Thursday, August 11, 2011

Portugal and Bill Clinton

My recent bout of food poisoning reminds me, as it usually does, of a trip I made to Lisbon many years ago.

It was pretty early on in my relationship with the Boy, in fact it was our first break. Being just out of Uni and having no money, I managed to get cheap tickets on a BA deal and off we trotted to Lisbon. The only hotel I could afford was a rather anonymous business hotel a good 20 mins walk from the main city centre but it was a holiday and one I could afford without going into too much debt so off we went. The first 2 nights of our long weekend went really well. I had done a bit of research so we did the usual tourist things, although I discovered a useful fact about the Boy - he doesn't much like wandering around churches and that's sort of the best bit about Lisbon, and ate in some lovely local places. On our penultimate night, the Boy took control and decided that we would eat at a local BBQ chicken place he had read about. It was cheap, the food was yummy and I congratulated him on a great choice.

Until about midnight. When I started to vomit, and the other one, mainly both at the same time. About two hours later the Boy started doing pretty much the same thing. There was no way on earth we were going to manage to leave our room so we alternated between the bathroom and the bed feeling rather sorry for ourselves.

Being a lower end business hotel, it catered for Portugese business travelers. This included the TV channels where the only two English language channels were Eurosport and CNN. It was the day that Bill Clinton's deposition about not having sex with that woman. CNN was running it, in its entirety. Eurosport was running the European truck pulling championships in full, unedited. For those who have not been initiated into this wonderful sport, it involves pulling trucks. Men pulling trucks. Women pulling trucks. Other trucks pulling trucks. Riveting. So we watched Bill and trucks, upon reflection perhaps Bill would have been more interesting had he been pulling a truck, for about 8 hours.

I still feel slightly nauseous whenever I see pictures of Bill Clinton.

Weight loss HK style

After 8 years in HK, about 6 more than I originally thought I would be here, I have got used to many of the less pleasant aspects of this amazing city. For example, I find that I not only tolerate but actually enjoy humidity now. I complain when it's below 25 degrees outside and frizzy hair is a small price to pay for being warm. I have given up all need for personal space and have got used to unsolicited comments telling me I am looking too fat, too thin, tired, too big and any other many comments about my appearance that seem perfectly acceptable to make to a virtual stranger. I have even got used to the slavish adherence to rules that sees me not able to raise my credit card limit or explain why I shouldn't get charged be being overdrawn on one account when it is the same account number as my other one and I have lots of money there (only someone who has lived in HK will understand that - it does sound like something from catch 22).

I had also got used to the less than strict food safety and hygiene standards in resaurants and it's been a full three years since I ate out and anything got to me, in any country in Asia. Until this week. After a fun and rare night out on a school night at a driving simulator (I lost all the races in the slow cars but did rather well in anything fast, even beating the boy in the final F1 race) and then a curry. It was one of the better quality curry houses in HK and I didn't eat anything odd but overnight I made friends with my bathroom. Three days later I still can't keep solid food in me, although I don't seem to feel too bad on it and I must be losing weight - every cloud and all that. Perhaps part of me, ie bits to do with digestion it seems, are still English at heart.

True blood

Today I got a notice about the company blood donor drive. Once or twice a year there is a blood donation day at the office. It's a great way to get blood donated and, like the UK, there is no fee paid to the donors so it really is a civic responsibility for the people of HK. Being a newly minted permanent resident (I picked up my new ID card today) I decided I wanted to donate. I know that, in the past, I was rejected because I had lived in the UK and there is still a general fear about CJD. However, this was before I realised that I an O negative and, therefore, a rather rare and useful blood group. I checked the stats and it is especially rare amongst those of Chinese ethnicity and, according to Wikipedia, just 0.31% of the HK population are this blood group. Surely, there could be an exception.

Um, no.

Amusingly I can't donate in the UK either because the countries in Asia I have travelled to exclude me from giving in the UK too.

Oh well, me and my rare blood type will just have to settle for doing out civic duty in some other way.