Monday, February 27, 2006
It's a tough job....
Sunday, February 26, 2006
and where am I...at work...
no TV access and having to rely on newspaper websites updating, the odd text message and blogs being updated (which isn't happening often enough as everyone else has better things to do) is all hugely frustrating.
I gather from my limited resources...thanks to Inq7 and Torn & Frayed that this is the sequence of events this evening...
The Commander of the Philippine Marine Corps Major General Renato Miranda was relieved of his duties...allegedly at his request citing "personal reasons"...someone please control those flying pigs...
Marines Colonel Ariel Querubin then calls for "People Power" to protest the 'relief' of Miranda....apparently text messages were being sent around the city telling people to go to Fort Bonifacio to support Miranda. Meanwhile Querubin was going to stay in the chapel at the military camp (Fort Bonifacio).
From what little I can gather from my colleagues...people are going to Fort Bonifacio, but not in large enough numbers.
The one "must read" of the last few days is MLQ3's post entitled A state of Panic.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Now I understand....
and this from Skippy-San....I couldn't resist it...unfortunately for her, GMA is often caught in rather unflattering poses and positions...this being one of them...
...or is she in the middle of the hokey pokey...?
Two sides of the story....
Yesterday morning when I woke up I decided that my day would consist of cleaning the house, a visit to the Chinese Cemetery, seeing the movie ‘Syriana’, a quick trip to the EDSA shrine and finally drinks at The Handlebar.
So I cleaned the house and set off for the Chinese cemetery (more on that in the next post) due to my taxi driver’s little detour around town I had plenty of time to be subjected to listening to the radio, very loudly in Tagalog. Listening to the radio, I grasped a few things that were repeatedly said in English – State of Emergency, Edsa Shrine, Rally, Coup d’Etat (ok, I know that final one is French!)….all sounded very interesting but I was set on going to the cemetery.
Leaving the cemetery to go to Rockwell to see Syriana I was again subjected to the radio. At this point I realized that radio commentators in the Philippines are incredibly excitable, their words came out in a high-pitched jumble, not unlike a cartoon on fast forward…it seemed at times that they were speaking so fast that they couldn’t get their words out in the right order.
I watched Syriana and then decided that as part of my Philippine education I should go to the EDSA shrine and see what was happening…I didn’t get there until about 4pm-ish by which time the morning’s events were over and the crowd had well and truly dispersed. Unfortunately, even though I had two cameras with me…one camera the battery had run out…and the other camera – I hadn’t put the battery in….no matter, my friends tell me, there will be many more rallies to be photographed.
So in all reality life for the likes of me continued fairly uneventfully….with the events of the day being treated almost as ‘something to cross off my to-do-list’.
For many, many others these events are incredibly serious and will have far reaching consequences and as such are in no way to be treated lightly…
The state of emergency means roughly this...
"In the declaration released to media at 11:20 a.m., Arroyo invoked Section 18, Article 7 of the Constitution that allowed the President to call on the armed forces to prevent or suppress rebellion.
The proclamation will also pave the way for warrantless arrests, government takeover of utilities, including media, and a ban on rallies, Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said."
Via the PDI
The Daily Tribune newspaper’s offices have been closed, apparently the paper is Pro-Estrada and the govt was concerned about what the paper would print today…
MLQ3 continues to write but one of the comments he left after one of his posts…sent shivers down my spine…”in truth one reason i didn’t post yesterday, besides following events, was i had to consult some people on the question of legal options, safe houses, etc. these were discussions i last remember with my family way back during martial law.” This is not a comment that one normally associates with life in the Philippines….but at the moment, the reality is very different…a few posts for you to read about the events of yesterday…MLQ3 and Torn & Frayed’s….first , second, and third posts
For up to the minute news the Daily Inquirer’s site has updated coverage
As I have repeatedly said I understand so little about Philippine politics and therefore cannot really fathom the events of yesterday…mainly because I don’t know who all the main players are…one thing I do realize though is that whilst this may be light entertainment for some, for others this is deadly serious. I also can’t help feeling that GMA declaring a state of national emergency will make more people come out on the streets to demonstrate against her…however, there is still no one person to rally behind as a suitable alternative…
A few thoughts and opinions from colleagues today…
‘GMA’s had enough, hence, the state of emergency’
‘Nothing will happen because the ‘real people’ are not on the streets’
‘Myself and my family were involved in Edsa I and Edsa II….and if we’re not out there now, with our neighbours and friends, then these demonstrations will not change anything’
‘She wanted the state of emergency so that she could stop all the rallies planned for today’
‘We are not ready for democracy, we need a dictator’
Understatement of the day goes to some wise person who was quoted on TV as saying ‘The state of emergency is not good for business’……you don’t say….
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Skippy and I have had a few discussions over the past few months over the Philippine's OFW....and here in today's paper in black and white was a letter from GMA commending the overseas workers...
Brokeback Mountain Weekly Shopping List
Coffee (espresso grind)
2 tubes K-Y
Fresh Fava beans
Prosciutto, approx. 8 oz., thinly sliced
Medallions of veal
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 Cub Scout uniform, size 42 long
5-6 bottle good Chardonnay,
1 large bottle Astroglide
Yukon Gold potatoes
Heavy whipping cream
Asparagus (very thin)
Gruyere cheese (well aged)
6 yards white silk organdy
6 yards pale ivory taffeta
Case of Chardonnay
Large tin Crisco
from Torn & Frayed's comments.....
