28 February 2007

Oscar Oscar

This is funny.

"Did you catch the flaming ignorance displayed at the Oscars, when the telecast narrator mentioned that The Departed was based on a Japanese film?" (BWG)

It's from HONG KONG MORON! I wonder how many Americans know that Japan is nowhere near Hong Kong. And of course everyone here thinks the HK version was much better. I might have to go buy a cheap VCD of it to compare, I have only seen the American one, which was good, but it was no Goodfellas or Godfather.

I guess Scorsese mentioned HK in his speech. Still you'd think tape-delayed TV could get things right.

In the News, HK Style

I rarely watch the news but lately there have been some interesting stories on the local telly in Hong Kong. Today all in Hong Kong were treated to a new budget from the Government/Tyrants. I really don't have much to complain about other than the air quality, but it seems locals in Hong Kong have been miffed at the tax rate (16% for almost everyone). 16% is far far far far far lower than most countries I know of, but what can I say, Chinese people are cheap, it's not a stereotype, it's fact. Why else is almost everything made in China? More on that in a minute.

Today's budget announced that last year's salaries tax in HK will be cut for everyone by 50%!! That's a huge chunk of change. It's a one-time deal, but I imagine it could happen again, especially since it happened once, people will expect it again. Props to the government for actually giving people back their own money, or rather letting them keep it (In Hong Kong, you don't get taxed on each cheque, you pay at the end of the year). So now people have to pay the gov. 50% less across the board. That's pretty cool. Even with the maximum cut being $15,000HKD, that's still a lot of money.

I complain about the air quality so much, but today I'm going to let someone else do it for me. Here's an article from Vancouver about 'China's New Great Wall.' The 'New Great Wall' is actually the border of smoke/cloud/smog/toxins that floats between Hong Kong and China. It accounts for 80% of HK's pollution. If it wasn't for mainly Western Society's dependance on cheap labour cost in China, Hong Kong might actually be quite lovely in terms of air. If you cut even half of that 80%, the air quality would be similar to Vancouver on a really busy day. I could handle that.

"They're coming to their senses, ...They say what's the use of having so much money when my water is black and the air is foul?"

It took them almost 7 years to realize this? Just goes to show that people would rather die early on in life, than drink clean water with a little less money.

In other news...

"Hong Kong's three landfills could be at capacity in four to eight years and 450,000 tonnes of untreated sewage spews daily into picturesque Victoria Harbour."

Note to self, don't ever go swimming again in Hong Kong. If any tourist must go to a beach, pleeeeease go somewhere on the other side of Victoria Harbour. All things considered, Hong Kong smells pretty damned good... compared to say... a rotten carcus.

But please come visit!

I'm serious...

27 February 2007

Big Losing Streak Due To Sequins

Rugby News: Typhoons loose 2 in a row...

This past weekend the Typhoons played the snobs of the league in the Hong Kong Football Club Sequins. Ya, they're called Sequins. Really tough name.

Going into the game, we had come off a loss to Happy Valley, and we were looking for a miraculous win against the team of 500 from HKFootball Club. Everyone on my team hates them for various reasons, with the main one being they are all stuck up jerks called Sequins. The overall feeling was that we were going to loose, as they are the top team and basically pay to be the top team, but the gameplan was to smash em up as much as we could and damage their pretty sequins. (No they don't actually have sequins on their jerseys)

The Typhoons actually had the lead in the early going, and we were all a little surprised at how we seemed to dominate early on. At halftime the Sequins only lead us 12-10, but we should have been up 15-12 if our kicker hadn't missed a 2 yard kick of easy preportions. In the 2nd half, one of our players got sent off for telling the referee where to go, so we were down one man the whole 2nd half almost. This pretty much sealed our fate. In the end they won something like 30-10, but it didnt matter much as the game meant nothing in the standings. Next week is the playoffs and we play Gai Wu - we have won both our games against this season. There is no reason to believe we shouldn't win again, but it's always hard to beat the same team 3 times in a row, no matter how well prepared you may be.

