Monday, December 13, 2010

[Scaphism] with Led To The Grave, Coffin Birth, Nachzehrer, Untombed, Forced Asphyxiation, Nocuous, and Sauriel [Midway, J.P., 12/12/2010]

This is stupidly late due to end-of-year congestion, me working on other stuff, and general laziness. With effort, it's not going to happen again.

The first show at the renovated Midway since they finished expanding it, there was a little uncertainty surrounding this going in, since it was set up as a nine-band show, eventually dropping to eight. There was a fair bit of snark floating around in advance about this -- for why, look back at the days of Mark's Show Place -- but things stayed mostly on schedule, the bands were good, and the crowd was decent despite the rain, go date (Sunday afternoon-evening), and the small venue; apart from Tony the Yeti's baws, there won't be many who were at this who'll have cause for complaint.

If I recall correctly, it wasn't long after settling in, watching the Pats plug away at the Bears -- oh halycon days where the good team in this matchup was still on course to a conference final -- and getting a beer or two in at the new wraparound bar, that the bands started up, as they kind of had to given the size of the bill.

Sauriel [5/7]
A newer band featuring guys who've been around for a while (most prominently in The Accursed and Withered Sun/Graves Over Autumn, but older heads will remember Inflicted as well), this was a departure for those who, based on antecedents, might have been expecting Gothenchusetts-styled material. While black metal was an important contributing influence to NWOSDM, this was a more straightforward black metal performance; a little formula maybe, but not totally, and well-delivered regardless. "At the Heart of the Nightside Eclipse" isn't completely unfair, but the emphasis should be on the quality of the execution.

I picked up their demo, which was pretty much of a piece with their live performance: good, solid music, well-delivered, but not completely differentiated yet. It's going to be interesting to see how this band develops; the members may not have the kvltest credentials in the world, but they do have a good track record in delivering quality music.

Nocuous [5/7]
I hadn't heard or seen this band before; they're apparently mostly a studio project, so this is not super surprising, but more active bands is always better than the alternative, especially more active decent bands. They had a really, really, weird turn at the start, with most of their first song eerily evocative of old Heaven Shall Burn (think Whatever It May Take, not the demo with the Bolt Thrower ripoff title where they were an actual hardcore band). I actually like HSB (ohnoes, skelp aff my Black Witchery and Holocauso patches), so this was cool, especially in application, and whatever the actual intention or influences, it definitely set up the rest of the set, a solid outing of nice lead-driven thrashy black metal, really well. Definitely a band to watch out for, even considering the plethora of newish and newly-active black metal bands in eastern New England lately.

Forced Asphyxiation [5/7]
At this point the sound changed up a little, going over to death metal rather than black. Forced Asphyxiation maybe dragged a little in parts, but still provided a lot of quality grooving death metal, and took a step up from the last time I'd seen them back in April. This set also put forward a less generic and more developed sound from them; it's going to be cool to see where this goes once they get something recorded -- or more likely, I bodge up and get ahold of said recording, since it's been like three months since this show.

Untombed [5.5/7]
While not as lightning-in-a-bottle awesome as that April gig, this was still as killer as you'll expect from this band, despite being down to one guitar from two. (Not sure if this is a one-off thing or if it represents an actual lineup change; we'll see how they line up next time out.) The sheer death metal power evolved despite the limited instrumentation was remarkable, overshadowing the fact that Dave (Vicious Insanity, formerly behind the skins for Summoning Hate) spent most/all of the set as a second vocalist. This was a cool wrinkle that isn't seen a lot in death metal around Boston, but while it added to the band, it never distracted from the smashing that the instrumentalists were laying out.

Nachzehrer [5.5/7]
The bill swung back over to black metal without dropping quality or missing a beat in this set from Nachzehrer, who were still as raw and thrashing as ever, but mixed in some dual-leads as well. As previously noted, neither black metal nor thrash metal in Boston has any especially active "scene police" (well, that wouldn't get roundly laughed at by this audience, anyway), and if you've got guitarists this good, you might as well use them. The result was good here, and it's going to be cool to see how twists like this make it into the sound of future recordings. Black Thrash Ritual was a good demo, and the new songs they've brought out since have been a solid step up from there.

This is so late that in the interim, Alex (Razormaze) has left the band (amicably, SMNR), been replaced, and his replacement has trained up to the level that the band's able to get out gigging again.

Coffin Birth [5.5/7]
This was, amazingly enough, the first time I'd seen this band, who have been around in New England long enough and prominently enough that the Canucks with the same name don't have name priority. They haven't been super active in the last couple years, but they do play shows; just not, as it's happened, ones that I get to. The fan on the floor seemed more to blow Anthony's hair back than for ventilation (despite being the Midway, this was December, and the larger room meant more air movement and less stiflingness), but you pick up habits like that touring with Belphegor. Silly staging pick points aside, the black metal that these dudes kicked out was nice and grim, and probably, on balance, the best set of the night on what was a really good and balanced bill.

Indeed, if all you look at are the largely arbitrary numbers (done at the show for marginally less arbitrariness), the bill looks even more balanced. This is what happens, though, when you get a lot of good local bands to play on a big bill: the overwhelming likelihood for each and every band is that you'll get a good set rather than a halfassed or epic one. If the highs were lower, so were the lows higher; no wasted time at this gig.

Led To The Grave [5/7]
Making the turn back from black metal towards Scaphism's grind/death was LTTG, still kicking out solid if not spectacular brutal thrash. They've solidified a little since I saw them previously, and they got a lot of good movement on the floor, but the music is pretty much in the same place it's been since February of '09. It's still good thrash metal, and people will still dig it, but they're one of the few bands on this bill who I have multiple data points for that appear to be standing still. As noted, this information's potentially three months out of date, but since they're not on either Bobfest or No Life, another sample is not in the immediate offing.

Unfortunately, while the show had stayed mostly on schedule, there was a certain amount of slippage that had to be expected from DIY. I left before Scaphism, regrettably, as I would have missed my train connections otherwise. This means that I missed their set, and also that I can't comment firsthand on the incident where Tony got kicked in the balls. Didn't see it, unwilling to draw conclusions or make a statement on the politics or logistics of it. Fortunately, no permanent damage appears to have occurred -- either to his organs or to the cohesiveness of the Boston scene. "Alcohol, cause and solution to life's problems" appears to be the watchword, and internally, maybe some Afterschool-Special learning experiences, but being uninvolved, it's not for me to spell those out. SMNR, as above.

This is finally out, and there is one more archaic show review in the pipeline. Then two months of nothing, and then I write up tonight's Born of Fire if I don't die of pneumonia hiking back in the rain. Shit is getting back on track. Also, I'm writing/recording for a new Coelem thing, which when it gets done will get a bandcamp if the new shit turns out to be not absolutely horrible.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

九龍 - Returning and Conclusion

-- 9 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

733. The Portland at dark again.

Packed up, checked out, on the way. More notes once I'm actually on the plane with everything settled.

Ahead of me, the sun is coming up over the mountains to the south and east. Above me, the terminal ceiling vaults like a hangar. Ten days (well, eight out and about), almost as many pictures as festivals '09, a crapload of souvenirs, and I'm done with my first real vacation-vacation since 2005. It's a little weird, but then again it's been weird throughout here, as I so casually cross the globe and take in summer in November.

I dunno if I'll be back; it's affordable enough with the right constraints, and the climate makes it a good year-end vacation dump, but I do have other places to see, other continents to hit. The world is wide, and our time in it is limited.

