19 October 2008

Lost in Vancouver?

I may not be lost, but I have moved. It's strange to believe that I have been back in Canada for almost a month now. The scenery in Vancouver isn't that different than Hong Kong but it is much cleaner as you would imagine.

01 September 2008

22 August 2008

Lamaze GOLD! Live in Hong Kong!

Eric Lamaze has just won Canada's third gold medal of the Beijing Olympic Games!

In Hong Kong!

Not only did he win the gold, but he did it on his final jump, competed in a jump off showdown with the favored Swede, and all this under the T3 Typhoon warning signal! How good is that!?

Visitors have said the horse jumping venue was great, but it's being torn down as it was only temporary. A good thing too, as one of the strongest typhoons since 1999 is approaching to rip everything to shreds!

Good job Eric!

p.s. I still think horse jumping is a lame Olympic event...

20 August 2008

China Biased?! Really????

It would be really nice if some of the athletes in Beijing would actually step up and complain about the judging at the games instead of just talking about it afterwards.

2 Canadians were robbed of wins. The men's trampoline gold should have gone to a Canadian, but I guess we should have expected he was only going to get silver, because a Chinese athlete was in the final. Many of the Chinese fans were also complaining that the bronze medalist from China should have won gold instead. Also one of the taekwondo medal favorites from Canada got screwed by Chinese favoritism (the judge). Had she won, she would have faced a Chinese athlete in the next round, and kicked her ass. Can't have that happening in Beijing, not good for national interests...

Canada should just rig the entire winter games in Vancouver and see if anyone complains.

11 August 2008

Worst Commentary EVER!

Last night was the highly anticipate match between USA and China in men's basketball. Of course the US went on to totally smash China in a pretty lazy effort. I wonder if anyone will really challenge them this year.

Anyway, the best/worst part of the game was the garbage spewing from the mouths of the two Pearl TV commentators. (Pearl TV is one of HK's local channels) It's kind of hard to describe, it's one of those 'you had to be there' moments. The commentary was so bad, I can't give it justice by bitching about it. It sucked. It blooooowed. It was garbage. Total waste of breath...etc...etc...etc.

I can't believe these guys are actually being paid to talk. They should be paid to shut up. Two drunken Aussies in Wan Chai would do a better job than those two did last night. If was GAAAAAAAAAWD AWFUL!

They were much worse in the moment, but here are some zingers from last night,

"There's something about Carmello Anthony...he just makes me...uncomfortable." Thanks for letting us know you racist.

"You know why, it's physcological, he looks a lot like Alan Iverson." So you think he's a goon also, thanks for letting us know you racist.

"I wish they wouldn't have so many tatoos." Thanks for letting us know you racist.

"Chris Wade plays for Miami, he is also from there." It's Dwayne Wade, and he's not from Miami.

"Yao Ming looks like he sprained his foot. Yup he's hurt his foot. I think he's hurt his foot." Um, why is he walking perfectly fine then.

There's so much more I can't go on, it makes me angry/laugh too hard. The fact Pearl TV cut out numerous bits of the game because they were late getting back from commercial also didn't help. Next game I think I will watch on the Chinese channel.

Ya, it was THAT bad!

05 August 2008

Hong Kong Summer! (Finally)

After a month of rain in June it felt like it would never stop. It finally has, and the weather has been hot and mostly clear. Last week we had the highest pollution ever recorded in HK, but that was a typhoon blew everything from Taiwan this way. Other than that mostly blue skies. As I look out the window now I am reminded of the next typhoon as it's been raining all day.

This is Tai Long Wan. The nicest place in Hong Kong, maybe all of China. The only way in is by boat or foot, and it's never crowded. The water and sand are amazing. The water is nicer than Cancun.
Not many boats were crowding this stretch as we hiked down.
One of the many flowers in full bloom along the hike.
To get to the tiny village you have to brave this pathetic looking footbridge, which didn't break by the way.
Hiroki managed to capture one of the small crabs that run along the sand.This was another area of Sai Kung we went to on a junk boat trip. Taking a boat is much nicer than hiking in, and at the end of the day when you're tired you can enjoy the sail back to HK Island.You are free to jump off the boat and swim. Not much danger of sharks as there are constantly boats and jet skis moving about.

13 July 2008

Brain Freeze


Oh how I miss the tingling sensation. Running from the car in blizzard-like conditions, stepping into the local 7-11. And not just any 7-11, it had to be the one in Westwood. What city you ask? Do I really need to tell you?

WINNIPEG!

If there's one thing I miss about this town, it's the Slurpee. Virtually uncontested, Winnipeg has now been crowned the world Slurpee champion for the 9th straight year. Those pretenders in Calgary are trying to come close, but it's only the ex-peggers who are shifting the scale.

It has now been at least 3 years since I have had an ice-cold Slurpee in -35 degree weather. I miss Canada...

10 July 2008

1 Month to go!

Only one month to go until the Olympics, yet all I hear from various news sources is bad news. Nothing positive whatsoever. China seems to be on everyone's naughty lists again. Prove me wrong! Find something positive!

"A Canadian businessman has been fined $1.9 million and sentenced to 20 years in jail in China, two years after he was detained on fraud charges, his lawyers have confirmed."

Wow, just going to China gets you 2 years in jail, without a sentence. And what good will $2mill do? China is already taking away 20 years of a possibly innocent man's life, they need money as well?

07 July 2008

Chinese Embassy Dumping


I found this image rather funny. It's from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. It shows a man dumping cinder blocks into the Rideau River, amongst other waste. I'm well aware many other people dump waste where they are not supposed to, but considering their less than stellar image internationally, you would think the Chinese might try a little harder. All this says to me is that they don't care about their image, and they don't even think about it.

Most likely the man in this picture and his supervisor have already been fired. Has the mess been cleaned up?

03 July 2008

Happy Swimming!

"The Environmental Protection Department has rated water quality at five beaches 'good', 23 'fair' and five 'poor' for this weekend."

...roll eyes...

Only 5 were rated good!? I thought all beaches in Hong Kong were good.

...roll eyes...

...roll eyes...

Oh wait, there's more fine print...

"Seven gazetted beaches - Anglers', Approach, Ting Kau, Casam, Gemini, Hoi Mei Wan and Lido - are closed to swimmers year-round because of poor water quality. People should not swim at these beaches."

Ah, that makes more sense. People 'should not' swim. They don't include the nasty beaches in their headlines. Any beach named 'Lido' should be a dead give away not to swim!

People in Hong Kong 'should not' do many things, this doesn't stop them. Maybe a nice fancy MTR announcement would help...

...roll eyes...

Got Dry Heat?

Hong Kong had a new record 1,346mm of rain in June. That's only about, oh 54 inches! A lot of that actually happened on one day. We had over 150mm in one hour alone a few weeks ago.

Despite the nice pressure wash, HK is still nice and dirty and dusty. Gotta love those diesel buses...

30 June 2008

Oh no Canada!

While thinking about Canada (it's almost Canada Day) I came up with a bunch of reasons why I don't feel the need to move back in any rush. Today I was reminded of one major reason...

Rogers sucks!

Well, maybe that's unfair to point out just one company... THEY ALL SUCK! (cellular providers in Canada that is).

One look at their price structure for the new iPhone (i standing for 'i am a piece of crap') made my eyes roll more than once. The cheapest plan is $60 CDN! And all you get is 150 minutes! Are you joking!? It's a phone! And it doesn't even do things that many other phones already can. What exactly is so special about this magical device? Pretty much every phone manufacturer in Asia already has a phone that does what the iPhone does plus more. They also cost a heck of a lot less.

There's so much BS about how Canada is too small a market so everyone has to pay more for everything. I thought we were one of the richest countries in the world? Where's all that money going?

Anyone who buys an iPhone (thus signing up for a 3 year contract) is a fool.

p.s. Did I mention I get 1400 minutes for the equivalent of about $10CDN per month? In Hong Kong, that's a ripoff.

