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Archive for June, 2007

Drowning the rats

We're safely back in Australia but there's one little event that happened on the way that's worth sharing.

We were taking our standard path to the airport and all was going well. As we drew near to the Sheung Shui KCR rail station I noticed that things outside were looking a little shiny - it had started to rain. I don't mean that it had started to drizzle, I mean that a tropical thunderstorm decided to roll through and empty itself right over us!

Pouring Rain

The thunderstorm would have all been fine except for one small thing - the 75m open air dash from the train station to the bus shelter to wait for the A43 bus to the airport!

The buses come about every 30 minutes and for a few minutes we nervously waited at the exit to the train station for the rain to ease, hoping that the bus would not come. Water was flowing like sheets all over the ground and the rain was torrential, showing no signs of abating.

Not wanting to mis the bus we decided to make a bolt for it. With luggage and back-packs we bolted for the bus stop. About half way there my case hit a bump which sent my laptop flying whereupon it landed in the water. I madly grabbed it and continued my bolt.

Drowned Rats

At the bus stop we took stock - we were drowned like rats. Water was dripping from our heads, our glasses were covered in water and we were wet through. For the next hour we shivered our way through the 1 hour air-conditioned bus ride to the airport.

At the airport we took turns to go the toilets to change out of wet clothes and/or dry clothes under the hand dryers. The only harm done was a couple of clothing items in my case had wet spots on them. The laptop was, thankfully, dry. We warmed ourselves with a hot drink, ditched all bottles that were over 100mL in size in accordance with the new hand luggage regulations and readied ourself for the 8 hour flight to Perth.

Hi Ho!

Murray River

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Aus we go!

For the next fortnight or so Gail & I will be back in Australia. The middle slab of our time will be for my work but hopefully there will be plenty of nooks and crannies in our schedule to enable us to see all the various people we want to catch up with.

See you there! 

One tree left

The previous late night saw us rise a bit later than usual and a bit bleary-eyed on Sunday. The enthusiasm soon came back when a new adventure came to the fore -  Wozza and I planned to go to Hong Kong (the third time for me in as many days) to try and find a Pocket PC for him. Fortunately, he'd done his research and had settled on the O2 XDA Atom Life

After a few stops along the way we found ourselves braving the chaotic streets of Mongkok. After trying 5 or 6 shops we eventually found one that had the Atom Life in Black and in English (all prior shops only had English in white, Chinese in black) at an electronics store in the Mongkok computer market and negotiated a fair price. A little more trawling around and we emerged with the Atom, a Bluetooth headset, an Infra-red folding keyboard with PDA stand and a 2GB memory card.

Satisfied with our purchases we MTR-hopped down to Tsim Cha Tsui for a satisfying Spaghetti House lunch and then made our way to the KCR for the ride back to the border. 

At the end of this little adventure I realised how comfortable, familiar and complacent I've become regarding transport to/from/in Hong Kong. It seems like not a particularly big deal to jump through the Shenzhen Metro, the different border crossings, the KCR rail system, and then surf around on the Hong Kong MTR. Every single place we wanted to go to was accessible. Hong Kong really has nailed public transport.

Trees in da hood

Andrew with Hughie

For the weekend we had Wozza, Kiah and Hugh come and visit us. In actual fact, the visit from Kiah and Hugh turned out to be a very brief affair as they were making an impromptu return to Perth for a few days for an important community event in their home town. 

Getting here from Huizhou turned out to be a bit of an ordeal for them. The first company car broke down in Huizhou, so they had to go back for another one. When they arrived in Shenzhen the other company car overheated. Fortunately it chose to break down right in front of our apartment complex!

After a bit of chilling out and downing our last remaining box of Barbecue Shapes we set out for tea, to a restaurant called the Polo Club. It's a restaurant that's run by an Australian and the food doesn't have any Chinese influences, unlike nearly all of the other so-called western restaurants in Shenzhen.

We needed to get Kiah to the Airport by 11pm, so we took the familiar Shenzhen Metro, Luo Hu border crossing, KCR to Sheung Shui and finally the Airbus A43 bus combination to get us there. No problem.

The return journey was a little trickier. We knew that we couldn't use the KCR for the return because it would have stopped operating by then, so we'd need to use the Huang Gang crossing to get back. We spoke to a store operator in the Airport and he said that the last bus for the border crossing leaves in 10 minutes. Just go out of the terminal, over the zebra crossing (2 roads) and go to the small house looking building. We followed his directions and we wound up at the VIP luxury car service into Hong Kong. Hmmm.

We made our way over to the regular ticket counter where we learned that we could take the Airbus A43 back to Sheung Shui and then take an N73 from the bus terminal across to Huang Gang to get back into Shenzhen. This we did and after a speedy taxi ride on the Shenzhen side of the border we made it back home at 1.30am.

Filling Finale

After six visits to the dentist I have finally finished having all my dental work done. Hooray!

Apart from the first visit, all subsequent visits have been for the root canal treatment. This time the remainder of the treatment was conducted, consisting of two conventional small cavities on the face of my upper rear molars and the abrasion wear on the face of my right-hand side incisors near the gum line. 

For doing all these things a local anaesthetic, called a block, was injected close to the nerve entry point into the respective teeth. Given that 7 teeth were treated, and each tooth required 2 injections (one on each side), I felt like a regular pin cushion by the time the dentist had finished. Once again, my nervous system set about fervently dealing with the anaesthetic, requiring an extra two injections for one of my teeth before the dentist could proceed.

As I was leaving the dentist I realised that the whole roof of my mouth had become numb. As a consequence, I was having a reflex response of trying to swallow my own tongue. As I walked to the lift I started dry retching. Talking became a strictly 'essential communication only' thing to do because it stimulated the retching response. Fortunately, it settled down about half an hour later as the anaesthetic wore off.

I've been really, really pleased with the dental clinic. The dentist always explained what she was going to do, explained the X-rays, knew what she was talking about and was very helpful right throughout the whole process. They even gave me a courtesy reminder call one day before each visit. I am very pleased with the results. I highly recommend Bayley & Jackson Dental Surgeons in Hong Kong.

Seeing Double

Fake Fifty Yuan note

Take a close look at the two pictures above. One of them is a fake, can you guess which one?

We were slipped this fake 50 in some change on Sunday night. I've had a few fake 1 Yuan coins before but never a note, even though fake 50's and 100's are common. The most obvious difference is in the type of paper. It feels thicker and harder than the real money paper. The second most obvious difference is that there's less texture on the printed areas, as the ink on the fake is obviously thinner. Thirdly, the silver thread that is sewn into the real note is merely printed onto the fake note and the alignment is wrong anyway. Fourthly, there are a number of areas where the text on the fake lacks the clarity on the real note. Fifthly, the font size for each character in the note serial number varies (on the reverse side) . On the fake they haven't got this quite right. Sixthly, the water mark looks a bit wishy-washy on the fake. Seventhly, some of the colouring is slightly off.

The money used here in China is all still paper-based, not plastic like ours. Combine that with the locals' desire to get ahead whatever the cost and you can see why fake money is common in China. I think it's tied in with why many people see no problems with fake watches, handbags, golf clubs, etc. Legitimacy is a fair way down on the Chinese priority list. Honour and shame hold much more sway than truth and lies.

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