Hong Kong

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Mahjong anyone?

Filed in General, Hong KongTags:

Just a note to let everyone know that I've been invited to participate in the World Series of Mahjong competition! I leave home to catch the ferry to Macau in just a few minutes. Wish me luck ;-)

I haven't been over to Macau for a very long time. Casinos and casino gambling don't interest me. It will be interesting to see how it has changed, and if it has changed for the better. I suspect that a lot of culture and history has been lost which would be a shame. Glass and aluminium can become boring very quickly.

Cheers all.

Typhoon Nuri. Tame?

Filed in Digital Hunter, General, Hong Kong, Photo of the DayTags: , , , ,

The first time I was in Hong Kong, visiting with a student from The University of New South Wales in 1985, we were hit by a #10 typhoon. At the time, I believe I was staying with his family in a hillside home made of tin and concrete next to the now non-existent 荔園 amusement park. It was quite an experience, although the hurricanes in Australia can be even stronger. In my hometown in Queensland, a hurricane lifted a hurricane-proof roof off from a motel and dropped it elsewhere!

A young Bulbul feeding before the typhoon

The wind and rain as it began this morning stirred insects from their hiding places. The birds, including this young Bulbul, were joyfully catching more bugs than they could count.

Today though, here in Hong Kong, my family and I are staying indoors. No one in Hong Kong is going to work. Everyone is waiting, waiting for the biggest typhoon we've seen in a while pass smack right over the middle of Hong Kong.

Our kids are inside. We went out for their daily walk this morning before the rain became too heavy, and now they're sleeping. There's nothing else for them to do. Fortunately, there's no lightning. A couple of them really don't like lightning, especially 小白. If there's lightning at night, she'll come looking for me and sit next to our bed forlornly looking at me as I sleep. If I don't notice her, she'll paw me until I wake up and sit with her. Rachel doesn't like lightning either. Wind and rain don't seem to bother them much although Jason and Dallas both hate getting wet. If Jason is out roaming around the village and it begins to rain, you can be sure that very soon after, he'll be at the garden gate barking politely to be let in.

Typhoon Nuri won't be on top of us until around 5pm today. Until then, I'll have to keep my ears and eyes open, watching that everything around us remains stable and anchored to the ground. It will be an interesting day.

Update 4.30pm

The wind stopped. Everything is quiet. We took this opportunity to drive down to the local shopping centre. Unfortunately, only one supermarket and one coffee shop were open, and the lines were way too long at the supermarket, so we came back with just a cup of coffee and a slice of typically commercial low-grade cheesecake.

Arriving home, we were met by an amazing sight; thousands of dragon flies and hundreds of swallows feasting on them. This was the first time I've seen evidence of a natural enemy for the dragon fly. I stood near the middle of one swarm of dragon flies as the swallows flew around me. They were definitely enjoying themselves. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to photograph what I was seeing so I don't have any photographs to show you.

There was still no wind or rain so we took the kids for a walk while we could.

Everything is very very still. I suspect that we are perhaps in the eye of the typhoon. So far though, this typhoon is nothing to write home about.

Update 9.00pm

I was right. We were in the eye of the typhoon. But I was wrong. This typhoon is very powerful, even though it's only a #9. I tied down a few of the not-so-sturdy construction items around our home today, but this wind is proving to be too strong for my reinforcements. Our second fridge on the balcony was moving away in the wind. I had to tie it to the wall. Most of a light aluminium sheet fence that keeps the kids within our garden area is warped and ripped. We'll have to replace it. As long as it doesn't fly away and damage someone's property or hurt someone, I'll accept the situation.

Also on the balcony, a wonderful stainless steel cupboard that someone kindly gave to us when they moved house a few weeks ago isn't moving anywhere, but the doors unfortunately are no match for the vacuum force created by the typhoon wind, and everything within the cupboard including my power tools is getting wet. We'll have to dry everything out tomorrow, and I'll have to develop a method of securing the doors in typhoon weather.

Nothing to write home about… yeah, right! This is one pretty nasty wind. On the other hand, it's very soothing to stand in. If not for the danger of getting hit by flying objects, I'd spend a lot more time standing out there.

This is the first time we've experienced a typhoon of this magnitude while living in our current residence, and as such, we have no idea how resilient the flat is to the elements. There's a large window and a large two-panel glass door in the living area. You can see the window swell and flatten with the wind, and as new-comers, it's quite scary. For the first hour or so after this wind hit us, I had a hard time relaxing, wondering if anything was going to break or shatter. So far however, everything is ok.

