So, up to Phoenix travel to see my pocket Rocket Elaine (Ash, she reminds me of an Asian Sarah Atkinson!) who arrived at 09.00 on the dot - I was the first one there at 08.40 and had a non conversation with the cleaner... I pick the visa up Wednesday (tomorrow) so fingers crossed on that as I've heard other stories/bad news.
Mad rush pretty much all the way across town to meet the amazing and slightly deaf Dr Dan Waters. My impatience got the better of me, I was stuck in traffic, in an air conditioned taxi on Conduit Road (his road) and was running late. Decided to jump out and walk. As soon as I do, the traffice moves off (roadworkds contraflow) - typical and I begin to sweat. An uphill walk and rushing makes me sweat more and I arrive a sweaty wreck unfortunately. I did meet his dapper wife in the lift on the way out - immaculately dressed. Dan welcomed me in, ordered me to take off my shoes and showed me to the study. He holds "all comers records for marathons and running at all sorts of distances you know?"
"In the over 70s class"
It was good to meet him, he was very interested in Grandad's diary and also asked me if I would mind doing a radio interview, which of course I wouldn't (Geronimo - help can you give me media training in 10 easy steps?). I didn't really find out any more about the escape from Dr Dan, but the meeting did urge me to investigate further. I found out that Grandad was away from home for four years. He was born in 1920 (same year as Dr Dan) and signed up on 24 February 1938 - his 18th birthday - what a present!? He returned home, in the May after his 22nd birthday.
Another mad rush back over the water to the Chinese side of town (Mong Kok - no folks, that's not an ailment) where I was to meet Duncan "at exit E for Elizabeth".
I recognised him straight away - stood at the foot of the escalators, with an expectant look on his face - he's got his dad's eyes. I instantly liked Duncan - he's 75, admittedly a little slow on his feet but still got a twinkle in his eye. His english is good and he can understand me if I talk slowly in my finest Queen's English, which admittedly isn't very fine at all. We ambled down the main street, back again and then took the lift to a restaurant so tucked away, there's no way you'd ever know it existed. It's like walking into another world - properly something out of Harry Potter. Just a lift shaft on the ground floor and it opens to reveal a 300 cover restaurant, aquarium (read menu) and so on and so forth. I met Peter, Duncan's friend, long time money man (retired accountant) of Henry Tsui (CC's right hand man and also owner of the LA Hilton Airport Hotel!) who is now a feng shui consultant, mind reader, body language reader etc. Anyway, I must've passed the test as we all enjoyed a fantastic three hour lunch with lashings of green tea and no booze at all. Duncan treated us all to a meal we couldn't finish and for less than GBP30!
They talked me into buying a mobile - see last post - and a wise one too, so I'm pay-as-you-go'd up for thirty quid... This was a much more relaxed affair and after pouring over the maps, I could've kicked myself for leaving the technical stuff at Dr Dan's by mistake (which lead to a second whistlestop tour back over that way in the afternoon...) From the information I managed to convey to them, they were worried about me and not sure some of the more remote places at the start of the journey (Nanao - Huizhou, 80miles) are somewhere for a westerner like me with absolutely zero chinese speaking/understanding ability at all to be going alone. Duncan has suggested a couple of options which has lead to me researching futher and building a much more detailed itinerary. If it all goes to plan, I'll be doing this first stretch with him, in luxury, in a hired car (or taxi) in one or two days. It's not far from his China home and I think we could do it in a round trip. He's also going to help me to arrange the onwards part from Huizou with China Travel Services, so that should all be good!
I finished the day with some more shopping and bagged a kosher JVC camcorder (this is going to be one hell of a Beer Monkey Geronimo!), tripod, bag, spare battery, mug, water bottle etc all for less than UK prices - happy days - don't worry it's not a fake either.
Hit the sack after some detailed planning, diarising and playing with my new toys!