The audience here obviously felt the subject matter was still a little risque judging by the oohs and aahs...and giggles as certain scenes were played out....
.I couldn't help thinking what a terrible and tragic relationship was being played out....granted the background it was played out against was spectacular...I'm not a camping sort of a lass...but that film has made me think I should give it another whirl...preferably with some good horses and some guy is handy with pitching tent...if he looks like Heath Ledger...then so much the better...
I actually came out the cinema wiping tears off my cheeks...haven't done that for a while...
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
It was a great day, fondly remembered....but still...
Landslide blocks entrance to Wadi Musa
PETRA (Petra) — Authorities on Tuesday said a landslide was reported at the northern entrance to the town of Wadi Musa, which overlooks the ancient city of Petra. They said the road was closed and traffic was diverted to an alternative road. Public works teams started removing “large quantities of soil and rocks” that blocked the road, which is used by tourists heading to Petra. No fatalities or injuries were reported. Officials attributed the landslide to the fact the soil was still saturated with water from the flash floods that swept parts of the Kingdom earlier this month. The floods killed nine people in the southern and eastern regions of the Kingdom and resulted in the loss of shelter and livelihood as well as damaging water, electricity and transportation infrastructure.
At the end of January 2002 one of my colleagues (M) and I decided to head to Petra for the long weekend (King's Birthday)...we booked three nights down at the Nabatean Castle (Movenpick)..the first and second day we wandered through Petra...for me remembering playing there with my brother and a rather alarming horse riding incident involving my mother...On the third day M and I decided to do a little exploring off the beaten track...so consulting the trusty Lonely Planet we found a few hikes that sounded interesting...so we set off. We were told that the hike we chose would take about three hours and that it was fairly challenging...we were also told not to attempt this in winter as sudden snow fall could result in flash floods.....a quick glance at the sky...clear, blue and not a cloud to be seen and the fact that it hadn't snowed for about two weeks convinced us that we were ok to go....
Off we set...now a few things to consider...M is over 6ft...I am just scraping 5ft...I walk fairly swiftly so I can keep up...but the problems started when climbing though the wadis...some of the boulders and things we were scrambling over were about 10 feet high with 10 ft drops on the other side...usually into thigh high very, very icy water...."fairly challenging" became a mild understatement. However, we had reached the point where going back would have been a waste. In hindsight our little expedition was the height of idiocy...the water being so deep and cold meant that the hiking boots had to come off and we waded through water with sheets of ice on top...by the time we got to the end our feet were cut and bleeding and ever so slightly cold! The main reason it was stupid was that both of us underestimated the amount of snow still on the mountain, neither of us realised how narrow the wadis were when we started out....in some of them I couldn't walk straight ahead...but had to squeeze though sideways...M got jammed a few times with me having to pull (or push) depending on where I was to get him throught the gap. If we had been caught in a flash flood we wouldn't have had a hope in hell of getting out.....
In the end the walk took about 4 hours as there was so much water through the wadis....we arrived back at Wadi Mousa and walked into the Movenpick resort and up to the cafe upstairs....we were covered in mud, our clothes were soaking...feet fairly catastrophic...but still we fancied an ice-cream (lets get our priorities straight!!) by the time the ice cream arrived we were both fast asleep on the sofas...and a rather timid waiter woke us up about an hour later worried that our ice creams were going to melt in front of the fire!!!
As always with these little adventures...the possibility of danger doesn't really hit home until much later....which I guess is good otherwise life might be quite dull!
So this evening I hightailed it over to the Shang Mall (being warned that due to various gatherings on EDSA going to Greenbelt may not be the best idea)...to see the latest Pink Panther...I am not a great movie critic I get too caught up in the movie to be critical...but a few comments on this one...it wasn't nearly as good as the originals (which I love)...but there were a few moments...when Clouseau spins the big globe thing in his office and it spins off its axis causing mayhem and destruction...his 'interview' with the Cantonese lady...and the camouflage body outfits for the Presidential Palace walls....and then the dance that Martin and Reno do in their little body suits....Added to the fact that I have quite a soft spot for Jean Reno....
Next movies to see....Memoirs of a Geisha, Brokeback Mountain and Syriana....the latter one provides a bit of a conundrum for me...I really want to see it but also know that I am too scared to see it alone...so the only alternative is to find someone who has seen it and ask them to explain the story in minute detail with every instance of violence so I am prepared and know when to hide and know how it will turn out......ridiculous I know but that's the only way I will be able to handle it - any volunteers??!!
Anyway...I must to bed as tomorrow Corregidor Island calls......at the crack of dawn!
I feel like Joey & Chandler in that episode of Friends when they discover they have free 24 hour porn.....although I would hasten to add, I am only reading news websites!
But is she enjoying it....?
Pride comes before a fall...
Arroyo brushes off coup rumours
GMA: Nothing can make me step down
As we get closer to the EDSA anniversary, the coup rumours are flying around the city, everyone waiting to see what is going to happen...if anything...
I have just a few inane thoughts on this..
There doesn't seem to be one strong contender to take GMA's place...not one person seems to be in the forefront of the drive to replace her.
If GMA continues to come out with arrogant comments such are written above...that could be the tipping point...
and finally, dare I say, I will feel deprived if, by the time I leave the Philippines I have experienced no political upheaval...
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
No man is an island....
