Categories
Hong Kong

back in the swing of things

Hard to describe how utterly delighted I am to be back at band sight reading these two great numbers tonight. Thank you Sarah Hall & St Ives Concert Band. So glad to be back.

not going quite at full speed ~ yet
yup ~ felt like royalty tonight
Categories
Hong Kong

where there’s a will

coming soon ……

trying to use gummy bears to explain why it’s important to make a will, and to tell how I’m still sad about what happened to my adoptive family.

in the beginning

it all started so well
and then it fell apart
and got even more complicated
and ended with a family divided

Categories
Hong Kong

This story needs to be written

Yesterday I was talking to the lovely Julia Bell who works as a DNA detective to individuals and also for the TV Programme Long Lost Family.  She helps people find their birth families, a bit like Winnie Siu Davies of Look4mama who helped me find mine. We were talking about another Hong Kong adoptee who Julia and I have been working together to help.  Julia said that the adoptee and her adoptive father’s stories (he was a Chinese refugee) would make an amazing film.  That the fellow adoptee, also an an enthusiastic amateur writer, needed to get the story written.  I made the following observation:

(Cut and pasted from Facebook messenger). “But knowing my own stuff around writing the story, where to start, what story needs writing, I think sometimes what others perceive as the story that should be written isn’t always the one you want or need to write”.

I realise now this thinking stems from my years as a therapist and trainer in primary education, working directly with children who had SEBD, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and as a trainer working to promote emotionally healthy schools.  One of the interventions I used to help children, and also trained staff to use, was Therapeutic Storywriting.  The idea was that you allowed the children to write freely, not worrying about spelling, grammar or punctuation or whether it was good writing, to encourage the children to process difficult feelings or events through the metaphor of the story.  The intervention has been evaluated and shown to significantly help children’s mental health, and also has the benefit of engaging reluctant writers and those struggling with other learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia.  One of the key features was that you wrote alongside the child and she saw you thinking, crossing out, struggling and succeeding with your own writing.  To start the session off, you might give a writing prompt and set the story outside of the real world using animal or mythological characters, to help the writer feel more secure in writing about difficult things.

During my recent Covid self isolation I read Lemn Sissay’s My Name is Why. 

Lemn’s story: a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph. Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. 

I cried a lot as I read it.  All in one big blubbery sitting.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good choice to read this when alone, for it opened up so many memories and childhood wounds.  Although, after my brief stint as a baby in an orphanage I was never again placed in institutional care, Lemn’s account of being an Ethiopian boy placed with a white British family in the 60s, and his fight to get his records and the suffering at the hands of his foster Mother seemed to echo my own story.  And as I read, the main thought I kept having was ‘I wonder if his foster family have read this?’ How did he get past any block he might have had about hurting and upsetting them if and when they read the book?

And during those 14 days of isolation I pondered on my own story/ies.  Why wasn’t I able to write my story, and why was I so stuck? 

Today, drawing on all of this thinking, in a style much less courageous than Lemn’s, I wrote this.  

Baby Bear has a bad day

Once upon a time there was a bear family that lived in a small town in middle England.  Daddy bear was a stores man and Mummy bear was training to be a teacher.  They had three small bear cubs.  This story takes place one Autumn in the woods, when the eldest boy cub was about 8, the middle girl cub was 6, and the littlest baby girl cub was 4.  The family didn’t have a lot of money, so a walk in the woods to go blackberry picking was a treat that they could afford.  Everybody had sturdy boots on and warm woollen coats.  Baby bear was wearing her big sister’s old coat and boots, that didn’t quite fit but ‘would do for now’ for a family outing into the woods.  The bear cubs were all excited and the two eldest cubs had already talked about what Mummy and Daddy bear might make with the berries they would pick.  Baby Bear heard the words “Apple and Blackberry pie” and she could see that her big brother and sister were very excited at the thought of it.  She had no idea what pie might be for she was from a different country called China and had been brought up on rice porridge and noodles.  And when Baby Bear looked in the mirror she could tell she wasn’t quite the same as her brother and sister but nobody ever talked about where she had come from or why.  And her Mummy and Daddy had told her she would not be going back any time soon and she would stay with her new family for ever and ever.  Sometimes Baby Bear puzzled over why Mummy and Daddy had got her from China, for it seemed they were always worried about not having enough money to feed everybody.  She knew it had taken a lot of sorting out for them to get the money they had been given for having her come and live in their house.  And that somehow because of her, every now and again a Social Worker Bear would come and visit the family to check that everything was alright and all the bears were happy and would talk to Mummy Bear and then send her a letter, to say they could keep Baby Bear.