According to the government weather site, typhoon Nuri is moving away; very slowly, only 14km/hr. We'll probably have to put up with these gale-force winds for at least another hour. We won't be getting much sleep tonight.

I should mention that unlike most people in Hong Kong, we don't live in a high-rise. We live on the ground floor of a village house facing South to the ocean which is just half a kilometre from us. According to the government weather site, Nuri is now blowing us from SSW so we're really getting the full force of Nuri.

I wonder how the birds survive these winds…

Update 11.30pm

Nuri is still blowing just as hard as ever. The fence is still on the ground although disconnected in several places. I hope it stays on the ground for the rest of the night, and I can then hopefully repair it tomorrow. According to the weather site, Nuri is already on its way away from Hong Kong. I really hope the wind drops to a more modest speed within the next hour. We'll see.

Update 2am

Still blowing hard. There have been lulls now and then, but the occasional powerful buffets make up for those lulls. I'm really tired now. I need to shower and sleep. With luck, nothing more will be broken tonight and the weather will allow us to clean up tomorrow. The fence will take longer to repair but I'll examine the problem tomorrow.

Next time, we'll be better prepared ;-)

The Longest Six Months

Filed in General, Hong Kong

It's been an extraordinary six months since the play finished.

My vocal chords were severely damaged by the over-singing before and during the show. Even with six weeks of minimal speaking to relax the chords, they remained sensitive to exertion of any kind. In August, a friend asked me to sing and my voice was gone and my chords were sore after just two songs. A stressful three to four weeks in September only made matters worse. Things around us have calmed down now and I have begun the slow process of rebuilding my singing voice but it will be at least a month before I can sing anything serious.

London. I couldn't leave Hong Kong to go to the auditions because TVB needed me for a series 「金石良緣」 being filmed between June and August. Fortunately, London agreed to let me do a distance-audition. Unfortunately, damaged vocal chords and other matters that popped up (see below) precluded me from studying in London for the near future.

Like most actors and actresses, we are not well off and we rent the flat we live in. We live in the ground floor unit of a typical Hong Kong-style village house. Village houses by definition have three stories. Each 700 square-foot storey is a single unit. As the rich people have continued to get richer, and as the Mid-Levels district has lost some of its appeal to the expats, our district has become much more popular in recent years. Many village houses are being converted into expensive single-unit homes. For several months, the two units above us were empty. A speculator spotted them and immediately saw lots of dollar signs. By the end of June, my wife and I were frantically searching our district and adjacent districts looking for a new place to live in that would be suitable for us and our family.

We were given just eight weeks to move out. Our landlord was nice to us but the time limits still applied. By the middle of July, my wife and I were resigned to moving to a unit we had found near the ocean in another district, a very inconvenient district. My wife was stressed and depressed but there was nothing we could do. With two or three pets, it can be very difficult to rent a flat. With eleven pets, renting borders on impossible.

Then a miracle happened. While trying to find a home for a roaming puppy from our village's car park, I discovered a flat perfect for us in every way; location, size, room arrangement. The flat was more expensive, was in serious disrepair and came with some extra responsibility but otherwise was exactly what we needed. We believe that the flat was in part a gift from my wife's father who had passed away the previous day.

Time was tight. Between getting access to the new flat and moving out of our old flat, we only had three days in which to clean and renovate the new flat and move all of our belongings. It was tough for everyone; including the kids; but we made it. The kids were not allowed into the new flat until the painting had been completed several days after moving in. That made it hard for them before they've always had free access to us all day every day. When they were finally allowed into the flat, they were ecstatic.

Renovations continued while we lived here. I did most of the renovation work myself. A very good friend helped immensely with the painting and some electrical work. The rest of the family worked their socks off cleaning everything and rearranging our furniture and possessions. Four weeks later, we are living comfortably with only the television and stereo system remaining to set up.

My wife's father passed away in August with some form of lung cancer. It was rather shocking to watch his health decline so rapidly in his last weeks. He still had the strength to complain and argue about home affairs and the night-time noise in the hospital the first time he was admitted. A week later, he didn't have the strength to yell anymore. By August, the doctors believed that his remaining time was short and transferred him to a very nice hospice (a hospital for dying people). We stayed with and watched him every day because we wanted to be there just in case the dying moment came. For a few days, he seemed ok and we were left wondering if he would hang on for many more months. The following Sunday, he saw more family members than he'd seen for a very long time, and he was happy and energetic. Apparently, that's not a good sign. The Chinese have a saying 「回光反照」 which basically means the last glow before sunset (taken from Wenlin). He died a few days later. We had the funeral in mid-August.

