31 December 2007

Holiday Hilarity Hits Hongkong Happlessly Ho Ho Ho!

Warning, the following warnings contain instances of stupid and silly predictions. These two seperate warnings were issued by the HK Silly board sometime today.


Cold Weather Warning
The Cold Weather Warning has been issued by the Hong Kong
Observatory at 4:20 p.m."

So it's going to be a freezing cold fire? Huh? Do I put on some mittens or get some marshmellows? Which one is it!!!!???

"The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting cold weather in
Hong Kong in the next few days.

The minimum temperatures in the urban areas for tomorrow
will be around 11 degrees. It will be a few degrees lower
in the New Territories.

As Hong Kong is being affected by a cold winter monsoon,
people are advised to put on warm clothes and to avoid
adverse health effects due to the cold weather. You must
also ensure adequate indoor ventilation."

How do you avoid Health "effects"? Can I just avoid Health all together?

"If you must go out, please avoid prolonged exposure to
wintry winds."

Yes, you wouldn't want to get frostbite. Your Starbucks might freeze!

"If you know of elderly persons or persons with chronic
medical conditions staying alone, please call or visit them
occasionally to check if they need any assistance.

Make sure heaters are safe before use, and place them away
from any combustibles. Do not light fires indoors as a
means to keep warm.

Whatever the temperature, please ensure that there is
plenty of fresh air in your room when you are using an
old-type gas water heater.


Be careful everyone, don't slip on the ice. And be prepared to run from the massive flames spouting from Kowloon. Funny how there is a fire warning yet they tell people to avoid having indoor fires, but say nothing against having them outside... Bonfire away!

22 December 2007

Christmas Party!

Yesterday was the Christmas party at school/work. After the stressful (not for me) few weeks preceding Christmas, some of the teachers were happy to finally be done with December. Honestly people, they're all 4-5 years old, it's not that stressful. I had a good time at the party. It was the last chance I would have to spoil my class as I'm changing to the K2's next month. I don't really want to leave my K1 class as they're all awesome, but the K2 teacher is having a baby and calls in sick 3 times a week, so she got kicked out of her teaching duties. It should be an interesting switch, every time I 'subbed' for her the K2 kids would cheer cause they hate her (she's grumpy).

The Christmas party consisted of all the grades performing one carol each in front of the whole school. This went pretty smooth, but when you prep them a month in advance to sing a song they already know it should be smooth. The K1's sang Jingle Bells. It was hilarious, I wish I video-taped it. My class sang the loudest, cause once again, they're awesome. The K2/3's sang their songs and then it was time for Santa. Ms Grumpy was leading the party, so it could have been slightly more 'festive' but the kids loooooove Santa. Everyone took a picture with him, and then it was time to eat...sugar!

Most of the children eat quite healthy compared to Canadian kids but the menu for Christmas was anything but. We had doughnuts, cheese sandwiches, chips, cookies, juice (100%sugar), and chocolate crackers. The parents surely hate us all after the sugar rush for the afternoon at home. All the kids left post candy-feast and it was up to the teachers to clean the school before we could go home.

The most memorable thing of the morning was Mr. Mark showing up dressed like an elf. He's a big rugby player, just picture it. He had pointy ears as well. I had a snowman tie.

Merry Christmas!

20 December 2007

3 Seconds of Heaven

I think we saw the Temple of Heaven. My pictures seem to say that we did. Honestly the tour was so quick it was hard to stop and take a picture. It was a very impressive structure, although the freshly painted surface made it seem quite new. It's at least a few hundred years old, if you want details you know where to find google.


MLB Christmas

Christmas China Funnies

17 December 2007


So far this week/weekend I have booked and cancelled about 3 different hotels. We're not going anywhere for Christmas so I thought it would be nice to go somewhere to get outta the 'flat.' Hong Kong doesn't agree with me on this one apparantly. Everything is either fully booked or rediculously expensive. As of right now I can fly to Canada cheaper than stay in a hotel for 2 nights.

I have found slightly better luck in booking a restaurant. Numerous hotels and restaurants have super-duper buffets for Christmas. Numerous means a lot, I think every hotel has one. Most of those were booked as well unfortunately. Gah! Anyway I have managed to secure a booking at some restaurant 29 floors up somewhere in Kowloon. The group it's a part of is quite nice and it has good reviews and views as well.

On the phone they told me we had to finish in two hours, ha! What are they gonna do, kick us out after 2 hours? Sure, they can settle the bill themselves with that attitude. Maybe they'll cancel the bill! Just like everything else!

11 December 2007

Went for a stroll at night, through Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Sqaure is pretty quiet at night. The gates shut around 5pm, and then it gets dark and the light go on. It was a very foggy night, which added to the atmosphere. There weren't too many people out and about other than policemen and rickshaws.


This is what Beijing used to look like for anyone who can not get there before the Olympics. All the old villages or 'slums' are being torn down or covered up in order to make the city look nicer. You wouldn't know it, but this particular village was only about 5 minutes away from where the Emperor used to live in the Forbidden City. Some of the old villages are hundreds of years old. All the people being forced out of these small 'enclosures' are being relocated sometimes hundreds of kilometers away to the outskirts of the city, or 'suburbs.' Many are happy about moving to a newer home, but not a new location. Instead of the people taking a few minutes to walk downtown, it will now take them a couple hours. Many of the poor people are being kicked out of Beijing altogether. Where are they going? That's a good question. Many are being moved temporarily because of the Olympics, but will they be allowed back in? I think the IOC is a total sham for letting this go on, and I hope at least one country boycots the Olympics because of it.

Deck the Halls on a Silent Night

One of my duties at work is to teach oral English lessons to the Japanese half of the school. I only teach the K2 and K3 students 2 times each per week. It's a lot of fun and sometimes very humurous, as the students have no clue what I am saying. It's very different from my main class in the International section where all instruction is in English.

In case you didn't know, it's Christmas soon, so that means wonderfully repetitive carols sung over and over until your ears bleed. Yay. The whole school is having a joint party (Japanese + International kids) where we are attempting to have them sing carols together. It seems easy enough, songs like Jingle Bells everyone knows. But Deck the Halls and Silent Night? Most English speaking people can't get past the first verse.

I have the awesome task of trying to teach 4 year old Japanese kids the 3rd verse of Deck the Halls. Anyone who can send in the correct words WITHOUT looking them up wins a prize. At this moment I am writing, I don't even remember them all. I have to read the song sheet. How are young lads and lasses supposed to learn this when half of the English in the song is not even used anymore in everyday talk?

In any case, it doesn't matter, because no one is going to be watching, only other kids. If it was up to me the kids would all come, see Santa, get a present, sing some funny songs like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf, then everyone goes home at noon. But noooo, we have to drag the life out of them by singing Silent Night. A song about some Christian tradition in a non-religious school, in a non-religious country, about sleeping. Meeeeeerry Christmas!

10 December 2007

Walking on The Great Wall of China!

We made it! After a rather interesting morning we finally had a chance to see the Great Wall of China! The section we went to was the Badaling leg. Rumour has it parts of it are somewhat "fake" or slightly over-renovated, but it's still impressive. The two hours we had to walk it were once-in-a-lifetime steps - it's still hard to believe we were actually on it.

09 December 2007

The Great Pull-Car of China

Before I post any pictures from our walk along the Great Wall, you must see how we got up to the top of the section we visited. Walking perhaps? Nope. We took a "pull-car." Our tour guide had described it as a "cable-car" which would mean floating in the air usually, so I thought it was hilarious when we arrived to take this thing up the hill.

I enjoyed how it was lit with nice colorful neon lights in the tunnel.

There were random signs telling you "Do not get off!"

This thrill ride took about 7 minutes. The Great Wall is quite long so you can't really get to "The Top." It goes up and down and up and down many many times. Some parts much higher or steeper than others. We went to the Badaling section, which had a theoretical "top" you could climb to. We would not have had enough time without the help of the amazing pull-car/cable-car wannabe.

I think the Wall is losing some of it's mystique. The people who built it would be rolling in their graves at the state of things now.

