Thursday, January 28, 2010


This was the view from my office window on Hong Kong Island today (as a reminder, this is what it's like when it's clear). The very faint shadowy shape which you can, just barely, see through the murk (and you probably have to double click on the photo to make it out), is the International Commerce Centre (ICC) on Kowloon side. My friend A works in there and we communicated by email this afternoon: "I know you're out there somewhere...?" This is what we currently accept as normal. And no, it's not fog - it's respirable suspended particulates. I've been coughing, and there's a metallic taste in my mouth. Here in Asia, the recession has been over for some time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Death and taxes

[Photo credit]

They're building another casino in Singapore - a three-towered monstrosity, improbably modelled on card decks, apparently, and built to feng shui principles (earth, wind and fire) near the Singapore Flyer, precisely positioned so that the Flyer ("the world's largest observation wheel - a moving experience at every turn": who writes this stuff?) will, accordingly, deliver good fortune to all who gamble there.

This evening I attended the closing dinner for a week of conferences and events which we were sponsoring. It was held at the Marina Barrage, an enormous, rather unappealing building which features a long, swooping roof walk, a big spiral leading you up to the roof and amazing views back to Singapore's financial district, past the Singapore Flyer's glittering lights and across to the sepulchural three towers of the almost-finished casino.

All this development - and a huge swathe of this part of Singapore is a building site, with thousands of workers from India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar housed in rows of temporary dorms - is impressive, and certainly the scale of it is astonishing and the sheer size of the buildings, if nothing else, is a marvel; but there's an emptiness there that reminds me of my least favourite place on earth, Las Vegas.

The difficult part once the developments are complete is bringing buildings to life. I walked to the top to see people on the roof of the Marina Barrage flying kites, taking photographs and jumping in the grass; appreciating the new view, as I did, and enjoying their new building.

Photo credit

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A necklace of raindrops

At a glance it looks like a little dragon's head - and I wish it were - but it actually appears to be enmeshed leaves. From Need Supply. But I think I like this one better:

Just like honey

Chilli hot chocolate
Heat a large coffee cup by filling it with hot water. Pour out the hot water. Take two generous pieces of Lindt chilli chocolate and put them in the bottom of the cup with just enough hot water to melt them. Froth a cupful of milk. Pour hot milk into coffee cup, stirring slowly until chocolate is melted. Top with froth. Drink. Enjoy. Repeat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

If you go down to Cramond...'ll never come back. Cramond, Edinburgh, by the shore and in the snow, December 23, 2009.

Con toda palabra

Lhasa de Sela (September 27, 1972 – January 1, 2010).