This is what friendship amongst nations is all about, not VIP visits, flag waving and dinners...but one nation's soldiers helping another nation in their time of need....
Skippy-San has written of his involvement in the rescue efforts being staged on Leyte...and with a link to the post that Spike made about GMA's SONA speech in July...
The other day Glenzo made a comment on one of my posts referring to
Thornton Wilder's second novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, published in 1927. Which I had never heard of until that comment
As I finished reading the book last night, I flipped back to the front pages (dedications and the like) which I normally skip...and found this quotation...
Some say we shall never know, and that to the Gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on summer day, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the fingers of God".
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Something tells me that as soon as can lay my hands on a copy...that will go into my pile of books to read...
Thanks...but no thanks...
My question is this...."If you were given a tin of Danish Butter Cookies at this time...is it a 'Welcome Back Gift' or a 'We don't really want you around Gift'?"...
Points to Ponder...
And whilst on the subject...(vaguely at least...)...what kind of a fruitcake would have T-shirts made with the cartoons and then wear them....?
Monday, February 20, 2006
a "Presidential Moment"
From CNN...the list looks like this...
1: President James Buchanan, for failing to avert the Civil War
2: Andrew Johnson's decision just after the Civil War to side with Southern whites and oppose improvements in justice for Southern blacks beyond abolishing slavery
3: Lyndon Johnson by allowing the Vietnam War to intensify
4: Woodrow Wilson's refusal to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.
5: Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
6: James Madison's failure to keep the United States out of the War of 1812 with Britain.
7: Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a self-imposed prohibition on trade with Europe during the Napoleonic Wars.
8: John F. Kennedy allowing the Bay of Pigs Invasion that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
9: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua.
10: Clinton & Lewinsky....
Original article in the Philippine Star (World section)...unfortunately due to the general chaos that exists on their website....I cannot find alink to the article...
Saturday, February 18, 2006
All the King's horses and all the King's men....
On the front of the PDI(one example only) the disaster coverage on the front page shares space with news that the first Filipino-American woman to be nominated for an Oscar will wear a Filipino designed gown….and the beginning of a column which compares GMA with the Energizer (Duracell) bunny……..the mudslide is mentioned one more time…on page 6 with only 75% of the page covering the news…
Is this down to ‘news apathy’, i.e. it’s happened before….it’ll happen again….. the average Filipino being so used to tragedy and disaster in their country that it doesn’t register any more…
When the Ultra stampede happened my colleagues raised an eyebrow and generally implied that, ok, this was a slightly different tragedy to befall the country but these sort of things are to be ‘expected in the Philippines’….when I saw the breaking news on the BBC yesterday afternoon about the landslide I told my colleagues in the office….their response…”Again?” and then carried on talking about what they were going to do at the weekend….I am fairly sure they are not being cold hearted and un-feeling….just accepting…..
I am finding it hard to comprehend that ‘just down the road’ (as it were) there are somewhere between 1,500 – 2,000 people lying buried in mud; including a school which was at the time, filled with an estimated 200 children.
The disaster has so far been blamed on a combination of heavy rains and logging….man and Mother Nature struggling against each other…as they do so often in this country.
The Philippines is a particularly unfortunate country, almost every year brings natural disasters on a devastating scale..ranging from floods to typhoons to volcanic eruptions to landslides, with the odd earthquake for variety. Add to this the man-made problems…politics, population control and pollution (to name just three) and for an outsider such as I am…the country is a ticking time bomb in serious need of someone to sort out the challenges it faces.
I asked some of my colleagues the other day if they thought anything was going to happen on the 25th February (the anniversary of EDSA)…the general feeling was “No”….for two main reasons…the first being that although people are ‘annoyed’ with GMA, their feelings are not yet as strong as they were back in 1986 and in 2001 (for EDSA II), the second reason being that they don’t feel there is a viable alternative to GMA…or at least not viable enough to cause hundreds of thousands of people to wander along EDSA….again…dare I say it…..apathy strikes….
Two columns I have read today have made me think about this country and the way it is governed….
The first was from the The Standard ….and is written by a journalist who was at the airport the day Aquino was assassinated and was also one of the journalists inside the Palace soon after the Marcos family left….Where has the hope gone?
It is almost as if the entire country has given a collective shrug to the current political mess because the details become numbing.
Now the country waits, in vain apparently, for People Power 3 to get rid of Arroyo.
"I don't have the energy to overthrow another president," a friend of mine said last year when the Arroyo scandal began, and it seems that weariness, rather than any lingering credibility, is what will keep Arroyo in office.
The second column was from the Opinion page of the PDI….the column itself “Passage to India" was, obviously, predominantly about India…but one paragraph really gave me pause for thought….
One of the things that should interest Filipinos is that its present president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is an aeronautical engineer. That's right, he's not a lawyer, nor was he ever a TV host or a movie actor. He is the author of five books, one of which has been translated into Chinese, Russian and Korean, and has two books of poems to his credit. We have much to learn from the Indians.
I know my thoughts have not been organised in this post...it was written in haste, with too many subjects jostling for opinion, with not one clear thought coming through...however, this country has many, many problems and it is going to take a concerted effort from the population, the media and a suitable goverment to overcome these huge hurdles.
Those of you who have been reading since I arrived in Manila will know that the transition hasn’t been the easiest…which even I have found strange given that I have lived so many places and moved country so many times…and enjoyed every one of those countries almost immediately!
