Ben in Hong Kong©

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Twilight Zone Moment

I pick up the phone in my office and dial a future employee in America

The phone rings three times and is picked up by a man with an American accent.

"Hello"? He answers

I introduce myself and request to speak to the future employee if they are available

"Sure hold on, I will go find her", comes the reply.

The phone is put down and I hear the man shouting that there is someone on the phone

I wait 2 minutes.

I hear a TV in the background and a woman shout after a few minutes that there is someone on the phone. There is also a dog barking.

I wait 4 minutes.

No one comes onto the phone.

I hear the man who answered the phone talking with the woman by the TV. I hear more dogs barking.

8 minutes later I hang up the phone.


Then that afternoon I call England.

And a similar sounding man answers the phone.

"Hello" He answers.

I request to speak to the future employee

Then I hear the dog, then I hear the TV, then I hear the woman shout occasionally that there is someone on the phone. Then I hear the woman and man start to have a chat. Without anyone coming to the phone.

6 minutes later I hang up.


This has now happened six different times when calling six different numbers in the past two weeks. It is not affected by time zones, as I am calling America, England, Canada and even Japan. My phone call is somehow being switched to this timeless place where the dog is always barking and the TV is always on and people pretend to get someone to come to the phone and speak to me who do not live there.

I have made a few phone calls today and have not been put through to this magical land. But next time it happens I am going to demand to speak to the man who answers the phone and get some answers.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


On Friday afternoon the entire office took a trip to the beach! Not all that great though because we were still working, just visiting the summer camp that we are going to be spending some time in with the new employees when they arrive. What is nice is the location of the camp, it's built into a mountain overlooking a beach.

Saturday night I went to a friends leaving party. The theme of the party was 'Hippy' and I think it is safe to say that I followed my mothers age old rule of never doing such events in a halfhearted style.

I need to get hold of better pictures but it's safe to say that I got very drunk, had lots of fun, danced on a bar, caught someone who fell off a bar and fell asleep the wrong way round on my bed fully clothed.

That's all for now, i do have a weird 'Twilight Zone' style story to tell but I'm still trying to solve the mystery myself before I write about it. Consider it a story to look forward to :)


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Next Big Thing

My two friends Nikki and Laura are going travelling round Asia for 4 months starting next week. Keep track of their brilliantly designed (by me) blog by clicking here


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

12 Days

In 12 working days the new employees arrive in Hong Kong. Which means 11 hour days will start to become increasingly more frequent for me in the office.

On the subject of office life I am in a little bit of a tricky situation. The overall boss of the organization has got me working on a project which is relatively boring but very time consuming. This work has to be kept quiet from my direct boss because there would be issues if it was known that my time was being spent on anything other than my usual job specification. What it all comes down to is I should learn to say no every now and again and stop taking on more work than I can cope with... But then promotion and contracts are on the cards soon so things can't hurt.

I have managed to go running on the Wan Chai Gap three mornings so far this week. I have also started making frozen fruit smoothies with soy milk so I can grab breakfast quickly on the way to work. I mentioned both these new habits to a friend and he said that there are landslides on the mountain where I run and soy products have been found to cause mental instability in men. So apparently I am not being healthy at all.

No other news really as I have been pretty boring this past week. This weekend I have managed to get on the guest list for a club party that promises to be celebrity filled and full of free booze. The invite comes from the same person who got me into the Absolut Vodka party earlier in the year. So lets hope I don't fall over in the toilet this time and be forced to go home early!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Early Mornings

For the past 4 weeks I have been waking up between 5.30am and 6.00am and doing some sort of fitness activity Monday - Friday, only missing 2 days in total due to weather. This is not about weight loss but more as a way to deal with stress at work and it does make me feel better and calmer so that's quite good.

This morning at 5.30am I took a trip up to the Wan Chai Gap, which I have mentioned a little bit on this blog before. The Wan Chai Gap is a running path cut into the mountain above Hong Kong that offers amazing views of the skyline whilst being surrounded by jungle and the occasional waterfall.

It's nice to go up there and get some fresh air before work but there are also quite a few Chinese mini temples near the track too. So on a few occasions you can be running in the morning and suddenly find yourself smothered in incense smoke from an old lady holding 50 or more burning joss sticks and praying. This happened twice to me today and and it really makes your eyes sting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Things going through my mind today are as follows

---My Future and My Options---
Option 1: Leave the organization slightly under one year from now
Option 2: Leave Hong Kong slightly under one year from now (plus the above)
Option 3: Stay in Hong Kong after current contract ends but find different job
Option 4: Sign two year contract with current organization and....
a) Save money in year one
b) Apply to Universities in Hong Kong to begin a part time masters degree or higher qualification in year 2

Option 5: Throw it all in and backpack round Australia then find a serious job there eventually
Option 6: Join the circus

Why is the building that uses the most electricity in Hong Kong the Hong Kong electric building?
Should I get rid of my cleaner because I don't think she is doing 2 hours worth of cleaning a week?
If I continue to accept free food from my old Chinese neighbours should I cook them something in return? Or are they just giving me leftovers?