On the basis of this trip, despite the limitations inherent in tourism, I feel I can check off Hong Kong, where I couldn't in '06. However, if all I saw was Hong Kong 2010, I wouldn't know what I missed, as the city drifts in and out of states and erases its tracks. Two points make a line; two perspectives on the same object and, given the angles, you can map it in 3D. I don't know what unreal things will come or go in the future, or what shadows of the past have vanished outside of southern Kowloon. Dresden remained mostly the same at four years' distance, and my brother attests to it as mostly the same after five. Hong Kong, though, is and will remain permanently in flux. The only constant is change.

Besides the tourist elements, Hong Kong is a must-visit for anyone who takes their politics seriously. In HK the markets run wild; this is a city that cannot understand why the Phillipines want to collect social insurance payments (Social Security tax equivalent) for domestics working in Hong Kong, and where the argument is seriously offered that if a minimum wage is imposed, incompetent businesses won't be able to survive by exploiting their workers. It is a socialdemocrat's nightmare -- but maybe also a libertarian's as well. Unless you try very hard to miss them, or never go further west than the IFC, east of the BOC, and only south by travelator in Central, you can't fail to notice the old people going around on the streets with boxes and carts of packing materials (nicked either out of the trash or, on occasion, out of shops that haven't put them out in the trash yet) to sell to junk dealers because their social insurance doesn't cover the rent, and if you watch the news for a week, you will get reports of people being injured by chunks of concrete falling off dilapidated housing. As noted before, practically everyone in HK rents, almost no one owns, and this is the "final product" of such markets: everyone owes their housing either to property tycoons or to the government, and nobody is invested in their own living arrangements. Taxes may be low, but with so many social works underwritten by the HKJC, venue of such (potential) shenanigans as described Wednesday, it may be fair to consider the city's gambling addiction as an additional that like all gambling-for-revenue streams is levied disproportionately on the poor and stupid.

To the extent that we address our fiscal crisis by cutting services to meet revenues rather than, dun dun dun, deciding on a level of services and finding a way to pay for them that doesn't involve kicking the problem down the road, the U.S. will grow to resemble Hong Kong. The rich will get richer and keep more of the pie; the rest of us can look forward to crumbling highrises and the illusory dream of hitting the jackpot at the races. That "status quo remaining only at the sufferance of China" thing is probably going to be in the mix as well.

This is, though, the whole point of traveling: to look at other societies and other systems and see what their advantages and tradeoffs are. This is something you don't see from the outside, but from the inside, it's hard to miss. You really wonder how many of the problems in American society dealing with globalization and the pace of change come from the abysmal passport figures (before you needed one at the Canadian/Mexican borders, it was 1 in 10 with a current pass and 1 in 7, lifetime) and, due to the oceans and distance involved, the expense of getting to experience a different society from the inside. As noted above, it takes two perspectives, and the knowledge of their displacement, to see things as they really are.

General preparedness review: I had about one fewer shirt and one fewer pair of mountain socks than really desirable. I didn't need either t-shirt, but will use one as an undershirt when I get out of the tropics and back to New England. I should have insoled my boots earlier; this made a huge, huge difference. Though I didn't need either the emergency pants or the raincoat, I'm not going to sacrifice either on and future trip. Space can be made up by not needing to bring back a beerbucket.

Boarding soon; time for security theater.

If I had contraband rather than K-On!, Railgun, and Sukuran junk in the inner pouch of my bag, it would not have been found by this check. Pure theater.

Gwailo talking about spending down HKD before going home. Dumb; this currency is pegged to RMB, and that's only going to appreciate. I've "made" about 15% by just holding onto my Maobucks from 2006, and as long as I might come back, it's not worth cashing out anything Chinese-backed.

I don't mind helping people, but I reiterate my general rule: if you cannot yourself military-press your carry-on over your head and heft it into the overhead bin, it ought to be checked, as it clearly cannot be "carried" "on".

11/15 (take 2)
New York, New York

American is looking for bumpees, since they did the moron thing and overbooked the plane. The deal sucks, though; $250 voucher is it. Coming back from Germany, my brother got a free hotel night and a large wad of cash. If they gave real incentives like that, people might take it.

Our little prisoner's-dilemma situation resolved -- the airline knuckled and pushed back departure, potentially to get a bigger craft. This isn't a surprising development in any respect; with shitty incentives like that, nobody is going to defect, especially on a Monday afternoon, so the airline throws a shitfit and cancels. This being so, it's worth noting: we have Acela in this corridor, and I got bullshit aggro on both the BOS-JFK legs of this trip. Don't like it, take the train; I definitely would if there was, y'know, a usable North Station-South Station link, or if I lived in town.

Despite the aggro, the flight still takes barely 35 minutes, so I got to Boston in good order, only missed one of the Blue Line buses, was glad to find that the TSA hadn't stolen anything out of my bag when they inspected it due to being full of weirdly-shaped metal objects, and got back in one piece. End of the road, at least for now.

734. Bonus track -- Mio-tan doing siqq bass drops khed with an appropriate background. Figma does other articulated K-On! figures with hardware, but not only did I not really have space for the rest of the band, I was pretty sure that Ricchan's hands wouldn't have any configuration that would imply a double gravity blast correctly, and that Yui would not include a face suggestive of alternating between chug riffs and pinch harmonic squeals. The dream of K-ONposted must remain a dream, at least till I can check the other kits. (Appropriate background courtesy of Maruta and Embryonic Devourment.)

八龍 - New Territories part 2: Yuen Long; Victoria Harbour

-- 8 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

Finally, it's come to the last day. This is also more or less an off day; I have one point left to hit in the New Territories, mostly to get omiyage for work, and the harbor tour, and that's it. Two more point-ats, another try at getting animu junk, and it'll be time to sit up for the Celtic game with beer and snacks -- but since it's tonight rather than last night, it'll be in my room while packing up rather than out trying to find a bar willing to put it on.

645. Waiting for the elevator out, this building catches the light.

646. Yuen Long -- mountains and railway bridge.

I got lost trying to get to Huang Heng on the first attempt, but at least the views were nice.

647. Mountain to the east.

648. Yuen Long cityscape.

Cakes are in; another pass on Nathan, bunker this stuff, and we're done.

649. Restaurant with a silly name in the MTR station.

I got back, and also successfully got my anime crap. A full set of Railgun keyfobs, the second series of Sukuran minifigs, featuring artist Harima and cheerleader Eri, a Capt. Gotou keychain by 100% accident, and the requisite K-On junk, a posable Mio figurine capable of doing bass drops. The only challenge is to get all this shit home.

Since lunch was mostly two cans of Blue Girl (plus some dried fish), I got some drying out to so, but by three I should be on the tour. With that sorted, and the pics written up, another pack of dried and a couple tins and I'll be set for the night.

650. People from Glasgow keep telling me to get down here. I wonder why.

Sorry, that joke doesn't translate at all into normal-people English.

651. Into Central through the haze. The API in Mong Kok this morning was 94 -- glad I got out, but I wasn't especially feeling it.

652. CCP quitting station at the Star Ferry pier. Full service, yeh?

The tour wasn't leaving till 4:05, so I went to get some eats in the median.

653. Banyan by Heritage 1881.

White hippies who've hiked Nathan in full dreadsack, tire sandals, and patchouli stench need to wire in as to whether they've gotten barked up by the tailors. I really suspect that the trigger here is Nilla-P and Nilla-P alone; I'm in a battered army hat with a death metal pin through it, stinking to high heaven and slugging San Mig out of a can -- in what rational world do I look like I'll ever need a handtailored suit?

