Back in the UK, the situation changes on a daily basis. I read a woman with corona virus caught an uber to Lewisham A&E. That in a separate but equally bizarre incident, an infected doctor did two shifts in an A&E in Brighton. Who would have thought to worry about being out and about in either place a week ago?
Just goes to show, life is a risky business however prepared and protected we think we are. Here, even if I stay at home 24/7 I am not guaranteed 100% safety. Numerous builders have been visiting to quote on an extension, Mr Leung catches the minibus to the outdoor market every day, and neighbours, who nobody knows where they’ve been or who they’ve seen pop in and out. One close neighbour has been ill and hospitalized overnight. Not for Wuhan virus, but hospitals are maybe not the best places to be right now.
Set against all of this, last night Mr Leung, if I have understood correctly, told me that in future he would rather I did not spend any time with my family and/or Winnie. This of course I sort of understand and I am also very grateful for all my host family’s kindness, but with all the recent comings and goings I am not eager to agree to what effectively might be 4 weeks of a weird sort of quarantine . And then this morning I hear that the builders arrive to begin work Tuesday and it will be very noisy and dusty between 8am-6pm. An interesting conversation follows.
Of course practically everyone, including me, has an opinion on the virus. And, as the situation changes on a daily basis, both locally and internationally, the response to any given situation seems also to change. Here, as UK citizens were, and still are, over Brexit, people are very divided and vocal. Three key themes pop up continously. Carrie Lam, the Chinese and the virus. Many a heated debate. Some from behind masks, others barefaced, brazening it out. I sit at meal times with a mixture of amusement and horror, watching as someone who believes everyone should be forced to wear a mask, repeatedly uses his personal chopsticks, to help himself from a shared dish…
On and on and on. So many opinions. Where one should or should not go, whether it’s safe to meet and eat in or out with friends and family. Whether it’s worth shelling out £35 on a box of 50 flimsy masks that were made in China (for the record I did, mainly to be seen to be doing the right thing by my hosts rather than believing they really do offer protection now I’ve done more research).
My head is a mush with it all and my phone is clogged with all the updates on the situation being sent to me.
I need to get away for a day. Come back to my own rhythms and thinking, even if only for 24 hours. And be alone to figure it all out. So just for the moment I’ve come into the city. I have had, what I hope is a solution focussed conversation with the Leungs, and told them I would like if at all possible to continue to see my family and friends, and will move out if needs be. It seems we are all concerned for each other’s safety but have different ways of assessing risk. I stick to an arrangement to meet up with my big brother, his wife Willa and Winnie. Great to be with my big brother, as I haven’t seen much of him so far this trip and mostly I feel very comforted and calm in his presence. He is always eager and happy to tell me stories about life with my Mother, but talking about who might be my Father is a definite no go area of discussion.
Later, I head to the far end of HK Island where I can be alone. Just me watching all my own thoughts coming and going. I know I can figure stuff out given time and space.
I pass the temperature check in the empty foyer of the Travelodge, clutching my box of masks that cost more than the room and 500ml of hand gel that is quadruple the cost back home.
The sight of a king size white empty bed and four plump pillows and a big soft duvet, in a huge by HK standards, room, has me smiling with relief and joy.
With much love on Valentine’s day, this day a year ago, I flew from HK, home to the UK, after finding my birth family. HK has a very vibe right now.
catch up very soon x
came across this article about taking the day of from blogging that suggested that instead of blogging I could have a day off and
Tell your readers a bit about you or your life. It will make you seem more approachable and likable. Wow, this person is human!
Take the day off. It can be good for you and your blog!
so maybe I havent been blogging at all, just having a lot of days off.
