Monday, 27 August 2007

Er, hello

For those of you who check this website every day for updates, and regularly suffer terrible disappointment, my apologies.
I know it’s been a day or two since I’ve updated, but there are reasons for this.
Firstly, I forgot. Secondly I’ve been very busy at work, sometimes too busy to do much else.
Anyway, it’s much too late to write in depth about the last few month’s activities, but I’ll start by writing a list of some of the things I’ve done since I last wrote.

1. The Betta Splendans died. A very sad time, but it reminded me that even beautiful things must die…a lesson I had to learn.
2. Mac and Dan offered fresh conversation
3. Work took us into China to visit factories. This will get a post of its own at some point, so watch this space. Or a space above this one that doesn’t exist yet.
4. The 10th Anniversary of the HK Handover celebrations. We sat on a closed motorway flyover all night watching the most amazing firework display I’ve ever seen. It was very surreal walking home on Nathan Road surrounded by thousands of people…one of the busiest roads in the world completely shut down for the masses…lit by neon lights and restaurant windows.
5. Helen came to visit. Helen is a good friend of mine with a strong interest in fashion. This meant I saw much of Hong Kong that I hadn’t explored yet. I.E I spent lots of time in women’s clothes shops. It was ok though. (fit women)
6. Adam and Tom came to visit. More friends of mine. They’d been traveling for two months before they arrived so they were very tired. And Tom’s toes smelt very bad. He hadn’t changed his socks once in all of his travels. We had a very strange night when we asked a taxi driver to take us somewhere good to drink. He said he’d take us to his favourite bar. We arrived in the middle of nowhere and a man on the pavement was there to meet us. The taxi driver had rung him. He then led us into a darkened high-rise, into a tiny lift and finally into possibly one of the most bizarre bars in the world. I won’t say much more about it apart from Adam won the bingo and I sung Abba songs on the Karaoke to the entire bar. There was also glow in the dark dice. They had a mysterious function.
7. Adam accidentally got addicted to vinyl toys.
8. Joseph and his girlfriend Sophia came. We went to Ocean Park, the local equivalent of Disney Land. We saw Pandas there, as well as Jellyfish. Stilted balloon people attacked me, but we ended up dancing and celebrating.
9. I went to Thailand for two weeks. We found the perfect hut on a beach in Koh Phi Phi Island so we just stayed there. I wasn’t there for traveling. As it was we saw monkeys every morning because they stole our possessions. I saw monitor lizards and skinks. We went scuba diving; a first for me, and it was fantastic. I was scared at first because of all the equipment and warnings and instructions, but that soon gave way to wonder at the beauty. I kind of hate it when people go on and on about how beautiful coral reefs are, because everybody knows that. It’s clichéd to say it. But annoyingly I have to agree. I saw sea snakes, green sea turtles, scorpion fish, lion fish, barracuda, puffer fish, box fish, Moorish idols, etc etc. I’m thinking about doing a course in Tynemouth when I get back, although I think it might be slightly colder. I read most of a Charles Dickens book in Thailand, but only once I had finished the last Harry Potter book, which was quite good.
10. I got food poisoning.
11. Speaking of Potter I went to see the latest film with Jo and his lass. The Cantonese audience made it hilarious. Every time a cat crosses the screen and does anything the entire audience (including me) started clapping and laughing.
12. My Mum, Dad and sister came to visit. This was great because it reminded me that even in this last quarter of my trip there are things for me to see. We had a great time, highlights were Mum vanishing outside the incense shop and magically reappearing a good two miles away after half an hour or so of searching for her, another highlight would be the Temple Of 10,000 Buddhas, in Shatin of the New Territories. There was a very strange vegetarian restaurant up there serving vegetarian sweet and sour pork, which turned out to be very nice. Georgina developed a liking for Cantonese food, of which I’m very proud. She resisted the allure of tofu and red bean ice-cream though. Photos to follow.
13. With this fresh vitality running through me I arranged a trip to Tai O village on Sunday with Mac, Dan, and Tim. Chris was with his girlfriend who has come to visit him so couldn’t make it. Tai O is a village on stilts in the sea, and my family went to visit it last week whilst I was at work. They saw mudskippers, fiddler crabs and pink dolphins, so I thought I’d better go and see them too. I did! Definitely worth it. Photos to follow.
14. On the work front I’ve been just a tiny bit busy. I’m quite proud that I’ve managed to work a full time job for this many months so far away from home… especially now that the hours are getting later and later. Sometimes I can be working as late as ten or eleven in the office, but it’s ok because I love it. This is a good thing because I only get paid until half five.
15. I bought a jade bracelet. Jade has huge importance assigned to it in Hong Kong, particularly by the elderly. It has healing properties, brings good health and if you fall over the jade will break but you won’t. So I thought I better get some. So far it’s cured my food poisoning and prevented me from breaking any bones.
16. A man slapped my hand in a market stall when I reached for the vintage Leica camera at the back. I wasn’t going to steal it. Possibly.

There will of course be many other things I’ve forgotten to mention, but no doubt they’ll come to me. Hopefully at some point soon I’ll post up some photographs to prove I was there.