29 June 2008

Lamma Island

Last weekend I went to Lamma Island with a few co-workers. The plan for the day was to be lazy and sit in the sun. The +33 sun. Fun! We rented an umbrella on the main beach to keep from melting. Other than sitting on the main beach, which is hardly worth mentioning as a beach as it is ridiculously filthy, there are a few other things to do on Lamma.The main ''attraction" would have to be the big wind turbine. You can walk right up to it and feel it vibrate as it spins wildy out of control. Actually it stops when the wind is too strong. Also from the top of the hill where the turbine sits is a good view of the rear-side of HK Island. Please note the blue sky, it does not happen often. (usually only after 2 weeks of solid rain)Here is a list of things you can't do on Lamma. About all you're permitted to do is sit on your ass and be quiet. Oh feel free to clean up after all the dirty hippies though. (Lamma is known as Hippie Town by some HKers)Walking up the path to the turbine we saw this funny leaf which looked like it was floating/dancing in the air. Turns out it was caught in a huge spider web spun by one of the many gigantic spiders that inhabit this part of the island.

25 June 2008

Storm? Did somebody sneeze?

My first signal 8 storm has come and gone. I couldn't be less impressed. It was barely windy outside, there was less rain than almost everyday the last two weeks, and nothing flew past my window! There weren't even any downed trees in my area. The only things that fell over in Hong Kong were badly planted trees or poorly erected scaffolding. BIG surprise.

I ended up having to go into work for the afternoon. It was pretty relaxed as most people strolled in at different times and there weren't any children.

I don't mind getting a day of for the weather, but I would much rather get a day off for when I really need it. Like when I'm sick. Even if say, the day before, I was hacking and coughing and practically dieing at work, I would still need to hobble down the hill outside for 20 minutes and go wait to see a doctor on my day off to prove I was sick. Within this 20 minute walk who knows how many people one could infect with their cold. How many other sick people would I run into and make my infection worse!

If anything, Hong Kong will be wiped off the map by a fast spreading virus, not a wimpy typhoon. Everyone in HK has a crap immune system because of the pollution, and half the people I see are constantly sick in some way. I have yet to make it through a day without one of my students coughing on another student.

Gotta love HK...

p.s. Fengshen you sucked.

Bring It On FENGSHEN!

***UPDATE - ***
8:30am
Fengshen, you are such a snooze. I slept very well last night, and didn't even hear the wind. Signal 8 is still in force, so no work today! Can't see any branches on the ground out my window. Only 2 drops of water inside, no major leaks.

11:18pm
Fengshen is now only a few hours away! And it's been upped to a T8! Woohoo! Now it just has to hang around for awhile and make all the hard workers of Hong Kong happy. Notice how it's making a direct turn towards HK! Yes!

6:00pm
'Typhoon' Fengshen has now been down-graded to a wimpy tropical storm, but it is still possible to raise a Typhoon 8 signal, which would mean I don't have to go to work tomorrow! I'm hoping for a nice strong Eastern wind to push it back on target for HK. The weather remains less than impressive in HK, only a little rain until now, pah!

12 June 2008

Macau Rugby 10's - The Mud Bowl

All Chickens Must Die!



It seems all chickens are slated for death after a recent outbreak of bird-flu in Hong Kong. The funny thing is you don't hear anyone complaining about gas prices in Hong Kong, they are complaining about pork and chicken prices.

The whole bird flu thing isn't really a surprise considering you can still buy live chickens at market. I will continue to buy all my meat from an indoor air conditioned supermarket and cook the crap out of it when I get home.

08 June 2008

Lots of Rain

"In Hong Kong, the average rainfall for June is 376mm.

This year that much rain fell in just one day: about eight hours in a non-stop downpour. The city ground to a halt as flooding swamped streets and landslides brought down mud and rocks.

Two people were killed when a 20-tonne section of retaining wall gave way onto a hillside hut in which they were sleeping. More than 420mm of rain fell on Tung Chung and 300mm on Mui Wo on Lantau Island, while Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island received 320mm. Sha Tin was hit with 200mm in the same period.

The North Lantau Highway was blocked by waterfalls, and more than 400 flights were delayed, with 14 cancelled.

The Hong Kong Observatory said the deluge set a new record for hourly rainfall (since records began in 1884): 145.5 mm between 8am and 9am. The previous mark was 115.1mm in July 2006."

"The water was waist-deep in low-lying Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan - a flooding black spot. Water cascaded into dried-seafood shops.
Firemen rescued people trapped aboard minibuses that broke down in 70cm deep water in Wan Chai, and carried people through a river of water coursing down Tai Hang Road.
In Pok Fu Lam village, 38 people were evacuated when their homes flooded. Boys ... and a ... woman needed hospital treatment for scratches and bruising after rocks and mud washed into their house.
A newspaper vendor in Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, said the area suddenly flooded at 6.30am. "The water came very fast. It was flooded within five minutes. There was thigh-deep water.
On Hill Road in Western, a flight of steps turned into a waterfall as rain cascaded down it. A tram was derailed when sand and gravel was washed onto the tracks in Des Voeux Road West."

text from > -bigwhiteguy.com

01 June 2008

Hong Kong International Art Fair 08

HK's biggest art event of the year took place a couple of weeks ago. It was a mass gathering of over 100 galleries from something like 20 countries. The work for sale ranged in variety, with prices anywhere from $7K - $250million HKD. This wasn't your average art sale.

We saw many familiar works, as well as a lot of new things coming out of China I had never looked at. This was my first actual 'art fair' and I have to say I don't think it's the best way to sell art that's for sure. It was fun to look, but the quantity and variety would turn off most first time art buyers. I suppose that's what the private VIP opening was for, the people with real money.

Culture Club Gallery


Friday night I discovered this nice-relaxed atmosphere club in Soho. My co-workers had been there before, and had always said how cool it was. The place is quite unique in Hong Kong. Not many bars are very chilled out and quiet, and they are usually all crammed. We were the only ones inside for about 3 hours. The music is interesting, but not so loud you need to shout at anyone to communicate.

The other neat thing about this place is that it functions as a small art gallery as well. There were black and white prints lining the walls. All in all a great place, great atmosphere, and it's not too expensive either.

...and the wine kept coming.

14 May 2008

Rauschenberg 1925-2008

“I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly,” he once said, “because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

13 May 2008

Lei Yue Mun - Seafood 'Bizarre'

Sunday we 'tried' to go for seafood at one of the popular local seafood places. Lei Yue Mun is right across the harbour from HK Island on the Far-East side of Kowloon. We took a short ferry ride over and then the fun began.

The look of the fishing village was pretty much what I expected, but it was a little more crowded than I thought it might be. Also it was very smelly, like fish - big surprise! The idea of Lei Yue Mun is that you go look at the large tanks of sea creatures and pick out what you want to eat. I had read that you didn't 'need' to do this, but it was popular. I don't know a whole lot about how to choose anything from the ocean, so I was thinking we could just order off a menu. Wrong! The place we went had menus, but no prices, and it didn't clearly explain the cooking fees if you did bring food. Our waiter spoke zero English when we asked about how we were supposed to bring our own fish. Feeling a little out of place and knowing I was going to get badly ripped off most likely, we decided to eat somewhere else. Although we didn't end up eating in Lei Yue Mun, the experience was interesting. Huge tanks line the sides of a very narrow alley-like pathway of seafood stalls. Again, not knowing how to buy fresh seafood, and given most people spoke no English didn't exactly make me too comfortable.

I'm sure regularly it's a great place to eat, but I'd only go again if my friend(s) spoke some Cantonese to help out. It was interesting that the seafood hawkers were only talking to me whilst ignoring the locals. That really made me feel like I would get totally ripped on the price. Oh well, next time, next time...

