Ben in Hong Kong©

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you like food??

I made a reasonably stupid mistake at work today involving the new human resources guy in the office. My mistake involved giving him the task of going through every university website we have on file and posting adverts to work in Hong Kong.

My mistake was that he is Chinese and I am English. I asked him to do something in English, but did not double check he understood. So what happened was that he then sent out ten emails to university career services, instead of posting adverts on their webpages. These emails were outdated and contained the wrong information. It was no huge deal, but a classic example of the communication difficulties that can occur out here.

This general subject was raised at dinner this evening. With Korean, American, Chinese and British people round the table, it was bound to get amusing.

One story that Laura told involved a Greek member of our gang called George. He was at a party with Laura and she introduced him to a friend of hers. During the introduction she mentioned to the friend that George was Greek. This resulted in the friend assuming that because George was Greek, he could not understand her. She looked at him and started shouting "HELLO GEORGE, NICE TO MEET YOU, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FOOD, DO YOU LIKE FOOD? (hand gestures of eating took place at this point) WHAT FOOD DO YOU LIKE???"

After this George quickly whispered to Laura in perfect English, "why is she speaking to me like i'm a retard"?

I think that amusing mistakes and stories involving language must happen every day in a place like Hong Kong. I bet that the really serious mistakes never get reported though!


ps. Hello George, I know you read this every day, do some work!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sleeping on the beach

The company organizes one or two activities a month which normally are free of charge. This month we all decided to go camping on an island!

It was my first time camping in Hong Kong, but quite a few of my friends have been to the island before. In total there were 40 of us who went which was nice. I arrived a little later than most of the gang and by then the BBQ was in full swing, as was the beer. It was night time so I had no good idea what the campsite looked like.
I did find some cool new functions on my editing software though, that turns pictures into weird looking cartoons.

There was quite a bit of night swimming...and if reports are to be believed, skinnydipping.
I went to the toilet and found myself face to face with some type of horned cow.

After a great nights sleep I woke up at silly o'clock in the morning to the sounds of waves smashing. (waves after drink smash, they do not 'lap' or 'gently roll'). What was fantastic was that we were right on the beach, and the air was really fresh. So I went for a walk.

However, two steps from my tent I came across two lumps sleeping on the beach. This is what I can only assume was the result of a good idea at the time. Concerned that the lumps may be dead, I gave them a little kick. I rationalized the kick with the decision that dead employees are never good on a Sunday.
And they were alive.

The beach was stunning and practically deserted.

There was a beachside cafe which was really really good for breakfast (although I got sunburnt a bit where I was sitting)

Then I started playing with the editing software again.
It was a great way to spend a wekeend, somethng tells me i'm going to be visiting these little tents again sometime soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Left and Right

On the left: You can see the entrace to the hotel my parents will be staying in next month

On the right: You can see the entrance to the "Express Club"

On the left: You pay by the day

On the right: You pay by the hour

On the left: They give you complimentary soaps

On the right: I doubt any service is complimentary

On the left: They have nice people to greet you at the door

On the right: They have men waiting to beat you should you call a girl a ...

Looks set to be an interesting family visit!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Space Panda

Hong Kong usually does Christmas quite nicely. There are no adverts starting in September or really anything 'in your face' about Christmas preparations over here.

Well I thought that untill I discovered this huge advert/entrace below.

It's Christmas with a 'Space Theme' and also somehow manages to get Pandas into the deal as well.

It is a blinding development, but hopefully not catching.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hong Kong by night

I'm working on a little project which if it works out should be quite cool. Part of the project means I need more pictures of Hong Kong at night so I have been doing lots of walking lately!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Office Life

Me at the office

The "Perfect Roasted Goose Seafood Restaurant" A popular place for lunch with a bizzare name.
Pretending to look very busy on a break in the garden
The local pet cat with three legs. It has a Chinese name, but I call it Tripod.
This is Ronald, he does the accounts stuff. It is his last day tomorrow which is a bit of a shame. I know he will appreciate this picture of rubbish bin and cake consumption.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Canadian Concern

This blog has a rather neat tool which allows me to track how people come across it. For example, if someone has a link to my blog, I can find that link. All rather big brotherish.

Alarmingly, I can also tell that 5 different computers in Canada have been used to search for my full name and the words 'Hong Kong' using the google search engine. I am often interested to know who the people are who read this little blog, but if you are from Canada, and have been searching for me, identify yourself!! (Please).

I Think it is most likely a keen future interviewee doing their reasearch...still it is a little bit scary.


White Boy

Amazed to look at the small print of my 'foamy shower body wash' to discover I have been cleansing myself with a product that contains 'skin whitening formula'.

Well done me.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Batman Part 2

So after I walked through the Batman set by mistake on my way back from the shops earlier I decided that I should venture back with my camera. The film crew was still in the same place but this time they were working on a scene involving a man walking into the Dim Sum place. I recognized the actor but can't place his name at the moment. It is really annoying me.

Also they were stopping the crowd walking past. Asking that when they start shooting the crowd walk past but not look at the shooting taking place. I walked past twice, so who knows I may be in the film! I doubt it though, they shot the same scene so many times.

ps, someone has to know who the actor is, it is annoying me soooo much!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Film sets on the streets of Hong Kong are pretty normal to see considering the Hong Kong film industry can sometime produce a film a week.

But on my way to buy some lunch up Johnston Road I bumped into a film set of a different sort. The film set of the new Batman movie!!!

Hong Kong is buzzing with the film crew coming to Hong Kong. Problem is that there are no stars here, they are just filming establishing shots and small scenes. Still it was pretty cool to see them filming just round the corner fom where we used to live. They were filming inside and outside an old Dim Sum place that has been around for decades. One woman actress was pretending to be a street seller.

