Friday, February 24, 2012


I work in an older building in Sheung Wan that's surrounded by dried seafood shops, so the area has a very particular smell. Western tourists are advised by guidebooks to come visit this street - not to buy anything, but just to... smell.

My office building houses residential flats, the chambers of commerce of various small nations, and mysterious "import/export" businesses. Each floor has a distinct smell. Floor 5? Chinese medicine shop. Floor 12? Seafood. Floor 16? Ginger and... ammonia?

Anyway, I work on the 22nd floor, so getting to the office every day is an olfactory adventure.

The other day I was leaving work, and going down the elevator stopped on a floor I'd never seen before. As the doors opened, the elevator was flooded with the most godawful smell of decomposing bodies and durian and backed up sewage and incense and bad dreams, and all I saw was a pet carrier. A Buddhist monk stepped on, pointed at the carrier, and said "Dog." My pithy reply - "It stinks."

After the elevator had descended a few floors, the monk said, "Smells bad."

Then, a few floors later, "Dead. Hahahaha!"

Then we reached the ground floor and walked in separate directions. What just happened?

Sunday, February 19, 2012


We spent our last full day in Perth bumming around Rottnest Island, where we went swimming at the beach where someone got eaten by a shark a few months ago. But look at that water - we couldn't resist!

Rottnest was originally called Rat Nest Island because it's inhabited by a small marsupial called a quokka. Quokkas look a great deal like rats and would be fairly disgusting if they didn't hop. The hopping is the redeeming feature that takes them from gross giant rat! to aaagghhh cute hopping thing! Here's a really uneventful video of me feeding a quokka a piece of banana, and then getting way too excited about petting it:

It takes very little to thrill me.

Headed to the airport now to have a breakfast beer and spend all of my change on koala jerky.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Down under for Valentine's Day

On the dreaded V-day I got up at 5am to catch a flight to Singapore. The husband caught a later flight, we met there, and then travelled on to Perth where he's attending a conference and I'm flitting about visiting friends.

For the flight we'd ordered the vegetarian meals, as usual. We always do this because (a) you get your food first, so you can wolf and then pass out watching bad romantic comedies sooner; and (b) said food is generally better than the standard options. It was a decent couscous and bean dish with the same salad and roll that everyone else got but the dessert, instead of the tiramisu that everyone else had, was some sort of heart-healthy apple bread that weighed approximately as much as a bag of oranges. Dammit - just because someone's vegetarian it does not follow that they want to be healthy. Among the special meals they have vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, and low carb vegetarian - why not fatass vegetarian? I wanted that tiramisu, dammit.

We landed at 1:00 am and finally got through customs at 2:00. (If you've been to the Perth airport, you know why. If you've never been to the Perth airport, don't go). Our friend Ruby was kind enough to pick us up and ferry us to the accommodations that the conference had arranged for us at St. George's College. Where they'd never heard of us.

After waking up some mussed and confused student to check us in, the long process to determine exactly who we were began. Another student is woken. The office is unlocked and files are gone through. No - never heard of us. Luckily, between the three of us (because Ruby was a trooper and stayed to make sure we got in and didn't have to come crash on his couch) we had three iPhones, two iPads, and two laptops, so we eventually scrounged up all of the emails between Kelly and the conference organizer confirming our reservations.

Okay, fine. They'll give us a room.

At 3:30 am, a key is produced and we're led up to a student dormitory - communal shower at the end of the hall, creaky staircases, stained carpet - and to our room. We walk in, the student looks at the bed, looks at us, "Oh. Yeah. We only have single beds."

The process begins anew. More ruffling through files, another key is produced, and I'm led to another dorm room on a different floor with my own single bed. Finally, at 4:30 am, I lie down to sleep.

Only for a short time, however, as a car alarm begins going off at 5:00 am. wooOOOP... wooOOOP... wooOOOP... Except it's not a car alarm - it's one of the thousands of species of completely f*cked up birds that inhabit Perth. And it's directly outside my window. I stumble out of bed and, in my attempt to close the window, manage to rip off the screen and hit myself in the face with it, knocking me backwards onto my ass. At this point I just give up on life and crawl back to bed.