Monday, July 14, 2008

Fishing and poo

I have been neglecting the blog recently and I am not totally sure why. My lack of blog writing has developed at the same time that I have stopped checking my emails, completing my tax forms, paying my electricity bills, fixing my fridge and signing my new tenancy agreement. I think this is all related somehow.

But except for the broken fridge I have now done all the above tasks, and then this afternoon I fell in poo. So I now have something to write about.

After a little bit of negotiation with the landlord I decided last weekend to stay in my current flat for another year. I had to sign my new tenancy agreement this afternoon and whilst doing so I also had to pay half the stamp duty for the flat (about 200 HKD).

This is how I found myself removing my bank card from my wallet whilst crossing the road towards the ATM machine. Then it slipped out of my hand, then I caught it, then I lost it, then I caught it. Then...

It fell down the drain.

I took the picture with my phone mainly because I could not believe it actually happened, but I also had a plan. I ran upstairs, got an old padlock, some broken headphone cable and then went to the shop to buy some superglue. I then fashioned a fishing rod using the padlock, cable and glue. I crouched over the drain and started to fish, but the cable was not big enough so I had to go back upstairs to get string.

When I resumed fishing I was amongst rush hour commuters on my knees in the street. I got a few strange looks but mostly people just swarmed round me because I was crouched in the middle of a pedestrian crossing and they wanted to get home. I nearly got the bank card at one stage when my phone started ringing. I thought it was the landlord so I answered it, but it was randomly someone I met in New York at a party where I was introduced to laughing Yoga. I don't recall who this person is, or how they got my number, but they are in Hong Kong and now invited to come drinking this weekend, which could well be another random story for the blog.

So I started fishing again and eventually got the bank card stuck to the padlock covered in glue. I raised it up to the top of the drain and went to hook it out when I got bumped by a rush hour commuter, lost my balance and placed my hand in a pile of dog shit. This did not deter me though! I still got the card out with my poo covered hand and then rushed upstairs to my flat to wash it multiple times.

And what lesson has been learnt from this story???

Never use glue to hook out your bank card because the glue destroys the magnetic strip and screws the thing up anyway.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Western Style

So at the moment I am drafting a letter to a summer camp that we are using for the orientation of the next batch of new people we have joining Chatteris in one months time. And this is part of the letter.

"We would appreciate it if you could make the following arrangement for the meals on 14 August

1. We hope the breakfast will be western style
2. Please avoid the use of chicken feet and animals' internal organs in the lunch"

Because chicken feet and internal organs is a surprisingly regular item at summer camps!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bringing English Back

I am still alive, I just have got loads of work building up and my lunch breaks are becoming shorter and shorter this week because I have been doing tax forms and other boring things!

In the meantime I have found some videos that an employee made whilst working in a school. The first one is quite funny!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4 (this one is shorter than 2 and 3)


p.s Watermelon was a no go. It was mouldy inside and a little bit toxic. I scraped some mould off and tried an inside bit though and it nearly killed me so strong was the alcohol level!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I was walking back home through a very busy rush hour Hong Kong after dropping off my laundry when I spotted a pair of pants laying in the middle of the pedestrian crossing outside my flat.

Yes, they were my pants.

On an unrelated pants note, I found a couple of very over the top tourism videos created by the Hong Kong government today

Video 1
Video 2



So I am bored at my desk. I could go home now as it is the end of the day, but it's now rush hour so waiting here in the office is worth it to have a little more space when I journey home on the train.

As mentioned, I am bored and not sure what to write. So prepare for a ramble.

The vodka watermelon (aka Nikki) may have now gone too far. It has been in my fridge for just under 3 weeks (I think) and I'm now worried that it may kill whoever eats it. I can't decide if it is worth the risk, it's not the vodka but more the life span of a watermelon in a fridge that I am questioning. I have decided to let the 2 regular readers of my blog decide, click on the top right hand corner of the blog and let me know if the watermelon should be consumed this weekend.

Above is a view from my flat last Sunday

I am now going to droop to a whole new level of boredom and report on the news in Hong Kong.

The recent Hong Kong protest turned out to be a little bit of a letdown apparently. Less than expected turned up because people apparently are happier with the way things are being run in Hong Kong now. The organizers say 40,000 but the police say 13,000 took part.

And that is your news for the day.

Above is a picture of a market stall where i purchased breakfast from on Sunday


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Learn Chinese in 5 minutes!

click to make larger



The above pictures are not here to demonstrate how normal it is in Hong Kong to live in small flats packed into tall buildings.

Instead the pictures are to show the one view from the balcony of my hotel. If you turned round though...

This was the other view!

I am now back from my weekend away in a swish hotel in Hong Kong. Somehow due to a series of screw ups I managed to get a top floor room to myself with a balcony bigger than my flat in Wan Chai. Which suited me fine!

The reason we went away was for a staff team building thing and I think it worked pretty well. We had to work on a Saturday which meant that we got the following Monday off work and Tuesday (today) is a public holiday to celebrate the handing over of Hong Kong back to China.
Not much other news really, went to the revolving restaurant for lunch and have been to the cinema a couple of times over the last 4 days. There is a massive protest in Hong Kong today that is causing mucho disruption, it is impossible to lick your own elbow or fold a piece of paper more than seven times.