Lots and lots of fish. Some small, some massive. If you like creepy crawlies, this is the place for you.

Local transportation/housing.

12 May 2008

China Earthquake

The death tole has now reached 12,000, and is suspected to jump even higher. I can't even imagine what it must be like in the hardest hit regions. It is sad so many of the deaths are children, trapped in their schools and ultimately crushed by the same roofs that provided them education. If any good can come from this tradgedy, it will be the rebuilding and hopefully second look at building codes, especially schools.

08 May 2008

Does the wind support a boycott?

"The flame of the Olympic torch went out at the start of the Olympic torch relay run on 4 May in Sanya, the capital of the Chinese province of Hainan, the Associated Press reported. The flame extinguished as the first runner, Yang Yang, was setting off. The TV broadcasts did not report the incident, focusing on the crowd while the flame was re-lit."

You would think after all the whining and complaining about how badly the torch relay has been run so far, that the Chinese could get it right in their own country. I wonder if Yang Yang has been arrested yet? Probably on charges of conspiracy.

Speelcherk enywon?

"A 25-year-old woman has died after losing control of the motorcycle she was driving and crashing into the kerb."
-Hong Kong Government

07 May 2008

Welcome to Ping Chau


Ping Chau is a small Island located in the far North-East regions of Hong Kong. It is actually closer to China, much much closer. So close, that they have immigration boats circling around to make sure people are not swimming away from China to escape. To ride the ferry back to mainland HK, two police officers checked everyone's ID. There is another island in Hong Kong called Peng Chau, so a 'Tung' has been added to make it Tung Ping Chau to avoid confusion. The island is a whopping 2km across, so it can be hiked rather easily. Without taking photos I don't see any reason why it would take more than an hour to walk around. We were there the whole day, so everyone took their time taking photos and exploring some of the interesting rock features around the island.

While we were waiting for the return ferry, members of our group decided to spontaneously start jumping. Maybe they got too much sun?

It's a very nice island, although it take at least 1.5 hours to get there. That's how long the ridiculous slow ferry took. A speedboat would maybe take 20 minutes. Also the ferry departs from University Station, which is about an hour away from HK Island East. We had to wake up quite early in order to catch the morning ferry. The water on TPC is very clean, aside from the side that faces China which is littered with trash everywhere. The south side is much much nicer. >more Photos

06 May 2008

Don't do this in Tung Ping Chau.


So let me get this straight, as long as I'm authorized, it's perfectly fine to spear-fish while water-skiing being pulled behind a water scooter, and I have to make sure I'm not enjoying myself? I'd like to see that waiver form...

02 May 2008

Olympic Torch Relay - HK, You've Gone Soft!

"The Olympic torch began its relay through Hong Kong Friday before a flag-waving crowd that heckled a pro-Tibetan protester and jostled the police officers protecting her.

Officers eventually put university student Christina Chan into a police van and took her to a police station to protect her from the crowd. Many yelled obscenities and about 30 people pushed and shoved a dozen police surrounding her."

This comes from the same city/citizens that marched a million people onto the streets to protest the Tienanmen Square incident. Hong Kongers have gone soft. Everyone is so afraid of what will happen to them if they speak out against the Chinese government. So much that they will actually attack those who have a different opinion in order to appear they are pro-China. At least in this incident the police actually 'helped' the protester.

Why did thousands of people flee Hong Kong before 1997? What were they afraid of then? Have they forgotten why they left?

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Has anyone been to Vegas? If not, don't fret, the Blueman Group is making a one day only appearance along a special 30km relay Friday afternoon!

It's a good thing I'm already here. I wouldn't want to have sat on a 14 hour flight only to be told I had to get back on and go home.

The Olympics are supposed to be about peaceful competition, blah blah blah, but the Chinese government is sure doing a good job of ruining the whole point of it. People are being blacklisted and turned away at the Hong Kong airport (note: Hong Kong is not supposed to be China, is it?), and 3000 police are being scattered along the relay tomorrow. Is anyone other than the cops actually going to see the torch? They should just hire the Pope-mobile to usher it around all day.

I really wish I had taken the day off work. I still haven't worn my nice new black t-shirt, and with so many people in Hong Kong loving to protest, something is bound to happen tomorrow. A perfect opportunity to use my telephoto lens lost!

100 days left

Beijing Games Update - Hong Kong Shows Its Hospitality

30.04 - Hong Kong turns away four activists, including a Chinese writer and a Tibetan

In the past couple of days, four human rights activists have been prevented from entering Hong Kong, where the Olympic torch is due to arrive today. Those turned away included Zhang Yu, the general secretary of the Independent China Pen Centre, an writers association, two Canadians from Students for a Free Tibet, Tsering Lama and Kate Woznow, and Free Tibet Campaign press officer Matt Whitticase. They had been expected to give news conferences and meet with journalists to discuss the situation in Tibet.

Whitticase said: “2008 is the year that China is supposed to be opening up to the world in anticipation of the Olympics, but everywhere one looks, China is slamming the door.” The Hong Kong Journalists Association has condemned the decision to deny the activists entry.

29.04 - Danish sculptor denied entry to Hong Kong

Three members of a pro-Tibetan Danish group called “Colour Orange,” who had planned to take part in a demonstration during the Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong on 2 May, were denied entry on arrival yesterday and were put on a flight back to Europe. One of them was Danish sculptor and human rights activist Jens Galschi√łt, the author of a sculpture at Hong Kong university entitled “Pillar of Shame” that marks the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Galschiot, who was to have painted the sculpture during the visit, said: “Hong Kong does not escape the control of Beijing [...] which does not want any criticism during the Olympic torch relay.”

-Reporters Without Borders

26 April 2008

It's Hockey Season!

Hmm, somewhat hard to believe it's still hockey season when the thermometer reads +30. There is only one Canadian team left playing for The Cup, but I'm pretty sure it has less Canadian players on it than others. In any regard, I will never cheer for a hockey team from a city that never gets snow. Go Canadiens!

In this time of puck slapping, I remember my favorite chant from a hockey crowd. It occurred at the World Junior Hockey Championships in North Dakota, USA. I stress, it was in the USA. Team Canada was playing Team USA in the final, gold medal game. With the Canadian team winning, and the USA team skating up ice with the puck, the crowd was chanting,

"OVER RATED!"

Only a bunch of Winnipeggers would have the nerve. The chant of "US SUCKS!" during the American anthem in Vancouver also ranks pretty high-up (although pretty classless).

New Tourist Attraction?

Something to look out for if you're in Beijing the next couple of months. When I was there in November it was quite evident the city was trying to 'clean up' it's look for the Games. He obviously didn't see the sign that said no pictures.

"22.04 - Beijing resident arrested for filming his eviction to make way for Olympic installation

Wang Lianming was arrested for trying to film his family’s eviction from their home in Yangshan, a neighbourhood in the Beijing district of Chaoyang, in an operation carried out by around 200 police and security guards in order to demolish houses and make way for Olympic Games installations, reports Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). The police threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, seized his camera and threatened to detain him for up to 15 days. He was taken to a nearby police station and released a few hours later.

According to the organisation Civil Rights and Livelihood, Wang’s family was not notified that the Chaoyang district court had ordered their eviction. No compensation is offered for such expropriations, which therefore violate article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, signed by China. The CHRD has urged the Chinese to put a stop to the evictions being carried out in order to renovate Beijing for the Olympics."

Hong Kong vs. Toronto

The issue? Public Transport (or lack of it currently).

In light of the sudden transit union strike in Toronto, it made me think what would happen in Hong Kong if the same thing happened. I'm not sure if you are even allowed to strike in Hong Kong, but it would be quite the mess if it was possible. I thought everyone in Canada has a car? What's the big deal? This just makes the oil companies smile even more as people are forced even more to use their own vehicles. It's no big surprise people have little faith in public transport in Canada.

