31 October 2006

This is Halloween

Halloween in Hong Kong = Crowds of locals not wearing costumes!

Boooooo! I used to think Halloween was for dressing up. To the few people who actually dressed up in HK this year, thank you. To all you bums who didn't and crowded the street so no one could walk, boooooo! Anywho, Halloween was still sort of fun. We went to LKF to see the masses dressed up. There were a few nice costumes, but mainly crowds of people coming to watch. Mai dressed up nicely, I had a pretty lame costume, but my cheap plastic pumpkin mask was awesome. I didn't see anyone else wearing one, so I felt original. Later on we went to IFC Mall for a 'photoshoot.' Then the lonely pumpkin took the bus home.

30 October 2006


Destination: Macau
Objective: Secure Work Visa

Yesterday I went to Macau with Mai. As you should know if you read this blog, I went to get my work visa. The process has taken longer than originally thought, but I now have my visa! I applied about 5 weeks ago, and have been 'working' since about September. I feel a little better knowing that I can now work for real and actually start teaching full-time.

Back to Macau. Dirtiest city ever! As much as Macau pegs itself as a tourist city, that only applies to about 1/10th of the city. The rest = nuclear fallout ground.

The trip to Macau was quite enjoyable aboard the famed TurboJet. They are sort of hard to describe, but these 'ferries' are really just large speed boats. The boat actually skips above the water, it's kind of funny looking. It only takes an hour, and you float into Macau through a super thick fog, and then bam! there's the city. Somewhat cool effect, I hoped it was all fog. My hopes were quickly dashed as soon as we started to explore.

Macau itself is extremley small. I think it's technically a SAR like Hong Kong, but it's a lot smaller, and the size of a normal town, but very crowded. The inner streets are quite simply disgusting. I don't mind old buildings falling down and crowded living and motorcycle insanity and lack of green, but the air was unbearable. It makes Hong Kong seem like fresh mountain air. At one point we had to stop and get off the main road because we seriously couldn't breath. In some ways we had gotten lost, but knew the general area we were in. Next time, if ever, I come back I will not stray from the main paths, or risk dieing of lung cancer in two minutes.

Taxi? what's a taxi? I'm quite confident the people of Macau have never heard of taxis, because it is rare to even see one, let alone get one. Here's my advice Macau, if you want to become the next Vegas, you should first find some taxis to get people around, and put a huge vacuum above the city. I know I won't be back any time soon, I really like breathing too much to risk it.

Funniest thing I've ever seen: Having been to Las Vegas, I have seen some funny things in Casinos. Never, did I EVER expect to see a casino in the 'Vegas of Asia' completely empty at 10pm in the evening. WTF!??! Mai and I could not stop laughing. We walked into this floating casino, the guard gladly welcomed us in. IT WAS DEAD! There were 2 other young people inside, that's it. 2! People plus us. The moment we entered it was like everyone had seen a ghost. We could not figure out why this casino was empty. It made nooooo sense. It was also one of the coolest casinos, as it was floating. Weeeeeiiiirrrd. We left right away because the place gave off this mood like we were going to get shot.

End result: Hooray! I survived Macau and got my work visa, now I never have to go back! Yes!!!!!!

Note: We did have a very awesomely huge lunch at a Portugese restaurant in Macau. (Macau is a former Portugese colony)

28 October 2006

Earning my socks

The Phoons are now 2-1.

On Saturday we sewed up our 2nd win of the season after some good hard play against a small quick Chinese team. We smashed 'em pretty good, but they were in top shape and super quick. In the end size won, with out backs crashing through their line with relative ease. The forwards took control of almost every scrum, pushing forward on many occasions. Yours truly was much better at his position, winning a few balls off the other team's put-in for the scrum. I also made some nice tackles and 'blocks.' There isn't any blocking in rugby really, but there is mauling, which is effectively the same thing.

The final score was 41-14. After the game, team awards were given out at the pub where I got the coaches award. The thing this year for the Phoons is to give out team socks to award winners after each game. By about the 6th or 7th game everyone should have their socks. Coach said I did alot of things that you don't really notice from the sidelines, but on the field make a big difference. Sounds like some other sport I used to play (football) I never won any damn socks in football though!

