Ben in Hong Kong©

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fetch the Ark!!!

It is Friday morning as I write this and the rain is so loud you have to raise your voice just to be heard in the office with doors and windows closed. Typhoon season is here and this is just the start of the water based chaos. I was reading in the news that the Hong Kong government is so certain that this summer will see more Typhoons than ever that they are adding extra emergency warning methods to mobile phone devices.

A girl who i work with stepped out of her flat yesterday in the rain and within three seconds got soaked by a bus that came past and created a wave of water. She was so shocked and wet that she just stood there in the street and started to laugh, then a Chinese woman who saw the event started to laugh with her. It would seem that slapstick comedy is universal.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Wan Chai Market by night

I was walking through Wan Chai Market last night on my way to the shops and had my camera with me. Wan Chai Market is usually a really busy place, but at night it shuts down totally and is as quiet as a graveyard. (A graveyard with lots of stray cats at least)

Staying with the graveyard theme, I walked past the death shop which at night time looks suitably scary.

Plus I spotted what might be my first ever sighting of English graffiti

And then in a streak of healthy goodness I purchased two apples and two oranges from this shop.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

King of Junks

It is now Sunday night after quite a busy weekend.

On Saturday I spent the whole day working at a school on Hong Kong Island. I was required to help out with an open day for prospective parents and their children, doing this on a Saturday is quite annoying, but to be honest I am totally broke and needed the extra money!

Each school subject had a different room location for the open day. I was representing English, which was tucked away on the second floor. Two of our regular staff who work at the school had turned the room into a place of English games, activities and loads of stuff like that.

However, parents had no idea where they could find us. If you looked outside into the playground you could spot loads of them on the first floor, but not many were coming upstairs. It was at this point that I asked one of the regular teachers of the school if they could think of a student helper who was good at English, loud, and did not get too embarrassed. Instantly the reply came "Cindy".

It turns out that Cindy wants to be a director and it became instantly clear that one day she will get there. Together our plan formed that she was to go downstairs and explain to all the parents in the sweltering heat that if they were to go upstairs to floor two their children could play games, have fun all whilst being in air conditioned surroundings (Cindy learnt the new words, 'selling point' during this plan).

So off she went! I peered over into the playground and she started really clearing it out, not only that, she even recruited another student to make the task easier! Sometimes parents shrugged her off, but then she would just move onto the next parents unfazed. Here is a picture of the future director of the world and her recruited sidekick.

I thought Saturday was hard work, but Sunday really took it out of me. There is a club in Hong Kong that is quite popular with my friends and occasionally brings the fun onto the South China sea by means of a Junk Boat. A Junk Boat trip is fairly standard summer entertainment in Hong Kong, you go out in a big boat, go waterboarding, sleep, eat, drink and swim.

I expected a standard Junk boat trip today whilst waiting on the dock with my friends in Sai Kung.

I heard the music first, then the applause, then quite possibly the largest junk boat I have ever seen loomed towards the pier. It had four decks/levels and was seven times as long as your normal junk boat. On the second level was a DJ that everyone seemed to know, a full open plan kitchen and two working water slides. On the second level there was a drinks storage area, on the first level there was a full size bar and in the basement there was a disco, and a side room that was a chill out area with cushions and beanbags. I can't really do this boat justice but it was heaven on sea, and 70 people were about to board.

Even better was that it was 350HKD all you can eat and all you can drink. You name it, a guy was cooking it or serving it. What a crazy crazy day. So much so that I drunk too much and forgot to take many pictures.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Final Thought

Three weeks ago I suggested to a friend that we attend a gym class, seeing as they come free with our membership. To be honest I am not the gym class type, the idea of jumping up and down next to sweaty people not really doing it for me.

But my gym has recently got something called 'flywheels'. These are a set of 25 exercise bikes in their own little studio. Groups of people go in, sit down and get shouted at by a Chinese instructor to work faster and faster. This appealed to me for two reasons. Firstly, getting ordered around by a Chinese person is nothing new to me. Secondly, it looked quite fun.

So in we went to our first class and it was initially surprisingly easy. Then the 'resistance', button was pointed out to us and I realized this is fact will be hell. It was. I was walking funny for two days afterwards.

Yet that has not stopped me going back again this evening for another hour, with one thing making it all worth it, the instructor.

The instructor is this tiny Chinese woman who in another life could well have been a Nazi prison guard. She shouts order after order and if you try to turn down the resistance on the bike she glares at you like the failure you are. Fantastic motivation.

The best bit though is the "final soundtrack". Last week we had the China Olympic theme song, so the instructor stopped her bike (we had to continue) and proceeded to gush about how proud she is for China and the olympics. This week was even better, someone has written a song for the people who have recently been involved in the China earthquake. So yet again the instructor provided a five minute speech about these unfortunate people and how we should do everything we can to help them.

This 'Final thought', is bizzare and yet brilliant at the same time. I want to keep going back just to find out what it will be every week! Her emotional moment never lasts long though. She came up to me this evening after the class and simply said "Your style needs improving, and you do not stand correctly, but you could get better with practice". Typical Chinese honesty.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday Madness

I always thought I was a reasonably calm person when it came to competitive activity.But within five minutes of starting the company "Kowloon" VS "The Island" Olympic games I had lost my voice from shouting.

We had an amazing location for the fun, a stretch of secluded beach on Lantau Island.

There were many chants throughout the days events. Points for originality goes to the Island Team who shouted at the Kowloon team "We have trams! We have trams, we have trams!", over and over again.

And although it was cloudy, and I was wearing factor 45, I still managed to get a little bit burnt. It was a scorching hot day.

So everyone took a well deserved dip in the sea at the end of the events.

And the result of the games you ask?