My favorite thing about Hong Kong has got to be how easy it is to get around. Not only is there the MTR/KCR(kcr = mtr now), the city has many double-decker buses, mini-buses, trams, and ferries, not to mention the thousands of taxis you never have to wait for, not even a minute in most cases. The MTR (subway for you North Americans) operates so efficiently you never have to wait more than 5 minutes. During rush-hour the trains come continuously. Did I mention it is also probably the cleanest subway in the world?

I can hear all you doubters now, "Oh it must be soooo expensive to ride the train, ferries must charge an arm and a leg!"

Wrong!

You can take the MTR virtually anywhere in the major areas of the city for less than $2 CDN/US, anywhere! It costs less than $1 to go anywhere within the main HK Island. To cross Victoria Harbour costs about 25cents. An average bus or mini-bus ride is also less than $1. In a word, it is CHEAP!

If their was one city in the world that every city should be based on in terms of infrastructure and planning, Hong Kong would be it. It is extremely easy to go anywhere and it costs next to nothing compared to driving to and from work in any personal vehicle. Yes the buses do pollute, so I would like to see them banned from HK Island and Kowloon as they are not needed. Mini-buses are perfectly capable of getting people to and from the short distances from the main train stations. All they need are more of them, and less or NO personal cars in the major urban areas. The MTR already has plans for expansion to other areas of the city that will only enhance it's extreme efficiency.

Now, back to that strike in Toronto.

I understand why the union wants to strike, but they really should not have the right to. They have every right to turn down a contract, but effecting people whose lives depend on their service should be illegal. What would happen if hospitals and doctors decided to shut their doors with only one hour notice? I don't think anyone would be too happy. Everyone wonders why the public transport system is so crappy in Canada, but it's very simple to see if things like this are allowed to happen.

It's sad that every city can't have amazing bus and train services like Winnipeg...cough! cough! cough, snicker.... snicker...hack....hack.......Oh man........cough.....cough....cough...

Seriously, Hong Kong MTR rocks! (too bad MTR also stands for Mass Transfer of Rarediseaseslikesars.)

24 April 2008

Gas prices, do I care?

No!

Having lived in a city-centre for the past 7 years, I could care less how much the price of gas is. I only owned/drove a car for about 2 years; even then it didn't really effect my cash-flow. Not the gas price at least. Accidents, insurance and parking are another story... For the past 2 out of 3 years I have spent absolutely nothing on transport to and from work. NOTHING! When people say I am lucky or spoiled for living close to where I work, I just laugh. I am not lucky, I am smart. I am not spoiled, you are an idiot! If people chose to live an hour away from where they are employed, they lose all right to protest gas prices. They lose the right to protest many things. Urban sprawl is causing much more damage than rising gas prices.

It only makes me laugh even more to see how many citizens are asking when the government is going to put a stop to this 'madness' and hault the rise in oil price/profit. How can any semi-intelligent person think the government(s) gives a damn. They are making money, lots of it! Do they need it? Probably not, but do they have a hidden agenda/goal in depriving you of your hard earned money, absolutely! Now what could a 'democratic' government possibly gain from a poor and starving community? POWER! Anyone in the rural areas is at the mercy of oil, and they will force that burden upon city dwellers when they rush the urban areas and rents skyrocket. It's already happening. They are being forced to either spend more money/save less, or move back into the cities, which have no room (because North Americans sure do love them houses). Either way the government is happy.

Why cause all this protest, unrest, poverty, hunger etc. etc. etc. whilst there continues to be huge discoveries of oil everywhere? Canada obviously has massive amounts of it, we are the biggest international supplier to the US! And their gas is cheaper! (not for long)

I'm not saying I totally agree with crazy conspiracy theories, but the last two films I have watched only help my brain hurt. I recently watched Zeitgeist and End:Game, Blueprint for Global Enslavement. Both films go slightly overboard in my opinion, but I agree with many facets of both films. If you haven't watched either, I suggest you do. If nothing else it may possibly make you think, or feel really really crappy if you beleive it all.

Both films outline how the world governments as we know them, are systematically merging together to form a world super government (New World Order) and in the end kill off 80% of the human population to provide for a more 'balanced' society of sorts. I told you it was a slight stretch, but it is very believable especially when they(the film makers) are continually being proven right by what happens in the world. Who knows maybe it's all a cover for something else that's a cover for something else. You can't trust much these days... Back to the gas >

What do you think would happen if the world appeared to run out of oil, and the price got so high that no one could afford it? People would flood to the cities, there would be mass starvation, third world countries would collapse without aid, personal travel would stop, international trade would cease. Basically if it happened today, in an instant, we'd be SOL. It's highly unlikely that the price of oil would jump a few thousand % in one day, but is it impossible? Who do you think regulates the price of oil? Just think what might happen. And go watch the films, if nothing else they are entertaining if you don't agree with them.

Sure there are many other ways of producing energy, but they are not developed enough, and continue to not be developed to a point where the world population could survive in an instant if need be. How strained would we be for energy if and when a third world war erupted? What if aliens attacked!?!?!?!?

As I said I could care less how much the cost of gas is, because it doesn't effect me personally, not yet at least. If every person on the planet chose not to drive to work the supply of gas and oil would be so overwhelmingly ridiculous we would never run out. Sadly even if people's habits were to change drastically, I fear it would have little impact on the major events that will most likely happen and change our lives, and the planet's forever.

Anyone for a walk?

21 April 2008

so close, yet so far.

Where have all the emails gone? Has Facebook really become so popular that people would rather share private information with a few million people than send a nice old fashioned intimate email? Does it hurt to actually call someone by their name, not just include them on a list to be forgotten?

I will admit I use Facebook, but the amount of time people waste sending meaningless crap to each other is quite astonishing. It's a nice place to see photos and videos of other people, but there are many other sites that have been around for much longer that do exactly that, and BETTER. So why would anyone use Facebook when there are many more secure and private methods available?

PEOPLE ARE LAZY! (and generally lack web intelligence)

Wow I know it's surprising. Ok, people have been getting more and more lazy ever since the Internet was invented so it's nothing new. What bothers me is how people actually message and 'poke' each other in the same room. Or send a message on a computer to someone they could pick up the phone and hear the voice of.

My main beef is how people can seem to become even less inclined just because of a few time zones. The only reason I continue to put up with Facebook is because I would never hear a thing about what is happening or has happened to my 'friends.' I use this term loosely because that's exactly what it has become. Does anyone in the world actually have over 100 friends? Over 20 even? Not good ones usually that's for sure.

It's annoying how when you move away everyone seems to forget what timezones are, and how easy it is to calculate a good time to call. And I've been in Hong Kong almost 2 years. On a weekly basis I'm still asked what time it is here.

Phone calls I can do without, but not even an email? How lazy has everyone become?

Here's a review:

Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, 13 ahead of Central, 14 of Mountain, and 15 of Pacific. (as of the time change) Note: Emailing can be done regardless of what time of night it is

I look forward to not hearing or reading from anyone...

19 April 2008

Neoguri

Edit: It fizzled, although we has some nice black rain for awhile.

HK's first encounter with a typhoon seems to be fizzling. Tropical Storm Neoguri is about 200km away and it's getting slightly closer, but has made landfall and is degrading

It's not that I want to witness massive destruction or anything, but I really want to see a Typhoon! I've been here almost 2 years and nothing. Every time I go away seems to be when they hit. The drainage ditches have turned into nice little waterfalls on the hill behind my apartment, so that's kind of nice.

18 April 2008

China has a face to lose?

Before I start, notice above how it says "CHINA" not "Chinese," as in I'm poking fun at the government not the people. And yes, I'm well aware some people think a country and its people are the same thing. When a large chunk of the people don't have a clue about what their government is doing, it is NOT the same thing!