However, I think finally things are beginning to fall into place and the realisation dawned last night….for me feeling ‘at home’ is more about the network of ‘services’ that I rely on to make life go a little more smoothly, it’s about having the right laundry…and about having a few people who ‘recognise me’….last night it ‘clicked’….
When I left work last night I knew I had no food at home and having not eaten at work decided to pop into the Dome café and pick up my ‘usual’ salad…as I walked in the door the waitress there who always looks after me just said ‘the usual’ (she knows that after work I am a woman of few words!)…so I nodded and went and planted myself at my ‘usual’ table (good heavens, I am a creature of habit!) where she put the Daily Inquirer on the table for me to read and left me to it…..
I left the café with my dinner and wandered over to the taxi queue…the guy who organises the queue knows where I am going ( no surprise there, I go there almost every night!) …and as I stand and watch one of the Rustan’s staff loading a lady’s shopping into the taxi…he turns to me and says “You must have no food in your house, you haven’t had a delivery for about 10 days!”…..how nice…he remembered when I last shopped there…and he proclaims to the world that, yes, I am the most disorganised person in the world!
Finally, as I went into my little refuge on Wack Wack Road the lady that runs the laundry shop in the building is leaving for home (finally…I think she works longer hours than me!!) ..as she passes me she says “I put your laundry at the reception, I know you can’t get home to pick it up before we close....you can pay next time you come in”…
So, the basic network is there and life will probably start to be a little smoother….
Friskodude describes my first seven months in Manila like this….
"After her first year of guarded skepticism, Madame Chiang seems to be warming up to the Philippines"
Friday, February 17, 2006
Define a pothole....
An Arab news round up...
In Beirut, Valentine's Day marked the first anniversary of the death of Rafik Hariri...has much changed? Has any good come come from his brutal murder? Syria may technically have left the country, however the Lebanese are still dealing with a pro-Syrian leader and still dealing with Syria interfering in their country in a fairly violent way. It is such a shame that this wonderful country that saw so much violence and death in the 70s and 80s is now once again in turmoil.
And a picture....The Jordan Times has been running a series of articles by a guy who is cycling around Jordan...This week his jaunt took him East towards the border with Iraq and Saudi...towards the town of Azraq where Lawrence skulked on his way to Aqaba....the country out there is beautiful I 'did' the drive many times just to be out in the desert...the drive takes you on a ring from Amman out to Azraq and back home on a different road...on the way you pass what are known collectively as the Desert Castles...of which Qasr Al Kharaneh (the 'K' is pronounces more as an 'H')...and this picture shows what the scenery is like...
In the vast and peaceful Jordanian desert, there are probably a hundred desert castles and palaces. Some are very small, some just a pile of rocks, while others are major attractions and important structures - the most significant of which are probably Qasr Amra, Qasr Al Kharaneh, Qasr Tuba and Qasr Mushata.
Link to the full article here (remember, they only last a week!)..
Also from the Jordan Times...
AQABA (Petra) — A passenger train connecting Aqaba with Wadi Rum will start operating within two weeks. The train consists of six carriages that can accommodate 25 passengers each. The train will take visitors on a tour of the area's historical landmarks, stopping at sites such as the Aqaba Citadel, the residence of Sharif Hussein Ben Ali, the Wadi Rum Tourist Centre and the site of the Great Arab Revolt.
and finally, this fromReega Reega Hareega.....The best way to execute Saddam Hussein.....send him hunting with Dick Cheney....
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Tuesday & Wednesday
Tuesday being the 'ickiest' day in the calendar also translates into one of the busiest for me...this year being no exception...with a 6:45am start and a 1am finish...it probably counts as one of the longer working days I have had!
and one of the more amusing....11pm saw a marriage proposal from an Egyptian gentleman who I think (at least I hope!) felt sorry for me....so a sympathy proposal!! The guy was old enough to be my father and is already married with three daughters!!! But I guess it's another proposal to add to the list!! Beggars can't be choosers!
My day off yesterday was so quick, I blinked and it was gone - probably because I got home so late the night before and had an early start today so needed to get to bed early last night...This morning I was up before the cats...! For some bizarre reason the traffic yesterday was horrific...a quick jaunt to Makati took about 45 minutes from Shaw...and on the way back EDSA was relatively clear by Shaw was not moving...so about 2 and 1/2 hours of my precious day off were taken up with traffic...And then to put the icing on the cake - my furniture that I was expecting to be delivered wasn't..even though they kept calling to reconfirm the time - I waited and waited and...nothing....
Next week I think I will take two days off and head over to Corregidor...just for a change of scenery. And to keep my father quiet..he gets these ideas into his head...in HKG he was convinced that I should spend one of my days off flying to Taipei to see the museum there...and he keeps asking if I have been to Corregidor yet?...then again, maybe I shouldn't go - we may have nothing to talk about afterwards!!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Clear as Mud
"Departure days: Even dates; First week of each month (Jan, Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Sep, Nov) this train departs on "ODD" days."
And by the way, I have already found next years holiday.......London to Amman by train.........now that's a plan!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Things to do on a Saturday....
Going up Two IFC (the hard way)
It was only six hours into a charity challenge to climb Two IFC in Central 23 times - at 8,850 metres the equivalent of Mount Everest - that the Hong Kong police force's fitness guru realised all the training in the world was not going to get him through.