Goodbye for now,

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Betta Splendens

Hello again!
Last night the other two students, Mac and Dan, arrived so Chris has been able to move out and our sitting room returned to us. It was very strange showing them a bit of Hong Kong last night... it reminded me of how long I've been here myself I suppose. Although it's only a month it feels like it could have easily been a year...especially now that I've bought a fishtank and some fish for my room... probably not a good idea because I'm only here for a few months but I'm sure I'll think of something!
I got three rummy-nose tetras and one Siamese fighting fish, bought from a specialist breeder. It took me about an hour to pick which one I wanted but in the end I went for the one that looked the most like a Chinese junk. Quite beautiful!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Working at The Early Learning Centre

Well that’s my second week of work finished and it has gone extremely fast!
There is so much constantly going on in the office that the days just fly by; always something to see or do! I’m extremely happy here!
To be honest the main reason the days go so fast is that we are working very hard. I’m just lucky that I love what we are doing so it’s no real hardship. It’s a bit like a man digging in his allotment… he might hurt his back and get sore and tired but at the end of the day he can sit in the shed with a cup of tea and look out proudly at his day’s work. Perhaps he has hoed some peas, or made a new trellis for his runner beans, or dug up some good potatoes to bring back to the wife for tea.
So that’s me. I’ve got soil under my nails but I’m glad for it.

Tara for now x

Oh yes…this is me discovering the wonders of magnetism in the ELC showroom:

Friday, 25 May 2007


Whilst on the topic of robots I will tell you about another toy I bought yesterday. He is 'Scope', one of a small series of metal transformable lighters. They turn from 80's style lighters into 80's style lighter robots... again a result of a strange Japanese cartoon about a boy who found a lighter which turned into a 40 metre tall lighter.
Actually when I investigated mine I found that he can turn into a really rather credible telescope...well maybe not credible.... as well as fire his eyes about a metre when you press on his head.

If you still need convincing:

The place where I bought this robot was right in the seedy heart of the toy empire in HK...down back alleys and past trays of steaming octopus legs and into the bowels of strange smelling shops and labyrinth-esque shopping centres. Hong Kong really has it all! This shop smelt heavily of thinners, I think an intentional thing to make all the customers light headed and make none too wise decisions. It's a good job they didn't have it in the shop selling small ugly plastic monsters* (for extremely high amounts of money considering what they are) or else I would have bought a few in my delirium!

Anyway, speak soon x

* These were Marusan toys, for anyone interested:

Thursday, 24 May 2007


Welcome to the Universal Century. In this near future, over 80% of humanity live in space colonies in Earth orbit, ruled over by the Earth Federation.

The friction between Earth and its colonies soon escalates into the devastating One Year War, which serves as the backdrop for Gundam Mobile Suits.

Even after the One Year War, the struggle continues, and throughout the UC era, Earth and the space colonies will clash, time and again, in a never-ending conflict...

Welcome to Gundam.

Gundam is very popular here in Hong Kong, it reflects the obsession with all things Japanese that the youth culture here entertains.
I thought I better discover the joys of Gundam.

Six long, eye-straining hours later I had made my first Gundam…

He is ‘Oowashi Akatsuki Gundam’, and seems to be operated/driven by a small blonde girl, although I still haven’t quite worked out that bit.

Were the six hours of kit box model assemblage all through the night worth it, for six inches of golden angular plastic?
The answer must surely be yes.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Buddha, The Rain And The ELC

Today is Buddha's Birthday, so perhaps it is fitting I use this public holiday to catch up on the last week . Last Friday Bill took us to see the big Buddha statue on Lantau island. We decided to take the cable car up there, which gave us amazing views of the mountains and ocean below us. The Buddha was only built about ten years ago, but looks like it could have been there for hundreds of years. It’s quite big. It’s located at a monastery, so there were plenty of Buddhist monks to see, plenty of chanting to hear and plenty of incense to smell. It wasn’t quite the spiritual haven you might imagine, largely due to the hundreds of tourists, making it seem slightly commercial. It’s still a great place though, if just for the pure spectacle. Because it’s a real monastery there is a vegetarian only menu in the monastery restaurant; plenty of slippery mushrooms for me to attempt with my chopsticks.

On that same day a fellow DFI student, Chris Holden, arrived. He is working at Galey Toys and had to come faster than he expected. Unfortunately he was not able to sort himself out some accommodation until the other two students who are coming, Mac and Dan, arrive. This means he is living in our sitting room for a fortnight.
Then it rained.

The rain is pretty impressive in Hong Kong…everyone has an umbrella with them throughout the rainy season (most of the shops have a plastic umbrella cover dispenser at the entrance so you don’t drip!) because the rain just suddenly arrives without any warning. It was heavier than any rain I’ve seen before, and apparently was a just a light shower according to our work colleagues. I’m looking forward to a proper HK typhoon!

Work is brilliant…I’ve only worked there for three days but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far. We were taken out for lunch with the whole team on Monday which was a lot of fun. It’s a very relaxed and exciting work environment…lots of prototype toys lying around and strange noises coming from around the room. Because everyone is so friendly we’ve been able to settle in easily and I think it’s going to be an excellent (if extremely hard work and tiring) experience.

I’m sorry for the delay is writing this blog entry, apart from work making me very tired I also received some extremely sad news from a good friend of mine on Monday evening, and my thoughts have been with her.
Bill just rang to invite me out for a meal tonight at Discovery Bay where he lives, so that’s something to look forward to!

Speak to you later chaps

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Work tomorrow...

I'd almost forgotten that I'm here to work! Tomorrow morning I start my first ever full time job. Bringing home the bread. Bringing in the baco...nut roast.
I'm quite nervous...I'll let you know how it goes and what I've been up to these last two days tomorrow evening.
Wish me luck!