no incentives offered to tour operators" (from Bangkok)

"..Hong Kong Disneyland has not been as forthcoming in communicating with us as we would like, and my wish is for its management to work more closely with agents." (from Jakarta)

Granted the first quote was then followed by a comment saying that Disney had improved since the beginning of the year...but still comments such as the above do nothing to enhance HK's supposed reputation of being efficient and confirming Hong Kong's slogan of being 'Asia's World City'.

And finally....the'd think that for a company that portrays animals as cute and cuddly (for the most part) that they'd have more sense!

Fortunately for Hong Kong Disneyland the 'Fireworks' disturbing and polluting Disco Bay" story probably won't make the world's press.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

40 goats....

If Bill Clinton were to want to take up farming now would be an ideal opportunity!!


Monday, July 25, 2005


So the impeachment process has started and on the morning of GMA's State of the Nation address.

I hope for the sake of the reputation of The Philippines that GMA does stay in power until such time as she is either legally removed or finishes her term in office. It doesn't say much for a countries democratic or legal process when they tend to oust their leader with street demonstrations...Marcos - I think the world understood; Estrada - the world vaguely understood and more - that just smacks of a total disregard for the constitution of the country.

In the words of Oscar Wilde through Lady Bracknell...

"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Yes, Prime Minister....

Truth to tell I am actually finding it hard to write about Manila...for a few reasons..

firstly I live and work in the same building and as I am finishing work late at night...I don't get out much, don't want to blog about work...which leaves me fairly little to write about.

the news seems to move from the odd to the ridiculous fairly quickly..and I find it hard to believe much of what I read in the papers...

today the Philippine Star has a banner that tells me that according to a survey that will be published early next week that Filipinos prefered the Marcos regime over the GMA that really true...the only way that I can imagine it to be true is that with the Marcos regime they at least knew what to expect...corruption, corruption and more corruption...whereas wtih GMA they were expecting/hoping for a cleaner form of government and apparently they haven't received it.

The other thing that has amazed me this week is the number of opinion polls that are taken and show Filipinos coming out in support of GMA or against her...

reminds me of that episode of "Yes, Prime Minister", when Sir Humphrey shows Bernard how it is possible to skew the results of an opinion poll by the line of questioning taken...the subject under discussion is the reintroduction of national service.

From "The Ministerial Broadcast"....

Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
Bernard Woolley: "How?"
Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

copied from here with some other quotes and a sound file if you want to listen to it...


Sharm El-sheikh

This is terrible news....

Sharm is a really lovely place for a holiday...beautiful scenery, lovely beaches, the hotels are fantastic..and from what I can gather beautiful diving...

I went on holiday to Sharm whilst I lived in Jordan....a few pictures of the Hyatt Regency where I stayed...a really nice hotel and gorgeous views over the sea.....

I have friends who work in Sharm but as yet we don't know which hotel has been hit.....


Friday, July 22, 2005

A lucky escape...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Once in a blue moon...

something happens to take my breath was a blue moon...

I was sitting at my desk concentrating on some reports when in amongst the background noise I heard some music...playing on my secretary's CD...a song that I haven't heard for about 2 years...a song that I don't even like...a song that reminds me of someone...someone who affected me in a big way...and still has the power to affect...someone who if he walked into my office right now, I would just down tools and leave with - where ever he wanted to go...and I felt like I had been was almost physical...

it's left me fairly rattled all day.


A view on Manila from Hong Kong

From today's SCMP....have posted the whole article for those in Manila who do not subscribe to the SCMP

Once more, from the heart


Do you know any exceptional public-relations consultants? Refer them at once to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She desperately needs the help. Her credibility is in tatters, her popularity ratings have crashed through the floor and an increasing number of people think she should resign.
Desperate advisers have had the president running through a gamut of poses, from silence to meekness and defiance. Their latest stratagem portrays the president as a gentle, motherly soul who likes nothing better than to stroll along the bay in a frothy cloud of goodwill. To those who know that Mrs Arroyo is a testy woman who shouts and throws things at aides, the sight is unnerving - like Margaret Thatcher performing in The Sound of Music. At the palace, her aides affect a cheerful air of "business as usual" - their delivery punctuated by the loud banging of doors as yet another disgusted member of the cabinet walks out.

What the public wants is not a president acting like Julie Andrews, but one who directly addresses the charge that she cheated in last year's elections and has been covering it up. Plus there is the matter of her husband, son and brother-in-law being linked to graft.

One sticking point is Mrs Arroyo's personality. Her steely stubbornness and brassy, domineering voice might be suited to the role of a no-nonsense chief executive, but when that executive is suspected of serious crimes, the lack of charisma becomes a huge negative. The Filipino word for it is mayabang - arrogant. "I can't stand her voice," a cab driver told me. "She sounds like she's so superior to all of us. When I hear her talking, I turn off the TV or radio."

Three weeks ago, Mrs Arroyo appeared on television supposedly to beg forgiveness. Her handlers admit she had to rehearse her contrition four times. Even then, her performance reminded me of American humorist Dave Barry's description of Richard Nixon on TV: "as though a large and disorganised committee of aliens had taken over his body and were just learning how to operate it".

Mrs Arroyo's cold, flat eyes radiated such insincerity that the next time she went on TV, she did not show her face. In this personality-based culture, that was a mistake.

Out of pity, the national public-relations association has offered its services for free. But a person who tries to be nice only when she is in dire trouble doesn't get much respect here. Corazon Aquino had a drab, monotonous voice but was widely admired for her sincerity. If Mrs Arroyo wants to regain respect, she should deliver straight from the heart. Perhaps she can convince that alien creature to let go of it.

Loved the line about The Iron Lady in The Sound of Music! the PR consultancy idea was actually portrayed in the editorial cartoon of The Manila Bulletin (I think) yesterday.


The world is getting smaller

This morning I received an e-mail from Friskodude who had found my blog from a post on Asiapundit....thanks to MLQ3 - I must apologise for not writing his name out in full each is just bone idleness! Strange how the blogosphere works...some guy in San Fran has found me...sitting in Manila!

If you click on nothing else from this on this to see a picture from Manila last year....


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hong Kong...

I finally get a chance to have a look at the HK papers...

and I find that..

if you want to be electrocuted...then Hong Kong is the place to be...4,500 (subscription required) lightning strikes in 2 hours...with 800 strikes in one minute, quite glad I'm in Manila otherwise knowing my of those would have got me!!

2km traffic queues in Central, thanks to a burst water pipe (subscription required)...that must have been fun for the morning commuters!

and after six months... the Link-REIT (subscription required) privatisation can go ahead...

it looks as if the government will be ceding the HKCEC to the WTO for a period in December...that's going to make all the businesses in Wanchai extremely happy...I just can't see many of the delegates popping into JB's for a 'quick one'! I'm sure that the protestors are going to be really happy being stuck in Victoria Park...why not just send them to Lamma and be done with it?