It is another grey day today, but nothing like the weather you’re battling back home. But drizzly and grey is not enough to deter Mr and Mrs Leungs’ morning hike up the mountain. I haven’t got to the bottom of their reasoning for this sudden surge in exercise but believe it to be something to do with the idea that being up in the mountains is good for maintaining immunity in times of the Plague, Asian flu, SARS, MERS, Coronavirus, Bird Flu etc. Sceptically I think you’d have to actually reside at the top of the mountain whilst the plague got sorted. Ah, but wait, perhaps we could reinhabit that uninhabited village and this is the Leungs’ secret plan and they haven’t let me in on it yet. Maybe every day they are secreting essentials up to the mountain Great Escape style?
Back to reality, the mundane, and thoughts of food, which if you’re a regular reader, will know consumes many of my waking hours. The bread I made yesterday was such a success that a whole loaf has disappeared (gone up the mountain?) by the time I make it to the kitchen at 08.30am to make some breakfast and glimpse my hosts backs as they head off. Left alone I have a sudden craving for a Western style meal. Often we eat a very typical Asian breakfast together. Rice, rice, or rice. Today I’ll have a change. Scrambled eggs on toast and coffee, that will be perfect. So I eagerly get to work to make it and find a plate and a knife and fork. Even I won’t attempt eating egg on toast with chopsticks out of a rice bowl. Success, a small plastic picnic plate and cutlery lurking at the depths of a drawer. The coffee will be instant, no Nespresso machines or percolators or cafetieres reside here.
Remember how my adoptive Mother wrote that she could not find one thing I would not eat when I first came to the UK? Ironically, scrambled eggs bucked this lovely trend and went on to cause many a row, and snotty tear shedding (by me), in those days of “you’ll sit there until you eat everything you’ve been given”. One morning, aged about 4, I was found wandering the streets near my home, after my Mother locked me in the house and left me with the cold and grey scrambled egg so she could take my siblings to school. Apparently I dragged a chair to the front door to climb up to escape, and was found wandering by a kind person who fed me chocolate biscuits and orange squash until my (behind the scenes very angry) Mother later collected me. I quickly caught on that getting lost as a cuteish, and rare in those days, Chinese toddler, often resulted in good treats that I could devour before the behind the scenes slap that usually followed. Apparently I detatched myself from my family at every opportunity to get ‘lost’ and be rewarded with comforting cuddles, chocolate and squash.
But scrambled egg karma has caught up with me today. My breakfast looks great but is inedible. The grilling of the bread has somehow turned it into small concrete slabs that I cannot cut or break with my knife or my teeth let alone chew. The egg congeals whilst I try. **** **** ****. It takes me a while to restore myself to that place of calm and tranquility that felt so right at the monastey the other day. And, as if to add insult to injury I’m left with a pile of washing up. Scrambled egg on concrete for one generates as much mess as making it for twenty. Perhaps I should force myself to sit here and suck it up, for I doubt there’s any chocolate biscuit and orange squash rewards waiting out there for an old(ish) Chinese woman wandering the streets of Hong Kong.
and other random thinking, in no particular order
1. The press are having a field day. The UK ‘superspreader’ seems to have picked up the virus in Singapore and super spreaded it in a chalet in France. If he’s a superspreader has he super spread the virus to hundreds on his journey? It would seem not, as Easy Jet, although they are keen to trace those who sat nearby on his flight, say there is little or no risk to his fellow passengers. Superspreader, but only intermittently. Or, is it more likely this is another example of super journalistic headlining and that he might have simply have had an intimate but unfortunate double dipping fondue with his family and friends. In the same way that multiple cases here in Hong Kong have been attributed to a family sharing hotpot (knew I was right to be wary of this dish, not just the goose’s intestines). The high contamination rate being due most likely to a large number of people sharing an intimate supper, with everyone in very close proximity, possibly double dipping into the same pot. Not because one person is a superspreader.
2. I’m trying not to think too hard about the 100 people evacuated from the housing estate in HK, where faulty soil pipe plumbing, leaking contaminated air into the air extraction system might be the link between two cases, where the residents had no near physical contact. This adds a new level of risk to a bigger outbreak within the Hong Kong community. Definitely a case of the **** hitting the fan.