If we don't win, the season is done, and we have 3 weeks off to prepare our drinking skills for the Hong Kong Sevens tournament, to which I have tickets, weeeehehehehehe.

Back to Work


Holidays are never long enough, no matter how long they are. This week I am back at pretending to teach English, and the kids are back at pretending to learn English. It's a good system...

The New Year break was great! I wasn't overly busy, just enjoying not having to be anwhere, sleeping in EVERY day. I also had the chance to go see the Chinese New year (CNY) parade and fireworks. The parade was great, and the fireworks were as well, but it was cloudy and rainy during the display. What made it so miserable was not the actual display (because despite the rain and clouds the fireworks were still awesome) but the waiting in our spot for 2 hours! Woohoo. It was slightly amusing watching the police attempt at crowd control. The papers here said approx. 330,000 people were along the harbour watching, but that doesn't include anyone who was inside, and I have no idea how they can estimate even that number. The total number of people watching along the harbour (in or out) was probably closer to 1 million+. It was busy. Mai and I decided to go eat while the mass crowd found its way home. The fireworks lasted a total of 25 minutes and they say something like 28000 were shot off into the sky. Waste of money? Possibly, but it was cool. At points it looked like HK was being bombed.

Here's the video (it's been up for a week, yes I know very quick of me)

CNY Fireworks YouTube

And of course you can't have anything in Hong Kong without shopping. I bought some new shoes. Yup, I know, great story...

20 February 2007


I have now gone through the time intensive task of labelling all my past posts. What this means is when you click on a label following any post, it will link you to all previous posts regarding that topic. There is also a list on the right hand side of all labels >>>

Chinese New Year Parade! Awesome busy crazy police defying goodness!

Last night was the New Year night-parade. I was expecting the huge crowd, but not the stupidity offered up by Hong Kong police all night. More on that later...

The parade was amazing. I have never seen so many different types of groups all in one parade with so much energy. There was everything from dragons to NFL cheerleaders from Arizona. I'm not sure why they were there. At least they wore red. Most enjoyable were the 4-5 different lion and dragon dance teams. They moved so fast and intensely it was hard to focus my eyes or my camera for that matter. Other groups included bagpipes, ballet dancers, disney characters, light bulb head people? weird... there were many groups from around Asia as well. The Korean and Japanese groups were fun and didn't get into any fights as a bonus. So many floats, so many people, so many different shades of red.

As for the buffoons heading up HK police. (It is the year of the pig afterall) For some insane reason, it was impossible to cross the two biggest roads in TST. I realize they were the parade route, but there are at least 20 different ways of crossing that don't involve going on the actual road (subways etc.) I decided I would take the ferry to the parade as it was the fastest way. What this meant was when I arrived in TST I was basically unable to move. They had blocked off almost any way of moving from the ferry pier to the parade and the amounts of people only grew as more ferries came in. For some dumb reason you could not get across to the other sides where the parade was actually happening. It's difficult to describe, but basically the police pissed off a vast amount of people for no good reason other than 'safety', but people falling into the harbour due to over-crowding is safer I guess.

In order to watch the parade, I had to walk through a 10 block long mall past the parade route, go through some weird back alley of a hotel that was being used to shuttle hotel patrons from the hotel because the front entrance was blocked (can you say fire hazard?) go underneith an overpass, up and over another overpass which thankfully was blocked off to traffic, and walk up the hill to where I ended up watching the parade at its midpoint. A lot of effort for arriving more than an hour early. My final viewing point was on top of a medion of the highway where the parade route turned around on, so it was quite perfect for viewing. I am proud to say I was the first person to climb on the medion, and about 1000 others followed. Lucky for me as the police were quick to tell everyone to get down. Let's just say it didn't work. About 5 people actually climbed down, some kneeled, haha, and when the police walked on ahead everyone just jumped back up. We watched the first 10 minutes of the parade and were told to get down again. This time no-one got off and the police didn't make a fuss. My excuse was I didn't speak Cantonese. About 30 minutes later the original police guys came by and did absolutely nothing about us all climbing up. Good enforcement boys. I wouldn't have had a problem getting off, as I was one of the only people who could see over the medion, but since no one budged I didn't mind following the crowd.

