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.