Wednesday, 27 July 2011

King's Cube

I know it's been a very long time indeed since I last posted on this blog, but just came across this wonderful video advertising the benefits of 'King's Cube' in HK.

I've been keeping up with the developments in HK, and it's pleasing to see that there's growing movement against the government. The increasing resistance is for reasons exposed in this video, I'm sure.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The neighbours

So... Mugabe is moving to Tai Po. House 3, JC Castle. Just a few houses down from T's family!

Here's the view of the "verdant countryside" that the Mugabes will enjoy from their new home.
It's a nice spot. Or, at least it was...

UPDATE: It gets better. T's family's maid actually saw the journalist from The Times get assaulted by Mugabe's goons (see the article linked above). I think T's family are fairly representative of the average HK resident and their lack of knowledge about Zimbabwe and Mugabe's ruinous regime probably explains the HK government's expectation that they could get away with letting the tyrant and his family buy property there.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


Build a bridge, sweetheart.

She was late to the gate and denied boarding.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


It's amazing how the absence of things about which to be miserable reduces the desire to blog.

Maybe we do need that fork after all?

Sunday, 30 November 2008

No need for the fork just yet

This blog is still not done, even if my time here is.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Good looking money

I am saddened by the news that Standard Chartered might lose the right to issue Hong Kong bank notes as I think they print the best looking money in town. I've decided to shamelessly rip-off Ulaca's idea and put it to the vote: which bank prints the hottest money?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Wale of a time

I happened upon this book in Page One the other day and instantly thought it might be of interest to Fumie, given his ongoing affection for all things Welsh. What particularly caught my attention, however, was the blurb (is that what you call it - tag line?) on the front cover.

"Holding its 700-page substance is like having all Wales in one's hands"

I'm sure Fumie would agree that it probably says more about the quality of Wales than it does about the quality of the book.

A little too local

As suspected the Tai Po Market branch of Starbucks is in trouble, if their marketing antics are anything to go by. One of the staff members is walking around the station concourse offering sample sized muffin pieces in order entice commuters in for an overpriced coffee or meal. Unfortunately, even the giveaway muffins aren't attracting much attention. I think it's just a little too local out here...

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Short, flabby and middle aged

A few weeks ago I went into the TST branch of Fitness First - my regular hangout - with the intention of canceling my membership. The friendly Filipino behind the desk told me that, as I had joined at the Fortress Hill branch I would need to cancel there. This seemed like another Fitness First money scamming trick (seems like they're the Somali Pirates of the personal fitness world), but I was in no mood to argue so meekly nodded my head and wondered when the hell I'd get all the back to Fortress Hill again. The answer, it turns out, was Monday.

Fortress Hill's distant location is only one reason why I never go there. Another is the general ill-maintained feel the gym gives off (some of the heavier dumbell weights are starting to rust) and yet another is the general ill-maintained look of those who go there. Short, flabby, middle-aged Chinese men. Short, flabby, middle-aged Chinese men who like to dry their pubic hair, while standing stark naked in front of the mirror enjoying the view of themselves, with the hair-dryers. Short, flabby, middle-aged Chinese men whose pubic hair seem longer than their penises.

I've blogged about this issue before. But it seems much worse at Fortress Hill. Towels, people: use them.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Unseasonally influenced

Hong Kong seems determined to give me a fond farewell if the current weather is anything to judge by. I'm just waiting for the frigid temperatures, unremitting gray and closed-in pollution to settle in like it did last year. Actually, I'm not waiting for it at all. If the blue skies and pleasant temperatures last until Sunday - which is when I'm outta here - then I'll be happy indeed.

I've been doing lots of catching up these past few days with friends that I don't get to see much of. I can't help but conclude that I would have been much happier in HK if I had been living somewhere other than Tai Po. Yes, my job sucked and, yes, I had to work six days a week in the middle of Prince Edward (in exchange for HK$20K/month!), but that could have been managed if I had been able to come home to somewhere close to civilisation. A place with supermarkets that sold something more than chicken feet, intestines and fish bladders; that had bread that was genuinely fresh. In other words a supermarket that genuinely deserved the prefix 'super'. A place with food options that extended beyond Cafe-de-Coral and KFC and a place that, well, provided something (anything) to do once I came home from work. I know life in the suburbs in most countires is bleak, but it is nothing in comparison to life in the New Territories.

At least the suburbs in the West allow the enjoyment of personal space and the (smug) satisfaction of owning your own McMansion. Here in HK all you get is a shoddily constructed shoebox built in a tower of other shoeboxes.

In terms of civilisation arriving in my own little corner of Tai Po, I was pleased recently to note the opening of a small Starbuck's coffee shop in the Tai Po Market train station, just downstairs from my house. I stopped there this morning and enjoyed a reasonably well made latte (no jokes please Ulie) (although the bubble-less froth still troubles most of Hong Kong's baristas). I probably spent around 30 minutes there enjoying my coffee and reading the paper and during that time only two other customers came in. Tai Po Market is hardly a haven for the latte sipping set. At $31 for a 'grande' (中) coffee - that's about A$6 at the current crappy exchange rate - I suspect most locals remain uncovinced of the benefits of the brown liquid. Even if they are making it quite well at the local outlet.

So where am I going with this? Well, I guess I'm saying I'd give HK another go if circumstances require. I'd want to be living somewhere else, of course, and I'd want to be doing something rather more engaging than cookie-cutter English teaching. Maybe that's just the unseasonable blue sky influencing me?

