Showing posts from November, 2018

13th November, 2018

We made it to Toronto last night, after a claustrophobic 16h flight + 3h layover in San Francisco. Alas, when I checked messages, we got the sad news that Tanja's father Richard Zientara, former purveyor of fine beverages at the Oxford House (The Ox Box), long-time caregiver for our boys, powerful baritone and music aficionado, and rock of Tanja's family, had passed away in the afternoon. We missed saying goodbye to him by a day. We've had enough. About the only good things I can think of now is that his horrendous suffering is finally over. But I despise the fact that he had to watch his grandson die. On a more positive note, my best friend Doug seems to be recovering well from his surgery, in which they repaired 6 out of the 7 aneurysms in his brain. He's at home now, still in pain, but out of immediate danger at least. So, back to London to try to make sense of life without Nick.

10th November, 2018

Mission accomplished. On Thursday, we headed back to Lantau Island, hiked up Lantau Peak, and scattered some of Nick's ashes into the wind. Lantau Peak, the 2nd tallest in Hong Kong, was one of our favourite hikes, and one of the toughest. It's a relentless climb to ~950 m (thankfully not from sea level), up stone stairs, some of which are 18" tall. A real heart-pounding thigh-burner this one. I actually found it easy this time, since Vincent was with us, draggin' ass. It was like Tai Chi hiking - quasi static, barely breaking a sweat. Vincent was half dead though. Anyhow, part of Nick has returned to Hong Kong now. Next stops are the Bruce Peninsula and Kelowna. Obviously, the biggest part of Nick is in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him. But it's meaningful to see his ashes returned home. It still sucks like Hell though. Yesterday, Tanja and I did a truly intense hike, from Tsuen Wan (at sea level) up to the top of Castle Peak. More steep sta

7th November, 2018

Vincent treated us to Ocean Park yesterday. A lot of the better rides were out of commission, but there were pandas, walruses (walri?), penguins, lots of neat critters. There was a silly dolphin show with a 'respect the ocean' theme - seems a little contradictory in this day and age, but as anachronisms go, it was very well done. Some animals will still do stupid tricks for fish I guess. On the other hand, they don't seem to be hard done by, and after the show, the seal lions and dolphins seemed to frolic with the trainers quite spontaneously. Ocean park's physical setting is nothing short of spectacular. It's on a mountain overlooking Aberdeen Harbour, with the sea off on one side. The day was pleasant and sunny, and there were no huge crowds - just a few mainland Chinese tour groups, something HK is now getting inundated with, thanks to the new HK-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

6th November, 2018

For a single city, Hong Kong has a huge variety of neighbourhoods and locales. On Sunday, we headed into the town of  Sai Kung, once a small fishing village, now a local tourist spot. Everyone with a dog in the city seemed to be there. We even saw a St. Bernard. Of course it was crowded, but in a nice way - no one was rushing about. The Lonely Planet guide book, a couple hundred pages thick, is far from comprehensive, and after a few days seems downright superficial. I guess it serves to point you in the right direction, but you really get a feeling for the place by walking around for hours. In every non-touristy corner of the city, where people live and work - the real Hong Kong, in other words - there are interesting things to check out. For example, after hiking Stage 3 of the Wilson Trail yesterday, we ended up at a vast market near the Choi Hung MTR station. This is strictly for locals, with no tourists around. The food is really good and cheap. We ended up getting a whole bunch

4th November, 2018

Keep your Slopes Safe!  The hiking in Hong Kong is just as tough as I remember it. We hiked stages 1 and 2 of the Wilson Trail yesterday. Killer steepness, but great views. The terrain in HK is really steep - makes San Francisco look like Holland - and with spring's torrential rains, the region is subject to erosion and landslides. So, to make human habitation possible, armies of civil engineers work constantly to stabilize the slopes, which are rock-bolted, culverted and capped with concrete. Every slope has a registration plaque emblazoned upon it, and is periodically maintained. I can only imagine the size of the bureaucracy involved in a city of this size. Anyhow, hiking in Hong Kong is done on concrete paths. The steep sections are staircases, and hiking a 450 m ascent is like hiking up the CN tower, except that the stairs are often 12-15" high - real leg burners. To think we'd hike this stuff during the summer, with Nicholas on our backs. It's not even