Telephone callers to the Portuguese consulate in the territory can be forgiven for thinking they have entered a parallel universe. As is the norm nowadays, speaking to a person when you make a call is as common as a Martin Lee fund-raising dinner in Beijing. But Portugal's hard-working diplomats have made things harder. Callers are greeted with the following recorded message: 'The Consulate of Portugal is open from 9am to 3pm. We regret not being able to take your call at the moment. Please try again between 3pm and 4pm.' Real snail mail Some of the computer nerds who maintain e-mail for a growing army of users are pretty convincing at being as thick as two short planks. When an Internet 'newbie' was having trouble getting e-mail, he sent a message to the folks at Hong Kong Telecom IMS who look after things for Netvigator customers. He explained, how, although he could still send messages, he could not read messages sent to him, and asked one of the staff to call him. There was no reply. Six weeks later, after he had traced the problem to a change in Netvigator's operational set-up, he retrieved the store of e-mail that had been building up. And, yes, an e-mail from customer services explaining the problem. Splashing out Shanghai Tang must be doing very nicely, thank you, with its shelves of Sino-chic jackets, Warholesque Mao mugs and Deng watches. Frontman and entrepreneur David Tang was spotted at the boutique holding forth to an American Express staffer last week. 'Ah, I've just returned from a trip and I've been up to pay a seven-figure sum to your company,' Mr Tang loudly informed the woman - and most of the staff and customers in the Pedder Building store. A losing ticket Could it be that the custodians of the big Buddha are trying to force-feed culture to the natives? An elderly British tourist who made the trek to Lantau to view the feat of architecture was surprised to find that meal tickets were being sold at the bottom of the steps. Only wanting to take in the statue in all its glory, the 76-year-old ascended the steps ticketless. After viewing the Buddha from ground level, the tourist tried to gain entry to the inner sanctum - only to be stopped and asked to produce her meal ticket. It appears the ticket is mandatory for entry to the statue's best features. Culture vultures only, it seems. Museum piece As public service announcements on television tell us not to discriminate against people in wheelchairs, one wonders why the MTR has a wheelchair in a glass case at Admiralty station looking like an extinct animal. Though, given the slowness of the MTR's attempts to make stations more accessible, wheelchairs might be in museums by the time the disabled can use the system. Going hungry Strop of the day has to be devoted to restaurants. A recent trip to Q restaurant in Quarry Bay drove a Backbites reader to distraction. After a request for water was met with the expensive, bottled variety (strict no to the tap variety), things got worse. Soup of the day, he was told, was broccoli. Twenty minutes later, that changed to pumpkin. By the time it arrived, it was carrot and ginger. After that was sent back, the main course arrived. Penne with prawns and pesto. Prawn count - three. Fly-by fracas Last week the RAF kindly offered a Wessex helicopter to dolphin researchers plotting the population of threatened Chinese white dolphins. Flying low over the new marine park designated for the dolphins, researchers spotted a mainland ferry speeding at three times the legal limit inside the sanctuary. The pilot swung into action to get the ferry's name and number. Somehow RAF helicopters hovering over a mainland ferry for breaking laws might not be something we see after the handover. Ironically the PLA's helicopters are called Dauphins. They may sound similar, but last week's cameo is one for the history books.