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Archive for May, 2007

Shiny buildings

Citic building

Someone here really likes their shiny buildings. Quite a few of the large buildings here in Shenzhen have a mirror finished exterior. Here's a few examples. This is just a sampling from what I've seen whilst living in Shenzhen and from when I've happened to have my camera handy. 

Shenzhen Stock Exchange Completely mirrored Gold mirrored

 Partial mirrored Di Wang Another goldie

Shun Hing Square TV building Triangle Building

Well, it was always possible, but my laptop has died. The touch pad wasn't working properly one evening, but a re-boot seemed to fix that. The next day during the afternoon it started to go really haywire and stopped responding to the keyboard or the touch pad. Now, when I turn it on the screen remains completely blank, the LEDs all give their test blink and, er, that's about it.  

How's that for a 20-month old laptop? 

The peak of the holidays

Peak panorama

During the May holidays we went to Hong Kong for a day. We hadn't been to Victoria Peak since our introductory trip, the January before last, where it was cold and the breath formed in front of our faces when we exhaled. Being more confident in our way around the city, we took a No. 15 bus from Central, just below where we ate lunch (the trusty OOO's, which is wearing a bit thin, so next time it's off to somewhere else). It was around 45 mins, I think, from go to woah, and was an excellent way to see part of the city. Hong Kong doesn't seem that big sometimes, even though it's densely packed with people. We have respect for the bus drivers, who manoeuvre the bus in some very tight corners along narrow streets.

Looking up the harbour Gail enjoying the view

Victoria Peak is located on Hong Kong island and this time the view was much better. The shut-down of many of the mainland Chinese factories had cleaned up the air somewhat. We had a very clear view of the city, both the island part and the Kowloon area on the mainland.

There's a number of walking trails around the peak area. We chose to do a 1 hour loop around the peak proper. There's a number of houses nestled discreetly away amongst the trees on the mountain. It turns out that the walking trail is actually the driveway for the people that live in this area. In many places it's barely a car's width wide. It was quite amusing when 2 cars met going in opposite directions and the guy that was required to back up clearly couldn't do it. After about 10 minutes of to-and-fro eventually the way was cleared and we continued on our merry way.

Looking south west A boat anyone?

Looking east and south from the peak the land falls away into the sea and reveals a smattering of other islands surrounding the main Hong Kong island. In amongst these islands ships jostle for space whilst awaiting their turn in the port. Looking back up the bay the water is just surrounded by masses of apartment and office buildings. Hong Kong really is life in a concentrate. 

As always, Wikipedia has a good entry about Victoria Peak too.

Vietnam fast facts

Vietnamese flag

  • AU$1 is about 13,700 Dong, the local currency.
  • You cannot exchange Vietnamese Dong outside of Vietnam.
  • Hanoi has about 3 1/2 million people.
  • Visas have to be arranged in advance, although big businesses can organise landing visas provided 24 hours notice is given.
  • The electricity supply is a bit unreliable, with most major hotels switching to generators from 6pm - 10pm.
  • Hanoi is very safe, except for a little bit of pick-pocketing.
  • 14,000 people die in road accidents every year.
  • The flagfall for a taxi is 8,500 Dong.
  • A Cyclo costs between 30,000 and 50,000 per hour, depending upon your bargaining skills.
  • A meal for two cost us anywhere from 30,000 to 150,000 Dong.

Mesh networking

Hanoi wiring

Wiring. The wiring in Hanoi was atrocious. There were places where you could reach out over your head and grab onto the overhead cabling. At street corners or outside houses there were these poles that contained a quagmire of cables going in every direction imaginable. None of the locals seemed to mind, that was just the way things were. I'm sure that if they sorted this mess out then some of the problems with the local electricity supply would sort themselves out too.

A kangaroo with bite!

Kangaroo Cafe

This sign gave us one of the biggest laughs of our trip. Just a few doors down from our Bao Khanh hotel in Hanoi was the Kangaroo Cafe. Clearly this was one cafe not to get confused with other Kangaroo Cafe's in Hanoi!

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