Friday, 26 February 2010

Hiking - Robins Nest, North East New Territories, Hong Kong

This is a recent hike I did after 4 weeks of neglecting my passion for ramblin' on the hills of Hong Kong.  It's on the border of the New Territories and Shenzhen, China.  There's a special area that's off limits to all but residents. To get there, I took the train to Fanling MTR then bus 78K towards Sha Tau Kok but you need to get off at Tseuk Leng San village before the checkpoint for the 'Closed Area Boundary'. I got kicked off the bus at the checkpoint because I didn't have a permit and was sent packing back towards Hong Kong.  Luckily it's only a ten minute walk back to Tseuk Leng San village. 

The start of trail can be found by clambering up to the tall electricity pylon to the right of the village. I had to walk over some graves on a hill (I'll probably be sent to fiery depths of hell for that!) and thru some bushes but I'm sure there must be a better way!

The peak is 492 metres with decent views of mainland China and the warning sign below!

More pics and video below - Enjoy!

To return to civilization: Walk down Wo Keng Shan Rd back to Sha Tau Kok Rd where you can get the 78K bus back to Fanling MTR or the minibus 55K to Fanling town then connect to minibus for Fanling MTR

Time taken: 3.5 hours on the trail

Tags: .Hiking - Robins Nest, NE NT, Hong Kong..

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Yangshuo, Guilin, China - Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xian Nian Kuai Le!

We were fortunate to spend Chinese New Year in Yangshuo near Guilin.  Flights to major Chinese destinations are typically much cheaper if you leave from Shenzen in mainland China VS Hong Kong.  To get there we took the Trans-Island Chinalink bus from Hong Kong directly to Shenzen Airport (u$d13) which only took 75 minutes including clearing customs & immigration (estimated time is 2 hours).  We ended up being at the airport 3.5 hours before our flight which is a record for this last minute merchant.  The flight to Guilin is less than 1 hour (u$d106ew)  

It was bloody cold i.e. 2 Celcius when we arrived but thankfully it warmed up 16 Celcius a few days later.  As you can see below the place is 'easy on the eyes'

Guilin, China
Yangshuo, China

The Silver Caves


The best way to see  the countryside is to rent a bike for u$d3 per day. You can also take a 2 hour bamboo raft trip thru some spectacular scenery for u$d20

 Our accomodation cost double the usual rate being it was New Years but still ended up being only u$d20 per night. 

The local specialty food wise is 'beer fish' (fish cooked with herbs n' spices n' beer) - delicious!  
They also eat a lot of frogs, snails and even some dog. 
Lucky Dog

 Unlucky Dog!


It's a tough job but someone has to report this stuff! - Happy Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Tiger. 'Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xian Nian Kuai Le!'

Tags: ..Yangshuo, Guilin, Lijiang, China - Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xian Nian Kuai Le!..

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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Get Your FAX Straight

The missus has been applying for new jobs.  Options are usually as follows:

Download this form, fill out this form, attach CV (resume) and email it. 
However a large number of options have been limited to 'print off this form, attach credentials  and fax it' emphasis on "DO NOT EMAIL THIS FORM AS IT WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED" - WTF?

Only 4 wee problems, 

1.) we have no printer at home 
2.) we have no fax at home  
3.) Doing this from her work is not an option (prying eyes) 
4.) corner shop with fax/print service here is practically non existent

Enter McGruber/McGyver wannabe aka me to save the day.

Steps as follows:

  1. Download forms (Some are MS Word and some are Adobe PDF)
  2. 'Acquire' software to edit Adobe PDFs (not easy or totally legal ssshhh!)
  3. Complete forms and print to PDF file
  4. Because I have no scanner, take photo of Degrees, reference letters and convert to PDF
  5. Sign-up for eFax one month free trial (again)
  6. Attempt to Fax forms
  7. Troubleshoot cryptic non delivery error msgs x {8 times} - eventually give up on eFax
  8. Source alternate free fax delivery software and find one for Hong Kong (
  9. Complete sending fax of 10 pages x 2 with confirmation

Time spent - a mere 13 hours for 2 identical faxes {10 pages each}

Result = Receive EMAIL acknowledgement forms received - WAHOO!