654. TST clock tower up close.

655. Closer view over to Central.

656. Youth band playing a showcase in the clock tower park. The lack of DIY venues and opportunities really hurts; if I were rating this event, these guys would come in at about a 2.5/7: mediocre A-rock, devoid of flavor and not really nutritious, much like this ham-and-egg bun I'm currently eating.

It feels like rain -- maybe there's been a point to hiking about with this ultralight rainjacket in my bag all week.

657. Next band; 3/7. Less boring, and they missed fewer notes.

658. For the death metal fans; I ended up paying a monk like $120 for this picture, so enjoy it.

659. My wrist is about 1" greater in circumference than Buddhist touts expect.

Lazy CanalHarbor Boat Tourism PAATO 2!

660. Star Ferry and Central skyline.

661. Towards Kennedy.

662. Ships on the roads.

663. Centered on the BoC tower.

664. Plane against the sky.

665. Tower on the Kowloon side.

666. Cotai ferry coming in.

667. Central and tramp freighter.

668. Bridge and typhoon shelter.

669. Waves as we roll.

670. Another of the TST typhoon shelter.

671. Pilot boat -- it's coming right at us!

672. More of the western roads.

673. Central and Lantau fast ferry.

674. Freighter and houseboat.

675. Central waterfront.

676. IFC and surrounding buildings.

677. Wake of a hydrofoil and the K-town side.

678. Central waterfront again.

679. Kowloon side, better view.

680. IFC and further east.

681. Houseboat dwarfed by Central.

682. Central and opera house.

683. Paper floating in the harbor.

684. Just the tip of Kowloon.

685. Houseboat in front of the opera house.

686. Kowloon again.

687. Eastbound out of Sha Tou.

688. Closer in on the stern.

689. Houseboat and pier.

690. Central pier house.

691. Bank of China and neighbors.

692. The IFC recedes as we pull out from Central.

693. Freighter 'under escort'.

694. Chopper inbound.

695. Overflight.

696. Buoy in the harbor.

697. Small boats plying the channel.

698. Freighters crossing in front of Central.

699. Freighters, houseboat, skyline.

700. Houseboat dwarfed by the towers of Central.

701. A high-riding freighter fills the frame.

702. Another old boat against the gleaming skyline.

703. Kowloon and Central reaching out to touch.

704. Wide view of Central under cloudy skies.

705. A headland in east Kowloon.

706. A helicopter crosses up the IFC.

707. Rubbing strake and the water.

708. AIA building, Wan Chai.

709. Housing blocks, a little further east.

710. Freighter pounding eastwards.

711. North Point.

712. Terracing and cruise ship, Kowloon side.

713. East Central.

714. Coming onto the end of the Kowloon peninsula.

715. Back over to Central.

716. Cool apartment blocks in east TST.

717. Also on the tour.

718. Containers loading in Kowloon.

719. Scrap barge on its berth.

720. Sand barge and Central.

721. Sino Group Christmas decorations part 1.

722. Part 2.

723. Part 3. (These aren't lit yet.)

724. Highrises in southern Kowloon.

725. Big ads in Central.

726. Tug and Central.

727. Sand barge, same spot.

728. Peninsular Hotel with tower.

729. Motor junk Aqua Luna tying up.

730. A differently-liveried ferry coming across.

731. Old fire engine, Salisbury Road underpass.

732. Nathan stirs to life at dusk.

With this, the trip is all but over. I still have to get dinner and figure out how I'm going to pack all this shit up, but I'm not going to see anything new of Hong Kong in the process. This was a good vacation; time to wind it down, be sure to get the plans for tomorrow morning set, and get ready to go back to work.

It's either the insoles or just acclimatization, but I've got my kick and my second gear back -- either that or everyone else just moseys along on Sundays rather than going at their normal pace.

Dinner was at the MK Eat Together, a local chain restaurant; kickass yummy cuisine at the $20 price point. I'm going to miss this when I get home.

七龍 - New Territories part 1: Sha Tin, Tai Po

-- 7 --

Sha Tin, New Territories

Out here, you really need to write directions from the station. I have a bunch of things to see and, it appears, insufficient information to find them. A little hiking's not going to be fatal, though, and I'm pretty sure I've got time before these attractions even open.

My hotel provides paper slippers with the room. As they are too small for my Fomorian feets, they have been useless -- until being juryrigged as additional insoles. We'll see over today how good or dumb this idea is; it seems to be helping so far.

528. HomeSquare building in Sha Tin.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

529. Ancestor worship hall, before I figured out I was headed for the temple.

530. Sign at the start of the path. The way up starts behind the government offices in a way that is not well marked for, nearly on the level of "disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'".

531. First of the trail.

532. More of the path up.

533. D.R. Cha probably didn't pose for this, but doesn't it look like him?

534. Indian and Chinese arhats.

535. Another look up the path. This is a relatively steep quarter-mile of switchbacks, but the temple and the statues on the way make it worth it.

536. Dude is NOT pleased.

537. Buddha and serial. The statues are numbered, but not serially relative to their positions on the path, as a much later pic will show.

538. It just keeps going up.

539. Warning sign at a turnout. There was another sign warning visitors about feeding or approaching monkeys, but I neither saw nor heard any here.

540. The long slope up, dappled in shadow.

541. Religion of peace? Everyone link to this image with those words, and we can trollinate both the US right-wing's favorite Islamophobe meme and Islamic PR efforts.

542. A gathering of saints.

543. Closer view of that assembly.

544. Serial number on the back.

545. A look out over the hillside.

546. Up to the side of the main temple.

547. Guanyin statues on one of the last rises. Also: WYSI,YWSB.

548. Sculptures of heroes sit on a wall.

549. Across to the pagoda.

550. Down into the valley towards the town.

551. Dan Seagrave tries his hand at religious sculpture.

552. Seated, holding the ba gua.

553. Up to the upper temple area.

554. Out from the top level.

555. Rank of Guanyins at the top.

556. Ceremonial gate.

557. Maintenance area. These statues don't stay golden by magic.

558. Statues and bamboo forest.

559. Pagoda and temple grounds.

560. Banyan and stone wall on the slope.

561. Inside the temple. Each point of light is a LED at the seat of an individual golden sculpture of the Gautama Buddha. These are the ten thousand -- all those guys and gals outside are extra, bringing the total number of sculptures of various Buddhas here to somewhere around 12,500.

562. Temple grounds.

563. Zodiac animals along the temple rail.

564. Center pavilion and pagoda, atrociously backlit.

No idea if anything facing eastish came out at the time; I could barely see the outlines of what I was shooting on the camera screen.

565. Pavilion, closer, still backlit.

566. Pavilion with side light, finally.

567. Hundred-armed Buddha and off into the valley.

568. Temple front.

569. Guanyin under the pavilion.

570. Lotus pond detail.

571. Sitting Buddha and lotus.

572. Elephant and kirin on the temple rail; someone had a good idea and didn't check if there were going to be more than twelve posts.

573. Out into the town.

574. The hills are alive...with the sound of earthmovers?

Trees from this clearance were in danger of falling on the path as I went down, so I had to keep a weather eye out.

575. Pines and a view into town over the statues.

576. A more traditional composition, of the lone pine coming out of the slope.

577. Non-consecutive serials.

578. Buddhas and the slope.

579. Statues, forest, and the municipal offices.

580. Smoke catches the light at the end of the trail.

581. Another view of the HomeSquare building and government offices.

It's barely 11; if I can find the Heritage Museum, I'll do that. If not, on to Tai Po.

