Saturday, April 21, 2007

Back again in Hongkong

Since my earlier posting, I managed to see new places and travel quite a bit. I left Hongkong for Jakarta where I stayed with my son for a few days. Together we traveled to Perth in Australia where I had never been. Perth's airport is quite small and rather nice. Budget rental had closed down at 10pm but
Avis agreed to rent us a car and with key in hand we went out to the lot and the car answered the key signal so off we went to Fremantle. We stayed at the best hotel there and I really walked around the place. I did find a LYS about half a block away which was well stocked with the latest yarns. I also found some used knitting books and was quite happy with them also. I did try to locate gold threads for embroidery and found a little
but it was rather disappointing. Beads: I went to the largest store and found that the prices were high so just bought a small amount. In Perth, I ate in Chinatown, but mainly I traveled on the suburban train system which was quite good.

After some days my son rejoined me and we headed off to Singapore where we stayed at the Intercontinental and I got to use their rooftop pool which was quite lovely. I went to the places I wanted to go and didn't have a lot of time so all my hours were really spent on this. I got to Borders which is absolutely amazing. All the needlework and crafts books are in the same area so this time it only took me 2 hours to go through them! Last time it was a 4 hour job. I was disappointed in the main with the books because they were pretty bad. All the newest books were there but it seemed like none of the good ones were. These books had perhaps one or two projects worth doing and the rest garbage. Quickie books. Also many books for the new knitter.

I did see one beading book which I should have bought. It was about $60 Singapore which kept me from buying as I thought I might find it later on Amazon. But no such luck so far. I didn't make a note of the author or title but did notice that the publisher was from Singapore and the author had a Chinese name like Han. It was written in English.

The next day I got to the Golden dragon in Chinatown. The yarns were disappointing also. Mainly lots of Rowan yarns and a few Japanese but not very interesting ones. So I went on to buy the Delica beads that I liked and they were nice enough to refund me the 5% tax from their till.

Finally I got to the Japanese bookstore where I found lots of great knitting books in Japanese. I did check the knitting section for the English books and noticed that their selection consisted of really good books but all of them had been wrapped!

We left Singapore and headed on to Jakarta. This time I stayed one week. I didn't like the transportation system as the roads are very clogged and it can take hours to get anywhere. I found a good place for Swarovski crystal beads on the way to Chinatown and checked out some of the recommended yarnstores and also the Japanese bookstore which seemed to be about the same price as in Singapore although they have a 10% sales tax as opposed to the 5% in Singapore.

My son made sure I got to eat a lot of Chinese food and the restaurants were very good. I also swam a lot at the 4 seasons hotel and they were quite lovely also. My son has a car and driver who drove me everywhere and also a lovely woman who cleans and cooks for him.
both spoke passable English and were very pleasant. I met up with my friend Tanti who I had met two years before and she took me twice shopping and introduced me to the beadstore which because of her gave me a 20% discount. I got to several of the malls which are really interesting. Some are very lavishly done up with gorgeous marble floors and others are hot and crowded with as many as 1000 stores all crowded around. I also got to the annual crafts fair with artisans from all over Indonesia displaying their wares.

I met my son's two great friends. Both are fluent in Indonesian and were very interesting. One of them is doing a 90 minute documentary on the street musicians in Jakarta and I got to watch a short digest of it although it's still in editing stage. I was absolutely fascinated and hope to see it when it's done. It had one fantastic scene in a local jail.

I didn't enjoy having to brush my teeth with bottled water or the pollution. But the people were very sweet and somehow they managed under difficult conditions. Many people are very wealthy also and are seen in the fancy malls and restaurants. Others can be seen on the roads. I did stop at one place after I saw shop after shop of used bookstalls on the road. I looked for English books and did find some, but nothing I wanted.

I got to the National musuem which had two treasure rooms full of beautiful articles in rare metals. There was also a room with huge maps showing Indonesia and it is really big too. I also climbed up to the National Monument which is quite a phallic symbol but I didn't bother with the ride to the very top.

