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.