Blessed to be a witness

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Saturday, February 12

Ha ha ha, in your face hotel

This blog thing's great: yesterday I checked the blog of Declan, a guy I used to work with in Dublin, who has been travelling for the past 11 months, to discover that he was in Hong Kong too. Sent him an email and at around 7 in the evening he called. Alas he was leaving that evening, but had a couple of hours spare. We hooked up with him at the massive new International Financial Centre, where the Airport Express leaves, and we went up part of the world's longest escalator to Lan Kwai Fong, the party district, for a few beers. Great to see him; he was looking fit and really relaxed, with a host of eye-opening stories to tell. I hope we're in a similar state of health on our return.

Whether it was the beers without having eaten dinner, or the dodgy Caesar salad I had for lunch yesterday in Causeway Bay where we bought a digital camera (pictures soon once we have a laptop), but today I really didn't feel right. Slept until noon, then had a badly made baguette in Delifrance. Went to see if we could buy the second-hand laptop for only HK$3,300 that I saw in the window of one of the shops in 'Star Computer City' by the Star Ferry, but it was still closed for the New Year.

Then I felt too crap to continue - sick and dizzy - so came back to the hotel for a while, after having bought a bottle of 'Pocari Sweat', which was originally Japan's protectionist answer to Coke, except it's still, full of electrolytes and salts, and based on lactose. It's surprisingly drinkable. I couldn't find any rehydration salts, but instead I got a sachet of 'ENO cooling fruit salt', which apparently relieves 'heatiness'.

Eventually M was hungry, so we went for a couple of tapas and I felt a little better, but still came back here again and slept for an hour and a half. I feel fine now and not a little hungry.

Anyway, as mentioned we needed to do laundry. We may have got a good rate for the hotel, but the services here are exorbitant. Laundry rates begin at HK$52 for a single T-shirt, and HK$70 for a pair of trousers. So we went instead to sweaty, smelly Chunking Mansions over the street, and one of the many Indian touts was in my face, as they are in this warren of dingy little shops. "Do you want a room? Want a room?" he asked as he shoved a leaflet in my face. "No, but I need a laundry," I snapped at him, frustrated and unwell. His demeanour changed from aggressive salesman to helpful young bloke, and he navigated me through the complex to a laundry, not looking for a reward at all - just being good natured. What a nice chap.

The charming, elderly Mrs Wong at 'Purity Laundry' washed and dried our entire bag of laundry in three hours, absolutely perfectly, for HK$30 - the same price as one pair of pants in the hotel.

Not only that, we took a couple of drinks from the minibar, because the fools have stocked it with stuff you can buy for 1/5 of the price at the 7-11, so we replaced it without them knowing.

Finally, I have found out how to reset their crappy computer. So, ha ha ha. Three blows for freedom by the little man. Or something.

Off to watch the Ireland rugby game now, which starts at midnight. We can choose between Murphy's and Delaney's, both within 50 metres of here.

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