Ben in Hong Kong©

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Political event

On my last day in Hong Kong, on the day I am leaving for a crazy 5 week recruitment trip, this is what I want.

I want calm, I want to be left alone, I want to organize and not feel stressed out.

What I do not want is to suddenly be given 5 minutes notice that I am going to a political lunch event, with photographers and reporters.

When I was told I had to go I looked down at myself and tried to explain to my boss that trainers and jeans were probably not smart enough for a political event. That excuse failed though and I was told in no uncertain terms that I was going.

Whilst running around the office looking for my jumper I found out that we were going to the lunch with students from a school we work with. These students in particular being from low income family backgrounds.

On the journey to the hotel I asked my boss why on earth students were going to the event, and what it had to do with politics. In her usual direct manner her reply was something like this.

"In the public eye this political party are seen as being naughty, if they buy food for poor students, then they will seem less naughty".

She also said the party was tied to trade unions that had connections to the school. However, you could tell by all the photographers trying to catch snaps of the childrens wide open eyes staring at giant chocolate fountains that this was, as she initially suggested, a total political media event.

I sat next to a ''senior photographer'' from a national newspaper. He gave me his business card, then I reached into my wallet to exchange and realized that I had packed all mine to go home! So instead, I presented him with a company pen, holding the pen at both sides and dipping my head slightly, as is the custom.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I walked into the steamy room and slightly dipped my head in shame. I have not visited her in some time and feel bad.

"I have a problem" I said.

"What's your problem"? She replied "You never come to see me anymore!"

"I know, I know, it's just that I have a problem that only you can fix", I explained whilst pointing to my bag.

"What's wrong?"

"Well, I am leaving for England tomorrow evening and last night decided to do my washing at home".

She seemed to understand where I was going with this and crossed her arms. I continued.

"Well I washed it all, but now I have left it hanging in my room for over 24 hours and it is so damp and cold outside that my clothes are still not dry!" I sniffed my shirt to display it's fresh, yet damp nature. "I need them dry to pack them and take them home by tomorrow!"

"So you want me to just dry your shirts, and not wash them?" She asked, laughing hard.

"Yes please".

Well I like to think that is how the conversation I just had went. My laundry lady can't speak English and I can't speak Cantonese. We tried our best though, and hand gestures and laughing normally gets the message across.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Video of the day

A couple of the gang who work in school made this brilliant video that I thought I would share. You need to have the sound on to fully appreciate it although some parts you can't really hear that well anyway.

Click here to be taken to it


Serious and Silly

My job can be both...



All in the space of one day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ho Dung

Hong Kong is Ho Dung! (cold) at the moment!

So I complain when it is too hot, and now I am complaining that it is too cold, but i'm British so that's what I do best.
Things at work have been slightly stress filled to say the least. I can't wait to get on the plane this Thursday night just to stop worrying that I may be forgetting something! I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family but not bothered too much about the trip itself. Last year I drove 3300 miles in under 3 weeks, which is hard work if you are not used to driving distances.

I have not really got anything else to report. I have been just getting ready for this 5 week trip to England and trying to surive the horrible cold Hong Kong weather week. I may have to make like the locals soon and purchase a big puffy eskimo jacket!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Unusual location

Forced to find a new location for a recruitment seminar at the last minute in central London, I was in despair at finding a suitable venue at such short notice, and within my price range.

That was until...I discovered...The London Canal Museum!!!

That's right people. I will be talking to people about working in Hong Kong whilst standing next to an old boat.

If nothing else, it is a weird job I have.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Absolut Mess

Friday night saw me celebrating a friends birthday and going to the Absolut Vodka promo party. I am now going to take you through the evening by investigating my stages of drunken photo skills.

Stage 1: Artisitic shots using mirror before leaving the flat.

Stage 2: Why would anyone want a photo taken from this angle... ?
stage 3: Eyes fully dilated and a firm belief that the more self taken pics of myself an friends the better
stage 4: unable to take a picture, at all, for the rest of the night.
And how could you get to this stage?
Well the evil models walking around with vodka bottles could have been the reason...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I would not say that I am on a hardcore diet, but I am trying to do at least four lots of exercise a week and watch what I eat.

I am nearly two weeks into the regime and already feeling more healthy.

However, twenty minutes ago it was decided the office could do with a treat. So three minutes ago, in stumbled a Chinese man with six bags of various heart attack inducing goodies.

