I found a doc on my computer tonight called “writers block”. How perfect! I don’t have writers block (a little agonising about the possessive apostrophe there perhaps, but that’s as far as it goes), however I am on holidays, which pretty much equates to the same thing.
In my secret daydreams in the weeks leading up to the start of the holiday, I started looking forward to all the reading, Chinese study, iced coffees with my husband, napping on the couch, writing, floating in the paddling pool with the kids, conquering of my new steno machine, and Olympic-watching I was going to do. And in the event, thanks to the combined effects of exhaustion, typhoons, the tropical summer, and ATV being complete knob-ends viz-a-viz Olympics coverage, I have achieved only a sad amalgam of two of those “goals”: napping in the paddling pool.
9.82 for the entry though.
So, here’s “writers block”, also known as “holiday crash and burn in reverse half-pike”. It’s an emo dissertation about why I will never move to [redacted].
It wasn’t that long ago that commercial planes were all Charles Kingsford Smith styles, remember? There was only one or two TVs at the front of each cabin, each passenger having to crane his neck to catch bursts of The Matrix. That’s right, these dim days of airline mediocrity were as late as 1999. All that long, long flight to LA I took around that time with virtually no entertainment, rendered incapable of reading as I was courtesy of the Mogadon mum had slipped into my hand luggage. The two front rows of the cabin had been given over to parents with young children and this battalion of about seven babies screamed tag-team for 15 hours. “Aaaah!” “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy.” “WAAAH!” “The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us.” “Aaaaaaah!” “Welcome to the real world.” “Waaa-waa-waa!” “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” “Waaaaaaaaah.” “The pill you took is part of a trace program. It’s designed to disrupt your input/output carrier signal so we can pinpoint your location.” (ME: “Shit is unCANNY!”)
More than 10 years on, airline comfort has advanced by means of in-seat entertainment and the phasing out of bassinets, resulting in babies being spread in lower-decibel sprinklings throughout the plane. And, I dunno if it’s causal, but apparently human advancement has halted and regressed screechingly, if the passengers sitting in front of me today are representative. They appear to be orangutans. The female is removing, with tweezers, grey hairs from the male’s head. I’ve been getting increasingly stressed trying to figure out a way to take a photo of it. That’s the reason I got the computer out actually, to see if I could figure out a way to reverse the webcam (I can’t). My phone camera just isn’t discreet enough, with its loud simulated !SNAP!. The primates’ suspicion was already aroused when I started opening all the nearby windowshades and flooding the cabin with natural light so the goddamn flash wouldn’t go off.
How we have otherwise advanced though! Thank you, early aviators, for risking your lives in experimental flying contraptions that now enable me to travel the world with simians and write blog posts in Notepad 25,000 feet in the air! Hello, future!
Am presently flying somewhere over Vietnam, returning to Hong Kong. Got caned in [redacted] the past few days. Not literally, though that is always a possibility there: just work-wise. 15 hours of writing and editing on the first day dashed my intricately planned and long-held designs of reclining in the bath with my phone propped up on the bath ledge with three facewashers, watching Tudors while eating a room-service sundae. In the end I rolled from my chair directly into bed and slept for four hours before rising to meet another long day that ended at 2am with me giving up on the last 18 pages of my transcript. That weakness ensured me a stressful experience at the airport this morning as I ran around between business centres and alleged wireless hubs, trying to edit amid hordes of vexatiously loud travellers. I finally got that shit emailed to the client and ran to my gate, trailing steno machine cables behind me like a steampunk tail, and boarded with one minute to spare.
Worse news, two people I know are also on this flight and periodically come and sit in the aisle next to me to talk about inanities I don’t care about. Fuck off! I didn’t get any spare time in [redacted] and now I have to pretend to have small talk with you! What a bust.
[redacted] has put me in a real bad mood. I can’t put my finger on it but I don’t like the place. I’ve never felt good there. It could be the restrictive laws (for example not only must I wear a suit in court there, but it must have a black jacket and must be worn at all times. Water must not be consumed in the courtroom either. You can imagine the magnificent Supreme Court building swarming with black-clad dehydrated staff like so many desert crows). You will get caned if you chew gum there (anywhere there). I don’t chew gum but I’m pretty sure I do other stuff worse than that and I don’t like the threat of punitive punishment over my head.
Beyond a resultant and understandable lack of joie de vivre among the population, there’s also an undercurrent of tension on the streets with the constant invigilating and security cameras and police patrols. No doubt it is a beautiful world city with sprawling boulevards lined with palms, city-side parklands of the emerald colour specific to these tropical regions, a quay that reminds me of Melbourne’s South Bank but minus the glassings and stabbings, and outstanding colonial architecture. But I just feel uncomfortable there. There’s a homogeneity about everything, and it just doesn’t feel right. It’s not crazy like Hong Kong. The population is of such mixed national extraction that I can’t get a sense of the people, who lives there and who is a tourist. There’s even three official languages. Everyone you meet tries a bit too hard to sell [redacted], especially compared to Hong Kong – but they don’t convince me. Oh good on you with your potable water and cleanest air in Asia, [redacted]! Good on YOU.
This time I stayed at the Peninsula Excelsior Hotel, which was grand never more so than in its brochure describing the vision for the lobby, currently under refurbishment:
The overall mood is one of heaven and earth dissected in ancient Pantheonic architecture which articulates the modern contemporary approach fortified by eco-friendly dark wood to form an opulent hue in the new lobby. We call it – a simple luxury.
Well fuck, I know I felt like Persephone as I waited interminably for the stupid lift to clank down its well and take me up to the stupid 17th floor, nowhere near the stupid breakfast bar with its stupid diluted fruit juices.
Otherwise it was the usual cheap toiletries and 10-threadcount dressing gown, usurious and poorly stocked fridge, and annoying people yelling out in the night. So considering I didn’t get to watch Tudors in the bath, it was pretty much like being at home.
We’re off to Macau on Saturday where I intend to sleep a lot more in different pools with my three loves. Maybe I will write something too. But like Team GB – DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP 😉