In my former life in Hong Kong and China I used to be a writer.
I used to write columns like this one to entice more people from Hong Kong and other places to visit mainland China. I genuinely loved every moment of travelling through this vast and wonderful, slightly surreal, country, and wanted everyone to share in the fun. And, needless to say, I loved writing and collecting material for my column.
But what happened? When the owner of Chinese web giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, bought the South China Morning Post "to let the world understand China more" (exactly the purpose of my column), did he pay me double and increase my column to a full page to run three times a week? No! Instead, my column was discontinued. Sure, they said it was because of a general overhaul of the paper and because of space concerns, blah blah.
Still, I have all the columns in my possession and will be sharing some of them here. And now I finally get to the point. CHINESE NEW YEAR. A bad time to travel by train in mainland China, but a fantastic time to come to Cecilie's Gaff to eat Chinese food!
I will serve traditional New Year noodles and dumplings, plus lots of other stuff that will make you go WAAAAAAAAA (Chinese expression of joy, satisfaction, surprise etc). Beer and white wine are included, that goes without saying. Friday February 8th is the day! It's not right in the middle of the actual New Year, but I suspect CNY isn't a holiday here on Mallorca. (Heaven knows there are enough of those. )
過年 - Goh Lin - Chinese New Year ("pass year")
深圳 - Sam Jan - Shenzhen (deep drain)
火車站 - Foh che tsaam - Train Station (fire car station)
Who would have thunk it? December, the scourge of snow-haters, cold-haters, darkness-haters and misery-haters in Norway, for example, has turned out to be the best and most beautiful month of the year here in Mallorca.
I was lucky enough to have a lot of visitors this month, and got around a bit! Naturally, I took the opportunity of shooting a few scenes. The short documentary December in Mallorca (or Mallorca in December) is coming out soon. Meanwhile, here is the trailer.
Here they are, Masum and Anjuman who own and very expertly run M & R Supermercado in Avenue Joan Miró
I kick off the year's writing with a homage to the best little supermercado in Palma: M & R. When I lived in Hong Kong and wanted to buy anything other than beer, potato crisps and batteries, I had to get on a bus and travel for ages. Sometimes I had to get on a bus AND a ferry if I had to get something serious like dumpling skins.
Now - all I have to do is cross the street to get almost anything I want, including fresh fruit and vegetables! Yes, M & R has everything I need for a reasonable, healthy and convenient life. And it closes at 23:00!!!
The owners, Anjuman and Masum, are from Bangladesh and we communicate in my crap and their excellent Spanish. They are so kind, helpful and friendly, and they were open on Christmas Day AND New Year's Day. What a relief, because everything else was closed on these days. I was still a little Hong Kong in my head this Christmas, whereas I should have been Norway. Closed. Everything closed.
The supermercado was closed for 1 1/2 months this summer, and I suffered greatly. I had to walk several meters further to shop, and make sure I got in there before 8 o'clock at night. How easily we get used to the easy living eh?
M & R Supermercado
Joan Miró 114
Tel: 637 623 817
I can't remember where in China I took this photo, but it's so descriptive, I think. In front is something they want you to see, but it's not real/no longer exists. Then comes the reality that can't be hidden slightly sticking out behind, magnificently dwarfed by a high-rise. But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. I actually really wanted to post a photo of my lovely friend L who visited last week from Hong Kong, but she would kill me if I did.
L is so kind that instead of mocking me for being a Luddite and telling me to get an Apple TV like everybody else, she swung around our favourite fake DVD shop in Shenzhen (a Chinese city just across the border from Hong Kong, known for its excellent tailors, inexpensive foot massage and other physical well-being related services, and fake handbags and DVDs) last time she was there, to pick up the last season of four series I had started following when I lived in Hong Kong.
When I say "fake DVDs", by the way, I don't mean that they aren't DVDs. I just mean that they don't cost several million dollars for a box set, but around 1 euro per disc. In other words, much LESS than subscribing to QuaxBox and FlaxFlix and whatever they are called. Also, I brought my DVD player and little TV set, from RASONIC, with me to Spain. They have become my friends! Why throw away something that works perfectly? Like my printer bought in Hong Kong, for which L also very, very kindly brought me some cartridges of ink? (Yes, Asian-bought Canons use different cartridges from Europe-bought Canons DON'T GET ME STARTED)
Anyway, she brought the stuff and I was so happy, I danced around the living room, stubbing my toe on an up-sticking floor tile from 1890. But when I started adding up the prices to pay her back, I found the ink was about HK$690 (reasonable) but the DVDs ... about HK$320! WHAT? But, but, Chinese DVDs are cheap! That's the whole point of them! It's not as if they contain bloopers or ads for other films or anything. Then it dawned on me. Because she is so kind, L had bought BlueRay. But I can't play BlueRay on my friend, the Philips DVD player from Fortress in Hong Kong, bought in 2008 for HK$300! Ahhrghhhh
"I'll take them back and change them," the ever-helpful L said. No, come on. That would be taking the kindness too far. I would buy a DVD player for BlueRays here, dammit, and watch my long-awaited season finales. I started googling BlueRay-compliant DVD players and if I could get one second-hand. Then I had a thought. "Let's try to play them on this ol' player anyway", I said.
And guess what - they worked. They were FAKE fakes! They weren't BlueRays at all, but just your normal fake DVDs with different covers! Ha h ah ha ha ah ah ah ah a China wins again
Last Saturday it felt like ages since it had been sunny - it was two days. Help! Have I become that person? Anyway, the returning sunshine couldn't have been celebrated better, because some friends took me to Bettina Papenkort's Indigo Spa in Alaró. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen - the house, the garden and the rolling hills with the Mediterranean gleaming silver far out in the distance. I was in paradise, for as you know, I came here primarily looking for beauty.
In a little room at the bottom of the garden, Bettina had set up a spa room, where she gives facials and massages using products that she has made herself! I admire people like that so much. The work that goes into it is so incredible, and all using herbs, flowers and other natural ingredients. AND the packaging is beautiful.
I expected everything to be really expensive, seeing it's all hand made and hand wrapped individually, but no. The most expensive item I saw was 60 euros, and then it want down all the way to 10. Guess which one I bought! Ohhhh, the smell alone was so heavenly that when I came home I thought there was another, rich woman, who had suddenly moved in with me. But no, the fragrance came from my own hand, from the product demonstration!
If you love luxury, exclusivity, well-being, yoga and calm, AND have a car, this is the place for you. The place and view alone are worth your trip. Oh, and Bettina is so lovely, warm and welcoming; one of the many super-creative and hard-working people on this island.
And her daughter is an excellent cookie-maker! And her dog Jasper is the best dog evah. So as you kind of guess by now, I recommend a visit to Indigo Spa.
INDIGO DAY SPA
HOLISTIC TRAINING & TREATMENT CENTER
Camino de Son Fiol J
Mallorca Baleares Spain
TEL +34 609 812 511