Ben in Hong Kong©

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Becoming local and racist

This random post is in two parts:

Part 1: I am becoming a local because...
I am starting to rush everywhere. Chinese people make an art of looking busy. They rush to work, rush to the beach, and probably would rush to a slow walking convention.

Even if you are not busy in Hong Kong, you have to look like you have a pressing appointment to save a family from a burning house. It's just the way it is.

My shock came today when I realized I have become a rusher. I don't know when it happened, but even on weekends I have to rush from point A to point B and beware anyone who dares amble into my path. It's a habit that I don't need to maintain, I am compulsivley early for everything I ever need to do, so what is wrong with me?

I can only assume that I am becoming more local. Perhaps I should go to some sort of group therapy session before I leave Hong Kong to prepare me for England. But I expect I will be rushing around too much packing!

Part 2: I am becoming a racist because...

At the Halloween party I had drunk a little bit too much and bumped into a German girl who turns out to be friends with many of my friends but had never met me.

I said: Where are you from?
She said: Try and guess
I said: Sweden?
She said: No Germany!
I said: No way! You can't be German you look like you have a sense of humour.

I will try to repair that bit of damage on our next meeting.

I leave you with a picture that I took with the intention of it being used in the
company annual report next year. Upon consideration though, the look of confusion on the two girls in reaction to whatever my boss is saying may mean I will have to reconsider. My desk by the way is behind the self constructed 'Berlin Wall' type divide of folders behind them. You can just about see the British flag flying high on the noticeboard.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pants and stuff

Do you always find yourself needing undergarments?
Never know where you can go to get them?
Do you ever wish someone could shine bright neon light upon your knicker needs?

Well, Wan Chai has a new shopping solution.

Pants for everyone!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hong Kong Halloween

Well you start with this.

You then add three hosts and flat
Add some decorations

And you get one 'hell' of a party

I was "The mad butcher of Wan Chai"

And here are some other pictures!

Such a brilliant night!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Immigration Impossible

I think I have neglected to mention that some time ago I lost my Hong Kong I.D card.
I lost it about 2 months ago and was under the impression that it was not really a big deal to take my time getting it replaced.
That was until the week a while back when I visited Macau. In that week I went to the doctors, and had to pay extra because I had no proof I was a resident. I went to the library, but could not check my books out because of my I.D card loss. I went to Macau and had to line up 45 minutes longer than everyone else to get my passport stamped (with an I.D card you walk through border control with just your card and a machine that scans your fingerprints). Finally I was asked for identification in a club one night and did not have any. AARGHhhh!!!

So I made an appointment to get a new card made and visited the 7th floor of Immigration Tower. Also known as the 7th circle of hell. Apart from 2 hours seated near screaming children and gassy old ladies, the system is predictably rather efficient. My 1st problem came after I had my picture snapped, fingerprints scanned and forms scribbled. I was sent to pay and there was some huge problem with the computer, so I had to start the whole sodding process again.

As the picture suggests, the gassy old ladies and screaming children beat me out of the drab neon prison. ( I was told off by a cleaning lady for taking a picture of Immigration Towers)

Eventually it all go sorted out and I was going down the escalators trying to get out as quickly as I could. What I did not realize at the time was that a maintenance man was testing the escalators on the final level. In a nutshell I was trapped for a short period of time after my escalator going down suddenly changed to up. And stayed that way.

Thankfully I did eventually escape and was soon back to the colourful streets of Wan Chai.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All becomes clear

Yesterday in my Chinese lesson I discovered that to greet each other in Chinese you say:

"Ni hao ma?" (How are you)

But this way of greeting is a relativley new thing. In past centuries (and in some areas of China still) the standard way of greeting is to say:

"Ni chifan le meiyou?" (have you eaten)

That explains a great deal about Chinese people and their relationship with food. It also could explain why I have only eaten dinner in my flat about twice in the past 3 months.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I came across this picture today of one of our staff members.

He is the one on the right.


Monday, October 22, 2007

1 Year Notice and pictures

Today I gave one year notice that I shall be leaving the company. That is a bit extreme I know, but i am 100% certain about the decision. I also understand the need for my boss to start looking at the current employees and begin considering who will come into the office next year. With those people starting to think about their plans for next year too, I understand the need for the boss to know sooner rather than later.

