1 comments 30.1.09

Chinese Halloween

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under , , , , ,
They came like a swarm of bees. Loud, chattering and giggling away, a pack of 10-15 HK girls flooded our office, rushing towards all married people and asking for red pockets (lai-see).

"JOIN US!!” they squealed in high pitched voices, tugging on my arm as I sat frozen at my desk, eyes staring widely back at them. “C’mon!! Come with us!!” Before I could respond - off they went, swarming towards the other end of the office to pounce on all the other married folks down the hall.

A few minutes later, my colleague throws down a stack of at least 10 red pockets on my desk. “See what you missed out on??” he smirked, before taking his earnings back to his desk. Another male colleague raced by, laughing, “It’s the duty of us unmarried people to take money from the married ones, muahaha!”

I shrugged, not feeling all that comfortable at the thought of asking strangers for money, but at the same time feeling a little gypped for not having tagged along.

The next day, I put aside my Western ways and went along with a few other colleagues who hadn’t collected their red pockets yet, and got a good portion of red pockets myself =). Apparently, it’s very good luck not only to take red pockets from the married people, but they too like passing them out. Every time we approached our ‘victims’, s/he always had a stack of red pockets ready to go. In a way, it was quite similar to Halloween, only, the “candy” was money and instead of costumes, all we had to say were some nice lines like “Stay beautiful all year” or “Earn lots of riches!” or “Best health to you”, etc.

Wah! So easy ar!!

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2 comments 29.1.09

Canadian Passport Renewal in Hong Kong

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under
FYI: This is an FYI posting about Canadian passports and the hassles that come along with them.

So, the situation is that it’s 2009 right, and my passport doesn’t officially expire until August 11th of this year. I thought that would have left me a good enough block of time to renew it the next time I went home, but nuh-uh.

It turns out that most Asian countries require a six month validity on all Canadian passports (sounds familiar, I know) and without this, you’re not able to get past immigration officers of the receiving country. I get this rule and all, but what I don’t really understand is why is it six whole months before the passport even expires? Why not just make the passport valid for 4 years 6 months then? I mean, what are the last 6 months for anyway if you can’t even go anywhere with them??

Yes, I’m pretty annoyed, because not only is my passport still valid, I’m also out of empty pages, meaning that I cant even get a China visa to go to Shenzhen for a day. That’s another thing I don’t get! Why is the China visa take up an entire page? It’s not like it’s a nice sticker, it’s just a bland, grey, giant, space-wasting rectangle!!

So, the situation in 2009 is, Canadians are NOT allowed to a) add pages or b) extend the validity of their passports, so the only option is to apply for a new one. Of course, this means proving your citizenship via your birth certificate (again), getting a HK-based guarantor (doctor/lawyer/etc.) to verify your identity, and waiting at least 15 business days for your new passport to be processed.

Oh yea, by the way, there is something called the Simplified Passport Renewal Process, where you don’t have to prove you’re Canadian every 5 years or bother someone to be your guarantor, but the catch is you’ve gotta be living in Canada/US (ie. It’s not for us who live abroad)…

Great, huh??
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0 comments 20.1.09

Oooo, dont feel too good

Posted by Miss Fong -
HK's great and all, but it sure does come w/ a lot of stomachaches. You never know if what you're eating is safe, and now that three people in China have died from the bird flu in a month, I'm starting to get freaked out big time.

I'm sure you've heard it all before. Bird flu mutating, going from bird to bird, bird to human, and we're now waiting for it to go from human to human. When that happens, we're basically doomed as there are no known cures and it's got a very low survival rate.

I watched a documentary recently that enlightened and terrified me at the same time. Apparently, scientists have already created a bird-flu vaccine, but only 250 million doses are available (not even close enough for the earth's population of 6 billion). Pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to produce more doses of it because they make more money off of normal drugs like Tylenol and Advil, so in the meantime, we're facing a situation where if a pandemic breaks out, only the rich/elite will be able to survive...

On top of that, the vaccine may not even be effective on the new H5N1 virus, since it would have already mutated to go from human to human.

So what can we do? I guess nothing... Stay away from dead birds? I really don't have a clue. Hopefully, the mutation will take longer than my lifetime and I won't have to worry about it!! Eek!
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2 comments 15.1.09

Wanchai Homeless Beggar

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under
It was by chance that I discovered this HK beggar, otherwise known as the Wanchai Homeless Beggar. I was on my way to work along Lockhart Road, eyes on the sidewalk watching out for cockroaches (dead or alive) when I stumbled upon a big pile of sh*t.

Soft and spread out, it had a rich, dark brown colour and for a second there, I might have mistaken it for dark chocolate sauce. It was that smooth.

