Thursday, December 27, 2012

...yielding place to new

So, Christmas over for another year, recipe exactly as before - with the difference that this was probably the last of the old order, which has lasted 23 years but now changeth, since next year will most likely not include either of the daughters, one of whom is heading to Melbourne to dip her toe into the OE (overseas experience) while the other will be working on a newspaper in Hong Kong and hoping to go on from there to London. So while Christmas morning was fun, it was a bit melancholy too.

Melbourne is at least within spitting distance, comparatively: it's not unusual for people (or, Aucklanders) to pop across the Ditch for a weekend's shopping and a show. It's become the place for young people to head off to, for its nightlife and general happening vibe in amongst its little lanes and old buildings; and its shops and culture too. They don't go for the weather, though: it ranges from snow to 40 degrees, and there's not always as much of a gap between those extremes as a person might reasonably expect. There's also a lively underworld of Mafia crime, which is a bit disturbing, with mobsters getting whacked periodically. But as long as your nickname's not Fingers or The Munster, it's a good place to spend time in, giving Sydney a run for its money these days as Oz's hippest destination. I think it's got more depth than Botany Bay, if you see what I mean.

Hong Kong is more foreign of course, and hence more exciting; though it's still China's most accessible face. I've passed through there several times but don't know it well. Staying in the Peninsula Hotel, met at the airbridge and escorted all the way to the 6-room suite, doesn't exactly get you upfront with the city; but even being less insulated on other visits, I haven't got under the skin of the place. It's so big, and busy, and despite its huge ex-pat population I can't imagine ever feeling at home there or having more than the slightest idea of all the things that are going on, seething under the surface. Despite its being called 'Asia for beginners', I doubt that even the International Herald Tribune knows it all.

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