Predictions for 2013

Old Moore’s Almanack

This little British book has been prophesising since 1697 – over 300-years. Like all forecasts, you can find whatever you’re looking for – that’s why they’re written vaguely!  However, at this time of year it’s captive reading.

As can be expected, it starts with finance, reminding that 2013 will be the sixth-year of economic turmoil. This is written in a positive note, predicting that we’re now 80% though the bad and will be clear of our “depressing correction” by September 2014.  More than another year to go, but at least the end is in sight.

Old Moore gives only a few clues to what may happen in 2013, but does forecast that there will be an upsurge in political extremism everywhere. In the US, the general mood will be increasingly confident, except for relationships with Europe and China being strained.

Britain will do better than the rest of Europe, and France will continue to live in a “state of denial”.  However, 2013 will “promote correction, revolution, rebirth and transformation” in Europe, although pressure will ease for Greece.

Not surprisingly it says to watch the Middle East and Pakistan, and that “radicalised religious leaders will become dangerously militant”.  There will also be some technological travel breakthrough in the UK around the middle of the year.

Chinese New Year 2013

February 10th 2013 starts the Chinese Year of the Water Snake. In the West the snake is associated with danger – however Eastern philosophy regards the snake as a symbol of good luck.

Historically, Snake Years brought correction. The Dragon Year of 2012 was full of vigour – the following China zodiac beast, the snake, sheds its skin and starts afresh. This will bring change to correct excess.

The Water Snake is particularly enquiring and money-orientated, and so will look for new ways around debt and the recession.

According to the Chinese zodiac, during a Snake Year you should be thrifty, save money and plan for the future. This year of change will attract scammers – so be careful!  It’s a good time to invest, but be wary in business deals or a new marriage. Stay focused and beware of complacency.

For more predictions of the Year of the Snake go to:

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China to Japan

There are few similarites between China & Japan
Beijing’s still behind the Pearl River Delta region. I see little change in the past 20-years, except for price increases, cars replacing bicycles and the new subway lines, which are a bargain at US$0.32 to anywhere. Even the latest airport, largest in the world, looks like it’s built on the cheap – although the architecture is slick and its new railway to downtown is supurb.

Beijing has always been harsh – too cold in the winter, too hot summers, and choking pollution from factories and the Gobi Desert. The Nationalists moved the capital to Nanjing, why didn’t Mao shift it to Shanghai where the Communists began?  No wonder men’s faces look constipated. After two-nights I was glad to leave.

Now Japan is a different land – a country at its peak of evolution. Everything works well, a prime example of logic and efficiency, nothing out of place. More organized than any country I’ve visited.

It’s silent in the trains, no one dare use a mobile incase of disturbing others, and so clean you could eat from the floor.  In Hong Kong men dress casual, girls dress well but like children – in Japan everyone wears sophistication. Japanese have politeness in their bones. In a 7-11 you get treated as if you’re spending big, strangers will bow to you, and the street-sleepers never beg. Crime has almost been eliminated.

Japan has its own way of doing things – it works, but different for global travellers. Take the Tokyo Metro. It looks like something in a sci-fi movie with lines running close together in every direction, but not all compatible on one ticket as they‘re owned by different companies. Makes travelling hard work. Labor’s expensive, so vending machines to sell transport tickets and drinks are expected – but the Japanese have them in restaurants instead of tills. And every toilet I used had heated-seats.

My strangest experience was squeezed in a capsule hotel with communal washing. The largest in the world with 650 capsules in Shinjuku, the centre of Tokyo – each measuring a whisker over 6 x 3 x 3 feet inside with TV, mirror, radio and alarm clock, stacked two-high like washing machines.  I smuggled a little bottle of whisky in, but after pulling the rattan screen and shutting the light, I slept well.  

 At 7.30am I found the spa bizarre. About 60 men sitting on little stools in front of a bowl, a mirror and a low shower by the walls around the hot tub.  Each thoroughly scrubbing their bodies with a flannel, before and after soaking. The hotel is kept orderly by a series of lockers – first for your shoes, then one for clothes and luggage, and another in the spa.  Every imaginable toiletry is free, from ear-swabs to toothbrush. Cost was US$41 for the night – no girls or tattoos allowed.