Mark Sharp - who claims the force is one of the world's fittest because of the city's unforgiving climate and varied terrain - was stricken with vertigo and his body wanted to shut down. But his partner, teacher Graeme Deuchars, stepped up to encourage him through the next 11 hours of the mind-numbing monotony of trudging up those stairs. Each ascent of the 88-storey, 420-metre tower is the same as walking from Central up to The Peak.
The pair were thankful to be taking the lift back down.
"I've done 37 marathons, but nothing has been as tough as that," Sharp said after finishing the challenge last night, as he struggled to down a glass of champagne. "It's quite simply taken everything out of me, but there was a time there when I didn't think I would make it."
On the eighth ascent, the dizziness became too much, and Sharp was told to lie down by medical support staff.
"He has tremendous mental strength that allowed him to go on when his body just wanted to sleep," Deuchars said.
The agony didn't stop Sharp talking about the climb as an annual event. "This is something I really think businesses would warm to as a way to raise money for charity because [Two] IFC is such an icon."
So was the Scottish teacher at the German Swiss International School still sprightly at the end of the 17 hours, 36 minutes and 57 seconds? "You have bad days and good days, and this was my good day," Deuchars said. "I feel brilliant."
Money raised by the event - possibly a world record - will go to the Hong Kong Sports Association for the Mentally Handicapped, the Markus Knosel Project and Oxfam.
From today's SCMP...
And here is the website of their challenge...Two IFC Mount Everest Challenge
To pee or not to pee….that is the question?
Manila is a special city when it comes to ‘relieving oneself’…particularly for the male of the species…it seems that anywhere will do to have a quick pee….no matter how public…in fact I am beginning to think that the rule is ‘the more public the better’….when I first arrived in Manila I used to question how many men I would see closely examining brick work…until the penny (no pun intended) dropped…
In the mornings I walk from my block down Wack Wack Road to Shaw Boulevard…along the road there is one patch of wall more favoured than the others for ‘relieving’ purposes…granted there is a tiny slip of a tree doing its best to offer a certain level of privacy….if I tell you that the girth of the tree trunk is probably about 5 inches…you should get some idea of the ‘level’ of privacy. Early in the mornings the taxis wait at this area to be summoned to the apartments along Wack Wack Road…so naturally depending on their wait, the drivers will need to use the wall at some stage….it usually seems to be the same collection of taxi drivers and I now know a few of them…not well, but at least enough that when I get into the taxi they know where to take me….and well enough that they greet me in the mornings…regardless of whether they are sitting in their taxis, perched at the side of the road chatting…or appendage in hand watering the tree…last Sunday…two of them at the same time felt the need to relieve themselves…and both waved whilst doing it and shouted a cheery “Good Morning”.
How do I tell them that being British something in my DNA cannot handle such ‘openness’!!!
It seems that the problem is not confined to Manila…my friend who lives in Cebu once walked passed a taxi driving answering the call of nature…who swung round and said “Taxi Ma’am?”…whilst waving his one-eyed trouser snake at her….!!!
It seems that the public urination problem is something that the authorities are aware of and so posted around the city are the wonderful pink urinals….see picture below…pilfered from My Everyday Manila.
These pink creations are almost a Manila icon…so much so that a replica pen holder has been doing the rounds…I am very proud to say that I have one sitting on my desk…and it will probably be my most treasured souvenir of the Philippines….
Saturday, February 11, 2006
My brother's shopping list....
They spell differently in Thailand...
A BRITISH couple ended up in a prison camp after a travel agent sent them to TEL AVIV instead of TENERIFE.
Diane said: “It sounds daft but I’d never seen Tel Aviv spelt before. I thought it was what people in Thailand called Tenerife.”
Full story from The Sun
Friday, February 10, 2006
Only in Manila...!!!
So I find my taxi and then (and I am prepared for this part) have to go through the whole "No, I will not pay an extra 30pesos, only what's on the meter"....which, the guy accepted with good grace (which I have discovered is quite normal) but...and it's a big but...this guy obviously had a trick up his sleeve....on goes the radio...and he starts singing...normally, the singing is ok. Singing taxi drivers in HKG are not great, singing taxi drivers in Manila are actually very good...and I quite like listening to them singing along. However, this guy was the exception to the rule...he could not sing at all....my cats are more tuneful.
Given the frame of mind I was in I knew I couldn't bear the trip home with this shrill tuneless squeaking in the front....so I asked him to stop....and then came the crunch..."twenty pesos to stop singing Ma'am"....it was probably the first thing to make me laugh all day...so, I agreed!!!! And I have to say it was the best money I have spent in a while!!!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The lost islands....
Facts & Figures.....
I am probably the world’s worst mathematician, however statistics and lists of figures fascinate me…a few (actually far more than a few!) statistics for you…
Hong Kong ranks 9th with the highest female populations - 89 males per 100 females; China on the other hand ranks 14th in the list of highest male populations (106 males per 100 females)…must be something in the water.... The 14 countries before china are predominantly Muslim countries…with one rather unusual exception….in descending order UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi, Greenland (?!), Jordan, Afghanistan, Andorra, Brunei, Faroe Islands and Libya.
Hong Kong ranks second only to Macau in having the lowest fertility rates in the world…Macau with 0.84 children per woman and Hong Kong with 0.94….HKG’s fearless leader, no not China…no not Disney….the other one…the guy with the bow tie….he was obviously barking up the right tree when he told Hong Kong’s female population to go forth and multiply…three times over…. Singapore’s breeding plan is racing ahead however with 1.35 children per woman.