So... China has been in a huff about 'losing face' over recent events. Poison food, protests, pollution, death penalty etc. All of this caused the government to change the 'www' into the 'cww.' Instead of showing how much they have changed, China has gone back to old ways of hiding behind its borders and shutting off the world. There's nothing wrong with this, go ahead, be a hermit. Just don't complain how no one will treat you as a world super power and sure as hell don't try and put on the Olympics and think no one is going to notice all the problems within your country. This goes for any country, not just China.

Evidence of hiding? Well the Internet shutoff is a pretty big example considering how many people in Asia are wired to a computer. The biggest show of cowardliness is how the China Visa Authority has decided to block any multi-entry Visas for anyone coming from Hong Kong. It has also risen prices of single visit visas, by a lot. This further demonstrates my main peeve against China. No matter where you go, no matter who you talk to and what you are doing, someone is trying to rip you off. This happens naturally being an outsider in most places, but it is absolutely ridiculous in Beijing.

The torch relay has been pathetic, a complete and utter failure. They should stop now. Did anyone see the 65? laps around a field in Pakistan? Even in a closed secure setting, men in jumpsuits were still pushing people back from the torch. The Olympics are going to be ridiculous, and anyone who says they are only being used to protest because it is 'convenient' is missing the point of protesting.

Personally, I have had 'issues' with how China handles itself long before this Olympics mess, so I'm hoping everyone keeps up the pressure and doesn't stop on 080808.

12 April 2008

Ng Tung Chai Waterfall - Tai Mo Shan Park

There are many small waterfalls in HK, but Ng Tung Chai is supposed to be the biggest in the country park of Tai Mo Shan. It also gets some of the most rain in HK. After getting lost in the small village of Ng Tung Chai, we finally found the start of the trail up to the waterfalls. Maybe it's because I can't read Chinese, but I'm pretty sure the trail was not very well marked in the village. I was expecting it to be jam packed because it was Sunday, but the trail was quite dead. There are 4 waterfalls in all, and it took about 1.5 hours of hiking/stopping/photos/eating to get to the top. If you were just hiking up it would probably only take 30 minutes if you were quick. The 4th waterfall is also 'closed' due to a landslide, but the trail remains marked with a warning to proceed at one's own risk. Having hiked in the Rockies in a snowstorm or two, I'm pretty sure it would not have been to bad, but we didn't go past the 3rd as we were already sweating too much. The picture above is from the 2nd/Middle waterfall. Also I saw a nice green snake trying to hide. It freaked Mai out, but I remember reading somewhere that there are not any poisonous snakes in HK, except for pets who have been let out in the wild maybe. There were many small lizards, and birds everywhere who are very noisy. All in all a great place to hike, but it does take awhile to get there from HK Island. It was very hot and humid, but lots of shade. The rain makes the trail very slippery, but the waterfall gets bigger after a nice rainfall. Bring lots of water!

Directions: Find your way to Tai Po Market MTR station. From there, the bus 64K will take you to Ng Tung Chai. Most of the buses now have electronic displays of the upcoming stops in Cantonese and English so that is very helpful. I believe it was the 18th stop. Once off the bus, follow the small windy paved road (about 20m from the bus stop) up the hill to the town of Ng Tung Chai. The hiking trail is on the right hand side of the road walking up from the highway. It may be marked but not in English. The trail is paved up until a large temple/shrine. Past the shrine there is a map showing the two trails up to the waterfalls. It would be nice if this map was at the bottom of the hill! If you get lost, draw a picture of a waterfall and I'm sure someone will point you in the right direction.

09 April 2008

The Big Hanger in the Sky

Oasis Airlines has gone belly-up. No more cheap flights to Vancouver and London. I only flew with them once, but that was enough to show me there was no way they were making any money. It was about as no frills as you could get with service as friendly as Manitoba drivers.

I didn't really see flying with them in the future, but this is bad for everyone as it takes away cheap competition. Cathay Pacific will no doubt raise its fares back up to where they were a year ago. No worries though, because it will still likely be cheaper to fly HK-Vancouver, than Van-Toronto.

08 April 2008

Lost in Hong Kong - Now Available in China

Edit: Hooray everyone can now watch crappy Canadian content!

As of April 1st, 2008 Blogger is supposedly unblocked in China once again. CBC/CBC Radio continues to be blocked, suckers!

I imagine all the negative information and ranting (such as me) will insure that sites such as Youtube, Wikipedia, and Blogger are blocked once again in a very short time.

On a brighter note, protesters were seen launching themselves at an athlete in a wheelchair carrying the Olympic torch, in Paris I believe it was... This just gives everyone an excuse to label all protests as senseless and violent. Get some class morons!

06 April 2008

Memo from China

Re: What not to let reporters do.

Click here for a story regarding Chinese policy on how to deal with international journalists. At the bottom of the page is a 'classified' memo sent out to local authorities from the Chinese government. It's possible it isn't true, but it comes from a 'credible' source (they're French - Jacques says they're lieing) .

IOC - International Organization of Cowards

Oh Jacques Rogge you make me laugh. In a letter to all members of the IOC, he stated the following

"...
no "credible" government or organisation is supporting the idea of a boycott."

Just so everyone knows, FRANCE has been seriously considering it for the past 3 weeks! I'm sure all the great people of England from the 7's last weekend would agree France is not a credible government, but commmmmmon Jacques, wake up!

The IOC, and many others, have been saying the Olympics have nothing to do with politics. I ask then, why does every country walk out with their flags waving around? What is this 'Olympic Charter' all about? I agree that the IOC shouldn't be the one to help resolve what's happening in Tibet, but since they gave the games to China based on a few 'promises' made by the Chinese gov, maybe they should have something to do with resolving what's going on in China. There's a heck of a lot else going on other than the Tibet crisis. If they don't want to get involved, they never should have awarded the games to someone they're utterly afraid of.

Free Hu Jia!

update: Sign the Petition!

Three-and-a-half-year jail term for Hu Jia

I suggest you read the article above, except for my mom, it would only scare her.

05 April 2008

CBC blocked in China

"The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has formally complained to China's ambassador to Canada about the continued blocking of the broadcaster's websites in China.

CBC president Hubert T. Lacroix outlined his concerns in a letter to Ambassador Lu Shumin on Friday.

Access in China to CBC's French-language website Radio-Canada.ca has been blocked for six months, while access to the English site CBC.ca has been cut off since January, Lacroix said. " - cbc.ca

This is hilarious. Is AirFarce getting too racy? Maybe they just don't like Don Cherry.

Edit: no longer blocked, fire away chicken cannon!

04 April 2008

Hong Kong Hikes

Lately I've had a bit of the hiking bug. There's so many places in Hong Kong worth exploring I feel as if I haven't even seen most of the New Territories. During the Easter holiday, we went hiking in Sai Kung, out towards the eastern shoreline to a place called Tai Long Wan. This is a picture just up the hill from Sai Wan Beach. I also posted more photos of the area on my photoblog as well.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go to another area in the NTs, close to Tai Po. It's called Tai Mo Shan country park, and it's home to the tallest peak in Hong Kong. It's not big by mountain standards, but there is frost there quite often. I'm hoping we can find the place called Ng Tung Chai waterfalls. They're supposed to the best, and some of the only, waterfalls in HK.

02 April 2008

At least someone is reading.

I received my first anti-me comment! I feel special. If you want you can scroll down to the 'Otherside' post about a week ago and read the comments. If wheeling a mouse is too strenuous, I will summarize.

"...Don't blog if you can't get the facts right. Chinese media has been in Tibet the whole time. Why is someone as anti-China as you allowed into Hong Kong. If anything, China is being too soft..."

Maybe we should just send some tanks to smash them all? How about a public execution? I've seen the nice new "bird-cage" in Beijing, I'm sure blowing off some heads wouldn't rattle the IOC. Heck, since no one is going to the opening ceremonies anyway, why not make THAT the opening ceremony. "Free Tibet!...of all Tibetans!"