04 December 2007


Hooraa! I've almost completed looking at and editing down the few hundred photos I'd taken from Beijing! Everything is starting to look the same so I should post a little about our trip before it's all a blur. I will elaborate more in future posts, but the trip was very very fast paced, we didn't stop to sit for more than a couple minutes. Our "tour-guides" were morons employed only with the task of taking our money at every turn. "Cash Grab" anyone? Beijing is an amazing city, but you cannot go anywhere without someone trying to rip you off, no matter how you look or how you talk to them. It's a way of life I guess. I didn't mind so much having lived in Hong Kong for awhile, but my parents seemed to not like the bargaining and bartering for everything as much.

One tip for travellers to Beijing, do not swear at your tour guide, they don't like it. Naughty words are worse than complete idiocy to tour guides...

We spent a total of 4 days in Beijing, which wasn't near enough. I'd love to go back but not in the winter. It wasn't really that cold, but it felt like it being a Konger now. I think it went down to -3 while we there. Up on the Great Wall was chilly with the wind. BTW I'm going to post photos and stories along the way trying to keep in order with what we accomplished in our 4 day sprint.
The airport was dirty, crowded, cold, and smokey. Good first impression Beijing, make a note to Olympic organizers. The taxi ride into the city took about 10 hours, but it only cost 10 cents. Cheap taxi considering the thrill ride you get. I think we hit at least 10 cyclists. Mai's parents had met us at the airport so it was very nice and easy to get to our hotel. We were staying in the centre of the city, which didn't mean much as it takes 1 hour to go 4 blocks during rush hour. Walking is the best way around without question. Our hotel was decent enough and had hot water, so I was happy.

The first night we went to a really famous Beijing restaurant for Emperor's Duck. It was awesome! Best bird I've ever had. The skin was amazing, I usually don't like skin but it was pretty tasty. Apparantly George W has eaten there before. Mai's dad had to book a month in advance so thanks to him! After dinner we went back to the hotel(s) and had an early evening as the next day was the Great Wall and Ming Tombs!

I checked later, and yes! prancing and brisk walks are allowed.

Damn I wanted to doodle all over the fake hats.

First impression, Ming Tombs is probably better explored on your own, without a tour in a rush, as we didn't see much of the actual tomb area. It's really quite huge, spread around the mountains. Next time, next time.... You'll probably here me mutter those words a few times in the next few posts.

22 November 2007

Mom and Dad in Hong Kong!

They made it! After a very long flight my parents landed in HK. They looked in good spirits after their journey across the Pacific. I can't believe how much they have done in the first 10 days. We even flew to Beijing for a weekend.

04 November 2007

Thunder Rapids - China Style

These couple of pictures are from my staff trip to Zhuhai back in October. We went go-carting to start, and it was quite fun. The track was fairly long and the safety level was low, so you could do pretty much anything you wanted, which I enjoyed after 4 years of stupid 'rules and regulations' in Canada (at Thunder Rapids where I used to work).

The second photo is of Holly, who went around the track at a blistering pace of about 2 km per hour.

01 November 2007

Getting Chilly

Tomorrow is supposed to dip down to a brisk 17 C. Time to get out the tuque and mittens.

It rained for the first time in about a month the other day, so things aren't as dusty as they were. Our rugby game last weekend was basically played on a sandbox the field was so dry.

November 1st usually means snow where I come from, but even the strong Monsoon isn't going to make that happen here. This takes all the fun out of winter when you can't sneak up on an unexpecting fool and paste them with a snowball.

31 October 2007

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween!

Hong Kong isn't exactly pumpkin central this time of year, but it's not bad. I've been seeing many more decorations than last year. I even carved a pumpkin at school for the wee ones.

I have been busy planning the Halloween party for the whole kindergarten. An easy task you might think, but not when you're dealing with finicky wackos. The Japanese section of my school is ridiculously inconsistent when it comes to common sense and rules. I had to make at least 10 revisions to my party because of it. The Chinese teachers were not much better. The other westerners? They could have cared less what happened - it's Halloween, give the pipsqueaks some candy and what else is there?

It should have been that easy...should have...

The party went quite well. Actually in my opinion it was better than anything we ever did in Canada. These kids are spoiled.

Pictures to follow...

23 October 2007

Mr Lazy Hong Kong / China

I have been crowned the new king of lazyness. With all my spare time and the amount of hours spent on the Internet you might think I could blog slightly more often.

First and foremost I should update on the trip to China with my co-workers this last weekend. We went to Zhuhai - it's only about an hour by ferry from Central, HK. Holidays to me mean sleeping in at least later than you get up to go to work. This was not the case. We were to arrive at the ferry pier by 7:40am to catch a 8:40am boat. I was actually on time, unlike the Japanese Sports Day which I was 1.5 hours late for (didn't even matter in the end btw). The boat ride over was the best example of pollution I've seen yet in this country. You could see maybe 50m outside the boat the smog was so thick. Everyone tends to blame the pollution on factories in China, but a lot of it actually comes from unregulated ship and ferry traffic which there is a huge amount of.

Due to the awesome view and the early departure, the ferry ride was for sleeping. No one dared come near to the 2 "Big White Guys." That was the nickname given to me and my other male co-worker Mark. We stuck out very obviously (for various reasons) the entire time. I should mention now that we had a Hong Kong tour guide, and a Chinese tour guide the whole time (waste of $$$ - glad I wasn't paying). My boss told them they would have to babysit me and Mark, ooh how little they knew (or maybe they knew too much).

Now in China, the group was set to go go-carting. This had been the plan, and I really wish I had put down some serious money on winning. Not only did I work at a go-cart track in Canada for 4 summers, I knew how to make the cars go "illegally" faster. With my luck the carts in China were already unregulated. Wow where they fast. At two points in the race I actually skidded off the track, across gravel and grass, and back onto pavement. It happened twice, once on purpose because it was so much fun. The staff weren't exactly bothered by anything. Had one of us blown up they might have gotten off their chairs under their umbrellas. The fools had also given me the pole position, ha, the win was in the bag. I won the race easy, even lapping a few other co-workers. This was a big deal on a 10 minute race with 1 minute lap times. I didn't get the fastest lap time though, this was stolen by the cheating Japanese teacher, cheating because he only weighs about 100 pounds. Oh yes, there were two Japanese male teachers as well, so Mark and I were not the only men.

After carting we cruised down the dirt/metal/gravel/deadbodyparts "road" to our hotel resort spa dealy. The hotel itself was very nice, a 5 star in China. Meaning it was more like your average 3 star American hotel. It was funny how out of place everything in Zhuhai was. There were huge gaps of nothingness and then bam! a huge hotel.

We stayed in the Ocean Springs Resort. Along the tour of the grounds we saw the hot springs, the pool, the restaurants, the 'bar,' and got a run down of all the stupid rules we were not allowed/supposed to break. After the tour we went straight to a massage about 5 minutes away from the hotel. It was more like 2 people who didn't have a clue what they were doing punching you in the back for 1 hour. I'm glad I didn't get the 2 hour option. It was super cheap, about $10 CDN for 1 hour. After our lashings Mark and I went over to this really weird restaurant beside the massage place (the only two buildings within 10 minutes drive - weird). We ordered and drank their remaining beers. You don't need to know how many they had. Some we took back to the hotel as well. The hotel bar was not stocked very well and for China it was way over priced.

So back to the hotel for dinner. Lack there of I should say. There was lots of rice, and lots of......mystery dishes I'll call them. There wasn't anything crazy like dog as you're all thinking, but the chicken could have tasted a little more like, I dunno, chicken! Also the soups were puzzling, I stayed away from them. Why not order something I like, you ask? I wasn't given a choice, it was all pre-ordered package deal stuff.


DO NOT order from set meals in Hong Kong or China unless the restaurant is very expensive and well regarded for having good meals. Why? Because usually it is cooked for the masses, has been sitting, tastes dull and chewy sometimes, and lacks display points.

After dinner we were still hungry - the 2 BWG at least.

From dinner until about 10ish we had free time before the whole school staff went to the hot springs together. Oh yes, I went to China with my entire school staff in case I didn't mention it. There were 25 on the trip I think, some stayed home. During our free time Mark and I decided to go and check out the 'bar hub' (as it was labelled) section of the resort. Wow, that took about 5 seconds. Everything was closed! Bar hub my behind! Instead we raided the convenience store and purchased a few of their finer vintages for our evening festivities. I'll mention it once and I'll probably mention it again, DON'T EVER DRINK BIJO! (Beejo? Beijo? Beigo? Some Chinese paint stripper drink it was nasty)

At 10 we all went to the hot springs. This was probably the most unique part of the trip (at least the most unique aspect I will print). They had all kinds of weird pools from the likes of Red-Wine to Chocolate hot springs. The water wasn't actually pure wine, but it was scented or something along that line. In total they had about 90 different ones. No, they were not all natural. My favorite one was the fish hot spring. This was the weirdest feeling I've ever had. You would sit in the hot spring, much like a regular hot tub, and these tiny little minnows would come up to you and eat away at your dead skin all over your body. Eeeehehehehehe it was the strangest feeling. I have to say my skin did feel better after about 30 minutes of fish feeding.

