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Black Rain

HK Flooding 2

The other week in Hong Kong there was a Black Rain warning. We didn’t hear about it until we’d reached Tsim Sha Tsui, so we were in for a surprise.

Basically, Black Rain means that there’s going to be thunderstorms that dump so much rain that no drainage system in the world will be able to cope. That means localised flash flooding, lots of debris and all the Insurance companies take a holiday for the day.

HK Flooding 1

We arrived in Central, on Hong Kong island, surfaced and found the streets awash with drains that looked more like geysers, motionless traffic and roads that looked like rivers.

In any case, we had a destination to get to so, after a quick re-route through the MTR to a different exit, surfaced and braved the rain and the waters. With nothing for it, we rolled up pants, de-shod ourselves and plunged across the street at what looked like a good spot, despite a nearby hotel concierge’s kind advice that it wasn’t such a good idea. We waded between the motionless traffic that was bubbling away in the 8″ of rushing water and emerged on the other side, still huddling together under our solitary brollie. At least our heads were dry…

The rest of the morning was spent drying out, making our way around HK in bare feet, much to the amusement of more than a few locals, who knew better and were sticking underground or indoors.

HK Flooding 3

We took the MTR to the Festival Walk shopping centre and holed up in the AMC cinema where we could dry out in the over-zealous air conditioning in front of the latest Chronicles of Narnia movie, with dripping socks neatly laid out on the vacant chair next to us. We warmed ourselves afterwards with a tasty pork curry from the food court.

The effects of the Black Rain were quite widespread, with the highway to the airport being flooded and a few cars flooded up to their windows. The proprietors at the Landmark hotel were having a tough time dealing with water flooding onto a staircase from a cracked marble panel on an internal wall.

We’re not dead

Just a quick post to let everyone know that, despite the earthquake in the Sichuan province of China, we’re just fine.

Just before lunch yesterday I noticed a slight swaying at my desk. I figured that it was just a slight dizziness as a result of dehydration, however a fellow colleague noticed the same thing at the same time. The earthquake was felt or measured far and wide, causing the evacuation of some very tall buildings.

Gail’s dad is currently on holidays in China in the Sichuan province. He was in Chongqing, near Chengdu, lying in his 8th floor bunk when the earthquake struck. He had this to say:

Was lying on the bed .. no air con in this cheap dorm when things started swaying.
A bit like the top bunk on an O/N train… not sharply..but a swaying motion..Something as you might expect a heavy weight to do on top of a thin cane.
It took my interest…
I heard a few rattles, got off the bed & looked at the swinging light fittings on the ceiling.
The hum of the city below had changed .. & moved up in pitch..
People were flooding out of the buildings into the open mall & clear street areas below..
I could see it well through the open window I had on the 8th floor..
After a minute or so the building stopped swaying & the square & open mall area below & in the distance were full of people.
I heard a siren or two in the distance..
Had a few after-shocks 10 & 20 minutes later..
See if it makes your News bullitins….
Havent seen any damage any where either to property or person.
Probably 3 or 4 on Reichter scale

Thanks to those who emailed us to make sure we were OK.

Welcome home

Shortly after returning from our China holiday I discovered that the power outlets were all off in our apartment. Closer inspection revealed that the safety switch for the power had tripped, killing everything but the lights.

Consequences? No power to the fridge for quite a while. Everything in the freezer had thawed/melted and a good portion of it needed to be chucked. It was less disastrous in the fridge, where we’d cleaned out most things before our holiday. Besides, fridge items are generally those items with a shorter shelf life anyway.

Now if you can work out how or why the safety switch tripped…

Wots all this then?

I arrived at work on Monday to a flurry of activity and a few police looking people walking around with the receptionist. It seems someone had broken into our office in Shenzhen over the weekend. They broke into 6 of the separate offices that circle our open plan office space, stealing 4 laptops in the process, including mine. There were no signs of forced entry, no damaged locks or doors. It's interesting because our office space is locked and the offices are locked too. Still, a basic lock isn't much of a barrier to a thief these days. 

For the next few hours police took photographs, dusted for fingerprints (leaving a horrible black power over everything that's very difficult to remove), asked a few questions and made a few notes.

The thieves yanked my laptop off it's desktop stand so hard that they broke it, ripping the docking station clean off the stand. They then un-screwed all the cables and removed the docking station from the laptop, leaving it behind on the desk. If they'd looked around a bit harder I'm sure they could have found all kinds of things to steal, but it seems that they were only interested in Laptops, presumably for their easy-to-sell and easy-to-conceal factor.

We lightened the mood by making jokes about going down to Hua Qiang Lu, the electronics area, and trying to buy them back. Every time you go there someone on the street walks up to you and offers a laptop. 

Oh, and I want my Bluetooth dongle back too.  

Casing the joint

Case 1

On one of our first trips to China we bought this cheap navy case. It's taken a bit of abuse at the hands of airport baggage handlers and it hasn't been the most robust device, succumbing in a couple of areas to it's brief couple years of service. 

Case 2 Case 3

Whilst exiting the bus on the return journey from Beijing to Shenzhen it finally came to it's end. As I lifted it over the kerb by the handle there was a loud crack-crack and the handle assembly failed in multiple ways almost simultaneously. The handle split, the backing plate fractured, the mounting rivets pulled loose and the handle assembly came flying out, spraying it's two ball bearings and bending the metal arms as it went. The handle-less case was somewhat of a handful so we took a taxi rather than try and negotiate the Metro system.

Here endeth the navy case. 

Is this your lovely wife?

It's visa renewal time for us again. With about 6 weeks to go on one of them I contacted HR to get the wheels turning. With only a few weeks left on our visas I was contacted by HR requesting the original of our wedding certificate so that Gail's visa could be renewed.

What?!? We've been living in China for nearly 18 months and now you want to see the original of our wedding certificate again? What was wrong with it the first time? Now, it's safely stowed away in storage in Australia and difficult to get. What do you expect us to do?

The short answer was 'no marriage certificate = no visa' for Gail.

What to do when you're overseas? We were left with no choice but to try and arrange a replacement certificate from the Births, Deaths & Marriages office. What's more is that by this time we only had 2 weeks to pull this off.

We dived onto the Internet, worked out how to do all this, phoned the office (twice), printed the necessary forms, had family scan and email us some documents, we signed, we scanned, we paid for priority processing, we emailed back to family who printed, posted and waited. When the certificate had arrived family received it, checked it and delivered it to work who then couriered, internationally posted high priority across the 6855.59km divide between there and here finally to have it delivered to me yesterday lunchtime.

The time taken from being told that we needed the original of our wedding certificate to receiving the new one in China was only 8 days! For once it felt like a government department did what it was supposed to do and all the pieces of the puzzle came together gloriously.

Oh yeah, that's how you do it.  

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