Thursday/ on the way home

Sometimes the nice thing about getting on a long international flight is that one is out of reach :  no Blackberry.  So no e-mail, no phone calls, no text messages.    Yes !  I’m flying back the way I came : Hong Kong to Seoul, Seoul to Seattle.

This article in yesterday’s newspaper says there was an ‘insignificant’ increase in radiation at the Daya Bay nuclear plant probably caused by an improperly sealed fuel rod in one of the reactors.  There are more than 41,000 fuel rods in the two pressurized water reactors.   The incident happened on May 23 (so I was not there at the time).   The reactor is only 50 km from Hong Kong and critics are saying that the incident should have been reported immediately.

Picture is from the Marriott Skycity Hotel, in the elevator lobby on the 8th floor.

Wednesday/ work one more day ..

.. and then right back to Hong Kong for my trip home on Thursday.    Did I have to come to work for one day?  Yes, a lot is happening and I have to hand over to some team members that arrived back on site.   It is summer, and the humidity is everywhere.  Someone left the men’s washroom door open here in the building and the mirror is full of condensate.   The marble floor is damp in places.

Just a few more pictures from yesterday –

Riding the tram is fun, but offers no getting out of the steamy heat.  My camera lens fogs up immediately when I take it out, but then it warms up and it is OK.  That’s Two IFC (International Finance Center) in the background with the tapered top.

This truck with the Liverpool soccer team on was in front of the Adidas store in Kowloon.  ‘You’ll never walk alone’ it says in green .. meaning – you’d always have some buds in the pub and something to talk about?    Inside the store they had only a few of the World Cup t-shirts in my size, so I didn’t buy any.   But check out this very political t-shirt they also sell :  Robben Island (with Cape Town in the background) where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.  46664 was his prisoner number.

Tuesday/ in Hong Kong

The dragon-boat races are only tomorrow, and I have to go to work tomorrow so I will miss it.  Aargh.  But here are some pictures from yesterday.  It’s very warm and very humid, so the shopping malls and the subway is a welcome respite from that!

The pictures from top to bottom :

Nike bill-board that says you will be an immortal if you score a World Cup goal.  Can you make the numbers on the defenders’ backs go to zero?  Scroll down for the answer.

Clock tower built in 1991 for Hong Kong Park near the base of the Bank of China building.   Check out the vanishing edge that ‘cuts’ the air.    I guess that’s what makes the feng shui critics hate the building.    I love it, so I guess I’m a feng shui barbarian.

The next pictures show the man-made pond in the park, and a koi.  I want to be a lazy koi in my next life.

Next picture shows me in the small lobby on the 43rd floor of the Bank of China building.  The 70th floor deck at the top is accessible only by appointment.   The next picture is the view,  looking down on the area by the Star ferry terminal that runs north to Kowloon; lots of construction going on there.

Is this building – it’s called the Lippo Center – ugly or beautiful?  You decide.

Samsung has demonstration stations in the subway for their new 3D LED TV.   I didn’t get to take a look, though.

This neon-lined building is close to Central Station; I don’t know the name.   And the ubiquitous red Hong Kong taxi is in the bar and restaurant area a little more up the hillside also close in the Central district.  This is where all the expats come and party.  The World Soccer Cup is an extra incentive – as if they needed one !  See all the flags? – but no South African flag, so boo for you Carlsberg!  Watch it, I will stop drinking your beer.

Answer : 11 18 9 7 3 goes to 7 9 2 4 which goes to 2 7 2 which goes to 5 5 .. which goes to ZERO !

Monday/ in Hong Kong

I took the coach bus from the Sheraton Dameisha to Hong Kong last night.   The 7-11 poster picture is for little 2010 World Cup key chain guys.  Very cute.   No 11 is South Africa, but that’s about all I know.  I couldn’t get an overview of the teams’ shirt colors on the FIFA website.  And do they change into different colors if they play another team with a similar shirt color?  I think they do!

Below is this morning’s view of Hong Kong harbor from the Marriott Courtyard on the 19th floor where I stay.  I am on Hong Kong Island looking north to Kowloon.  And if I may, can I make you jealous of my breakfast?  That’s a samoosa (a potato-stuffed pastry, I am using the South African spelling where they are also popular), a fried tomato, corn, yellow zucchini, scrambled egg, two pork dim sum and the Hong Kong version of a zongzi.