So you can see that for the past six months, we have been busy beyond belief, but the activities haven't stopped yet.

One of our kids; Batty; has hip dysplasia. He suffers extreme pain in his back and rear legs after any bouts of sprinting, and he walks with a stilted gait. Over the past three or four years, we've approached several vets hoping to find out exactly what the problem was. Several possibilities were presented to us including dysplasia and 'tying up'. One vet even performed an MRI on Batty's lower spine and was ready to immediately perform surgery to cut out the supposed 'unhealthy bone growths' in his spine. We never went back to that vet again.

We are now almost certain however that Batty does indeed have hip dysplasia. He loves to run but the pain is so bad afterward that he cries out in pain even when the other kids lightly brush past him. We have had some luck financially of late and so we've decided to cure his dysplasia once and for all with hip replacements. Hopefully, the hardest thing for him throughout this ordeal will be the mandatory immobility. He'll be caged for at least four weeks, not even allowed to leave the cage to go to the bathroom. Four weeks of imprisonment in exchange for several years of happy running and living; I think it's a worthwhile trade.

I had decided to keep my articles shorter for the sake of my readers. Whoops! This one has already broken that rule. I'd better say goodbye. See you all again next time.

Perfection. The Lie of the Century.

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong, LifeTags: , ,

The truth is that everyone wants to be happy. The reality is that apparently, most people are very confused about how to be happy.

For years, advertising agencies have been using images and movies of seemingly very beautiful and happy people to sell products, everything from beer to jewellery. The core of their message is that you'll be happy too if you consume or own whatever they're selling.

The reason that this advertising works is a deep-seeded psychological need for people to be part of a community, to be accepted, to be 'one of the gang'. Many organisations use this need to their advantage. Beer and cigarette commercials imply that if you're not drinking their beer or smoking their cigarettes, that you'll not be welcome by others in the community, or at least if you do drink their beer or smoke their cigarettes, you'll have 'better' friends and more of them. Many young people have come to believe these messages.

Unfortunately, materialism has become a major influence in today's world. We as a society are becoming more and more materialistic, and consequently more and more superficial. Over time, people will lose themselves. They will forget the true value of their lives and despair and hopelessness will ultimately ensue. Perhaps this is the reason that so many young people commit suicide in Hong Kong when relationships fail or when they get unsatisfactory results in their exams. I wish someone would tell them that there's more to a person than what they're wearing, smoking or drinking, and there's much more to a person than the prestige of the school they're attending.

The reason I'm writing this article; the trigger that made me sit down and begin typing, was an article in today's S.C.M.P. titled "Alarm bells ring over cosmetic surgery push". Corporations in Hong Kong are arranging cosmetic surgery tours to Korea where the surgery is cheaper and reportedly more advanced than that available in Hong Kong. Company's are paying big money to hire spokespeople and perform non-trivial surgery to become walking examples of their work. One such corporation by the name of Be a Lady recently paid one million Hong Kong dollars to a former Miss Hong Kong lady (吳文忻, Miss Hong Kong 1998) to have surgery done and become one of their spokespeople. Just the name of the corporation upsets me (colourful language would be more appropriate than 'upset' but generally speaking, I don't use colourful language). It implies that if you're not perfect, then you're not a lady. Unbelievably pathetic!

One of the procedures that Miss Hong Kong 1998 had done was the straightening of her nose. I feel sorry for her. The one million dollars will probably be useful to her, but I very much doubt that any of her operations are going to make her any happier, especially in the long term.

People seem to forget. What the surgeons and corporations are referring to as perfect features in people are in actual fact not attractive. Perfection is boring. Imperfections; the way her nose slants to one side, the way his left eye is slightly smaller than his right eye, or the unusual shape of her lips; make us special. Our wrinkles represent our past; the joy, the laughter, the pain, the hardships and the toil. They also represent our pride because we survived that pain, those hardships and that toil, so why hide them?

We are who we are. Our looks are a very important part of who we are, and that we all look different and perhaps curious is what makes us interesting. It's what makes us human. To infer and teach that people will be happier if they have 'perfect' features is perhaps one of the biggest lies of the century. I wish people would wake up.

