Tuesday, May 12, 2009
On A High
Night View from Kev's Penthouse
I’m now staying with Kev, one of my earliest friends from Hong Kong. He owns a split-level penthouse on the 20th and 21st floor on Hong Kong Island which offers outstanding harbour views. There is no smoking in the apartment, but the roof-garden, complete with Japanese water-features, Chinese Buddhas, sub-tropical plants, (including palms and dragon trees), bamboo, rose bushes, vegetables, herbs, et al. is a pleasure to visit frequently.
It was somewhat different when we arrived in the Territory in August 1992. We were the only gweilos – (literal Cantonese translation - white ghosts, referring to non-Asians) in a tiny rural New Territories village a few miles south from the Chinese border. I was starting out at my first international school, and Kev at a local Chinese school. We both loved the village which constituted of about 300 people, the majority of which were Hakkas, a tiny minority group with a history of farming and fishing.
Whilst Kev had a typical village flat in the newer part of the village, I was staying at The Fish Farm, a 1950s two story farmhouse. It was pretty unique living environment - especially for a white ghost. Actually I liked it so much in the village and at the school, I stayed eight years.
Kev never enjoyed working as a NET (Native English teacher) and I was very pleased for him when he decided to quit teaching and set up his own business. Despite no formal training, he has always had an eye for the aesthetic and recognises quality when he sees it. He is now a very successful interior designer. His current residence is a show-case for potential clients, and it is like staying in a museum.
We have travelled extensively together through Tibet and Ladakh, and both enjoyed journeys to far-flung destinations including Bhutan and Easter Island. It should also be noted that he is also a souvenir junkie, so the flat boasts several Tibetan cabinets and chests, moai heads and Bhutanese bows and arrows.
Kev is one of the loveliest people I know - a great friend and enjoyable travelling companion. He is unfailingly honest, kind, compassionate and reliable - a man of real integrity. That said, he is totally crap at checking his personal email.
After running around HK like an amphetamine junkie, catching up with friends and family since I arrived, this morning I just want to slob out. He always tells me to root around and help myself to whatever I want. Opening up the fridge this morning is like entering an Aladdin’s cave for the gastronomically deprived - I don’t know where to start! To me it looks like a New York deli. There is fresh bread, cheeses, four varieties of olives, bagels, cream cheese, mayonnaises, mustards and homemade pickles.
More regular readers of this blog will know I can get somewhat obsessive about coffee. Kev is truly a connoisseur. His espresso maker had to be especially imported from Italy via Australia. He has recently purchased a coffee bean roaster and a unique coffee-bean grinder (which apparently massages rather than grinds – much better). Total respect!
Kev is famed for his regular parties, although these days they have morphed from college-style drinking sessions with a few nibbles to become highly sophisticated barbeque and wine-drinking soirees. A large leg and racks of lamb, South American beef and Beijing ducks have all been brought in for a Sunday social with a bundle of old friends.
I’m going nut here!