More Singaporeans marry (6.3 marriages per 1,000 people) compared to HKG (3.9 marriages per 1,000 people) and yet both HKG and Singapore are equal on the divorce front with 1.8 divorces per 1,000 population….you wouldn’t want to be living in Aruba…they have the highest number of divorces in the world with 5.3 divorces per 1,000 population
…largest cities in the world by population…1st Tokyo with 35million; 18th Moscow – 10.5m, Manila – 10.4m, 27th London – 7.6m, 30th HKG – 7m, 38th Baghdad – 5.6m, 47th Toronto – 4.9m….
Leading the charge in the list of the highest proportion of a country’s population residing in a single city are – in joint first place…HKG & Singapore with obviously 100% of the population living in the one city…..4th place Beirut – 49.1% of the Lebanese population lives in Beirut…
Here’s where HKG goes right in at the top of the list – Most crowded road network….with HKG having 286.7 vehicles ‘per km of road network’…, Qatar comes second with 283.6 vehicles per km …but whenever I see pictures of the roads in Qatar they are empty…the cars must be all parked at home in the garages! Most used road network 1st – Indonesia, 2nd HKG and Qatar doesn’t even figure on the list…so my theory could be right! In the league of car ownership…Lebanon comes in highest at 732 cars per 1,000 people (dare I say it is because they keep setting fire the cars on the street….?) and China comes in at the bottom with 6.7 cars per 1000 people. Another great achievement for HKG – we feature on the list of most accidents…granted in 12th position (equal with Morocco) with 176 people injured ‘per 100m vehicle km (now there’s a stat they never taught me at school!)..Malawi comes in 1st on that list with 2,730 people injured…
The most air travel….US 1st with 1,142,984 million passengers per km per year….Japan 2nd, UK 3rd…and HKG at 7th place (that’s because everyone’s going to Taipei!!)
HKG comes second in the list of busiest cargo airports – shifting 3.13m tonnes of cargo per year…second only to Memphis which is the home base of UPS (which may help that stat)…busiest airports for passengers (in descending order) Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare and LHR…busiest airport of flight movements (again descending order) Chicago O’Hare, Atlanta, Dallas Ft Worth, …with LHR coming in 15th after Frankfurt!!
Are you bored yet…
France has the most tourist arrivals with 75m, followed by Spain with 51.8m, Hong Kong is in 12th place with 15.5m arrivals and Saudi ranks in 23rd place with 7.3m tourists compared to Singapore in 31st place with 5.7m arrivals….scary that more people want to go to Sodding Arabia than Singapore (although am guessing that the Hajj figures would skew that in favour of SA).
Diabetes…HK has the 4th highest occurrence of diabetes (amongst people aged 20-79), after (in ascending order) Saudi, Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico. Cambodia spends 12% of its GDP on healthcare, second only to the US which spends 14.6% of its GDP on healthcare
Up to now, the Philippines hasn’t really figured on any tables…but now we hit the Media section…the average Filipino spends 21 hours a week watching TV, second only to Thailand where they spend 22.4 hours a week in front of the box.. However there is slight redemption in the fact that the average Filipino spends 7.6 hours a week reading…India is top with 10.7 hours a week followed by Thailand and China….Hong Kong comes in at 12th position and the UK and the US don’t even figure in the top 17 countries. Filipinos also spend more time on the internet (9.8 hours a week) than the average Brit or American who come in at only 8.8 hours a week. The Taiwanese lead the list on internet usage with 12.6 hours a week (they’re probably all on the net trying to figure out how to get out of Taiwan to avoid all the people arriving in Taipei!).
Obviously the citizens of Luxembourg are concerned that in their tiny little country they may loose touch with the rest of the world..or indeed their own countryfolk….They have the highest number of mobile telephone subscribers - 119.4 per 100 people and the highest number of telephone lines – 79.8 per 100 people. Hong Kong comes 3rd in the list of mobile telephones (107.9 per 100 people) and comes 15th on the number of telephone lines (55.9 per 100 people). Possibly the people in Luxembourg are all talking about their money – they have the highest GDP per head and the highest purchasing power
…all that money and phoning people obviously requires some serious alcohol consumption in Luxembourg…with the average citizen consuming 66.1 litres per head (am assuming that is in a year…) and 12.6 litres of pure alcohol per head….both stats put them in the top position, however they only rank 5th in the beer drinking scale.
Now here’s a statistic that must show that it’s all in how you categorise things…Crime…in the list of total recorded crimes per 100,000 population…Iceland is at the top, followed by Sweden and then in 3rd place is the UK (11,014) and the US ranks in 17th place with (4,119).
There are a few countries out there with a fear of invasion that seems slightly out of proportion to possible reality….The Oman spends 11.6% of its GDP on defence…2nd only to North Korea which spends 25% of its GDP on defence…Singapore comes in at 18th position (5.2%) and in the list of 28 countries shown…the US, UK and China don’t register…
I think that’s enough info for one day….!!!!
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Year of the Hound....
Am I missing something here....
I feel kind of left out!
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall
As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust
Well you burst on the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half-shell
Would keep you unharmed
Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you're smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there
Now you're telling me
You're not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It's all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid.
Diamonds & Rust - Joan Baez
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I don't bloody believe it...