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Nearly there

Eight hours of classes and 29 children stand between me and freedom from teaching today.

What a relief to think that I will soon be liberated from the tedium of Hong Kong's children and their incessant chatter about NDS and PSP.

Strangely, I'll miss more than a few of them... Many of them seem to have wormed their ways into my affection.

Well, saying goodbye to them is a small price to pay for having my Saturdays back. I haven't had a free Saturday since April.

Not long to go and HK will be nothing but a memory. Will I look back in fondness?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Sucky news

Well... bad news. I'm heading back to Australia on November 30 and T will be following in March. We had planned for T to come and spend a few weeks at Christmas (when I wouldn't be working due to the stand-down over the Christmas period) so that we wouldn't spend so long apart. Anyway, T just checked with his mum to see if he could have the time away from work, but as his sister has already taken the opportunity to go back to France with her other half, he's been denied. So that means three months without seeing each other.

And, well, we're not really in a position to say to her to that it means alot to our relationship. Not that she'd accept that argument anyway.


Food, freezing, French

I went out for dinner last night with the extended family in honour of my m-i-l's birthday . It was a vegetarian affair and, although the evening was nice enough, the food itself was not. I really don't understand the love of vegetables pretending to be meat that so many Chinese vegeterian restaurants provide. The first dish may have looked like chicken, but tasted like baked cardboard.

I also noticed that HK might be the only place in the world that requires people in winter to put more clothes on once they're inside. It was freezing in the restaurant and as the night progressed the people sitting around the table were reaching for their jackets in order to keep warm. As we made it outside, the jackets came off again.

Speaking of food, does anyone (Joyce) have anything to say about the food on offer at Pierre's in the Mandarin Oriental? I'm not going to Rubichon, but am interested in a nice French meal before I leave for Perth. Suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

God Love

Apparently, God loves the owner of this Porsche 911 Turbo more than you.

Otherwise, you'd have a 911 of your own.

Readers with long memories may remember this scooter, whose owner was far more generous with God's love but who didn't seem to be enjoying the love as much as the 911 owner (judging by the differences in modes of transport).

Window problems

Now that the cool weather is finally with us, we have taken to opening the windows in the bedroom and sleeping very comfortably with the cool air from outside wafting gently in on the breeze. Unfortunately, it's not only the cool air that wafts into our room but also the noises from outside. On Sunday morning, after a big night out, we had only just put our heads onto the pillows when a drunk woman started a screaming match with a taxi driver on the road below. Apparently she was unhappy with the $280 fare charged to get her from TST back to Tai Po. I fell asleep, but T tells me she went on to call the police. He's not sure what happened either, as he soon fell asleep too.

On Sunday night, my sleep was interrupted by a series of blood-curdling screams that appeared to be coming from a male. He sounded like he was having his balls chopped off (not that I know what that sounds like!). This went on for about five minutes before abruptly stopping and I managed to get back to sleep.

Who would have thought sleeping with the window open would be so problematic?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Voters are good (and bad)

I'm sorry I didn't keep the live-blogging going. Unfortunately, real life intervened and I was unable to keep it up. Alas, I was out of media-range altogether for most of the day and so missed Obama's victory speech and McCain's concession (although the marvels of the net ensured I could watch them this evening). In fact, I didn't even know Obama had won until about 8:oo PM tonight.

I am very happy for America that Obama has managed to win this election. What a remarkable man he is. He demonstrated throughout this extraordinary, long campaign that he has the intelligence, judgment and oratory to lead America through this challenging period. His victory speech may have had a few recycled lines, but it touched upon important themes of unity and decency that serve to run a line through the divisiveness and immorality of the Bush-Cheney years.
...a new dawn of American leadership is at hand...
Lofty rhetoric perhaps, but I choose to believe that it's true. I choose to believe that America can regain its place as a righteous and decent example for the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, my faith has to be a little shaken following the outcome of a ballot initiative in California. Proposition 8 sought to overturn marriage rights for gay couples in the state following the California Supreme Court's ruling in favour of equal marriage rights. Unfortunately that ballot iniative has seemingly proven successful: with about 90% of votes cast, Californians appear to have decided (by a small but big enough margin) to deny marriage equality to their gay and lesbian fellow citizens.

You might think that this does not matter much to an Australian. I come from a country where both major parties voted to change the language of federal marriage legislation to specifically rule out the possibility of gay marriage. Marriage in Australia is a long way off. Yet, the California ballot initiative is significant because this was the first time that voters had been given the chance to remove rights to a section of the community after they had been granted them. In other words, Californians voted to strip of their marriages those many thousands of couples who chose to marry following the May court ruling.

The probable success of proposition 8 sets back the cause of marriage equality all over the world. The idea of marriage was rejected by apparently liberal California and, even worse, it was rejected after many thousands had been married and many thousands had demonstrated that society's fabric had not been torn asunder.

Gay people, just like those in the heterosexual community, come in all shapes, sizes and dispositions. Some marry and some don't. Some sleep around and some don't. Some marry and still sleep around. Most find a happy median and take the opportunities offered by the state to find their own happiness, either in marriage or outside of it. It's not the state's business to judge the morality of their actions; only to provide the kind of legal protection and recognition that gives two consenting adults the security they need to make their ways in the world.

It's hard not to take rejection like this personally. It's hard to accept that people would judge my relationship as any less worthy or real or deserving of protection and recognition as a straight person's. Love, and the relationships that spring from it, are wonderful things. Mine is. I hope one day to be able to affirm that formally, if only people would stop voting against it.