Category Archives: Asia

A Missing Suitcase and a Burglary

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There used to be a time when missing luggage was a regular occurrence and I always thanked my lucky stars if all our bags were on the carrousel. If something was missing, however, it always eventually turned up, creating inconvenience in the meantime, but no actual loss.  For the last few years, we have had no mishaps. So when only one of our two suitcases appeared during our stopover in Hong Kong, I was not unduly concerned. Relationnel was more worried than I was.

Carrousel at Hong Kong Airport

And he was right! Three weeks later, Cathay Pacific has still not found the second suitcase, despite my insistence. We have to fill out a claim form giving a complete list of everything in it, including purchase dates, prices and receipts. I’m having a hard time remembering exactly what was in it, let alone producing proof of purchase! Who seriously keeps dockets for everything they buy? I certainly don’t.

When I packed our cases on leaving Terranora, I put everything I was certain we wouldn’t need in Brisbane or Hong Kong in one bag and the rest in the second. So all our presents, everything we bought to take back to France, our winter clothes and some of our summer clothes have been lost. Frustrating to say the least and there is little chance we’ll be reimbursed much of the 3000 euro  I’ve estimated the contents to be worth.

So our homecoming was somewhat marred.

But it was not as bad as Black Cat’s. When she and the Flying Dutchman arrived back from Australia a week later than us, also via Hong Kong, she phoned from the airport to reassure me that they had retrieved all their luggage despite the fact that they had registered at Central Station.

Three hours later, she phoned again. They had gone back to Black Cat’s flat share in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, left all their baggage, including her laptop and camera with all her photos of Australia, and gone out for a couple of hours. When they got back, the place had been ransacked. The laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronic devices belonging to 5 people were gone, as well as all Black Cat’s jewellery, which she had carefully wrapped up in a vanity case at the top of her wardrobe, not realising it an obvious place for a burglar to search. Their combined losses are estimated at 20,000 euro.

The police eventually came and confirmed that the burglar had got through a small toilet window overlooking a 3-story drop, by jumping across from a landing window. They’re getting the landlord to install bars and put a better lock on their door. One of Black Cat’s flat mates has approximately located his stolen MacBook by using a built-in tracking system but the police say they can’t do anything about it until they have the computer’s IP address. We’re waiting to see what happens next.

Prey, an anti-theft tracking device for electronic devices

Andrea from told me about a (free) App called Prey “that is basically a bit of software which doesn’t do anything until you activate it through their site and then it tracks the location of thieves”. I immediately installed it on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. To find out your IP, go to and make a note of it. I hope you’ll never have to use the tracking system but considering the number of thefts these days, it’s certainly worth downloading! Maybe I could have retrieved my stolen iPhone last year …

Cheung Chau – another outlying island in Hong Kong

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You may remember that during our stopover in Hong Kong 5 weeks ago, I shunned shopping to follow a sign saying “To the outlying islands” and we had a most enjoyable afternoon and evening visiting Lamma Island. So on the way back, we didn’t hesitate to repeat the experience. Relationnel studied the possibilities and suggested Cheung Chau.

View from our hotel at breakfast

Cheung Chau which means “Long Island” is a little island about 10 K southwest of Hong Kong Island. The ferry (fast or normal) leaves every half hour from Pier 5 at Central and takes 30 to 45 minutes. As we were staying at Kowloon this time, we took the Star Ferry to Central. The payment system is easy once you get the hang of it. You need 3.40 HK dollars (34 Eurocents) in coins that you put directly into the turnstile or you get a token from the machine. At Cental, you can buy the tickets to Cheung Chau directly from the ticket window (12.50 for the normal ferry and 25 for the fast ferry).

Star Ferry turnstiles showing token and exact adult fare lines

Our boat was full of teenagers all sporting the same T-shirt in various colours and obviously on some sort of excursion. There were also people dressed in white makeshift tunics. I got a bit closer to take a photo but it looked like a private affair so I exercised discretion and returned to my seat. One of the men later came up to us and explained in broken English that someone’s mother had died and they were throwing paper money into the sea to appease the ghosts.

Funeral party on the boat to Cheung Chau

The approach to Cheung Cheu is very different from that of Lamma. It is more populated and there is a much bigger Chinese tourist trade. We saw very few Europeans. Like Lamma there are no cars but many bikes including the type they called Rosalie in French with a second seat behind, a bit like a rickshaw. It also has many fishing boats.