After the Hot Springs we had the evening to do whatever we wanted, and seeings how there was nothing to do at the hotel other than eat and drink (pfff or go to bed like sissies), we ate and we drank. Everyone ordered these special chickens that are unique to that area of China. Our tour guide recommended them. Can you say CASH GRAB!? The chicken was quite tasty, it came with the head and everything. I ate a whole chicken, as did Mark. As did Mark I say. Yes, Mark and I did nothing other than eat chicken all night like the nice boys we are. Some might tell you otherwise, but they are all liars. Fighting with hotel staff members and stealing fake flowers are all just figments of sober people's imaginations.

So "everyone" retired early to their rooms by midnight and the Chinese tour guide did not almost get fired, and the Japanese section supervisor was not hit on by Mark, it never happened. It was a win win situation for all involved and we awakened to a glorious smog enhanced sunrise, the END.

11 October 2007

Small Classes

I was watching the news tonight on one of the local networks, and there was a story about Hong Kong trying to change their primary school system to allow for 'small' class sizes. Current schools tend to over-populate classrooms with up to 40 kids per teacher.

The story also mentioned how changing to smaller classes might cause a problem for teaching staff who were not trained to deal with small class sizes. This all sounded somewhat interesting until I found out the size of their proposed 'small' classes.

30 Kids.

30?!?! That's not small! There is not really any difference between 30 and 40 kids, especially in how a teacher is trained to deal with it. Dealing with complete anarchy is always going to be dealing with complete anarchy!

Whoever the stats man was, said it would take another 1000 rooms in Hong Kong along with 3000 new teachers to staff the small class revolution. And I couldn't get a job in a Primary School even though I was fully qualified? Hong Kong is silly. Where are they going to find 3000 more teachers? Schools are rediculously understaffed as it is.

09 October 2007

Local Celebrity - Parts 2, 3, and 4

As mentioned in the past I work about 10 seconds from where I live. This is wonderful for sleeping in, but today I discovered a few down-sides.

Part 2

I was pulled aside by my boss today because she had to talk to be about "something odd." There are many of the children I teach who live in my building, and apparently one of them lives very close, possibly on the same floor. This wasn't the problem though, as I had been aware of this the whole time. My boss (who was laughing) said that a parent who was my 'neighbour' had complained that I am very noisy all the time and I have people over for parties 4 nights a week and she was considering withdrawing their child because of this. WHAT?!

First of all, I am rarely home 4 nights a week, and Mai and I are not very loud at all. Nobody other than me and her have ever been inside our apartment. As I said my boss didn't care one little bit, she said my private life was none of her business. She just wanted to let me know that this rumour of me being a party animal was going around the neighbourhood. Ahhhh, too funny. Maybe I need to live up to my rep and start throwing large bashes every night.

Part 3

I came home sick from work today in the afternoon. On my way down to the local supermarket for some medicine and food, I ran into one of the parents of the kids in my class. At first she said 'Hi' like normal, but then she had a funny shocked look on her face like, "what the hell are you doing not teaching right now!" I explained I was sick and she laughed and said she hoped I got better.

I need to buy some camouflage.

Part 4

Walking up the hill back to home, 3 of my morning Japanese students yelled my name across the road and started waving and screaming "MR JON MR JON!!!!" I tried to hide, because I was supposed to be sick - not walking around (even though I wasn't really going anywhere). Their nanny's looked confused because they knew I was supposed to be at school. I didn't bother explaining in the hopes of some new rumours start about me skipping school to go party.

I need some camouflage.

Bribing the Ref...

...is what the Police must have done.

We started off out match well against the fat old bastards, but couldn't score due to the referee denying about 4 trys we scored. By half time we should have been ahead well in control but I think it was tied. Either way it was nice to see us dominating most parts of the game. But the one thing we were not dominating in was bribes and payouts to the ref. He was absolute rubbish, horse turds, disgraceful even.

The end to the game was the best part. We were ahead 17-12 with the clock ticking away rather slowly. Very very very rather slowly. 3 minutes left turned into I think 15. Everyone on the pitch heard the referee's timer go to end the game, which usually means when the ball goes out or no one is attacking or the ball changes possession in a neutral area the game is blown over. Not in this case. We kicked the ball out twice I believe, the ball changes possession at least twice, still no whistle. The bench was erupting in calls for the refs head.

To make a long painful awful display of 'reffing' short, he didn't blow the game over until about 2 hours later, and by then the Fat Piggies had scored and converted to go up 2 points. Less than 2 seconds after they kicked the winning points the ref blew the whistle. People have been beaten and mauled for less.

Anyway, here are a few excerpts from the club chairman Sir Chris Roberts.

"The start of the game was evenly matched and we had some good phases of possession taking the ball forward. Despite giving away a small water buffalo, a couple of rhino and a mouse in the scrum we were holding reasonably well, until Scott glass neck head butted the floor. Scott was subbed for Tom who lasted until the next scrum and managed to pop his shoulder."

The defence was good all game, we had either the charging elephant attack or some good lines and runs from their backs. Each was usually brought down in short order."

A lot of effort was put in during the first half, with players looking out on their feet. Luckily police were in a similar state and were also carrying round walrus blubber overcoats as well, something we tend not to have as a team with the exception of Pavroti Clarke, who is quite frankly a fat freak of nature."

Half time speeches and a spittle drenching were supplied from Captain Claudio. The Latin American aggression was evident in all of Claudio's speeches. The liberal use of the "F" word with that accent and a lot of talk of unspeakable things to the oppositions back door.. It has been suggested that the speeches of Mrs Thatcher should be consulted for his inspirational and motivational drive to players, rather than five minutes on smashing the back doors off male opponents. "No, No, no, the scrum is not for turning" has a much better ring to it than "eh you stinking bendecco, I iz feck yo mother and ave your father". Through all the spittle and sweat it is good to see the passion."

05 October 2007

Cheating on Jusco

I usually do most of my grocery shopping at a place called Jusco. Up until recently it was very good and had pretty decent selection. Lately things have gotten worse, and I found a worm in one of my peppers even! The quality control has for sure taken a nose-dive, and I decided to shop somewhere different the other night. I now am going to grocery shop at Apita (Uny). Main reason...

They have 4 types of nachos!

Note: It is damned hard to find nachos in Hong Kong

01 October 2007

Game On! - HKRugby Season Starts

Yes the picture to the left is an x-ray. I had it taken earlier this morning actually. Lucky for me that there is nothing broken (according to the doc today) but it is still in a bit of pain and hard to move. I can put a decent amount of pressure on it and slightly grasp things so it's most likely just a sprain.

As for luck we could have used some in the first game of the season. For any newcomers I play with the Rouse and Co. Causeway Bay Typhoons in the 3rd division of HK Rugby. It's nothing too serious (usually) and the games never end in brauls or anything crazy.

Our first game was against the DEA Tigers. They had just moved up from 4th division so we SHOULD have had no problem with them. This is Hong Kong though, and apparantly 3rd division means you can pull in ringers from the HK national team to boost your squad. We counted at least 3 or 4 HK Nats on the opposition. 3rd division? Give me an 'ffing break. Many clubs have complained about the lack of enforcing rules for who plays where etc. but it seems to still go on. So we were in for a tough game thats for sure.

The 1st half was absolute rubbish, so I won't talk about it.

To start the 2nd half we were all a bit pissed off about the # of 1st division and Nat players etc. and we showed up with a bit more attitude in the 2nd. I don't know what the score was, but we tied them in the 2nd half (maybe) so that's something we pretended to be proud of. One of our players was illegally tackled by one of there players, who just happens to be the centre for HK's National team. Our player hurt is hip and was taken off in an ambulance for xrays. Their player should have been kicked out of the game and fined by the HKRFU, but that'll never happen. I think he maybe got a yellow card. After the game the ref mentioned something about this player getting sited for the tackle so with a bit of wining from out side he may be suspended from his national team duties. This is Hong Kong though, and nothing fair ever really happens.

