Ben in Hong Kong©

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend stuff

The weekend has just finished and was full of stuff going on.

Saturday the company put on a junk boat trip for all the new employees. It was really fun with lots of sun, sea and island visiting. We were lucky with the weather as Hong Kong was due to get hit by another typhoon, but it just missed us and ended up going to Taiwan instead.

After dinner on Satruday we all went out to the bar and club district of Hong Kong. By mistake we wandered into the wrong lifts in a building and found ourselves in a club on a very high floor of a skyscraper that had the most amazing views across Hong Kong. This was where we spent the next four hours dancing like fools and drinking surprisingly little, because we were all dancing like fools.

Sunday I spent the afternoon at my new fave place to be lazy and relax, RED bar on the IFC rooftop.

The good thing about RED bar (other than the views above and all around) is the seating is for the general public, because the government makes all these big buildings provide public space. This means that you can bring cheap drinks and food from home and sit on the massive comfy chairs for free.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


I have just returned home from my Chinese lesson and thought it about time I updated the blog, as I have been neglecting it slightly this week.

After picking up little bits of Cantonese during my years in Hong Kong, I decided that it was high time I learnt the language of mainland China instead. This is because China is trying to connect all the various provinces that make up the country using one single language called Puthongua (also known as Chinese or Mandarin). Another interesting fact for you is that one reason Cantonese is so widely spoken in Hong Kong is because Britain enforced the language to differentiate between mainland China whilst under colonial rule.

My lessons are free because I provide an English tutorial to my tutor, then she teaches me Chinese. We both get something out of the two hour session and no money is exchanged. This exchange way of learning was something I came up with in the shower, but since then no other good ideas have crept up on me whilst cleansing. My overall plan is to make this method of learning Chinese available to all of the company employees sometime after Christmas, as we have connections to a University that has loads of Chinese mainland students.

Hong Kong weather has been pretty chaotic. One minute it is stunning, blue and sunny then the next minute it seems that someone has painted the sky black. Yesterday for example we had another day off due to a Typhoon edging towards Hong Kong. This is the 3rd time it has happened this season and now the excitement has worn off. I don't think a typhoon is ever going to impress me now because I want to see cars lifted into the air, pandas from the zoo zipping round in the sky above my head and fish sucked from the sea and raining down upon the streets. Apparently this is not what a typhoon does.

I went to the Bridge bar yesterday then to the races after work which was good fun. The racing season started a few weeks ago but I have not bothered to go till this week. It was good fun but I did not win anything :(

This Saturday I am going on a Junk Boat Trip with the new employees and then eating seafood at Sai Kung in the evening.

But apprently there is a typhoon coming again that could wreck those plans....

I leave you with a picture of all the ways in Hong Kong you are not allowed to catch fish.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

On Camera

Two weeks ago an ex employee from 1999 contacted the office to say she was coming to Hong Kong for her honeymoon, and that her husband to be was a documentary film maker. This then led to an offer or creating a new promotional film for the organization which then led to loads and loads of work organizing all the shooting to take place in two really busy days.
I now feel I could work in a Hollywood movie studio.

Other than this, the week has been pretty standard. Yesterday I took about 20 of the new employees to Shek O beach and we had fun getting sunburnt and relaxing. Then next weekend we are going on a big junk boat trip island hopping round Hong Hong.
Below are some pictures that were taken at a party last weekend. We were all very drunk and being a bit silly.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paradise Found

If you take a train, then a bus, then another bus, then hike through the jungle across two mountains for two hours, you will find a very deserted and perfect stretch of beach where you can go camping overnight. This is what I did last weekend, and here are the pictures!

I can't even start to describe the place without sounding like a drugged up travel writer. So the pictures will have to do the talking. It is my new fave place in Hong Kong without a doubt.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Random news

Random News Item 1: Today i consumed a cake that contained the boiled down vomit of birds

Random News Item 2: In October I am swimming 2400 meters in the South China sea with 1000 others just for the hell of it

I will explain random news item 1 in more detail soon.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Things to do with the Olympic cartoons #1

My friend spotted this and I had to throw it up here.


Saturday, September 6, 2008


So on Friday night I got a little drunk along with everyone else going the following day to Macau. Macau is a special administrative region of China, just like Hong Kong. Unlike Hong Kong though Macau has a history of Portuguese rule, not British.
To visit Macau you still need a passport and to go through immigration, so it is quite exciting if it's your first trip to the region as you feel like you are going on a mini holiday. It was my third trip to Macau though, and I was feelin a little rough, so had other plans.
I have done the temple and church tourist side of Macau before, but I have never been to a casino. Macau is a gambling mecca, it is bigger than Vegas and more profitable too, so I thought I would check it out with Hannah.

The Casino of choice was the Venetian, over the top does not quite describe the place. Check out the pictures.

There was a canal system through the middle of the shopping area that went on and on and on. It was complete with fake sky, bridges and Italian singing Gondola people who took you for a ride round the giant complex. Downstairs was the gaming hall, if you stood in the middle you could not see where the walls ended of this massive room. I wish I could take pictures but they are quite strict about it. We went for lunch at a buffet place called Bambu, yet again it was very-over the-top with seafood and cheesecake and everything in between.
I set myself a limit of 200 HKD to spend in the Casino itself. I tried the slot machines but failed at that as I could not work out the tactics. Then I tried Roulette which was much more fun! Although I still lost money rather than gained it.
After 100HKD being spent we decided to head to a different part of town, where we accidentally stumbled into a live televised talent show.

