Sunday, 28 October 2007

In the restaurant at the grand view hotel dongguan

The staff are helpful in deciding what we eat which is great as there are always dodgy things on the menu here ie steamed fish heads, toad and pig tendon 5 Stars for these guys though really good place we love it.

Saturday, 27 October 2007


Hong Kong station is well organised. We waited behind the barrier until the time came to go and one official held up a sign for Guanjou and another used a loud hailer and we all burst through to rush for the train.
The train was clean and neat and the hostesses walked up and down with an array of different items to ply. Not at all tempting though, chicken and various slimy things in watery sauces, tea and some books in Chinese. We are hearty eaters but soon lost our appetite looking at that. Credit to them though for offering a non stop service all the way.

Going into Guandong means entering the most industrial and polluted area in the whole world. We passed tower blocks, sometimes scaffolded with bamboo and twine to quite a height - we later found out that bamboo scaffolding is the norm here and there dont seem to be any more accidents and it is environmentally friendly and light too. Shanty villages and even tent homes in the countryside. All shrouded in a fog that became thicker as we went on until it became a brown dense smog.
The taxi in Dongjian had a driver who was either very careful or totally paranoid about being robbed, he was surrounded by a cage. He seemed cautious though and sternly rebuked any misbehaving drivers on the road with his horn. Much of the area we passed is light industrial with workshops below flats. The smog makes it all look depressing.

By the time we arrived at the hotel it was so foggy that we wouldn’t have been surprised if Sherlock Homes had turned up in a hansom cab. The Grand View hotel is 5 star and the number of staff is astounding. 3 are provided in any position when one would normally do. The toilets are manned and disconcertingly they wait outside the door, turn on the tap and politely hold out a towel with both hands. A 5 dollar tip (30p)to the maid almost made her faint with gratitude.
We had to visit the executive foot therapy spa at the hotel where the masseur pummels your feet for over one hour. They are soaked in tea -well I presume that is what it was and you really get an all over massage as well. At the end it feels like new feet.

The restaurant has an area similar to the sea life centre in Bournemouth where all the fish are kept on display. Interesting but it does nothing for the appetite. I am not a fussy eater but much of the food available is quite off putting and strangely bland. I decided to try a river crab as this is quite a delicacy at the moment, male is bigger and better in October. I couldn’t believe it when it arrived. It was hot and bound in a plastic tie. They gave me scissors and a pointy tool and some gloves. In the end there wasn’t much in it and really horribly there was mud all over the claws. Hamid didn’t believe it was mud but some sort of delicacy but I didn’t take any chances and avoided touching that bit. Some of our neighbours on the next tables appeared to be munching right through the bony carcass.

The sea life centre in the restaurant where sharks fin soup, pig ligaments and eggs preserved in horse urine are all available for Chinese gastranomes

Hello missy, hello sir, do you want see copy watch?

Hong Kong must be on my list of favourite places to stay. There is a whole lot to do and see without even knowing the area. The markets were our best thing as they have so much to see. Temple street winds through many roads and you can have your palm read or buy a Breitling copy watch, have anything from a huge array of seafood in an outdoor restaurant or have your name written in Chinese.

Dubai - kitchy kitchy

After landing in Dubai we had the awful news of a 5 hour flight delay - we decided to leave the airport and take the opportunity of looking around Dubai. It is surprisingly gross and nothing like the pictures. A lot of the buildings look quite isolated, there are no people around, building is going on everywhere, it is too hot. I have made a list of the most kitch things I could find,bearing in mind we only had 2 hours.

At 4th place, the soon to be tallest building in the world which looks like something long demolished in the UK. Maybe it will look better when it is finished.

This forty foot hand holding a mobile phone - some people love it - perhaps its a work of art

This snow storm is fairly kitch but I quite like it really.

These painting were in a fake medina built to look like an old souk. They are paintings of sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum - the ruler of Dubai and the man behind all the construction work going on. Perhaps he is doing a good job, who knows. These paintings are quite funny though, cant imaging who would buy them or who would have painted them. I think they are a winner.

Here is the proof we have been in Dubai

We were surprised to see these 2 gents in Dubai airport, however it is a man looking after his very elderly father - ahhh!!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Gordon Seward the artist

Gordon Seward is an amazing artist and what is more went to school in the New Forest at the former Edinburgh House school.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

The Kite Runner (Trailer)

Here is the trailer for the Kite runner

Monday, 8 October 2007

A thousand splendid suns

I have just finished this wonderful book about Afghanistan which I would recommend anyone reads. The author Khaled Housseni is now goodwill ambassador for Afghanistan in the UN

Khaled Hosseini should not just be a special envoy for the UNHCR but a world spokesperson on the plight of women who are abused and ill treated in their homes. Khaled writes with humility and empathy, fiction that is totally believable, tragic and yet proving there can be hope and redemption. The 2 women Mariam and Laila are the heroines of this story, always dignified despite the horrors of both of their situations - married at 14 or 15 to a middle aged bully in a country going through war, starvation and then controlled by the evil minded Taliban. Khaled even manages to give Rasheed - the dreaded husband a personality that has one or 2 redeeming qualities in that he does so love his son. I wouldn't wish to spoil the story for anyone but urge everyone to read this book for a view on Afghanistan and the reasons why these wicked oppressors should not be allowed to gain a foothold there again. Be prepared to ball your eyes out before the end.
I found the poem by Saib-e-tabrizi from which the title of the book comes:
Kabul Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains
And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies
Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes
But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust
My song exhalts her dazzling tulips
And at the beauty of her trees,
I blush
How sparkling the water flows from Pul-I Bastaan!
May Allah protect such beauty from the evil eye of man!
Khizr chose the path to Kabul in order to reach Paradise
For her mountains brought him close to the delights of heaven
From the fort with sprawling walls, A Dragon of protection
Each stone is there more precious than the treasure of Shayagan
Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls
Her laughter of mornings has the gaiety of flowers
Her nights of darkness, the reflections of lustrous hair
Her melodious nightingales, with passion sing their songs
Ardent tunes, as leaves enflamed, cascading from their throats
And I, I sing in the gardens of Jahanara, of Sharbara
And even the trumpets of heaven envy their green pastures

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Valencia furniture exhibition

Some conceptual furniture designs

This carpet looks quite interesting

The Marilyn Monroe house was a big feature at the trade fair in Valencia. This one was taken just inside the house.

We had fun taking some photos around Valencia. This one was opposite the hotel and the one on the right was a shop window in the town.

Mean and moody

Same roundabout same day.

Valencia roundabout

We were staying at the Eurostars Gran Valencia and this monument is on the Roundabout opposite. Not quie sure what it represents but it seems to be made of lots of ceramic rings. I love the colour. I really wanted to climb up it but it is full of water with a sort of pool at the top.