So we lost the game, but it was a good learning experience and playing against better players always makes you better. It's still a load of horse turds that national players are allowed to play in 3rd division games when everyone knows clearly who they are. I did manage to catch one of their better players with a high tackle round the neck and drive him into the ground without the ref seeing so I came away witha grin afterwards at least (and no broken hand!).

30 September 2007

Buying Electronics in Hong Kong

Anyone used to the open-air environtment of Best Buy or Future Shop might be a little intimidated shopping for a new tv or mp3 player in Hong Kong. This photo is from the big chain 'Broadway' and this particular outlet was in Mongkok, the busiest place on Earth.

The funny thing is that even though this store was jammed packed side to side with hundreds of people, I still had two sales associates ask me if I needed any help within 2 minutes of walking inside. The guys are efficient. Another amazing thing is the variety of products found in a typical store like this in HK. The shop may look small my North American standards, but I bet there is more product on the floor than in a big box 'air-hanger-like' Best Buy.

My quest for a new tv had still not reached a conclusion, I'm set on getting a Sony Bravia but there is some new offer through my cable company that might get me one cheaper. With the release of Halo 3 a new XBox is almost certainly in order. Someone I work with is married to someone who works for the company that distributes Microsoft etc. in Hong Kong.

Back to the store above - I would never ever buy camera gear from them. There are a gazillion other photo stores in Hong Kong with much better gear and prices. But for larger appliance type things and tvs the larger chains seem to be a good deal.

20 September 2007

A Thought on Chinese Goods

For all you North Americans who think you have it bad with all your poisonous dog food and cancer causing toys, BOOHOO!

Guess where I live? And guess where absolutely anything and everything we eat/drink/breath/sleep comes from?

P.S. I'm going to the epi-centre of it all in November...awesome!

Mooncake = Notsomuchfunthisyear

Ah Mooncake... At first it was a great encounter, now I can't stand you.

Mooncakes are gross. The build up to eating my original mooncake last year was fun, and the first one you ever have will possibly be good, but after that it just tastes like a soggy/hard duck yolk in some rediculously sweet paste.

Ice Cream Mooncake = Much different story.

The time of Mid-Autumn Festival is here, and Mooncakes are out in full force. You can get pretty much any kind of mooncake now, so the tradition is slightly lost. Just yesterday I had a cheesecake/blueberry mooncake. It had nothing in common with a real mooncake at all, but it was delicious.

Also you can get Ice Cream, Green Tea, Chocolate, etc. etc. Jelly etc. etc. mooncakes now. Take my advice and go for the cold ones, they lack the yummy-ness of duck egg but what you loose in taste you gain in bird-flu-free goodness.

Lost in Kornhill

Living and working within the same 2 blocks definetly has it's perks. Like waking up 30 minutes before you have to be at work, and being able to walk to and from work. It is also fun running into students who live in the same building as you in the grocery store as their dad sneaks up on me to scare the crap outta me waving his kid in my face (that's another story - I will avenge my fright tomorrow).

As much of a perk as it is, I am starting to feel a little cluttered. I don't 'get out' as much as I used to when I was working at every other corner of Hong Kong. I can't even remember my last bus ride. My MTR pass lasts me up to 2 weeks now on $100. It used to take 3 days to go through that much. Some people may have even noticed my photo production has receded into nill. I rarely took my camera to work before, but sometimes I found places on the way to and from that I could go back to for some photos. I need to make a point of going out more just for taking pictures.

Like I mentioned above I ran into one of my students while buying water at the Wellcome across the street. He lives in the same building as me and I see him at leat 3 times a week it seems. I was waiting in line and his Mom and Dad decided it would be fun to sneak up on me and lift him up so he was at eye-level behind me. When I turned around it was slightly startling. I vowed revenge at school tomorrow.

After leaving the store, within the 20 feet between it and my house I saw another one of my students out with her parents walking with her new Autumn Festival lantern. It was a giant Mickey Mouse inflatable blinking contraption. Speaking of Mickey, someone at school was wearing Meikcy Mouse flip flops today. Yes I said Meikcy Mouse. I love fake crap!

13 September 2007

10 September 2007

Thumbs down to NowTV

I am being forced to watch 'unlawful,' 'copyrighted,' 'broadcasts' over the internet of the 'Rugby World Cup' because my 'cable provider' didn't fess up enough dough to secure the event. It boggles my mind how the arcaic iCableTV got the rights here in HK. No one has iCableTV anymore, it sucks! Unless you want to camp out at a pub all night for 40 nights there's no way to watch it on TV.

Our TV is still in pink-vision so it doesn't matter too much because it is painful to watch the screen anyway. 1 more month until new Sony! mmmmmm....HDTV!

On a side note Mai and I went to the mega mega Megabox Mall yesterday. It's damned MEGA! I have never seen such a huge mass of retail space in my life. It is a total of 18 floors dedicated to mostly shops and restaurants. They also have a full size ice-hockey rink, an IMax, a regular movie theatre, and this store called B+Q. Anyone who knows what B+Q is will already be scratching their heads as to why it is in Hong Kong. It is pretty much the equilvalent of HomeDepot meets Ikea. And guess what? It's on the 4-5 floors! You can imagine the fun people have in carrying full sized sheets of plywood down the elevator and onto the MTR. This store makes no sense in HK. Even if you paid for the delivery why would anyone shopping on the 4-5th floor of a hi-tech shopping mall need a huge 26" circular saw or buzz-grinder? Lucky for them they also have many other departments other than lumber and power tools. You can also get a bathroom fixture the size of our living room. In case you don't mind walking through the shower on your way out it might make sense.

Weather Forcastinators

For about the past 3 weeks the HK Oberservatory has been reporting the weather as follows:

"Mainly cloudy with a few rain patches. Sunny intervals tomorrow. Temperatures will range between 26 and 30 degrees. Moderate easterly winds, fresh over offshore waters."

In other words they don't have a damn clue!

08 September 2007

Rugby World Cup 2007

Woohoo! 44 days of Rugby!

For anyone who doesn't know a thing about sport other than NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, the Rugby World Cup is the 3rd biggest sporting event in the WORLD. Being abroad has taught me that there is a reason people sit down to watch hockey and football and baseball, THEY'RE BORING! (except Team Canada hockey)

The pub which sponsors my team is showing all the games and we have our own private room to watch it in on the bigscreen!

First game for Canada is vs. Wales. (they're gonna get slaughtered, oh well)

Asian TV's vs. North American Crap

I have never bought a TV before, but based on the small amount of research I have done for my prospective new set, I can honestly say I am glad I won't be buying it in Canada.

The selection in HK is rediculous compared to back home, and the prices are a lot better. You get a lot more TV for your money here and a lot more options.

Most of the major brands have seperate Asian line-ups of products with much better specs. I have noticed that any HDTV you get here generally has twice as many input options compared to a similar North American tv and about twice the contrast ratio for the same price. They are also faster and have better audio.

Ever since I saw my video camera on Bill's huge HDTV I have been wanting my own. I am not going for the 50" version (it might be a bit too large for our small flat) but even the 32" ones look amazing compared to standard def.

I already knew this, but I have been reminded of how most retailers lie about what an HDTV really is. Almost all the TVs advertised as HD-Ready in Canada are not actually HD. They simply downsize the HD content to fit on a more standard definition set. It will still look better tha normal, but it is false advertising in my opinion and it won't be HDMI compliant most likely from what I have seen.

I'm almost set on the Sony TV I have been looking at as it seems to have the most 'ooooh factor' for me.

1st Week of International Teaching

It has now been 1 week of classes at my new school I work for. We had a whole week of first-aid/CPR training last week and our exam last Friday. It isn't a requirement of my job to pass the exam, but I think the school has to have a certain percentage of qualified firt-aiders in order to qualify for some money from the government most likely, that's how things work here usually.

The practical part of the exam was easy and according to the examiner I was very good. I am now certified to revive a plastic dummy! The written exam was a bit of a joke. We counted at least 5 spelling errors, and 3 or 4 gramatical errors. This could obviously lead to certain answers being wrong when they were indeed supposed to be correct. Hopefully it won't matter and I will find out in 4 weeks that I passed. My school was offering $500 to anyone who passed the exam as an incentive. Did I mention we were also paid for the whole week of training?

