Saturday, December 25, 2004

chungking express

i had a three day rampage across hongkong. shopping. art (not too much ). shopping...looky-looking.

to get the proper metropolitan ambience i stayed in chungking mansions, 17 storey mother of all sleazy flophouses. backdrop to wong kar wai's chungking express. As you approach the building, walking down the thoroughfare of nathan road you hear voices coming from doorways and behind lampposts;
...rrrolexx,goodcopy... youneedsuitsir? Itakeyoutotailor, verygoodtailor...caarteeay,rrollexx...haasheesssh..
excuse me sir, sir you are handsome man, very lucky man, have lucky face, i tell you why...
and shifty indian men appear, offering cards and trying to drag you down side streets to be suited.

Inside the building itself there is an extremely shabby two level shopping arcade with curry houses, travel agents and clothes stalls. there also many africans and indians loitering and getting hassled by the lift security guards:
What are you doing here?
waiting for my friend.
You wait very long time, your friend is not coming, i think you have no friend.
yes, he is here soon.
no, no, not coming, you leave...
When i arrived only the lift to the even numbered floors was working and there was a long queue, which was policed by the security guards. When the lift arrived as many people as possible would scuttle in, until the overload alarm sounded and the lift wouldn't move. Everyone in the lift would then shuffle around, trying to spread the weight evenly, sometimes this would work, other times someone would have to be evicted.

the building is a conglomeration of 5 apartment towerblocks that have been converted into scores of guesthouses; the room i stayed in was 1 1/2 times the size of my very short single bed (it did have a hello kitty mattress, probably the only one short enough...), so they make very economical use of the available space. However, in spite of the filth and sleaziness of the public areas, piles of rubbish in the stairwells, shady deals going on in the lobbies, vicious flying cockroaches, the guesthouse was very clean and pleasant (but cramped). One of the good things about the dodginess is that it seems to have frightened off most of the backpackers and now it is mostly long term accommodation for indian and african workers, I got many of amused looks and didn't see any other whiteys during my stay there. Plenty of out on the streets though...saw some young australian travellers getting ripped off in the dodgy tsim sha tsiu camera shops. thought about intervening. thought they maybe should work these things out for themselves, who am i to stick spanners in the wheels of commerce? incur the wrath of triad-backed camera shop owners etc...

Mandi was buying some cloth and the chinese owner said; You speak very good english for an australian, normally i can't understand a word they are saying...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

game of death II

ow. nasty shock from broken ext. cord power board. sore arm.

The extension cords keep getting run over by trolleys loaded with cement bags, wheelbarrows etc. and so are not the healthiest cords in the world. The other day we heard a funny popping sound and found one arcing into a puddle.

my washing machine has similar lethal intentions; I got two shocks from it on friday, no-one here seems to understand what that spare green and yellow wire is for, it's always just left hanging out of the plug. Maybe everyone gets tired of their dangerous appliances shorting out the power all the time. I have taken to unplugging the machine (the plug sockets here don't have switches, just power waiting to escape) loading the machine, letting it go through its interminably long washing cycle, making jet take-off noises and then jet unfortunate mid-air event noises, then unplugging again to retrieve laundry. safe, but tedious...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I've got a new apartment, baby...

it protects me from the lonely whistling streets.

it doesn't have bars on the windows and there is a long window box trough thing built into the balcony, there are some plants in there and when i get time i will buy more and have garden(ish)

they have been christmas decorating the streets with fairy lights and rope lights. the trees look like they are being attacked by radioactive boa constrictors...

dumplings have been keeping us sane and healthy.


they have told us that we have to work new year's day. we did want to float around on a junk on deepwater bay in HK, and we also wanted triple time for christmas and new year's days, if they were to make us work. sanderson's 'wont be held to ransom' apparently... we didn't want to ransom them, just to not have to work. oh well, still make muchos patacas i spose...

i have ordered my computer; all $3583 of it. i feel faint from the sudden rush of money from the bank account. it is a nice feeling to finally be able to buy things more expensive than socks and lunch. with the digital camera and the ipod i will have the holy trinity of technological foolishness.

i found a good pen. you may not care, but it made me smile.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

street legal

we got our work permits today. i carved a puppy (labrador) and a woman wearing dame edna glasses. we got given a three day holiday, but then it was taken away from us. the chinese premier is coming to gloat over the fifth anniversary of the return of macau to chinese rule. there is a three day public holiday, they want us to work quietly and not leave the building. (and not shoot the premier from the window of the book depository) we might get double time, though.