``I'm sure the whole community will support the government to do a good job and send a very strong message to the international community that we want to do it well,'' said Janet Wong, from the Trade and Industry Department.

``I hope they will help us protect and maintain our reputation,''

What reputation is that...???


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Don't believe everything you read in the papers....

Or should I....?

Given the current political situation in Manila...reading the papers is interesting, although by the time the news is in the papers it is old news and new rumours have replaced what I am reading. There are enough Philippine bloggers commenting on the situation that I don't need to...MLQ3 has the best and most up to date commentary and he has linked into other bloggers that have intelligent that leaves me to pick up the 'ridiculous'!

So to the papers...

the first paper I looked at today is The Manila Times...

on the front page...there is a photograph of GMA swearing in two people...the new Finance secretary and the new Budget secretary....underneath the photo is the headline "Two more key Arroyo advisers resign" even using my bad mathematics...gaining two and then losing two is a fairly high rate of staff turnover.

in amongst all the news about the present political situation and the rumours and known facts printed in the paper, I found one article headlined

"Hands off MMDA tells MRT"

"The Metro Manila Development Authority and the Metro Trail transit have locked horns again, this time for the unauthorised gardening by MRT employees on MMDA plants" a nutshell...the MRT have been trimming the plants planted around the MRT posts...and the MMDA is not happy saying only MMDA staff are allowed to prune the this is all well and good...but surely the MMDA has more worrying things to concern itself with than who trims its plants...

Moving on to The Manila Bulletin

there seems to have been a very bad car accident on on EDSA last night...fortunately it seems no one was killed (otherwise I wouldn't be writing about this). The reason I am highlighting this article is that it seems that the accident involved the most bizarre set of give you some idea the headline of the article is....

"Three injured as corn truck, fish van sandwich chicken pickup"

it seems that three roast chicken shop employees were on their way to work when a cargo truck filled with corn made a sudden turn, causing their vehicle to brake which caused the van behind them to rear end them...the van behind was carrying fish. Now, I ask that not a headline writer's dream occurence?!

Still in The Manila Bulletin I see that my friends at the MMDA are planning on building ladies urinals around for the unitiated, along quite a few of the busier thoroughfares in Manila there are these metal stands by the side of the road which curve round and inside are men's urinals (picture here)...and they are painted bright the two times I have seen them being used...I have really seen them being used...if you get my drift! So as a woman, there is no way I would be seen using one of those, although, allegedly they will make the ladies version more enclosed to preserve our modesty! Still..the words 'hell' and freezing over' spring to mind!

The Manila Bulletin has an international section and on the back page they have a section called 'Odds and Ends'...basically snippets of 'entertaining's news....and in this section today I find something that those at home will be interested in/worred about....apparently 'more than one in 10 condoms sold in Hong Kong is likely to leak or burst' there's a worrying thought!

Moving swiftly on........

to The Philippine Star.

Now it seems (allegedly...I use this word a lot here!!) as if the recipient of GMA's now infamous '1 million votes' phone call, Mr Virgilio Garcillano (aka Garci), has flown the Singapore (wise man,..someone ought to let him know that breakfast at the Tiffin Lounge at Raffles is the best ever!) ...he apparently left on Sunday from Subic on one of Asia's low cost carriers...the rumours about his departure seemed to stem from two text messages...(SMS is big here). Now the point being raised in the today's paper is that the Department of Foreign Affairs is saying that apparently they cannot cancel his this guy did (so far, remember innocent until proven guilty and no charges have been laid) was answer the telephone!

According to the Star...opposition members of the House of Representatives are about to launch an anti-GMA website where unhappy citizens can 'make their sentiments' known and find out more information about the corruption occuring in the government.

This impeachment 'thing' seems to be gathering pace as the 'fall back' option. It will be interesting to see how this turns out...if Clinton was not impeached...I find it hard to believe that GMA will be...but only time will tell.

And that's my daily round up from the papers...nothing intelligent, nothing of substance and I know that I am oversimplifying incredibly complex issues but it's just the news that made me raise an eyebrow!


Monday, July 18, 2005

Speaking Cantonese...

As mentioned earlier...a rather entertaining story about unintentionally speaking Cantonese...

About 11 years ago I had arranged for a group of people to go out for dinner...friends and was a big night as I was introducing my then boyfriend to my in numbers being the philosophy behind the dinner...

So we all arrived and sat two parents opposite each boyfriend (very important note...fluent Cantonese speaker!) next to my father and opposite mother opposite my to boyfriends best friend next to are we all clear on the seating arrangements (rest of my friends at the other end of the table...)

So the meal passes surprisingly well...everyone chatting and getting along mother seems to have accepted the fact that my boyfriend was a bit of a wild child and my father realised that my boyfriend was obviously highly intelligent and well all was hunky dory....

..until the coffee was Mother speaks a fair amount of good French and everyso often comes out with the odd phrase in her coffee was put in front of her....she looks over at my boyfriend...gestures at the coffee condiments and says "Du lait" boyfriends face was a was Mother had absolutely no idea what she had just said.....but since then she has never asked for the milk in French!!!!!! Allegedly her Cantonese pronounciation was spot on for that one phrase!!!!


the Book Tag...

Thanks to Manuel L. Quezon III....I will proceed to bore you stupid with my little world of books!!

I would like to point out that as my life is in a state of reading material is following suit!

Number of books on my present only 15...about another 500 following close behind me

Number of books I own...over 1600 (at the last count about 3 years ago!) storage all over the day...I hope to have them all together - that will be a good day indeed!!

Last five books I bought
The Manila Hotel - Beth Day Romulo
Cool Hotels Asia/Pacific - Design Pockets
The Balthazar cookbook - Keith McNally (I don't cook, but this is a great food reference book as well!)
Henry VIII - Alison Weir
The Clinton Wars - Sidney Blumenthal

Books I am reading now
The Manila Hotel - as above
Towards developing a Filipino Culture - F. Landa Jocano
War reporting for cowards - Chris Ayres
The Doomed Oasis - Hammond Innes - comfort reading i.e....have read it many, many times before
It gets better after Cairo - Trudy Culross - comfort reading
From the flight deck: Boeing 747 - LHR - HKG - Bruce Campion Smith
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - comfort reading

Last five books I read
60 Million Frenchmen can't be wrong - Jean Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow
Rules of Engagement: A life in conflict - Tim Collins
Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World - Alec de Soeur
Air Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous
America's Boy: The Marcoses and the Philippines - James Hamilton-Paterson

Books I'll this is I just limited myself to the ones that live by my bed and get read and re-read and re-read!
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
It gets better after Cairo - Trudy Culross
A room with a view - E.M. Forster
Seven Pillars of Wisdom - T.E. Lawrence
Zemindar - Valerie Fitzgerald
Complete works of Shakespeare
Now we are six - A.A. Milne
When we were very young - A.A. Milne
Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
Mary, Queen of Scots - Antonia Fraser
The importance of being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Hotel Babylon (the original) - Arnold Bennett
Rendevous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke
All the Simon Schama - History of Britain books

Reading back through the is rather an embarrassing collection...makes me out to be quite the airhead! Anyway...