So now, sitting about a meter from my desk is
  • 30 cartons of ice lemon tea
  • 30 cartons of chocolate soya milk
  • 2 tins of cookies
  • 5 bags of chocolate eclaires
  • 6 tubes of BBQ pringles
  • 3 packs of Cadbury boosts
  • 5 packs of almond chocolate sweets
  • 15 packs of Chocolate chip cookies

This is where I find myself being tested...

On a totally different subject, last night at dinner the conversation of house cleaners came about. I know a couple who currently have a lady come in and clean their apartment for 70 HKD dollars an hour ( about 4.5 quid). This woman is now going to be cleaning another friends flat, and apparently she is brilliant.

After asking around I have discovered that a cleaner in Hong Kong will basically be flexible enough to do whatever it is that you require of them. If you need laundry doing, ironing completed, dinner making, bathroom cleaning or anything along those lines then it can be arranged. This particular cleaner I am considering even waited three hours in line for my friend to get rugby tickets during working hours for him!
I think up till this point, I have been quite hesitant about the whole house cleaner thing, despite it being very common over here. When you weigh up the costs against the benefits though, I have decided that perhaps I should just stop delaying. Besides, it is going to be so nice to come home from a day at work to a shiny and sparkling flat.


I have also decided to drop in pictures from the archives that I have taken around Hong Kong but maybe not used in the blog because there was no context for them at the time. Basically I want to post pictures I have taken without having to introduce where I took them or what I was doing etc. Above is the first example. xxx


Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been getting emails and rest assured I am still alive!!!

This is the last week that I can really organise anything before my recruitment trip to England for the month of February. I also started training some of the other office people to do interviews and oversee the application process whilst I am gone. It was not untill I pulled up the instruction guide that explains how to handle and process applicants that I realized how much I have changed the procedures since I took over last year. So now I have to go through and create a new instruction guide, although I don't really want to.

Another strange thing this week was having the new interview trainees listen in to me interviewing applicants on the phone. Everything went smoothly, however last week I was interviewing a girl and swinging back on my chair, only to fall off and hit my head on the wall. Thankfully it did help lighten the mood of the interview.

This weekend I am attending a private promotional party hosted by Absolut Vodka. Part of the benefits of living in such a big little city is the opportunity to go to random bizzare events like this. I think they are calling it an "Absolut Disco" but to be honest it is just a big club with unlimited free Absolut Vodka and mixers for the entire evening. You may well ask 'whats the catch'? But there is none. It's just free expensive vodka for the entire evening. Although I suppose you could say one catch is the hangover you have the next day.

I leave you with a picture taken on a bored journey back home from work with some of the people I work with. We screwed up the timer on the camera and decided to act like idiots instead. I think the result looks quite funky.


Monday, January 14, 2008

On the back of the dragon

On Sunday a small group of unlikely people decided to walk from Shek O beach across many mountains to Chai Wan, on a trail known as the 'Dragons Back'.

With us was a trained trek instructor who also works in the office. He was very serious about his job.
At one stage I stopped to get a stone out of my shoe whilst the rest of the group went on ahead. Our instructor waited behind with me, I told him he did not have to wait and to go ahead. He then looked shocked and in a very lecturing tone explained 'Ben, I have to wait behind with the last of the group'.
Whilst I am thankful for his obedience to the trekker code of conduct, there were young children running around us at that stage without supervision, so I felt like a bit of a dick having a babysitter.

The weather was really misty and cool which actually was a good thing because the day before it was baking hot and not trek weather at all.

Waiting for instructions from our fearless leader.

Rosie, was it something she said?
The journey itself was really nice with spectacular views. Someone joked that it would be a good opportunity for us all to work on attaining enlightenment. However, Richard was a bit rude in conversation topics for most of the journey, so it turned out to be anything but!
It is Monday evening now and I am heading to bed. Nikki came tound to mine earlier and I cooked her a big healthy stir fry and we watched tv. I think i might be the only supplier of vegetables to her system!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Up on the roof

Whilst the parents were here, we went to the massive revolving restaurant in Wan Chai. So I thought I would show you the quiet and sleepy little village of Wan Chai from above. You need to click on the pictures to see them clearly.