The parade lasted almost 2 hours, a tad more than the original 1 hour estimated. Let's just say I have no idea how all the fancy buildings got built here. No one seems to have a clue about organization.

And the most amazing thing of the night... the crowd that took 2 hours to build up was nicely dispersed in about 20 minutes.

I didn't take many photos as my lens selection was not the greatest for the front row seat I had, but here's a few I took. Also I video-taped most of the groups, and got some awesome footage. Check back in about a week and I might have a video done.

Happy New Year!

P.S. The fireworks were wet... to be continued

18 February 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year! It has been about a month of constant pig decoration and festivity, and it's finally here. Tonight I will be going to the night parade along the streets of tourist central TST. I'm expecting the worst in terms of crowds and possibly a 3 hour commute home afterwards. The parade does run 1.5 hours, so hopefully the crowd will come and go throughout that time. Other than traditional dragon dancing and firecrackers I'm not sure what the parade will consisit of. I will be bringing my bag of electronics so don't fret about seeing some evidence.

Tomorrow night is the crazy silly fireworks display. For National Day we didn't have a great view, so I'm determined to show up early and see the whole sky lit up. The amount of people will most likely be far greater than the parade, but at least I'm tall. If the flower market was any indication, it could be a lot of elbowing people for position.

Happy New Year to everyone! It sure is nice having two in one year, and it makes 'Winter' go by a lot faster with all the holidays. By the way it's +24 today - so cold - brrrrrr...

15 February 2007

One Big Holiday

When I came to Hong Kong, I knew that they would go nuts for Chinese New Year, but lately it feels like it has been one constant party and celebration ever since Christmas. Everything continues to be more and more decorated leading up to this weekend (CNY), but it is hard to tell if there has been a break from Christmas celebrations. Some buildings still have lights up depicting Santa in bright neon red. I thought Canadians were bad for leaving lights up late.

Also teaching has been considerably slack the last month and a half. I don't mind, but it's hard to get any rythm going because the kids have so many days off. One school I teach at has almost 2 weeks off, plus weekends. This translates into days off for me as well. All in all I have 8 days of actual holidays, plus weekends.

Yesterday, as many of you know, was Valentine's Day. It is not as big a day here in Hong Kong, which was quite surpising for me. They still celebrate it, but nothing to the extent in North America. I imagined with all the shopping and buying potential it would be promoted up the ying yang. It is CNY, so maybe that's why, people are in holiday overload.

Last night Mai and I walked through the Victoria Park New Year Festival/Jamboree/Millions of people thing. I was impressed at all the vulgar over-use of balloonege. I had thought it was only a flower market, but they have at least 1000 booths set up all selling mostly crap in the form of balloons. They had guitar balloons, lollipop balloons, potato chip balloons, and various other things you could blow up. The bus ride home was intense as we stood jampacked up against the front windshield, nice and safe I know. At least it smelt nice as half the bustomers had purchased flowers at the Victoria Park Stampede of People.

12 February 2007

Other Guam Info

Video by some amateur from Guam. It's nice because it is the only footage on video of the phoons, as I played all but one half, and was taking photos at that time. The audio is terrible. The video is also pretty terrible. I should have mine up after Chinese New Year. Here's the link to it anyway.

Guam Reflections

It was only last weekend but Guam seems so far away now. Coming back to reality and living amongst 8 million others will do that to a person. As short a trip as Guam was, it left a superb impression on everyone and many are planning a return trip next year to defend our drinking/sportsmanship trophy. At the end of the tourney, we came away with 2 wins and 2 losses, the odd thing being we won our first two - odd being because we had literally just hopped off the plane and almost everyone was still hung over from drinking before/during/after the flight. Our coach received the only yellow card of the weekend, on the plane.

So we were on our best behaviour as to represent the town of Hong Kong well. We started off the weekend on Saturday with 2 smashing wins against rather sub-par hooligan/island teams from Guam. Within 5 minutes of the first match the opposition had spat at, punched at, and threatened our huge prop who is ex British Navy and now heads up Gucci security for all of Asia. Fools. We roughed em up good and came away rather unscathed. I think the score was something like 14-0. The first games of the round-robin were only 8 minute halfs, so 14 points is a tonne. The idea behind it was that it was a fast paced game, 10's they call it, meaning only 10 men aside.