In terms of office politics the decision to announce my leaving in around 365 days could blow up in my face. I may now be seen as an expiring vegetable in the office supermarket rather than a prime bit of steak. I had a feeling the question was coming though so had time to think about my answer. My decision was based on the fact that the company has endless useful contacts and will not hold too much of a grudge to my leaving. So is more useful to me if I am a vegetable, if that makes sense.

I still feel very ill. I am at work today wearing a mask so as not to spread my germs to others. I leave you with some random pictures of events over the past few weeks that I have neglected to put pictures up of.

The pictures are from two different days. One was a Junk Boat trip organized by a friend and the other was a day out in the New Territories kite flying and bike riding.


ps, comments you leave will take a while to come up at the moment as I am trying out a new system.


It is Monday afternoon and I am at home ill. I have been feeling rubbish for the past few days and have a massive red cold sore which I have now named Bob. I was at work this morning and my Chinese boss sent me home by lunch.

In Hong Kong sick days are really quite rare. It is not part of the workforce culture for sick days to be taken quite as liberally as they are in England. It is also hugely frowned upon, not just in my workplace but in many others that I have friends working in round Hong Kong.

So what i'm trying to say is that for my Chinese boss to send me home, i really must be looking crap. Shame i could not feel like this one week later because then I would not need make up for Halloween.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A photo a day

I found this website the other day. It is quite well known in Hong Kong to the point that I have heard students talk about it.

It runs on a pretty basic idea as the name suggests


Sunday, October 14, 2007

High rise tradition

If you are a regular reader of this inane little blog you will recall my mystery about the giant glass candle cases on the roof of the building opposite. Well yesterday I spotted a little old lady actually setting them up! I am now more convinced that they are connected somehow to Chinese religion but still investigating further.

On the 13th floor of a different building I spotted a little outside 'temple box'. These things are pretty common but it made me amused to see a little one so high up! Complete with an orange as an offering to the spirits.

And yes, I suppose that taking discreet shots of people and their homes from my window could well lead to a restraining order. Will try to ensure that this does not get out of control.

Friday, October 12, 2007

How to deal with your landlord

My landlord is rubbish.

After 2 months of asking him to sort out 2 small but annoying issues with the flat I was starting to despair. He would not return my calls, reply to my text messages or make contact through my property agent.

So I decided upon a new strategy.
It's 12 days into the month and I have still not paid him last months rent.

My strategy 'paid off' today and he phoned me to enquire as to where the rent was. We quickly came to an agreement that he was a below average landlord and should not expect me to be an above average tenant.

My problems have since been fixed and money has been paid to my dick of a landlord.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kitty Card

Only in Hong Kong does a bank use some stupid "Hello Kitty" cat cartoon as a promotional tool to attract customers to get credit cards.

More worrying is that they would not do it if it did not work...


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Halfway through the week and I am about ready to drop!

I can't believe how much my job has changed in the last few months. My average working day in recent weeks has seen me arriving stupidly early and leaving stupidly late. Hopefully once I get all the recruitment stuff sorted though that will change. I'm not complaining that much, I quite enjoy trying to work out how the hell to let zombie students know about this tiny organization that has put me in Hong Kong. I opened up ideas from the new graduates about how to attract students to apply. Interesting ideas so far have been printing messeges on beer matts and creating a company song. We will not be going with those, but other folks are spreading the word on campus radio stations and student newspapers so that's good.

Today I had to decide what to do about my MPF. If you are wondering what MPF means then so was I up till a week ago. Turns out that once you have worked for 13 months in an organization in Hong Kong you have to start a government enforced scheme called the Mandatory Pension Fund. It pretty much is exactly as it sounds, I get docked monthly 70 quid of my wages and the company puts in an equal amount as well. All pretty boring stuff till I got to choose different investment schemes! Basically there are multiple options that you can choose to invest your MPF in.

I chose to invest in Mainland China.

It's classed as 'High Risk' but I have done my reasearch and people who invested in the scheme a year ago have seen their MPF packages double in the year. I asked some banker friends of mine and they all are on similar schemes themselves. So now that I am investing in the place I have decided to take more interest in what's going on across the border.
And here is a random picture of some of the gang I took today.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Insane employee creations

This year we have recruited some particularly mad employees. Which is a good thing because you have to be a bit insane to do the job anyway.