I honestly do nothing to these iPods..they sit in the dock on top of the cupboard and just play music...they don't travel anywhere (shuffle is for that) they don't get moved that often...but just suddenly they decide not to work...so I went to the Apple shop at Rockwell with the sick iPod - by this point too hot to hold as the mechanism inside still thought it was working but something had jammed it...so it was busy whirring away inside and generating enough heat to fry an egg on..!
There is a chef out in a boat somewhere off the coast of Mexico who I blame for all my iPod problems...you know who you are and I should never have listened to you!!!!!
Monday, February 06, 2006
Chairman Miaow & Top Gear
the quotations inside are fairly politically incorrect however, everyso often I find one that makes me laugh...
speaking of possibly unPC things...last night was the final episode of Top Gear for this season...so they had a few awards to hand out..one of them was the the 'greatest gas guzzler of the year'....nominees were a Range Rover, the Bugatti Veyron and Hemel Hempstead....!!!
How do I do it...
Today I was up at Greenhills and wandered out of the main mall area into what can only be described as 'Fast Food Street'...the usual suspects - Greenwich, Pizza Hut, Jollibees etc...I was in search of an ATM...
I saw the banner advertising the bank and the ATM (with no location details or arrow!) and so asked the security guard....he pointed vaguely to the left...so I walked over to the left down a corridor...Now one thing I have learnt when in an unfamilar neighborhood is that you walk confidently and quickly....so I did...
It wasn't until I had wandered into this big hall area with a few white cotton clad rear ends in the air that I realised I had walked into a Muslim prayer room...as I quickly turned to leave I realised that I had a few people directly on my tail...it seems they had followed me down the corridor calling to me (which I had ignored!) to stop me...as in my determined walking I had marched past the little security desk where you pay to use the bathroom (men only) to scrub up for prayers!
I apologised profusely and scuttled out...past all the signs pointing to the "Prayer Room"!!!
Note to self...when going out wear either contacts or glasses!!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Something I never thought I would see...
from the BBC
Also from the BBC - the Jordanian editors that published the cartoons have been arrested,
Mr Momani's arrest came earlier on Saturday, a day after Jordanian King Abdullah condemned the cartoons as an unnecessary abuse of freedom of speech. Mr Momani's paper, Shihan, had printed three of the cartoons, alongside an editorial questioning whether the angry reaction to them in the Muslim world was justified.
"Muslims of the world be reasonable," wrote Mr Momani.
In Amman after Friday prayers (the typical time for a demonstration), Jordanians walked through the streets in protest
I am waiting to hear what Prince Hassan has to say...this gentleman is always full of words of wisdom and moderation and is one of the wisest (and most entertaining) people I have ever had the pleasure of talking with..and attempting to put make up on (but that's another story!). HRH is also a moderator for the World Conference of Religions for Peace. His thoughts on this will no doubt be provocative but at the same time understanding to both sides of the arguement...
It started as an experiment and once I realised that there was this 'interaction' thing going on it became more of a compulsion! I always said to myself that I wanted to achieve one year of blogging to show some form of commitment to the challenge...I will continue to write but at least now I have taken the pressure off me!
So a little cake to celebrate...three reasons for this choice:
# My blog is named after one of my cats
# When I became a permanent HK resident I went to the Hello Kitty cafe to celebrate -seemed like a typical HK thing to do
# Yesterday was Hemlock's birthday - given that for a grown man (at least I am assuming he is grown!) he does seem to have a rather intense fascination for the mouthless kitty (Oh I so wanted to use another word there!!)... I am being very presumptious and decided to offer him a slice of my...cake!
If you'd like to join me in raising a glass..think carefully before you make your choice - Champagne anyone...??!!!
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Looking to buy a new (well relatively!) book on Hong Kong during the war...I went to Amazon and (as it does) it showed the books that other people had also bought as well as that one...
Tragedy in Manila...
Hong Kong...in pictures
How does the weather always know that it is Chinese New Year?....cold, grey and damp...Chinese New Year's Eve...when I arrived I was smirking at everyone running around in the their winter gear - boots, hats, coats etc...after about three hours I had changed into - boots, coat and scarf!!!
although Chinese New Year's day was glorious...cold, blue and sunny!
Chinese New Year decorations at Harbour City
The new (well at least with it's wrapping off!) AIA building and it's "little" screen at the top!
The MO looking rather folorn...I am sure that it will be wonderful when it reopens...in the meantime HKG will have to survive without a chocolate afternoon tea buffet and the best eggs benedict in town!
Who says you are never alone in HKG....Kowloon station, Tung Chung Line, 2nd day of Chinese New Year....not a soul....!!
What every airport needs...but only CLK has...a giant LV suitcase in the arrivals hall!
For the person that has everything...a gold Chinese monopoly set...also politically correct (or incorrect depending on your thoughts), not only does the board include sites in the Mainland and Hong Kong...but Taipei 101 and a few other Taiwanese landmarks!
Friday, February 03, 2006
Filipino Fast Food...
Over at MLQ3 today, he has linked to a bizarre altercation about Jollibees ...
first an American and her friends go to try out Jollibees..here...and make rather uncomplimentary comments about it...
then...a Filipino gets hold of "Pam's" post and get's "ever so slightly offended"!
then...after receiving some hate mail...Pam answers back...
a storm in a tea cup was my first thought....but then...the average Filipino eats a fair amount of fast food...not necessarily from Jollibees but judging by the enormous number of pizza places, food courts and the like around Manila they must all be being kept in business somehow...so being so aggressively rude about fast food, in particular a home grown product such as Jollibees is fairly offensive..plus I have learnt here that Filipinos are very sensitive abour their country and anything Filipino...in the vast majority of cases that is a good thing...