Mummy bear gave each of the bear cubs a cup to collect the berries in and told them not to eat any, especially the green ones as they weren’t ripe.  Baby bear didn’t know what ripe meant either but did not ask as she was so excited to be allowed to go by herself in the wood.  She wandered off and happily picked some berries, and of course, you’ve guessed it, she couldn’t resist trying a few.  She was very proud to fill her cup with the shiny blackberries and went running back to Mummy Bear to show her.  

But Mummy Bear was not pleased.  She saw from the stains on Baby Bear’s mouth that she had eaten some berries.  “Why does she never do what she’s told?” She shouted to Daddy Bear.  “I expect you’ve eaten some green ones as well, haven’t you?”  Baby Bear was very confused, she didn’t know if she had but thought her Mummy would be pleased if she confessed.  She cried and said “Yes, I did”.  

“Well” said Mummy Bear.  “Then you are going to die.  The green ones are poisonous, I told you not to eat them and now look what you’ve done.  You’re going to die.”  And the other two bear cubs started to dance around Baby Bear  chanting “You’re going to die ‘ie, you’re going to die!”.

Baby Bear might not have known what pie was, but she did know what die and poisonous meant. The bear family’s pet cat had died only the other week.  Mummy Bear had said somebody had poisoned it, when the bear cubs had found it all manky and stiff with blood coming out of its nose in the garden.

“I don’t want to die” sobbed Baby bear.  “Please take me to hospital”.  But none of the Bear Family comforted her, or said they would and the two bear cubs continued dancing around singing “You’re going to die” at the tops of their voices.  Even Daddy Bear, who normally was kind to Baby Bear when Mummy Bear wasn’t around, just stood looking on, doing nothing.  

Baby bear continued to sob.  She was screaming and crying so much that there was snot all over her face and hands and it was purple because of the blackberries she had eaten.  This made Baby Bear even more scared.  “Please take me to hospital” she screamed again through the sobs.  She knew hospital was where you went to be mended, as Mummy and Daddy Bear had had to take her there to get her eye stitched up when her family had tickled her so much, even though she had begged them to stop, she had cut her eye open on the corner of an electric heater.

Baby Bear fell to the ground and curled up in a small ball sobbing.  Why wouldn’t somebody save her.  She felt two big hands on her back and someone picked her up.  It was Daddy Bear.  She heard him say “It’s alright, they’re only joking, you’re not going to die”.  Baby Bear smiled with relief through her tears.  But after that she never ever trusted that Bear family again.

Categories
Hong Kong

Found, in British Newspaper Archive

I remembered a newspaper cutting, and the words. But My adoptive Mum binned it.
what big teeth I had

Pinning bits of stuff for memoir to blog.

The self isolation time, got me thinking about this newspaper cutting. And because I had time on my hands I was able to search the British Newspaper Archives and I found it. Great to have confirmation that my memory is not completely off when I try to recapture my early childhood memories. I searched under the phrase Tiny Laura Enoch, adopted daughter of ……. remembering they spelt my surname incorrectly. Voila!