This is something so random that it can only happen in Asia and be normal.
After cheering for a while at the talent show we then left and walked to a Casino called Babylon. It was reasonably quiet and I had a little spending money left, so I found the Roulette table and started playing. I soon decided that I should stop playing with small bets and place down a larger amount. I won the bet and doubled my money. I then did the same thing and doubled it again!
By the end of the evening I had won enough money to have paid for my food and expenses in Macau. Plus have 50 HKD (3.5 quid) left to spare.
So I had a great day out for free.
I beat the system baby!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Last Week In Reality

My phone rings and I answer it

"Hello" I say
"Hey Ben, This is Ben J" comes the reply.

Ben J is a new employee, so I remember paying more attention as the call is coming at an unusual time

"Hey what's up"?
"Hey mate, I have been shown around a few different flats looking for a place to stay this year but I have a problem"

At the word problem I remember paying even more attention to the phone call.
"What's the problem"? I say, not knowing what to expect.

"Well I have been shown a flat in Kowloon, but I just found a dead body behind the sofa and don't know what to do".

Then I woke up.

This was a pretty vivid dream and I was telling co-workers about it all morning, till suddenly I recalled the trigger. HK Magazine.

HK Magazine is a weekly published very funny compilation of everything that is to do with Hong Kong. They have a section called "Last week in reality", where they write about the often stranger goings on in Hong Kong over the previous week. This was what I had read before falling asleep.

'16 Saturday
Nude Dip: During a hot, sunny afternoon, a 50 year old mainland woman strips nude and jups into a fountain at the Urban Council Centenary Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui. The police soon arrive to arrest the screaming woman, who says she is upset with her love life and decided to have some fun
20 Wednesday
Room for rent: A real estate agent takes a potential renter on a tour for a room-for-rent, but the tour ends quickly when they discover a decomposing body in the next room. They immediately call the police, the client decides not to rent the room.'
Which explains the dream then!
No other news really, going to Macau which is like Vegas but thousands of time more fun I hear. I have only ever done the daytime tourist thing in Macau so I am looking forward to it. I am leaving on Saturday morning at 10.30 am, and booking a ferry to return home at 4am the following day. Should be fun! And i'm taking 40 new employees across with me!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tourists again

I decided to use up a day from my annual holiday to take a mid week break. I also wanted to see how much I could pack into a day without feeling overly stressed or rushed. I was with a tourist and some friends so it seemed like a good excuse as any.
This is my step by step guide to an action packed but non exhausting tourist day
  1. Go to the Tung Chung MTR station at the end of the orange train line
  2. Take a cable car to the Ngong Ping Big Buddha
  3. Look at Buddha, marvel at it's metallic sheen
  4. Walk round Buddha, question if it was worth climbing all the bloody steps to reach it
  5. Walk down big Buddha and go across to the Buddhist temple
  6. Eat vegetarian food grown by Buddhist hands and cooked by Buddhist cooks in a big Buddhist hall
  7. Watch Buddhists chanting and praying in a nearby temple
  8. Realize you are all Buddhisted out, leave area by bus and travel to Mui Wo
  9. Try not to be sick in bus
  10. Arrive at Mui Wo, go in search of famous waterfall, learn how to say 'where is the waterfall?' in Cantonese "Bin Do Ah Bup Bo"
  11. Find Waterfall
  12. Look at beach on way back to the fantastic pub in Mui Wo, eat pub food and drink beer to shake off the Buddhist vibes from earlier in the day
  13. Get ferry from Mui Wo to Central in Hong Kong island
  14. Go to Cinema
  15. Go home

And here are the pictures


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fire and Steak

I have a friend visiting Hong Kong from Australia. He is Only in Hong Kong for 24 hours so I took him to the local steak place near where I live. The good thing about this place is that it has been around since the 1960s and does the tastiest steak in the world by marinating it first in chinese sauces etc. However, they also set the steak on fire in front of you to crisp it up.

As you can see, my friend gained a tasty steak but nearly lost a couple of eyebrows!


Monday, September 1, 2008

A good office prank

When we have employees in various schools round Hong Kong our office hours are 9am - 6pm. However, when there are school holidays the office working time drops to 9am - 5pm.

Today is the first day back to school after summer holidays, so our work hours have changed. Everyone knew this in the office except Donald, who left at 5pm with such certainty and gusto that we never questioned him leaving an hour early till he was long gone.

We found this quite funny, so I sent him the following text message.

"Hi Don, I am pretty uncomfortable about this but you need to see the boss first thing tomorrow regarding why you feel it is OK to leave the office an hour before everyone else. Please bring your contract to the meeting for clarification. Ben"

Well, 20 minutes later we never got a reply. So we decided to call him in case he was shitting himself, it turns out he had not read the text yet, so the improvised conversation highlights went as follows.
  • It is nothing serious Don, the boss is pretty annoyed though that you feel it's ok to leave early
  • Yes Don, it was mentioned in a meeting
  • You need to bring your contract because it has your weekly hours written on it
  • We just need to make sure you are not confused about the situation

After this point I could not remain serious anymore and the office pranksters round the phone began to laugh out loud. He then hanged up on me.

Ten minutes later I recieved a text message back.


I smell some revenge coming...