Friday, 25 December 2009

2010 - The Decade in Review

This is more the decade from my perspective or how the decade impacted me.  Without further ado here's what Paddy in BA remembers from the last ten years. I've likely killed a few brain cells so there might be stuff missing!

2000 - Started the millennium with a fantastic family reunion in Seville Spain.

2001 - Slept thru the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. Moved to our Wall Street office 2 weeks later and suffered respiratory problems due to air quality of Ground Zero.

2002 - Traveled the far flung corners of the US from head to toe to armpit and got my photo on the front page of The NEW YORK TIMES travel section as a frugal traveler (aka cheap bastage!)

2003 - Took the plunge and got married to Mrs 'P in BA' not just once but five times just to be sure to be sure. #1 = registry office NY, #2 = registry office Buenos Aires, #3,#4 & #5 - Special combo ceremony with Jewish, Catholic and Civil representatives and a translator for good measure. - The photo above is my Dad dancing with a samba dancer (one of the acts at the wedding)

2004 - Finally learned how to drive (better late than never).  Reggie, my loyal Filipino driving instructor took my theory class for me. After 10 lessons and a five minute test I had a driving license but I still can't drive a stick shift manual transmission and can't parallel park and have never owned a car.

2005 - Went to 'Carnival' in Trinidad and Tobago and partied like a rock star. These folks were more than happy to pose for the picture.  After a ten year stint, finally bid New York farewell and moved to London via a transfer with work.  Slept thru the 7/7 Tube Bombings in London (yes I think trouble seems to follow me or do I follow it?)

2006 - Visited the far flung corners of Europe on the luxurious Ryan Air sardine tins

2007 - Resigned from the rat race and moved to Buenos Aires to take some time out

2008 - Explored South and Central America via vomit comet and urine stenched buses. Ate more steak in one year than my previous lifetime combined. Cholesterol levels went thru the roof.

2009 - Moved to Hong Kong to search for fame and fortune cookies. Found cookies but still looking for fame and fortune. Explored a good chunk of South East Asia.  Developed an addiction to hiking. This picture is the neighbourhood of Whampoa in Hung Hom where I live. The ship is actually a shopping mall!

2010? - Who the Flux knows? - Sticking around Asia for now

In summary, a pretty darn good decade. I've learned one significant lesson. Doing what's expected of you i.e. what society dictates or expects is often, NOT what makes you happy.  Conclusion: Do what makes you happy. Life is short. Life is good. Live your life.

Happy New Year folks!

Tags: ..The Decade in Review, Happy New Year..

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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Which TV programs do you watch?

Which TV programs do you watch? I asked a similar question on Facebook recently and it brought back responses from friends that they watch much of the same stuff I already watch and a few more I still need to research.

What has changed drastically for me is 'HOW' I watch TV. Despite the fact there is a large flat screen TV in the apartment with a ridiculous amount of cable channels, I would say that 90% of the TV I watch is downloaded and watched on my PC or more recently a digital photo frame (used like a second monitor) connected to my PC (since I only have a small netbook screen). I could get fancy and hook up the PC to the flat screen TV but then it would be more difficult to surf and watch :-(

I used to just couch surf up and down the endless choice of mindless crap.  I would flick to another channel as soon as the ads interrupted. Then I got a Replay TV (same as Tivo only better) and recorded my favs and fast forwarded thru the ads.  Now it's just easier to download the latest episode or an entire series online without adverts.

I no longer need to worry whether or not I'm subscribed to a particular channel. I can automate most of the process using a few simple programs which I outlined in a previous post here.

The list below is what I've been watching recently - Links to where you can download included - What about you? - What floats your boat on TV? Do you watch downloads or online or old school cable, satelite or over the air?

.....and don't forget to vote in the poll below!

Tags: ..Which TV programs do you watch?..

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Hong Kong HIKING Highlights

Take a look at the amount of green on the satellite image below and you can hopefully start to understand why Hong Kong is by far the best city in the world for easy and quick access to wonderful hiking trails. You might need to scroll around the map depending on your screen resolution.

What is interesting and somewhat bizarre as you look at this map is the concentration of the grey area where huge 50 storey apartment blocks are piled high, one next to the other as if there was no space available. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you’ll hear no complaints from hiking enthusiasts as they can access trails in minutes where other city dwellers might have to commute hours. 

Attached below are my favourite hikes in Hong Kong that I've done so far.  I’ll add more as I do them but with over a thousand kilometres of trails it could take me a while to complete this blog post! I've also started to venture off the main trails where the terrain is a bit rougher but more rewarding.