The Devaluing of Human Life

It's not unusual in a newspaper's account of a young person committing suicide to read of elder family members or friends struggling to understand why today's young people undervalue their lives. I have my suspicions.

When our parents were growing up, advertising of the variety that implies that you'll be accepted and happy if you use a certain product were minimal. Newspapers were basically text with very few pictures. Television was in black and white and advertising agencies were still learning the psychological side of advertising. Admittedly, they too used pictures of smiling 'happy' people in their advertisements (and 'cool macho' men in the Marlboro ads) but it was harmless for the most part. Most people from that generation worked very hard to make a living and raise their families. Many did it without grudge or complaint. It was an accepted part of life and life itself was to be treasured.

Today, advertising, television programs and magazines now have almost every young person convinced that they'll never be happy if they're not beautiful and don't own all of the latest fashions, accessories and gizmos. The situation is probably further complicated because most parents today are working long hours at the office to pay the household bills and rarely have time to spend with their children, teaching them the value of the family unit, and hence the true way to find value in themselves.

Unfortunately, since we live in a very capitalist world and money controls what we see and read, I don't see a solution to this problem. Materialism will continue to increase. Our society will continue to commoditise and debase humanity. People will continue to buy into the lie of perfection and those people will inevitably arrive at a point in their lives where they'll feel alone, disillusioned, betrayed, degraded and devoid of self-worth. The future doesn't look good for humanity.

If you're considering cosmetic surgery in an attempt to perfect a certain feature, please stop and remember. You're perfect just the way you are. If anyone tries to say otherwise, it's certain that they don't respect you, they don't love you, and they're not worthy of your friendship.

A Story of Affection

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong, Miscellaneous

It was Tuesday. My wife and I had things to do at Telford Gardens. My wife and her sister were hungry for something Chinese, and I wasn't, so they went off to their choice of restaurants while I began making my way to Starbucks for a coffee. On the way though, I was side-tracked by a young lady who recognised me from a veterinary clinic I had visited a few times with Rose our rabbit.

The lady was trying to rescue a kitten and asked for my help. The kitten was behind some building materials stacked up against the wall facing the outside carpark and crying out loudly. While the lady used a plank to force the kitten out of hiding, I waited on the other side and grabbed her when I had the chance. Little did I know how much of a wild cat she was in spite of her small size. She instantly spun around and clawed at me with everything she had. She even managed to bite me at least once, but I quickly grabbed her gently and securely, covering and holding her head with one hand and holding her body with the other. She stopped moving but growled angrily from time to time in protest.

While I switched my position to hold the small kitten by the scruff of the neck, the lady opened the boot of her car and began looking for a box to contain the kitten for transport. The kitten wasn't ready to give up just yet and began struggling as hard as possible to get away. The lady found a box in the car, but it was obvious that getting the kitten into the box would be almost impossible because the opening of the box was far too small and the kitten had all four legs sprawled out, ready to push away whenever the opportunity presented itself.

It was at this time that we realised that the kitten had a mother, and that the mother was in the rafters above us. She had been calling out to Mum all along. We looked up to see the mother peering down at us. There was a fire in her eyes, the kind that only wild animals possess. It was obvious to me that she would never trust us, and that she was worried about her kitten.

Getting the kitten into the box was pretty much pointless, and the kitten's mother was there to look after her so we decided to let her go. As I lowered the kitten to the floor and let her go, she pounced onto the floor with all four paws spread out and disappeared into the building material almost instantly. She was gone.

The lady left. I went into the bathroom to attend to the cuts and bites on my hands. With bites like these, it's advisable to press a little blood from each of the wounds to help wash out any bacteria that might be present, so I bled the wounds and washed my hands.

Back at Starbucks, I sat down to coffee and a sandwich. When my wife arrived, she was none the wiser to what had just happened in her absence.

On Death Row

Several hours later, I returned once again to Telford Gardens to change an order at Ikea. After getting my parking validated, I walked out to the car park and over to my car. While unlocking the car, I was keenly aware of the kitten crying out again. This time, it was in a stairwell. Too curious to be healthy, I peered around the stairwell and saw the kitten. She saw me too, and began backing away up the stairs. I decided to leave her alone and go home. Just as I was getting into the car, I noticed one of the security people carrying a cardboard box, walking in the direction of the stairwell. I was pretty sure I knew what he had planned but wanted to be sure and asked him. Sure enough, he was getting ready to catch the kitten.