I'm not too sure about the protocol guessing that I pass this on to some

Spike at Hongkie Town - he always seems to have some good book on the am looking for some tips!

Stefan & Dave - ditto...I realise that their blog is not really suitable for the above...but maybe they could hide it away somewhere just for reference find out what a visitor to the Fragrant Harbour reads.

And finally....Mr Miyagi, for the Singaporean outlook...and because he's cute (hey.. I'm a girl after all!!!)


Animal Magic....

I see from the SCMP that pet insurance (subscription required) is about to be introduced to HK…finally and just as I have left!

“With annual premiums of $1,680 or $2,480, Apex Insurance Brokers offers schemes that cover everything from veterinary consultations, medication and room and board in a clinic, to surgical expenses and a free physical with vaccination shot.

And should your dearly beloved disappear, the scheme covers advertising expenses incurred in appealing for information.

Death claims are not covered, but the scheme will pay up to $1,000 for a funeral service, according to Andrew Chow Yiu-ming, director of Apex……

….The scheme also covers legal liability to pay third-party compensation for any unfortunate incidents caused by an unruly pet. The claim amount is $500,000 a year but can be increased. Mr Chow said the scheme covered only cats and dogs but would possibly include other pets in six months”

Pet insurance was the first thing I asked about before I took on my moggies…I am sure that the cost of pet medical fees accounts for quite a few abandoned pets in HK. Vets in HK can basically charge whatever they want…I know when I lived in DB my vets bills were horrendous particularly compared with what you would be charged in town…market forces I guess.

I remember taking Chiang Kai-shek to the vet when I was in Jordan…she had an abscess on her gum and one side of her face was all looked quite comical but she was obviously in some pain. So I took her over to the vet (there is only one veterinary clinic in Jordan and looking back – way back) through his records he found that he had treated our family dog way back in the ‘80s when we lived down near the Dead Sea!) he said that she would need a general anesthetic so he could drain the abscess. I told him that she had eaten within the last twelve hours – so should I come back later on. No need he said…he then took me into the ‘surgery’ (I use the term lightly…not the cleanest, not the tidiest and with equipment that I think Florence Nightingale used at Sebastapool!) anyway…he stuck the needle in and gave her the anesthetic…and then put her into this filthy cage whilst she dosed was again quite comical…one minute she was sitting up looking at me…the next she just keeled over. So the vet then hauls her out and puts her on the table and then asks if I want to watch….I couldn’t but my flat mate did and apparently it was quite interesting. After the vet finished he called me back in and said that I could take Chiang Kai-shek home…now given that she was completely unconscious with her tongue lolling out of her mouth and her eyes wide open staring vacantly into space…I wasn’t too keen on the idea…however the vet assured me it was fine and all I needed to do was to ensure that her eyes were kept moist.

So my flat mate and I piled into the car…she sat in the back with Chiang Kai-shek squeezing drops of water on her eyes as I drove back through the Amman rush hour…so we arrived home with comatose cat and me having to go back to work. My flat mate volunteered to stay home on ‘water squeezing duty’…this all started at about 4pm….CKS eventually came to at about 11pm…she then proceeded to stagger around the house…stopping periodically and going into a deep sleep…all much to Chairman Mao’s entertainment…he kept poking her with his paw!

All of the above medical treatment and entertainment for the grand total of HK$200…. granted in HK the procedure and aftercare would put your average third world hospital to shame but it would have cost around the HK$1,000 mark…at least.

I think in HK that medical insurance is the way forward and as and when I return…definitely something I shall be looking into.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

My first word in Tagalog...

Reading the paper yesterday about the 'latest' conversation recording...this one between former President Joseph Estrada and the former Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces...the conversation apparently centres on the possibility of assasinating 'Pandak' and eliminating someone else (sorry can't be clearer but don't have the newspaper article to hand). Now, allegedly pandak means 'dwarf' (pls correct me if I am wrong!) so no prizes as to who is being referred to!

I still remember my first two Cantonese phrases...the first..for diet coke...the second...well will put the phonetic Cantonese in the interests of politeness...'Dar Fei Guy' (excuse the spelling..probably totally wrong!) .....literally translates as 'shooting airplanes'...sure you can figure that one out!!!!


MRT vs. MTR and other thoughts...

Whilst I was travelling the MRT & LRT yesterday I noticed a few differences to travelling on HK's MTR...

-nobody was plugged into MP3 or other 'portable' music devices
-everyone was aware of everyone else's space...moving to allow people more space, changing hanging straps to enable someone behind to use a strap
-moving out of the way of the door to allow more people on or letting people off
-those people that were talking, were talking quietly
-if you caught someone's eye - they smiled
-I only saw two people using mobile phones

and the biggest difference ever....twice..note 'twice' a guy stood up and let me have their seat...this seemed to be fairly commonplace from what I saw...unheard of in HK...I remember once in HK standing up to let a very obviously pregnant lady sit down and this guy dived into the space and sat down...needless to say we had 'words' and he let the pregnant lady sit down!

I am not trying to knock HK...but everyone in HK seems so absorbed in their own little world that they are so unaware of others...whereas here it seems as if people are more aware of others needs.

After only a week here I can see why people say that the Filipinos are so friendly...everywhere you go you are greeted and bid actually gets quite tiring if like me you pop in and out of shops really quickly!!

One of the things that was pointed out to me before I came was the security situation HK one gets lulled into a sense of security unlike anywhere don't expect violent crime, the majority of streets are safe late into the night and in the 10 years I have lived in HK I have had one 'bad' incident...(in TST when I was trying to get home at about 2am) I have thought nothing of staggering home alone from LKF or Wanchai after a few too many...and I am sure I am not the only one!

Here, however, the situation seems to be slightly different. I must say that until yesterday I did think that reports and comments on security were exaggerated...but if they are exaggerated then why did the two Starbucks (and every other shop/restaurant I went into yesterday) I used yesterday have armed security? Surely coffee is not that valuable a commodity?! And the many pictures up on the walls of the MRT stations that show mug shots of people wanted for kidnapping and robbery and worse.....It definitely made me did the reaction of some of my team today when I told them that I went wandering around on my own yesterday afternoon...and where I was. So will maybe be just a tad more cautious in the future! Strange to relate I never really worried in Jordan...but obviously here one needs to be more aware.


I guess I had to do it....

Have updated my little line at the top...Mia pointed it out the other day and I have been thinking about what to put there for the last few weeks....I was going to leave it for a few months...but I have to make the effort to settle here...and every little bit counts!

Have also added a new blog which I picked up via Flying Chair...this one is called An Aussie in Hong Kong.


It's a worry.....

Hemlock is publicising his kimchi recipe....I hope it doesn't take off as morning rides on the MTR will become unbearable...

