Sunday, November 26, 2006

mahjong and rugby fever

On Sat, my Uni group came over for a work/social bbq, and although it was a bit drizzly out, "Matt the Super Chef" cooked up a storm while we held a group meeting about our experiences at our practicum school. We ended the afternoon with a few hours of mah-jong fun. Although we didn't actually bet real money on it, we are ready to go back to Canada during Xmas and kick-a$@ and win some BIG money!

That night we went to see South Korea get absolutely pumelled by Japan during the last Asia Rugby World Cup game here in HK. It was a fantastic match, the stands were full of enthusiastic fans, the hazy drizzly weather provided perfect rugby weather, and we managed to get ourselves a free beer!

Sunday morning was a lazy one, spent playing around with our new surround sound speakers bought the previous night (the difference in sound is absolutely phenomenal! As Matt puts it "You can hear the fingers actually plucking the strings of the guitar"). By about 4pm we thought a walk to the beach and some disc throwing was in order, so off we went. Turns out every Sunday there's a pick-up (touch) rugby game and we were invited to join in. I've only just gotten into the sport (having seen 3 live matches in 2 weeks) and so it was great fun trying to learn on the fly how to actually throw and catch the ball, nevermind the fact i've never held one before. The guys were kind and helpful and it was a great exhausting (!) run-around. We inherited a second-hand rugby ball from one of them so now i've no excuse not to get better!

Monday, November 20, 2006


After countless hours of rehersal, it all came down to 90 nerve-wracking minutes on stage, under the bright lights at Shatin Town Hall. It had been a while since i've performed live, but that anxious/excited feeling never fails to make its presence.

Sue and Guy had just landed in HK after their long-haul flight from Heathrow but there they were, along with my other beloved supporters (YK, Tomoe, Li and of course, hubby) in the audience. Unfortunately i had to attend our 4 hour afternoon dress rehersal so couldn't pick them up at the airport, but managed to sneak away for 5 minutes before tuning to welcome them.

After the concert, it was picture time and after having ours (the orchestra) taken, HKUPO alumni were invivted onstage for a final photo-op. Matt&co thought it was spouses of orchestra members who were joining on stage, so the next thing i knew, Matt was bolting full steam down the aisle and did this giant leap onstage, dodging players, violins and stands... and almost crashed right into me as he grinned up to the camera. Everyone started hooting and hollering, laughing and pointing, and i told him that it was only meant to be orchestra alumni who were supposed to be up here. Ah, it was so funny and he was completely embarassed but i wouldn't let him go back down, no way! See if you can spot him in the pic.

I finished my 3 week practicum on Friday feeling I had learned more than i ever anticipated and was looking forward to seeing my Uni-mates on Monday to compare experiences.

But first, the weekend. On Saturday, we visited Lamma island and lunched at the superb Bookworm Cafe (organic wholesome food with a great vibe), hiked to the local beach for a refreshing swim and some disc-throwing and saw Japan beat HK 53-3 at the Asian World Cup rugby match at the HK football club (not as bad as the last game of 93-3!)

On Sunday we went for a hiking expedition on South-West Lantau island to seek out the perfect spot for our New Year's Eve campsite. As usual, we were rushing about and running for our bus and only until we reached the deserted trail that would not take us through any villages or towns, did we realize we totally forgot to pack a lunch.. oops! Besides the mints Sue had and a couple of bottles of water between us, i've learned I should follow my Girl Guide motto a bit closer to "Always Be Prepared!" Still, we carried on, walking past the Lantau prison (with tennis and basketball courts!), spotting lots of colourful butterflies, and basically working up a huge appetite for our lun-dinner afterwards. But we did accomplish our task of finding a secluded beach, which faces the South China Sea and besides the odd campers and discrete fishermen, it was just us on the fine-sand beach. It is the perfect venue for welcoming 2007, swimming, frisbee throwing, and bonfire building!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


It's a wet day and all i want to do is sleep. My mistake was drinking strong coffee yesterday evening, and it just sent my system entirely out of whack. I'm paying for it now. Only managed about 3 hours of sleep. I actually don't consume that much java anymore, not like i used to. In fact i only do it if we have guests staying over. It's a good thing, i think, until i have some at the wrong time of the day.

Anice and Laura just finished the last episode of the first season of LOST before rushing off to catch the airport bus. Here's a pic of them and the cheesecake they gave us on the last night. It was nice to have them over, liven up the house a bit and listen to them talk about their adventures in HK after another day out.

My 3rd week of practicum teaching at King's College is coming to an end, and i've learned an awful lot and seen how a typical government school in HK is (mis)managed. Although i've only just caught a glimpse of the system and how things work (or don't), I'm shocked by how much cultural difference there is from what i'm used to. Teachers are used as pawns here it seems, dispatched to whatever school the EMB (Education Manpower Bureau) sees fit, given a schedule and told to stick to it or else, and the worse part: never acknowledged or appreciated for their efforts and time. Yes, the stereotype is true: Hong Kong teachers are worked to the bone. But it is the paperwork and bureaucratic bullcrap that bogs them down, not the actual teaching itself.