Forgive me. It’s a little hard not to try and figure Corona Virus stuff out, when you’re suck right in the middle of it all.
3. Other random thoughts include, one size does not fit all. How I wish I had bought some loose tights rather than tight tights. I bought a pair of black footless ones to wear under my denim cut offs as it’s gone a bit chilly here, but they were more lower leggless than footless, coming just below the knee and so tight I could hardly breathe. Who on earth were they made for, a 7 year old?
4. Why is there no decent bread available here unless you are willing to spend 6 quid (can’t find pound sign on keyboard) on a french stick? In desperation, I made 2 small cake loaves which Mrs Leung loved, spread thickly with lashings of butter. They might look a little weird but they tasted delicious. Spent a fun half hour playing with our neighbour’s son whilst they baked in the oven. I wonder how it feels to have no school. 2 months of ‘snow days’ for the children, and many of their parents.
5. Final thoughts about flights. Martin set off to ‘no internet Cuba’ on Sunday, just before Ciara hit the UK and flights were cancelled. I haven’t heard he didn’t take off, so presuming no news to be good news. My own flight out of HK mid March is still on the cards. According to latest reports BA, unlike other airlines, are still flying in and out of HK. So fingers crossed, after my 14 days self quarantining (not yet worked out how or where) I will be home to frighten the good people of St Ives by the end of March. I have never experienced any racism as a child or adult and hope that my good luck continues despite unhelpful headlines using discriminating language and the colour yellow? And of course let’s all pray I’m not, or don’t sit next to a super spreader on my journey home.
Super spreader info
all 76 metres of you. Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, a Mother protecting her children, nurturing Mother offering tenderness and kindness. There you are, presiding over Tsz Shan Monastery, just half an hour from what is my Hong Kong home for now.
Today I spent the day, mostly in silence here, at Tsz Shan Monastery. It’s described as ‘a sanctuary for the purpose of spiritual purification, that endeavours to open the door to compassion and wisdom for the public through various activities’.
I am not sure quite what doors were opened for me today, but I am left quite emotional and struggling for words to describe how much the day has Impacted. The photographs cannot begin to show the beauty of the monastery, set in the hillside, nor convey the serenity, calm and generosity of the space. Tomorrow, maybe I will revisit this post.
remember ho sic? Cantonese for delicious.
I confess I’ve been playing around on my new, but challenging (for an iphone die hard),Samsung Galaxy note 10, that I bought cheap from a seemingly UK website. But quite bizarrely, and with a 2 week nailbiting, ‘have I been scammed?’ wait, it finally arrived. It came via UPS world shipping, sent to me all the way from, yes, you guessed, Hong Kong. Just in time for me to bring it back out with me.
I am loving being able to write at any time with the pen, without having to even turn the phone on, which is why I have switched from iphone and why I have to play about a bit to work out a different operating system and discover all the whistles and bells. Today, despite my creation saying 12th Jan, I’ve discovered a simple video making feature.
I am half way through my 8 week stay now. If my flight doesn’t get cancelled and HK doesn’t go into a lock down. Food has played a starring role this holiday, (well food is always is a key part of any holiday actually). Choosing, shopping, cooking, chopping. Learning history, language and culture through food. Eating in and eating out. Alone, with family and friends and sometimes absolute strangers. So I thought I’d try and make a foodie video to capture a few of those ‘ho sic’, and ‘mm hoc sic’ (not delicious) moments.
Last year when my big sister held my hand and took me to catch the mini bus to my little sister’s home to celebrate Chinese New Year, it felt like I was journeying into a village wilderness. Such a stark contest to my accommodation in the bright lights of Tsim Sha Tsui. I would never have believed that one year later I would be riding my very own bicycle there, all alone.
But here I am, just returned from taking some Time Out to do this.