If you are ever stuck for something to do on a winter’s wednesday evening in Hong Kong, I can highly recommend a visit to the Happy Valley race track. For a very nominal entrance fee to the track-side public enclosure, you get an evening of fabulous atmosphere, great horse racing and the excitement of perhaps winning on a small wager.
It’s time to wrap up my photos from our little jaunt down to Bali in October. After blogging about culture, eco-disasters, adventure and tourist sites, I thought ‘why not end the series with a little bit of old-fashioned glamour photography?’ So, here we have my very own blond model, on a beautiful tropical beach, in stunning blue-sky weather, pictured against a backdrop of crashing ocean waves – what’s not to like?
Dawn. The Bali coastline. Are you invigorated for the day, or having got up so early to take the photo, do you now just want to go back to bed?
Hiking recently on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island on what was a swelteringly hot, humid, sticky day, we were glad of the cover and shade provided for a short while amongst all this green-ness. With all that heat and water, I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised at the supremely verdant nature of the countryside. In much the same vein, with all that heat, water and steepness, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there wasn’t a dry stitch on us by the time we got to the top!
The Asian typhoon season has not begun in earnest as yet, but we have already had some spectacular storms roll through Hong Kong.
100 kph winds, torrential rain and spectacular lightning were a feature of this little monster, which took the atmosphere from calm to chaos in a matter of 30 seconds and then completely blew through within 15 minutes. It’s brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and close friends have all delighted in having a pop at us over the last few weeks, causing minor damage and nuisance; Mummy and Daddy storm have yet to make an appearance and I’m not much looking forward to those events!
This is one of 8 tries scored by the British and Irish Lions in their 59-8 win over the Barbarians at the Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday evening. In the most awful conditions of heat and humidity; playing a top class, highly physical sport at this level of commitment was impressive to behold. Fingers crossed that this first game of their tour to Australia augers well for success in the crucial 3 test matches.
I had the best part of 3 free days in India and wanted to take a train ride – somewhere, anywhere! – how hard can that be? Well, as a non-Indian I don’t seem to be able to buy a ticket on-line before I get there (has anybody else figured out how to do it?); never mind, perhaps my hotel concierge can help me out on arrival? Nope, he checks it out on his computer in the lobby and any of the trains I want to travel on are full – day 1’s opportunity is gone. OK, I’ll just go to the main, central train station in the Country’s largest city tomorrow and I’ll sort it out there myself….simple. Errrr…….Mumbai traffic takes the first toll on the available hours of the day and then it takes me over another hour at the station just to find out HOW to buy a train ticket. And the solution is? …..join a queue at that kiosk over there in order to collect a form…….fill in the form with passport (lucky I had it with me), visa (I don’t have a visa, I arrived by another, less common, but perfectly legal and legitimate manner), desired train number (how do I find that out?) time and date (well today, obviously) details. Take the completed form (another hour or so gone by) upstairs to Kiosk number 52 (of 70+) which is the only one that deals with tourists……Join another queue. In the queue I get chatting to the other ‘tourists’ and get laughed at when I say that I want to travel today!….no chance; they are all trying to buy tickets for tomorrow or the day after. Day 2’s opportunity is gone and I give up. How can this be? Surely I have missed something here? This is India – it is famous for its trains – and how can they ever be full? I’ve seen photos of Indian trains in which you can’t even see the train for the passengers hanging off them. In the cities, people get around by walking, bicycle, taxi, tuk tuk, bus and motor scooter, but to travel any distance (and in India the distances can be great) the train seems to be the obvious answer. Why is it so difficult /impossible to turn up at a railway station and buy a ticket for a train that leaves within the hour? How can the normal populace travel from one city to another at short notice? As per the title of today’s blog – The Indian Train System provides one of Life’s True Mysteries.
Amused, but frustrated by the whole experience I wander out onto the station concourse to try and take a photo that might encapsulate the episode. The station sits behind an incredibly impressive 126-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site stone edifice, but it is the shabbier interior with its exposed girders and corrugated roof, it’s food stalls, litter, dogs, crowds and active mood of hustle and bustle that I want to try and capture. BUT WAIT!! There is no photography allowed in the station – is the illustration of such inefficiency considered vaguely pornographic, or is it akin to burning the National Flag, I wonder? So, putting my normal camera away and risking arrest or worse, I walk to the far end of the station and covertly snap this shot on my smart phone…..Apologies to the Indian Government if I have compromised National Security.