The Hong Kong MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is a fabulous public transport system. It is regular, cheap, modern and, owing in part to it’s non-tolerance of eating or drinking on board, scrupulously clean. In comparison to its dirty, litter infested, graffiti laden, counterparts in London or Paris it is a pleasure to travel on. 3G enabled throughout its structure, even whilst underground, opportunities for self-entertainment abound. Almost everybody on board these trains is either plugged in, logged on, gaming, or chatting. The only other pastime equal in popularity to these technologically-dependant activities is sleeping. As expats in the territory we are gradually becoming very au fait, if not totally expert, with all these public transport cultures!
My room in a Beijing hotel was at the end of this corridor. As I was letting myself in through the door, a glance back down the corridor caught my interest. I like the way curves of the walls, the colours and lines of light work together to create a futuristic almost sci-fi spaceship type of effect.
It’s a very simple subject and a very simple composition, but I quite like this image of a sunflower. Provence? Tuscany? No to both, but alongside a rice paddy in Japan.
The ‘James Craig’ is one of only 4, 19th Century, 3-masted, sailing barques still afloat and operational worldwide. Built in Sunderland, England in 1874 she was originally named ‘Clan Macleod’ and, for 26 years, plied the World’s general cargo trade routes. With the advent of steam ships at the start of the 1900’s her fortunes declined and for 52 of the last 113 years she has been an abandoned hulk.
Fortunately, an $18 million restoration undertaken over 16 years has restored her to seaworthy condition and she now regularly puts to sea in Sydney harbour, or the waters beyond. However, continued maintenance is still required and here a tradesman is preparing a section of her foremast in time-honoured and tedious fashion – with a sheet of sandpaper in hand.
The ship that eventually bore the name HMB Endeavour and passed into history as the ship on which James Cook discovered Australia, was initially built in 1764 as the Earl of Pembroke, a Whitby collier transporting coal up and down the east coast of the UK. She was converted to a research vessel and purchased by the British Royal Navy in 1768. Leaving the UK in August of that year, it took 20 months for her to arrive off the East coast of Australia at Botany Bay in April 1770. After an eventful journey home in which she was nearly lost after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef she arrived back in the UK on the 12th July 1771. Over the next 7 years she saw service as a transport ship, before eventually being scuttled off Rhode Island during the American Revolutionary War in 1778. A few relics from the original ship have been discovered from her 1770 grounding on the Great Barrier Reef, when cannons, anchor and ballast were thrown overboard in an effort to lighten and re-float her. A small piece of that ballast is the only original part of this full scale accurate replica that was launched in 1994. This replica has completed 2 circumnavigations of the globe, including a repeat of the original 18th Century voyage.
The vessel is now docked at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, laid out exactly as it would have been in Cook’s time and it can be visited by the public most days. The ship still occasionally puts to sea with paying and professional crew – it would be a wonderful experience to be onboard when it did!
I reckon that if Chris Froome had to ride one of these, I might stand a chance of beating him in a bike race – mind you, the way he rode the Tour de France this year, I don’t think I’d back myself with my own hard-earned cash!
After finishing the hike that I talked about in my last blog, we ended up in the village of Tai O and visited what is fast becoming our favourite watering hole in town. The first cold beer didn’t touch the sides as it went down, but the second was taken at a more leisurely pace. Whilst enjoying this 2nd beer, the natural light started to fade and the electric lights of the village started to illuminate. Amongst the first to come on were these in a house across the water from where we were sat and, now with a bit more time on my hands and an ability to appreciate my surroundings, I thought it made an interesting image.