Next time I go, it'll be time to explore other parts of the country such as Bandung and Bali.

I exchanged presents with a crocheter in Surabaya which is perhaps 1000 km from Jakarta. I used an interesting service to mail my package called "Tiki". I was also fascinated with some of the ways that the people use to solve various problems. For example there are lots of people on the roads who for a small fee will help the driver get back into the traffic from a parked position or to do a u-turn. or on one road where 3 people are required in a car, someone jumps in to ride along for pay. I also thought that the extra faucet next to the toilet was very useful as it is sort of like a bidet in function.

The wood of course is gorgeous. My son had a chest he paid $25 for which was heavily carved. His apartment had very high ceilings and the liv room windows had panes of colored glass. Because there are so many drivers, there are facilites in all the places for them. My son's bldg which had 4 apts, also had places for the drivers and workers to eat and sleep. While I was shopping, my driver was near the car and I would phone him when I was ready, but I also could have had a front desk call him on the loudspeaker. These desks are in the front of each mall. Many of the residences have doormen who open up the gate for t he cars to enter and leave.

There are almost no public parks and the only green areas are quite private or governmental but closed to the public. I didn't notice any ambulances on the roads, but apparently if one gets sick, you do go to the local hospital. I did see lots of drugstores.

Many people working in the shops can speak some English so language is not a problem. And perhaps they have some kind of inferiority complex as they want to be told how nice they are which I did tell them. I also found that they are quick to smile and also respond nicely to the same. since the weather is so hot everyone dresses in light clothing and since there is a lot of rain, umbrellas are pretty standard. I did notice in one heavy downpour that it was a lot easier to progress as most of the very numerous motocycles stopped and took shelter. I got a kick though out of seeing a bicycle traveling along. The passenger in the rear held up an umbrella over himself and the peddler.

One very interesting form of transportation is the 3 wheeler. It is apparently some kind of motorcycle but with 3 wheels. It is not air conditioned but can maneuver into much tighter areas. They told me it was brought from India.

There is a lot of street food which I didn't eat as I was worried about problems with it. But it seems very popular. The difference in income level is tremendous and there don't seem to be any kind of welfare programs. However, I didn't notice any beggars or other signs of misery. I did see a lot of people working very hard and very long hours and I think the populace is very capable and working under very hard natural conditions of climate, etc. I also noticed lots and lots of banks although Tanti told me that a lot of them had consolidated.

I did enter the country very quickly when I first came with help from my son's hotel friends and when I departed, one of them took me all the way to the business lounge and helped me as I had managed to lose the little piece of paper you get when you enter. The lounge is very good as it has decent bathrooms which are lacking in the public area.

Although this is mainly a Moslem country, the people seem to be rather blase about religon except for the usual small amount of fanatics. Women go everywhere and seem to suffer no discrimmination. The Chinese are a small minority but with most of the country's wealth and since there were bad riots back in 1998, they are quite aware of additional problems although they were quck to say that most likely it couldn't happen again. The Christians seem to be very interested in Israel but since there are no relations between the two countries, very little is actually known about Israel.

So now I'm back in Hongkong with my daughter and granddaughter who is just over 5 weeks old and absolutely beautiful. She is a sweetheart, very smart, and enjoys kicking and hitting out with her fists although she generally makes connection only with her own face! A few more days here and it's back to Israel.


Bets said...

That is all very fascinating. Thanks for the great details about your visits, I do enjoy reading your stories and am glad you are having a good time.

anne - said...

I could use your help. I found some Cherry Tree Hill yarn in the back of a closet. It is "rustic silk" and I bought it to make a vest. Cheryl of Cherry Tree Hill thinks that it is for a vest by Barbara Venishnick. A Google search brought up your name. Do you know of any vest pattern by Barbara that uses natural/slate/chocolate/olive in it? Thank you. Anne

Marina said...

My old stomping grounds! Singapore, where I was born and Perth, which I still call "home" despite ~12 years in the US!

Back in the 60's & 70's, there wasn't even one yarn store in Singapore.