Tuesday, November 19, 2013

people to avoid

The world is full of people and sometimes you have to make snap decisions on who to befriend or even have as an acquaintance. I often make my snap unfair judgements based on linguistic grounds. There are certain words that put my nervous system on alert. Since these are legion, I will only name the top  six. I won't bother with explanation. Either you get it or you don't.

1. People who refer to their BUCKET LIST.

2. Those who apologize by saying MY BAD.

3. When something is funny they say, LOL

4. Those who say, WHATEVER DOESN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER. They need to meet people who have post traumatic stress disorder and are not stronger.

5. Those who refer to a coincidence as a COINKIDINK.  ( Oh no! Spell check recognizes it.)

6. Colleagues who meet you at a business meeting and say NAMESTE.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hong Kong Reprimand

Interesting incident at my hotel in Hong Kong. Before I relate it let me tell you what I have read in all of my guide books about interacting in China and Hong Kong. FACE is a term everyone uses. You must never embarass anyone or point out their faults. THEY HAVE TO SAVE FACE. Even if you are right never say you are right.  It is up to the wrong party to take action. If you point out an error, the person stonewalls you, smiles and never forgets the slight-- for their WHOLE LIFE. 

Now with that cultural tidbit under your belt, let me proceed. The other day I got a note from the General manager of the Hotel under my door  actually it was a formal letter saying that there has been 'an incident'  and we needed to meet. Husband #1 said that I have been writing a blog critiquing the government and now they were going to throw me out.  David, #2-3 son suggested that they were going to tell me that I was annoying. With that family support I trudged to the desk and at the time appointed on the  letter.    When I went to the desk of this giant hotel all of the hotel clerks said they were waiting for me. They called the general manager who wore a black formal tux and white gloves. They all surrounded me to listen to the manager. 

The manager said there was an incident with my lampshade and then he produced two giant pictures of my lampshade. One was before I damaged it and One was when it was intact. The conversation follows with 12 clerks watching and nodding.

Manager:  Do you see the damage to the lampshade

Me:  yes it has a water mark on it.

Manager:  I see it as well.

me:  I guess we both see it.

Manager:  nods and no one says anything.

me:  Actually I was drying my laundry and placed my almost dry socks on the lamp because the lamp was near the sunlight coming through the window. I see that the socks have left an imprint on the lampshade damaging it.

Manager:  Yes I understand. It was very smart of you to find the light for your socks. It was warmer there. 

Me: I do it at home and this has never happened.

Manager: so  you did it here thinking it was the same. Drying things my hand saves on energy and that is good.

Me: Yes but I damaged the shade and would like to pay to have it repaired or cleaned.

Manager: Oh that is very nice of you. It would not be much. Just $200 Hong Kong dollars ($30 Canadian) 

Me: It would be my pleasure and thank you for contacting me. 

Manager: We will add it to your bill since you suggested it.

The next day when we were checking out there was nothing added to my bill. I think they wanted me to confess my wrongdoing and offer to deal with it. WELCOME TO HONG KONG!

See pictures of the lampshades presented to me below:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pets in Hong Kong

 I am now in Hong Kong. Can anyone guess what this tiny cage is for? Well you're wrong. You see the people who live in Hong Kong are cramped. There are 7 million of them on a tiny island. Unless you are rich you live in a 400 ft. apartment with 8-12 people.( That includes parents and in-laws.) So they have no room for pets. They can't fit a dog or a cat in their apartment unless they get rid of the mother-in-law, which would have been my choice, but hey this isn't about me. Yet, they want a pet. So off I went today with my guide to the goldfish and bird market. There are streets full of all kinds of goldfish and innumerable tanks as the chinese love goldfish as pets. They also love birds in cages. They can hang from the ceiling and don't take up important floorspace. Some birds are exotic and the Chinese believe that they need walking. So today I went to a park where men carry their birds in cages for a bit of fresh air. The men who are crammed in a 400 square foot apartment also need air. Sometimes the birds like a picnic and to visit with other birds while the men play cards or mahjong. Problem -- the birds get hungry and like a live grasshopper for a treat. So the men bring the grasshoppers in these one inch cages so they can feed them live to the birds. Believe it or not I saw thousands of grasshopper cages piled up in stores for just this purpose. ( SEE PICTURE ABOVE. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THIS WAS A GRASSHOPPER CAGE.) There are vats with maybe 5,000 grasshoppers in them and you pick the one you want, cage it, take it home, pick up you bird in his cage, go to the park and then feed it his grasshopper. All cages are reusable and everyone has an outing, picnic and fresh air.