Sunday/ the Dragon Boat Festival

The Duanwu Festival (Chinese: 端午節), also known as Dragon Boat Festival,  is a traditional and statutory holiday associated with Chinese and other east/southeast Asian societies.    It is a public holiday in Taiwan, where it is known by the Mandarin name Duānwǔ Jié,  as well as in Hong Kong and Macau,  where it is known by the Cantonese name Tuen Ng Jit.   In 2008, the festival was restored in China as an official national holiday.

Three of the most widespread activities for Duanwu Festival are eating (and preparing) zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats.   A zongzi is a glutinous rice dumpling in bamboo leaf with a meaty filling.   Below is the one I got at work here.   The wrapping can also be triangular.

I am headed to Hong Kong tonight for the Chinese holidays which are Mon and Tue (our weekend got shifted to synch up with the local schedule).   So I will go look for more zongzi , and see if there is any Dragon Boat racing to check out as well !


It rained on and off the last few days and last night we ran into a minor mudslide across the road just outside Dameisha which delayed us by 20 mins or so.  I did not go to Shenzhen with the soccer revelers, but I did follow the South Africa- Mexico match cast for awhile on (minute-by-minute text updates of the match, a poor substitute for TV, but better than nothing at all).  The result was a 1-1 draw.

And here is my 2010 World Cup draw sheet entry for our friendly competition at work.   Brazil and Spain in the final, I say.    In retrospect the scores I predicted are too high : not likely that 6 goals will be scored in the final ! Oh well.  (Click on the draw sheet to display it clearly).

Friday/ 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off

1.  There are some nice pictures of the stadiums and information about the cities in South Africa at

And then of course, there is the official FIFA website at

2.  Do you see a Google in the picture on Google’s China home page?  Very subtle.

3.  And where am I?  Well, the next phase of our project kicked off this week,  so I am at work and WORKING on it : this weekend as well.  Aww :(.   That’s black Ceylon tea in the cup (still my favorite type of tea),  chocolate soy milk and  a local China banana.

Thursday night

Picture from Wed night : mantou or Chinese steamed buns which we had for dessert.   These have a glaze on – they can also come in just plain white.  I posted a picture of them before, remember? .. I was not quick enough to take a picture before one had been nabbed already! and the sweet dipping sauce was not enough so they brought us more.

Picture from Thu morning waiting for the bus :  nice flowers on a shrub that looks a little like a South African katjiepiering; I should have leaned in and smelled it to tell if it was – and I didn’t.

Picture from Thu morning at work : Yes! that’s a California navel orange.  I know I shouldn’t buy California oranges in China but I need my Vitamin C, see?  And the black bean-flavored soy milk next to it is NOT as delicious as it looks!  I will stick to chocolate-flavored soy milk next time.

Wednesday/ get out your vuvuzela!

[Acknowledgment – picture as well as some text from Wikipedia].

No, not your uvula, your vuvuzela! Sometimes called a lepatata (its Setswana name) or a stadium horn,  it is a blowing horn appr. one metre (3 ft) in length, commonly blown by fans at soccer matches in South Africa.  It requires some lip and lung strength to blow and emits a very LOUD monotone like a foghorn or an elephant.     Vuvuzelas have been controversial and can be distracting to players and coaches,  and may also damage hearing.  Ouch.  Better bring ear plugs to that soccer match you are attending, as well!

The vuvuzela blower below trumpeted the announcement of the final draw of the 2010 World Cup.   A posse from work here is arranging for a driver to go to Shenzhen on Friday night, to attend the opening match of South Africa and Mexico at an Irish sports bar.   It’s going to be a late night, and we have to WORK on Saturday.   Will I be a bad South African American if I don’t go?  :  (

P.S.  I am back at work.  I put my emergency packet of  Sudafed I brought from the States to work.

Tuesday/ called in sick

I have a bad head cold that kept me from sleeping last night and so I had to call in sick today.   (Poster picture from Hong Kong subway .. but I am very sure real germs do NOT look as cute as these!).    I thought I did so well this past weekend to just to rest up and catch up with sleep, but I guess it was too little, too late.  Then again maybe I did everything right and just caught one of these nasties from somewhere.

Monday morning

The apple vinegar did not sit well with my digestive system and I had to take the late bus to catch a few extra winks!

Here is what the Monday morning at the bus stop looked like at 7.45am .. very Seattle-like, the skies.   But the sun came out a little later and burned off the fogginess.  They dug up the ‘trees’ lining the street here.   They were actually tree stumps with thin branches and leaves.  Someone on the Dameisha Municipality or City Council must not have liked the trees.