Monday was the first official day of classes for all students in Hong Kong. It has been a long week in some ways and very quick in others. My daily schedule is a little confusing, but I don't have my own class until the afternoon. I teach the PM session for K1. In the mornings I assist with the AM session for 30 minutes, and then I work with the K3 class for another 90 minutes. Then I teach English to the Japanese section of the school as well as all the Chinese students in 3 - 20 minute sessions. Then it's lunchtime, and the PM I have my own class.

My class is really quite small. There is only 6 students for the PM session. 3 are Japanese, 2 Chinese, and 1 Phillipino. All instruction is done in English and the children understand a fair amount of what I say to them. Some of the things we do during the day are free play, gym time, arts and crafts, reading time, number work, phonics, tea time/snack time and singing and dancing. We also go on a # of field trips and outings thoughout the year. It mostly lots of fun and getting the children used to interacting with one another and encouraging English speaking.

Because my class is so small I have gotten to know the children quite well already. 2 children are still on vacation so the class has only been 4 kids the last week. They are all quite different but generally very funny little people. Some of the things they say make me laugh a lot. My favorite quote so far has been from Wai Wai:

"You can not come into my house!"

He said this when he was slightly angry at me. He seems to have a devilish mind as well when playing with toys. He likes to crash and fly toys into my shoulders and pretend they explode. He was playing with a tea set the other day and said,

"Hot tea, yum yum yum. Pouring water on you, hahaha. So hot, so hot, so funny so funny!"

That made me laugh pretty hard. Sometimes the children are a little nicer and will say things like,

"Mr. Jon, I like your face."

Most of the time they are all quite cute and happy. My class is much better than the AM session where the other teacher has her fair share of brats.

28 August 2007

International Man of Mystery

Just call me Austin Powers. I'm now working at an International Kindergarten in Hong Kong. It's the / school about 2 minutes outside my front door. It is to be honest, quite awesome! Not only do I get to sleep in even more than usual, I don't have to spend any money whatsoever on transportation. Also I'm not subjected to the gazillion people on the MTR everyday, so the chance of catching SARS has probably gone down considerably.

I'm still teaching kindergarten, but in a somewhat different role. Being an international school, the main language of study is English. There are 5 other Westerners working there and we all have our own class. This means I teach all subjects (mainly arts crafts and playtime) to the children. Being 3-6 years old they don't really have subjects, but we will do some basic math and reading and things like that. In the mornings I will assist a K3 class that I teach oral English lessons to, so this will be the same as what I did last year. In the afternoon I have a K1 class that I am in full charge of. There is still an assistant teacher in the class I believe. The class is a huge mix of 6 children from Hong Kong and Japan. Hopefully they won't overwhelm me too much.

The thing I like most about the school so far is the more Western style of teaching, which basically means the children are taught like children a little more than in the local Chinese schools. They still have a heavy work load, but there is already more emphasis on having fun and playing games etc. Last week we took the whole school to the beach and the kids played in the sand all morning. A few other field trips this year will be going to various parks, libraries, and the Coca-Cola factory. I only went on two field trips all of last year with 10 schools!

I also have already been out on a 'social event' with most of the staff. This included sampling some local beverages (tropical juices of course) and getting to know everyone. Summer school had just concluded so it was more of an end of summer thing, but it was great to actually get to know the people I will be working with. One of the other teachers also plays rugby in Hong Kong, on the team the Typhoons train with. He's in a different division so we won't end up smashing each other's heads in.

All in all it's been a pretty busy first week and a half back in HK. I hadn't expected to be back at work so soon, but I couldn't pass up this new school. It's such a good situation. My old employers were nothing but helpful (although sad) to see me leave, but with such short notice they handled it well.

This coming weekend sees the return of the Typhoons. We are going on an all night pub-crawl to recruit new team members. It should be a fun time. The season starts at the end of September so maybe I should think about getting into shape a bit. Maybe lifting little kids all day will be a good thing.

19 August 2007

Updates from July!

Before I left for Canada I did a walk around of our neighbourhood and had forgot to post these pictures. The photo below is of our area called Kornhill. It is made up of approximately 20 buildings all around 30 stories.

In the picture below you can see our building on the left and behind it is Mt.Parker. There are many trails and you can climb up to the top, and continue on all the way to Tai Tam Reservoir if you like, it's only a couple hours hike.

This is what one the pathways look like. They are relatively well kept considering the jungle nature and vast amount of vegetation over-growing the trails.

Below is one of many barbecue areas along the paths. Here you can have a fire or just a quick picnic. They are very frequent with at least 5 barbecue areas along the way to the top of the mountain.

This is about as far away as you can get from skyscrapers on the Island. The views are quite nice and it actually feels a bit like you are out in nature away from the hustle and bustle.

Also back in July Mai and I went for a bike ride around the Taipo area. We rented a weird 3 wheel bike that almost fell apart. It was quite fun and very hot.

Back in the Big Lychee

After a 1 month hiatus from HK, I have returned to report on the happenings of my life as an expat. The city seems nice and clean, a recent Typhoon made sure of that as all the streets appear to be rid of their 'blackish' coating at least a little.

It remains ungodly hot and humid, but that did not affect my plans to hike up a mountain today. I was ridiculously sweaty by the end of it all, but rugby season calls and it says I'm not in shape yet. I can only wait with glee for the first game in +35 degree weather.

Having been in Canada for a month I have gained a greater appreciation for space and clean air. Also I have once again been overwhelmed by the huge masses of people and how little privacy there is to be had in Hong Kong. It is a huge switch, but I am glad to be back. The more I travel back and forth the more it seems like an everyday habit. Not the biggest deal changing 10-15 hours from the clock once in a while.

For the time being I will continue my teaching duties commencing in September. We shall see how that goes. I intend on exhausting my shutter this year so hopefully a few more photographic experiences will come my way, or I will make my way to them more forcefully.

In any regard, it should be another exciting year with many stories to wow the Canucks with back home.

04 August 2007

Lost in...Winnipeg...

Some may have noticed I haven't been writing for awhile. That's because I am currently on a one month hiatus from HK.

I will be back mid August, but until then I am enjoying my time in Canada. I stopped in Vancouver and Calgary, and I'm in Winnipeg for the next two weeks.

20 July 2007


I will be in Canada for a month.

My flight did not crash, so I will not be appearing on Season 4 of Lost.
I may have a few updates from my travels so keep in touch...

05 July 2007

Bottom of the barrel

Today I am teaching at my favorite kindergarten. There are many reasons I like it, but the main thing that sets it apart is how much better it is from the other schools I work at.

Compared to my other schools it is awesome here. I have freedom to teach what I want and how I want. There is more freedom over time and everyone is generally more flexible. As long as the kids are happy everyone is happy. That is not the case at my other kindergartens. It seems all they care about is pleasing the principal and administration. I received a negative comment that I was not doing well because my communication with the principal at one kindergarten was not good. That was much more heavily emphasized than the very positive feedback from the children. So I suppose my purpose at that school is to teach the principal English.

I have gotten used to it over a year, and for the most part I ignore everyone other than the children. Afterall I am being paid to teach them, not adults. So imagine my surprise today at my favorite school, when during a conversation with another local teacher, she said that this was the worst school she had taught at. I didn't believer her, there was no way this school could be 'worst' in any way. She went on to describe how other schools had been, and it made me realize that for the most part, I am teaching at the bottom of the barrel.

It would make me extremely happy if next year this was the worst school I taught at. It's just funny how much of a gap there is here in kindergartens. And as I found out awhile back, all kindergartens in Hong Kong are privately run, so it is not a case of private vs. government run schools. This gap only gets worse in High-Schools. It's too bad, but in a city of such high-competition maybe it's a good thing kids get used to it when they are 5.


...is an awesome show.

I have recently developed a slight addiction to the tv show Lost. At first I was skeptical of it's 'brilliance' as raved by critics, but they were very right. I can't get enough of it!

The 2nd season was on AXN Network in Hong Kong, so picked it up and started watching it. Although extremely confusing for most of the 2nd season, I think I figured out most of what had happened in the 1st season.

Then I found an awesome website that allowed me to watch all of season 3. It took me less than 2 weeks to finish it, haha. Mai and I have been watching the first season for the last little while, and we finished it last night. Now I have seen all three seasons and I can't wait for the 4th!