25 October 2006


"Lost in Kyoto," from the soundtrack to Lost in Translation. That song pretty much changed my mood for the night. Looking out the window at 40 story buildings, peering above them, I felt pretty lonely, but in a good way. Just came back from Rugby practice, which was fairly insignificant, but listening to some music made me feel good inside, so much it inspired me to think of some new ideas about things. I might even write a poem...

It's good to know that one song can change your outlook on things so much. I missed music a bit, not really having a stereo and only my computer and headphones. Good to hear positive 'noise' for a change.

23 October 2006

Knock Knock

Who's there? Lots of people who take things too seriously apparantly.

I write like 2 somewhat negative posts, mainly sarcasticly as hell, and now everyone thinks I hate Hong Kong. Umm, where did that come from? I still love it here, it's the craziest city I've ever been in. Sure it has it's downsides, and I'm here to point them out. I also, for the most part focus entirely on the good things about this city. I don't recall saying I was mad about people walking into me, I just thought it would be better for their safety if they didn't. Also all the kids at school absolutely love me, I'm a celebrity to them. I'm glad that spending 20 minutes of time with them a day makes them laugh, even if they are laughing at me. As conservative and strict as the teaching structure is here, I do have to say that most of my students speak better English than many Canadian 3 year olds, and I'm not joking.

So no, I'm not angry at you Hong Kong, I merely like to poke fun at you. But ya, you still are really dirty. My work visa went through the other day, and I picked it up today. Now all I have to do is go to Macau and get it stamped so I can stay the whole year now. Everything is working out good in that regard. Mai and I also went to yet another mall yesterday, saw some crazy little stores, way too crowded, in Mong Kok. It still boggles my mind how many malls are in this SAR.

In other new, the Blue Bombers won again! They can actually maybe host a playoff game. If anyone knows how I can watch CFL playoff games in another country I'd love to know.

What did you breath today?

I decided to do a little research on different Air Quality levels around the world today. The results I already knew, but just wanted some actual numbers and to know what they meant. Pretty much everyone calls it the Air Quality Index (AQI) but Hong Kong calls it the Air Pollution Index (API). The numbers used don't always mean the same and the UK is different as well. Anyway here are the numbers for today. The numbers for HK are at midnight! during the day they are even worse, but I don't want to scare anyone.

Hong Kong (at midnight)
Central - 57 (60+ during the day)
Causeway bay - 65 (70+ during the day)
Mong Kok - 73 (85+ during the day)

Canada (Morning)
Winnipeg - 9
Calgary - 8
Vancouver - 12
Toronto - 10
Montreal -10

New York City - 45
London - 3 (They use a system up to 10 only)

(From wikipedia >>>)

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a standardized indicator of the air quality in a given location. It measures mainly ground-level ozone and particulates (except the pollen count), but may also include sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Various agencies around the world measure such indices, though definitions may change between places.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) differ on what AQI structure and health classification is used:

Health classifications used by the EPA:

  • 0-50 Good is usually green
  • 51-100 Moderate is usually yellow
  • 101-150 Unhealthy for sensitive groups is usually orange
  • 151-200 Unhealthy is usually red
  • 201-300 Very unhealthy is usually purple
  • 301-500 Hazardous is usually maroon

(AQI 100 corresponds to 0.08 ppm ozone; other levels for other pollutants) EPA

Health classifications used by the MSC:

  • 0-25*: Good (green)
  • 26*-50: Moderate (yellow)
  • 51-100: Poor (orange/red)
  • 101+: Very poor (purple)

In Ontario, 31 is the upper limit for good and 32 the lower limit for moderate.

United Kingdom

The Met Office of the United Kingdom (UK) issues air quality forecasts wherein the level of pollution is described either as an index (ranging from 1 to 10) or as a banding (low, moderate, high or very high). These levels are based on the health effects of each pollutant.

