Archive for January, 2009

The best job in the world

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Hamilton Island - in the beautiful Whitsundays - is in need of a ‘caretaker’. But this is no ordinary caretaker’s position. The successful applicant will fulfill a six month contract, working approximately twelve hours per month, for a salary of $150,000.

Even with the low Aussie dollar, that’s not a bad hourly rate. Oh, and (of course) they will stay rent free on Hamilton Island, in a three bedroom villa with panoramic views and a fridge full of Tooheys Extra Dry.

Okay, I lied about the Tooheys. 

It’s being billed as THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. Do you think there will be many applicants?

Hong Kong on our way back to Australia

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

But of course, we didn’t fly directly from Madrid to Cairns, and since we had the chance to choose another stopover, we decided to go for Hong Kong. I didn’t know the city and Steve had been there so long ago, when it was still under the British rule, that he expected many things to have changed.

Steve eating noodle soup We got there early evening, but as any good Asian city, shops and restaurants were still open, and lots of people were still out and around. I love that in a city, maybe because Madrid is “open” 24 hours a day, if you know what I mean. Even though we had eaten lots on the planes, we couldn’t really miss the opportunity to try real Chinese food, so after leaving our luggage at the hotel, we set off in search of a nice traditional restaurant. Easier said than done, since many of the restaurants we wanted to try didn’t have an English menu and we didn’t want to end up eating stomach or something even worse. But finally, in one of the street markets Hong Kong is full of we found this little eaterie where some of the patrons spoke a bit of English and helped us choose. The food, we both had some type of noodle soup, was absolutely delicious. If any of you make it to Hong Kong, be ready to try noodle soup, these people love it and it’s, by any means, one of the most common dishes in any menu.

We wondered around the city for a few hours, stopping at a couple of street markets and we made it also all the way to the harbour, from where the views of Hong Kong Island are just breathtaking, as you can see in the photo.

View of Hong Kong Island from mainland

The next morning we got up early to make the most of the only day we had in Hong Kong. There were only a couple of “turist attractions” I wanted to visit. The first one of the Big Budha, in Lantau Island, and go up to The Peak, in Hong Kong Island. But we also wanted to have some spare time to walk the city, which is the best way to see it.

View of Hong Kong Island from mainland According to Wikipedia: The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It is surrounded by eight smaller bronze statues representing gods or immortals. Like the Daibutsu in Kamakura, Japan, the Tian Tan Buddha is an image of Amitabha Buddha.

The Buddha is 34 metres (110 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007. It reputedly can even be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors have to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha, though the site also features a small winding road to the Buddha for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped.

Tian Tan Budha The Tian Tan Buddha appears serene and dignified. His right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction. His left hand rests on his lap in a gesture of giving dhana. The Buddha faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.

In addition, there are 3 floors beneath the Buddha statue: The Hall of Universe, The Hall of Benevolent Merit, and The Hall of Remembrance. One of the most renowned features inside is a relic of Gautama Buddha, consisting of some of his alleged cremated remains. There is a huge carved bell inscribed with images of Buddhas in the show room. It was designed to ring every seven minutes, 108 times a day, symbolizing the release of 108 kinds of human vexations.

The Tram that takes you to The Peak is one of the steepest trams in the world, as you can see in the photo. Normally, we wound’t do such a turisty thing anywhere, but the views over Hong Kong from the top of the peak are worth it. We didn’t stay there long as it was really cold and windy, and we weren’t prepared for it. But we were lucky enough to have two of the most famous Chinese icons posing for us. Nice, isn’t it?

The Peak Tram Jackie Chan

Bruce Lee Back in mainland Hong Kong we started another search for some food. After walking for what seemed like a very long time, we finally found this place, which was both full and had its menu written in English. Steve went for a safe western option, but I had another of those famous noodle soup with seafood. It was very tasty. On the drinks menu we saw “Salty Lemon Seven UP” and decided to try it. It was a bit disappointed as it tasted as a normal seven up, although Steve said he could taste a bit of salt. I think it was his imagination. I went for an almond milk drink, very nice.

After filling our stomachs we decided to go back to the hotel to get another coat, we were pretty cold. But once in the hotel we were too lazy to go out again and stayed in. At 8pm we were in bed thanks to the jet lag. But we woke up around 12am hungry and guess what? We ended up eating McDonalds in bed. Completely unforgivable!!!

Christmas in Spain

Monday, January 12th, 2009

We’re already back in Cairns, after spending four weeks on holidays. Did I say four weeks? Jes, time flies and it seems like yesterday when we were packing our things and saying goodbye to Danny, Anna, William and Chloe.

After our stopover in Japan we arrived in Madrid, extremely tired but eager to see everyone. My mum, my dad, my sister Rocio and three of my uncles were waiting for us at the airport. I was soooooooooooo happy to see them all again, and to be able to communicate in Spanish.

Well, as you can imagine, in three weeks with family and friends we managed to do lots of things and see many people. I won’t even atempt to detail every single day, but as you can imagine we saw family:

Many of the members of my mum's family

With my uncles on January 5th, when Spanish kids get their presents My Mum

We also had time to see friends (many of whom had already new additions to their families):

With some of my former colleagues from Nortel Bea, one of my girlfriends

More friends, some from Nortel and Carmen, with whom I've had crazy nights Candy and Gen, two crazy American girls in Madrid

Very good friends of mine, whom I met many years ago With the group of expats Steve met when he first arrived in Madrid

Bego, we became friends on our school trip to Italy and have been friends ever since Ex Nortel collegue, whom I went to Sardinia with. A long story

We also had thematic dinners:

Some of my girlfriends from work.

My group of male friends from Nortel. I am another boy amongst them

We also ate as if we hadn’t eaten before:

Steve and my Dad, celebrating Christmas Eve With my Aunti and Uncle, enjoying a four hour lunch

But most of all, we saw lots of people we love!!!!

My friend Natalia, who's going to be a Mum very soon And the father of the baby, at least that's what he was told

My little sister with Steve. Isn't she beautiful.... My mother and my little sis, two of the people I love most

We had a great time. Hope to see you all again soon, maybe in Australia??????????