It's now almost three-and-a-half weeks since we left Cyprus. It feels like months ago - we've done so much. No way can I blog about it all, but I have half an hour or so, with Richard's notebook computer, sitting in a Starbucks in a large mall in Hong Kong while Richard browses some computer shops... there are dozens of them. I spent a couple of hours looking at some with him this morning but I don't like shopping at the best of times, and computer shops are some of the least interesting in my view...
But I'm rushing ahead of myself.
We flew by BA on 7th September, arriving at London Heathrow about 9.30pm. Picked up a rental car (oddly enough, Avis turned out to be the best value) and drove to my mother's house in Birmingham. Then we slept!
We were in Birmingham for 11 days. During that time we spent four individual days with other members of the family, went to two evening house groups with meals, were invited out to evening meals by four different sets of friends, and two lunches. Oh, and on the first Sunday we went to three church services (Richard doing slots at two of them) and on the second Sunday we went to two (Richard doing two slots at one of them).
It was a busy time! We also did a bit of shopping and Tim spent one Saturday at the Birmingham University open day.
Then we drove to Sussex to spend four-and-a-half days with Richard's mother. Not so busy - we don't have friends in Sussex, and by then were pretty exhausted anyway - but Richard did spend one day at the Southampton Boat Show (I went with him for the journey, then went and sat in an outdoor shopping centre and read a book while he went round the show). We also helped clear out Richard's mother's loft, with several trips to the local dump, and did a bit of local shopping (there's an excellent Lion's bookshop that sells everything at 50p in her town).
Then we celebrated Tim's 19th birthday - Richard's brother came over for the day - and on the Sunday Richard took the 'preaching' slot at two services.
Monday 24th Sept we drove to Gatwick airport, and flew via Emirates to Hong Kong via Dubai. Unfortunately we had a very long overnight wait at the airport... so were shattered by the time we arrived. Richard had pre-booked one night in a guest house, which turned out to be in a noisy shopping mall. The rooms were clean but cupboard-sized, and when we turned on the air conditioning it smelled of cigarettes. It didn't feel very secure, either.
So the following morning, armed with the 'Lonely Planet' Guide to Hong Kong and Macau, Richard and Tim went to look for somewhere else, and found the 'Cosmic Court' guesthouse, nearby, which had rather larger rooms, a friendlier lady in charge, and much better security. So we moved our things there.
Then, at last, to the Doulos to see Daniel for the first time in nearly a year. He is now one of the three audio-visual people, in charge of running technical things for all the on-board programmes. He generally works either 8am-3pm, or 3pm-10pm so has half a day off.
Since Richard and I don't yet have a cabin on the Doulos (that becomes available tomorrow) we've been hanging out in the AV room when Dan is working - a bit small but Richard and Tim find it interesting, and I've been reading some of my books...
However, there was a bed available in Daniel's cabin, and he got permission for Tim to sleep there, which made life easier - and nice for Tim.
Today the Doulos has had to go out to anchor so Richard thought he'd explore some of the vast numbers of computer shops and malls. I didn't really want to stay in the guesthouse on my own all day so I came with him... but sitting at Starbucks typing is a lot more interesting!
Strange, really. In Cyprus, we never go to Starbucks or McDonald's. The former is very expensive there, and I'm not keen on burgers and chips. But since coming to Hong Kong, we've been several times to each... Starbucks because it's the only way we can get an Internet connection (besides, the drinks are very good... and about half the price of Cyprus Starbucks).
As for McDonald's, or the related McCafe, we've been because (dare I admit this?) I'm not actually very keen on Chinese food. We did find a good vegetarian Indian restaurant one night (courtesy of our Lonely Planet guide - we would never have found it without!) and have eaten several meals on the Doulos. But the rest of the time we've either bought sandwiches at McCafe, or meals at McDonald's. We must really be horribly westernised.
We've uploaded photos from the camera to this computer, but I don't have any idea how to access them, so that will have to wait for another occasion!