Amazed yet again by the lengths we go to to make the basic things complicated and more damaging to the environment.
Bread can not be sold without being encased in a plastic bag - how can it breath?
Water can not be served from a tap though rather from a bottle - how can this be?
Yes both are true based on my experience here in Hong Kong.
I was in a bread shop and watched them bring out beautiful freshly baked bread. Tasting a sample it was bread rather than some of this mass produced bread that is sweat and contains something that means it still has not gone off even after a week in the humidity. Anyhow back to this wonderful bread. They then proceeded to put it into plastic bags and it started steaming up. I asked them why they did not use paper bags. They said they would love to though the food safety authority insists that a loaf of bread must be served in plastic bag. Both the bakery staff and myself still do not understand why a paper bag does not do the same job of protecting the customer as a plastic bag. It is not as though Hong Kong needs more plastic bags!!!
Now to the water experience. I was in a juice bar and asked for a water along with my smoothie. They said I could buy a water from the fridge. I said that I was happy to drink the tap water. The staff then said to me that they were not allowed to serve the tap water to customers as it may not be safe and therefore they recommended I buy bottled water. So while sitting drinking my water from the bottle (yes another plastic item added to the waster for that day) I watched them make my smoothie. In went the ingredients including water from the tap!!! You go figure the difference between me drinking the water by itself and it being added to a cold smoothie.
Next they may be telling me I can not breather the air unless it comes from a plastic bottle or bag. Actually that may be a good thing.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Amazed yet again by the lengths we go to to make the basic things complicated and more damaging to the environment.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I just can’t believe that we have now been in Hong Kong for four months (123 days)! We have well and truly settled in to our new abode coined “Valley Vision”. It is taking shape rather nicely although there is still an awful lot to do to convert said little house into the style of home that most of you are accustomed to.
I am of course in my absolute element. I just love to be able to get up in the morning and throw a bucket of cold water over myself or wallow in my home made swimming pool…created from a tarp boxed in by the little mud brick wall at the edge of our patio and some strategically placed crates. Louise on the other hand crave a real shower. A girl can only take so much of standing outside under camp solar shower, which she has had laying in the sun for the day or have resorted to topping up with boiling water from the kettle boiled on the gas ring. Our next focus for our home will indeed be a bathroom make over. The facilities currently consist of a closed off area at the end of our kitchen with only a toilet (western style thank goodness) and a hole in the wall where it joins the floor so the water from the shower (when we have one) can flow to the outside. Don’t worry… we have covered the hole with a bit of wire mesh so that the snakes cannot venture in! The local electrician came to quote to put in an electric water heater a month or two back but when the workers were due to actually come and do the work they had a sick day. We tried to arrange for them to come on another day however boss man Mr Mok insisted that he was far too busy and could not tell us when he would not be too busy! I think that we are most certainly far too far up the valley for them to bother coming all this way so we really need to make alternative arrangements.
We would like to focus on a solar heating system and have heard that it is very reasonable to buy this across the border in Shenzhen, however we just have not made the time to investigate this option yet. We are coping with the shower arrangement while the weather is warm but we may have to look at as gas water heater in the interim pretty soon.
We have had a couple of snake encounters around the house recently. One day we came up the steps and had to wait until a Red Necked Keelback decided to move away from our gate slithering under the concrete of the edge of the patio. We looked this snake up in the book and read that it is only venomous when one is bitten by the back fangs not the front! Comforting huh!
The other day when emptying the said swimming pool and there he was again - our little Red Necked Keelback slithering along the edge of the tarp with a great big bulge in his middle. Must have got one of the frogs also enjoying the swimming pool! The other night there was an exquisite baby green snake on the top of our wire netting fence. I looked around for mama and papa and fortunately they were nowhere to be seen. Then to top it all off we had a snake in the house!!! We discovered it before it set up shop inside and encouraged it out the front door. I think it must have come in through the open side door. I have to say that this visit did indeed make me nervous as who is to know that we don’t have other snakes inside the house. I am however choosing to believe that this little chap is the only inside visitor of the snake variety and now that he has vacated all is good!
Summer time in Hong Kong sure is hot. We have lost count of the number of sunny 30+ deg days that we had in a row - about a month’s worth I think. Then the weather turned and we had about a fortnight of hot rainy weather (marginally cooler with the rain). This then culminated in our first experience of a Hong Kong # 8 typhoon. Typhoon Pebuk started heading our way on a Thursday afternoon a week ago but by Friday morning it had passed us by at a only a level 3. It then decided to reverse itself and head back towards us. The typhoon warning had shot up to Level 8 in a very short space of time and by the time Lousie and I meet each other and made it to the ferry terminal all the gates were locked up. We wandered around the side entrance and were very fortunate to be let in a side gate along with about half a dozen others thus managing to be almost the last people on the last ferry to Lantau Island. Nearly had to go knocking on the door of our Kiwi friends Kate and Gary to beg for a bed for the night!!
