flippin heck – it must be love!

I have fallen in love.

With flip flops.

I always used to avoid them for anything other than the beach, but even then I favoured my beloved crocs for all the ‘casual’ occasions, well all right ALL the occasions as I barely had them off my feet, but alas and alack I failed to pack any of them for our sojourn in Macau, which is ridiculous when you think of all the shoes I did manage to pack and have had absolutely no occasion to wear (you never know I might get to wear the new ‘going out’ heels and a posh frock somewhere at some point. I may just take to wearing them around the apartment and pretend I’m going out). But flip flops were consigned to genre of ‘beachwear’, and have never really been something I have been comfortable with.

But oh how times have changed. Macau has impacted on many aspects of my life and one of the positives that has emerged is the general wellbeing of my feet.

I have never known them to be in such good shape and it’s all down to the humble flip flop.

My love affair came about through necessity as I was in danger of developing a severe case of trench foot if I carried on in trainers (sneakers for those of you across the pond). Due to the combined effects of intense heat, many miles walked and sudden and torrential rainfall my feet seemed almost constantly damp, and it seems appropriate here to mention that the smell at the end of the day was not particularly pleasing either. One super hot/super rainy day my poor feet could take the squelching no longer and I dashed into the supermarket for a pair of ‘emergency flips’.

The conversion was instant. My feet felt like they had been reborn.
It was also then I noticed just how many other people were wearing them. It’s like when you get a new car and you suddenly realize just how many of the same model or colour there are on the road. At least 75% of locals favour the flip flop over any other type of footwear, (there is sometimes not a lot else to do when waiting for Moo to conclude one of her many visits to the park so I will stand by my statistical findings and challenge anyone who disagrees), and as a recent convert I can absolutely understand why. When it is hot your feet stay cool and when the typhoon rains pour from the heavens they get a good wash and you don’t have to wander round in soggy shoes for the rest of the day. The hard skin on my toes is a thing of the past and there will be little for the fishies to nibble on when I take AJ for a fish spa in the next week or so.

They also seem to have dealt with the pain I used to get in my foot. My wonderful trainee osteopath, not to mention my best, friend explained that the pain I got in my heel was related to the time I broke my big toe. It was a much more complex and anatomical explanation than I could possibly remember, but she must have been right as after she had wiggled my foot bones around for a while it was much better. Sadly my wonderful friend lives hundreds of miles away and when the pain returned several months later I just had to live with it. But since I began my affair with the humble flip flop it seems to have vanished.

As with any relationship though there are ups and downs and it is often outside influences beyond your control that bring a note of disharmony. In this case the villain of the piece is paint. To be more precise the kind of paint that is used here for zebra crossings. Bearing in mind the amount of rain that falls in this part of the world you would have thought that it may have been sensible to use a type of paint that is slightly less slippery than an ice rink when wet, but the civic authorities have obviously decided that pedestrians need an extra challenge, aside form the seemingly homicidal motorists, when crossing a busy road.

Last week during a particularly sudden and violent rainstorm we were dashing across the road trying to avoid the kamikaze moped which was bearing down with alarming speed, when my flip flops connected with a freshly painted white stripe and slid from under me and folded my toes neatly into the tarmac. I then had 2 choices. Either I stopped and unfolded my toes and risked being hit or I scrapped my foot along the tarmac to the safety of the pavement. Safety and crunched tootsies won out.

But aside form a little bruising all is well and the love affair is back in full bloom.

Another joy of this footwear is the variety and price. I can wear shoes that match every single item of clothing I own without having to win the lottery or sell a kidney. And you can even get sparkly ones too. And to appease my big sister who is no doubt about to accuse me of betraying the ‘sisterhood of Choo’ I may even get a pair of designer wedge heel flips too.

I’m sure when we return to less tropical climes the flip flops will be once more consigned to the beachwear wardrobe, I can’t imagine they would be so pleasurable to wear on the city streets of London or Paris, or in the winter snow of home for that matter. And if I ever do get to wear the posh frock it will defiantly be with the posh heels, but for now my heart and sole belong only to them.