Alright seriously. I'm not one to really care if someone doesn't like what I write, it actually makes me happy to have some opposition finally. But in all honesty, your comment does nothing but confirm why I blog. People are idiots!

1) First of all, since when does blogging require that one tell the the truth? Ever hear of satire? If the nameless commentator is from China I suppose that's a possibility. Why does everything I write have to be truthful? There's all kinds of crap on the Internet, most of it false information. Still, I'm pretty sure I'm usually just giving my opinion and not preaching any hard truths, and most of what I say has been said by many many others.

2) If the Chinese media has been in Tibet the whole time, why did they choose not to prove it was all the Tibetan's fault and not the Chinese? Does it not seem fishy for the government to come out so strong against responsibility, and then not back it up with proof if they have it? Especially when they made such big promises about human rights? Just saying, seems fishy. I could care less if the Chinese media has been there the whole time, and I'm so sorry I said no one was getting in locally. That's just what the HK media said, but wait...I thought China still thought HK was China, so is China telling lies about China?

3) Did you know that Hong Kong was British for quite some time? There's actually quite a few people here who aren't too fond of China. Actually, at least a million of them. They all marched in protest against the Tienanmen Square incident. Oh I'm sorry, that never happened, sorry I'm telling lies again... Also, take a gander at the SCMP, or have a look through HK Magazine. If you think I should be deported, you'll love them.

4) If China is being too soft, maybe they should enlist the Dalai Lama, I hear he's quite a mean spirited old guy.

Like I said, I enjoy hearing people's opinion, as long as they are from a country where they are allowed to voice their opinion. I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble...

26 March 2008

Hell Has Frozen Over

"China allows foreign journalists into Tibet"


Oooooh it makes sense now, I forgot to read the small print:

gagged, blindfolded, with no cameras, no recorders, with guns pointed at their heads.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken

I really hope this newest marketing technique from the U.S. doesn't find its way to Hong Kong's KFCs. As it is I find the chicken there disgusting, but at least when it's deep fried to smithereens it kills all the germs in the chicken. My guess is the chicken is fakely grilled in China, freeze dried, then sent to the U.S. where they microwave it for 30 seconds before serving it. Grilling the chicken will only heighten the soggy-effect and the chances of getting salmonella.

Finger licking blech!

CBC News Interactive: China

I found this interactive map pretty cool. It would be useful for anyone who doesn't know the geography of the Chinese region and surrounding countries. The map outlines a few of the more recent issues within China and a few outside its borders.

CBC News Interactive Map

25 March 2008

Access Denied!

"The Access Denied Map will try to contextualize and situate that battle by focusing on two areas:

1. the crackdown on web 2.0 websites;

2. the amplifying of local campaigns defending the right to access web 2.0 tools and websites.

The Access Denied Map will lead interested readers to content that enables them to support anti-censorship movements and keeps readers abreast of the filtering situation in various parts of the world. It will also facilitate collaboration between activists, allowing them to find each other, share tactics and strategies and experiences."


From > advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/maps/

The Other Side

I stumbled across this website as I was looking at a few websites trying to get a little more information about what's happening in Tibet. Basically, every news source you look at is saying something completely different, which only leads me to believe they are all full of shit. The only reason I continue to believe China is covering up murders/violence/crack-down rests on the fact they continue to be very against showing any proof otherwise. They continue to block imagery and video coming out of the region, they continue to deny entry to various foreign AND local media (they won't even let the Chinese media in). Anyways, like I said you cannot really trust what anyone says about anything these days, but as usual there is a side that supports China. It's called "antiCNN.com" The naming of this site sure gives it a load of credibility... I don't look at it as a firm opposition to the anti-China reports which are in much greater number. But it's another side to a very intriguing story. It's also quite commical with phrases like "Tibet's not a country!" (Follow the pictures on the site to see what I mean) Chinese are very specific about language details, like swearing (tour guides don't like it). Too bad they aren't as picky about human life details.

> antiCNN.com

Proud to be blocked in a country near you!

The following countries have been tested to block/censor this blog (Lost in Hong Kong) and all other blogger sites at some point in recent history.

  • » Syrian Arab Republic
  • » Iran, Islamic Republic of
  • » Pakistan
  • » United Arab Emirates
  • » Ethiopia
  • » China
  • » India
  • » Tunisia
Thanks for not looking!

24 March 2008

Support The Beijing Olympics!

I just bought this T-Shirt :)

If you're interested in showing your support for the most oppressive and rigid Olympics ever, why not also pick up one of these neat looking t-shirts >>>> *** here *** <<<<

Save the Journalists

With so much media attention being given to the Tibet crisis in China, I thought this poster would also work with a Panda instead of an Elephant, and China instead of Africa.

17 March 2008

Bangkok 'Rugby'

Backtracking a little here, I haven't reported on the events from Bangkok back in February.

I was in BK for 4 days with my rugby team, The Typhoons, posing as Mockingbirds under our touring name. I think it's a means of covering up our identity so charges can't be laid upon our return to the Big Lychee. Not that anything out of the ordinary happened...

This tour was all about 'rugby' ... ahem.... I said rugby... We arrived late Thursday night the last weekend of February. Getting to the hotel at 1am sure didn't mean we were going to sleep. We found a club close to our hotel and partied a good part of the morning. Friday wasn't a play day so we didn't need any energy for hitting and smashing the opposition. The majority of the 'birds slept till noon, then it was off to go-carting. Lucky us, it was indoors! The weather was about +30 during the day, not ideal for playing rugby. The indoor track was quite well done. The cars were fast, the track was a decent length with at least 6 turns, and it was dirt cheap for 10 minutes of racing. I managed to break the steering column on my cart the first time out and brilliant Thai design meant that I almost blew myself up by cutting the gas line. The 2nd race was much safer, and my car did not falter.

Friday night was the opening party for all the teams competing in the rugby on the weekend. It was also a chance for us to get a look at who would be dishing out the pain. The tournament was apparently of a higher standard than what we are used to, with such players as the ex-captain of South Africa suiting up for once team. So much for the winning part of the weekend. With our new found realization that we were probably going to get pounded anyway, the 'birds went out to all hours again around various parts of Bangkok.

The Bangkok International Rugby 10s (aka Slaughtering of the 'Birds) commenced sometime in the morning, and I think we made it on time for our first game. It just happened to be against the New Zealand Legends. I think we touched the ball, or at least made a lunge at it once or twice. Final score was 5000-something to nothing. The rest of the weekend we played 4 more games, and no, we didn't win any of them. None of us cared much as were has consumed more beer than air. We did however manage to score once.

14 March 2008

Conflucius

The end is near...maybe.

Continuing on the flu story from Hong Kong >

Today all teachers still had to report to school, in case there were any children that NEEDED to be there. Numbers were down significantly from yesterday, but there were still many kids in class that we know have full-time moms or caregivers. According to the governments warnings they should not be in school. But I guess parents here don't trust the HK Gov (the same one that handled SARS) enough to keep the kiddies home.

There were still around 40 children from the international section that showed up. About 95% of them were Japanese. The Chinese kids are all locked up and stuffed away; with parents fearing another outbreak of some mystery disease. They could be right I suppose. Today the HK gov announced a local scientist had discovered that the flu strains that killed 3 children were not any new type of virus. I stress the local part. With the Beijing Olympics only a few months away, how much money do you think they would throw at Hong Kong to keep a new virus hush hush until after the games. If this seems absurd, look at how much money they have already spent. 300 people died during SARS in Hong Kong. Guess how many people Beijing executes every month? Do you think they would give a damn if a few thousand people died from a new flu? Doubt it.

Anyway, not to be too melodramatic - here's something funny from school today.

We asked a student why she was in class today and not at home with her mom. Her answer,

"Mommy has to play tennis."

Maybe she's warming up for the Olympics?

