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Diary of a Cranky Traveler, Part 2: Hong Kong

Diary of a Cranky Traveler, Part 2: Hong Kong

Dec 7th, 2010, 03:21 PM
  #21  
 
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logic??
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 05:05 PM
  #22  
 
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So enjoyable to read. Happy travels the rest of the way, Cranky One! Your fans all love you.
stu
tower is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 06:35 PM
  #23  
 
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Here we go again:
<>

Once again, part of me wants to know how Rizz would know how slow a whore's funeral would be. The other part of me is screaming "Leave well enough alone!". Yet another part of me would like to pre-experience my own funeral, just to see how it might measure up (or down). And yes, Rizz, apparently you are allowed to say it.

BC
bookchick is online now  
Dec 8th, 2010, 05:12 PM
  #24  
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Brief greetings from Lyon, France. Yesterday, or some time period that more or less resembled a day on some planet, had me flying from Hong Kong to London; landing in London around 8.15pm (London time); getting off the airplane around 9.15 (London time) after they eventually found a gate for us (I told the pilot he should have phoned ahead and made a reservation); checking into the Heathrow Sofitel and being greeted warmly, almost heatedly, by a surly check-in clerk; taking the 7:45 flight from London to Lyon; and eventually arriving, not totally to my greatest delight, at the Boscolo Grand Hotel.

Lyon is having an amazing festival right now, the Festival of Lights, and I will tell you much, much more about the festival and about the Boscolo NotAtAllGrand Hotel some other time. (It's 2am here.) Cheers for now,
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 06:15 PM
  #25  
 
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Don...would you like to receive a Care Package from us?....BC has volunteered to make one up. We all know that Lyon has long suffered from a distasteful dearth of decent dining! Suggest you go to the local YMCA for some cold-cut buffets with free gherkins for all!
stu
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Dec 8th, 2010, 11:22 PM
  #26  
 
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Don't you just miss that Asian hospitality about now? Gotta love the French,lol
How is the quality of your tailor compared to say Bob's tailor in BKK?
What's the worry,Bob uses that hors word all the time.

Firmly ensconsed in our upgraded Hyatt(your favorite Tokyo neighborhood) Shinjuku suite btw and going to the club for hors and cocktails in a few.....anxiously awaiting your lights report!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 01:09 AM
  #27  
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Bonjour et salut a tous,

What a night! Each year, Lyon has a Festival of Lights to commemorate something or other. People put little candles in each of their windows on Dec 8th, and for 4 night before or after the 8th, the entire city is filled with installations of light shows (more than 70 of them this year). Best of all, the entire downtown and old city areas are completely turned into people places: pedestrians only, and tens and tens and tens of thousands of people on the streets enjoying themselves and in a wonderful frame of mind. For Bostonians, it's like First Night, 4 nights in a row.

Visuals will have to wait. Impossible to take anything useful with a still camera (shutter speed is too slow at night without a tripod), but could well have something worthwhile from the camcorder, after I'm home next week.

This morning has begun well. Now there are many, many -- MANY -- things at which the French fail to excel (and I am being kind as I possibly can be), but providing decent eating opportunities is not one of those. And breakfast is no exception. So, notwithstanding the always-reliable Starbucks a block away from the shabby 4-star Grand Hotel, I headed in the other direction, to a bar that was filled with locals when I'd passed it last night. Sat down, asked for un café crème et un croissant, s.v.p., and life instantly became divine. A perfect cup of very strong coffee with a froth of milk, and a magnificently flaky croissant that had been mere flour and butter (probably about half a pound of the latter) just a few hours before. A bunch of guys at another table yakking about last night's football game, a bunch of women at another table yakking about whatever it is that they yak about. Of all the breakfasts in all the world, this is my favorite: simple, consistently good, always a great start to a day. (Well, yes, breakfast in New Orleans with 3 very large bloody Marys is not to be sniffed at, nor is a late b'fast of HK dim sum.)

But now just a word or two about The Boscolo Grand Hotel. I begin by explaining that this is a joint effort of the French and the Italians. For some, that will suffice and they will have no need to read the remainder of this screed. In France, hotels are rated from 0 to 4 stars (the very best of the best will get ****L ("L" for "Luxe") by a quasi-governmental hotel rating association. The Grand Hotel Boscolo is rated ****. Those 4 stars, I can assure you, are the very dimmest ones in the sky.

