Barbed comments

Why would an ordinary school in an ordinary, peaceful street in Hong Kong need to be protected by a barbed-wire fence? The Sharon Lutheran school that I walk past on my way to the office every day looks like a fortress and I can’t think why. I’d assume it was some kind of young offenders’ institution if I couldn’t see the signage on it.

Perhaps the barbed wire really is there to keep the young Lutherans in. Otherwise, one day, maddened by years of people shouting “I have a dream!” over their walls, they’ll burst out en masse, snatch up an innocent passer-by and nail him to their door.

Tung Chung FAQ (part 1)

Whenever somebody out there in the great tangle that is the Internet uses Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu or any other search engine and somehow lands on my blog, I can see their route to the site. For the non-techie readers I can quickly and easily explain how this works. Whenever you click a link on a web page, your browser requests that page from its web server, and the request includes the address of the page you were on when you clicked the link. It’s called an “HTTP referrer”, and it’s useful to help web site owners work out how people find their web sites.

When somebody uses a search engine, the HTTP referrer usually contains the words that they searched for, and if they’re coming to my site, the search terms get written into my web server log file.

I can see, for example, that somebody found my site just this morning after searching Google for “thousand steps hike hong kong”.

What makes me laugh, however, is the number of people evidently using search engines to seek out seedy nightlife in Tung Chung:

  • “bar girls tung chung”
  • “tung chung escorts”
  • “sauna extras tung chung”

These are just examples, but I see such things all the time. So this entry is by way of being the first part of an FAQ for Tung Chung, based on my web site hits from search engines.

Whoever you people are, researching the dark and secretive underbelly of Tung Chung, I’m sorry to have to disappoint you – but there isn’t one. We’ve only got one proper bar, and it’s enough of a challenge to get them to serve drinks and food, never mind any additional services. The restaurants are all closed by 10:30pm. Even our McDonalds has packed up and gone away. My advice would be: get back to your search engines and focus on Tsing Yi and eastwards. Sleepy suburbia is no place for you!

Cathay Pacific are holocaust-denying heretics?

annefrankThis month’s “Discover” magazine (CX’s in-flight “why not visit Hokkaido?”-rag), contains a delightful lapse of concentration. An admission, no less, that they are Godless heretics (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and holocaust-deniers, who would probably give David Irving a free Marco Polo membership.

This admission was subtly tucked away in a film review for one of their in-flight movies. I have scanned and uploaded it here because, not only is it in the public interest, it’s also damn funny.

Of course, I’m not disagreeing for a minute with their claim that the bible is fiction. And as for the Diary of a Young Girl, well there are rumours that it’s something of an Otto-biography.

Branson pickle

This letter of complaint to Virgin Atlantic from a disgruntled but awfully articulate passenger is currently doing the rounds. I thought I’d share it here because it’s so typical of Virgin: they generally provide a good service for long-haul, but often (too often) manage to slip in something that spoils it. Either a foul meal like the one documented here, or a stroppy jobsworth at check-in (exclusive to Heathrow, I find), or the regular breakdowns of their V:Port entertainment system (which takes at least 30 minutes to reset) or the nasty little security stickers that they insist on affixing to my passport which won’t come off without hours of scraping and which leave a black, gungy, sticky mess behind. (No other airline does that; I wish VS would knock it off as my passport is starting to look gangrenous.)

My current beef with Virgin concerns a refund. I bought a ticket on my Amex card, and cancelled it a week later. According to their Customer Charter I should have seen that money back on my credit card in seven days. Well, it’s 48 days now and there’s no sign of it.

Incidentally, isn’t Virgin’s response to the above e-mail snide? The food is “award winning”, they say, and “very popular”. It’s the passenger’s fault for not liking the meal, they imply, rather than Virgin’s fault for supplying appalling swill. Apart from anything else, it doesn’t pass the laughter test: since when has any economy class food been “very popular”? What a peculiar concept!

Edit: Less than 3 hours after I published this, Virgin Atlantic’s IP range turned up in my log file, browsing not to the front page of the blog but straight to this posting! That’s very impressive, VS. If only you were just as quick with my refund.

Dish of the day

menuem2.jpgOn Saturday I went menu-collecting. We like our food delivered to the office at lunchtime, but the same old stuff from the same old restaurants gets dull after a while. The Japanese is great, the Vietnamese likewise, and we all love cha siu Tuesdays, but new tastes are always welcomed. So as I ambled through Sheung Wan clutching my prized copy of June’s NTSB Reporter (a gift from Minnesota), I collected a few menus from restaurants that responded positively to my enquiry about whether they delivered food.

This morning, I handed them over to the staff. Jon the Intern looked at the menu for one place that offered a strange combination of Malaysian curries, pizza and pasta. “That looks like Emily,” he said, referring to a library photo on the front of a girl tearing into a naan. I took a glance. Yes, it did, vaguely.

We agreed that this was a slightly amusing co-incidence and there the matter rested. Until, slightly later, David emitted a splutter and waved the menu over his head. “It is Emily!”, he insisted. “I recognise that dress she’s wearing.”

“Nonsense,” I told him, but wandered over to take a look. The photo quality wasn’t marvellous, but sure enough, the curry-eating brunette in the loud frock was just about recognisable as Handshake’s Marketing and Sales Manager. The just-visible jade bracelet on the left wrist confirmed it. When Emily returned to the office she admitted, under interrogation, to moonlighting as a model for Indian food, adding that she had in fact been paid in curry.