If you have a hike you think should be listed here then just let me know in the comments below.

Click on the map to scroll around and view more of Hong Kong!

View Larger Map

Maclehose Trail
Stage 2 – Tai Long Wan - Click Here
Stage 3 – Pak Tam Au - Click Here
Stage 4 and 5 - Ma On Shan - Click Here
Wilson Trail
Stage 3 - Click Here
Stage 4 - Click Here
Stage 9 - Click Here
Lantau Trail
Stage 2 and 3 - Lantau Peak - Click Here
Stage 7 and 8  - Click Here
Stage 9 and 10  - Click Here
Hong Kong Trail
Stage 8 - Dragons Back - Click Here
Country Trails
Plover Cove - NE NT - Click Here
High Junk Peak - Clearwater Bay - Click Here
Other Trails
Sharp Peak - Click Here
Castle Peak - Click Here
Robins Nest - NE NT - Click Here
Lai Chi Wo - NE NT  - Click Here
Razor Back - Click Here

Recommended Hiking Links as follows:

AFCD - Hiking Trails
AFCD - Country Parks
Roz's Hiking Pages
Hike in Hong Kong
HK Walkers
HK Outdoors
HK Tourism Board

Recommended Transport Links as follows:


More links and photos coming soon!

Tags: Hong Kong HIKING Highlights, Hiking in Hong Kong, Hiking Trails in Hong Kong, Best Hikes in Hong Kong


Sunday, 13 December 2009

East Asia Games

The buzz and excitement in town this last week in Hong Kong has been about the East Asia Games which is like a mini annual Olympics for countries of East Asia.  There was a HUGE fireworks that kicked off the opening ceremony last week and finale fireworks carried on for thirty minutes - pretty darn impressive display.

We managed to score tickets for the final of the football between Japan and Hong Kong but showed up a wee bit early i.e. 2pm for a 5pm kick-off so I snapped a few snaps out of boredom.

Here's the missus posing with the mascot / emblem.  It's a 40,000 seat stadium and eventually filled up to capacity. Although this guy below had a whole section to himself to read his paper!

I'm a self confessed geek but this guy below wins the Gold Medal for geek of the year!

I managed to capture the first goal on video which went to Japan as the locals 'booed' non stop.

Hong Kong eventually won 2-1 in extra time so 'they' all lived happily ever after!

Tags:, East Asia Games..

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Friday, 4 December 2009

Worlds Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant - Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum, Hong Kong

Are you a bit of a cheap skate? Tired of paying 'bling-bling' to wine and dine your 'Hoochie Mama' in Hong Kong, just so you can get a bit of nookie tonight? You could get professional 'takeout' in the Wan Chai red light district for the price of an appetiser in some restaurants here.  Well - GOOD NEWS, my friend as I have got the perfect place for you!

Tell your 'Gold Digger' Hoochie Mama you are bringing her to a 'Michelin Star' restaurant' and watch as she salivates about champagne and caviar and visualizes pretentious twats in Armani and Gucci.  Before you arrive, tell her she can have anything on the menu and double or triple  portions if she so desires. This might be the opportune moment to grab that piece of 'quickie' nookie pronto as although the queue / line is long and the place is actually and REALLY rated a Michelin Star restaurant you will be paying an average price per dish of just u$d1.30 and the most expensive dish is u$d5 and a 'bottle of bubbly' is in fact just fizzy water!

Full article and link below


Article Link

A HOLE-IN-THE-WALL canteen in Hong Kong that offers dishes for less than $1.50 has become the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.
Tim Ho Wan, which means Add Good Luck, can seat only 20 people in its steamy dining room where battered bamboo baskets of dim sum sell for as little as $1.42.
In other Michelin-ranked restaurants a meal can cost more than $400.
Michelin guide director Jean-Luc Naret said it was the ''most affordable starred restaurant in the world''.
The star ratings, which range from one star to three, are a rare honour in the restaurant trade, with only a few hundred in the world deemed good enough.
Tim Ho Wan is headed by Mak Pui Gor, the former dim sum chef at Hong Kong's Four Seasons Hotel, where he worked at its three-starred restaurant Lung King Heen.
During the economic crisis, Mr Mak branched out on his own to offer his dishes at bargain prices.
His most expensive dish, a plate of noodles, costs the equivalent of about $5.40, and he sells about 750 of his signature crispy pork buns each day.
At lunchtimes, diners can expect queues of up to an hour on the street outside the canteen.
''Since the news broke, we've been really very busy,'' said a waitress. ''We really are very cheap, but I don't think we are planning to raise our prices.''