I had a great chat with the taxi driver on the way to the hotel. I was a cabbie in Boston for about a year a while ago (absolutely one of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had, in some respects: work when I want, enjoy combustibles on the job, discover all sorts of places and people I had no idea existed, learn the streets of Boston inside and out. Limiting factor was the pay: work 10-11 hours, and in 1974 netted anywhere from $35-50/day.) Anyway, I've always felt a camaraderie with cab drivers everywhere -- including the little tricks -- and Lucien confirmed that the Festival would not be so good for cabbies. When lots of people are in town, it's a good time for cabbies; when too many people are in town, and nothing moves, it's a disaster. [In Boston, the absolute best of best days are the winter days when it's bright sunny and cold-cold. From inside, it seems like a great day to walk wherever you're going, or to wait for the bus. But after a few minutes, you see a warm cab passing by, and your right arm flies up in a hurry. And have you ever wondered why you see a cabbie driving around on a cold day with his window open? Well it could be that he's airing out the taxi after cutting a dreadful fart, but more likely, if he's good, he keeps the window open so that he can hear when someone yells out "TAXI!!"]

Sorry, I was talking about the Boscolo Grand Hotel and got sidetracked. So Lucien drops me off in front of the **** hotel with my two suitcases, and I would still be standing there had I not hauled them and me up the 2 steps and into the front lobby. My Superior Room is on the Grand Hotel's 5th floor. The Grand Hotel has 2 elevators, of which 1 is permanently out of service. The bellman, who is about 94 years old and has a series of personal hygiene issues, brings up the suitcases. I give him 2 euros to get out of the room as quickly as possible.

The Superior Room has a small entry with a closet, a bedroom with not quite enough room for both its bed and my suitcases, and a bathroom that's thankfully large enough to actually turn around in. The bath/shower, of course, doesn't have a shower curtain, so it will be impossible to shower without inundating the hotel, but that's a feature of France. The most noticeable feature of the room, though, is that it's about 106 degrees (not sure if it's C or F. Maybe tomorrow, when it is supposed to be cold outside, the temp will be -40, and it won't matter if it's C or F). Fortunately, the window can be opened. Unfortunately, the window will not stay open. Various engineering reconfigurations are made, and the window is now open, at the expense of all privacy. If others notice, tant pis pour eux.

The room also features a bedside lamp that constantly blinks on and off, and a total lack of available electrical outlets. So the blinking lamp is sacrificed.

Like all beds in France, this one sags in the middle. That's how marital harmony is maintained here, i suppose, because it's physically impossible to stay on your side of the bed. Turning over is a near Sisyphean challenge, though, as it seems like you're about to make it over the Alp that's the side of the mattress, when gravity and one of Newton's Laws take over and you fall back into the bed's abyss, still on the side you don't want to be on. Ah, the special pleasures of the 4* Boscolo Grand Hotel.

S, today should be a good day. Out soon for a walk around town, possibly a very nice lunch, then another night, this time in a different part of town, for more light shows. If only my tired feet can hold up for 1 more day.

A bientot et Cheers,
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 05:31 AM
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Very amusing. Looking forward to more.
Marija is online now  
Dec 9th, 2010, 05:52 AM
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welcome to france....a suite at the hyatt in toyko sounds mighty inviting...
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 06:09 AM
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I nearly fell off my chair laughing at your description of the bed...I have been on the down hill side of many of those with rhk. Not a comfy place to be and as you say ...no way out! Can't wait to see the video of the lights when you get home.
kmkrnn is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 06:42 AM
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Yes, I'm positive a self-catering apt in BKK would cost far less.

Stu is right, I'm assembling a care package. Since it's from Michigan it'll have plenty of apples in it, as I "scored" at the cider mill on the day before Thanksgiving, which was the last day they were open for the season.

I had a croissant for breakfast this morning. I buy them at Costco, re-package them "individually", freeze them. To thaw, remove from freezer, put onto a baking tray, put into cold oven, and then turn oven on to 425. When oven reaches 425, the croissant is perfectly thawed and warmed through and ready to eat. And I don't have to deal with anyone getting snooty with me, unless I'm in a rare self-loathing mood!

