Things you see at the beach in HK

You’d think going to the beach is a pretty universal experience. While it generally is, certain Hong Kong beachgoers add a sprinkle of entertainment.

 

Facekini wearing women – this is not a joke, I’ve see it with my own eyes… multiple times. Don’t know what a facekini is? Google it, you won’t be disappointed.

Person completely slathered in tanning oil – to the point that they shine like a disco ball and refuse to move/touch anything in fear of smearing their sleek layer.

Stretching elderly gentlemen– warming up before they swim, just like they are preparing for the Olympics. Doing split lunges on the steps leading to the lifeguard office.

Sun avoiding young lady – sitting under the sun umbrella, with clothes on and never entering the water. ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong: the last 2 months

I knew it would happen, I wanted it to happen, but it happened much faster than I thought it would.

We are leaving Hong Kong at the end of July to return to the UK.

I love Hong Kong to bits, it’s such an amazing city full of contrasts and adventures, yet there are a few issues that mean it may not be the place where we settle.

These issues are:

  • The job market: simply put, I currently do not fit in.

I am a New Product Development Project Manager, but food companies with manufacturing operations in Hong Kong can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The few times I did see an offer, they regarded Chinese food, which I have no knowledge of…  Additionally, I do not speak, read or write Cantonese AND Mandarin fluently.

Mastering both Chinese languages is becoming increasingly mandatory and only a few sectors are exempt (banking being one of them).

 

  • Housing: renting a small apartment at high price doesn’t bother me too much. However, we want to eventually buy property, yet buying anything in Hong Kong seems unachievable. Not only is the price very high, the flats are tiny and the deposit is hefty. It simply isn’t achievable for us in the short/medium term.

 

  • Work culture: this one concerns Jeff rather than me. People at work are extremely competitive and do not hesitate to backstab colleagues and shoe-shine managers in order to get promoted. I’ve been told this behaviour is very common in certain industries/teams with local staff as it is instilled in people since kindergarten.

You see, there are only a handful of universities in Hong Kong, so parents put extreme pressure on their children to stand out from their classmates. This starts at a very young age with kids being enrolled in music, sport, arts & language classes, the only goal being to enter a prestigious primary school, then a prestigious high school and finally university. Children compete with one another on all aspects and this behaviour is carried over into their working lives.

 Hong Kong has so many good points: it’s safe, has easily reachable countryside, varied landscapes and no end of activities to try. Let’s not forget the food, central location for Asian holidays and warm weather.

 

I’ve learnt in the past seven years that no place is perfect and that it’s not about finding the place that ticks all the boxes, but the one that ticks the most important boxes…

I don’t know if England will tick the most important boxes (I’ll be honest and say I am concerned about safety)…but we thought we had to try, so when the opportunity came, we grabbed it.

 

We will try our best, but I would not be surprised if we eventually return to Hong Kong or try another country.

 

 

P.S: I do not plan on stopping the blog for now, even after I return to the UK

 

 

Lam Tsuen Well Wishing Festival

Lam Tsuen Well Wishing festival

The Chinese New Year celebrations feature several festivals, such as the lion dance, lantern carnival and flower markets.

Additionally, villages all over Hong Kong have their own traditions and Lam Tsuen in the New Territories is particularly popular.

The well-wishing festival is famous for its wishing trees and Tin hau Temple.

People have been tying joss paper wishes to oranges and throwing them on the branches for decades and it is believed the higher the wish lands, the more likely the wish will come true.

 

Unfortunately, the two trees have collapse from the weight of the wishes and have now been replaced by plastic trees and oranges.

Festivities include a parade, food stalls, a lantern release and huge traffic jams.

 

Crowds gather and the whole festival transforms into mayhem as plastic oranges go flying left, right and centre, regularly hitting people on the head.

 

Colourful, interesting, worth-it, but best to go the week after the New Year Bank holiday to avoid the masses.

1960s Hong Kong style food court – TBG Mall

We recently made a small yet cute discovery.