However, a few feet away, I found the creator of the 'chocolate sauce' - a dark man with disheveled black hair, matted in lumps, squatting on the street corner with tattered slippers and some plastic bags with empty soda cans around him.

Since then I've seen him at least once a week, usually squatting across from Hay Hay, rambling some random statements in Cantonese and drifting from block to block.

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3 comments 9.1.09

Beggars in Hong Kong

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under
If you've ever set foot in Hong Kong, you'd know that there are quite a lot of beggars in the city. They range from being deranged to perfectly sane, anatomically complete or missing some limbs, smooth skinned or charred burn victims, honestly homeless or simply just faking it.

To help you out, I'll be showcasing some of the more famous or recognisable ones here. First up is the plastic bag lady who can often be seen hanging at the base of LKF:

Covered from head to toe in plastic bag bundles, I have no idea what she does or why she chooses to live this way. I have never seen anyone give her money, I don't even know if she is in fact a lady, and I once saw her in Causeway Bay, although I have no idea how she got there w/ the literal mountain of scrunched bags attached to her body.

Stay tuned for more beggars! :)
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0 comments 8.1.09

Bowl of Bitchy

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under
Seen on the sweatshirt of a 30ish chubby local HK woman on my way to work this morning:


Priceless. Totally priceless...
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1 comments 5.1.09

No turning back

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under

Hong Kong is a place full of choices. Just take one look down any street. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, thousands of stores, millions of shoes and handbags. So, how do you choose??

For a Gemini like myself, choices = disaster. Every decision is a potential regret, and not being able to do it all is a killer!! But you know what, it's inevitable that I have to eventually make a choice, like it or not.

When it's just a shopping purchase, it's reassuring to know that you can always take it back. But when it's a life decision, some things just can't be reversed. I must say now that it's clear that I made the worse-off decision two months ago, but hey, it happens.

Now it's time to dig myself out of this mess! :p Wish me luck, everyone!

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1 comments 5.1.09

Monkey Business

Posted by Miss Fong - Filed under
The other day I was at the Mong Kok Computer Centre with two friends (S&A), who were both looking to buy a new digital camera. They already had a camera in mind (the Canon 880) so we were just going around comparing prices. At Broadway, the camera was around 2700 HKD but now we were seeing the ‘water product’ version for around 1700 HKD. (TIP! Basically ‘water product’ is a different version of the camera that doesn’t come with a warranty from the camera company itself, but you still get a year warranty from the shop that sells it to you. It’s much cheaper this way and better for people living outside of HK since you aren’t covered by the warranty anyway.)

One of the stores we stopped in was run by a slow, toad-like Chinese man in his late 30s(?) who had bulging, droopy-lid eyes and a brown sweatshirt. He showed us the Canon 880, gave us a decent price, and S&A decided to take two. The guy picks up the phone and tells his staff to get two from the storage room.

However, he then says, ‘Why don’t I show you this camera while you’re waiting,’ and takes out a Nikon camera, which he says is on a Xmas promotion right now for a very good price. He proceeds to show us how nice the camera is, and starts taking pictures to show us the quality. Somehow, its pictures are incredibly sharp, clear and way more beautiful compared to the Canon! Suddenly, S&A are not sure which camera to buy anymore. Should they go with all the reviews they read in the magazines, or go with the now “better camera”, according to this guy (who says he has so much experience with cameras and knows which ones are best)??

About an hour passes as confusion ensues, and the two Canon cameras are nowhere to be seen. The toad-man isn’t pushy at all, and gives us all the time in the world to go back and forth between the two cameras, rating the pros and cons. In the end, S&A still decide on the Canon, and the man gets back on the phone.

Two minutes later, he tells us that he has no more Canons in stock, and if they want to buy the Nikon, he will give them an even better price. After considering it for a while, we decided to move on and find another store.

At the next store, S&A got to try out another Canon 880, and this time, the pictures were incredibly sharp and beautiful! We asked if the Nikon was better, and right away, the salesman said, “That’s what he told you, right?” pointing towards the previous shopowner in the brown sweatshirt. “Of cos he want you to fink that, he want to sell Nikon camera, hiya maak-up! Don’t buy from him, he do monkey business, monkey business!” So apparently, he had played with some settings on his Canon camera to make all the pictures look bad!! What a crook!!!

I asked the salesman why he didn’t expose him up front so that no more customers would get tricked, but he just said that it was a free market, and everyone just does their own thing. But anyway, as S&A purchased their cameras from the new store, we cast some evil glares his way. I’ll try to post a picture of him soon so no one else gets tricked!!
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