Hong Kong (Main article: Air Pollution Index)

The Air Pollution Index (API) levels for Hong Kong are related to the measured concentrations of ambient respirable suspended particulate (RSP), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over a 24-hour period based on the potential health effects of air pollutants.

An API level at or below 100 means that the pollutant levels are in the satisfactory range over 24 hour period and pose no acute or immediate health effects. However, air pollution consistently at "High" levels (API of 51 to 100) in a year may mean that the annual Hong Kong "Air Quality Objectives" for protecting long-term health effects could be violated. Therefore, chronic health effects may be observed if one is persistently exposed to an API of 51 to 100 for a long time.

"Very High" levels (API in excess of 100) means that levels of one or more pollutant(s) is/are in the unhealthy range. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department provides advice to the public regarding precautionary actions to take for such levels.


Ok, so based on this research, Hong Kong is just plain stupid. It's not even recommended for people to be outside for more than 24 hours. That's ok with me, cause it's too damned hot, but this is ridiculous. Anyone more interested can find more info at wiki.

20 October 2006

Sars just got owned!

Woohoo! I'm finally getting better. I took a tonne of meds last night and most of my cold seems to have gone away. Unfortunately I felt rather 'high' this morning, and I had to teach, haha. Not sure what I took, something Mai gave me, but it worked when I took enough. I doubled the dosage cause I figure I'm almost twice as big as most Japanese people I know. Tomorrow is the Typhoons 2nd game of the season, and I should see a tonne of action as I'm the only one at my position who is going and available. Arg, we're playing the police too! woohoo! Big fat white guys with too much ego, should be fun. Apparantly we killed em last year cause they're all too out of shape and slow. I'm also both of those, actually our whole team is. Either way we go for free beers after at HK Brewhouse, our sponsor. The food is really good too. I must say the nachos are almost some of the best I've ever had. Still loyal to PG's though.

In other news... Yes I am getting more politically incorrect, thanks for noticing! :)

Set for life.

I found out the other day that most kindergartens actually interview their students to see if they are good enough to go to the school. It's frickin kindergarten! It's a sad sad day when 3 year olds are somewhat 'interrogated' so they can go to a good school. If the kindergarten doesn't think the student behaves well, they don't get in. Judging by how misbehaved most of my students are at times, the kids who don't get in are most likely serial killers. Still! I find this rediculous. Maybe even a waste of time. They are private schools, but still, it's kindergarten people!

Oh ya, kids start going to school when they are 3 here, 6 days a week. Sounds like fun doesn't it. Glad I never grew up here, the pressure would be rediculous. From what I heard/saw on another HK blog, many students decide jumping out a window is more fun than going to school.

Alas, I am a big hypocrit. I'm going to school to sit in on some interviews as bait for parents, and I'm being paid extra big bucks to do it. Gotta love capitalism. Hehehe.

I'm bigger than you! I'm higher on the food chain!

One of my students somewhat seriously tried to fight me the other day. I didn't really do anything but laugh at him, and a little of pretend boxing. But seriosuly kid, you're maybe 30 pounds. My advice, "R" for "Realistic." Did you think you could take me? Even with your super kung-fu moves, I'm not scared.

In other news. Do you people on the street find it enjoyable to not acknowledge my existance by walking into me and bouncing back about 5 feet as if you didn't see me coming. I saw you coming, and made a slight effort to move, but I had the right of way. When everyone going one way is on one side of the walkway, maybe you should be on the other side if you're going the other way. This leads me to believe people who can't walk in an orderly fashion along with the other thousand people on the street can't drive as well. I hope you all don't have cars. In the meantime my shoulder really doesn't care when you crash into it, because I continue moving forward, it's called " I'm bigger than you!" Look out!

In case no one knew, my biggest pet peave is lollygaggers! It's Hong Kong people! Everyone claims this city is moving so fast forward technology wise blah blah blah, maybe you should all do the same when it's rush hour!

19 October 2006

Mai's new ice

UPDATE: So ya. I ummm, screwed up a little. Only the first design is Mai's, the picture of the two earings, necklace, and ring (I deleted the other images). The others are from her 3 co-workers. Ooops! Anyway, the pictures can still be found at the link below.