Categories
Hong Kong

Getting Started

Committing to writing my memoir

So, during my self isolation/quarantine I tried to write. Bits of post it notes, random scribblings. Handwritten stuff on my Samsung Note 10, notes on the iPhone. A recipe for disaster for a would be writer. Stuff all over the place.

So, I’m going to use this blog to gather some of it together. To make a commitment to write some of the memoir every day. Not to worry if it is coherent, makes sense, is chronologically correct. Just to try and get it down.

If you’ve been reading my blog and don’t want to continue, I won’t be offended. Please don’t feel the need to comment. This is a work in progress and I’m just using the blog to publicly commit and to put my writing house in order. Thank you, she says, with a little curtsey and a bow of the head.

Chinese Burn

A Hong Kong adoptee’s story

Chinese burn (plural Chinese burns) The prank of grabbing a victim’s forearm in two hands and twisting the skin in opposite directions.

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Prologue

In February 1962, at the age of 15 months I was sent from Hong Kong to be adopted by a UK family, Catherine and Arthur Enock and their two birth children Christopher (6) and Ruth (4).  I had spent 10 weeks with my birth Mother So Kam Lai, before she placed me in an orphanage for temporary care whilst she was hospitalised for kidney disease.  But So Kam Lai didn’t get me out of the orphanage and I was made a ward of court, with the Director of Social Welfare Hong Kong acting as my guardian, until I was finally adopted in the UK in November 1963.

My adoption began to break down in my teens and from the age of 21 I was estranged from my whole family.  My adoptive Mother refused any contact with me and destroyed all my adoption records, including my passport, birth certificate and birth Mother’s statement and the few items I had brought with me from Hong Kong.  After years of trying to track a duplicate set of records, in February 2002, at the age of 41, I finally obtained a detailed file from Warwickshire County Council’s Fostering and Adoption Unit.  They were one of many organisations that I now know were involved in my adoption.  With more information to work with I continued the search for my birth family, writing first to Hong Kong Social Welfare and the Red Cross, only to be told via my solicitor, that neither organisation could help me.  I continued searching on and off.  But I had a young family and a career and later a messy divorce to distract me.  And then, after more distractions, some delightful and some devastating, suddenly I had reached 58.  I had two adult children and a new baby grand daughter and more time to spare.  My daughter was keen to know more of her heritage, her Grandmother’s story and I wanted also to find my story for Phoebe, my Grand daughter, the story of her great Grandmother, should she ever want to know.   

And so I restarted my search.  In earnest.  Applied to the TV show Long Lost Family twice.  Rejected once, but success on my second application.  But after a year of telling me they were ‘on my case’, out of the blue, Long Lost Family sent me an email saying they were closing my case, ending the search for my birth Mother. So I decided to give it one last shot and take matters into my own hands and try and find her myself.  “Are you mad?” was one friend’s honest but less than helpful comment, on a decision that seemed to me exactly right, and quite sensible! On November 14th 2018 I flew out to Hong Kong with a return flight booked for Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2019, allowing myself 90 days for one last attempt to find my birth family.  In January 2019, at the Hong Kong Red Cross offices, a few days before Chinese New Year, and in the year my birth Mother would have been 100, I was finally reunited with my eldest sister and saw a photograph of my birth Mother for the first time. Two days later, I visited my Mother’s grave and celebrated Chinese New Year with my five siblings and my nieces and nephews.

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This memoir, a mix of fable, childhood memories, extracts from adoption records and the blog kept during the search will tell her story. Laura Tan. Tang Yuk Lan. The adoptee who found her happy ending against all odds. Despite always feeling she was being twisted in two directions.

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PART ONE

Bring Her Home – The myth of the 100th birthday

On earth, in the UK, reaching 100 before dying is cause for big celebration.  A letter from the Queen.  A party with family and any friends who might still be alive.  And if friends and family are scarce, and you’re in a nursing home, you might have a cake and candles (rarely the full 100), balloons and a birthday banner to celebrate with your fellow residents and the staff on duty at your old folks’ home.  Perhaps a present or two, a new pair of velcro slippers or a big button amplified hearing mobile phone with an SOS button.  Oh, the joys of reaching a century, over but not out.