Sha Tin Park

582. Highrises and mountains.

583. Bridge over the river.

584. Sculpture in the council courtyard.

585. You can tell it's a New Town by the ugly brick Brutalist buildings.

Sha Tin is a planned settlement roughly contemporaneous with the British New Towns in the home isles. I've never been to Milton Keynes, but I have been to Government Center, so I know Brutalist urban-renewal government spaces when I see them. This council complex is really bad even for government Brutalism from this era; fortunately, the rest of Sha Tin is a lot better.

586. Rural Hong Kong: palms, highrises, mountains, sky, shot up from the park.

587. Friendly trash can, Sha Tin Park.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

After a longer than necessary hike on an abraded Achilles from yesterday, I got to the Heritage Museum. It is big and awesome, but I'm hurting for food and hydration, and pretty sure that breaking the New Territories tourpoints into two days was the right thing to do.

588. Cantonese opera playbills.

589. Bamboo-shed stage.

590. Famous open-air stage, kind of the Apollo of Cantonese opera.

591. Slate for 590.

592. Monetary plaque awarded to a '30s-era star by fans in the US.

593. Model of the erection of a temporary bamboo-shed theater.

594. Opera instruments. Note the alto sax mid-frame; Cantonese opera doesn't shy away in terms of incorporating new elements in order to stay relevant.

595. Headgear for different roles.

596. Opera sword. The blade is mirrored, and the rings driven through the back edge are to accent the sound as it swings.

597. An early example of the 'cash fan'. Not invented in Jersey after all. :(

598. Opera costumes.

599. Neolithic stone tools from sites in the New Territories.

600. Barge and trading vessel cutaways.

601. Old fishing village street.

602. Ancestor effigies, before literacy improved enough that poor families could use wooden name tablets.

603. Hakka temple exterior.

604. Interior of the temple.

605. Traditional Hakka costume.

606. Painting on the interior door of the temple. No idea how I braced this one this well, this was wicked dark live.

607. Old colonial arms; removed from the government offices in Central after the handover, and donated here.

608. Small original engine from the Kowloon-Canton railway, predecessor of the MTR-administered regional train I used to get out here.

Onward! Finish museum, eat lunch, on to Tai Po by 1400!

609. The problems of suburban expansion are universal. It is a testament to human arrogance that we developed a science of urban planning before bothering to find out fucking cities, how do they work, for real.

610. Handover ceremony program and commemorative goods.

611. Current and future projects.

612. Wicked meta; in the flaneur exhibit, taking pictures of pictures taken the way I take pictures.

613. Dark Tranquillity album art crossinfluences.

After this, I got told to stop shooting. There's a lot in this museum that you're not allowed to take pictures of; haul yourself out on your own and look at it.

614. Staircase by the entrance.

615. Looking out the window. This isn't that flaneur shit, because the observer has gotten himself into the photo by mistake.

One more gallery, and I can go refuel.

616. Tibetan objets d'art in the T.T. Tsui collection.

617. Pottery animals.

618 - 620. Seated general; pick 'em as to which came out. None of them really did, but I had to keep something of this display.

621. Glazed horse sculpture, Tang Dynasty.

622. Ming plates.

623. A side of Ming pottery not seen as often, but in a presentation like this, just as cool.

DONE! Need food badly!

624. Van Lum bronzes on the way out.

625. Art arrows part 2: bike underpass by Sha Tin Park.

626. Mountains across the river.

627. Bridge and New Town architecture.

628. Bleeding Cowboy on a Christmas ad. Use this as a visual aid when pointing and laughing at metalcore bands.

Tai Po

My feets are killing me, and I'm about to follow a small and late breakfast with a small and late lunch. If I hadn't taken that off day Tuesday, I'd be looking to go home and nerd out in Sino Comic. As it is, gotta press on. Man up, Man Mo, head home.

629. Whatever helps push adoption; the parking garage under the Cooked Food Center only accepts Octopus.

630. Yes, this counts as rural in HK.

631. Back of the Man Mo temple. A little underwhelming after the 10,000 Buddhas this morning.

632. Fresh market in the alley alongside the temple. A can't-miss attraction in Edwardian days, the temple has now been swallowed up by the city.

633. Temple amid the buildings.

634. Through the doors into the temple.

635. Up above opposite; bone-white highrises and brilliant-blue sky.

636. Out through the gate; that's fresh pork hanging in the open air.

Americans and other people who eat meat, but don't know where it comes from may be disturbed by the above and some of the following images. However, such people should be reminded that there's a reason that fire-based cooking took off everywhere: it really cuts down on poisoning from contaminated groceries. As long as you COOK your goddamn pig parts, it doesn't much matter how may flies take a breather on them.

And vegetarians, before you get all sanctimonious, remember that if those yummy-looking veggies in #632 have been grown using traditional sustainable agriculture, then they have been fertilized primarily with human poops. This is why there's no such thing as raw vegetables in Chinese cuisine.

637. Live turtles in the wet market.

638. And some crabs and frogs. Crabs aint working too hard, though.

639. Highrise over the shopping street.

640. Awesome view down an alley.

641. Low overhead clearance on the back steps at Tai Wo. Most of HK, I'm ok, but here and quite a few places in Macau, it was more than a little tight.

The rail back was ok, though it's good I don't have much strenuous lined up over the rest of the trip. (One or two points in west NT, then Star Ferry's harbor tour, and I'm done.) I need the rest to do that early leg Monday to get out. Off at YMT, up Portland to the cutlery shop, last souvenir and meat knife getto. All set.

I then tried to check out this Sino Comic I'd seen advertised on the wall of the building; right idea, wrong time. All of the third (numbers 1xx) and most of the fourth (2xx) levels (on the fourth, everything not devoted to live-action porn) of the Sino Center building on Nathan across from my hotel are devoted to animu junk. Unfortunately, it seems the scene's passed me by; I saw a few interesting things, like the complete Kindaichi manga in a store that did not appear to have an entrance, and a 4-set of SD K-On! figures that I couldn't pull out of the wall of boxes they were in, but most of it, no interest. (Is this a positive?) I had to settle for H-Zone #15 at the convenience store; if you're gonna drop $30 on animu pr0nz, it might as well come with 16 centerfolds and a double-sided 8x10 pencilboard. Just saying.

Plan is rest, beers, and a late dinner; there is hiking tomorrow and I don't want to cut short due to resting up to go home.

642. Guinness Foreign Extra, a 6.8% brewed for export. Why don't we have this at home? Screw the cap, I'm taking the whole bottle home to bring in to Kitty's and yell at them till they get a tap open.

This was, of course, written overseas. No sooner do I get home and replenish my empty fridge than I see a four-pack of smaller bottles of this beer sitting on the counter of the packie next to my building. So we do have it, but not in big-people bottles.

643. It's like Coors Light's mountains, but for people who can, y'know, read words.

644. ((not germane))

六龍 - Macau

-- 6 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

Today, Macau. I don't have a firm plan, but as the peninsula is wicked, wicked small and the islands uninteresting for my purposes, I should be able to see a decent amount. First ferry from TST is in an hour; let's boogie.

Nearly all of the intel on this trip was done through Wikitravel, which has now served me well on two continents. Thoroughly approved.

I didn't find the Kowloon ferry pier correctly, so here I am sitting off Central pier, knocking back breakfast, having gone across as the only white dude on the lower deck of the Star (because that was what I had exact change for). Same water either way.