Well the Kowloon team won, but only by one game.

But we all had fun! Even though I am still sore from the tug'o'war.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another random moment

With the recent earthquake in China, Hong Kong is quite focused on charity. Today at lunch we were told that a school nearby would be hosting a fundraising and were invited to give donations.
So I walked into the school hall, got spotted by my boss and handed a bundle of cash.

In two seconds I went from dropping personal money into a box to presenting money for the company whilst being filmed by the local media. I was wearing jeans, trainers and T-Shirt. Not suitable evening news attire.

Luckily, five minutes later in walked another girl from the office who looked far smarter than myself. Within less time than it took for my boss to palm off the television appearance to me, I was back in my office safe and sound. Phew!


Hong Kong is wet today :(

Friday, May 16, 2008

Double Trouble

I found this picture I took from my window of two very suspicious looking people walking towards my flat.

My dad and brother don't exactly blend in with the crowd...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Local weirdo

Whenever I walk either to or from the office I quite often see students that the organization works with, every time I do, I always say hello or try to chat to them if I am not in a rush.

Sometimes the keen ones stick to me and don't stop chatting till I get to my destination, sometimes I just get a brief wave and sometimes I just get stared at.

It was not until recently that the reason for this dawned on me. There is more than one school in the area that wears the same uniforms, just with a different logo on the shirt pocket to represent the school.

So I have been walking around for the past 9 months saying hello to students who don't know me from any other random weirdo in the street... Which goes some way to explain the students who just stare at me when I say hi.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Taiwan in pictures

Well I survived and had a great time in Taipai!

Things did not start off that well though. Only three out of the six of us travelling got on the first plane as they overbooked it. Then the seventh person coming later to Taiwan was delayed! So when all seven of us all finally met at our hostel in Taiwan it was a miracle in itself. I am not going to go into details about the state of the hostel, but when I say that the dead thing in the picture on the left was hanging from our dorm light switch, it should help the images flow.

Once we unpacked our stuff in the hostel we all decided it was time to sample the nightlife that Taipai had to offer!!!

And did not get to bed till 7.30 am.

And if I said that everyone else looked just as rough as Nikki later that same morning. You will have some idea how we felt. (please no one who knows Nikki tell her I have put this picture on here, she will kill me!)

But the crazy night did not stop us from getting out and doing the tourist thing!!! (or going out till four am the next night either for that matter)

Then we get to the subject of the food in Taiwan. I am proud to say that I did sample the tasty local cuisine at the most local hole in the wall eatery we could find...

...but then there was this other restaurant we had heard about. Themed around toilets. I will let pictures tell the rest.

I went to the snake Market where I could partake in drinking some blood (i declined) and also eat some deep fried rodent (also declined)

We also went to the Fisherman market which was a bit like the Taipai version of Stanley which was provided a little bit of countryside to our visit.

And you could not visit Taipai without visiting "Taipai 101" which is the tallest building in the world, with a view to make you feel like you are in a plane.

Ok!!!! That's enough pictures! My fingers are going to fall off soon.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ho Baow = full

So far for my Birthday I have

  • Been taken out to a massive staff lunch with the whole office (yesterday)
  • Been given a Chinese birthday cake that actually tastes nice! (they normally taste of nothing)
  • Had a mini party outside in the office garden area with loads of ice lemon tea
  • Been taken out to lunch again (on my actual Birthday this time)

And now this evening I am going out for another Birthday dinner.

In Hong Kong the only way you can celebrate is with food!

bx (currently very 'ho baow')

PS: Thanks for the cards and presents family!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


It is my Birthday tomorrow and I am going to celebrate it by going to Taiwan for the long weekend!

A group of about 7 of us are going and I am really excited! Especially as it has been exactly a year since I last took a holiday in Asia. I have no clue what we are going to be doing in Taiwan, but considering the company I will be keeping (and what i have heard about Taiwan), drinking will play a large part of the events.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Stanley by night

Last night a gang of about 20+ people took over the colonial port of Stanley in Hong Kong and visited the historic Army quarters. Which has now be converted into a Spanish Tapas Restaurant. Probably not how the architects originally expected the building to be eventually used.

It was my first experience of Tapas and hopefully my last. The food was great, it was just a bit expensive for small plates of stuff that did not really amount to anything. I did eat lots of Oysters though, which were really tasty. And I say it was expensive, but after drinks and food it came to 25 quid, which is expensive by Hong Kong standards for a meal.

I ended up back home by about 2.30 am but have just heard that some people returned home at 11AM the next morning. That would make the night out 15 hours long, which is pretty impressive partying.
Today in Hong Kong the weather is scorching. The sun is so hot I went out to the shops and am sure I felt it cooking my skin on the short journey. Safe to say I will be staying mostly in air conditioned environments today.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Family Fun

Dad and Jack are on the plane and one the way home, so I thought I would put up some pictures up of their last day!

The last picture is a painting that I found in Stanley, it is of the intersection where I live and you can see my building in the background. Dad thought as it was a birthday present 1000 HKD was reasonable to pay considering it was an original...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Final Day

So Jack and Dad are leaving today :(

It has been really great to see them here and we have managed to pack lots into our days. I think my most enduring memory of the trip may be Dad and his multitude of comments/orders regarding Jack and his photography. For example.
"Jack you should really take a picture of that"
"Jack that would be a good picture"
"Jack get a picture of that"
"That over there would be a good picture jack"
"Take a picture of that Jack"
Dad could be forgiven if Jack was the only one with a camera, but Dad has one as well. I can only describe it as being like Dad was delegating photographs like he was some colonial photography lord and Jack was the slave.

Today we are going to breakfast at the flying pan and then heading to Ocean Park for some theme park fun!