Edited > Here are the new works Mai just recently designed. She works for JustGold HK, where she designs jewellery. These are all in stores as of October.
Click on the picture to go to the website for JustGold.

17 October 2006

Blue Sky Anyone?

Not in Hong Kong anytime soon. The air pollution has gotten so bad in this city that it's almost twice as bad or worse, than Los Angeles USA!. Anyone who has ever seen a shot of that city's skyline on a smoggy day knows how bad it is. Well factor in higher humidity and a chinook's worth of pollution from mainland China, and you have what a smogfest looks like in Hong Kong. I didn't notice too much at first, mainly because the high heat was annoying me so much. Now everytime I go outside I notice how dirty the air really is and how it must be taking a few minutes off my life everytime I breath. The government here is sort of starting to do something, but according to local lobbyists it's not even close to enough. In a city as fast paced as Hong Kong, the pollution fix could not be more slow. I'm not blaming my current sickness entirely on the pollution, but it's the biggest factor I'm sure. There isn't much HK can do about China blowing their crap all over the city here, but what they can do is get rid of the gross diesel running cars/buses/vans etc. that pollute the crap outta the streets. Most of the roads are stained black from it. I think it's absolutely gross. Coming from Calgary, the cleanest city in the world from certain polls, I agree that Hong Kong could possibly be the dirtiest. Ugg....

14 October 2006

Meet the Parents

Over the past week I had the oppotunity to meet my girlfriend's (Mai's) parents. I had already met her mom twice in Calgary, so this was the big first meeting of her dad. We all went out for dinner at an amazing Japanese restaurant, the name escapes me at the moment. The ambience was too bright (Note: I don't like bright restaurants) but overall it was probably/guaranteed the best Japanese food I've ever had. The steak I had was excellent.

Anyway, back to meeting the parents. Like I said I have met Mai's mom before, but never her dad. His sense of humour is quite funny as is Mai's mom. They are always laughing at something together. I never quite know what because it's usually in Japanese. Mai got mad at me because I drank my drink before she got hers. This is my blog, so of course it was not my fault. As any beer drinker knows, it is proper drinking behaviour to drink beer while it's freshly poured to enjoy the head. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If others choose not to drink beer, that's their fault, haha.

Apart from Mai saying I drank too soon, I don't think I made any major glaring errors in meeting her dad for the first time. (They even said my use of chopsticks was good) We've been invited to Beijing, and at somepoint I'm sure we will go. Unfortunately Mai's dad had to go after dinner, but it was a good visit. Her mom stayed for 3 days, so I had a chance to get to know her a little better.

It was extremely nice of her to make my breakfast before I went to work. The last night she was here, the 3 of us went for Thai food at 'Bangkok', a really nice little restaurant. The food was quite good, I even had pineapple chicken served in a whole pineapple. We had a few other dishes and a few drinks. Unfortunately Mai was sick, so she didn't eat much, and we left early because she looked like she was dying slightly. On the cab ride home, she threatened to puke all over me, but that never happened thankfully. I for some reason began to feel a little queezy as well on the ride home, but didn't think anything of it. When we got home, Mai basically went straight to bed, and I watched some TV. I don't know if it was the food or the TV, but my dinner decided it was going to make a reappearance. Here's a conversation between me and my stomach.

Stomach: Did you enjoy your dinner?

Me: Yes I did, the beer was good too.

Stomach: Yah I forgot to tell you, I don't like spicey food and beer.

Me: What? Since when, I drink beer almost every time I go out for dinner.

Stomach: Eh, even so, since you liked it so much, why not have another look!

Me: Hmmmmm, no.

Stomach: Ummmm, too bad, here it is!

Now I've heard of the weekend flu, even the 24 hour flu, but never have I had the 20 minute flu. This was weird, but the origin of my stomach ache has been narrowed down to either the spices in the soup, possibly bad chicken (it was in pineapple so I can forgive it if it's guilty) and maybe the Thai beer I had, possible too bubbly. Anyway, I really didn't feel bad for more than 20 minutes, the next day after a long sleep I was perfectly normal. Unfortunately I seem to have contracted Sars from Mai (jk), as my head is kinda not right, and my throat has been better, lets hope it's just the AC.