321. Original wing chung school is still by Shoestring Travel. It's historically noteworthy, even if modern MMA seems to universally look down on it as a less effective style.

322. Christmas comes early to Harbour City.

323. Same denomination, different designs. Hong Kong does not issue any denomination larger than $10 (which is both printed on plastic and struck as coins) through its central monetary authority. Banks print their own bills as bearer notes; I've seen HBSC, Standard Chartered (both shown here), and Bank of China, but just these in the same denomination at the same time. I'm a fan of the Fed as opposed to anarchy (seriously, look up the Panic of 1907 to see why we need that kind of thing), but perhaps our currency would look nicer if banks could print their own, and maybe the banks wouldn't act like such assholes if there was the pressure on them of underwriting the medium of exchange.

324. Tug dragging a dredging barge.

325. Tramp freighter plodding east.

A note about hydrofoils: they are fast, but there's a tradeoff in a lack of lateral stability when not underway. Sitting in the pier, we're pitching worse than I've felt since that storm crossing to Denmark. Once the ship's underway, though, we'll be out of the water, problem solved.

326. Boats in the harbor while hiking between piers.

327. Shipping in the harbor as the ferry gets underway.

328. Container ship inbound to Kowloon.

329. The Pellas, "out of Monrovia". Liberia, the Delaware of ship registries.

330. The butt end of Maersk Altair as we bank right to avoid it.

331. Unloaded freighter, riding so high its screws are almost out of the water.

332. Island and barge loading containers. That this is necessary usually means that the vessel in question draws too much water to be loaded in the harbor.

333. Cool rock formation.

334. Resort around a headland. Friday morning, so the beaches are empty.

335. Rocky shore. Coming from New England, it's so weird not to see glacier damage.

336. Road up into the interior.

337. More rocks calving into the water. There's like zero soil depth on these islands.

338. Shek Pik and dam from the sea.

339. The very southwest tip of Lantau.

340. Not an optical illusion; the sea really is that green color, and the sky really is that yellow-brown.

341. Empty tanker at anchor.

342. Small fishing boat running its nets.

343. Pylon thingy with steps, coming in to Macau.

344. Breakwaters and ships off shore.

345. Yellow marker and city far behind it.

346. Bridge linking down to Cotai.

347. The pier, as we come in.


After dodging half a dozen touts, I'm running free, yeah.

348. Vestigial official language. About 1% of the population speaks any Portuguese at all, but it's still required by law on all signs.

349. Old stonework building on the harbor.

350. Casino side.

351. Gate and mopeds.

352. Street view; the barriers are up because the GP is going through the streets here next weekend.

353. Old houses on the Fishermen's Wharf.

354. View up the Rua de Malaca. Nice composition, and I also find the Portuguese translation of the "massage" place (bottom of the blue sign) simply hilarious.

355. End of the street; hotel and erosion wall.

356. Side of the Casa Real casino.

357. Artificial hill thingy over Fishermen's Wharf.

358. Public sculpture on a traffic island.

So far, at least one plan has been epic fail. I'll explain.

I collect coins. And I collect them the real way, not the pussy way by paying real money for mint sets and shit: I go to other countries, buy stuff with cash, and decirculate whatever out of my change I don't have yet. This turn on the HK side has been mostly about picking up the extremely rare coins with QEII on them as much as I can, but Macau was supposed to give me a new denomination, and it just aint there. I got out 500 patacas in order to grind them into change, got a beer and some dried apricots for lunch from a minimart, and got back pataca bills and HKD in change....and I don't know enough Cantonese to go "no, bitch, give me YOUR CCP-tolerated play money". Sucks. Must work harder. At least the beer is different.

359. The flag flies from an observation station.

360. Frieze on the side of a hotel.

361. "Itchy for creation"? Get a checkup, and use condoms when you go to the sauna!

362. Southeast Asia really is behind on graffiti. (If a Westerner came all the way out here to write this, though, they need to be disappeared to the PRC's camps in the western desert posthaste.)

363. Now you know the answer.

364. Inside the GP Museum.

Portuguese really is extinct here; going in the building, I asked after the museum in Iberian (ok, ok, "museo" not "museu", but the pronunciation's almost identical), and the guard answered in English. If Hong Kong is a Scotland-level pretend country, Macau is more like Northern Ireland.

365. Side view of a recent Honda -- they actually race that Mugen stuff.

366. Into the cockpit, same car.

367. They race tourers here too.

368. Mercedes 16V = DO WANT.

369. Ayrton Senna's #3. If you need this explained, no explanation may be enough.

370. Tourer-style from the early days.

371. The course, looking south.

372. Under the hood of Joe Ramos' Toyota.

373. Slate for 372.

374. Some of Teddy Yip's old burners.

375. Dave Purley's #1, before people decided engines needed fairings.

376. Slate for 374.

377. Arsenio Laurel's double-winning car, with his Camwreckers badge, from before the race went completely pro.

378. An Austin Princess used by the governor. This thing is like a frickin minibus.

379. Wine cart in the neighboring wine museum.

In comparison to the GP museum, the wine museum kind of sucks. I wanted some info and history on winemaking in Macau, and I got a poorly lit ad for the Douro.

380. White and red grapes chucked in the press together.

381. Stills.

382. Still and "serpentinho" for separation. Much better than "worm".

383. Wine guild robes and region guide.

384. Rack of Portuguese wines.

Though the museum sucks for tourists, there is actually a sound reason for doing this big ad for Portuguese wine producers. Wine is huge business in HK as a status symbol, because the climate here kills it immediately on arrival. A wine collection here means you have the money to build and run a completely climate-controlled winecellar to keep it in; us temperate dwellers who can just throw it in the garage or in the basement just can't relate. Accordingly, if Hong Kongers drink Portuguese wines, they will pay a stupid premium for them, because ALL wine gets a stupid premium in HK, and the production chain will make bank. Simple.

385. Payoff! This is a free museum, but it's 10 patacoes a glass (about $1.50), and I couldn't find the ticket seller. Oh well; I'm a beerdrinker anyway, and there's no shortage of that.

386. Chinese from the region will lulz at the name of this apartment house, given the city it's in.

387. Towers towards the waterfront.

388. Grandstand under construction.

389. How you get to be the most densely-populated place on earth: highrise apartment blocks rise out of a luxury restaurant.

390. When you have as many brothels as Macau does, eventually you are going to use every single goddamned name there is.

391. Golden tower of the Grand Lisboa.

392. Golden bulge of the atrium. This building was clearly designed by Master P.

393. Light sculptures out towards the lakefront.

394. The man and the gift; Dr. Stanley Ho and a priceless ancient bronze sculpture.

When you have as much money as Dr. Ho raked in, you can buy some pretty ridiculous stuff. A small sample follows.

395. One of the world's larger emeralds; this is about the square frontage dimensions of a matchbox.

396. Ridiculous detail in a giant two-toned sculpture.

397. Peacocks with golden tails.

398. A lot of this is built onto rather than carved into the tusk, but a lot of it isn't.

399. Staircase in the lobby.

400. Wooden sculpture carved from a stump, leaving much of the rootmass intact.

401. Remember those ridiculous jade dragon boats from Beijing? Dr. Ho had one too, but his is made completely of solid gold.

