Kowloon and Hong Kong Island seen from the 80th floor of an office building I worked in. Langham Hotel that was.

My father, God bless his departed soul, had an "interesting" sense of humour, combined with, when I was young, a somewhat intense dislike of teenage boys. 

Whenever my father answered the door when a boy came to ask for me, the boy would say "Is Cecilie at home?" and my father would answer "yes" and slam the door. That was it. 

IFC 2 towers over Hong kong

When I eventually found out and angrily confronted my father, he just said, smirking: "I answered the question truthfully." 

I was thinking about that today when I had to leg it into Palma because of an emergency: My laptop charger from 2005 or something had finally breathed its last on a trip to England. When I tried to buy a new charger at Bristol Airport they kind of laughed, in that youthful "I don't even know what a laptop IS" kind of way that the modern people use. But the thing was, I had just had my hard drive modernised and the whole machine was humming with the vigour of a MacBook made only a few minutes ago. I just couldn't buy a new one just to get an up-tp-date charger.

So this morning I called up the Apple Shop and asked if they had a charger for such a baby in geriatric's clothing and YES my Spanish worked well enough and YES they had it! So it would have been churlish of me to feel a bit miffed when I got there and realised she had omitted the little sentence "... but it's closed today." Some kind of festival - again. 

I hopped over to have-everything-in-the-world El Corte Inglés, and found that one of the things of which they have everything is time. The customers rock up for a good old chat, and all the staff members are very happy to oblige. I waited 25 minutes before I got to speak to someone. Not being a total Luddite despite what everybody says, I had even taken a photo of the contact point of the laptop, AND the model number!

"Oh, sorry, we don't have that one. It's too old. But go to the other Corte Inglés in the Avenues." (20 minutes' walk away). I trotted to the Avenues full of hope and joy, only to find out that this staff member had also omitted a crucial little add-on: "... but not today, because it's closed." 

A water buffalo wallows in mud on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Oh well. As long as I was in The Avenues, I might as well go to the Chinese Supermarket and buy some fresh lotus root and peanut oil. And get more information about what's happening in Palma at Chinese New Year. This again led me to miss my bus home by five seconds. Oh well, I might as well walk to the next bus stop. And that's how, reader, I met Au Sau Laan from Hong Kong who is in Palma to study Spanish, and she again chose Palma because of some people she met in a bus stop in Hong Kong!

The village where I lived the last 16 years I spent in Hong Kong: Pui O, Lantau Island.

We both agreed: Total destiny. 

Oh, and all the photos are from Hong Kong. just like Sau Laan and me! 

香港 - Heung Gong (Hong Kong)

甘茜蓮 - Gam Sin Lin (my name in Cantonese)

緣份 - Yun Fan - destiny 

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CNY-Shenzhen-men-waiting-for-train Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

In my former life in Hong Kong and China I used to be a writer. 

Train travel before holiday Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

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! 

Dumplings Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

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) 

Palma in December

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. 

 Palma-Supermercado-Meetoo-and-Papry Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

 

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. 

Mallorca-Palma-Supermercado-front Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

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. 

Palma,-supermercado-owner-and-customer Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

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

 

 

Three-China-contrasts-poster-hovelage-and-highrise-horror Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.comI 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. 

China abandoned house Guangdong province Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

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)

 

China-flag-Zhongshan Pen & Wok Blog - PenAndWok.com - Cecilie's PenAndWok.com

 

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