Your recollections of your cabbie years reminded me of that one year at the Boston GTG when you rose when it was your turn to tell a funny travel story, and you simply announced your name, then said "I used to drive a cab in Boston", smiled at everyone and sat down. WTF??!?!? How did that fulfill the requirement?? I'm still trying to figure out how/why Gpanda didn't penalize you on that!

But your re-naming the Boscolo reminds me of the time I stayed in Paris at the AdequateHotelLeveque. Why is it that commercial beverages and OTC drugs in America are held to truth in advertising standards, and hotels abroad are not?

BC
bookchick is online now  
Dec 9th, 2010, 07:43 PM
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I'm just catching up with you Rizz, and was thinking as I read about Hong Kong that you didn't seem very cranky to me. Then you got to Lyon, and I thought - well-justified crankiness! We Asia travelers get so spoiled. For the price you paid in Lyon, you could have a suite with butler service in Yangon.
Kathie is online now  
Dec 11th, 2010, 08:50 AM
  #33  
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I am back in the arms of Billerica.

The Festival of Lights far exceeded all expectations. I knew that there'd be a bunch of installations with light shows, but I had no idea that the entire city, or at least the downtown area, would be transformed into a feel-good people party. I took a bunch of videos that will take some time to edit and distill, and they came out very, very well.

I did have a fantastic lunch at the Cafe Burf the day before I left. A "Soupe Royl de Gibier" wasn't really a soup at all, but an ultra-rich reduction with slices of squab and some other fowl, with chestnuts and some sweet grape-like fruit. Main course was ris de veau, which is my absolute favorite food on earth. I try to be a reasonably moral eater: I'm not at all a vegetarian, but I do try to show some respect and thanks for those beasts who were dispatched for my dining pleasure. (Not that my feelings are of any particular comfort to the unfortunate beasts.) But I do try to avoid eating young animals, or abused beasts (think foie gras). Except when it comes to ris de veau. Morality is conveniently put aside. I offer no alibi. And the restaurant (actually called Bec something or other, just off the Place de la Republique) did the ris de veau great justice, croustillant on the outside and perfect on the inside, garnished with some truffles (which do nothing for me -- sorry) and some pureed potatoes on the side. My guess is that the potatoes were made with 1 potato, 3/4 pound of butter, a pinch of salt, and 11 egg yolks. An hour later my liver went into cardiac arrest, but it was all mostly worth it.

Flights home were uninteresting. Everything at home is back to normal: housemate Lola spent the night sleeping on my hip and is has not let me out of her sight all day. Suitcases litter the floor, and I'm hoping they'll somehow unpack themselves.

-30-
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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Rizz, glad to hear your journey was safe.
Also pleased to hear that Lyon did not fail you in The Festival of Light and on the epicurean front.

Hope you adjust to the return home and that your bags will unpack themselves and your laundry will do itself. (Although if that happens, you may want to consult a physician or your rabbi.)

BC
bookchick is online now  
Dec 11th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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Thanks again, for an off-beat, interesting, detailed report. We followed you all the way, Don. Where to, next?

stu (btw, I drove a cab nights in Bridgewater as a vital adjunct to my teacher's pay (1952-53..washed dishes at Ken's Steakhouse, Natick-Shoppers World, the following year...we could swap stories).
tower is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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Cafe Burf? Isn't that the hangout of Guy Noir?
indianapearl is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 03:22 PM
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Ohaiyo gozaimasu rizzuto-san,

Great writing and have thouroughly enjoyed this report, thank you. Maybe you should think about lcuy's thread regarding writing a story for the North Pole prize. The NP winter couldn't be worse than one in Billerica,lol

Welcome Home and Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 08:17 PM
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great reporting...how are the lights in billerica?

stu...in the early 50's i once had a dirty plate at ken's... what say you?
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 08:44 AM
  #39  
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A video sampling of the festival in Lyon is now up:

http://vimeo.com/17805567

It's 15 minutes long. Looks best on full screen, which you can get by clicking the flowery-shaped icon in the lower right (just to the right of "HD").
DonTopaz is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 02:53 PM
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don't give up your day job
rhkkmk is offline  
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