11 October 2006

Do it yourself

That's what the general attitude towards showing someone how to do their job is in Hong Kong. You would think that they might help out a bloke who's only been here a month, but not really. For the most part, and I've been told this is common at most jobs here, the employer really doesn't show you how to do your job. In some ways this really really sucks, and can frustrate the hell out of me, but I'm getting used to it. I just wish someone would have told me this so I would know that I can pretty much do things how and when I want. That's not to say that I haven't been given a little bit of guidance from the learning centre and the schools I work at. After the first week, I was given an outline, so now I know when I'm supposed to teach what to the kids. It's still a little dodgy, because I really still hadn't had much of an idea until today where I picked up the right teaching supplies. Did the school have them? Or do I have to get them from the learning centre. No one really told me, I was just supposed to know I guess. Now I do. I found out today that certain things I get from the centre, and certain things they have at the school. But as previous readers will know, the school didn't bother to tell me where my big bundle of supplies was until after 2 weeks. grrrr. Also today I got my big pack of flashcards! Wooohoo for flashcards! Now I can stop drawing terrible depictions of apples and cats on the board. This was slightly entertaining for me though. One of my kids was being naughty today, so I drew a picture of him on the board, it was awesome. All the kids laughed. He didn't seem offended at all, but he shut up, haha.

So a new lesson learned, do everything myself while pretending to know what I'm doing. I really actually do like this for the most part, because it gives me control of my situation, I just wish I could have maybe had a little more help with a fews things. Oh and just when you thought I was out of petpeeves here's another!

Let the ENGLISH teacher teach ENGLISH!

I'm all for the non-native english teachers assisting me, but there is a reason all the schools are in really high need of NATIVE ENGLISH speakers and pay a lot of money for them. I don't mind accents, but when I'm trying to teach a new word to the kids, pleeeeeease don't say it wrong! Usually it's not a problem, but if the word you say sounds like a totally different word in English, you're going to totally confuse the kids! For instance, a doll is not a door. This is even more true when I'm teaching them 'door' and 'doll' at the same time! grrrrrr. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just saying how it is. The reason young kids are given native speakers to learn from so much, is because they have the opportunity to learn the language easier because they absorb different sounds better than adults. So please, don't tell me to do it myself, and then help me by not helping me, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

10 October 2006

High-speed English Teaching

Woohoo for high-speed internet! I'm at work/school today, where I have access to high-speed internet, finally! So with all my spare time I have uploaded many photos to my photoblog. Go check em out!

08 October 2006

China's National Day

National Day in Hong Kong/China is when China became a country or gained it's independance etc. etc. At least I think that's what it's for, no one has told me officially what it is. I make my own conclusions. Anyway, in Hong Kong it's is very nice because not only do they have a day off work for China's day, they also have one for Hong Kong, on July 1st. 2 days off! woohoo. This year, and I'm sure many other years, they had a huge firework display over the harbour. It took a bit of convincing, but I managed to drag Mai along. There were tonnes (millions) of people along both sides of the harbour, so we really didn't get a great spot. I think we saw about 1/3 of the show, meaning 2/3 of our view was blocked. We got to our spot about 10 minutes before it started. Even if we had been there 2 hours early I'm not sure we would have seen it all. It was very very crowed.

As for the fireworks, they were really cool. The first half was pretty lame, but the ending was awesome. I've never seen so many go off all at once. And we only saw 1/3. They were launching them off of 3 boats, so I guess we saw one boats worth. I did video tape a bit of it, should have it on Utube sorta soon. I'll let you all know...

Four Mooncakes and a Fire Dragon

Wholey Mooncake! Had I known that I would receive 4 large mooncakes from one of my schools, I would not have bought one. I'm starting to get my fill of mooncake, they really are quite heavy little things. Having said that, I will do my best to eat them all, as Mai does not like them...