My idea of hell...the Seoul the about 7am...with the heating on full blast and everyone sweating all my days I have never experienced a smell like that!!!!

Actually it is all probably part of some grand plan that Hemlock has...from what I can gather he doesn't use the MTR and probably would not mind the heaving masses suffering a little more!


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saturday in Manila

So I explored....a little more interesting than I had originally planned.....the plan was to get the MRT and then the LRT into town and towards the Manila Hotel and then to work my way back to the Westin and then up to the Pen and then over to Greenbelt...the latter two hotels out of professional interest...the former out of historical and personal interest.

Trying to get to grips with the MRT was interesting...being so used to the simplicity of mass transit in Singapore, HKG and Bangkok...I was a little confused by what Manila offers...a lack of signs and a lack of when in doubt join the nearest queue and hope for the having got my ticket I followed the crowd through the cursory security check down onto the platform. One thing that is noticeable in Manila is that so much is open air...train platforms, shopping malls and ticketing areas of the MRT & LRT. Standing waiting for the MRT the noise of the buses and the jeepneys below is deafening and the fumes are suffocating...the train arrives and even at 2:30pm on a Saturday afternoon it is packed..heaven knows what the rushhour is like! Fortunately I was heading for the last stop on the line as there are few signs at the stations so knowing where you are is more luck than judgement. Getting off at the end of the line...I have no idea where I am going and not one sign points me to the LRT so i follow the last a sign through a shopping centre (the metro centre, if I remember rightly). Getting to the LRT I join the queue (must find out where the ticket machines are) and am given my ticket with GMA's picture on...contrary to what I was expecting after reading this!

Getting off at the UN station I get my bearings and start heading towards the bay...crossing Taft avenue I am amazed again at the traffic and sheer level of the noise...and then as I get further away the noise drops and I can hear the birds and the crickets...a quiet corner of Manila...old, run down but quiet. And then in the distance I can hear drums and chanting...not too sure what it is until I round the corner and see, literally, thousands of people ahead of me....I had totally unwittingly walked into a support rally for GMA....allegedly about 100,000 people. It has to have been one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. So I stood and watched and then realised they were marching in the direction that I wanted to after stopping into a handy Starbucks for a much needed cup of tea, I decided to brave the masses. I must admit I did think it was maybe not the smartest thing to do...and a few of the police did try to stop me...but I was on a mission I was determined to get to the Manila Hotel and I was not to be thwarted so I battled on! The crowd was incredibly friendly and quite a few asked if I was joining them in support of Ms response about a cup of tea at the Manila hotel must have sounded so British!

So eventually after being the single (at least it felt like it anyway) gweilo out on the streets I made it into the hotel!

I always find it incredibly sad when a hotel with so much potential is allowed to get run down and tired....the Manila Hotel is such a property...huge potential...a possible Raffles if it had some serious bucks spent on it and it has the history to support it. The concierge kindly showed me their archives room....anyone who was anyone has either stayed at the hotel or danced there and been photographed...the pictures and celebs seemed to stop coming in the early 90s...and I am guessing that's when it started to get run down. The archives room is nothing is grand as the one at Raffles but it is still an effort and a good record of the hotel's history...I wish more hotels would record their history. To add to my collection I bought the hotel's book...again a good effort but nothing like the ones issued by Raffles, The Oriental or the HK Pen.

After the Manila Hotel it was time to brave the masses and head down to the Westin...I decided to skip public transport as I was feeling lazy so taxied it over to the Westin...great location and the grounds have been well cared for but the sea view was not quite what I was didn't hang around...The Pen lobby is fantastic..I love the raised area for functions, everything else seemed fairly average...a hop skip and a jump to Greenbelt for some retail therapy and a much needed glass of ended my day of exploring.

One thing I did notice is that it is not nearly as hot, humid and polluted as Hong Kong....the difference is that in Manila one spends more time outside in the open it seems hotter and one is subjected to much more pollution...and the pollution is it is traffic pollution in HK our friendly neighbours send a lot of it over to nestle in our harbour!

Whilst driving from one hotel to another it seems that there is a lot to explore here and a lot more depth to the city than I had originally given it credit for....I don't think I will ever come to love this city as passionately as I do HK or London or even DC...but I think I will eventually like it....



On my iPod I have a number of different playlists (as I am sure everyone does!) some of them are...

Happy Music
Music for the Gym
Sleeping Music
Music to kill yourself to!

Today the latter is playing...just can't shake off the fact that I should have had company today..

However Jakartass' post today made me just seemed so out of blog character!

Anyway, am off out to explore Manila!


Friday, July 15, 2005

the best thing about today....

Am still recovering from my disappointment...however, this time in one month...I shall be back in HK for 24 hours en route to the UK...that should keep me going!!

I managed to touch base today with a friend of a friend of friend's friend lives in Manila, my friend was my room mate in Switzerland...I haven't seen her since 1989...but still a contact...unfortunately the contact will be out of town this weekend...she is going to...yes, you guessed it...Hong Kong for the weekend!


Thursday, July 14, 2005


I don't handle disappointment very well...have just been told that a possible visitor who was dropping in tomorrow is now going straight back home to HK...

Am going to retreat to my cave....


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This world in which we live....

So the expected one million became 30,000..still fairly impressive and as this picture shows.. Makati was fairly busy. Not too sure how true this is...but one of my colleagues told me that the numbers of these rallys are swelled by the offer of a meal, a drink and some Pesos crossing palms...just to make it more worthwhile...would not want to speculate on the accuracy of that.

In Jordan...another so called 'honour killing''s just too awful. The worst thing about this incident (an if memory serves me correctly another similar incident occured earlier this year) was that the girl had gone to the authorities for protection...they handed her back after her father promised he wouldn't harm her....and then it was all over. Poor girl. From the Jordan Times....

"A 55-year-old man turned himself in to the police on Sunday and admitted that he had bludgeoned his teenage daughter to death with a crowbar for reasons of family honour, an official source said......

...Police informed the suspect of the medical test results and on Sunday he signed a guarantee in front of the administrative governor that he would not harm his daughter, added the source.

The suspect then took his daughter shopping for new clothes in the downtown area of Zarqa before visiting the home of one of his siblings, according to one source, who attended the initial questioning of the suspect.

In his confession, the source added, the suspect told investigators that shortly afterwards he struck his daughter repeatedly with the crowbar while she was sitting in one of the rooms and then headed to the nearest police station to confess."

In London, it seems as if the bombs were from suicide does a family cope with knowing that one of their own has killed and injured many people and that from now on their family and friends will always be treated with suspicion and I am sure a certain sense of hatred. The fact that the suicide bombers were British born goes to show that terrorism is not necessarily born from a lack of freedom or a terrible lifestyle...just pure, unadulterated hatred. It will be very tough for the Muslim community to recover from this and I hope there is no backlash as that will just exacerbate an already appalling situation.

Here's a link to a BBC article about how bloggers are recording their experiences and thoughts on the London bombings....the following clip from Weaselbitch just about sums up the British attitude to such events....

