Ben in Hong Kong©

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Swine

Hong Kong is buzzing with talk of Swine Flu, and the melodramatic news headlines are not helping.

That's right, Swine Flu is 'creeping closer' like some type of evil fictional character in a childrens story.
On the train to work this morning I discovered that if I cough people look at me like i'm holding a gun to their heads. Previously, you would just get looked at with suspicion, now you get looked at with fear.
This fear is understandable if you lived in Hong Kong during the period when the SARS virus hit. I did not live here during that period though, so for now I am fake coughing to get past annoying people on the train.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This weekend I will be mostly... hurting

Why will I be hurting I hear you ask?

Because I will be doing... THIS



A couple more

OK, i will stop now

Photo editing

I have some new photo editing software and I thought I would share the results with you. The idea of the software is that it makes pictures look like they are models. Almost like looking at a picture of a model railway. It's easier to just show you an example.

1) Hong Kong skyline

2) Wan Chai from the revolving restaurant

3) Golden Gate Bridge, San Fran

4) Times Square, New York

5) Toronto, Canada

6) Boston, USA
What I have learnt is this software seems better at editing city pictures more than anything else. And that my job has sent me to some cool places!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Yesterday evening I went swimming in Victoria Park. I have never been swimming in Victoria Park before as it is a little further away than my local swimming pool. There was only about twelve people in the pool so there was no shoving, splashing or old ladies to avoid whilst doing laps. This made it worth the extra distance.

The pool is outside so I could float around and watch the bats zipping overhead eating insects. It was also nice to look at the skyline and feel sorry for the people in the office buildings having to work late.

After the swim I decided I deserved a McFlurry ice cream from McDonalds before watching a film at home. I went up to the counter and indicated what I wanted by pointing and requesting it in English, but this got me chicken nuggets. I tried again by repeating my request for a 'McFlurry' but this time the worker thought I said 'double cheeseburger'.

Finally after numerous attempts I pulled out my last resort idea. I put on the most over-the-top Chinese accent in the world and said 'Mcfloooooooooorieeeee'. The McDonalds worker looked at me as if I was mad and replied "Ahh, you want McFlurry, you just say so!"

I got my McFlurry but i'm now not sure if I have technically been racist in my actions to obtain it.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Weekend Part 2

It is no longer Easter Weekend but I thought I should provide an update.

After nearly drowning on a speedboat on Saturday afternoon I returned to my flat, slept for a few hours and then consumed a massive amount of duck at a famous Peking Duck restaurant. We ended up eating two ducks which I named Donald and Daffy.

Sunday was also food themed. We went to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant and took part in their unlimited Champagne and food buffet. Unlimited food and drink might seem like a good idea but if you have a lack of self control it can only end in disaster. After drinking from 11.30am to 4pm we then all went to Lang Kwai Fong where even more drink was consumed. I went home at 8pm and luckily drank enough water before bed to feel ok then next morning. Nikki however was sick 3 times.

Monday was spent mainly recovering and relaxing and now it is Thursday and I am in the office taking a late lunch break.

This evening I am going rollerblading with Nikki in Victoria Park and am quite excited because I have never done it before. Hope I have not forgotten how to do it!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Weekend Part 1

It is Easter weekend and so that measn we have Friday to Monday off as a public holiday. This meant that we returned to Tai Long Wan beach to go camping for the second weekend in a row.
My experience last week with buffalo and mosquitos should have put me off returning to the beach. However, this time the buffalo were harrassing someone else.

The beach was amazing as usual. In the first picture you can see Nikki and Kristy setting up tents.

And like all good campers we needed plenty of liquid to compensate the two hour hike we had just completed.

We ate lots of food round the fire.

And then by the next morning we woke up.

Watched the sun rise over the sea.

Then we came close to dying.

There is a somewhat illegal boat service that you can get to take you from Tai Long Wan beach to Sai Kung. Taking this boat service means cutting out the two hour hike. Kristy was the only person in our group who had taken the speed boat before and we were all looking forward to it.

Early on in the journey Kristy remarked "The sea has never been this rough before". Which turned out to be the understatement of the day.