My love for the internet has never been stronger. There is nothing you can't do, watch, find etc. etc. on the net. Although I'm in HK, it's actually easier than ever to watch North American content, who needs cable?

27 June 2007

Stanley Dragon Boat Races

On June 19th Hong Kong celebrated the 'Dragon Boat Festival.' It's a national holiday in Hong Kong, so everyone has the day off to head to the beach and watch the crazyness that is dragon-boat racing. I'm really not too sure how it worked, but there were many different races around the city/country/whatever it is - pretty much anywhere with water. We watched a few on tv before I headed off to Stanley Beach. The boats on tv had up to 50 people in them, they looked like they would sink! When I got to Stanley the boats were all 20 people per team, so it didn't look as insane, I was dissapointed that none of the teams sank. One boat did crash rather violently into another which made everyone on the beach applaud with laughter. Although it was a mostly fun event, you could tell some teams were a little more prepared and serious than the others.

The photographers were also out in full force. Many of them would stand in the water knee deep to get a few shots of the boats landing on shore after the race. How it worked was the boats raced directly onto the beach, so it was slight caos with 8-9 large boats 'crashing' into a sea of people all at once. There were 3 categories, Mens, Womens, and Mixed, with a seperate category for white dudes and asian dudes. I think this was mainly for weight difference. I didn't stay for the finals as it all started to look the same to me and I only went to get some photos and I was alone and melting in the sun.

I would really recommend this event high up on my list of things you have to do in Hong Kong if you're here in June. Next year I'm even going to try and sign up for a team.

> Photos Here <

26 June 2007

OD-ing on Cough Drops

A Fisherman's Friend I am!

So I mentioned the new mold and everything at our new apartment. What I forgot to mention was that it had been recently renovated, so there is a lot of dust as well (dust that could contain a number of different things that should not be inhaled).

Before we moved in we spent a couple of days cleaning and trying to get all the dust and mold that had grown since the last owner moved out. Everywhere in Hong Kong is so moldy, but it can't be helped. It's so humid and hot it's just bound to happen. We disinfected everything and put in some funky smelling de-humidify-ing bags in our closests. Still the AC's are full of wonderful particles and the end result is me sneezing all day.

Also, as our hot-water heater for the bathroom seems busted, we can't take hot showers. I think the first cold shower I had made me sick. It doesn't make much sense, as Mai and I both had hot showers the first day we moved in, but it doesn't work anymore. The gas guy is coming tomorrow to hopefully fix it, or show us what we are doing wrong.

My throat didn't feel so great yesterday, it feels a bit better today, but I am still consuming vast amount of cough candies.

- 3 more weeks until clean Canadian mountain air! My lungs aren't gonna know what hit them.


"We are moving, we are moving, we are moving to a new house!
Chairs and tables, beds and pillows, we are moving, Hurry Up!"

That's the uber-wonderful song I have had to sing about twenty million times teaching so far. I guess families in Hong Kong move a lot so the kids need to learn at a young age what moving is all about. I have to point out one major error in the song though - a new "house?" Hong Kong does not have houses. Unless you are a super-mega-tycoon, you do not live in a house.

Why am I talking about moving? Because we just moved! Everything went really smooth, the moving company spoke no English whatsoever, so the over-use of the word FRAGILE on all our boxes went mostly un-detected. Nothing was broken, so I can't complain - too much... We took a taxi over to transport Taco/Takuro-Chan (pet birdy), and my computer. Despite my warnings to the taxi driver about my suitcase being very heavy and very FRAGILE he still thought it was a good idea to toss my suitcase into the trunk as if it were a dead body. Good thing my computer isn't made of glass and it's old enough that I wouldn't mind replacing it. Still I would like to know how people in Hong Kong do not know the meaning of FRAGILE. It seems as if everything/one is so easily replaced in HK that it doesn't matter if things are broken. It also doesn't seem to matter if what is FRAGILE is an object or a human life. But that's another matter, back to moving...

The moving company took all of 2 hours to load all our belongings into their big-ass truck and haul it over to the new place and unload. Although they were quick, like I said before their sense of respect for FRAGILE property and belongings was non-existent. They constantly dragged furniture across our new hard-wood floor and threw things around. I know why they were so cheap. But again nothing was seriously broken, only mainly because we had nothing to break really. The English speaking rep at the company is gonna get a "nice" letter from me explaining what the definition of FRAGILE is. Even if they don't speak English, a moving company of all people should know what FRAGILE means!

After all the boxes were unloaded, we had a massive amount of things to unpack and put in place. The living room was a bit crowded. Our new apartment has an extensive amount of storage, so it didn't take long for it to look good and it is now feeling like quite a large space. The kitchen is small, but the old one was as well, and the washing machine and water heater seem to be busted, but in a couple of days that should be taken care of (The dude who hooked up our Gas must have done something wrong, because we can only take cold showers for now, which isn't too bad when it's like 35C).

I really like the new neighbourhood. It's very quiet, and is set up a hill, hence the name Kornhill. I found out it was named after some military guy name Korn, haha. It's really close to everything, tonnes of shopping and the MTR. It only took me 35 minutes to get to work today! That's the quickest ever! I even slept until 7:30am! Then took a cold shower, haha.

The next week or so will take some getting used to, the new noises, the new people, the new mold (eww-HK is gross sometimes) but overall I like it much better than Island Resort. We don't have a rock-climbing wall or a bowling alley anymore, but who really needs those things in their apartment?

21 June 2007

Moving Day

2 more days!

I'm pretty excited to be moving to our new apartment. It will be a huge difference in commute time, and the area we are moving to has much more to offer. It is called Kornhill.

There are 2 movie theatres within walking distance, a HUGE department store (Jusco) and numerous supermarkets. After living on the far-east part of HK Island I have to say there is absolutely nothing to do there. That was a bit of a mixed blessing as it was nice and quiet and the air fairly decent, but when I think back we really never did anything there. We were always out and about in other areas of Hong Kong.

Mai actually works very close to the new place so she can walk to work. I will save about 30-40 minutes a day in travel time as well. We are right up against a 'mountain' and there is lots of hiking nearby. Also the MTR is within a quick 10 minute walk.

Due to the crazy amount of shopping prospects, my wallet might suffer a bit of a blow. Jusco department store is awesome. You can find pretty much anything there.

Our new apartment is a bit smaller than where we live right now, but not too much. It's very clean, and has been renovated recently. I'll post a few pictures after we move in.

Tonight will be our last chance to pack most of our things, it's funny how everything seems to multiply when you have to move it all.

16 June 2007

Honglish Names

Most of my students have English names to go along with their native Chinese names that I can't pronounce. It's convenient as it's easier to identify them, but many of them don't really know their English name too well yet, and some of them change it all the time. The 2 year olds don't know anything at all much, so they only respond to hand gestures. It has become entertaining seeing what crazy name the parents come up with for their child's English name. Not only is the spelling often wrong (sometimes intentionally) I have no idea where they come up with these names. Here's some of the stranger names.

Austin - I call him Texas
Kinki - who names a kid Kinki?
Marco - I think they like the Marco Polo hotel, honestly
Ching Ching

Kiki, Mimi, Yoyo and Jojo - they sound like the new panda names at the local zoo
Sam - chinese kids should not be named Sam, it doesn't fit at all
Randy - see above
Winnie - does she like pooh?
Hill - huh?
Kitty - why not doggy?
Backy - Becky maybe?

Sheep - I'm not kidding, that was his name, as in baaaah baaah baaah

Chirs - Yes it's C-H-I-R-S. Chris I asked? No Chirs. That's how the mom spells it, even if it's wrong and everyone knows it. Apparantly as an English teacher I am not allowed to change the spelling of their English names even if they are very WRONG!

There's many more that escape me at the moment, but I'll add some as I think of it. And the #1 stupid name in all of Hong Kong goes to a local celebrity who calls herself....


What the hell is Vincy? she's a girl too.

13 June 2007

I Like Umbrellas

Let me start by saying I DO NOT like being poked in the eye with them you jerks!

Ok now that I got that out of the way, my love of umbrellas. Anyone who saw my work from the last year I was in art-college will know I did a piece called 'Raining Under the Umbrella.' I needed an actual umbrella for this piece so I tried to buy one...in Calgary. Easier said than done. It does rain in Calgary, quite often actually, but just try and find an umbrella in this 'dry' city. I ended up having to get a golf umbrella because I could not find a normal umbrella anywhere!