Suddenly there was an almighty bang, the train stopped, all the lights went out and the carriage was filled with thick, dark grey smoke. There was stunned silence for a brief moment while everyone took in what was going on. Then some people started to scream. A man near me shouted to everyone to calm down, and surprisingly they did. Then someone said, “The smoke’s getting thicker!” Someone else pointed out that the smoke was worse higher up and suggested we all sit down, and despite being crammed in like sardines we managed it. Then a lady towards the back of the carriage screamed, “Oh my God! It’s getting really hot down here!” There was more screaming and the start of something that could have turned into a stampede, except it’s hard to stampede in a crammed, enclosed space.

Once again, calm-down-guy managed to get everyone to do just that. Silence decended on the carriage apart from people choking and coughing, then someone near me quipped, “Well, at least we got the Olympics!”

Still in defiance We're not afraid, great pictures with great comments.

And thanks to The Standard...we can all see what a baby Panda looks like...creepy! And now I know what my old boss spends his money on!

Am still feeling a little like a fish out of water here...not helped by the fact that I lack communication with the 'outside world'....internet access is hard to come by at work and almost non existant at home, still have no mobile phone number here and for some bizarre reason my HK sim card will not send messages out...can recieve but cannot send...'Houston, we have a problem'....


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Day Two...

Will have to start thinking of some more imaginative titles tomorrow...

So they didn't mean to make a political statement using the old tickets...not sure if GMA would agree.

Three things from reading the paper today....paper of choice is The Philippine Star....

firstly it seems that in The Philippines cellulite is not described as being dimpled like orange peel...but instead one suffers from "Papaya Thighs"....

secondly, I like the way that they have a page for text message much more off the cuff and to the point...maybe the SCMP could consider that...saves writing a whole letter and the succinctness of the comments means that the paper can accommodate so many more comments...

thirdly, in an article about some issues at Ninoy Aquino International seems that there have been some problems with aircraft having steering issues whilst on the ground..apparently planes have to make a 180 degree turn whilst taxiing out to the seems that this turn has caused a few aircraft to stall... (Northwest, Korean Air and Philippine Airlines)...the article highlights the concerns these incidents are causing and what the airport authority is planning to do about it. The thing that bothered me about the article is that when the planes stall, this then causes the flight to be cancelled or delayed for a fair amount of time....the article refers to the flights as being 'ditched' in 'Yesterday's meeting was arranged after the ditching of a Manila-Vancouver-Las Vegas flight last Sunday afternoon' in my book...the only place planes are ever ditched is into the sea....somewhat akin to that wonderful China Airlines plane that skidded off Runway 13 into our fragrantly aromatic harbour....

This evening I was taken over to Greenbelt...a fantastic development of shops and restaurants and bars...seemed fairly under utilised...not sure if this is the norm, or because it is Tuesday or because of the plannedrally tomorrow...rumour has it that apparently 1 million people will be taking to the streets of Makati tomorrow...not sure how everyone know the attendance figures...wonder if they sent out invitations? And here's an odd coincidence...whilst discussing the above with one of my colleagues I asked if it was ever likely to descend into a riot...the conversation then led to the riots in HK in the ' colleague didn't believe me that HK had ever seen anything as disorganised as a 'riot' let alone a whole period of the coincidence came when I clicked over to Stefan & Dave and saw their article on the riots of the 60's....thanks for the back up!

The inferiority complex continues...was waiting for someone this of my colleagues came up to me and said..."Oh yes us Filipinos are terrible at keeping time...didn't anyone tell you"...with comments like that I just plead ignorance and is almost as if people are looking to have the country knocked down....

Another odd evening of late night entertainment (Spike's going to love this...especially after his Bon Jovi comment a few weeks back!) ...listening to Roger Whittaker....The Last Farewell....there is a ex boyfriend and I once listened to the song on a plane together...many, many years ago...I was on my way to England...he to Canada...and so it became 'our song'!!! How sad...anyway we were chatting by MSN Messenger earlier and he reminded me!

There's a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbour
Tomorrow for old England she sails
Far away from your land of endless sunshine
To my land full of rainy skies and gales
And I shall be on board that ship tomorrow
Though my heart is full of tears at this farewell
For you are beautiful and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful und I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
I heard there's a wicked war ablazing
And the taste of war I know so very well
Even now I see the foreign flag araising
Their guns on fire as we sailed into hell
I have no fear of death it brings no sorrow
But how bitter will be this last farewell
For you are beautiful and I have loved you dearly .
Though death and darkness gather all about me
And my ship be torn apart upon the sea
I shall smell again the fragrance of these islands
In the heaving waves that brought me once to thee
And should I return safe home again to England
I shall watch the English mist roll through the dell
For you are beautiful and I have loved you dearly


And so to Manila....

To be honest I cannot really give any insights into my first day in Manila, I have been at work all day and spent the majority of the day with my boss so no real experiences….however, we did go out to lunch with the team…they were insistent that I try local food….so we did….I had been warned before I arrived that being a particularly fussy eater it may not appeal….to a certain extent it didn’t although I have to say that the desserts were good…the grass jelly with coconut milk was similar to enough other SE Asian dishes to be familiarly good and there was a cake, the name escapes me at the moment…sort of nutty, meringuey and creamy but so tough and chewy I almost sprained my wrist cutting a piece off…anyway it was yummy…

The one thing that did strike me from talking to a few members of my new team is that they all seemed to think that outside of The Philippines there are only negative thoughts about this country…there seems to be an almost national inferiority complex…I realize that this is a fairly sweeping statement to make after only talking to about 15 people…but never before have I had 15 people quiz me on the negative impressions I must have had before coming to their country….

Other than that…the brief drive to the restaurant showed a city that seems to have an enormous number of eateries, bars and the biggest shopping malls….and coming from HK that’s really saying something!!!

I see from CNN that a survey they carried out showed that out of 600 people 57.5% felt that Arroyo should resign…I have to say, from the little I have read, that there doesn’t seem to be any really qualified candidates out there…I am probably wrong and no doubt that will be reflected in the comments…..


A few odds and sods…

It made me so proud when I saw the crowds thronging the Mall in London yesterday to honour and celebrate Commemeration Day…it just goes to prove that London and Londoners will not be intimidated by the events of last week…life will continue, groups will continue to gather and London’s multi-cultural and multi-racial population will continue to live together.

Natasha over at Mental Mayhem highlights some thoughts
from the Arab world on the London bombings and a vigil in Jordan

Thanks to Spike over at Hongkie Town for his farewell…and I must say that after reading James’ post about his evening in Wanchai…I immediately clicked over to Spike to see if he had made a comment….he had…

Hemlock made me laugh out loud…Patrick Ho and charisma in the same sentence, wonderful...just a classic finishing line!

Loved the view from Flying Chair’s picture….but hated seeing the reclamation taking up so much of our beautiful harbour.