13 March 2008

Conflusion

Late last night the EDB (Education Board of HK) decided it was going to 'close' all kindergartens and primary schools in Hong Kong until after the Easter Holiday. The decision means that all regular classes are cancelled, but the schools will remain open as usual to provide care for children that NEED it. This is the point nobody is seeming to get. The school closures are meant as a method to prevent the spread of mysterious magical flu viruses. Yet some parents still seem to think they can bring their kids to school despite being house wives or having a full time nanny.

The notice we sent out today specifically states that children may only come to school if there is no one to take care of them at home. Seeings how 95% of our enrollment have either stay-at-home moms or nannys, the school should be empty tomorrow. Should be. I had one parent ask if their child could still come to school and play as there was going to be teachers. I had to repeat about 3 times that coming to school was not really an approved option, as the whole point of closing the schools was to eliminate chances of getting the flu. The mother was also a full-time stay at homer. I'm starting to think some parents want their kids to get sick. You would think 3 children dieing would scare away parents from sending the kids into school. For the most part it has, but about 40% of students still came to school today. I'm expecting tomorrow to be about %10.

I have also read a few comments online about how the government is causing parents undesired stress by forcing them to look after their children. In Hong Kong this makes total sense, most parents haven't got a clue how to parent. It's also pretty evident they would rather go shopping all day than stay at home with their child.

Is a new Louis Vuitton bag more important than keeping a child healthy?

12 March 2008

SARS II - Official Press Release

"
Education Bureau announcement on school closure
*************************************************

In order to prevent the spread of influenza in school campus, the Education Bureau announced that all kindergartens, kindergartens cum child care centres, primary schools and special schools will begin the Easter holiday starting from March 13 up to 28.

During the non-prearranged period of school holiday, these school campus will remain open. Students could go to school as usual, if necessary.
*************************************************
"

"Could" go to school?

I absolutely agree with the first statement, but what the hell are they thinking in the second sentence. What exactly does this mean? Are kids still allowed to go to classes? Who decides if it is necessary? What does necessary entail? As long as they're not dead children are fit for classes? Until they drop dead it's OK to show up in class and infect everyone else? Good call morons...

WHMIS Would love this city!

I have made fun of people being constantly sick in this city before, but this is ridiculous. Hong Kong has just moved up from being a petri-dish full of coughing and sneezing zombies to a full blown quarantine-ready state of sickness. This movie has a title:

SARS II

I like how if you look at it quickly it looks like Star Wars.

Seriously though, Hong Kong is entering flu season, but it's not all fun and games. 3 children have already died from what the government is calling "mysterious flu-like symptoms." Hmmm, I've heard that before....SARS! That's exactly how they describe it in every single program, poster, ad etc. etc. etc. documenting the events of 2003. I guess they could also call the movie, 4 Years Later. Not to make light of people dieing, this really did happen, I'm not joking about that point. All 3 kids were under the age of 7 and thankfully none of them were from my school.

Luckily my workplace prides itself on having only slightly sickly kids walking around. Most of their teeth are not black, and they all generally know how to wash their hands and not eat their own boogers. Based on my jobs last year, this is only the case in about 5% of HK kindergartens. We have been instructed by the Gov. to start a three month program where we make the parents take their kids temperatures every day for 3 month...sounds like SARS. Also we have a nice fresh full supply of face masks for everyone, one size fits all...sounds like SARS.

Personally my throat is only half swollen shut at the moment. The 50% of it that allows air to still pass through seems to feel alright. My head only feels like 1/4 of the brick it did yesterday, and my joints are slowly recovering. Whether this is due to the post rugby match drinking or 'mysterious flu-like symptoms' is tbd. Maybe I should submit myself to government health officials prodding.

...Sounds like SARS...

02 March 2008

Sai Wan Beach- Sai Kung Country Park


A few weeks ago I hiked to this beach in the Sai Kung East Country park. The area is known for being one of the most natural and clean areas in Hong Kong. The water on the beach is actually clear! The day I went was slightly hazy, but you could tell the air was much cleaner than somewhere closer to HK Island. It took quite awhile to hike into this particular beach, but there is also a road that I will know to take a taxi next time. Also close to this beach is the Tai Long Wan stretch of beaches. I didn't make it there this time, but I hope to go back soon. It is supposed to be the nicest beach in Hong Kong and least crowded. It takes about 1-2 hours to hike into depending on how you go. I don't recommend climbing over the hills to get there, it takes a good 3 hours as I found out.

01 March 2008

Peace of Mind

Usually I complain about banks at every opportunity I am given. Today I actually have something nice to say about HSBC.

The second I transfer money out of my account to pay for rent I get a text message on my mobile confirming I actually just sent the money.

That's cool.

15 February 2008

Valentine's Day Cash Cow

I realize that buying flowers on Valentine's Day is going to be more expensive than on any other day of the year, but this is rediculous!

Roses being the flower of choice, obviously they were going to be pricey. But paying $70HKD per rose is beyond stupid. Even in Canada a dozen roses doesn't cost you over $100CDN.

Needless to say I didn't buy 12. Sorry Mai!

09 February 2008

Chinese New Year "Flower" Market

Victoria Park has a massive market set up every Chinese New Year that consists of everything from tangerine trees to inflatable condom cushions. I still don't see the connection.

This year we decided to go on the weekend, again. A bad decision, again. It wasn't as busy as last time we went, it was MORE busy. The huge crowd made it virtually impossible to see anything the vendors were trying to sell. I think I saw a couple flowers wedged in somewhere.

The only thing I could really get a glimpse of were all the various types of balloons floating around. This year lacked inflatable rats, I was dissapointed. Last year's Pig creations were much more entertaining.

07 February 2008

Santa was taken.

We have some weird names at my kindergarten, but most I have heard before in Hong Kong. There is a new student in the Nursery section getting lots of attention.

His name is Elf.

Indoor Heater

This just in from the Hong Kong Observatory,

"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."

Damnit!

06 February 2008

Excuse me sir, I'm going to have to pop your kid's balloon.

For the Lunar Chinese New Year there are a few flower markets around town. The one in Victoria Park indeed has many flowers, but 80% of what you can buy at this market are inflatable objects. Most of the plastic fun comes in the form of balloonidge.

Today on the MTR coming home I heard the following,

"Please do not bring metal balloons into the train stations, thank you."

If everyone listened to this, the market would lose almost all it's business and the economy would collapse! Oh wait it's already doing that...

It would be fun to watch MTR staff try and enforce the rule though.

Adventures in Mold

I really really miss one thing about living in Calgary. NO mold whatsoever! No bugs, no allergies, no mess at all. When you live in the cleanest city on Earth for 5 years and then come to Hong Kong, it's a bit of a shock. I thought I had avoided the dirtier side of HK quite well the past year.5

I was wrong...

We flip the mattress about every 2-4 weeks depending on if I remember or not. As advised by the manufacturer IKEASS you really only need to do this every 2-3 months. Boy I'm glad I didn't wait that long. It had only been about 3-4 weeks since the last flip, but in that time a nice patch of mold had decided to take up residence underneath the matress. "Ewwwwwww!" = Mai's exact words.

At first I had no clue as to how this happened. I flip it regularly, it's not dirty, it was clean when I last flipped it, we don't sweat THAT much, and I have a mattress pad as well. Also this just happens to be the dry time of the year. It's been raining a little but not that much. It is way more humid in the summer. Still the bottom of the mattress was damp and moldy. Hoooooray!

I moved it to the living room to let it dry out. Once dry I thought I could unzip the mattress and clean the cover. The zipper was completely jammed and the pull thing was broken off. Weird, I have never even looked at it. I thought, "Woohoo! Manufacturing defect, I can return it! Yay no more mold! Lucky me!."

WRONG!

