The Last Day of the Year

Friday, December 31. 2004
The last day of the year is upon me. When I reflect on this year, I think Id give it about 8.5 out of 10. It has certainly been exciting, and Ive done some new things, seen a lot of new places, reached some new heights and found some new lows.

Im pretty disappointed that my Chinese hasnt improved much. Im putting in plans to rectify this, but I can see it will be a slow progress.

Im pretty pissed off about my ongoing visa problems. The current situation is far from ideal, but I guess it will see me through the rest of my time here.

Ive basically hidden myself from everything thats happened in the world. For those of you who dont know, Im a journalism graduate. Ive somehow switched off my desire to keep track of the news. Its a policy of ignorance is bliss. I think I would be too depressed and too angry if I had followed the elections, watched people getting swept of the face of the earth and so on. Its nice to just pretend it all doesnt exist. I really think my views on this year would be a lot less positive and far more scathing if Id kept myself informed.

In my usual style, I have only the vaguest notions of what will be happening tonight. Im going to Chinese class (Mein godt! New Years Eve on a Friday night and Im going to class!), then after that Im meeting Vito from work, and were going to some party together. Im not really sure what the party be like, or even where it is. Vito has told me its the party of a very attractive friend of his. This seems to form a large part of our reason for going.

Helen was telling me that New Years never works out for her. I feel that New Years almost always works out for me. I rarely have plans, and it always seems to be a surprise. A good surprise. Last time saw Dial and me sitting in the gutter of one of the sleazier entertainment district in my hometown, smoking cigars. It felt fitting in some strange way. I guess Id spent a lot of time playing pool and drinking and singing karaoke in the months leading up to that, as well as planning our video. The hours until daylight that morning were also fittingly grubby.

This year, who knows? In a little under eight hours I will have a new year to strangle and squeeze the life from, and I cant wait. Cant wait to get my teeth into it.

So, wherever you are and whomever youre with, I hope you make the best of it, and I offer my best wishes for the coming year.

the j

So much to tell you

Friday, December 31. 2004

(written 13 December 2004)

For the time being, its all behind me, or all ahead of me, depending on your perspective. At any rate, today was long but I can relax now. Ive been running around like a madman, but I got the stuff done. I enrolled in the Chinese Language Development Associations school, I got (most) of my shit together for my student visa campaign in Hong Kong, I took the big bike. Now Im several tens of thousands of feet over the ocean between Hong Kong and Taiwan. I think the captains telling us were about to land.


Honkers man. This is it. Im on the train from the airport, and as I speed by the residential areas of Lantau Island, there are about a million wireless networks. If only I was near one of the long enough to jack in. The train is well lit, which means I cant really see much outside.

Ive kinda screwed up. I took a chance, and didnt make a hotel booking. Or a hostel booking. Im now heading towards Kowloon, in the hope that the YMCA has a vacancy and isnt flea-infested and going to charge me through the roof.

HK airport is pretty huge, and looks super new. Must be worth a dick-load of dollars. The train fare was more than I expected too. I guess Ive been spoiled in Taiwan. Everything there is so damn cheap. God knows how Ill ever go back to Japan.

I hope this works out. Between looking at the info I downloaded before I left and the maps I picked up at the airport, Im seriously worried. I had planned to stay on Lantau, because there was two Youth Hostels there, but I realised Ive got bugger all in the way of maps. All the maps cover Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, because thats where you go to spend serious money on hotels and shopping.

Im not sure any of this feels real. The train is too clean, too bright, too many fancy fucking tft screens in the back of the headrests and blue LEDs showing you how far you are from the next station.

Ten past nine. I hope the YMCA is what Im after. Ive only ever stayed at a hostel once before. That was in Nagoya, and I damn near didnt get there before they shut. I wouldve been dead. It was fucking cold that night.

Being so sick, you can imagine Im a little apprehensive.

Whoa! Were just going over the water this is what big cities are about. Bright lights, literally. The British mustve been pissed to have to give this to the communists.

What do you call gold-watch wearing, gold-bangle wearing, hairy over-40 white guys in Hong Kong? This isnt a joke. I wish we had a word in English that was suitably specific. Old wanker is just too general.

A White Christmas

Monday, December 27. 2004

And Chinese herbal medicine

A good weekend, but for once Im not sure I feel like telling everyone about it. I will say that I had a really good Christmas dinner with at Helens place, and that my evening spent charitably helping out behind the bar at Bob Wun Daye was really enjoyable and even resulted in an invitation to come back. (They also wanted to cancel the massive tab Ive accumulated there.)

Sunday I hung out at Helens place eating Christmas leftovers and watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spiritless Mind (Pretty damn good movie. More power to Canadians) and then Don, Vito and I went out for Yumcha. Learn what it is, Alex, because its good stuff. Vito ordered, which at first I regretted but I was happy in the end because he chose food that I never normally would and I got to try some things that the Taiwanese favour.

Sunday night and back at Bobs. I shouldve bought a stake in that damn bar.

Don gave me some Chinese medicine for my cough. Theres some nasty-looking, viscous dark fluid in a jar and some packets of what looks like soup mix. I tried the soup mix just a minute ago. It tastes pretty good; its basically almond-meal so it smells like marzipan. You add the hot water and it makes this goopy, faintly sweet sludge. Ill let you know if it works on the cough.


Theres a white Christmas, happening right in my kitchen. I cant believe theres any paint left of the ceiling, but it just keeps on coming. Peeling, falling away in beautiful and unique snowflakes. No two are the same. They cover everything. You can't leave a plate or cup on the bench too long or you will end up ingesting paint. Its kept me out of the damn kitchen since October.

Yes, thats right, October. Ive let this go since October. I did try to scrape it all off a while back, but theres just too much. Ive got to call my landlord and get him to sort it. Its just out of control.

Im dreaming@

Thats just a metaphor

Thursday, December 23. 2004

My god, how time gets away from you. I dont really have an excuse though. Its the end of the year but I have no presents to buy, no travel plans to make. Nothing to do.
Well actually I do have an excuse. Since Ive been back from Hong Kong, Ive had to go to class every night, till nine. I enjoy it, but man its killing me. I really dont have time for anything but work and school.

So a couple of things: Obviously the trip to Hong Kong was successful. I now have a visa that can keep me here long enough. It doesnt get me resident status, so I still cant get a phone line installed, internet access etc but Im pretty happy with it. Its the first win Ive had in a while. And what a win it was.

Hong Kong was fantastic. Im dying to go back. So much so Ive suggested to the Cat that maybe the Dragon could HK for real, maybe sometime next year.

My weekend was huge I wasnt even trying. I ended up in karaoke at seven on Sunday morning. You know its been a big weekend when you see sun up from your karaoke box.

Work is pretty dull at the moment. Victor has decided to take away our access to MSN, which really sucks.

I wont deny that my use of MSN reduced productivity. Of course it helped in interoffice communications, but I primarily used it to waste time. Im going to quote Alex's diary here (and I did a word count and its less than 10% so it doesnt violate any copyright laws, Alex).

We were also greeted this morning with a memo from Victor (company boss and son of owner) who claims that he will cut the salary of anyone found using MSN Messenger by 10%. If the prick just asked me to remove the software I'd do it, but the threat has pissed me off. Nasty weasley [sic] little man. He wouldn't last 10 minutes in business if his father hadn't given him a company to run.

I couldnt really put it better. What bugs me is that if they used MSN upstairs, I wouldnt have a million stupid emails in my inbox. Dickheads.

Im getting pissed off so Ill leave this with another threat. This time, I really dont think Ill be able to keep posting regularly. Ill do my best but no promises.