Wednesday, 29 October 2008

when the leaves turn from green to brown...and autumn shades come tumbling down....

Oh it's been a while since I've bothered the SCMP, but a headline today has shaken me into action. Here's the letter. Replies and responses hopefully to follow.

I was saddened but not surprised to read your story re the decline in waste paper recycling in today's SCMP (Waste recyclers plan protest as some exporters halt collections). Presumably the lack of a local marked for recycled paper products is in part a cause of the decline in recycling?

I am always alarmed that it is so difficult to find recycled paper products in Hong Kong, particularly for everyday house hold items such as toilet paper, kitchen towels and facial tissues. Not only are recycled paper products only available in luxury stores such as 360 or GREAT (as far as I know), the versions available in high street supermarkets are usually made from 100% virgin wood pulp (unbelievably, a fact proundly boasted of on the packaging).

As the awareness of the importance of maintaining trees as a critical component of the global ecosystems that we are all dependent on increases, it seems incredible to me that recycled products are not more widely available to HK consumers.

Yours faithfully

Grande Poobah,
1 Grand Poobah Towers, the Island, the Earth, the Universe

Monday, 27 October 2008

Let's go sufing now, everybody's learning how

When I kicked off this sabbatical, one of my intentions was to do the stuff in HK that I don't have the time or energy for when I'm working. And so this weekend I headed off to Sai Kung country park to surf and camp out.

We were initially a group of 7, connected through yoga. At the ungodly hour of 7am we met in Central, the remnants of Saturday night streaming home as we headed out to the country. 45 minutes in a cab, followed by 15 on a boat and we were mooring up on a tiny pier to hike over to Tai Long Wan beach.

Sunday night, we pitched our tents and enjoyed a day's surfing followed by a spliff and beers on the beach. After dinner at a local noodle bar we headed back to camp, lit a fire and lay back, watching the stars (in Hong Kong! Who'd have thought it?) before heading to bed, tired and happy, at 9.

This, for me, is one of the amazing things about Hong Kong. Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) is about as remote as you can get in HK. There are no cars, roads, few houses and today, Monday, no people either, save for a few other lucky souls who could afford to spend their time lounging on a beach and surfing. It's remote enough that you have to watch out for wild pigs (one was round our campsite and apparently they get nasty) and snakes (one of our party found out the hard way and got bitten - he'll live).

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The times, they are a-changing....

It's a tough lark this sabbatical business, not having anything in particular to get up for and generally loafin........

Well, no, not really. Although it is taking some getting used to being able to sleep in and not having anyone to answer to apart from myself.

The most shocking part is realising the stress that work has added to my life on a daily basis. Apart from a staggering weight gain (which I largely attribute to my routine being shot to pieces by the amount of work travel I've had to do, coupled of course with a dip in Poobarian will power) I've also been told that my posture is shot (due to the amount of time I've been spending at a key board - so must stop this too soon) and my back is so stiff and immobile (due to stress) that it's going to take some serious effort to sort out. Brilliant.

I appreciate that this isn't going to get me any sympathy (!) nor do I seriously ask for any, however it's not a bad time to just reflect on the absurdity of modern life (for us priviliged westerners anyway), and the way it makes feeling good and content a near impossibility.

I wrote the first part of this blog some time back, and then, as I sank into sabbatical time (approx 0.25 the pace of work time) somehow didn't finish or post it. Now, due to popular demand (!) here it is. Since then, I've also visited a Chinese medicine doctor who's told me that my kidney system is weak (this is normal for stressed out Western wage slaves). I've also been an interested bystander as the credit fueled, market uber bubble has finally popped, showering us all in its aftermath. yuk.

Now, I don't want to come over as some sort of sub Mail on Sunday columnist (God forbid) but isn't there some way that we can organise ourselves better? I'm rereading (ok, reading) Marx and feel bewildered by what's happening.