A couple of weeks ago, I remember walking down the corridor of Telford Gardens Phase III with my wife when we noticed a medium sized non-threatening nervous black dog walking towards us. As he passed us, we also noted the security guard following closely behind talking with some urgency into his walky-talky. Obviously, he was planning to catch the dog.

I felt sorry for the dog. He wasn't harmful to anyone. He had no problem walking among the hundreds of people shopping in the centre but he wasn't welcome and he'd be caught by the security people soon enough. Once caught, his death was almost guaranteed.

I was familiar with the security guard planning to catch the kitten. I had talked to him several times in the past. When I asked about the kitten, he said that the kitten would be given to the SPCA. I commented that this action was the equivalent of committing the kitten to death (almost all of the animals given to the SPCA are delivered to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department which kills them within days of receipt) but he said there was nothing he could do. People move from Telford Gardens and some of them rather than taking their pets with them choose instead to dump them in the public areas. The pets leave toilet products in the public areas and the company consequently has no choice but to catch and dispose of the abandoned pets.

I had ignored the black dog, but I didn't want to abandon the kitten, particularly because I knew of someone who was willing to home it; the lady who had asked me to help her catch the kitten earlier. I accompanied the guard to catch the kitten.

Just as we exited the stairwell on to the public garden courtyard, we observed a young teenager chasing the kitten, enjoying himself as he instilled needless torture and fear into the kitten. How can people be so ruthless? Is it really so macho to persecute and terrorise small animals? These people are so pathetic. I reprimanded the teenager (whose father was watching nearby) with 「有啲人道先得嘅!」 and the guard and I proceeded to catch the kitten which I then took home.


We have a spare cage which I unfolded and placed on my desk next to the computer. I wanted this wild kitten to see me as much as possible, to adapt quickly and lose its fear of people. I placed a mat inside along with water and dry kitten food I had picked up at the pet food store on the way home. I then gingerly placed the cardboard box with the kitten at the door to the cage and opened one flap of the box. The kitten didn't come out. It was cowering in one corner of the box. It not an option to place my hand in the box with the kitten so I opened every flap of the box and gently shaked it while keeping it pressed up against the cage to prevent the kitten from escaping. She went in.

We have eleven dogs, and fear was not going to help this kitten settle down, so I covered most of the cage with towels keeping the kitten blind to the world around it; except for one small area facing my chair.

The next thirty hours were incredible. I'll never forget the change that unfolded in front of me.

Every time the kitten cried out for her mother, I popped into view and gently meowed back to her. She cried all night long, even when her voice began to get dry and raspy. We didn't sleep much that night. I got up four or five times and went over to her. The more she saw me, the easier she would become with me. At least, that was the plan.

Day time came and the kitten continued to cry for its mother but she was getting tired. She hadn't touched the dry food, nor the diluted milk I had set down for her. Throughout the day, she became quieter, and began nodding off. It had been a terrible and exhausting ordeal for her.

Later that day at the advice of a friendly vet, I bought some canned kitten food for her. The strong smell of the canned food would make it more enticing to the kitten, and sure enough, not long after I set the food down, the kitten began to eat a little.

Over the next several hours, the kitten changed dramatically. Little by little, the kitten relaxed. She slept some, then she ate some. She cleaned herself, and she began to roll over and play around, even playing with her own tail. She talked to me more and more without the loud crying we had been subjected to for nearly 24 hours. Throughout the second night, she would sleep and then wake up and call out, but instead of calling out for her mother, she was calling out for me; it was a different sound. I would get out of bed and come over to the cage and meow back to her. She began to rub herself up against the cage, and suddenly, she was purring!

The second time she woke me with her calling, I came out and sat beside the cage. She came over to me and began rubbing against the cage again. I sensed that she had changed and I began to take small risks, tentatively poking my fingers through the cage and rubbing her tummy and back. She rubbed back and purred.

The third time she woke me, I decided to take a bigger chance. I opened the cage and was pleasantly surprised to find that she let me pick her up. I nursed her and she began to purr incessantly. She then walked up to my shoulders and became curious, wanting to explore the room we were in. I allowed her a limited amount of freedom, keeping a careful eye on our other kids to make sure they understood that the kitten was out of bounds.