402. Immense, detailed, single-block jade; huge, ridiculous, solid-gold. There is a theme at play here.

403. This, also, started life as a single piece of jade.

After this, I was set to go in. However, there was a sign by the metal detectors: no hats - no cameras - no weapons. Three in a row! What do I win? Since I suspected that the answer to that was going to be "a free taxi ride, courtesy of the policia", I decided not to test my luck.

404. The original Lisboa across the street.

405. View across the piazza where I stopped to write these up. It's shots like this that make people say Macau is like being in (southern) Europe. This, of course, is baloney; all the real parts of this city are Cantonese, much like Hong Kong and its surrounding districts. Ok, maybe 'normative' would be better than 'real'; all this stuff actually exists and is an inextricable part of Macau as it is today. However, this is a Chinese city with Portuguese influence to varying levels in varying places, much as Hong Kong is a Chinese city with English influence to varying levels in varying places, rather than a Portuguese city transported to the Pearl delta.

I still have to find the ruins, then likely get some Macanese food if I can, and decide whether it's worth waiting till things light up, or if I want to head back to HK early. This is a wicked small island, and most of the remaining tourist attractions either confiscate your hat or give you the clap. There's no shortage of betting in HK, and I'm staying in the Portland for crying out loud, but there is other stuff to do.

406. Mosaic on the path. There's a lot of these on the sidewalks downtown, but it can be tough to shoot them due to the foot traffic.

Macau Recipes = win. Not only did I get a nice lunch (of stuff of the like I've never seen on a normal Cantonese menu), I got pataca coins in change. Everybody profits!

This restaurant is actually four in one; Portuguese on the first floor, Chinese on the second, Macanese on the third floor, and Japanese (though closed at the time) on the fourth. This is neat from a symbolism perspective, as Macanese cooking is a fusion of Cantonese with Portuguese elements, and Japanese cooking isn't totally unaffected by the elements presented on the lower floors. They can think all they want that they invented tempura, but it's not going to change the reality.

407. Street out of the piazza.

408. More colonial architecture.

409. Classic facade.

410. The ruins of St. Paul's. Sic transit gloria mundi.

411. A closer view on Da San Po.

412. Intercultural peace sculpture in the plaza before the church.

413. Chinese temple and highrise.

414. Ruins from the side.

415. "The towers of steel stand proud/Cathedrals of a new age/Let all with greed come worship/At the Altar of the Gods". I can't be the first Saxon fan to show up here and shoot this. Well, maybe so after all; knowledge of Solid Ball of Rock is neither common nor correlated at the high level with an enhanced awareness of one's surroundings, but the lyric still selfsuggests when you show up at a ruined church and see it framing a ridiculous highrise casino from a particular angle.

416. Original dedication (Mary as Mater Dei) on the facade. The plaques inside make it sound like the Swamp Castle of churches.

417. Slate saying as much.

418. View out from inside.

419. Foundations going down to the crypt areas.

420. Museum of Sacred Art; the bloodiness (blurred out by the exposure) of the Christ at left should not be surprising for those familiar with Mexican religious art.

421. St. Augustine with a model of the church bearing his name here.

422. St. Michael with sword and scales.

423. Silver frame used to carry statues of the Virgin in processions.

424. Martyrdom of the Japanese Christians at the start of the Tokugawa shogunate. This was the place the Jesuits came to Japan from, and a lot more successful in the exporting-Catholicism business.

425. Non-maintained slate for 424.

426. Renovated crypt.

427. Remains recovered in the excavation/re-presentation of the church. There are 'sacred space' warnings outside, and the atmosphere, at least as I was going through, was respectful.

428. Street, coming up out of the crypts.

429. Row of houses over the church site wall.

430. Statue of Padre Ricci, the leader of the first Jesuit mission to Macau. You wouldn't know it, would you?

Fortress and Macau Museum

431. Greenery along the fortress wall.

432. Somebody's dog has just no patience.

433. Greenery and a view towards the center.

434. Battlements rise over the park area.

435. To the west, over the city to the mountains on the Chinese side.

436. Lookout tower on the fortress.

437. Cannon at the end of the Rua dos Artilheiros.

438. Forge marking, same gun.

439. Battlements and more cannon.

440. View south, commanded by the Grand Lisboa.

While checking the directions on the above, I found out that Google's map of Macau is among their more incorrect/out of phase. For fun, try swapping between the map and satellite views when zoomed in on the city to the 500-foot level. Watch for large nets of roads that according to the map view are out in the ocean -- Macau keeps building themselves more land, and the default map view can't keep up.

441. Injunctive plaque em Português.

442. Arms over the gate to the museum precincts.

443. Shrine alcove inside.

444. Garden and the side of the museum.

445. More of the end of the garden.

446. Banyan by the museum.

447. Inside; replica scapulars in a nice parallel introduction to Portuguese and Chinese culture to where they were introduced to each other at Macau.

448. Portuguese arms on the other side of the corridor.

449. Christian artifacts. There were more actual pieces, as opposed to replicas, on the Portuguese side.

450. Stone Age pottery from the Pearl Delta area.

451. This is cool; writeup of the first known lapidary lathe. I LIKE MACHINES OK BUZZ OFF.

452. More pottery fragments.

453. Porcelain from the time of first contact.

454. Old maps of the far east.

455. Porcelain bowl showing Euro influence.

456. What Macau used to look like. Those four lower islands are now a single landmass thanks to extensive fill and reclamation, necessary because there was nowhere left to put more casinos. Not kidding. This is why there are no photos from Cotai; there is nothing except megacasinos until gou get way, way down in Coloane.

457. Implements and silk routes by land...

458. ...and by water.

459. Porcelain in several styles.

460. ((cut))

461. Showing the roots of different nations' words for tea (茶). The Portuguese and nations they contacted use the Cantonese pronunciation, while the Dutch and nations they introduced the drink to use the Fukinese pronunciation.

462. 3500 years of Chinese money. From shell, hoe, and knife money to 1911; pretty impressive.

463. Artifacts of the Jesuits.

464. Replica armillaries exchanged between Europeans and the court astronomers at Beijing; there's a message here about science being a common language and a foundation for cooperation and synergy that a lot of idiots are going to blow right past.

465. Silver house markers.

466. Bombard in a lion carriage with a lot of frame shake.

467. Derry's Walls in reverse. For reference visavis 468.

468. Same writeup in English; a look at the original shows that the battlecry probably translates better as "For St. James! GITTUM!", but you can't really put that in a museum exhibit.

469. Restored confessional.

470. Badly framed prayer books in Chinese and Portuguese.

471. Night fishing scene. This was nearly as dark as the Stavkirke in Norway, but low-light mode, as long as you don't shake the camera to death, cures many ills.

472. Old post box.

473. Fireworks industry materials. This, like most of the traditional industries (dough figures, incense, matches) mentioned in this area of the museum, is basically extinct in the Macau of today.

474. Bridal sedan chair, with the mandatory "não tocar" sign.

475. Gambling utensils; the end of the museum and its centerpiece view of modern Macau.

Done with the museum, time to explore the way back.

476. West across the strait.

477. City view.

478. South to the Macau Tower. This is wicked south on Cotai, but tall enough to get into the skyline this far north. Accordingly, I don't need to hop a casino bus to get down south and take some closer pictures of it.

479. Cool architecture on everyday buildings.

480. Highrise beyond the battlements park.

481. City framed by a gunport.

482. Taking aim.

This isn't bound to any particular cannon on this wall. The Grand Lisboa is so damn big, you can frame this shot with any of the gun emplacements on the south wall.