But what if you die before you reach 100?  What celebration might you have?  My Hong Kong legend tells how in the afterlife your 100th birthday will be marked quite differently.  Guanyin, or in Cantonese Kwun Yum, Goddess of Mercy and the Mother who forgives all, comes to find you in order to grant you ONE wish.  Anything you want can be yours for the asking.  So if you died young, sadly you have a very long wait for your heart’s desire, but for those who die at 99 and missed out on a letter from Queenie, it’s just a blink of an eye before you get your Ferrari or winning lottery ticket.  Believe me, some silly ghosts still ask for such items, forgetting of course they are useless.

For my birth Mother who died of a cereberal brain haemorrhage aged 78, it was a long 22 year wait before her yearning could be voiced and fulfilled.  On the morning of her 100th birthday Guan Yin appeared.  It was not a surprise to my Mother.  She had waited patiently and with certainty, knowing that her one wish would be fulfilled. 

Of course, before the wish can be made known there is a traditional ceremony of water offering. After walking the long path to the feet of Guan Yin, carefully carrying her water in the small uneven wooden bowl, but not spilling one drop, my Mother tipped her water into the lake of infinity and then walked in circles around the Goddess, three times.  She knelt at Guan Yin’s feet, fell prostrate and placed her forehead to the ground, rose up to face her and brought her hands to prayer position in front of her heart, repeating the action three times, before speaking.  

“Keoi faan uk kei” (CHECK CANTONESE TRANSLATION)

 “Bring her home”.  These were her three words.

Unlike the gender loving French, Cantonese language makes no distinction between he and she, or him and her, but relies on context for the accurate meaning to be understood.  So for a moment Guan Yin was confused and asked my Mother “You want me to bring your son home?”  Guan Yin knew a little of my Mother’s story, that of the nine children she had given birth to, five were still living in Hong Kong.  She had thought that my Mother might ask to see her first born son who had died in infancy when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong when my Mother was 19, or the return to life of her second child who had also died during the Japanese occupation.  Or that she might, and this might have presented more of a challenge, ask to be reunited with her twin sons that had been born prematurely and died after a few hours, when So Kam Lai was in her mid forties and well past safe childbearing age.  My Mother had risked her life to conceive and try to bear a son for Old man Li.  Mr Li had desperately wanted a male heir.  It had been Mr Li, my Mother’s second husband, who had saved her and three of her children’s lives when she had been starving and destitute and on the brink of killing herself and those children.  She had borne him a daughter, but failed to give him the heir he needed.  In the New Territories region of Hong Kong, those old patriarchal laws still prevail today.  Only a male child can inherit an estate, the house the land. No wonder so many baby girls were abandoned in those post Mao years, when refugees flooded into Hong Kong from communist China.

But Guan Yin had misunderstood my Mother’s heart’s desire.  Her hundredth birthday wish did not concern any of the nine children known to Guan Yin.  The four who had died, nor the five who were still alive in Hong Kong.  My Mother gently corrected her.  “Yuk Lan” said.  “My unknown baby daughter.  Please bring her home”

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In the beginning.  DOCUMENT A.

My birth Mother hands over custody and control of me, TANG Yuk Lan, the ‘said infant’ to the Director of Social Welfare, and gives him permission to hand over the custody and control to whomsoever he considers suitable.

Statutory Declaration made by my birth Mother LAI, So-kam, no signature, cross mark and left thumb print as she was illiterate.

Declared and signed at the Social Welfare Department, Hong Kong on 2nd May 1961 before A T R Jackson Justice of the Peace.

English document signed by Social Welfare Officer LO Shu-Wing who acted as interpreter.  

