Ben in Hong Kong©

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


H a p p y
Lots of love Ben xx

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wedding Bells

Two Western friends of mine are considering asking their Chinese girlfriends to marry them. Whilst these are very romantic gestures the result has uncovered a new economic aspect to wedded bliss in Hong Kong that I was not aware of.

I call it 'paying off the parents'

One American friend of mine has already proposed to his Chinese girlfriend of 7 years. She comes from a very traditional family and it was therefore expected that my friend first seek the permission of her parents. What shocked me was not that people still ask permission to do such things, it is that a financial deal needs to be agreed between the boyfriend and the parents before anything is allowed to take place.

100,000 Hong Kong Dollars is the price my friend has to pay his girlfriends parents in order to be permitted to marry her. This can be paid by installments or in one lump sum. Prices are varied depending on the family and the girl. I have since discovered families that have requested one million Hong Kong Dollars or more for their daughters hand in marriage.

My friend being charged 100,000 HKD has caused conversation. Additionally it turns out he was already paying the family a considerable monthly sum since his relationship with the daughter became serious.

Another friend I know was dating a Chinese girl and also paying the family 5000 HKD a month for the honour. He told me that during the period where he was paying these monthly installments his girlfriends younger sister was also renting a room in their flat.
Frustratingly the girlfriends younger sister was receiving roughly the same amount of pocket money from the parents as my friend was paying them to date their eldest daughter. He said it was annoying to see his money going towards ipods, clothing and expensive makeup.

Since then that relationship has now ended, and I don't think he got a refund.

I am considering summing up this post by ranting about romance being dead in Hong Kong and the whole place revolving around money. Or perhaps I could take an understanding tone and recognize that this is a different culture and they have different customs and systems.

I am going to do none of these things though. Instead I will start taking bets on which of my friends girlfriends will have the highest price for marriage.

If you know the friends I am talking about you can place your bets....



Sunday, December 21, 2008

We have a problem

So i'm still in Hong Kong, slightly hung over, and not in the Philippines.

I did not arrive in the Philippines due to a series of unfortunate events. Which will not require too much explaining.

Firstly we arrived at the airport on time, two hours before the plane was due to take off. This made me happy because I like things to be on time.

We waited in line to check in with mostly Filipino people and more than a few ladyboys. The ladyboys kept looking at us and smiling which was made more amusing because they looked terrible. Like grown men who had applied makeup whilst drunk and on a rollercoaster.

We arrived to check in our bags at the counter, the bags were taken and then there was a problem. The credit card Richard used to pay for the flight tickets was not actually his, it belonged to his mother and whilst the money had been paid for the flights and our names were on their database they needed to see a copy of the card used for the transaction.

In a perfect world they would have told us all this information at once upon arriving at the counter, we would have phoned up the mother of Richard and she would have faxed us a copy of her credit card to the airport head office. However they did not tell us all at once, they sent us to see someone at a separate counter who was not there. We waited, and waited, and waited. I did not wait in a quiet manner but still my increasingly angry manner did not make anyone come to help us.

So by the time someone did come to help us we discovered it was too late for us to do anything. The flight had closed, the plane had boarded, the bags were on board (though we got ours back). We could not transfer to the next flight the following day because it was fully booked, and all flights were booked till Christmas. We will get a refund on the tickets, but our Christmas trip was not going to happen.

We were both pretty angry about this but there was nothing we could do. A guy was in the airport crying and in hysterics about something that I never discovered and we both decided that it could be worse, we could have a serious problem like he seemed to be having.

We had money in our pockets and were in Macau, so of course we went gambling and drinking at the Venetian casino. We watched a fantastic live band, drank far too much and spent hours at the Roulette table. I set my limit for gambling at 500 HKD as this was the amount of money I did not mind if I lost, I did lose it, but I had a great time doing so and enough free drinks at the table to make it an economic way to spend an evening.

The plan now is that Richard and I will be doing something different every day in Hong Kong during the Christmas break. Today we are going hiking up Lions Rock which is part of the mountains surrounding Kowloon. Tomorrow I think we are going to the beach.


Saturday, December 20, 2008


I am leaving for the Philipines tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 11.30am. Our plan is to arrive in Manila for the first day then travel South to an area called Puerto Galera where will will stay a few days. Then depending on what we feel like doing the likely plan shall involve traveling back up to Manila then getting an internal flight to Cebu for another few days.

I am quite looking forward to the adventure. Last year I did not really take a holiday and ended up cashing in 9 days of my 15 days annual leave because I could never find the time to use it. I also deserve a holiday, I have not had the greatest health over the last few months and work has also been difficult.

On a positive note I was plucked from my office to go into a Primary school on Friday dressed as Father Christmas. The older children pulled at my fake beard and attacked me, the little ones thought I was the real deal though which was funny.

If I can get to the internet then I will update the blog, but until I return on 31 December I wish you all a happy new year and a very Merry Christmas! I will keep a daily diary and type it all up once I arrive back in HK.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas is coming

This is a little bit of a ramble.

Hong Kong seems strange today. I can't quite put my finger on it but everyone seems to be even more militant on the streets in regards to pushing and shoving than usual. It might have something to do with Christmas but I don't remember it being this crazy.

Pre- Christmas sales have hit Hong Kong in the same way that they probably have in the UK. I walked past one shop on the way to the cinema today and they had actual real people in the shop windows modeling the sale clothes. This seems quite cool but is actually quite scary if you are not expecting them to move suddenly as you walk past.

We had our work Christmas party last night and it took place on the beach on the south side of Hong Kong island. I got slightly drunk and loud, which was probably not the best idea in the world but I did have fun.

And on a different note. The people I work with are very festive indeed.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Be nice

A good way of summing up Hong Kong is by looking at the signs that get plastered everywhere.

And these are just two of the current messages. Previous mind control has included "Take your grandmother to the dentist", and "be nice to tourists".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Panda Attack

Below is an article from the Hong Kong Standard newspaper

"Ocean Park is trying to find out why giant panda An An bit the left leg of a female keeper who has been looking after him for the past seven years.
The unidentified keeper, who has been with the park for 15 years, remains in hospital after the November 30 incident and is said to be recovering.
An An - which means "peace" in English - and his female companion, Jia Jia, - which means "Go on, bite her leg" were given to Hong Kong by the central government in 1999 to celebrate the handover."
So i might have changed a little bit of the article, but you can read the full thing here

Monday, December 8, 2008

Merry Christmas! x

click to make larger


Thursday, December 4, 2008


On my way to work today I topped up my Octopus card at a local store. An Octopus card is right up there with sliced bread and the light bulb in regards to inventions.

So when I topped up my card I asked for 100 HKD to be added. But the woman behind the counter added 300 HKD instead my mistake.

Because I was raised well by my parents I pointed out her error but she gestured for me to leave the shop quickly and so I did.

The extra money on my card is the equivalent to

17.6 British Pounds
90.9 rides on the Hong Kong star Ferry
12.5 meals of BBQ pork, rice and vegetables

This has made my day.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Sickness again

So yesterday I was sick again for my third week in a row (with three different ailments). I am not exactly sure what is wrong with me but the doctor says i am basically very run down and catching whatever the sickness of the week might be.

This is surprising because I have for the past 6 weeks been drinking less, running more and increasing my intake of vegetables and stuff. Perhaps I need to stop all this and just return to being a binge drinking, fast food eating slob.

One good thing about being in bed all day though is that I get to see the sunset in Wan Chai.

And one remedy I will not be trying can be found below.