Back to Hong Kong. There are so many different types of umbrellas here it is amazing! You can buy them anywhere, with any logo you choose, for like $20HKD! No wonder Mai's family has a small collection in the closet. I always forget to bring one, so I use my backpack most days, but really with the amount of rain here I should remember to bring one. Apart from having to safe-guard my eyese at all times, I like when it rains because the sea of black hair turns into a maze of colourful umbrellas bobbing up and down. It's cool...

Lost in Translation XXX

You know what's funny?

1 - 4 year old girls wearing t-shirts that say 'sexy' to casual day at school

2 - 60 year old grannies wearing shirts with the playboy bunny proudly displayed.

And yes, schools here have casual days at the private schools. Although playboy has no nudity in its pages in Hong Kong, you can't help but wonder why people don't know better. Is the bunny a fashion icon like Hello Kitty? I don't think so.

11 June 2007

Rain Rain Go Away

So apparantly 150mm of rain in one night causes things to get wet. I have to say I didn't really notice an overly huge amount of water accumulating anywhere. Why? Hong Kong has kickass drainage! I watched something on Discovery channel and there are these massive reservoirs under the city that collect excess water during storms and typhoons etc. It also helps when the mountains are all covered in concrete to stop the land from falling off. Sacrifice aesthetics for less mud-slides I guess.

The people in mainland China were not so fortunate. The death toll from the rains has been reported at 60-something, but being China it is likely close to a few hundred. Not only do deaths go un-reported, the government downplays absolutely anything that could cause them to look bad (Just try and mention human rights and Olympics in the same sentence). It isn't really their fault that people choose to live in areas where it floods EVERY year. It's about as stupid as Americans who choose to live in Tornado-Alley and then complain about the weather.

In other news, Chinese police-authorities somewhere in Guandong attacked and beat-up two 50 year old fruit merchants for selling fruit on the street 'illegally.' First of all, they were 50 who were they harming? Also I would like to know why selling fruit is such a huge deal. Anyway, the beatings caused 10,000 people to riot in the street and attack police. Wonder why you don't hear about this on the news? The government of China ordered a media gag-order. It was just leaked on the internet. Oh by the way, the 50 year old man died later, and reports of a 15 year old protestor being beaten to death are also surfacing. All for some cheap fruit?


07 June 2007

Picture Day

My Tuesday/Thursday school still amazes me sometimes. Today is picture day.

They have hired a professional photographer with a nice huge camera, two big strobes, various other gear. He seems to know what he is doing, but the staff apparantly do not. It took forever to do this morning's classes. They're kindergarten kids, but you would think they are military by how rigid they look in the end result photo. I remember my kindergarten photos consisted of everyone sticking out their tongue. Needless to say this school has too much money compared to other kindergartens, but I love it here. It's the only school I actually enjoy coming to. The students seem to be smarter more like 10 year olds than 6 year olds.

Also today I am prepping the K3 kids for their Primary School interviews. Haha. Seems a little strange? Yes I think is weird to have interviews in the first place, but interview coaching for 6 year olds seems even funnier. Either way I'm getting paid to do not much of anything today, so that's a plus. I feel like my brain is wasting away..........

04 June 2007

Random Update

A few things that have happened in the past that may have not made their way to print yet.

1) Rookie Trophy

May 18th was the AGM for my rugby club, the Typhoons. I won rookie-of-the-year honours and a big tacky trophy to go along with it. I played pretty much every minute of every game in Hong Kong and Guam this season which when you play with 30+ year olds is a big deal I guess.

2) Flights booked for Canadian tour.

I am coming back to the Great North mid July. This means I will have about 5 weeks to spend in Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg. In total I have almost 8 weeks off for summer vacation. It will be too hot to move in Hong Kong in August, so I will have to plan some shopping or something when I get back mid-August.

3) Fujiko is turning Japanese

Mai's cat Fuji is leaving us tomorrow morning. She is going to Japan with Mrs. Ishii to start her new life abroad. She is going to be living with Miki (Mai's Sister).

4) We Are Moving!

Only 3 weeks now, and we will be living in our nice new convenient apartment in Taikoo. It's about 20 minutes closer to Central, so it will save me heaps of time.

5) Blue Sky?

The winds are blowing towards China, so I would hate to live in Northern China during the summer. I imagine the skies to be a nice shade of dirt.

29 May 2007

2 Days!

China must be having a bad week. The pollution levels have been low the past two days. And guess what!!?!! That means clear skies! We have now had 2! -----pause---- 2! days of clear skies in a row! Consecutive clarity!? Wholy Tienemen Square Batman!

Of course this rarity had to happen during the week while I am required to be inside sucking in dried out AC'd air. Oh well. The days seems to be a bit longer now, it stays bright till around 6:30. I am hoping that the cleaner air is a sign of things to come. I remember when I got here in August the air was actually clearer, so maybe this means that while it will be rediculously hot outside at least we can see the sky. In the following picture is the view out my window right now, it's sunny! I can see blue sky too! Wow that makes me happy.

Now what would a LIHK post be without a jab at China? Useless! So here it is. I hadn't realized it, but when Hong Kong originally found out about the T-Square incident, get this - 1 MILLION people marched out on the streets in protest. That's nuts! As much as HK is quite reserved, the slightly un-easy political uprisingness makes me happy. Oh ya, the Beijing appointed nerd who runs this place is yet again letting public opinion become meaningless as his government prepares to rip down yet another historic monument - Queen's Pier. Sigh...

Here's the sky >

Bye-Bye High Rise

Guess what? I am moving again! I figured it was about that one year span where I needed to pack up everything and cause myself extra stress by moving yet again. Actually, Mai and I have been thinking of moving for awhile now. We are staying in Hong Kong, just moving closer to Central / 'downtown.' We found an apartment already, and will be moving June 23rd if all goes to plan. We paid our deposit, so no turning back now. The main reason for moving was location. Where we are now is really nice, but it's a pain in the arse to get anywhere other than a few select locations. I would say moving should save me about 40 minutes a day in travel time to and from work combined. That's a huge chunk of time I could be putting to better use. As soon as we move in I will post some photos of the new pad. In the meantime, I don't know if I have posted many photos of where we currently live, Island Resort. Basically, it's huge. There are 9 towers (I think) that would put Lord of the Rings to shame. Each tower is 60-something floors high and there has to be at least 20K people living in the whole complex. The facilities are amazing, we really need to take advantage while we still can. Here is the view out my window. We live high-up but I have gotten quite used to it. I'm hoping we get at least one Typhoon before we move so I can see what it's like. More on the view in my next post...

28 May 2007

CBC you suck!

I haven't cared too much about hockey this season. That stems mainly from me being in Asia and they don't even know what ice is here. Now that a Canadian team is in the Finals (again) I was quite happy to see that CBC was streaming live online broadcasts of all the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even though the time change makes it a pain to watch any games on days I work, it was cool that CBC was offering this service for those Canadians who didn't have a TV or weren't in the country.


CBC is full of shit!!!!!!!! Not only can you NOT watch live online hockey anywhere but in Canada, you can't even watch games that happened a month ago! There is NO reason why they can not play archived games other than they are being jerks to anyone who doesn't live in Canada. I can happily prance around watching Peter Mansbridge all night long, as Newsworld is shown in Asia. But for some reason, the one thing every Canadian seems to enjoy in some form, HOCKEY! noooooooo, wouldn't want to show that anywhere but in Canada, some other country might catch on and learn how to play or something.

And why would it be limited to Canada only? CBC does not hold the only rights to NHL games, TSN also shares some. It shows archived games that were originally on TSN. So how can it be a rights issue? Gaaaah! Who doesn't have a TV in Canada that they can watch hockey on? All the games are at 8pm, so no one would be watching on their work computer. It makes no sense to me to have an online broadcast for Canada only, when everyone is either at the bar or at home watching it on TV. I would even pay for it if I had to. They could make so much money. I have seen online petitions in the thousands trying to get CBC to play the games internationally.

I even went the illegal route and tried a Canadian Server Proxy. But it didn't work! AHHH!


17 May 2007

Chinese history you won't hear about in China

"The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4th Incident, or the Political Turmoil between Spring and Summer of 1989 by the government of the People's Republic of China, were a series of demonstrations led by students, intellectuals and labour activists in the People's Republic of China between April 15, 1989 and June 4, 1989. The demonstrations centred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but large scale protests also occured in cities throughout China, such as in Shanghai.