As I write this I am keeping half an eye on the most ridiculous TV programme…”For Love or Money”….what a heap of garbage…I cannot believe that people actually take this seriously….actually it’s such garbage I think a little channel changing is necessary.


How to say goodbye to Hong Kong....

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post…saying goodbye was hard… hard that as the bus left the DB plaza I started crying…not just little tiny tears (didn’t there used to be a doll called that??!) but big bawling snotty tears…the flight crew on the bus must have been hoping against hope that the blonde nutter at the back was not going to be on their flight!

My farewells to HK started a while back….and below are the highlights that I will carry with me until I move back!

Standing for about 10 minutes at the Pedder Street, Queens Road junction and just watching the lunchtime hordes
Milkshakes at Al's Diner
Lunch at the Mandarin Grill
A few unnecessary rides on the Star Ferry
Drinks at Aqua
A walk around the Peak
Champagne sundowners at Cafe Deco
Breakfast and Dinner at Cafe Lookout on The Peak
Peering down at the city and the harbour from the 55th Floor of the IFC
A bus ride out to Stanley and then back to the Repulse Bay for a drink as the sun sets
Riding the length of the tram from Western to Shau Kei Wan
A day on Po Toi
A wander through Wanchai wet market
Breathing in the incense at the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road
A short amble through Cat Street
A DB ferry ride at 2am...watching the lights of HK slowly fade into the distance
Standing in Chater Gardens during a rain storm

for me there is no way to say goodbye to this city and really mean will always be my home and I will always want to return to experience the noise, bustle and sheer variety of experiences available in such a small General MacArthur said on leaving the Philippines..."I shall return"....


Monday, July 11, 2005

Well...I made it....

Not without incident....but then I guess that's the story of my life!

Had a great last day in HK, the weather helped...and managed to get some cracking pictures from The Peak..will post those when I have time....

Went via DB on my way to the airport mainly in order to gulp down a glass of mind strengthening wine...unfortunately just as i got on the bus to the airport I managed to belt my head on the top of the luggage compartment...the bump is doing nicely and the dizzy feeling abated somewhere over the South China Seas...the nice soothing voice of the Cathay captain helped...I wonder if they train these guys to speak so calmly and soothingly...because if they sure works!

On arrival in Manila I made a rather ungainly entrance after passport control....there's a slight (ever so slight I should point out) ramp, should be non slip but i think the 'non-slippiness' has worn I slipped..right on my arse down a couple of feet...most inelegant...hopefully not a sign of things to come.

It was hard leaving HK...harder than I thought it would be...HK has become so ingrained in my being that it is a bit like being wrenched away from a loved one....actually so ingrained that on arrival at the hotel when they put me in a room on the 14th floor I nearly had kittens!!! 2am I should be nicely tired so should sleep a few hours begins at 9:30 tomorrow morning!

Feel a little disorientated as have not seen the news for about 3 hours!!!


Sunday, July 10, 2005

So this is it.....

My last day in Hong Kong before the turmoil that is Manila which is where I shall rest my head from now on....

I had a lovely day yesterday...spent the day 'tout seule' and just pottered around...managed to get over to the History Museum to see the George Chinnery exhibition...wonderful, the only draw back was the guide taking a tour group around who felt that everyone in the greater Kowloon area would be interested in what he was saying and his voice was raised accordingly. Notwithstanding, the art was wonderful...a lot of sketches and watercolours as well as the better known oil paintings of Macau and Canton. Two things I learnt about Chinnery yesterday...the first was that he really was the most spectacular portrait painter....his attention to detail - particularly clothing fabrics is amazing; the second was that he spent a lot of his life in India and only came to the Far East to escape his debtors in India....lucky for us.

Went out latish last night to get some night shots of Central...unfortunately it started to rain...but I still managed to get a few pictures....

I have driven past this sign most evenings for the last year or looks like the kind of building I should live in....

So today, up to The Peak for breakfast (is one of my traditions) when ever I leave HK one meal must be up at the Peak...this started way back in '93 when I first came here on holiday to visit my parents! And then to the Inter-con for Brunch...a first for me as I normally work on Sundays!


Saturday, July 09, 2005


From today's Financial Times....

Chinese chatrooms give backing to bombs
By Richard McGregor in Beijing

"Chinese internetchat rooms were awash yesterday with reaction to the London terrorist bombings, much of it unsympathetic and outrighthostile to the many victims of the attack.

Many of the postings on, China's largest portal, suggested that the attack in London was justified in retaliation for the high-profile British involvement in the Iraq war...

...Why didn't terrorists set off the explosive on the day when London won the bid to host the Olympics?" read one chatroom posting. "What a grand scene would that be! The leaders of al-Qaeda have made a bad plan!""I am in strong favour of Jihad and any terrorist action against imperialism. Let's thank bin Laden for his contribution to the world peace," another added....

...Although the chat session does not offer a scientific sample of opinion in a country of 1.3bn people, the anti-western sentiment does dovetail with the strident nationalism that is a trademark of many young people."


Where am I going....?

Well, that's it...the house is packed...the boxes are the hell do I manage to accumulate so much 'stuff',,,,I know I travel with a library that would do most cities proud (and even worse the majority of my books are in storage in London!!) but still....51 boxes is excessive! So the flat keys are being handed back this morning, I am staying in a little hotel just around the corner from my flat - it's actually a very good little hotel...suits my purposes just fine.

A quick glance at the news over the last 24 hours....over and above the atrocities in London (I can't formulate my words at present on the events of yesterday, so will write later) and I realise that my arrival in The Philippines is going to coincide with some interesting times....

Firstly Gloria Arroyo has decided (or had the decision made for her) to change her cabinet..interesting tactic....

News also shows that Bird flu has been found in The Philippines, north of Manila.

Thank You to everyone that has sent e-mails wishing me bon voyage...good luck etc. Much appreciated in these somewhat stressful times!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Hazy Thoughts....

It's hard to watch pictures of a city that I know and love under's even harder knowing that this has been expected for a while and may/will/could happen again.

When I first saw the news about the 'power surges' I called my brother in London...he doesn't use the tube but he is involved in the financial I was talking to him I saw the BBC tickertape mention that a bus had that point it became painfully obvious that this was London under attack and no electrical coincidence. The feeling was somewhat similar to watching the second plane aiming at the second tower on September 11th...from that second on there is no way it can be thought of as an accident.

Other than thoughts of complete horror, sorrow and disgust at what has happened I can't really put logical thought what follows are just 'thought clips'....

the first e-mails I received after this news made the wires were from Arab friends of mine....firstly checking where I and my family were, then commenting on the horror that they felt seeing the result of the work of people who allegedly worship the same God as them and follow the same religion.

The only blog I checked was Random Reality, he is an EMT with the London Ambulance the front line of dealing with yesterday's horrors....his first post just stated that something had happened, the third post gave some thoughts on his day and the role that the emergency services played.