Note: I could have walked to the delivery address and hand written the forms in a fraction of the time! - but they don't accept hand delivered forms!

....but wait ... Received follow up EMAIL request for resending forms because fax image not clear - Please EMAIL the attachments ! - WTF????

Tags: ..Get Your FAX Straight..

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Monday, 1 February 2010

The Great Irish Potato Surplus of 1974

I have a terrible habit of being repetitious when it comes to food.  I think it hails back to my childhood when you could tell what day of the week it was, simply from the smell (or should that be aroma) that was coming from the kitchen at lunch time. 

In Ireland (at least in my house back then) the main meal of the day was at lunchtime and confusingly called 'dinner'.  In the evening (dinnertime) you'd have a light meal called 'tea' which was usually sandwiches or salad or the type of food that most people think of as 'lunch'.  We called this 'teatime' as it was accompanied by copious amounts of hot tea.  Is it any wonder people take the piss out of the Irish?

My mother is a great cook and back then she liked to try new recipes but my father is strictly a meat n' two veg man who would turn up his nose at anything 'fancy'.  His idea of sauce is Bisto gravy and nothing else.  For him there are only 2 herbs n' spices = salt n' pepper.   Just the smell of garlic has the potential to drive him to drink, which is not a good thing for a man who took the Pioneer pledge of total abstinence from alcohol at age 16 and never touched a drop since. I have a hefty wager with a sibling he'll cave in any day know.  Thankfully, his offspring have more than made up his shameful lack of support for the Irish Vitners Association. 

So we were somewhat restricted in the choice of menu growing up but it was all fine fare to be sure.  In truth, I had my own dietary fussiness to contend with.  I was the quintessential 'Jack Sprat' in that I would eat no fat. I methodically and surgically dissected and removed every single minute piece of fat from any meat on my plate.  Even though my Dad was/is a fussy food fucker himself, he did his damndest to convert me to the culinary joys of fat.  I still vividly remember being semi force fed a piece of steak with a big wedge of fat and almost retching on the spot.

Since leaving food (even fat) on your plate was taboo, I leveraged sleight of hand and diversionary tactics to deposit the fat cuttings behind the kitchen radiator heater. That all worked fine until the festering mess started to shhhtink and 'my jig was up' so to speak although I danced another jig after my backside had been tanned for my offences. They were still finding moldy rasher rinds years after I left home.

So the weekly menu rarely varied from
  • Sunday - roast lamb or beef or pork & potatoes
  • Monday - mutton stew & potatoes 
  • Tuesday - bacon & cabbage & potatoes (FYI - we don't eat 'corned beef' in Ireland - some Yank invented that lie)
  • Wednesday - something & potatoes & mashed turnips & parsnips (It doesn't matter what the something was I just hated turnips & parsnips)
  • Thursday - mixed grill (bacon, sausage, egg, fried bread & fried potatoes)
  • Friday - fish & mashed potatoes as dictated by GOD! - (Jesus, where's the fuckin' loaves o' bread?)
  • Saturday - roast chicken & potatoes
Note: - 99% of fast food in 1970's Ireland consisted of 'the chipper' - deep fried potato wedges. To this day my favourite side dish is still potatoes.  You can make moonshine aka 'poteen' out  of potatoes. Trivia fact: Tonight for dinner I'm cooking potatoes. What more can I say  - I'm proud to be a Mick Paddy spud lovin' mothafucka!

In retrospect and on a more serious note, it's a good thing there wasn't a short supply of potatoes when I was growing up or we'd have been bloody famished.  

So how was the food when and where you were a wee nipper?

Tags: .potato..

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