In Beijing, the resulting crackdown on the protestors by the PRC government left many civilians dead, the figure ranging from 200–300 (PRC government figures), to 2,000–3,000 (Chinese student associations and Chinese Red Cross), although the PRC government asserts and most independent observers agree that these deaths were not in the square itself but rather in the streets leading to the square. [1]

The protestors came from disparate groups, ranging from intellectuals who believed the Communist Party of China-led government was too corrupt and repressive, to urban workers who believed Chinese economic reform had gone too far and that the resulting rampant inflation and widespread unemployment was threatening their livelihoods.

After the protestors defied government calls to disperse, a split emerged within the Communist Party of China on how to respond to the protestors. Out of the party turmoil, a hardline faction emerged and the decision was made to quell the protests, rather than to heed their demands. [2]

On May 20, the government declared martial law and, on the night of June 3 and the early morning of June 4, army tanks and infantry were sent into Tiananmen Square to crush the protest and disperse the protestors. Estimates of civilian deaths vary: 23 (Communist Party of China), 400–800 (Central Intelligence Agency), 2600 (Chinese Red Cross). Injuries are generally held to have numbered from 7,000 to 10,000. Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests to suppress the remaining supporters of the movement, banned the foreign press and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the PRC press. The violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protest caused widespread international condemnation of the PRC government."

China vs. Google

From a blog in China >>>

"Controversy has occurred over Google's decision to adhere to the Internet censorship policy in mainland China, colloquially known as, "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results are filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan or the Falun GongPeople's Republic of China. This is interpreted by some activists as against the "Don't Be Evil" corporate philosophy of Google. movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the

The People's Republic of China (PRC), whose human rights have been criticized by people in both China and the international community, has in the past restricted citizen access to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google. The mirror search site elgooG has been used by users in mainland China to get around blocked content. This complete ban has since been lifted. However, the government remains active in filtering Internet content. In October 2005, Blogger and access to the Google Cache were made available in mainland China; however, in December 2005, some mainland Chinese users of Blogger reported that their access to the site was once again restricted.

In January 2006, Google affirmed its intent to filter certain keywords given to it by the government of the PRC. The restrictions will apply to thousands of terms and websites.[2] The censored content will appear on a website called google.cn. Google was heavily criticized for the move, yet it claims it is necessary to keep the PRC government from blocking Google entirely. The company does not plan to give the government information about the users who search for blocked content, and will inform users of restricted categories.[3] Google states on its help pages that it does not censor content, but it does block pages as demanded for in certain jurisdictions, such as DMCA requests in the United States.

Most Chinese Internet users did not express much concern about Google's choice, with one blogger saying that censorship is a fact of life in China and Google could not have done any better.[4][5] Also, Google offers to Chinese internet users a choice that protects their privacy better than existing search engines available in China, since Google keeps confidential records of its users outside China, unlike domestic search engines that could be compelled by the government to hand over information at any time.[6] The following message appears at the bottom of the Google search result page whenever results are blocked: "In accordance with local laws and policies, some of the results have not been displayed." Currently, Google is the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden.

On the other hand, Google has been accused of hypocrisy for agreeing to China's demands and fighting the US government's requests for information concerning Google-users, by groups such as Reporters Without Borders[1]. Critics say that Google had made a great deal of its mission statement, in that it was different from other "evil" internet corporations, to gain support when it started.

On February 5, 2006, google.com was banned by China Telecom in an attempt to force users of Google toward the google.cn domain, however the ban was lifted shortly thereafter.

On February 14, 2006, some internet users participated in a "mass breakup with Google" whereby users agreed to boycott Google on Valentine's day to show their disapproval of the Google China policy.[7][8]

A simple test can be performed to quantify the number of pages which google.cn censors as compared to those listed in google.com. Search using this string to compare the approximate dot-com index differential: site:.com Other top level domains can be compared similarly (.org, .cn, etc.). Searches for essential html tags, such as returns the difference for all domains."

14 May 2007

Shoes Shoes Shoes

Hong Kong has selection. Lots of it.

You can imagine my surprise to see not two, but three different people wearing the exact same shoes on the MTR. The 3rd person did not even know the other two. In a land filled with half a billion shoe stores, I am amazed.

09 May 2007

Sick Day

I am currently at home sick for the day. This is nothing new (being sick). It's practically amazing if you are not sick in Hong Kong. I'd try and count how many people are hacking and coughing on the MTR trains every day to work, but I'd need an abicus or something mathematical and it would get way out of hand. But good news, Hong Kong and China have 'promised' to start cutting pollution in the area by 2010, just in time to realize that every single ex-pat has left due to the disgusting air. Good luck Hong Kong. The pollution has only increased about 10000% since the Brits left power, yet the government thinks HK is prospering so much more. How many more people are dying of lung cancer?

Oh ya, I'm supposed to be talking about being sick...

Today I thought would be a good day to fill everyone in on how the past few weeks have been going and what I have been up to. It's actually been a busy few weeks.

To start I have been doing some video work for an online based style/fashion/university type of magazine from London. (LifeAtUni.com) I am creating a 'Video Lookbook.' Note: I have ONLY been doing video work, I have absolutely NOTHING to do with how the website looks. I will not comment on what I think of it's look for fear of being fired. Oh wait, can you be 'fired' from something you do for free? Not sure, anyway, the site has improved a lot but I think it could use some work, the intent is there at least. There is lots of good content on the site, it just needs to be presented better. I am happy to say that the videos I have been shooting/editing for them are looking awesome.

The process and idea for the videos is somewhat random. I go wander around HK's trendier areas with a girl Anna from London (also teaching English here) and she interviews them. It's my job to make them look good on film and edit out all the gibberish...er...Honglish. We are supposed to find good looking, trendy, fashionable etc. people and Anna asks them a few questions about what they wear etc. It's not superficial at all, haha. I quite enjoy it, and it will give me a great experience even if it's not paid. I have already improved my editing skills.

The videos are not currently on the site yet, but in the next weeks or so they should be. I will let you know.

Also something I will be doing, possibly later today actually, is creating some banner images for a Hong Kong website called HipHongKong. This site is really well done, it looks great, and it has some good tips. Also I am going to submit some photo album series for them to post on their site. And guess what, the girl who runs it offered to pay me for the banner images! Woohoo. The banner will consist of images and drawings somewhat similar looking to my paintings I did at ACAD. They should turn out really awesome. I hope to finish them ASAP and get them posted on the site.

So that is what I am doing in terms of creative work in the next little while. I continue to take tonnes of photos, and I continue to be lazy about doing anything with them. Check out my photoblog if haven't in awhile, it's been updated quite a bit in the last week.

24 April 2007

Hong Kong Cell Phone Store

No joke. This is how many 'shops' sell their phones.

I Like Rain

Living in Canada growing up I was accustomed to having the odd 'snow day' here or there throughout the winter. I can't remember ever having a 'rain day' though.

Today was my first ever rain day. I was at school for the morning kindergarten session, and the kids left a few minutes early. Then I found out that the afternoon session had been cancelled due to the heavy rain/thunderstorm. Although it was raining pretty heavy (a class Red warning) it didn't seem like anything special. I've driven in much worse many times.

Not one to argue going home early, I quickly packed up my things as I was told I could leave. When I got home it was barely raining, and the warning has been down graded to amber. It has since continued to rain and thunder on and off, but nothing crazy. This is just one more weird story I have now from my teaching here in Hong Kong.

I like rain. It can rain all year if it wants to.

23 April 2007

Pint-Sized Politicians

Even though the tiny 1.5 year olds and 3 year olds can barely stand they have better skills when dealing with each other in a peaceful manner. By the time the students reach 5 years old, they have learned to hit one another. When they get to the P3 level, they are practically trained for war. I say this because my Primary Level 3 class I have today are a bunch of wackos. There is a group of approx. 5 that decline the option to sit for the 1hour long class and torture one another. Sometimes I think they like punching each other in the nose. The worst is that they don't seem to be fighting for any remotely sensible reason. No one stole anyone's candy, no one called someone poopy face, nothing. They just fight.

I try to break it up, but nothing works. It doesn't help that they think I'm funny when I yell at them. I have no control over them. I'm just a clown. But that's why I get paid the big bucks. Clown money, it's good cash...