I was incredibly impressed with Tony Blair both by his first speech and his reaction. He did look shaken and shocked...almost I thought, on the verge of tears.....not surprising given his week....travelling to Singapore, London winning the Olympic games, the G8 starting and then this.....

I admired the stoicism, resiliance and attitude of Londoners yesterday.....I know that London suffered during the Blitz, I know that we endured the bombings and terror that the IRA inflicted on the city....yes London was prepared, yes London has been through it all doesn't make it any easier to bear or understand. I was amazed at the clarity and calmness shown by those interviewed on TV...I don't know how they did it.

London's emergency services were spectactular.....they brought order to disorder, calm to chaos and the whole operation seemed to move flawlessly....we all know that they had been practicing and rehearsing but was most impressive.

Talking to a friend of mine this morning, we both found it hard to believe that more people were not killed...that in itself is a miracle.

So all in all a shocking day for London, my thoughts are with all those who were injured, friends and family of those who died and the emergency services as they continue their incredibly hard work.


7th July 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005


this post and translation from Back to Iraq



"It's important.... that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people."

Tony Blair


Thought for the morning...via my iPod....

I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow

True Faith
New Order


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tension mounting....

and.......London wins........

Thought he would never get the bloody envelope open...!!!

Bloody Fantastic....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I bloody knew it....

I just knew that the day would come when I would want to do an online transaction with HSBC and wouldn't have that sodding piece of bloody plastic.....Bugger....



The wisdom of Lawrence....

Also from today's Daily Telegraph

Pentagon promotes words of wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia

The US military has turned to the wisdom of Lawrence of Arabia for guidance on how to win the war in Iraq and understand the mindset of its insurgents.

In the latest list of books recommended to commanders, T E Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his first-person account of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks between 1917 and 1919, is number two out of 100.

Extracts from the memoir and his essays have also been e-mailed directly to senior officers in the field.

So highly does the Pentagon consider the relevance of his insights that it has officially adopted one lesson he preached on Middle Eastern warfare as a recipe for success in Iraq.

"Do not try to do too much with your own hands," it runs. "Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them."

The words, which in today's context are interpreted as evidence of the need to build up independent Iraqi security forces and a functioning national government, are regularly repeated by senior officers....

..."There are very few lessons that have not been learnt in history. The skill is to choose to rediscover them."...

...Although there are vast differences in time and circumstance between Britain's imperial past and America's Iraqi present Lawrence's writings, US officers say, show a unique appreciation of insurgent tactics gleaned while he was assigned as a liaison officer to the Arab Revolt.

Then major confrontations were avoided as the rebels concentrated on guerrilla tactics, mostly blowing up railway tracks and cutting supply lines.

In Iraq today American convoys come under regular attack, sometimes by rocket-propelled grenades but mostly by roadside bombs.

"You can see the parallels," said Lt Col Tim Mundy, the commander of marines based on the Syrian border.

Lawrence also detailed the frustration of facing an enemy who hits briefly then hides, saying repeatedly that time was on the side of the rebels. In the Middle East, he concluded, "war upon rebellion was messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife".....


'Chairman Mao' dies in sauna

From today's Daily Telegraph (free subscription required)

China's film industry has lost one of its most famous faces: that of Chairman Mao.

The actor who played the Great Helmsman in films celebrating his life and works has died at 68.

Gu Yue, who acted the role no fewer than 84 times in a quarter of a century, was reported to have died of a heart attack in a sauna after drinking too much at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new film studio.

Gu was a soldier who joined the People's Liberation Army at the age of 13 at the end of China's Civil War in 1949.

But his big break came in 1978, when the then PLA commander, Marshal Ye Jianying, was looking for an actor to represent Mao, who had died two years earlier.

Gu's resemblance was spotted and he was plucked from the ranks.


Sleepless in Hong Kong....

There seem to be a few sleepless souls out there at present...Spike and Mia were both awake in the wee was I....after making it home by about 7pm after a tad too much alcohol I felt really sleepy about 9:30 and so crawled into bed....midnight I was wide awake...and that was it...all night.....I dragged myself into work today doing a cracking impression of the Wild Woman of Borneo crossed with a panda bear....not pretty I can assure you!!!

I love having a few drinks during the always makes me feel so decadent...being pissed before it gets dark is a sure sign that I wasn't at work and responsibility is very low on my list of priorities!! And it all started off innocently enough with a few milkshakes at Al's Diner....

I just realised that this morning I put down cat food and fresh water for the's not that I am a creature of habit...!!!!


Morning news.....

An interesting way to try to get into university....

Chirac manages to piss off both the Finnish and the British; Blair seems to be rising above the slanging match. Whilst Chirac is at Gleneagles I hope he has brought his own food...wouldn't want him to be suffering by eating the 'terrible' food.

Prince William starts breaking the Royal Rules already....good on him!!!

And some good news.....the travel industry in Jordan is picking up....again....that should justify all the new hotel projects in the Kingdom...the picture in the article is taken from my old place of work....about three floors below my office window!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It gets harder....

I guess I shouldn't be posting now...too much alcohol (...At only 7PM....I hear my mother say!!!) is not a good time to post...

Two very hard goodbyes...the first to my "Trash Can Kittens"...who I won't see for a few months until they wing their way to Manila....I know they are only cats but being a fairly solitary person they have been my 'permanent' company for the last 8's just not fun when they are not around...

The my blue-eyed boy...he's away for work tomorrow until next week by which time I will be in Manila...allegedly he will come to visit at the end of the month....I shall wait and see....I find it hard to meet someone with whom I could actually have some kind of relationship with, however if there was anyone around at the moment...he would be the one....

We shall see......


Another day in Paradise!!!

Just a short busy packing, sorting out 'stuff' and spending time with friends....cats went off to their temporary home last night so house is vaguely peaceful...if a little chaotic!!


Monday, July 04, 2005

The grey of dawn.....

I love this city....but I must admit that I am getting sick and tired of seeing it at the crack of dawn.....

Anyway, in a bid to entertain...a quote from my present book......Air Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones. The same author also wrote Hotel Babylon which I enjoyed which is why I picked up Air Babylon.

Neither of them are the best written books, but they are good subject matter and although I can't speak for Air Babylon, Hotel Babylon is very accurate in its portrayal of the hotel business.

So, onwards to entertain.....

The Captain..."turns to exit the room and pauses. "Oh, I almost forgot,'he says, smiling and tapping his square forehead. 'The password to get on to the flight deck today is um.....' He looks around the room. 'Beaver.'

The whole room bursts out laughing.
'Beaver?' queries Sally.
'That's right.' He winks. 'And do try to get it into a natural sounding sentence.'"

any suggestions.....?!


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sports round up....

So Roger Federer wins was a good match and the best man definitely won....

It makes up for my huge disappointment yesterday with the Lions in New Zealand.

This chick is off to bed....I need some kip.....


My first goodbye....

I said my first official goodbye today...official because it didn't end in "...of course I'll see you before I leave"....she was off to China for a business meeting and wont be back until next week.

