To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh Mapped Out

Daddy, what did you do last weekend ??

Well, I went to Central for my quarterly medical checkup. Apparently, I am good for another couple of months, so I went shopping. (When in passing, I mentioned this to some workmates, they hooted in derision. Evidently they see me as Sham Shui Po/Mong Kok shopper aka cheap).

To put this in context there are 3 downtown shopping areas on Hong Kong Island.

To appreciate shopping in Central you must first understand that Central is build on land reclaimed from Victoria Harbour and that the principle landowner HongKong Land (part of Jardines) owns ALL the major buildings in Central and has built skybriges and walkways between them. The shopping area is within these buildings. There are 2 interesting "maps" on the HongKong Land websites Conspicuous by its absent, however, is any internal plan showing which shops are where (although they are listed on the central HK site). I was dissapointed not to see an interactive tell and sell tour with lots of zooming and panning on par woith the flash file.

Now, in London a much sought after souvenier would be a Harrod's shopping bag. Implies that you can afford to shop in Knightsbrige. Has more cachet than either a Hambleys or Selfriges bag. The equivalent In Hong Kong is not a bag (We are after all knee deep in fake designer bags here) but the map. It is the ultimate proof statement that you have seen heaven, which you can mail to friends and relatives in order to get them exited about visiting Hong Kong !! Entering the labyrinth that is Central, is rather like Alice dropping down the rabbit hole into the Warren. It is very easy to get disorientated even though there are signs everywhere and the skywalks clearly identify which road they pass over. Obviously people who work in Central or are suffers from Oniomania (compulsive shopping) wouldn't need a map but if you are in a hurry it iss a necessity.

This weekend I was in a hurry so slipping in a side door from Pedder street (having bought a beany at M&S to keep my DIM SUM warm) I sought out a map from the information desk and firstly visited HMV to buy a chinese video for #1 daughter (Chinese new year is imminent). I played it when we got home to make sure there were English subtitles. I am not sure she will like it since it is lacking in gratuitous sex and violence It would be best watched with a hot bowl of Dam Dam soup. ( I must remember to mail it). I then trated myself in Dymocks with a book on weiqi also known as GO (another post will follow). I's a chinese board game like chess, popular in asia particuoarly in japan and Korea that Iused to play years agi in London (badly).

Of course on the way out to the Central Bus Depot, we could not help but pause to gaze upon the bling in the jewellers. Unlike the bufget versions of Kate's engagement ring, here were rings etc of substance with seriously large and expensive coloured stones of every description. Not the usual dusting of ice cube sized diamonds on a bed of gold seen previously. We (#3 on and I) also gawped at the stunning womens fashions not only on the manikins in shop windows, but on pasers by, and on the models didplsyed in the floor to ceiling billboards, and on the wall size video units (#3 who is 2.5 getting on 3 drawled at the size of the video screen, I just drawled at the models)

The journey home was not exceptional; There was the usual complement of Japanese/Korean shoppers on the upper deck heading to the Pada and Joyce factory Shops. I didn't engage any in conversations about GO. They were all too busy taking photos first this side then that (it was like watching the tide go in and out) As always 15 minutes after arriving there were clusters of frustrated japanese/korean shoppers milling arround basically because the maps in their guide books are woefully inadequate and there are no obvious sign posts to the outlets. And why would there be...I am sure Prada would prefer that you pay full price in Central rather than discounted in their Ap lei Chau outlet.

Picture the scene... Husbands and boyfriends under pressure to locate the store whist girl friends and wives pace dejectedly. Me, doing my civic duty, walking up to these poor women, pointing in the right direction,and with a smile announcing clearly "PRADA". Their look of sheer gratitude ... as their husbands/boyfriends desperately seek to confirm directions on their maps so as not to lose face.

In the afternoon since I was in the zone, I went and played with Google maps and other mapping tools . Well I have actually been working on geocoding and mapping systems recently which is maybe why I was very concious of maps this weekend. I must remember to check with Patrick how he tagged his travel map .......

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