Unfortunately Jollibees is really not to everyone's taste...I was taken there by a colleague my first week here to try Filipino fast food...and I have to say it just wasn't my idea of good fast food (an oxymoron?!)...it does tend on the sweet side and...well, to cut a long story short - I didn't really like it...but that may have more to do with the fact that I haven't eaten any similar fast food (probably pizza is the exception) for a couple of years...even predating reading this book.
However, in Pam vs. Filipinos...I think both parties handled it badly...Pam, did go slightly OTT in her comments...it's not great food - but I don't think it will kill too many people and obviously somebody likes it otherwise the company wouldn't have survived and been quite so prolific...on the other side of the arguement, I don't know the content of the rest of the e-mails but the one she highlighted did not exactly portray Filipinos in the most courteous and literate way...
MLQ3 then suggests that as feedback Filipinos could 'brush up' on their road kill recipes...giving us a few helpful links..here and here...which reminded me of two things...first on my return from one of my trips to Canada I brought back a "Road Kill Cafe" T-shirt which my mother thought was most tasteless..(best use of the word I have ever heard!)...the second thing was when reading about the beaver recipes I remembered a Christmas bakery list I saw for a hotel somewhere that listed amongst its Christmas goodies..."Small beaver"....which lead me (of course!) to the Naked Gun movies...
Drebin: Nice Beaver!
Jane: Why thank you... I just had it stuffed.
Drebin: Here.. let me help you with that.
funny how the mind works...!!
The smile was soon wiped off my face...
ok...he is not sexy...but he is...and I'm very upset that he is delaying his 'diaries'..lots of pictures of him in glorious technicolour would be a prime reason to buy it!!
Why can't the Japanese just write into their consitition..royal princesses are not allowed to marry 'blue-eyed foreigners'..a bit like the British royal family and Roman Catholics...
Now if it had been with Pierce Brosnan, I would have volunteered....but this guy does nothing for me...
And from the Jordan Times...
Strangely enough, however, adults, particularly husbands, are finding in the SMS a way out of their marriages.
In several Arab countries, it has been reported that men have divorced their wives through an SMS message, and it opened a debate on the legality of the matter.
The other day, I was pleased to learn that a Malaysian Muslim senator has been fined for divorcing his wife by sending her an SMS and leaving a voice mail on her mobile phone. The senator, Kamaruddin Ambok, 52, was fined 550 ringgit ($147) by a Sharia court for attempting to divorce his wife, Mahani Hussain, by phone, instead of declaring his intentions in court.
As the curtains are about to be lowered on the West Wing...which is your favourite episode (via The Shakey Kaiser)
Just a little bit of Lawrence.
On a far more serious note...Flagrant Harbour has an excellent round up of the 'Mohammed Cartoons' issue.. the whole issue just goes to show that Islam is in serious need of a good PR agent...a lot of people are unaware that images of the Prophet are blasphemous...and as such this would be a good opportunity for education rather than violence and hatred (again bad PR)...and here is a Jordanian round up...from Mental Mayhem
Whilst updating myself at Mental Mayhem I see that one of Natasha's friends has been kidnapped in Iraq....Jill Carroll is an American journalist who at one time worked for the Jordan Times...so incredibly tragic and so hard to bear for friends and family. Again, this whole issue of kidnapping in Iraq shows Islam in the worst possible light....
How do you know when you are in Manila....?
I wouldn't mind but I thought I looked particularly angelic this morning...!!!!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
How many ounces of water can you boil....?
In the interests of being fair...
there are some areas where Manila does have the edge over Hong Kong..
non-smoking restaurants...whilst in Manila I appreciate being able to enjoy my food and wine without sucking up a load of second hand cigarette smoke...being back in HKG reminded me of just what an awful experience it is...
shopping...in Manila whenever you go into a department store they ask you to 'deposit your bags' (more to stop theft than to be helpful - however...)...I used to think it was a real pain...however, when you are doing a lot of shopping it is a good idea...particularly if you can leave it all there and come back later to collect it....whilst doing my bit for HKG's economy last Saturday a 'deposit your bag' service would have been a good addition.
smiling...when you have been in the Philippines and Thailand...it really brings home how little the average Hong Konger smiles....I know everyone's busy rushing around and making money...but the odd smile from a shop assistant would not go amiss!
noise level...although the gatherings of domestic helpers in Central and Sai Kung would contradict what I am about to say...the 'human' noise factor in Manila is much lower than in Hong Kong...I always forget that wall of human noise that envelops you in Hong Kong!
level of English...I think I can safely say that the level of English spoken in Hong Kong continues to drop dramatically...Hong Kong seems to be lagging behind even the Mainland at this stage..let alone somewhere like the Philippines or our main 'competitors', Singapore.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Correct me if I'm wrong....
the article mentioned that a second native bird had tested positive for the bird flu virus and as such all chickens in the NT had to be either vaccinated, given up to the authorities or eaten...
It's the 'eaten' part I am querying...is this a case of 'eating the evidence'?
Or am I dreaming...?