I did not have my camera with me. But I could just make out the set from my window, so here is a rather blurry picture!


Walk to the dark side

The Dark Side is otherwise known as Kowloon. Some friends and I decided to go on a bit of a tourist trip, so I took my camera (as usual)


Thursday, November 8, 2007

The little things...

I was walking up my road earlier in the week towards home and spotted some policemen walking towards me. I don't know why this crossed my mind, but I frequently witness police stopping Asian men and women in random checks, yet this never seems to occur with white folk.

So I thought to myself what it might take for me to get stopped by the police? Options that sprang to mind at that precise moment involved kicking a small dog to my right into the path of an oncoming tram, then perhaps stripping naked and running to my local supermarket. That should get me stopped, I pondered. Truth is though, on that day (Monday) I really did believe that despite dead dogs and nudity, the police would still think twice about stopping a white guy.

Fear not though, this is not an essay on race.

My assumptions were proved wrong on Tuesday when I was told about how recently a white western male was stopped and fined for using a pedestrain crossing whilst a red light was showing. I then heard a similar story taking place in the financial district involving a white western female. I then cast my mind back to a girl I know called Rachel, who was stopped because she had an Ikea bag which police thought she had stolen. So police are not ignoring white folk, they are just ignoring me.

If I was stopped by gun wearing baton weilding police officer my first sarcastic comment might be 'don't you have any real police work to do?' The thing is though, I don't think they do in the typical English sense of the word. Take a look at this news article by clicking (here.)
It is about a police swoop on a famous clothing designers for creating T-Shirts that have a vague reference to Triad gangs. They arrested numerous people and hauled them away, needless to say that the T-Shirts are being removed from circulation.

My main realization is this. I know I should be outraged that police can stop me without cause on the streets. (They are allowed to perform 'random' stop and search by law). I also know I should be shocked at the lack of freedom of speech the police provide to T-Shirt designers.
However, i'm not in the slightest bit shocked or outraged. Police are everywhere on the streets of Hong Kong which is why I can walk past a drug addict clinic at night and not be conerned for my safety. Besides, this is a society that instructs me on a daily basis through announcements how 'escalator safety is easy to learn, and easy to use'.
So what more would you expect?


Monday, November 5, 2007

Email forward

So mostly I delete email forwards as soon as I get them. Mainly because they probably contain some virus or just produce another way of wasting my time at work. Anyway, one I recieved today was called "You know you have lived in Hong Kong too long when..." So I had to see how many points applied to me.

This list was clearly created by someone who earns more money than me. However, the following things jumped out as ringing true.

1. You have paid enough rent to buy a moderate-sized North American or European town.
10. You developed an acquired taste for mooncakes.
16. Your building's security guard is 4 times older than the building itself.
20. 165 decibels is a normal noise level for lunchtime conversation.
23. You believe that pressing the lift button 63 times will make it move faster.
25. You know it is useless to protest when the lady at the supermarket check-out wraps one toothbrush in 6 plastic bags
26. You will never ever EVER buy Miracle Foot Repair.
27. You learnt to recognise Andy Lau, Leon Lai, Aaron Kwok and Jacky Cheung.
29. Pink bathroom tiles can make any building or public garden beautiful
30. Your colleagues eat sun-dried cuttlefish coated in sugar and you don't bat an eyelid
41. Drilling on the walls in the wee small hours in the morning is considered acceptable behaviour
46. You compiled a 3-page list of weird English first names that Chinese people of your acquaintance have chosen for themselves.
49. You are convinced that the only thing that moves more slowly than continental drift is a Causeway Bay crowd on a Saturday afternoon.
50. You are not surprised to see 85-year old ladies pushing tons of garbage up the streets of the financial district
51. You bulldoze your way into lifts and MTR trains before other passengers have a chance to alight
55. You use the word "Ayyiieeaaahh" every few sentences to convey surprise, pleasure, pain or anger


Last weekend in pictures

Lamma on Saturday for lunch and a relax

And on Sunday I organized a trip to Disney!!!

Rather impressed that everyone who went to Disney with me thought it was better than Ocean Park :)
All in all an action packed weekend!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

Canadians Everywhere

Today I took a trip to the Canadian consulate, and got a bit drunk.

This came about because I was 'asked' in a manner that was clearly more 'told', to represent the organization at an event held by the consulate. This event was for Canadians in the education sector of Hong Kong to meet other Canadians. It was also full of all the big wigs of the education system in Hong Kong, so my job was to network.

My first problem was that I was not Canadian. Every time I opened my mouth I had to explain that I was in the consulate because our organization recruits Canadians. A solution was offered to this problem by a very drunk teacher who grabbed me and began making me copy her accent to try to fit in. Whilst she was only trying to help, it nicely rolled into my second problem, the Canadians were drunk.

After I was asked to sit on the lap of a rotund elderly red cheeked lady Canadian teacher I realized that this was not what I expected. What did I expect? Well I think on some level I was expecting the Ferrero Roche advert on TV, the one at the ambassadors party. In that advert there are no elderly ladies asking young men to sit on their laps. Yet it was quite a swish event, there were smartly dressed men walking around offering fantastic Canadian wine, beer, and food. It was just that unlike the Ferrero Roche advert the room was full of Canadians.

So I decided that if I can't beat them, I was going to join them. I picked out the most important people in the room and set to work. I ended up speaking to the head interviewer and general overlord of the Primary Education government scheme, which was interesting. The real result came when I made the first steps to have the organization advertised through the Consulate itself. That should make a serious difference.

So once that got done, it was time to follow the Canadian example. Which is how I got a bit drunk at the consulate.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Home by sea

I went home by sea on Halloween via the Star Ferry and took some pictures. The skyline never gets boring.