I, LO Shu-wing, do solemnly and sincerely declare that I well understand the English and Chinese languages and I have truly, distinctly and audibly interpreted the contents of this document to the declarant, LAI So-kam.

I, LAI So-Kam (Chinese characters for her name), Identity Card No. 147628, residing at an unnumbered hut inside the Melon Garden, Kam Shan Village, Tai Po, New Territories (Chinese characters for address), do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare as follows.

  1. I am a widow (my late husband WONG Kam-kee’s death certificate No. 37/58 Tai Po refers).
  2. After my husband’s death on 17.3.58, I co-habited with one WONG Tin (Chinese characters for name) whose wife was then in Mainland China.  When I was about to give birth to an infant, the wife of WONG Tin came to Hong Kong with their children and I had to stay away from him.  Owing to financial difficulties, I again cohabited with another man TANG Kam-wah (Chinese characters for name) otherwise known as TANG Tin (Chinese characters for name) on the very day of the infant’s birth.
  3. On the 20th day of October, 1960, I gave birth to a female infant TANG Yuk-Lan (Chinese characters for name) at the home of TANG Tin at hut, Hung Shui Kiu, New Territories.  The birth of the said female infant was registered at the Births & Deaths Registry on the 21st day of February 1961 (Birth Certificate No. 48 P.R. Pin Shan).  Since I had already left the natural father, WONG Tin, I put the name TANG Kam-wah in the birth certificate as the father of the said infant.  I refer to a copy of the said Birth Certificate upon which marked with a letter “A”, I have endorsed my name prior to completing this declaration.
  4. In December 1960, I was suffering from kidney disease (Nephrosis) and was sent to Pok Oi Hospital, Un Long (Chinese characters for hospital) for medical treatment.  At the same time, the said infant was recommended to enter Po Leung Kuk for temporary care by the District Officer, Un Long on 31st December, 1960.
  5. TANG Kam-wah left me after my hospitalisation and I have to take care of my four children single-handed.  Since I am really not in a position to look after the said infant, TANG Yuk-Lan, who is still in Po Leung Kuk, I have agreed to part with and have parted with the custody of the said infant to the Director of Social Welfare, Causeway Bay Magistracy Building, Hong Kong, to the intent that the Director of Social Welfare may retain the custody and control of the said infant. And that he may hand over the custody and control of the said infant to whomsoever he considers suitable and may permit the said infant to be removed from the Colony, or that when an application for an adoption order is made in respect of the said infant, this may service as my consent.
  6. I understand that the nature and effect of the handing over of the said infant to the Director of Social Welfare or of an adoption order is to deprive a parent or guardian of all parental rights in respect of the maintenance and upbringing of the said infant, and I hereby renounce forever all claims on the said infant.
  7. I have neither given nor received nor been promised any financial or other consideration to or by or on behalf of the Director of Social Welfare with relation to the handing over of the care and custody of the said infant to him.
Categories
Hong Kong

HK 108 – UK 163

So I am done with my self imposed isolation/quarantine thingy. I have fallen down a couple of black holes and re-emerged, read books I’d wanted to catch up on, been on several solitary and occasionally sunny walks, slid around and fallen into mud on the hills, cleaned and recleaned my walking boots from aforesaid mud, scared off a few people who’ve run for the same hills, tried to write, ordered my first on line curry delivery, re-engaged with Amazon Prime, hit my yoga mat and some other stuff, and will now head back to Cornwall. I will make another public transport (more complicated than I think it should be) journey. Stratford into Birmingham and out again to Cheltenham, blah blah, on Monday 9th March (unless any other unforeseen happenings disrupt my best laid plans). Will not wear mask, unless others are, do not want to attract any undue attention or racial attack of any kind. At least when I wore my mask in HK racial attack obviously never crossed my mind.