483. Forge markings on the caisson.

484. Roof garden by the exit.

485. Looking down at the shrine.

486. Cool metalwork and shadows on the road down. I didn't really know where I was going, but being large in stature gives you a great deal of freedom in the "let's walk in a random direction in a strange city and hope to get where we need to" direction.

487. Empty backstreet, almost like a movie set. This was so quiet as to be actively silent, which just added to the sense of unreality.

488. Down a pedestrian avenue.

489. Graffiti and old houses. There's a lot more uneffaced graffiti here than in Hong Kong; different culture, maybe. The tags here, though, in color and style really match in well with their surroundings. This is an artist who just hasn't gotten out of his/her scribbling phase yet.

490. San Lazaro, a street away.

The one huge difference between Macau and Hong Kong, that I've noticed, is that there's music here. Live music; drums working a beat over an engineering shop, piano and sax out of the building to the right here as I walked down towards the church. It would be racist to connect this to their respective colonial administrators -- and maybe sectarian as well -- but hey, what the hell, I shot a lot of swastikas at Ngong Ping, get out the brush and the tar bucket.

491. San Lazaro up close.

492. Mosaic where the foot/moped path crosses the car street.

493. Footbridge over a major road. The color and depth of scenery is on a par with, if not better than, Kowloon.

494. Commercial buildings and German-style parking sign.

495. Cineatro Macau on São Francisco garden.

496. Fountain sculpture in the garden. As late as the 1930s, this place was allegedly just off the waterfront. Looking south, I can't see anything obviously older than mid-'50s, so maybe so.

497. Cool old highrises over the garden.

Mission Pataca has gone success; between lunch, museum, and a can of coffee at the critical 8.20 price point, I now lack only the rare 20a and 10P coins, and I hit on a 2P, which is also on the rares list. If you want to collect, go inland of the casinos and/or buy stuff, like museum tickets, from the government. They're required by law to transact in MOP, while in many other places it's a crapshoot to get back patacas rather than HKD.

Probably getting on time to head back; I'll see how long till dusk, and if I can get a pork chop roll closer to the piers.

498. Globe thingy on the China Plaza building.

499. Macau, old and new.

500. The seats in the grandstand, in this light, are as golden as the tower behind them.

On the lintel over the entrance to the Golden Sauna, to the left of the name, there stands the legend "Mundo de Adultos" (because "Mundo de Putas" would have been insulting to the help or something). How is this translated into English on the right doorpost? You guessed it: "Sex Shop". I don't know whether I want to cry, throw up, or stab somebody. The feats of Shakespeare, of Yeats, and of Eliot, doing what they did with the toolset at their disposal, should be counted against other nations as the poetic equivalent of building a cathedral by yelling at a gang of retarded monkeys.

501. The Diamond Casino. I can't explain the windmill either (Antwerp diamond traders' market? De Beers? no fuckin clue), but I'm sure it's on Wikipedia. (It's not.)

502. Cool street-straddling arch.

503. Nice little park by the Rio.

To-do list is fairly short; a Macau Beer cap (they capped the bottle for me at lunch, boo), a pork chop roll (it'd be like going to Berlin and getting neither doner nor currywurst), and then I can head out. Sun's going down, though, so some night pics are probably on the card as well.

504. I'll let my Chinese-ethnic friends make the fairly obvious joke here. I aint touching it, I've written enough racist things for one day.

505. Androgynous sculptures by the Waldo. Knob or pregnant woman? All depends on your perspective.

506. Another golden casino.

507. Look over a public park to Fishermens' Wharf.

508. Some original forest over a bus park. (Yes, it's probably regrowth, but still.)

509. Why to buy local, rather than from chain minimarts: this costs a buck. (The hand, for scale, belongs to the 6'2" white foreign devil writing this.) 7 MOP, seriously.

510. Pork chop roll place, animu on the TV.

IgotaboneIgotaboneawesome!!!1! This is either super authentic or a gwailo trap, maybe both.

I actually got several bones, one of which fortunately degristled cleanly enough to wrap in a paper napkin and take home as a souvenir. The actual sandwich is as yummy as might be expected for, effectively, a festival Hackbraten with some crunchy surprises, and highly recommended.

No, there are no T-shirts with a picture of a pork chop roll and I GOT BONED IN MACAU on the front, and some ham bones on the back. Business opportunity!

Soooo....three 22ers in, one purchased entirely in Chinese, and I STILL have no Macau Beer cap. Drinking it at lunch fucking cursed me. Still, Pearl River is good shit, and not all hope is lost as I crawl my way north to the ferry.

511. Improper neon maintenance can have hilarious consequences.

512. Elephants in front of a Taoist shrine under the building between the Golden Dragon and the Jai Alai.

513. Class old police box and splitting tree planter.

Packed up, heading out. Good day, not looking forward to the hikes ahead to get home. Just use the MTR! It'll be super effective!

514. Fun street name. Roll them Rs!

515. Out into the darkening harbor.

516. The casino from #350 (Oceanus at Jai Alai) all lit up.

517. Oceanus changing phase.

518. Heli, at least as good a shot as I was going to get. Since I didn't even get into the casinos, let alone hit it large, this is as close to the ride as I was going to get.

519. Jai Alai and mountain tower behind.

520. Colonial villa lit up on the hill.

521. Jai Alai neonshow.

522. Vegas of the East, just stirring to life.

523. SD Gundam promotion in the ferry terminal. If, as a Westerner, you know what this is at all, or as an Easterner over the age of about 10, you know which specific iteration of the series this is, congratulations, you are (also) a huge nerd.

On a related note, the outlet shop on the third floor of the terminal has one of the largest and most complete offerings of Gunpura I've ever seen in my life, at least as I can remember. (I was in Japan when I was nine, and can't remember if I noticed better.) They also had some Guren models -- in a white box with no art, because Gainax keeps it real GP/GX style like that.

And the further you understood into that graf, on an ascending scale to the throwaway Otaku no Video reference at the end, the more of an irredeemably huge nerd you are.

524. Your guide to telling Macanese restaurants from Cantonese. Macanese put fried eggs on stuff, Cantonese don't. And now you know, and can find yourself a pork chop roll shop and get boned.

(Note: if you need assistance getting boned in Macau in a way that is just vulgar, not a double entendre, there are no words, not in English nor in other languages that suck less, to describe how hard you fail it. You could as easily fail to drop money in the casinos as fail to pay for sex, if such was your objective.)

525. Language makes the world humane. Wouldn't you rather wait for an open seat on an earlier ferry than the one you paid for in the "Line of Hope" than in the "Stand By Line"?

526. An animu promotion in the MTR that actually makes sense. (If you know why and did not grow up in east Asia or a culturally east-Asian household, see the note on 523.)

527. My bone souvenir after some washing. If this starts to rot before I can chemwash it, it's getting ditched. (This, unsurprisingly, happened. I got back from Sha Tin the next day and it was stinking before I could use bleach on it. Oh well, don't have to try and take an animal bone through customs.)

五龍 - Lantau: Ngong Ping, Po Lin, Tai O, Mui Wo

-- 5 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

230. The....thingy I won for getting onto the Löwenbräu leaderboard.

So I woke up to a Celtic loss. Garbage. This will take a lot of meditating at Po Lin to get over. At least Rangers lost worse.

231. An officious crest thanks you for not screwing around with the trains. When TV sketch comics can replace the official PRC seal with this one and goof on the government, speech will truly be free.