A Bientot.

big trouble in little China

I’m having trouble writing. You may have noticed.

There is a lot I want to write, but not much I can.

Hub’s show is in full production mode already, 13 hour days plus dissection time at the pub afterwards, 6 days a week. I was expecting it – just not quite so soon.
They don’t call us ‘production widows’ for nothing.
Anyway I’m not allowed to talk about the production as it is more heavily policed than area 51. I did manage to get on a theatre tour and was surprised to see no evidence of a secret alien bunker or at the very least a team of highly skilled scientists searching for a breakthrough in the cure for cancer. It was a little disappointing to see that it really was just production for a show. An extremely big and complex show, yes, but just a show after all. But I’m not allowed to talk about that.

We still don’t have our passes to the apartment complex pool, but we have found out that we can just pay to go there so Moo and I have been making the most of it, and that is where you will find us most evenings. By the end of the summer she will be swimming like Ian Thorpe, well once she masters the swimming on top of the water rather than just under it bit. I really must get her a snorkel so she can breathe while she is under there.

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of AJ next week for a fortnight and have all sorts of excursions and shopping trips planned for her visit. I am desperately hoping I can show her a good time.

But really that’s it. I’m sorry if you were hoping for something more exciting, but I just cant seem to find the words at the moment.
Must try harder.

A bientôt.

busy doing….stuff…

*for some reason I can’t attatch pictures at the moment, but as soon as I can I will update this post*

I have been having so much trouble finding time to write, not that I’ve been super busy, unless you consider cultivating a tan as a legitimate activity in which case I’ve been working my butt off for the last 3 weeks solid. Moo has turned into a remarkable underwater swimmer, she still can’t swim on top of the water, but sub-aqua she does indeed swim like a fish. Sadly she can’t breathe like a fish.
We are still waiting for our ‘clubhouse’ cards for the apartment pool, so we have been travelling to the other end of the island by bus every other day to our favourite pool at Hac Sa beach in Coloane. Much as I enjoy the trip it will be much easier when we can just go downstairs and join all the people we have been watching longingly from our apartment window everyday.
On most other days we have been taking trips to Macau island to discover more of what ‘over the water’ holds.
We had the first disappointing ‘visitor experience’ of our time in Macau when we were enticed by the publicity to go to ‘Fisherman’s wharf’ which is billed as an attraction for children and adults to enjoy wandering around in ‘themed’ landscapes.
Hmm. For the most part the theme was the deserted city, with a hint of promise in the ‘coming soon’ posters and banners that flapped limply in the hint of a breeze we were enjoying that morning. But not even the bizarre architecture, mini coliseum shopping mall next to an inactive volcano housing an equally as inactive rollercoaster, could make up for the ¾ empty parades of shops and no ‘attractions’ whatsoever.

A much more satisfactory trip was to the Guia lighthouse built on the highest, natural, point in Macau and surrounded by the magnificent Flora gardens. What an incredible view of the city from the short but very exciting cable car ride to the top, Moo handled her first trip in a cable car very well with only a little yelp when we first ‘took off’’. At the top of the hill it was a short but sweaty climb to the oldest lighthouse in China and we were richly rewarded with the stunning flora and fauna along the way. The dazzling red hibiscus and vibrant yellow, heavenly scented, jasmine intertwined with the centuries old banyan trees whose far reaching roots are as much a part of the walls as the bricks themselves.
The lighthouse and adjacent chapel have recently, and lovingly, refurbished and the original 17th century frescos are glorious.
During a welcome ice-cream stop at the café there was a slightly bizarre moment when all I could hear was the faint strains of ‘hotel California’ drifting up from the city below. How very Macau.