After getting to know my mentor, May (see pic of her at her desk), better, it seems she's in a depressing state of mind, where all she's trying to do is keep up with the mountain of papers on her desk (literally!) It seems that teachers who've been in the profession too long and see more negatives than positives begin to turn on the students themselves, which is horrible and counterproductive, as if they were an afterthought in the education world.

Having said that, boys will be boys and i have no qualms about using my LOUD voice when necessary, but see less and less reason to do so nowadays; classroom management should not be about who can yell the loudest but who can yell longest - just kidding. I pull the familiar tactics out: moving the chatty kid up to the front beside me, threatening to send him outside if he misbehaves again... but alas, it seems boys are born with unlimited energy (someone should invent a way to harness all that excess energy and the world's energy crisis would be solved!) and i've just got to divert this energy into productive channels instead. I've come to accept the fact that a constructive and healthy class doesn't mean dead silence and everyone paying attention; infact, discussion, talking, debating and excitable chatter can be just as productive and positive.

Matt and I have signed up for a sailing course and we had our first lesson (out of five) on Saturday. It was a hot and pretty breezy day aboard "Fuzzy Duck" as we sailed out to the very east of Hong Kong, practiced how to tack and gybe, feasted on a gorgeous curry lunch, and glided in back to harbour as the sun was setting over the skyline. It was just nice to be out on the water again and pretty soon we'll be Ms. Competent Crew Member and Mr. Day Skipper!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Last Supper

It's Anice and Laura's last day in the streets and alleyways of Hong Kong. UP the Victoria Peak they went today. Check out: for what they've been up to these few weeks... besides watching LOST and eating the foods they dearly missed for the past year (ie. chips, popcorn, ready-made pizza, cereal, cheese).
We found another cockroach under the sofa last night. Unable to kill such a defenceless creature (i cannot deal with the crunch sound), i caught him in a plastic container and through him off the balcony. Dunno what's better: murder or inflicted-suicide. And i still can't comprehend how these things manage to get up to the 26th floor of our building!
I'm super duper tired today. It's draining not doing anything. Am leaving to go grocery shopping and cook them a last supper. Pumpkin pie is on the menu.. yummy!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday stroll

November has been a real pleasure in Hong Kong this year. After record temperatures in October, yesterday was a glorious day with blue skies and a slight breeze in the air. A perfect day to go hiking, and hiking we did! What most people don't know is that beyond the concrete jungle of the city, there are green forests and hills that twist and turn through streams, waterfalls, and reservoirs. We went with friends YK and Tomoe and did Stage 5 of the Hong Kong Trail, a difficult 'experienced hiker trail' followed by 'easy rambling' on Stage 6.

The 3 hour walk took us past Jardine's Lookout (impressive view of the city below), Mount Butler (an exhausting vertical hike up to the peak but well worth it for the 360 panoramic view) and around the Tai Tak reservoir (gorgeous acqua marine colour with little fish, big GOLD fish and even a turtle!) We came upon a secret little natural rock pool that was fed by a gushing waterfall. You literally didn't feel like you were on Hong Kong Island, it was just stunning. I quickly decided i wanted to get in - how often does a chance like this come up? After such a hot and strenuous hike, we deserved to cool off too.

We ended our perfect day with a delicious meal at Stanley Beach. The boys had their "Huge Beers" to wash everything down, see pic, and after a quickee stop at Hagan-Das to replenish our lost calories from the day, we headed back home to carve our pumpkin. Matt's idea was to do a Canada flag and it turned out very well indeed!

Friday, November 03, 2006

welcome laura!

Laura, one of Anice's friend from back home in Ottawa, is here now! We all went to highschool together but i haven't seen her in ages. She too was teaching in Japan for the past year and it's been quite hilarious seeing her take in all the delightful sights and smells of Hong Kong!

Last night we dined in the Night Market in Kowloon before rushing off to see a benefit concert by the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. They played all the classics: Swan Lake, Don Giovanni, Pavane, Carmen - all beautifully performed.

It's been fun having live-in guests again. I've got the two of them hooked on LOST - haha! They are downstairs watching episode 8 as i type. After a year of no English tv/movies, they are soaking it all up and are glued in front of the screen, apart from the odd venture out to Tai O, Big Buddha and the Markets. I don't mind one bit, they are much-welcomed squatters: I come home, dinner's made, house is vacuumed, recycling/garbage is taken out, clothes are washed, and dishes are done.

A hectic week with little sleep, I'm thankful it's the weekend. Our HKU Orchestra is gearing up for the yearly concert which will be held in a couple of weeks. Two practices weekly, 3 hours each, it's gearing up to be an intense show.