I went to IKEA today to claim that the mattress was faulty due to the broken zipper (not my problem it also happened to be moldy) and therefore I could not clean it so the mattress would be wrecked through no fault of my own. NO I didn't tell them it had mold on it. So the 12 year old working at IKEASS proceeded to call his manager - this took 10 minutes - to ask if he could give me a new mattress with a working zipper. According to them, zippers are not part of the mattress therefore not covered under the mattress 25 year warranty. "How the heck am I supposed to clean it!" was my thought. What I said was the zipper is part of the mattress, the cover and foam are sold as one unit, why isn't it covered?

I got no answer.

They told me to take a picture of the damage and send it to the global IKEASS inquiry email. So in maybe 100 years they'll get to my email and reply, sorry, we can't open jpeg images over 1KB, please send again. Then another 100 years will pass and I'll be told that I'm already dead so I can't claim the warranty. Woooooo!

So now I'm stuck with a mattress that I cannot clean unless I break the zipper. Ok I already broke the zipper, so I can clean it, sort of.

I tried cleaning the cover with the shower by blasting hot water and detergent on it. This sort of worked but the stains from the mold are still there. I'm hoping that I used enough disinfectant to kill the patch of mold that was there. The actual foam inside seems to be perfectly fine, so if the mold gets worse I will have to ask IKEASS for a new cover. For now the stained one hangs drying.

After all of this I'm still angry about why the bed was moldy in the first place. The mold only shows up in the portions of the bed where the most weight is applied. I did some googling and discovered that our "convienently" designed bed was really just another word for "floor" and by being totally flat with no air to go under the mattress, we were doomed from the start. Awesome... So because of 3 small shelves and an empty storage area we have a bed that grows mold no matter what we do.

The only solution is to turn the mattress every 1-2 days so it can dry totally from any moisture created by our weight causing a moisture barrier when it's cold and damp outside. Awesome...

I hate moisture barriers...

Advice: Don't buy beds from IKEASS, don't buy a bed without a frame, and don't put a mattress on a flat surface.

31 January 2008

It's Effoooing Cold!

The locals pronounce the letter 'F' as 'effoo.' Does the title make sense now?

Last night we walked down to the grocery store and I could actually see my breath! It was crystalizing right before my eyes. Children are wearing tuques and mittens, and some Chinese kids at the school are wearing up to six layers. Most of the Japanese kids are still wearing shorts. The one Canadian kid is walking around in his underwear it's so hot.

Despite what the kids may or may not think, it's freeeeeeeeezing! My wimpy little heater cannot keep up. Our laundry is practically freezing solid on the line, and it takes two days to dry compared to the usual one. Washing your hands is like rinsing with ice water, which is actually beneficial at this time as my hand is still sore from rugby - the ice helps the pain.

Next week is the beginning of Chinese New Year. The year of the rat should be funny when all the gross little creatures come out and go belly up by freezing to death on the street. It's somewhat hard to tell if it is the year of the rat, the mouse, or the year of Mickey Mouse. I'm sure Disney is playing it up to rake in some extra cash. Speaking of Disney, one of my kids skipped class to go to the theme park today, and they just happened to be greeted with the coldest day of the year.

That'll teach her.

Cool Runnings 2

Hong Kong has been chosen as the host city to film the second film based on the highly successful Cool Runnings, originally filmed in Calgary.

Local legislators and officials have chosen the Peak as the primary spot to stage the bobsled run, with the steep decline providing a gravity defying drop to the finish.

26 January 2008

Check, Check, Check, Triple Double Check

This year my rugby team is going to Bangkok for the Bangkok 10s tournament in February, right after Chinese New Year. I have been given the task of designing our jerseys and our social polos and t-shirts.

To start I was happy to do it, after all I usually complain about the teams jerseys for lack of any sort of design at all. So I did up the drafts and sent them onto the company producing them. I wasn't directly talking to them as the tour management from my team as supposed to do all that, but things got out of hand quickly and stupidly.

We've had to check and change so many minute stupid little details that don't matter all because no one in Hong Kong has any common sense. It seems the factory's designer also doesn't know what a .pdf file is or how to view it. He's most likely getting paid a 1/4 of what I do if not less, so I guess I can't complain, but seriously!

I think I've managed to iron out all the details, things like we're not going to Pattya in 2006, and Thai numerals are a really hard font to recognize.

So hopefully the finished product will have at least 3 out of 4 colours I asked for, and the year will say 2008 and we will still be going to Bangkok.

But this is Hong Kong, I shouldn't hope...

24 January 2008

'Tis the Season

Is Christmas over?

It's kind of hard to tell around here. They switch right from all the Westernized Christmas decorations right into the Chinese New Year stuff. It somewhat looks the same, with a lot more red and yellow included.

Also coming up is my 2nd two week PAID holiday within a month.

Next up Easter ( 7 days only holiday)

Next Up Summer (PAID holidays)

Do I ever work? Sometimes...

Eating Healthy is not Healthy for My Wallet.

Eating healthy isn't exaclty hard in Hong Kong. It's just really not that cheap.

Sure there are numerous "fast food" joints that serve wraps, salads etc., but it isn't nearly as cost effective as anywhere else. For an average sized wrap it will cost just as much or more than it will in Canada (before GST that is).

Grocery shopping is a whole other matter. Yesterday I went in to the store with a goal not to buy anything in a can, box, or plastic container. I almost succeeded, but it's virtually impossible. What's also impossible it seems is to find fresh fruit and vegetables without selling my kidneys first. The small oranges were mouldy, and the lettuce is always an orange green tint. Buying packaged salads is a smarter way to go, but they cost about 5 times as much.

Getting fresh meat is really easy here, but sometimes I don't really want to know where it comes from. You can get really nice looing steaks from Japan for about $1000 if you want. I don't mind Chinese Chicken, but I will NOT eat Chinese beef. Anything from Australia or the US or even Canada will run at least double the price. I don't mind paying extra because I know it's imported, but the local meat here just looks terrible. The things people eat here amaze me. Meat isn't exactly prepared the same way as it is back home that's for sure.

Other things that hurt my dollar - fresh bread, milk, juice, yogurt, cheese, strawberries (wholy crap are they expensive here) blueberries, grapes, fish from outside HK waters, decent pasta, Japanese rice, sushi.

So in my quest to eat relatively healthy, I ended up spending 3 times what I would have if I had bought locally 'grown' food.

It might have cost 3 times as much, but at least I won't wake up with a cancerous third eye.

18 January 2008

Banner Changes

I have now finished changing the banners of both my photoblog and 'Lost in Hong Kong.' There are many new images and more variety this time. To see a different banner simply visit another section of the blog or just refresh in your browser. Can you name all 40?

Bi-Weekly Update

This just in - I'm lazy!

Not having my own computer at work is really taking it's tole on my broadband social life. I'm always on the computer at home in the evenings, but it's not as fun to blog when you're not getting paid for it.

Hong Kong is currently stuck in another cold-snap, so illegitimate warnings about the harbour freezing and skating rinks forming are starting to surface. Rumour has it they're going to have an outdoor NHL game here next year.

Rugby News - We lost our oppening match of the season, to Valley. The score was only 26-14, but we played like stuffed turkeys and never really got rolling. This week's clash promises to be much more intense. We have an army of 24 put together for our run-in with Football Club tomorrow. Let me fill you in on how much we like Football Club. Our last pre-game chant >

"WHO HATES FOOTBALL CLUB?" OI!"

or quite elegantly during the half "FECK EM!"

We really loathe Football Club. Everyone does. They're a bunch of white towel tossing pomps with too much Jockey Club grass stuffed up their behinds. This game is not so much about winning, as it is shattering their ego and making them shrivle and tremble on their home turf. Referees tend to bow to the pressure of the rich bastards, so we'll be up against it.

Also new this week - Tai Po train museum is still really really boring. We took the K2 classes there today for 2 hours of train filled fun! It was cold and cloudy, and there were creepy old people lurking around. Fun!