 Takes all kinds, Cathy

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bangkok flower market

Flowers say so much about a culture. When we stayed at our fancy hotel in Shanghai it had every luxury feature and  was packed with artificial flowers.  Shanghai has every advantage and is immaculate in the 2 blocks we stayed in.  

Bangkok is confusing  and strange AND  has real beautiful orchids and all kinds of colourful REAL  flowers everywhere. They have a flower market that is blocks and blocks long.  It turns out that most Buddhists worship alone in their homes at their own altars a few times a day. Budda is always with them and they have real flowers on their altars. Almost everyone buys real flowers a few times a week. When I asked a man why real flowers were necessary, he said it was an honour to Budda. All restaurants no matter how poor, like one table affairs on the street have real flowers on the table.

I went to a Buddist temple to pray the other day and it was fascinating. I did all the rituals and eveyone welcomed me and attempted to show me how to do things. Even little kids held my hand and led me to the incense and showed me how to light it. I was totally welcomed.

So unlike Catholism where you can only go tot communion IF YOU ARE CATHOLIC and Judiasm who has the obligation to give you three reasons not to be Jewish when you think of joining them. 

If I come back I hope it is as a Buddhist ( and I do not live in the prostitute section of Bangkok)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bangkok's GNP

We arrived in Bangkok late at night so when I went to the included breakfast the next day I  had not been outside. Attempting to be friendly, I asked the four men next to us what they were doing in Bangkok and they looked a bit sheepish.  Also they were a tad weird and almost as sketchy as our hotel -- although that would be difficult to replicate in a human form. David, #2-3 son, told me to stop asking groups of men what they were doing in Bangkok. He said we are in the sex capital of the world. Men are here to have sex with Thai teenage prostitutes.
Oh, how could I not have  known that and then  why are we here for a week for Christ sake! Then I ask where that section of town is and I find that it is on every downtown street and alley and we are directly in the middle of it. 
When we walk to a coffee shop,  young girls line the streets and yell invitations to  David, #2-3 son, to 'date' them. Their come-ons  are totally shocking. I have taken to not walking anywhere with him.  
The men who are here in these bars  are really all sent from Central Casting. They are either Australian football players gone to seed at 45 or 50, or  Brits who are about 50-75 who are alone and living as T.S.  Eliot says, "Lives of  quiet desperation."  
So the prostitutes caterwauling rages on.  They sit on stools in front of their tiny bars and call customers. Because life has to go on for the 15 million people who live here, and kids play on the street, families dine together and ignore the prostitutes and the fat pasty white johns, and it is one big neighbourhood.. All this takes place in 88 degree heat. It is a thick soup complete with spice.
Oh,,btw husband #1 who chose Bangkok as a destination, ignores it all and listens to physics lectures through his ipod when he walks around and sees nothing, not even the bed bugs.

When I told my friend about Bangkok he said I had to include the lyrics from  ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK by Murray Head.  Once you've seen the place you realize how perfect the lyrics are.

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me

Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don't know what the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner

Time flies, doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tirolean Spa had the chess boys in it
All change, don't you know that when you
Play at this level, there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland or the Philippines
Or Hastings or, or this place

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a God in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the God's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, Brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city

Whaddya mean?
Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town

Tea girls, warm and sweet, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham Suite

"Get Thai'd", you're talking to a tourist
Whose every move's among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me

Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would
A muddy old river or Reclining Buddha

But thank God, I'm only watching the game, controlling it

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlors

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a God in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel slidin' up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me