The boat was soon hitting 4 - 6 foot swells and then dropping like a fairground ride before being lifted back up and the entire sequence repeated again. At first it was fun, then as the waves got bigger I started to wish that I had hiked instead.
Not long after this I began looking for the nearest land and working out where I would climb up if the boat got overturned. Then the boat hit a particularly big wave and water came gushing over the front of the boat and covered everone and their belongings.

When there was a brief break in the waves I grabbed my camera to take a video. You can just about hear Kristy giving Nikki advice of what to do if she falls overboard.

But we did survive and we did make it to Sai Kung. One friend had difficulty moving his hand he was holding on to the boat so tightly during the journey.
I will think twice about taking the boat in the future!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old Egg

Today I consumed something called a "Thousand Year Old Egg" at lunch with Chinese co-workers.

"Century egg, also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, and thousand-year-old egg, is a Chinese Cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice straw for several weeks to several months"

And it was not that bad!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bright lights

I realized that in the excitement of reporting how Nikki turned into the elephant woman I forgot to write about the best part of the camping trip last weekend

I don't know the technical name for it but the sea around the beach glows because the plankton in the water gives off an electric blue light. This is not my video but to see an example of what I mean click here .
When the tide had gone out the plankton was left in the shallow water of the beach and you could walk through it and set off blue puddles of light that glowed around your feet. It was pretty amazing.


Life is Swell

As the previous post might suggest, we have been going very rural this weekend. A group of us went to Tai Long Wan Beach, which involves a two hour hike over two mountains to reach. When you get to the beach you are greeted by a small place which rents out tents and that's about it. No phone signal, no air conditioning no television. Proper camping.

And the reason you hike over all these mountains is because the beach is amazing

Even though it has the occasional jellyfish the size of my head.

And some locals in the jungle behind with little interest in the intrusion.

Firewood was collected

And we all had a good BBQ and drinks.

But this is where the fun and games ended. I will summarise as quickly as I can.
Nikki and I shared a tent. Nikki went to the toilet numerous times. Nikki left the tent open, mosquitos flew in. Nikki closed tent and we became a blood sucking buffet. I was asleep by this point and snoring quite loudly, so the combination of me snoring and the mosquitos biting meant that Nikki got hardly any sleep.
But it gets worse.
I woke up the next morning looking forward to opening my tent and breathing in the sea air. Instead I saw Nikki lying on her back with her jumper smothering her face. I thought she might be dead, so I moved the jumper and it was even worse than I feared, she looked like the elephant woman.
Nikki had been bitten everywhere. She had received one bite on each eyelid, making her eyelids swell up over her face and she was not happy. She wanted to go home and get medication, which involved another two hour hike back to the main road. She at first insisted on making the journey on her own, however I was concerned that the swelling might get so bad that she would go blind halfway home.
I eventually returned with her, which is good, because otherwise she might have had a collision with a buffalo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

fat cow

Do you ever experience moments where a fat cow is coming towards you up a path and there is no room for you to get past?

That exact thing happened to me today. Click here for the video.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

World Domination

Hong Kong is changing.

New buildings are shooting up faster than they can grow the bamboo scaffolding to hold them together. There are massive developments on the waterfront of Hong Kong too, with parks and walkways soon to be completed.

The weather is as changeable as usual for this time of year. I have recently discovered that I can create a wind tunnel in my bedroom if I leave certain window combinations open, so I now feel like I'm sleeping outside.

People are leaving Hong Kong too, which is also a big change. I think this summer marks the largest exodus of friends that I have witnessed since arriving here, even more so than my first year when Robyn and Hannah left me to join the circus.

Everyone now seems to have a plan of some sort, Nikki and Laura are travelling Australia for a year. Nikki is going to be working and partying and Laura is going to be holidaying, partying and trying to control Nikki. Their plan after this point is about as certain as my survival in my new wind tunnel bedroom.

Other friends are going back to school or to a different job or to a different country. Most though feel it's time to leave the magical world of Hong Kong, where turtles can be both pets or dinner. I am one of those people.

What am I doing when I leave? I'm travelling first round Southeast Asia.

And then from Hong Kong to the UK by land.

Now who wants to come travelling with me?!!