On a more interesting note, fire dragons are cool! As part of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Hong Kong puts on a 'Fire Dragon' parade through the streets near Causeway Bay. After seeing the insanity of the National Day fireworks (I haven't posted about them yet, but I will!), I showed up early to the parade anticipating a huge crowd. It was quite large I guess, but not huge by any imagination. I managed to get a good spot, and was able to follow the dragon as it made its way up and down the various streets. There were also bagpipes and drums. All in all a good night. I took many photos, as did the nearly 2000 other photographers, who were literally 'in' the parade! Right beside the flaming dragon they stood: silly sillyness. This would have been a much better "parade" if the photographers weren't allowed to actually go right up to the dragon, I guess they were all from newspapers etc., because not just anyone was allowed over the railings. It really took away from the parade, but made the whole thing amusing, you'll see from the photos I just posted (Oct 10th). Check out the photos at http://jonathanevans.blogspot.com

I ate a mooncake, but not my mooncake (I did)

I ate my mooncake! It was awesome!

***Orignally Posted Sept 28th
I still have yet to eat the mooncake I purchased with so much anticipation, but Mai got 8! of them as a gift from work, so we had one. I have to say I actually liked it quite a bit. Apparantly there are all kinds of them though, so I'm not sure if it's the same kind as I bought. Also they make them out of ice cream, jelly, and the fillings are all different, but the tradition
al one is as follows:

"Traditional mooncakes are typically baked and consists of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet and slightly oily filling. The moon cake can also contain single or multiple whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. The saltiness of the yolk balances well with the sweet filling in the mooncake. Although rarely so, mooncakes can also be steamed or fried.

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for "logevity" or "harmony" as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. Imprints of a moon, a woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Mooncakes are expensive and are considered a delicay. Making them and their fillings is also a labor intensive process; as such, few people make them at home and choose instead to purchase them at Asian markets and bakeries."

The best description I have for them is a hockey puck. They are about the same size, and are pretty heavy for a tiny little cake, and damned expensive! I'm glad Mai got 8 free little ones, they are yummy, and she doesn't like them so I get them all! Woohoo!

05 October 2006

Just so you all know

I saw 9! Lamborghinis today!

Pineapple Genius!

WOW! I never in a million years ever thought I would see something that shows the love of pineapple more than hawaiin pizza. Now I have! The man who came up with the idea to make pineapple beer is a genius! It tastes absolutely terrible, but genius! I would compare it to stale ginger-ale almost. The even more awesome thing is, it only has .5% alcohol! Woohoo! Even so, this amazing invention deserves my admiration.

03 October 2006

Teaching Honglish

Alright, I've been pretty patient so far, but gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I need to vent. I realize that small children need to be shown repetition to learn, but this is ridiculous! From what I understood, I was for the most part, in total control of my lessons I teach. Not anymore! I had planned a small part where the kids would colour in a picture of something representing the letter we had learned that day. Today for example, the letter 'B'. The kids were going to colour in a picture of a Boy. I thought this would be fine, as it's what I do Saturdays for my class, which I was shown to do by that school and my learning centre. I liked that because they actually gave me an outline! Well for Tuesday/Thursday, the school I teach at is slightly unorganized! I was told I could not give them pictures to colour, because they already did enough worksheets etc. like that. Thanks for telling me in advance! gaaaaaaaaaaaah. These kids are too young to understand any games I can describe, there are too many of them anyway to play games without creating havoc. So in the end, from what I understand, all I'm supposed to do for 20 minutes is repeat 1 letter and it's sound. For 20 minutes! Don't you think little kids would get bored outta there tiny little skulls!!?!??! I would!?!?! And I do!?!? I know it's easy as hell for me to teach this, but the kids loose interest after 5 minutes of the letter, which they all already know! Because they all already know the alphabet! Why am I teaching them what they already know! No pictures or drawing for me I guess. So now I have to figure out how to make 20 minutes of phonics interesting for kids who already know the letters. Grrrrrrrrr..........

UPDATE: The silly school decided to let me in on the marvellous big bin of teaching supplies I was supposed to magically know about. Like reading minds I suppose. Thanks!