We have also been to the shopper’s paradise that is Zhuhai city Plaza. Now to get to Zhuhai takes a little determination and organization because it is on Mainland China and therefore requires a border crossing, a visa and yet another different currency. But as with just about everything here, if you have the sufficient cash, it’s not a problem.
We rocked up to the border with what seemed like half the population and headed to the visa office, handed over some cash, had our pictures taken and our passports stamped and it was off to border control to go through the formalities. That done we exited into China and were instantly confronted with Zhuhai plaza.
It’s quite hard to describe the place, but taking photographs is forbidden so I’ll do my best.
If you can imagine an indoor market hall with all its little ‘cubby-hole’ shops and stalls crammed into oddly shaped spaces, each stall piled high with a bizarre and eclectic mix of goods for sale. Got that, good, now multiply the size by around about a thousand and you will get some idea of the scale.
The shopping is ferocious but there are bargains to be had and even more if you are versed in the art of ‘haggle’. After much wandering about and trying on (of shoes in particular), we came away laden with goods ranging from new trainers for hubs to a scooter for Moo and a whole stack of DVD’s for very little cash.
Now I’m not saying that everything in Zhuhai is ‘moody’ but it’s almost certainly all a little grumpy at the very least, when I was on my handbag quest I was taken into a ‘secret’ room with the special stock which may or may not have fallen of the back of a Prada lorry on its way past, but even the haggled down price was still a little high for my taste, but there were at least 2 dozen other outlets ready and willing to part me from my cash and unite me with a lovely bag. You will all be pleased to know that I did manage to find a lovely purple leather number and matching wallet.
A few hours of this intensive shopping was quite enough for us and we headed back across the border with our booty. It is not for the weak-willed, but I would recommend it as a day trip for the determined bargain hunter.
So not altogether busy, but with days taken up entertaining small one and evenings spent doing normal things like snuggling up and falling asleep with hubs on the sofa, there hasn’t been much time left for writing, but thankfully Moo has finally fallen into the magical world of Harry Potter so I anticipate at least a couple of hours of ‘free’ time one or two days a week, so hopefully I will get back into the swing of things.
A Bientot, or as they say in Macau, Bai Bai!

