Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tour Eiffel

Just a very short post to say read the lovely Lola's blog because it's fabulous.

Also, I'm rather excited because very soon my lovely G is whisking me off to the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower for my birthday (it was last week). The restaurant has great reviews on Trip Advisor, and I'm very much looking forward to the view as well!

Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Night at the Races

Hong Kong is famous for many things, its political history, SARS, its international business reputation, but one of my best experiences in the big lychee was a night at the races. Happy Valley racecourse is just near to Lola's flat, and so it was just a short walk to all the excitement. This racecourse is one the few (if not the only one) racecourses in the world to be situated inside a city on prime real estate. At Happy Valley races you can admire the city skyline and watch the horses at the same time.

We arrived in time for the second race, and I insisted on placing a bet for it. Checking out the stats in a rather clueless manner, I decided to place a 200HK $ bet (about 20€) on the favourite to come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. As it happened, my horse won, and I would have raked in a lot more than my 650HK$ if I had backed him to win. Still, horses for courses, I was very happy with my first time bet and first time win!

My luck ran out after that, and my two subsequent 100HK$ bets didn't come out winners or placed in the top three. I stopped before I broke even, so I came away on top and very pleased with myself. Lola had a conf call to take later, so I stayed on and enjoyed a bowl of pork and noodles that was more delicious than I expected.

Hong Kong races proved to be really exciting and the evening was packed full of interesting things, watching the Chinese place their bets for horse after horse and coming away with literally hundreds of betting slips was unbelievable. It didn't seem to be a social occasion for them, not like the gathering of ex-pats (mostly Brits) round the beer tents next to the track. I could have been at Ascot (minus the funny hats).

It's amazing to think I spent 18 years living in Doncaster and never once set foot at the St Leger, and I travel 6000 miles to back my first horse...the brown one is my winner!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hong Kong Adventure

I just got back from a truly fabulous week in Hong Kong. I was visiting Lola (not her real name), lovely Lola who has been I would say my best friend for the last ten years at least. We went to university together, we went to Paris at more or less the same time, and we are both ex-patriates (although not in the rather nice financial sense of the word), living in foreign countries, inadvertently distancing ourselves further and further from our homeland as time goes by.

Lola has been in HK for two years now, and seems to be very happy there. She has a full circle of friends, a gorgeous apartment with a fantastic view and an energetic lifestyle (BBC aside).

The city of Hong Kong is unlike any other I have ever visited. I had never even set foot in Asia before. The first thing that struck me was the Chinese symbols everywhere, totally incomprehensible to me. I thought about the Chinese who visit Europe with no idea of our alphabet, it must be practically impossible to decipher anything. If I had been left to the Chinese symbols I would still be in the arrivals hall today.

Hong Kong is a city of wonders. There is the breathtaking Manhattan-style skyline, the traditional Chinese restaurants with indecipherable menus, the swarms of people everywhere, and the enormous variety of smells that hit you on every corner. Dim-sum being prepared for brunch, noodles cooking in enormous pots for lunch, and succulent roasted duck. But it's not all Chinese food, Hong Kong has a huge choice of restaurants, and while I was there I sampled Japanese, Italian, Indian and of course Chinese.

The highlight of the stay for me was dinner at Aqua; a restaurant and bar on the 30th floor of a Kowloon office building, looking right onto Hong Kong island. The view is simply stunning and I couldn't take my eyes off it for the first twenty minutes of being there.

More on bargaining in Shenzhen, eyelash extensions, winning at the races and expeditions to other parts of the island coming soon...