 

While walking around TBG Mall in Kowloon Bay, we stumbled upon a newly opened retro food court designed to look like 1960s Hong Kong.

The food court features traditional Hong Kong style street food, such as cheese noodles, spicy noodles, grilled meat skewers, bubble tea and egg bubble waffle.

 

The corridor is filled with quaint green metallic gates behind which hide small stalls selling traditional candy, handmade soap and various bits and bobs.

The walls are lined with Mahjong tiles, abacuses, old movie posters and the food court features old style wooden shop fronts & signs.

According to my mother in law it is designed to look like the Dai Pai Dong (open-air food stalls) and Cha Chan Teng (HK Style cafés) that used to line the streets of Lower Ngau Tau Kok estate, demolished in 2010.

 

I’m really glad we discovered this little gem; I find Hong Kong doesn’t keep enough of its cultural monuments/buildings in the name of modernization. I simply love this kind of place that makes a point to remember the past, just like the Starbucks on Duddell Street.

 

 

5 Types of people on the MTR

The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the most convenient mode of transport in Hong Kong, even though it doesn’t cover the whole city.

Just like every big city’s public transport, you’re bound to come across certain behaviours regularly, but I’ve found some of them are specific to Hong Kong….

 

Pole occupier

This person is resting their entire body on the pole. Head, shoulders, back and bottom… so that nobody else can grip said pole, even though it’s rush hour.

I personally wedge my fingers between their back to be able to grab the pole. That’s usually enough to get them to move. If not, Jeff will give them the death stare until they become scared and change carriage.

 

Furious Gamer

A long working day is over and folks need to wind down. Since smartphones are so popular here it is very common to see women/young men/older men furiously thumbing away at their phones at some kind of game that involves neon colours and loud music.

 

Beautician

In the city that never stops, people try to save time as much as possible. It’s common to see ladies putting on their make-up while sitting on the MTR…from foundation to drawing their eyebrows and eye shadow… the whole shebang. We also get the opportunity to see old people cutting their nails while riding the metro, although I personally prefer it when the cleaning lady does it at work.

 

Pressed for time

I’ve said this several times, Hong Kongers are extremely slow walkers. The only time they speed up – dare I say even break into a run – is in the corridor at North Point station or when fighting for seats in the carriage.

 

The transporter

Most people do not own cars in HK, so when people need to move stuff around, they do it via public transport.

TVs, 20 tubs of baby powder, (dead) chickens…. We could make a movie out of it.

 

 

Has any behaviour on the MTR struck you? Let me know in the comments below!

24 January 2016 – Hong Kong’s coldest day since 1957

The average temperature in January is 16ºc, so when the temperatures dropped to 3.3ºC this weekend, Hong Kong was in for a shock.

Low temperatures, a humid climate, strong winds and no central heating don’t mix well… everyone felt the bite.

Since homes are nearly as cold as outdoors, people flock to shopping centers, cinemas and restaurants to keep warm.

We saw long queues in home improvement stores, with many families buying space heaters and hot water bottles.

 

As it was the coldest day since 1957, many people decided to go to the highest peak in Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan, to witness the frost and tiny snowflakes, causing an overnight traffic jam.

Unfortunately, the road turned to ice leaving 85 people stranded and falling on their bottoms trying to get down.

A 100KM marathon was also taking place, causing many participants to injure themselves or be sent to hospital for hypothermia.

On Monday schools were closed as they do not have heating facilities to keep children warm throughout the day. However, homeless shelters did not open during daytime, leaving deprived people out in the cold.

 

Luckily, temperatures are due to go up from Wednesday onwards!

A sentence I hear every winter is: “but you are used to it, you are European!”

True, but the air is dry in Europe, we also have central heating and double glazed windows (unless you live in an old terraced house in England) and that makes all the difference.

 

So tell me, would you have climbed up the mountain to see the rare frost or would you have stayed in bed with a cuppa?