Friday, December 10, 2004

specific gravity

I've been catching a few lifts lately, here in radiant city, and I've noticed a certain disparity between the estimated average weight of lift passengers. I first became aware of it catching the lift to the sandersons office; the lift complained of overloading when there were fewer than the maximum no. of people allowable (11), but then i looked at the total loading (750kg) and worked out that these 11 hypothetical people must only weigh 68kg each- i was taking up the weight of 1 & 1/4 ideal lift passengers, and there must have been others bringing excess baggage also. obviously hitachi had not reckoned with heavy whiteys weaseling their way into their asian region lifts. the schindler lift in my building offers to carry 10 80kg people, and jon's otis lift will take the same number of people at a slimmer 75kg each. It doesn't matter which lift i catch I'm never under the ideal weight.

i have decided (87% probability) to buy an apple powerbook laptop; its about $650 aud cheaper than buying in oz and if i get the 40 Gb ipod photo for an extra $170 aud i save about $1280 on the australian list price, then perhaps i can make a flog (flashblog) (copyright ronan) and have some animation.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


waiting in the queue at the whoretown supermarket watching the wall of surveillance camera tvs. There was a boy and his girlfriend wandering around the supermarket, the boy was in hurry; i saw him walk off one tv screen and appear in the one next to it, his girlfriend was on another screen looking for him. I watched them chase eachother from screen to screen while other minor characters kept reappearing in the background.

went to dumplingtown again today (it was closed yesterday). Although the name implies a small village of dumpling shops, or perhaps a food court sized dumpling establishment, it is actually a little shop at the end of a dark alley. the restaurant including kitchen is about 3m by 6m. boiled shrimp wontons in red oil sauce. rrrr...


today i found the good art shop.
in my wanderings back and forth across the island i have sought it in vain, finding many stationers and the small and inadequate rua de roma art shop.
It was like the elephant graveyard of art shops, a history of art materials and art books from the mid 70's to now, lots of great books of 70's fantasy art and comic illustration and books of ornament illustration, but also interesting new art and design books. many of the older books have been reduced to $30-40 mop ($5-6 aud) there are cabinets packed with assorted art materials of equally varied vintage, all arranged in a pleasingly chaotic order. the owners of the shop speak english very well.

I bought a child-size lay-figure wooden hand, a set of tiny loop tools for detailed work in hard cement, some large loop tools for fixing terrible mistakes, and some brushes.
poorer, but happier.

on my way to dumplingtown i came across a whole street of more expensive but much more interesting clothes shops. ultimately disappointing but fun;
me- do you have this... in a larger size?
them- hehehe... sorry, no; only one.
I saw three macao goths and then found their shop. there were some cute reversible skull and X bone beanies and scarves. met a girl from melbourne working in the sock shop.
listened to more music at pin-to. resolved to be more frugal (ish).
anticipating failure.

sha la la

went back to sha la la the other night, and once more failed to explore their extensive toast menu. We did enjoy more customer service than we are accustomed to; there was always a small flock of waiters hovering near
the table; whenever we glanced around to see if another of our friends had arrived, they would swoop in to see what we might need. The leader of the group also brazenly tried pass fried cuttlefish balls off as black pepper eggplant;
mgoi (excuse me).
we ordered the black pepper eggplant. (point at menu)
mm... (frowns, picks up menu and examines as though it were a foreign document; scrutinises fried cuttlefish ball.) yes; this is the eggplant.
no it isn't. could it be the cuttlefish ball instead? (pointing at the item below the eggplant)
(the frown deepens. he pauses and then walks off with the menu)
some minutes pass.
I'm sorry. I made mistake.
a far more eggplanty thing arrives.
we go to casablanca and get drunk.
slight headache.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

victor, fly me to stafford

o happy day! (chorus "O happy day!")
in anticipation of being paid i went shopping and bought Cds
my little airport -'the ok thing to do on sunday is to toodle in the zoo' sweet HK indie pop with cute titles; coka, I'm fine, victor etc.and funny lyrics
IS projects 2 taiwanese minimal electronic. abit pan american, but with singing..
the isle. german/japanese slightly ottopaasuna ish folky but no singing and a bit more cinematic.

i bought Alexander McCall Smith's the 2 1/2 pillars of wisdom , even the random sentences i read were funny.

i also got a cute bedside lamp.
o happy day... (repeat until bored)

things are stressful at the casino, the main clients don't like some of the VIP rooms. they have been put on hold.
we have 2 1/2 weeks to finish. oh dear. oh well...

i'm going to try to get a new flat tomorrow.
i think i'm getting trench foot
not really, but my toes keep going numb.

will write interesting soon
mum, please email me bank details, so i can give $