The 2nd game was much the same. We won in a shutout again I believe over a team of Guam inmates (I might actually be right in saying that) and were trotting around like mockingbirds should. The 3rd game is where we got a good taste of ass-kicking. We lost something about 35-0. Which is pretty appauling. We did well to make it to the 3rd game though, so none were about to cry at the loss. Especially since it was against the stacked team from Guam Rugby Club. We weren't even in the same league, not even close. No worries.

On Sunday we came into the playoffs well rested and highly optimistic. Too bad the night before was spent eating and drinking at an all you can eat surf and turf. Does American beer count as alcohol? Assuming it doesn't, we were all totally sober by law (Canadian beer law that is). The only booze they had on the island was labelled with some foul 'Bud' type logo. I guess free is better than none. Despite a good effort, we lost a tight match in the first playoff, so our weekend of playing time was over. Many actually prefered the early exit, as it gave us time to enjoy the palm tree lined beaches and more free beer.

Sunday evening was the awards 'banquet' where we were crowned 'Best Sportmanship' trophy winners. Possible because of our decision not to streak the field during the championship game, maybe because of our lovely singing all weekend, and maybe cause we played some good rugby. It was a toss up to which reason swayed the judges.

Monday was the day we left, but not until the evening. Most of the Mockingbirds (Typhoon touring name) decided to soak up some sun on the beach. It was like being in Japan with all the tourists walking around. The water was nice, but beware of foot-slicing coral if you ever go. Some of us rented water bikes which were quite enjoyable. The day ended too early, but it just makes me want to return even more next year.

Congrats to the tourney organizers, it was a great weekend!

A rare site, passing out under the large tents.

We called this the 'Gimp' mask. It was generally to be worn by anyone forced into slightly risky behaviour or deeds of fouling other teams.

06 February 2007


I'm back from GUAM. The trip was sensational with the only regret being it was just a 3 day trip. The focus of the tour was the Guam Rugby International Tournament (GRIT). Guam is a great place to have fun, the people are amazing, the beach is great and the weather is perfect almost every day of the year we heard. I took many photos of the rugby and the beach - more to come...

01 February 2007

Kam Lai is Best!

Something tells me I should stop complaining about being an English teacher.

Last night was the going away party for the English coordinator at the kindergarten I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This school has been my favorite ever since I started teaching. When my supervisor told me it was the best kindergarten in Hong Kong, I didn't really think much of it because they say stuff like that at each kindergarten. This one, however lives up to the billing. The party last night was held at the Hong Kong Regal Hotel in Causeway Bay. It's a very nice hotel, quite expensive, and the buffet spread was amazing. I'm sure it wasn't cheap and there was at least 30 people from the kindergarten attending. Most retirement dinners in Canada aren't this nice. So for a kindergarten teacher I thought it was pretty impressive for HK.

The buffet included almost every type of seafood. Lobster pasta, scallops, crab legs, salmon, freshwater fish (not sure where they came from), all kinds of shellfish too. There was lamb (very good), Canadian steak! roast pork, chicken, duck, various Indian curries. Also there was all different types of sushi and sashimi. A full salad bar, fruit etc. and I was getting a little full. Oh yeah, there was dessert too.

They had a chocolate fountain/fondue for dipping anything you wanted. I went for the cream puffs and doughnuts. Also there were marshmellows. Other dessert included ice cream, any topping you wanted, any kind of fruit. There were 5 different cakes, real cheesecake! (usually they don't have real cheese cake here) There were chinese tarts, puddings, oh so many yummy things to eat.

Did I eat all of the above? You better beleive I did. Before arriving at the party, I had a bit of a stomach ache, so I hadn't planned on eating much. But when I saw it was an all you could eat buffet I had no choice but to ignore my pain. Haha. I'm feeling a little tired today, but I'm not hungry at least.