Sunday/ pizza and apple ‘juice’

More walking around Dameisha today; cleaned my apartment, and got some work done as well.

I saw that the LA* Waterfront hotel is sporting the same dragon arch than the ones I saw at the beach yesterday.  It could be because of the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival .. I will post something about that soon.  *Really not sure if it’s LA as in Los Angeles, California.

The Hawaiian pizza is from the Pizzahut in the entertainment complex Outside Chinatown here in Dameisha.  It tasted OK, but the toppings are a little skimpy – not?   And the apple ‘juice’ burned my throat.  Man! Can it be that sweet? I thought – then saw on the back of the bottle it is apple vinegar, more popular here than the juice.   I added an equal part of water, and then I could drink it.

Finally, the paper document with the 50 on is the foreign tax receipt for the pizza.  We didn’t ask for it, I suppose they gave us to us because we look  – um – foreign : ).

¥50 is equal to not quite US$8,  so I doubt I will pursue the payback of $1 by searching out the tax office at Hong Kong airport !  I love the geometric patterns on the note, though – and on banknotes in general.  It brings back fond memories of a childhood toy called Spirograph with which one can draw graphic patterns similar to these.

Saturday/ in Dameisha

Dameisha is quite a happening place in summer time.   The pictures are from my walk tonight.  I am sure only a few of the people walking the beaches and the streets stay in the fancy King Key Palace hotel (first picture), the only hotel that can match the Sheraton Dameisha Resort hotel here.    The next picture is the entrance to the main beach, the dragon arches decorating it because there is a beach volley ball tournament going on.   I may go check into it tomorrow.    The last picture is a few blocks from the beach.   The sign says ‘The Famous Roasted Squab Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant’. Hmm, not sure what to make of all that!

Friday/ one week to go

.. to the start of the 2010 World Soccer Cup, of course.   The pictures are from billboards in Nanjing Road in Shanghai.   The first picture shows the fury of  Spain’s team : La Furia Roja (The Red Fury).   The futbolista in the picture is possibly Real Madrid forward Raul Gonzalez.    The second picture has Table Mountain in Cape Town as a backdrop.

It’s been a tough week at work and I am not going anywhere for the weekend.    I will stay put in Dameisha.

Thursday/ bitter melon in my lunch

I still uncover new dishes in the cafeteria here at work.   I know mantou (in bowl at top) or Chinese steamed bun/bread.   It is made with milled wheat  flour, water and leavening agents.

The green in the scrambled egg dish is bitter melon (translated from Chinese: 苦瓜 kǔguā), a subtropical vine  of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for its fruit, among the most bitter of all fruits but edible.   It also has medicinal properties.   So bite that bitter melon!  (It’s not that bitter and has a nice texture).   The second picture shows the whole fruits.

Wednesday/ we are not afraid

Here’s a cell phone picture that captured a moment in our daily commute.   The light is amber but that still leaves plenty of time for everyone to get across! : car, big bus, small bus (ours) and four cyclists.  The big bus is overtaking the car (probably honked a move over! at it), and the car is driving on the shoulder.   Our bus is honking a On your left, watch out! at the cyclists.  One would think the cyclists would go in single file, but then that is not a very social way of cycling.

While on the subject of traffic : the bottom picture is of the type of taxi scooter in Shanghai that I took on Saturday for a short ride to the hotel.   I found out that they are actually illegal.  The drivers are fined but I suppose there are too many of them to make them go away completely.

Tuesday/ litchis 荔 come from China

A friendly co-worker gave me some litchis; they are in season here for the next month or two.   The word in Chinese has its own character.

Britannica online encyclopedia : Litchis are fruit of Litchi chinensis, a tree of the family Sapindaceae, believed native to southern China and adjacent regions.  The handsome tree develops a compact crown of foliage, bright green the year round. The leaves are compound, composed of two to four pairs of elliptic to lanceolate leaflets that are 50–75 mm (2–3 inches) long. The flowers, small and inconspicuous, are borne in loose, diverse terminal clusters, or panicles, sometimes 30 cm (12 inches) in length.

Monday/ Memorial Day

It’s a somber day in the USA with the remembrance of fallen soldiers in all the wars we have fought.  I found the wall of flowers at the Bund Promenade in Shanghai, and I am posting the words to the folk song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (1961).    The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955 and the rest was added by Joe Hickerson in May 1960.

