Thinking of you all out there with fondness and I apologise for the delay in writing. As you can imagine it has taken a long time to settle in and establish some sort of routine.
The other reason is that it has since dropped to 2 degrees and I have had a hard time defrosting my fingers. Additionally I had to use a nasty French Azerty key board (as opposed to our Qwerty) with our common English letters in unusual places and as a result makes typing very difficult and slow. I am sure it is a continuation of the French-British 100 year war where the French are passively torturing English speaking citizens.
It feels amazing to be here and I still keep pinching my self that this whole situation is real. Simon has been fantastic – really supportive and helpful and it is fantastic to be with him.
And what of adventures? Hong Kong was an interesting stop over. Cathay-Pacific were very good to fly with and I had two seats to myself on every leg of the journey so I could spread out. The most difficult and time consuming part of the trip was getting out of the airport lobby. I nearly missed my transfer as I didn’t recognise my name being called. ‘Wow-an Lis-dll’ just didn’t trigger any name recognition response.
The hotel was really good but located in a rather dull part of the town. It was near the women’s markets, with no real bargains to be had – yes, big bummer! Mind you it was near the gold fish and bird market and maybe this may have been more interesting than the women’s markets. However I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about visiting the bird market as most of the western world has been scared off by the bird flu virus. This fear was further reinforced by the occasional person donning a surgical face mask. Additionally I was having nasty flashback imagines of Michael Jackson in a surgical mask.
I found it interesting to find that Hong Kong had a very different feel to Singapore. I was surprised to find it has a beautiful mountain range back drop, in contrast to Singapore which is very flat. Both places are absolutely packed with people and they live like tinned sardines in massive tower blocks. The appearance of their apartment buildings reminded me of electronic circuitry boards.
I found Hong Kong has a really beautiful harbour (which you can actually see if it is a clear day). The Authorities light up the harbour side buildings, which are situated in the financial district, and there is a lighting display at night. It is fabulous and I went out on a Chinese junk on the harbour to see it. Or at least I believe it to be so. I met a lovely Australian couple and got so involved in their life story and chatting that I missed most of the commentary and the sights. However, I do recall the lighting display to be better than the one in my town in Australia. There the only interesting light display changes from red to green, orange and back to red again.
The streets in Hong Kong are generally narrow. There are big television screens placed on the footpaths showing odd advertising and odder game shows. The Hong Kong people are really into pie throwing and other humiliating games (besides the game of mispronouncing your name or torturing the English language). I felt that the whole place had a vague ‘Blade Runner’ feel to it, which would have been even better if Harrison Ford was there.
I met some interesting people at the hotel at breakfast and at a buffet dinner. As you could imagine Hong Kong is a great place for meeting international travellers. Bumped into a fellow hotel resident, an American, in the adjoining hotel mall who said that he had noticed and been watching me at the buffet dinner. ‘Wow’ I thought, ‘Maybe a movie director or someone scouting for a special person to replace Ophra Winfrey on her show’. I said to him ‘Why have you been watching me?
He replied: ‘Because I have never seen such a slim person pack away so much food at the buffet dinner last night – I have been dieting for weeks and still put on weight and was very jealous.’ With that he laughed, kissed me on the cheek and walked away. With him, the movie dream also passed by.
Mind you it was my second kiss for the day from a complete stranger so I didn’t feel so bad. (First kiss was a kiss goodbye from a fellow female tourist I had me on a tour that morning).
It was a really long day flying from Hong-Kong on the Friday. Once I arrived into Heathrow I then had to drag my really really heavy luggage around the terminal, outside the airport, across a courtyard, down a lift, work out how to buy a ticket, catch a train and go to the international departure terminal – all after a 15 hour flight. Did I mention they also had a really complicated way of checking into your flight at the International Departure area? I’m sure their intention was to loose you on the Long March and the final check in was punishment for having found the correct terminal.. Finally through the check in gates my luggage and I departed company. I was finally off to ‘La Belle France’. At security I was lucky enough to only having to strip down to my socks. Unfortunately they missed out on my Eiffel Tower print undies especially selected for the occasion.
Once in France (now onto my 20 hour day – did I mention the extra hours spent at Heathrow waiting for my next flight?) no luggage to be seen. Over the years authors and movie directors have depicted loneliness as being the sole person in an empty football stadium. For me it is being the sole person left at an empty carousel looking into the distance for that missing suitcase.
Simon, however was there to welcome me, so the next few hours spent waiting for my luggage to arrive passed quickly as we caught up with each other.
How wonderful it was to open the apartment door in the Paris flat after 22 hours of travel. It even had a familiar smell. Cheese.
That weekend was a blur – on the Sunday we ventured outdoors onto the markets. It was at that moment it decided to snow. The good news was all that wonderful cheese at the markets would stay fresh, even if the vendors looked a little worse for wear. I rang my stepmother that night and she remarked how terribly cold it had been in Ballina. She said I couldn’t possibly understand how cold it had been there. I could. I really could. And in amongst her chit chat I casually mentioned that it was 2 degrees here – ‘That’s nice dear’ she replied.
FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL
Monday was my first day at French language school. Simon took me to school where he held my hand and kissed me goodbye. No packed lunch though. It was there that I got my first real surprise…..
To be continued…..