By morning, we were good friends. The wildness in her eyes had disappeared, and in its place was an abundance of affection, comfort and joy. The change was miraculous. She was so beautiful.

Beautiful Kitten

For a 750x500 version, click here.

A New Beginning

We couldn't keep her. I wanted to but there were too many reasons that it wouldn't be a good idea. She'd have to live in the cage for several weeks while I trained the kids to leave her alone. That wouldn't have been a good life. Then after growing up, it was entirely possible that she would decide one day to attack our rabbit who is after all a species of rodent. And she'd probably go after the birds that like to come down to the ground in our garden every day.

I made a few calls and was very lucky to find someone who had a friend who was looking for a kitten. After taking my wife to work, I drove over to a temporary holding area where the kitten would begin its new life. She was not completely tame and managed to claw two of the assistants who were trying to put her into a new cage. When I looked in on her, she was shaking with fear again. I hoped that she would adapt quickly.

Two days later; i.e., yesterday; my wife and I drove over to visit her. I had missed her badly and wanted to be sure that she was ok. When we arrived, she was sleeping under the shirt on the tummy of one of the assistants. The assistant lifted the kitten out and I began nursing her, stroking her and talking to her. Half an hour later, she was that precious bundle of affection again, with a look in her eyes that would melt the heart of even the hardest criminal. It was a wonderful time.

I grew up with cats and have always loved them. When I was young, I broke my leg trying to save our favourite cat Jacob. Jacob eventually grew to a ripe age of 21 years old and died after I had moved to Hong Kong. I have seen Jacob in my dreams on many occasions, usually walking back to me from the bush that surrounded our country home in Gympie at the time. Jacob was an incredible pet and friend, and I'll always miss him.

The kitten will be staying where she is for one month until she has fully adapted to people and until she is old enough to get her first shots. She already has a home to go to and hopefully, she will have a wonderful life. In the meantime, I'll visit her as often as I can and take full advantage of the situation. She is simply too amazing for words, and I feel so so lucky to be able to spend time with her.

Unlimited Affection

Unlimited affection. How could anyone not fall in love with her?

For a 750x500 version, click here.

1202. For those who care.

Filed in Current Affairs, Dogs of our Lives, General, Hong Kong

In my home, we have a table, a chair, a bed, a sofa, a refrigerator, a television and many other household articles. If I hit them, they don't feel pain. If I drop them, they may break but they will not be aware of it. They are simply material objects.

In my home, there are five people. We eat. We live. We cry. We laugh. If someone hits us, we feel pain. If someone betrays us, we hurt. If we are injured in any way, we know. We are aware.

In my home, there are eleven dogs and one rabbit. They feel joy when we return home from a day's work. They feel hunger before a meal. They feel lonely when the people are not home. They feel apprehension when they have done something wrong and see me approaching. They envy those who sit close to us. They speak. They cry. They even shed tears.

There is very little difference between people and animals, yet there are many people who treat animals as objects, as tables that can be bought and sold, born and killed, and all without any feeling or sensibility whatsoever.

In Beijing, the authorities in a bid to control an outbreak of rabies are killing all dogs with a shoulder height taller than 50cm. The fear is that these dogs may catch rabies and become a mortal threat to the humans around them. But it is senseless killing, and devoid of the only thing that makes people special: humanitarianism.

Rather than require that all dog owners arrange rabies shots for their pets, and rather than test for the presence of rabies in the dogs before killing them, the Beijing authorities have chosen the simplest method. Their people are simply catching every dog they see and killing it on the spot. It does not matter if the dog's owner has a license for the dog. It does not matter if the dog is healthy. It does not matter that the dog is an animal, with feelings almost identical to humans. It does not matter. The authorities are even encouraging residents to report relatives, neighbours and friends who may own a dog. It's early communism all over again.

It wouldn't even be proper to use the phrases "put them down" or "put them to sleep" because the government people are striking the animals to death with long rods, in the streets, in plain sight of everyone around.

China is rapidly becoming a modern country. Unfortunately, modern does not equate to civil. While technology can be learnt very easily, humanitarianism; the understanding and caring of life in general; takes a very long time to learn and appreciate.