a little Mumbai madness

4.30 am is a pants time to get up. But up we got and stumbled around JJ’s house taking on the requisite amount of coffee for consciousness to assert itself. Moo was bundled into the car still in blankets and we headed off through the early morning mist en route once more to Heathrow. We checked-in early at the Jet Airlines desk with some trepidation, we had never flown with this particular airline before and the on-line reviews were not the best, but the price was so we bit the bullet and hoped for the best. The check-in was smooth and the very lovely lady waved through my ever-so-slightly overweight bag with a shrug and a smile. That beats a fine any day. After a brief breakfast stop and hugs for JJ we headed through security and straight to the gate. We were boarded early (the advantages of traveling with a small person) and settled into our extremely comfortable seats. The in – flight entertainment system welcomed us personally and assured us that we would be attended to as soon as possible, and within a couple of minutes Ravi arrived at our side to help us with our overhead luggage and ask us if we required anything for Moo, not a bad start.
The flight left 45 minutes late but once we were up and away it was not long before coffee was served, swiftly followed by breakfast. My seasoned companion had soon plugged herself into the children’s channel and little was heard from her for the next few hours, save a few breaks for refreshments. I took advantage of the silence and read for a while and watched the very moving film ‘Invictus’. Before we knew it lunch had arrived and it was dark outside. One of the many joys of traveling forward in time is watching night descend at breakneck speed, it always makes me chuckle for some reason.
We approached our changeover point of Mumbai around 9 hours later, hot towels and bottled water were handed round as we contemplated the ‘next bit’. We were supposed to have 1hr 45m to change planes, but as we had left late we were down to just over an hour. Just about everyone that I told of our 2 hr window had sucked in their breath in the manner of a malcontented garage mechanic and assured me I would need every second, and on finding the end of the security queue I seriously began to doubt that we would be on the flight to Hong Kong. The line was split between ladies and gents with the gents progressing at a vastly greater speed that the ladies. All became clear when we rounded what I had hoped was the last corner and saw 4 security gates open for the menfolk and one for the ladies and children. It was now 35 minutes till our flight was due to leave and there were at least 40 people in front of us. It was going to be a tense half hour. Moo was shuffling along the floor beside me as we inched towards our goal trying desperately hard not to fall asleep on my legs. We inched forward and in a bid to get ahead of the game I asked a rather short tempered security guard if shoes were required to be removed ho barked a ‘no’ at me and stalked off. 26 minutes later it was our turn and of course we were ordered to take of our shoes. Moo went through the screening first and was taken to a cubicle on the left for a full body scan, as I went through I tried to follow her but was forced to go to the right cubicle. I tried to wave to her so she knew where I was but she didn’t see me, the lady doing my scan got very cross with me for moving around so much, but I was increasingly agitated as I saw them finish with Moo and send her off to get her coat and shoes from the conveyer belt. I yelled at her and she finally spotted me, as she walked over to me she was stopped by another guard and asked where she was going. Mercifully I was done by then and I managed to collect her and go to fetch our bags. Or so I thought. Having been through the rigorous checks at already at Heathrow I assumed all would be well, but as I struggled back into my shoes and jacket I was called over to explain why I had a blade in my bag. Thoroughly confused I was adamant that there was no such thing in there and had to turn out my bag and go through the few items in there. After a couple of minutes furious searching it transpired that the ‘blade’ was in fact a pencil sharpener in Moo’s pencil case….. I understand that security is a huge issue and I totally respect that airport officials must do their job to ensure the safety of millions of passengers, but a pencil sharpener?
With my deadly assault weapon confiscated and a bag full of felt tip pens we hot-footed it towards the gate, praying it was still open. Again the good Lord was smiling and the gate was relatively close but I was still out of breath as we ran up to the desk. At 1.02 precisely we passed through boarding and once again were in the hands of Jet Airlines. And what wonderful hands they were. Seeing our disheveled state a lovely steward took our hand luggage and offered Moo a ride up to the plane in a wheelchair so she didn’t have to walk any further. I was half tempted to ask if I could get one too, but felt that may have been pushing our luck. We got to our seats and breathed a huge sigh of relief, one or two more security stragglers made it on board and precisely 3 minutes after we had boarded the plane, the doors were closed.
With the drama over we settled ourselves in for another 5 hours in the air. More hot towels were handed round along with pre take-off refreshments. We took a long swig of our ‘re-vitalising tonic’ which is a local delicacy that goes by the name of Nimbu Paani. A word of caution here for those unfamiliar with the drink. Whilst the lemon on the bottle may look tempting and indeed refreshing, the taste of Nimbu Panni was likened, by my surprised and rather disgusted looking daughter, to ‘lemonish sweat’. She was not far off.
The rest of the flight passed without incident, Moo finally decided she was tired and slept most of the way while I listened to some music and drifted in and out of one of my favorite films ‘ Benny and Joon’.
Breakfast was delivered to an unimpressed looking Moo, I’m not sure she was quite ready for a spiced omelette, and as I tucked in it became clear she would not. As the steward passed he noticed her still full tray and returned moments later with a box of cereal instead, and of course the hot and cold towels. As I said at the beginning of this piece, we were a little concerned as the reviews on-line for Jet were not great, but I can unreservedly recommend them. The planes were spotless, the seats were roomy, the in flight entertainment was superb and the service was impeccable. I would not hesitate to fly with them again, although I would probably leave a slightly longer window to transit through Mumbai.
And so we had arrived at Hong Kong, checked-in for our ferry and I had obtained more caffeine. A short call to Hubs to let him know we had arrived and find out where we were staying. The company has moved us to different apartment block that is more family friendly, but up to yesterday he did not know exactly where. Now at least he has a key, and had 1 hour to move in before coming to meet us. I have to say he did extremely well in the time.

And so we moved in to our new home and spent the rest of the day lolling about the apartment admiring the views of the hotel pool and planning our visits there.
There is no internet in the flat as yet but hubs is on the case and will be sorting it out with work in the next few days while I roam the island for hot-spots.

I expect the next few days will be spent settling in and ‘nesting’ and lounging by the pool. It’s good to be back

A Bientot.