This is the section of Wan Chai where I live, it borders Causeway Bay which starts 400 meters down the road from my flat (which is in colour below).
This is the view in total color, most of the buildings are residential in the forefront, and then towering office blocks behind that.
And below is a zoomed in version of my very funky corner building, which explains why my flat is oddly shaped.

I know that some people who know them might be interested which building Nikki, Laura and Rosie live in now they have moved. It is about 6 minutes walk away from my flat and you can see it in the picture below. Their block is the salmon and white coloured building in the bottom right hand area of the photo. They live opposite the Southorn Playground and have amazing views of all the football and basketball games. Not that they ever open their curtains to see it...

This weekend is very healthy indeed. This morning I went running across a mountain behind Wan Chai with some of the gang (which was amazing), and tomorrow I am going hiking across a stretch of mountain called 'The Dragons Back'. I'm not sure if I am starting at the head and walking down the back towards the dragons arse, or doing it the other way round. Either way we end at Shek O beach so I will be going on a much needed swim! it's bloody hot here this weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Eye Of The Tiger

My alarm clock on my mobile phone is a rather well known song taken from the 'Rocky' movie called 'Eye Of The Tiger'. If you are unfamiliar with the song or would like a refresh click here.

On some levels I am a little ashamed to disclose such a choice of alarm clock. If I don't though the rest of this story will not make much sense.

So my alarm usually goes off between 5.30 and 6AM on a weekday. I then hit snooze a few times and finally crawl out of bed at 6.30.

This morning was no different, I finally got out of bed and considered going to the gym. I say 'considered' because often I eventually consider a bath as a far better option. Today was no different.

I then got dressed quickly, packed my lunch, updated my I-Pod playlist, made sure I had keys, wallet and phone in my pockets then headed out of the door. The reason I needed to update my I-Pod is because I like listening to the podcasts from Radio 1 Online. In particular the Chris Moyles Show, which always makes me laugh.

So on my way to the MTR train system I stopped by a shop to purchase some orange juice. In the shop an old woman gestured and pointed towards me. I smiled and hoped she was crazy then left pretty quickly.

On the train itself I then had a man stand up and move to a different carriage 3 minutes after I sat next to him. Bewildered I looked around and noticed other people looking at me oddly. I did the natural thing and checked the buttons on my jeans, thankfully everything was in place. I decided that clearly this was their problem rather than mine. I turned my attention to the hilarity of Chris Moyles on my I-Pod, which got me further strange looks.

I finally got to work and began settling into my desk. I took my I-Pod out of my ears and to my surprise could still hear music. It was 'Eye Of The Tiger', coming really loudly from the front pocket of my jeans. This then made all the weird looks and seat vacating clear.

It seems I hit snooze instead of stop when I got out of bed, not realising I was travelling to work with the motivational theme tune blaring from my crotch region. Lesson has been learnt.


ps, parents, hope you got home safe and sound x

Monday, January 7, 2008

Still on holiday

Tomorrow is my last full day on holiday before I go back to work. Here are some pictures of things me and the parentals have got up to over the past couple of days.

We went to Lamma Island. Mum is feeling a little bit unwell, we spotted this sign

And realized that it offers the remedy to most of the issues.

We also went to Shek O village and beach.

We were having drinks at a new bar that has opened on Shek O beachfront. It was a pretty good spot. Halfway through our relaxing afternoon beverage we were offered entertainment when a sodding large parachute thing (slpt) lost control and crashed into a tree not more than 40 foot away from the bar. I don't know the technical name of an slpt, nor did I get a picture of the crash, minutes later though a second one landed with a little more grace (see above).

We rented deckchairs but then realised that none of us are naturally very good at laying in the sun and doing nothing. Dad was sleepy, which meant that regardless of sun he was going to stay put, so the mother and myself left him and went to look at the water boarding people (yet again probably not a technical name).

And by the time we got back, dad was still asleep.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Disney Overload

For the 3rd time in two months I went to Disneyland again! This time with the parents. Here are some pictures!

There was a big lizard wandering around a bush. If my brother was with us he would have tried to take it home.

By the end of the day I felt Ho Goi (tired) but it was really fun! I am a little put out though because Dad beat me at a shooting laser game, not once, but twice. Considering I have been on it a fair bit over the last few months I was pretty pissed off! Then again, he did grow up on a farm and he still keeps guns, so I think he had an advantage...


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


On the Avenue of Stars my parents lost me in the crowd. As you can see, they were understandably distraught at misplacing the favourite son.