Fishing port at Cheung Chau

The first attraction is Seafood Street where you can eat for less than 80 HK dollars a head. There‘s always a pitcher of luke warm green tea on the table. The food was surprisingly good in the two restaurants where we ate. There seemed to be no set eating hours, athough the tables were fuller around seven.

Pak Tai Temple

After lunch, we visited  the Pak Tai Temple, one of the oldest in Hong Kong, with its intricate porcelain figures. Our itinerary took us through quiet little back streets with little shops and eating places that reminded me of when I first went to Hong Kong more than 30 years ago.

Cheung Chau Beach

We crossed the island and suddenly come out onto a long white sandy beach. It seems that during the weekend it’s chock-a-block. There were life savers in little lookouts and changing rooms with showers, which we’d also seen on Lamma Island. As we went back towards the centre, we came across lots of street vendors selling various types of sweets on sticks.

Sunset at Cheung Chau

We visited a second temple, also decorated with porcelain figures, before walking in the opposite direction from the pier to a third temple. This was more like our hike in Lamma, but the distance was not so great. By then, lots of young people were out riding their bikes and quite a few older people were doing calisthenics. It was very peaceful and village-like.

Fishing boats at sunset

The walk to the temple as the sun was setting was most enjoyable, past fishing boats and lush vegetation. At the temple, there wasn’t a soul in site. We then went to the cave which, according to legend, was once a pirate’s hideaway. I didn’t like the look of the last part of the track so we turned back.

Indoor market on Cheung Chau with thawing chicken and pork

We came across a huge indoor market which was still going strong. I was a bit dubious about the cases of chicken and pork which had obviously been left to thaw. No sign of ice or refrigeration of any kind. We chose fresh seafood for dinner – it seemed a bit safer!

Hong Kong at night from the ferry

We took the fast ferry back and once again, were enchanted by the lights on Hong Kong’s skyscrapers.  I think that we’re probably seen all Hong Kong has to offer a non-shopper so will try a different route to Australia next time – maybe via Korea!

Flying into Sydney – one day late!

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It’s about 6 am and I wake up in our hotel room in Hong Kong with a strange feeling. I look at my iPhone and see there is a message from Leonardo. Panic! Why is he ringing me? I see there is another call coming in (I’ve turned off the sound during the night) so I answer it. “Leonardo, what’s the matter?” “Hi Mum, where are you? I’ve been waiting for you for two hours!” “I’m in Hong Kong. I’m coming on Wednesday”. “Mum, it IS Wednesday”. “No, it can’t be! I’m still in Hong Kong”.

Butterfly on Wellington Hotel

I frantically wake up Relationnel. “Leonardo’s at the airport in Sydney waiting for us. Have we missed the plane?” Relationnel finds the paper and checks the dates. No, thank goodness, we haven’t missed the plane. I have just got the arrival dates mixed up. I apologize profusely to Leonardo who very sweetly says “Don’t worry Mum. The important thing is that you’re OK. I was worried when I didn’t see you.”

Breakfast the Chinese way – almost

After writing emails to all the people who are expecting us on Wednesday and trying to reschedule our already overloaded schedule, we decide to go and have breakfast which is not served at the hotel. The streets around the hotel look deserted and naked in the early morning. We are given a strange omelette and ham sandwich served with milk tea in a little Chinese eatery. Everyone else is eating noodles!

Early morning in Hong Kong

We go back to the hotel to sleep for a couple of hours and check out at 12. We have lunch over the pier at “The Carvery”, obviously frequented by Hong Kong’s young executives from the offices nearby then do the shopping we didn’t do the day before and head off for the airport before anything else goes wrong!

This leg of the journey is only 9 hours, a whole two hours shorter than Paris-Hong Kong. I haven’t got any more episodes of Friends to watch so I watch an Australian film called The Hunter about a man hunting the Tasmanian Devil for a pharmaceutical company and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, strongly recommended to me by Brainy Pianist, by which time they are serving breakfast.

I open the cabin window and see the first light of dawn. Unfortunately, we’re just next to the wing, but it’s still quite magical to watch the sun come up as we fly into Sydney.

Everything goes smoothly. We go straight through passport control and customs. Our luggage has arrived without any hitches and there is Leonardo, waiting for us!


Monday’s Travel Photos – Bangkok

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When I think of Bangkok, I think of gold and garish colours. I also think of contrasts. We happened to be there for the Queen’s birthday and everyone was wearing yellow T-shirts. We had a most unusual experience which I’ll tell you about in another post. In the meantime, here is a a few representative photos. The last one is Teak House, definitely one of my favourites.


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