And to be honest, looking at today’s Covid news I’m left wondering if the self isolation thingy hasn’t all been wasted time. Am I now just as likely to catch Covid from a fellow (ex) European as I was from a fellow Asian? Covid can make its way from Wuhan to the UK and has reached Devon, so I’m pretty sure it can make it to St Ives. Just takes one ‘super spreader’ asymptomatic unaware person, or at the other end of the spectrum, a recklessly aware, but I’m going to anyway, tourist or anyone carrying the virus who sits on the scale between the two. Just one. Perhaps I would have been better off staying in HK. I think after SARS, and even with Carrie Lam at the helm they are more prepared and ahead of the game. Boris (“Stick with Prit” – OMG?!) and crew fill me with no confidence whatsoever. Apparently in HK, they are about to try out a new anti viral next week. Not that, if I’m really honest, I would agree to be one of those who will be part of the trial, unless I was at death’s door. I confess I am a real NIMBY or whatever the medical equivalent is.

All very confusing. But Covid food for thought. Now I’ve ranted a little, well a lot, I’m going to try and forget all about it. I’m free at last. I have spent time with little grand daughter Phoebe, who is Covid blissfully unaware and is a joy to behold with her enthusiasm for everything. My heart sings as I watch her giving her all, living totally in the now, and I love how she contaminates me with her Phoebe spirit, how when I’m with her I too become lighthearted, spontaneous and joyous. Now that’s the bug I need to catch. The Phoebe bug. And I’ve also swum for the first time in 9 weeks and picked daffodils and eaten an albeit mediocre curry that I ordered on line, and had lunch made for me by a dear friend in her long awaited and just perfect for her new home. I was going to head to London to end my self isolation. Celebrate and take a trip to China Town and meet up with some yet unmet, and also some newish Cornish Chinese relatives, as well as some fellow adoptees and hopefully surprise my daughter Lucy. But earlier this week, when I had to commit to travel plans, this seemed like it might be undoing all the good I’ve done, so I am shelving them for now. Today I wonder if I should have just gone ahead. But instead I have treated myself to a last minute ticket to see the RSC production of The Boy in the Dress.

Whether I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time, or as I used to believe, exactly where I need to be right now, remains to be seen. But whichever, I am so looking forward to seeing Cornwall again next week. Playing my sax, and reuniting with my friends and family back ‘home’. I have a big box of masks and some hand sanitiser to share, and can do a great Wuhan bump greeting, for anyone that is a little nervous about meeting up.

Categories
Hong Kong

The Scream

Once I had arrived at Evesham, there were three options for the last leg home to Stratford.  1) A train, taking 2 hours, going back into Birmingham and then out again to Stratford.  2) A 5 minute walk to town followed by a bus taking one hour to the centre of Stratford followed by a 20 minute walk or a taxi ride or 3) a 20 minute taxi ride delivering me right to my front door.

These days I don’t lug much stuff as I try to travel ninja light.  Just had my carry on luggage and a laptop bag stuffed with a few clothes.  But the retracting handle on the carry on had somehow jammed making getting on and off public transport doubly hard.  I was tired and I just wanted to be home.

So I chose option 3.  Rang the first telephone number that popped up when I googled Evesham taxi.  And a kind woman answered and told me she’d be with me in 5 minutes.  And she was.  Kind.  And she was there in 5 minutes.  And she was quite old, I’d say about 70.

I really hope she’s not reading this.

She asked me how I’d ended up in Evesham.  I told her I had come from London, true, talked about having a daughter living in London, also true, but didn’t tell her I hadn’t actually been visiting, and also omitted the bit about the flight from Hong Kong.  I wasn’t wearing a mask, for fear of freaking a taxi driver (and the few people at the station) out.  So I loaded up my luggage in the boot and got in the back seat intending to keep my mouth very tightly shut, and would have succeeded had she not wanted to talk.  I mean really talk to me, a lot.  She straight away told me how she was thinking of calling 111 or going to her local minor injuries unit.  Did I think she should?  This of course slightly confused and unnerved me so I asked Why?  She told me she was worried about some pains in her legs, concerned that she might have deep vein thrombosis.  She told me her medical history of pulmonary embolisms.  And the conversation about her diminishing health continued until it was interrupted by a loud call coming in over her hands free system.  A man asking her to pick up Kimmy from Heathrow on Friday, like she normally does.  This week Kimmy was coming in from Japan.