When a typhoon reaches level 8 status most forms of public transport in Hong Kong just stop. There is absolute chaos in the city with everyone packing up and going home as quickly as possible. The typhoon itself really was a bit of a fizzer. We have experienced better southerly storms in Newlands! The most damage was the amount of debris that we had to negotiate on cycle path while riding up the track to home.
Last Satruday night we were in Mui Wo having dinner with some friends (Alan and Carmen) when the most spectacular thunder storm hit. We sat it out in the restaurant and watched the most fantastic display of fork lightening (forced to stay for chocolate brownies)! When the worst was over cycled up the valley only to find when we arrived home that we had no electricity! Got the Power Company boys up the next morning but the lightening had frazzled the mains switch inside so we had to pay for an electrician to come up and fix the switch.
Some of the pluses we enjoy by living in our bush clad home are the wonderful view, the joy of watching the butterflies go about their business and of listening to the parrot sounding birds, which we have coined the “cheeky chatter birds” playing in the trees around our house.
There are of course one or two challenges, namely the army of ants sneaking in through the gaps around the air con whenever we have happened to leave a smidgeon of food out on the table. The mega centipedes sharing our outside bathroom (that so far have not ventured inside thank goodness) and of course as mentioned before the resident snakes in the neighborhood! I do love our resident geckoes but I’m not so fond of their poo deposits stuck to our white washed walls and ledges. It is fun watching them clean up the ants and mosquitoes though and we especially love watching the midget baby geckoes learning the tricks of being a gecko from their elders. Watched one crawling across the ceiling to then fall 2 stories onto the tiled floor. Sat for a few seconds and then crawled off. That must be like one of us falling off the Sky Tower and then walking away!
We had a trip to Macau this week. Louise’s last visit to Macau was 10 years ago and boy has the place changed. Buildings springing up everywhere, mainly new casinos and hotels to support the influx of tourists coming to the Vegas of the east for a flutter! We spent a bit of time (not money) people watching in the casinos. Spending time in casinos is neither of our cups of tea but clearly the Chinese absolutely love it with bus loads coming in from the mainland. We did a bit of a walking tour around the old town visiting some of the churches, Chinese mansions and the light house on the top of Gaia Hill and found a rather cute little café called Café Chocolat which was as the name suggests a good place to visit.
XL Hong Kong is going really well. We have managed to organize some great speakers and have had lots of positive comments about our networking events by both XL Life Members and guests.
The Ark Eden project has gone a little quite at the moment as it is summer holidays therefore Jenny has not been running her environmental projects for kids. We are currently waiting on the Ark Eden Charity to be formed. This should be organized soon and once this is up and running we can start applying for grants and really move ahead on some of the concepts of the project.
We do have spare beds in our Little House so would welcome visitors anytime. We offer a bed and breakfast opportunity to anyone traveling through Hong Kong. Rather than staying in a hotel you get to stay with “locals” that can give you a different accommodation experience. You may of course wish to wait until that bathroom makeover has happened!!
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Well after over 3 weeks of beautiful hot summer weather, with blue skies without smog you could start asking yourself why all the talk about poor air quality in Hong Kong.
The government is claiming the superb weather is due to the changes that they have implemented and the difference in how businesses are now working.
The environmentalist’s are saying that the prevailing winds have meant that the pollution is being blown away from Hong Kong.
I will leave you to decide whether it is “word of change” or “winds of change” that have made the sudden difference!
While we may be baking under the heat it is with concern that nearby parts of China have either been flooded or are still in severe drought. In addition, probably having to cope with the wind blowing towards them with the air that Hong Kong is missing.
I agree it is very warm walking in 30 degree heat. We do that each day and you certainly do not need to go to the gym! What I am surprised to hear is the number of people that say they are just going to stay at home or head to the air-conditioned malls for their day. They say we will visit Mui Wo once the weather is cooler. How sad to miss such a wonderful time of the year when you can be sitting in the shad of a tree at say the Pui-O beach having a nice cold drink from the local restaurant. This is what summer is all about. They are also missing the chance to “see” Hong Kong with the clear skies.
Louise and I have enjoyed a beer at sunset a couple of times in the last few weeks. These have been at Mui Wo beach watching a beautiful moon rise, the Central Ferry pier and on our patio of our house with friends. Come and visit Mui Wo on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. It is very different to what the central Hong Kong.
If you are in part of the world with summer then get out and enjoy the heat. Those in winter are probably huddled around a fire to keep warm and are dreaming of a summer holiday.
Live your day with what you have. It is your choice!