But none of that mattered the next day, because behold my first meal in Australia - the 'roo burger:

It was juicy and bouncy. Cute animals just taste better.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Enchantingly off-beat" - like pig blood!

The first thing I do before I head to any new city is to check out what I'm going to be eating and drinking there. I'm headed to Perth on Tuesday and have my eye on a local brewery, some small markets, and a Western Australian cheese maker. Nom.

In case you missed it, here's the review of my blog from Hong Kong Blog Review. It's...mixed.

But they raise an important question - where does the name "With Pork Throat" come from? When I found out we were moving to Hong Kong I began extensive research into food. Roast duck, char siu bao, dim sum, stinky tofu... I wanted to try it all. But one item that caught my eye was a common breakfast food, congee. Like a rice porridge, it comes topped with any of a variety of items - spam, duck tongue, pig's blood, etc. Or you can get it with pork throat.

It stuck in my head, and so there it is. And yes, I've had congee and pork throat (but not together) and they are both fabulous. Sadly, I have also had congee and pig's blood. It's...mixed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A typical Saturday in glamorous Hong Kong

This is how my Saturday went:

I wake up bright and early at 11:00 am and stumble to the kitchen for my morning red bull and almond roca soy milk and banana, and through bleary eyes I think I spy bird poop on top of my fridge. I know this is impossible.

"Hey Kelly... is there... can there be bird poop in the kitchen?..."

Okay, so I'm on my own. I look again. Yep, definitely bird poop. Not an issue, I guess. I leave the kitchen window open at night so maybe a bird flew in, perched on the fridge, read a newspaper, and flew out. Fine.

But then I walk into the living room. Poop EVERYWHERE. It's like a balloon made of poop filled with poop was popped with a straight pin made of poop and it exploded in my flat. Which is also now made of poop. Poop on the sofa. On the floor. On the rug. Inside a cardboard box we had sitting out from yesterday's grocery delivery - yes, it got in the box specifically to poop.

I'm following around this trail of poop like an ornithologist with a serious fetish problem and then I come to the final poop... and it's still wet. Omygod the bird is still here somewhere. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.

Before I go further, let me explain that I do not like birds. At all. For one, they insist on making loud repetitive screeches (seriously, guys - learn some new noises) at times when most civilized people are trying to sleep. But also, I had it ingrained in me as a child that birds are dirty. For some reason my mother, who was perfectly fine with my sister and I running around half-clothed and barefoot and engaging in our favorite pastime of blowing up dog shit with M-80s, told us to never touch a bird. In my kid brain, that put birds in a class of filth of their very own. And nothing I've ever seen has disabused me of that notion. So, yeah. I don't like birds.

At this point I'm huddled in the corner with huge eyes hissing at Kelly to get his ass out of bed because there is a bird somewhere in our house RIGHT NOW AND I AM FREAKING OUT. He shuffles in, takes in the scene (pausing to shoot me a pitying look for rocking back and forth in a ball in the corner) and begins to follow the poop trail himself. He looks everywhere - under the sofa, inside the light fixtures, in my pile of shoes that's lying by the door because I couldn't figure out what to wear yesterday because look I wanted to wear heels but dammit I have to walk around Central all day and if I go to Soho later for a drink those cobblestones always screw me up and I'll probably break my ankle so fine ugh flats great now I'm going to be late for work.

Anyway, the bird is nowhere to be seen.

So apparently this bird waited until we went to bed, snuck in our kitchen window, had a big old poopfest of an evening while we slept, and snuck back out just before we woke. I've said it before and I'll say it again - birds are assholes.

Saturday was redeemed, however, when a few hours later a friend brought over a bottle of this Chinese wine - I think it's called Mui Kwe Lu -

This stuff is glorious. It tastes like tequila with a hint of rosewater. You can get it in Sheung Wan - go buy some right now. After a few cups, all the scraggly birds in Tuen Mun couldn't dampen your mood.