No political statement intended with the song, it’s just such a beautiful sad song that also says to me that what was lost once may come back to us in another form.

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them, ev’ry one.
When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone to the young men, ev’ry one.
When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers, ev’ry one.
When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, ev’ry one.
When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, ev’ry one.
When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

Sunday in Shanghai

Just a few pictures from Sunday, since it’s Monday morning and the work is stacked up on my desk (figuratively speaking).

1.  This underground mall at a Line 2  metro station says Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

2.  The exit at People’s Square station shows a beautiful Art Deco style building (the brown one – but you knew that, right?).  The crazy UFO top building is a Radisson Hotel.  One cannot be an architect in Shanghai and be bland : that would be a mortal sin.

3.  To translate People’s Square into Chinese, go 人民广场 rén mín guǎng chǎng or man – citizen- wide – open space.  Note the cell phone bar code image next to it.   My phone cannot read it.  Boo-0o!  I need to trade in my business-like Blackberry for a Google Droid phone !

4.  I stood in line for 30 mins to get into the Shanghai museum, similar to the Hong Kong Museum of Art, maybe a little bigger.   There were lines inside the museum for some of the exhibits as well.   This is an ox-shaped wine vessel or zun from around 500 BC.

Saturday in Shanghai !

Well,  after Friday night I had an action-packed weekend in Shanghai!   I will let the pictures tell the story.  The weather Saturday was just perfect.

The Renaissance hotel was next to the Yuyuan Gardens, which was my first stop on Saturday.  The garden is really a set of buildings, pavilions, walkways and ponds.  It used to be privately owned but was donated to the city.

Next up was trying out the Shanghai metro system.  It is one of the newest and fastest growing with 12 lines and counting.  A Shanghai Public Transportation Card similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus Card is a must.  Line 10 that stopped by hotel is brand new.   The metro stations are not filled with ATMs, 7-11s and shops the way the Hong Kong ones are (with some exceptions).

The next picture of the World Cup 2010 billboard is on East Nanjing Road, one the main drags for shopping.   Interesting, the Anime/ cartoon style of the picture.

A tourist like me gets mobbed with offers for iPhones, ‘Louis Vuitton’ bags and ‘Rolex’ watches on Nanjing Rd.  No thank you, no, no, not interested.   Since I had the metro figured out,  it was time to take it to the Longyang stop for my jolly ride to Pudong International airport and back on the maglev train.   In the picture the train arrives at the Longyang station.   The ride and the acceleration is very smooth – not that I was thinking it would be otherwise! – but at one point something went PFOOF!! making the windows rattle.  What was that?! I thought, then realized it was the other maglev train shooting by at close range.   There is a display in the car indicating the speed, showing that we topped out at 300 km/h (187 mph).   So evidently they capped the speed of the beasts, given that they can go much faster .. awww : ).

Mission accomplished, I was headed for the Pearl Tower, so I went back to the Bund.  There I found a rail tunnel they built to ferry people underneath the Huangpu river to the other side – the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.  To make it interesting (and charge more money) they added pschychedelic lights into the tunnel wall.   The next picture with the people in the rail car shows that the track dead-ends but there is a rotating mechanism that swings it around on a section of track for the return trip.

The Pearl Tower drew me like a magnet, but I had to be patient because there was a long line.   The security check point swiped my bottled water.   The view of the circular walkway with human ants on is from the second pearl at 260m (850 ft).  Yes – they’re not done building skyscrapers by a long shot in Shanghai.

Next I went down to the first level, this one is at 90m (300 ft), and it has a wrap-around glass floor.  I stepped onto it gingerly as if it was made of egg-shells, and look straight down.   A creepy feeling, and after that I was ready to get out of there!

Back on the Bund side, here is Pudong skyline basking in the late afternoon sun.   But by now my feet were killing me and I commandeered a scooter taxi (three wheels, open cage at the back and no belt so you had better HOLD ON to your belongings.   It was a wild ride but got me back to the hotel.   (I couldn’t take the metro because the new line running to the hotel is not fully in service and had closed at 4 pm already).  The Chinese gate picture was taken from the back of the scooter.

The final two pictures are my cue for going to bed!   They were taken late Saturday night on the Bund (it means the Embankment) Promenade.    Got to love that gaudy glitzy boat decked out in LED lighting !  I will post a few more tomorrow.