This will be a diary of Christmas Day here in Hong Kong. My first christmas out of the UK.
11.50 am – Last night christmas started late evening with a couple of bottles of Banrock Station. I went to bed at about 2 am and H stayed chatting to friends in the UK until 5 am!! Today therefore started late in fact we are both just getting sorted. Plan was to have breakfast out and enjoy the unusual experience of shops being open on Christmas Day here in HK. Decided to have a light breakfast first and will venture out for a while and have a coffee. It still does not quite feel like christmas here – the weather is too nice and no travelling up and down the country to rendezvous with family or to start the slog (enjoyable though it can be) of preparing christmas dinner. This year H and I are prepared ‘tapas’ a selection of 8 dishes which we will enjoy later on today. So it’s just a relaxing time ahead.
12.50 – Went to Festival Walk, though a little quieter than a normal day, there were plenty of people milling about and shopping. All the shops, restaurants etc seemed open and doing good business. We went into the supermarket which was fully operational and we got bread and water (a simple diet!!). We retired to Pacific Coffee to enjoy a latte and a croissant and watch people going about their business. Nothing really suggested christmas which was a little strange. We sat for a while then made our way back to the apartment. A pic in front of the Festival Walk tree is attached.
1.10 pm – H was still tired from her all night chatting so decided to kip for a while leaving me to blog and to read. I have just started War Trash by Ha Jin – winner of the 1005 Pen/Faulkner Award, whatever that is. It’s about a young chinese guy at the start of communism in China going to the Korean War. I will do a review when I’ve finished it. Today will be peaceful and quiet – no chance of any callers I don’t think. HKongers don’t seem to call on a normal day so unlikely today. I think one’s private space is well protected and I haven’t had a single caller to the apartment in 2 months, though everyone is friendly and helpful when I see them. Getting used to the culture of the place as a normal resident remains difficult. The lack of Cantonese probably cuts me off from a large segment of day-to-day communication but even without the langauge there is a reserve about HKongers which makes developing friendships difficult. I think people are friendly and always willing to help and support you but this stops short of more personal communications. I have developed good working relationships with people but it rarely goes over into more personal spaces. H has observed this too and commented to me how difficult it is to make real friendships here as quickly and as easily as she does when on her numerous travel trips. So I suspect this christmas will be both a quiet one, just H and I, and one without interruptions maybe until the UK wakes later so virtual communication will come to the fore. This is my first Facebook Christmas as most of the contact with the outside world will be through there or other social networking.
3 pm – Need garlic so quick trip down to the Mall. Wow, so busy. usually by this time in UK, people are making their way back from the pub, wondering if the turkey has over-cooked or whether whoever has been left in charge has had too much of the wine you opened before you left. The streets are emptying and people are sitting down to either a sumptuous feast or the charred and over cooked remains of a good idea. Here they are all in the Mall. The shops were so so busy with everyone out and about. You may wonder why I needed garlic – well our tapas could be re-titled a feats of christmas garlic here are the 8 dishes:
- spicy prawns in chilli and garlic
- chicken adobo (with lashes of garlic)
- chorizo in red wine (and garlic)
- nachos with chilli con carne, guacamole and sour cream
- garlic mushrooms
- duck pate in port (no garlic!!)
- rocket, mango, parma ham. mozzarella and pine nut salad a la jamie oliver (sadly no garlic)
- ciabatta garlic bread
4.45 pm – tension is mounting in the kitchen. I have been banned whilst H cooks her dishes. Its all coming to a head very soon and then we can feast our Hong Kong Christmas (Garlic) Tapas. Finished!!
6.25 pm – Its all over. Full and lots of food left. But what a fabulous meal. Highlight for me was the nachos, chilli, guacamole and sour cream – sumptuous. It was a lovely meal with lots of choice, far too much to eat but a very good table. A truly christmas feast. Now just a load of banrock station and then some port to enjoy as the evening unfolds. We opened our presents – 5 each on a 250 HKD budget which was good. Feeling like Xmas now. My favourite pressie was a teapot which I shall do some korean green tea in later. H liked her new silk kimono. So now to relax, maybe watch a film, drink more wine and port and then a good nights sleep before the cricket tomorrow.
7.35 pm – UK is waking up and my Facebook christmas begins in earnest. Its s slightly strange phenomenon to make contact, albeit, fleetingly, with ,lots of people around the world. Just to say hello, nothing too deep, but it is a simple form of communication which has been a new feature of christmas and links me however peripherally to the UK. Still full from dinner but slowly sipping red wine and waiting for a film to come on TV. Happy just to be!!
Postscript: Well did not get back to blog last night. Got stuck into a film portraying the change of Hong Kong from colonial rule in 1997 by way of an analogy with a relationship. The deeper political meaning seemed a little forced but viewing Hong Kong in 1997 was interesting. So the red wine and then the port took its toll and I ended the evening just after midnight after a quietish but goos christmas day.