It was a particularly hard goodbye to say as she has a very stressful life....she works in the same industry as me with a much more senior position with a lot of responsiblity and stress, she has three kids, a husband that thinks that HK is his playing field and treats it as such and to top it all, in true HK tradition her mother-in-law lives with any mothers I have come across seem like placid little angels compared to this woman...this mother-in-law is the devil friend has an awful time of it and leaving her to the maelstrom which is her life is not easy....fortunately this time around I wont be too far away.....


Wicked Chocolate Dessert.....

As promised....for Singabore.

From Nigella Lawson's book How to Eat

125g best quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
125g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
150g Sugar
35g Plain flour (Italian 00 if you can get it...)
Extra butter and flour for the ramekins

Melt chocolate and butter and in a bowl over simmering water
Whisk every so often until melted

In another bowl whisk eggs, sugar and flour until just blended
Gradually whisk in chocolate and butter
Leave to stand

Grease four 250ml ramekins with butter and sprinkle flour to cover the butter...very important to get the edges of the ramekin, tap ramekin to get rid of any excess flour....BTW sugar can also work around the edge to give it a crunchy edge...but try it with flour first

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. about half an hour before you want to eat the dessert. Don't cook them until you actually need them otherwise they will bake...and you will miss the molten middle.

Pour the mixture into the ramekins and put them on a baking tray in the oven for 10-12 minutes.....

They are ready when the top is firm and cracking slightly and the edges are set.

Serve immediately, in the ramekin...ideal with cold pouring cream!



The other evening I had a friend round for a drink...

Whilst I was pottering..organising wine etc he asked to check the news I gave him my laptop....the background picture is of a friend of of whom I am particularly fond...and my friendly visitor asked who he was and why he was on my 'background'.....the latter is easier to answer - I just like the was a particularly fun day and this picture was quite out of character for him as he was actually acting in a fairly carefree least for him.

As to who he is....well the practicalities are that he used to be a work colleague of working elsewhere, we still keep in touch...see each other about once a year...whenever I see him I run through the full ring of emotions...happy to see him, intensely irritated because he can aggravate me...sometimes on purpose I am sure, angry because I don't see him often enough, some other connection I can't really define - similar thoughts on many things - same professional field and interests and finally I guess I would have to admit that some small corner of me is in love with him. Realistically I know that this is quite ridiculous...but as we all know emotions are hard to reason with.

So I tried to explain all this to my visitor - in a far more round about and unclear way with probably a lot of waffling!....he sat for a while...looked at me and then said so "he is the man by which you judge all others".....and actually he had hit the nail on the head.....and I had never realised...


Umm Qais...

Whilst trying to put some order into my photos I found a few that I thought I would put up here...most of them are from Umm Qais which is an old Roman city in the north of Jordan, it was part of the Roman Decapolis and it's Roman name was Gadara.

When you go up to Umm Qais, lunch has to be at the Government Resthouse, looking north to Syria, Israel and the was my favourite place in Jordan for a days outing...just to be able to sit there and drink in the view used to do wonders for my state of mind....

Umm Qais columns

A very hazy Sea of Gallilee (Lake Tiberius)

The Golan Heights

Umm Qais Amphitheatre

As far as we wanted to go towards the Syrian border!

and just because I love this picture....

The Treasury through the end of the Siq at Petra


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Does it get better than.....

London....Hyde Park.....U2....It's a beautiful day......?

Actually it could be better......I could be there instead of watching it on TV.....


Cyber serendipity.....

The other day I started a post and then saved it as a draft. The post was as follows:


So what is acceptable....

So boys and girls......what do you perceive as being an 'acceptable' age difference between couples?

I am asking your opinion after a discussion with a friend who is thinking of embarking on a dalliance with a guy a few years her junior...

I have dated someone younger than me before but only by one or two years...not really enough to make a difference, so am not best placed to comment...I generally go for someone older than me...just makes more sense to me, so I couldn't really be much help to her.


Anyway I just left the post I clicked over to Wonky Tong and found this.

Interesting timing....


Only in Hong Kong # 5

Today's frontpage headline of the SCMP....

21,000 march for democracy,
30,000 parade for patriotism

...and 200,000 go to see the dinosaurs

I love this city!!



So after writing all that self indulgent drivel....I find this...puts everything into perspective....


Saturday morning introspection.....

As I sit here in the tip that has become my home (not that it was any great shakes before!) I am wondering what the hell I am doing....

Yet again I find myself packing up, moving country, changing jobs and severing links....and all in the name of what...? A new job, a new company, a new country to explore....Normally I have a great sense of excitement about all of this...but this time I seem to have a sense of impending doom...I know it sounds overly dramatic but that's just the way I feel....Normally I enjoy my dragon slaying life but just at present I would like to curl up in a log cabin somewhere in Canada and hide from the world.

I can't define this sense of doom except to say I that I keep thinking that this next move may send me into travel overload and my next move could well end up see me heading for the UK and in my mind that is akin to giving up completely.

I have been wondering for the last couple of weeks if it is all worth it....I have been wondering if it is time that I stop this incessant wandering and this unending quest for something better when something better could be just under my nose but I didn't look hard enough....I think I just need to identify what the things are that I don't like about life and solve those first.

I guess that's enough introspection for one day.....I need to prepare to go dragon slaying next week!


Friday, July 01, 2005

I can't help it....

....I had to swipe the Bible Stories in Lego from Simon World.

I thought the following two clips were some of the more entertaining that I saw...

The Holy Ghost visiting Mary

The Devil entering Judas Iscariot.


Thanks Spirit Fingers....

It's my brother's wedding in August and in order to make a good impression on the vast quanitites (I hope) of Russian men that will be turning out (the bride is Russian) I have been debating the type of hat that may be suitable....this selection from Spirit Fingers has given me a few ideas of what not to wear!!


And about time....

When I first arrived in Jordan I had two major problems...the first was that my luggage didn't arrive with me and the second problem being that I arrived with raging bronchitis and was housebound for the first few days.

Having no clothes my boyfriend at the time had to go out and forage for clothes and underwear...clothes was no problem...a few pairs of jeans, a couple of jumpers and a jacket (it was end of November so perishing cold)....however, he was very apprehensive about going into an underwear shop and buying underwear..given that Jordan is Islamic we both felt it might be very awkward..him being the only male in a shop most likely staffed and frequented by women...

anyway..he went off on his shipping trip and he needn't have worried...the underwear shop was run by a man and full of men buying their wives underwear so he felt quite at home!!

The problem arose when I wanted to go out and buy underwear at a later date..there is nothing more unnerving than, selecting, trying on and purchasing underwear surrounded by the end we used to round up a posse of girls to go shopping and take the shop by storm so all the men would clear out...and then towards the end of our time there a very enterprising Jordanian woman set up her own underwear shop staffed by women...wonderful!!!

So I was very pleased when I saw on the BBC this morning that the Saudi government has decreed that all shops selling ladies underwear are to be staffed by women within the next year.