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!).