Cheers to cuz Brendan for passing the link along

Tags: ..Worlds Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant - Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum, Hong Kong..

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hiking Plover Cove, Hong Kong

This probably rates in the top 3 hikes I've done in Hong Kong. Weather of course can make a HUGE difference to the scenery.  On this particular day it was spectacular but very hot and extremely humid and there's virtually no shade so I would advise bringing extra water. I had 2.5 litres which was barely enough. I didn't meet a single solitary soul for 5 hours on this hike - It was all very Robinson Crusoe-ish without the cannibals and Man Friday and the ship wreck and the storm and..... Okay so it wasn't very Robinson Crusoe-ish but it was an isolated spot for sure and the signs below weren't that inviting either.


How to get there: Take the KCR to Tai Po Market and then minibus 20C (fast) or bus 75K (slow) to Tai Mei Tuk and veer left along the water towards the reservoir. Walk all the way to the far side of the reservoir road/dam where the trail starts on your left. Time: Approx 5 Hours  Return: The same way.

More photos and video below - Enjoy!

Tags: ..Hiking Plover Cove, Hong Kong..

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fish Spa - Suck on This!

The locals love their 'creature' comforts in this part of the world.  Massages of every variety imaginable and some unimaginable - wink - wink - nudge - nudge!  Ah well sure - "All's well that ENDS well!" and sure don't we all love a 'Happy Ending' to be sure to be sure!

We went to a Fish Spa recently where the basic idea is, you immerse your feet in a large fish tank and the little blighters proceed to feast on the dead skin of your toes etc and give you a good 'foot cleansing'.  It was very ticklish and weird at first but somehow calming and therapeutic after a while.

We went as a group of four and some of our feet attracted more attention or seemed more appetizing than others - no idea why? - more toe jam perhaps?

The YouTube video below will give you an idea of how it all works. There's also a full body immersion version which made me squirm thinking about mini Parana nibbling on my private bits! - Ouch! ehhh.... no thanks!

In upcoming reviews I'll be commenting on my experiences of the following 'real life' Spa treatments.

Leech therapy: As the leeches bite the skin and suck away, their saliva is said to increase circulation and detoxify your system.

Snake massage: Relax clients’ aching muscles as six non-venomous snakes slip-slide down your spine, leaving you lulled into a reptile-induced slumber.

Bull-semen hair treatment: Aberdeen-Angus bull semen is mixed with Iranian plant root katera to create a hair mask alleged to improve thickness, strength and sheen.

Bird poo facial: Aestheticians apply UV-light-sanitised and powdered nightingale droppings, mixed with rice bran to the face.

... or I may just go for a pint down the pub - You decide which is next - let me know in the comments below?

Tags: ..Fish Spa..

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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Our Hong Kong Crib!

We moved into a new rental place a few months back.  I was very hesitant about moving off the main Hong Kong Island as we were literally in the heart of the city but it was a TINY one room studio apartment that you couldn’t swing a rat in it, never mind a cat. We lived above an old folks home and the the poor ‘blue rinse’ crew would be wandering the corridors with intravenous drips and every other day the ambulance would pull up and cart one away never to be seen again. Very uplifting this blog post eh?!

We relocated to the district of Hung Hom in Kowloon and the neighbourhood is definitely more local and less ‘expat’ which is better as it means more value for money, more space and less ‘gweilo’ exploitation. The difference in real estate prices is ludicrous but there are plenty of fat cat wealthy bankers (yes they still exist!) to pay the exorbitant rates the other side of the harbour.
The building complex is called ‘Harbour View’ for reasons that will become obvious from the photos and video.   DSC09390
It’s decked out with a large gym, swimming pool, 24 hour security and shuttle bus to and from the nearby subways and entertainment district of TST (Tim Sha Shui). Interestingly, we pay the same amount of rent for this 2 bedroom place now, as we did for a tiny 1 bedroom, 4 storey walk up, rent controlled apartment in ‘way’ upper East Manhattan 5 years ago.

Hong Kong can be an expensive city to live in, but if you look around enough and are prepared to avoid tacky ‘Expatville’ then it can be more than affordable.

P.S. Is it just me or do I sound a bit like Obama in the video below?

Tags: ..Hung Hom, Harbourview, Kowloon, Hong Kong..

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