Tung Chung, Lantau

232. Village life on the periphery. In HK, this counts as 'not built up'. The area around these hugh high-rise estates is still rural, which makes for an interesting tradeoff: giant concrete housing projects remain giant concrete housing projects, but they fight sprawl and keep more of the land around them in its original state. Different path, and maybe preferable to loving nature by carving subdivisions out of it.

233. Mountains over the local rec center. Shot from the queue for the cablecar.

234. Garden and vacant lot.

235. Pro-Falun Gong banners. There were also a lot of these around the government offices in Central yesterday, but there were too many people moving too fast to shoot them there.

236. Cablecar track heading up.

237. Bamboo scaffolding on the rec center.

238. Jumbo westbound out of HKG.

239. The tourist crush. It wasn't so bad, actually; only about an hour for the standard-price car.

240. Jumbo landing on an east approach.

241. Antialiasing hasn't made it out to Ngong Ping yet.

I took pretty much nothing on the way out; the light was bad and the car was packed.

242. Ancestral tomb on one of the mountains.

Tien Tan Buddha at Po Lin

243. The Buddha over the kitsch village at Ngong Ping.

244. First gate and the mountain behind.

245. Gate and sculpture avenue.

246. Buddha over the trees.

247. Divine General statue and the second gate.

248. Path up to the Buddha.

249. Lantern and a tourist not getting out of the shot.

250. Up to the Buddha from the same point.

251. Statues present offerings. Finally at the top after 250 steps.

252. Sun behind the Buddha. The light is rotten for photography, but nice for spiritual purposes.

253. Down to the monastery.

254. Buddha with side light.

255. The Cheaters' Road -- buses don't have to take the steps.

256. Down into the village.

257. Offerings and the valley.

258. Mountainside greenery.

259. Offerings from the lower level.

260. Monastery under construction.

261. Tower on the way down.

262. Cauldron at the base of the stairs.

263. Before you flip out, check which way it's facing.

264. Monastery second gate, full front view.

At this point, I got lunch; the vegetarian restaurant here is fully as good as advertised. They disallowed photographs inside the restaurant, and I got the standard rather than deluxe meal set (yes, I'm still cheap when on vacation in a foreign country, this doesn't have an off switch), but it was remarkable how closely the tofu chunks cut and treated to resemble chicken actually did so.

265. Buddha statue inside the lower level of the monastery temple.

266. Another, same hall.

267. Many-armed statue in the center of the room.

268. Central statue, same hall.

269. Outbuildings and trees outside.

270. Temple upper level, side view. Check the monk on his celly at the lower left.

271. Standing shrine.

272. Bell about to be rung. No ceremony actually in process yet, so the photo's ok.

273. Temple, front view.

274. Inside; the Past, Present, and Future.

275. Mountain over a corner of the roof.

276. Up towards the Buddha from the plaza.

277. Again, better aligned.

Now to head down, shoot from the car, bus to Tai O, shoot there, and then on to Mui Wo to laze my way back by water.

278. Mountain over the gate, heading back.

279. Old house in Ngong Ping.

280. Sure to be a hit with all your Jewish and Romany friends.

On an anachronistic note, I saw a woman wearing this shirt while going through the ruins of St. Paul's in Macau the next day. Someone else was on the same tour schedule, but with a decidedly different taste in shirts.

281. Hills from the cablecar.

282. Across into one of the valleys.

283. Buddha from the car.

284. Another tomb in these largely empty mountains.

285. Landslide scar on the hills.

286. The walking trail, following the cablecar route over the mountains.

287. Another look off into the valleys. That's smog, not fog; the air quality from mid-afternoon on was simply wretched.

288. A look down towards the airport, shrouded in haze.

289. Water pours down a mountain gully.

290. A little closer to the airport.

291. Delta and old pier close to Tung Chung.

There was supposed to be a cool picture here of an old hulk getting loaded as a barge, but the batteries died taking it, and by the time I got them changed, the cablecar was past it. The batts were steaming hot as I took them out -- this cablecar stuff apparently worked them real hard.

292. Down into Shek Pik Prison from the bus to Tai O. The prison is at the base of a huge earthen dam, which would make awesome plot elements for an action/thriller movie. Some dignitary gets taken hostage in a prison riot, and one side or the other threatens to blow the dam in the standoff process.

There are a lot of prisons and CIs on Lantau. Up until a couple years ago, when the Lantau Link was finished, connecting the island to Kowloon by road and rail, the only way on or off the island was by boat, so it makes sense.

Tai O

293. Far shore, right after getting off the bus.

294. Fishing boats anchored off the pier.

295. Houseboats and lighters.

296. Up into the mountains over the bus stop.

297. Looking down Wing On Street. Tai O, more even than the stilt houses, was cool for its look into village life rather than the urban bustle of Central and Kowloon.

298. Open-air dried-seafood market. You see these all over the place; this was just the first one that it wasn't disturbing anyone to shoot.

299. Not wooden piers, stilt houses. The village only came ashore relatively recently; it used to look all like this.

300. More old stilt houses.

301. Impressive house gate.

302. Cool architecture and the mountains.

303. House shrine with offerings. These are also everywhere, even in urban HK where you have to be careful as you go down the sidewalk not to kick over a plate of oranges by accident, but it is wicked gwailo to treat someone's private religious practice as a curiosity. This was shot surreptitiously when I was pretty sure no one was watching; it needs to be documented, but it doesn't deserve the perception of being gawked at.

304. DIY minitrucks made out of random parts. Awesome.

306. More stilt houses on that shore.

307. Up the mountain, showing landslide scars.

308. Another DIY truck -- if I read it correctly, the powerplant here started life as a maritime outboard.

309. Mountain and foliage.

310. Mountain rising over the village.

311. Well-used public Chinese-chess table.

312. Palms at dusk.

313. Awesome old houses.

On the bus to Mui Wo, my camera was pinned, so I couldn't shoot the random wandering cows on the roadside, the Caution Cows roadsigns, or the amazing vistas. Do it yourself, it's worth it.

Mui Wo

314. Looking into town from the ferry.

I could only get a fast ferry back, which is a shame, but I made my connection, and got, now, back to Central in good time. Star Ferry north, then hike to TST if not all the way up Nathan.

Central from the sea at night is amazing; however, the ferry's moving too fast for any of the pictures I take to come out. Maybe the next boat.

315. Into Kowloon, in the process of getting on the Star Ferry.

316. Up at the Chibi IFC and its neighbors as the ferry rolls.

317. Kowloon side by the typhoon shelter.

318. The bridge, as we get underway.

319. A fishing trawler crosses the frame in front of some cruise ships.

320. Coming up on the pier in Kowloon.

It's been a long day, so i hopped on the MTR from TST to YMT, miraculously didn't get lost coming out aboveground, and am now waiting for some pointed-at Szechuan food, doing my part to support local non-sex-trade businesses and adding more points to the good side of the equation. I need to make up ground on this because 7-11's sausage rolls are cheap and awesome, and have become the default breakfast solution. Chinese/German fusion attempting to mimic either Scottish ("sausage roll") or American ("hot dog bun") memetic content, missing totally, and becoming its own new thing.

Food score:
7-11 - 5
Pointed at - 9

Dinner was the result of bashing a chicken carcass up with a cleaver and throwing it in the fryolator, then stir-frying the result with a bucket of chiles. Not exactly what I was going for, but this is part of pointing at food. And it wasn't bad, either; you get used to the spice load, and you quickly figure out how to use your teeth as a mechanical poultry separator while not filling your mouth with bone splinters. Sure, it takes some skill, but it's a skill worth acquiring.