The taxi lady repeated back the information, and asked the man some more questions and it was clear he was a regular customer.  Had he left his glasses in her cab last time he’d been in it?  “Is Kimmy safe to be picked up?  You know because of the virus”.  The man reassured her Kimmy was, because she wasn’t from the area where it is a problem.  I guess he thought because Kimmy hasn’t come straight off the Diamond Princess she’s a safe bet.

Then the taxi driver lady says to me how she also worried as she is due to pick up some people coming in from the Phillipines later this week.  And what if they have picked up the virus.  And how you can’t be sure about it this virus, can you?  

And of course this taxi driver lady is an old lady, has underlying health issues, is vulnerable. I feel instantly sick.  

My face, if she or I could have seen it, must have been a picture.  I imagine like Edward Munch’s The Scream face.  

All I wanted was to have a lift home from Evesham.  Should I have told her before?  Come clean?  Would I have been worrying her unnecessarily?

Should I have continued home by public transport?   Should I have worn my mask?  Been totally honest up front?

So today I am feeling guilty and slightly defeated.  Please God, when will the corona virus conundrum end?  Soon, soon, I hope.

Categories
Hong Kong

No thank you

1.30 am and I have the post midnight munchies and am in the wide awake club. Eating hummus on toast. Trying to work out what exactly is stopping me writing the book everyone keeps telling me I should write.

Distractedly check phone. Longing for a sense of connection as I sit alone in the early hours in Stratford. Martin returns home from Cuba late tonight and is on a bus journey back to Havana I’m guessing.

Trip Advisor email pops up. I’m guessing they are not following my blog.

I think I will pass on this thanks
I clicked on No

I scribble for half an hour. I think the problem is I have far too much to write about. where to even begin?

Whose story? My birth mother’s? Mine? My adoptive Mother’s?
So many stories
Categories
Hong Kong

HK -v- UK. Health and Transport

All the HK ers are dutifully wearing their masks. I know this because I’ve just spent the past 12 hours seated between 2 older than me men. Both wearing their masks, only removing to eat and drink. And thankfully keeping them on each time they coughed. And cough they did. I would have asked to be moved, fearful of being the middle of a potential COVID sandwich but the flight was packed. Not a spare seat to be had.

All the non Asian faces were maskless. And some also coughed, happy to share everything with all us. No temperature checks after we disembarked and just a leaflet from Public Health England saying to call NHS111 if we had any symptoms. Staying indoors is not compulsory unless you’ve been to Wuhan or Hubei within the last 14 days. Of course I haven’t and I jolly well hope my two flight buddies had not either, or been sharing hot pot with anyone who had. All so hit and miss and unreassuringly random. But atm my plan is still to self quarantine to be absolutely sure.

The airport express in HK is super efficient and great value for money. The Heathrow express is not. But I want to get home ASAP now and so I stump up my £25, for my pound a minute journey to Paddington, where I plan to catch the Bakerloo line to Marylebone to get back home. London to Stratford upon Avon, via Birmingham. All a bit long winded but it’s the best great British transport can offer me.

Only today the Bakerloo line isn’t stopping.

You’ve got to be kidding

I’m told I can go back up and catch a bus. At this point I want to cry. At this rate I could fly back to HK in the time it takes me to get from London to home.

So I scan the departure boards, take a punt and jump on a train to Evesham. Evesham is a 20 minute drive from home. But guess what?If I go by train it will take me 2 hours.

I’d say that’s 2-0 to HK then.

But I know I will be home today and cannot wait for my final destination.