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What sets off your “spider sense”?

Most of you know I’m old enough to remember Spider-Man before he was a TV and movie star.

He first came into my world as a cartoon character from a Marvel comic book, and, at the time, I thought he was cool – well, I was only in my early teens …

Anyway, of all his special powers, the one that most amazed me was his “spider sense” – you know, where he feels a strange tingling sensa-tion when something is wrong.

I liked that power because I’ve always felt I somehow shared it – that I also have a spider sense which gives me a **tingle**tingle** feeling when I hear, see or feel something’s not quite right.

Here are some things which set off my spider sense:

  • When the nurse says, “This won’t hurt a bit” – **tingle**tingle**
  • When the salesman says, “Sign here. You won’t regret it” – **tingle**tingle**
  • When I see all those 70-year-old-plus Chinese politicians without a single white hair on their heads – **tingle**tingle**
  • When Hong Kong’s former Housing Director retires at the end of his controversial tenure, during which local property developers received generous treatment and made billions of dollars easy profit, and is then almost immediately recruited as a director (on a nice salary, no doubt) by one of those property developers – **tingle**tingle**

Question: What makes your “spider sense” tingle?


Medical check-ups don’t have to be stressful

Being on the wrong side of fifty, I decided a few months ago that a full-body medical check-up was not only sensible, but also long overdue.

After researching the Hong Kong market, it seemed the cost of the compre-hensive check-up I wanted would be somewhere in the region of HK$9,000 – a bit expensive, I thought, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind, can you? So, last week, I went ahead and spent the money … in Thailand.

You see, I also found out the Phuket International Hospital offers an ‘executive body check’ for about a quarter of the Hong Kong price, with (I was told) a service and value for money that was unbeatable. I just had to check it out.

I sorted out a five-day, low-season, Wednesday-to-Sunday package near Bangtao Beach (well, it would have been silly to spend just one day there, wouldn’t it?) with my check-up on the Friday.

Bangtao Beach rush hour

Bangtao Beach rush hour

Now, I’m sure some of you think five days is indul-gent, but I assure you the two days either side of my body check were not all fun – sometimes it was sheer bloody hell: Should I spend the morning by the pool or on the beach? Which restaurant should I go to for lunch? And which one for dinner? I hope you believe me when I say I was under stress. And I’m certain it affected my blood pressure.  😉

In contrast, the body check was heaven: the doctors and nurses were friendly, polite and professional; the hospital itself was modern, airy and clean; and the tests and examinations were carried out efficiently using state-of-the-art machines and equipment. At the end of the three-hour check-up, the doctor went through all the results with me, clearly explaining everything in words of less than three syllables so I could understand. Completely satisfied, I left not only with a record booklet of my results, but also with a broad smile and the peace of mind I had been searching for.

And the all-in cost of my five-day mini-break? Less than HK$9,000.

Can you guess where I’m going to have my follow-up next year?

Taking the tram

(or, Riding the ‘ding-ding’)

Question: What’s old, cheap, and gives you an experience you’ll never forget?

Of course, the correct answer is – a ride on one of Hong Kong’s double-decker trams!

While I accept that Hong Kong’s MTR is probably the best people-moving system in the world, when I go ‘Hong-Kong-side’ the tram is my favourite mode of transport.

Nothing’s perfect, though, and the trams do have some small faults: they’re old (many were built in the 1980s); they’re slower than the buses and the MTR; they have no air conditioning; and they’re so small that some – how can I put this?  – larger people have problems boarding and alighting.

But, despite these slight imperfections, I love riding the tram. It forces me to slow down and relax, and lets me savour the sights, sounds and smells of real, unvarnished life in Hong Kong – something a cocooned ride on the MTR cannot do.

Sitting on the upper deck, I become a voyeur (not that kind!) to the everyday routines, problems and lives of the shoppers, tradesmen and pedestrians at ground level, taking my mind off my own mundane thoughts and worries.

And I particularly enjoy the unique tram sounds: the distinctive whine from the motor as the tram accelerates; the dat dat … dat dat of the wheels on the rails; and, best of all, the familiar ‘ding-ding’ from the bell as it approaches a crowded area. The locals actually refer to the tram as ‘the ding-ding’.

Yes, they may be old and slow, but they are an irreplaceable part of the city’s heritage, and a visit to Hong Kong would not be complete without a ride on one of these trams.

In fact, I think it should be mandatory!  😉

If you want to learn more, go to Hongkong Tramways