One girl who I recruited from Swansea is a keen amature video creator. She sent me a link to view a video she made for Chatteris but at the same time left all her other work wide open for me to see. One video in particular made me cry with laughter, not sure if it because I know her or just because it's a crazy video but take a look at it by clicking (here)

You need to have the sound on to be able to appreciate it fully. She is the girl who is laying down in the grass and sitting up every now and again. Either way it is a good indication of the general undercurrent of madness that the people this year seem to have.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another weekend ends

Things I have done this weekend

1) Walked past a film set just round the corner from my flat
2) Went to the beach with friends.

The waves were oddly large. Some easily matching the waves I used to get in Cornwall as a kid.
We spent most of the day body surfing and having them propel us onto the beach. One wave in particular though was a bit too strong. It tossed me about a little before flipping me around underwater. As it pushed me further and further towards shallow water it flipped me round one last time. By that point though I had lost my swimming shorts round my ankles and it was too shallow to flip me whilst remaining totally underwater. The result was an unintentional final flip/handstand which exposed me quite significantly to the beach going public.
I was thankful that no one I knew spotted the revealing moment, but I spotted some giggling girls.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Do warm up

This is an actual government sponsored sign that I spotted today at the beach. Click on it to see it in large scale.

Tip one is the part that throws me the most.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pictures people have sent me

Here are a few pictures people have taken and sent to me over the last few weeks. Very excited about going to England in November! Also going to America and Canada during this year if all goes to plan so it's all very exciting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I am coming to England for recruitment for 1 week in November!!!!!!!!!

That is all.


Horse Scolding

Today was my first Mandarin lesson.

First off, it is so much easier than Cantonese! There are only 4 tones which is far easier than the 9 that the Cantonese language uses. Plus you can learn it using a phonetic system called Pinyin. The pronounciation is not natural, but once you learn it then basically you can sit down and memorise the vocabulary and speak it like you would French or German. Mainland China now uses this system for teaching Chinese in schools so it's not even a special method made for us outsiders.

For example:
xuesheng = Student (me!)
cesuo = Toilet (not me)

But then there is the matter of the tones.
Take a look at this sentance in Pinyin: ma ma ma ma?

This could translate as: Did mother scold the horse?

I can't indicate here, but above each 'ma' there is a symbol indicating the tone you should use when pronouncing each 'ma'. Get it wrong and you could start throwing accusations of horse scolding all over the place!!!


Monday, October 1, 2007

The things I have done

Last weekend was action packed full of fun events. Now it is Tuesday and the funnest event I have done so far is decide whether to have chicken or beef for lunch.

How the mighty fall.

I also went totally picture crazy for the entire weekend. My main reason for this is that I have just written the organizations annual report. This report is sent to the trustees and the governmnet (a total of about 10 bloody people) and I found it a real struggle coming up with pictures for the photo album section. This was mainly because all the pictures I have involve drunken looking folk, but next year it will be different!

But not that different as these first pictures of a friends engagement party demonstrate.

Bet you can't guess who in this picture is engaged...

We then went to an increasingly regular local bar/club called 'The Cavern' where they have a really good resident band. Jordan is the lead singer on the right with Nikki, his number 1 fan on the left.

I think the band is starting to despair of our organization though as there is rarely a second that goes by without one of us jumping on stage and dancing. I took the above picture of Rosie, who may not have been 100% aware that she was even in Hong Kong at this point.

and here are some random group shots.

So that is the end of the engagement party photos and now we move on to last nights fireworks boat trip!

The fireworks were pretty amazing but it was hard to take a good photo of them. This was the best that I could get.

When we first boarded the boat we thought that we had made a big mistake. The sea was stupidly rough and quite a few of us get easily seasick. Luckily though we spent most of the time in a calm protected bay which meant we could actually stand up, chat and take a group photo.

Although some of us got bored and decided to act out famous scenes from movies (can you guess the film???)

Boredom also led to this picture. Did we fall? did we survive? It's a bit of a cliffhanger...