To those readers who are actually following my foray down under, my apologies for such a long absence. It was due to two brief trips and the annual necessity of getting our tax information together. The first journey was to the strange and surreal city of Hong Kong. We had the good fortune to reside there for a little over three years, before, during and after the Handover.

This trip back gave me a chance to deal with a family matter, renew some relationships and catch up on half-a-dozen movies that I missed during the last year. Thank God for airline entertainment. Deja Vu, in case you missed it, stars Denzel Washington in a tense, action-jammed, sci fi thriller. I couldn’t really make sense of it at 3:30 in the morning, but it was eminently watchable.

Hong Kong is a city that demonstrates its impermanence daily. Shortly after we moved there, one of the landmark hotels in the center of the city was torn down to make way for an office building. It had just undergone a million dollar upgrade to its lobby and rooms. One of the constants during our stay was the Star Ferry terminal in Central. It seemed iconic, as “present” and permanent as the Colonial buildings, even though it was built after the War. It was a wooden, ramshackle building at water’s edge, holding its own against the onslaught of skyscrapers. This year it disappeared, moved and morphed to make way for a highway.

A stone’s throw from the new ferry terminal is the newest, most fashionable mall in Hong Kong– the International Finance Centre. If I had been in the the market for a Gucci handbag or a huge, high definition TV, it would have been high on my list. The mall and buildings are spectacular. Plug it into Google, load up Quicktime and you can will get views from the 71’st floor of either of the two buildings.

In Chinese, you don’t ask someone how they are. You ask them if they have eaten yet. To people who have lived through famines, this makes eminent sense. You can’t possibly be fine if you haven’t eaten. The American Peking restaurant in Wanchai looked exactly the same as when we last went there. “Friends always complain about the service and the food, ” said Neil, “but they just don’t get it. This is the place we came before we had a pot to piss in…. It’s not about the food or the atmosphere. It’s about bringing that old spirit back to life.”

It was wonderful to catch up with Bea and Neil, a Canadian/British couple who have returned to Hong Kong after building a boat and actually launching their dream of motoring around the globe by sea. A decision to adopt brought them back to Hong Kong. They are now the proud parents of a baby girl.

How Man treated us to a dim sum lunch on the floating restaurant in Aberdeen. Actually, it was the floating restaurant’s baby sister. The big one is undergoing renovations. I met How Man by getting lost, stumbling into his village while I was in training for an ill-advised 100 km charity event. He is a highly energetic explorer/environmentalist, president of the China Research and Exploration Society. I was lucky to find him at his home base. There will be more about this meeting later.

John and Perveen Crawford entertained us at their home in Hong Kong the day before a trip to Vancouver. It was a delightful evening. There were six of us, and we covered a lot of conversational ground. I couldn’t help bring up the one subject that made headlines in Hong Kong. Perveen, who earned her pilot’s stripes while we were living there, has signed to become the first Hong Kong astronaut in Richard Branson’s craft.

I once interviewed a doctor for a drug survey and then asked him for a “prescription” for lunch. Where else could such things happen? Only in Hong Kong.