6 February 2013

The Shang

So here I am in Hong Kong again for work. The mainland Chinese must hate this place with a vengeance. They are sending all their filthy air over here and I am choking and  wheezing and gasping. It is an asthmatic atrocity.

My Office is in the Central district of Hong Kong and I am staying in one of my favorite hotels. The Island Shangri La. I refer to it as the Shang. This is probably an Australian thing for we like abbreviations. It is a very pleasant walk from the Shang to my office and I enjoy meandering through the Hong Kong park - past the little lake and then along a series of covered walkways. It only takes 10 minutes or so and I like to pause and  watch the locals do their morning Tai Chi. 

Tai Chi is like slow motion Kung Fu but without the body contact. It is quite beautiful to watch because it is graceful. I have been informed by people in the know that it is as much for the mind as the body. I once asked a Tai Chi dude whether he could speed it up if he needed to. I enquired whether he could actually use Tai Chi as a weapon. He didn't answer the question directly  - he merely smiled at me and gave me a knowing look to suggest that he likely could. 

Speed it up. 

I got the distinct impression that he could chop me up and kill me dead if he wanted to using Tai Chi.

The Hong Kong taxi drivers are lunatics. All of them. They drive like there is no tomorrow. In Singapore when a taxi driver is going too fast I tell them to slow down and without fail they do. Here in Hong Kong when I tell them to slow down they just grin at me and go even faster. They seem to enjoy my terror.

I went to a lunch today with a few old mates for a pre Chinese New Year feed. We ate Lo Hei. This is sort of a salad made up of long strips of raw fish and raw vegetables. It is mixed with a spicy sauce. It was delicious. It was spanking. Lo Hei is a Cantonese word that literally means 'raw fish'. It's Chinese counterpart is Yusheng. Both mean raw fish but they also symbolize prosperity. The connection between raw fish and prosperity seems very obscure so I have no idea why. I do not have a clue. 

In Singapore, the Chinese New Year is often celebrated by the 'tossing of the the noodles'. For this bizarre event friends gather around a table where there is a very big bowl of noodles in the middle and they collectively use chopsticks to hurl the noodles in the air. I have participated in this before and it is very messy. Apparently the higher the noodles are thrown then the greater one's luck will be. I have hit the roof before with my throws but I have yet to notice any increase in my luck. 

I believe that we make our own luck in this world and it has fuck all to do with noodles.

I am back now at the Shang for I have finished my work for the day. I stay here in Hong Kong and at the Shang quite a bit so they usually put me up in a suite. It is beautiful and spacious and I have a great view over the Hong Kong harbor. In my opinion it is the second greatest harbor in the world. After Sydney of course.

When the housekeeping staff turn down my bed here each evening they leave beautiful little book marks with quotes from the book the Lost Horizon on them. These bookmarks have little tassels on them. I mentioned yesterday to one of the hotel housekeepers how much I liked these bookmarks and when I got back to my room tonight I found more than a dozen on my bed. I thought that such an act was very kind and considerate of her.

I also like the L'Occitane products that they use in the Shang. The soaps and shampoos are divine and so too are the towels. They are very soft and they are very fluffy. So too is the toilet paper actually. It is triple ply. I don't understand why the end of the toilet rolls are folded into little triangles though. It is one of life's little mysteries.

My suite is also equipped with a Japanese toilet. The seat is pleasantly warmed and the lid raises automatically when I walk towards it and it closes when I walk away. It has a sensor so it is a smart toilet. There are also a series of buttons that are not only used for flushing but they also have the capability of firing jets of warm water that is deodorized. 

The water jets are fired straight up the clacker. 

This is a standard in Japan and I have encountered them before in Tokyo and Osaka. There are three options available for the jet firing and these are Low, Medium or High.  I have tried this once before in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Tokyo. I rather recklessly opted for the High setting and was shocked by the power of the water. 

It lifted me off the seat and it was not at all pleasant. It was like a jet-fired enema.

I will never do it again.

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