I found the trip fun and different, but not easy. In my eyes Japan’s no utopia. Extremely civilized, comfortable, and not as expensive as London – but too much order takes the edge away, where’s the fun? I enjoy spitting bones on tables in China, getting drunk on trains and being noisy in public!

Scroll down for full details of the schedule on my previous posting, and YouTube video coming soon.

See the video of this trip here
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Schedule Beijing & Japan Trip December

Beijing & Japan December 2012 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo & Lake Hakone by Mt Ashi

If anyone out there wants to meet up, e-mail my MrBead address. It’s 27 degrees in Hong Kong today, but it looks a bit nippy in Beijing. BBC weather says minus 5 to minus 1 – and my lucks in, it’s snow!

17th December– Hong Kong to Beijing – Air China CA102 12.30pm – Stay Lucky Family Hostel, Dongcheng District.  Take Airport Express train to Dongzhimen Station, then subway line 2 to Yonghegong & change to line 5 to Zhangzizhonglu Station.  Take exit B, turn right & keep walking north.
18thBeijing – Buy beads at Panjiayuan Antique Market.  Take subway to Tiantandongmen & get a taxi.
19thBeijing to Tokyo – Air China CA421 4.45pm to Narita Airport – Stay New Yoyo Hotel – Take KEISEI SKYLINER Train (¥2,400) to KEISEI NIPPORI Station (36-minutes).  Change to JR JOBAN LINE to JR MINAMI SENJU Station (¥150 & 5-mins).  From there walk toward SOUTH exit (2-mins).  Take elevator to go over the pedestrian bridge and keep on right of road for 5-mins.  Then turn RIGHT in front of the 7-11 store and walk 30-secs to the next street and turn LEFT and another 30-secs and Hotel NEW KOYO is on the right.
20thTokyo – Stay New Koyo – see all main sites in a day!
21th – Train to Hakone – 1 ½ hours. Get Hakone Freepass at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo ¥5,000 (free use of trains, buses, boats & cable cars) to Lake Ashi by Mt Hakone.  Stay at Fuji-Hakone Guest House by Museum of the Little Prince, Lake Ashi – US$77 with hotsprings tax – Agoda booking. Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Gora / Sengokuhara, Hakone, Japan 250-0631 – tel: 04-60846577. Great place, friendly staff & fantastic hot spring baths.
22ndTrain back to Tokyo – Stay Green Plaza Shinjuku Capsule Hotel – US$45 – Hostelworld booking – 1-29-2 Kabukichyo, Shinjuku-Ku – Tel: 03-32075411. One min walk from Shinjuku Station North Exit – OR go out East Exit & walk alnong side of the Alta Department Store, cross street & proceed down between the train station & McDonalds – hotel in Green Plaza.
23rd – Sightseeing in Tokyo – sleep in Haneda Airport as early checkin, showers just ¥800 on 2/F. 
24thTokyo back to Hong Kong – Air China CA109 8.30am to Beijing, then change to CA109 at 1pm to Hong Kong.
25th Christmas Dinner in Delaney’s, Wan Chi.

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Hong Kong Christmas

Do you long to escape the cold at Christmas? Do you wonder what Christmas is like in Hong Kong?

Well, it aint as you think! The festive season is best cold – at least frosty outside.  Everyone loves snow, but icy can be beautiful too.  One does not miss something until it’s lost.

Hong Kong is not warm this time of year, 12 to 14 degrees, can be more – but with little heating, it feels freezing inside.  MiMi and I use an electric blanket.  Outside is better, wrapped up and usually dry and sunny.  Noels and carols are everywhere – but it feels hollow.  Merry, not magical – I love a cosy, quaint atmosphere.

Christmas somewhere hot, like the Philippines is no better. It’s nice to get out of the cold, but if you live in the Far East, most of the year is scorching.  Mainly were basking in air-con. You see, we can boil in the sun anytime – Christmas should be different, special.

However, here in Hong Kong we enjoy British festive TV, wine, turkey and mince pies.  That’s if you’re a gwelio, a foreign devil. I guess its nostalgia – my friends down under prefer throwing king prawns on a pool-side barbe.

Chinese New Year is more fun – especially as it brightens the New Year lull. In 2013 it’s on February 10th – Year of the Snake. Sure to rock!

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For December Horse Racing in Hong Kong Video click here