In the dark of the night

18 02 2017

I just had a freaky experience. I went for a walk to clear my head on what is quite a windy, wintry night in Hong Kong. It was ten to midnight. In front of me was a dark, winding road that I had never noticed before, running down a hill and shaded by trees. As I walked down, I felt like something was watching me or at least, there was someone else, unseen nearby. Then I turned a corner. What did I see? Eleven  – eleven –  cats all sitting in the shadows and looking right at me – as though I had just interrupted their secret meeting – with their flashing satan eyes. The horror.





Winter!

12 02 2017

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おでん, Japanese winter comfort food, which we ate at a cute little Tokyo-style ramen bar we discovered in the “Rat Alley” under the Soho escalator. Perfect for cold nights.





Beach jog

7 02 2017




Hoi An

7 02 2017

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Hoi An, unlike Danang but so close to it, is a hotspot for Western tourists. As soon as you arrive, you notice the increase in white faces on the streets. They are drawn by the lure of an almost-perfectly preserved old town along the river, with tiled shophouses in fading pastel colours. Its is pretty to be sure, although the tourist hordes have swallowed much of the town centre. I preferred to hover around on the edges. We were staying in a beautiful little resort called the Muca hotel, where the restaurant sat on a palm-thatch pontoon in the river, strung with colourful lanterns and the lush gardens bloomed with palm trees and orchids. When it rained – which it did for several days, for hours at a time – we would stay in our room, lounging on a majestically sized bed, reading novels (“Naomi” and “The Sympathiser”) or watching “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” or Chinese singing shows on the iPad.

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When it was clear we would venture into the old town (I had a suit made) or ride around the rice fields on the hotel’s complimentary bicycles. On these cycle trips we saw water buffaloes in the canals, flocks of starlings and pens of squawking ducks, funerals blaring weird droning horn music and banging gongs and hippies smoking weed furtively in the fields. The peacefulness of the scene, the muted shades of grey and green and the gentle cool drizzle on our arms and faces were one of the highlights of the trip for me.

 





Muca Hotel

7 02 2017

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Heaven…and hell.

7 02 2017

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An Gia was our favourite restaurant of the trip, a beautifully furnished traditional home turned Thonglor-style hipster restaurant, serving delicious local food in a leafy courtyard, complete with dogs, kitschy-tasteful ornaments and lovely ceramics. We ate there three times.

This little piece of heaven is located, incongruously, by a dystopian stretch of beach ten minutes from our hotel. Here, the coastline sand had been almost all eroded away, with walls of sandbags left to try and retain what little was left, and shorefront hotels and shops looking forlorn and trashed. It is worth seeing in itself as a metaphor for the things we are doing to our planet – I couldn’t help wondering if sand extraction for cement used in tourism developments had spurred the carnage?

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14 01 2017

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