China is not the only criminal though. Back in January of 2006 in a bid to prove to the people of Hong Kong that they were actually working hard to prevent a bird flu epidemic, the Hong Kong government sought out and killed every domestic chicken owned and cared for by common people all over the territory. There was no testing, no proof of theory, and no mercy. Commercial people; i.e., people with money; were not sought after, only the common people. The unfortunate reality though was that chickens growing up in the back yards of common people were far healthier and far less likely to get bird flu than chickens in the commercial people's overcrowded factories. But the Hong Kong government did not care. Their only concern was that the Hong Kong people felt that they were doing something. Politicians are so superficial.

From what I've heard, the Hong Kong government's theory at the time was that migratory birds carrying the bird flu virus may fly over the common people's homes, depositing contaminated bird droppings into their yards. The chickens in those yards would then walk on the droppings and consequently become infected. Possible but extremely unlikely. This theory was truly a load of crap.

Today though in Beijing, dogs are being senselessly slaughtered and their owners are suffering. To show our support for dogs and their owners in Beijing and to be an example for other Chinese people in China, people here in Hong Kong who care for animals will be holding a vigil on Saturday, December 2 at 6.30pm outside the government building in Chater Gardens in Central. If you share our care for animals, please make an effort to come.

One day, it will be proven that those who have money and power will never be as strong as those who have heart.

More about the vigil:


鑑於近日中國各地所發生的大規模殘殺狗隻情況,以及其所採用的不人道虐殺手法,本小組聯同將於二零零六年十二月二日晚上六時半,在中環遮打花園舉行名為「1202 關注中國犬隻哀悼晚會」活動,為近期在中國死去的犬隻舉行集體悼念儀式,藉此宣揚愛護動物的正面訊息。

由於 閣下一直 對推動愛護動物的事宜不遺餘力。現本小組誠意邀請閣下出席是次活動,一起為動物盡點綿力,令是次在中國發生的不人道對待狗隻事件能夠被廣泛關注,並籍此提高公眾對動物生命的尊重及愛惜。




日期︰ 12月2日 (星期六)
時間︰ 晚上 6時半 至 9時正
地點︰ 中環遮打花園



詳情請瀏覽﹕ http://www.agfasia.org/1202/index.html


Filed in General, Hong Kong

It's a fairly typical day here today in our home, except perhaps for the sun which for the first time in several weeks is shining down bright and hot; whoops! correction... the rain has just begun falling... again... oh well.

Outside, I can hear the chirping of one of our friendly neighbourhood tailorbirds. Occasionally, doves can be heard cooing to let their partners know of their whereabouts. There's also the low continuous rhythmic chanting of one of my wife's sisters as she prays to Buddha.

In the kitchen, there's a yellow electric Chinese medicine pot cooking Chinese medicine with steam coming out of the snout and a typical Chinese medicine aroma floating gently throughout the house. Another pot on the gas stove is cooking Chinese soup while yet another wok is cooking pieces of beef heart for our kids' dinner tonight.

Beethoven is lying on the floor next to me as I type this. David is just round the corner of the desk, never too far from me. Rachel and Charlie are on the floor in front of the bathroom doorway while the other kids are lying on the floor in the living area, all within eye sight of where I'm sitting at my desk.

The sound of the birds has gone away now, replaced by the sound of rain falling steadily onto what was only minutes ago very warm ground. A pup can be heard barking from across the forest that separates us from the ocean.

I was going to go out and see if I could 'hunt' down a few birds (with my camera of course) but the rain has put the breaks on that idea. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow...

Interview online at Apple Daily

Filed in Hong Kong, PressTags: ,

A few months ago, I did an interview with people from Apple Daily for their online education site. Little did I know that it would become quite an extensive interview and writeup, even getting some banner time in the main Apple Daily site.

Overall, the interview is pretty good. The one thing I am disappointed with is the sound recording. Some of the interview was recorded indoors at my friend's coffee shop Prestigio (she also serves fair dinkum home made Malaysian, Singaporean, Western etc food) in Sai Kung. Some of it was recorded outside the restaurant. Because of the noise from passing traffic, I voluntarily increased the volume of my voice with the intent of guaranteeing a recording that the reporters could take home and hear without difficulty.

The problem? It brought out one of the errors in my Cantonese abilities. Whenever I speak louder, the pitch of my voice naturally goes up too. When speaking English, this isn't a problem. When speaking Cantonese where pitch and tones are everything, it's a big no-no. The result is that my non-Cantonese foreigner accent becomes very pronounced, so much so that even I am embarrassed to listen to it. If I'm conscious of it, I can force the pitch back down while maintaining the volume which I've learned to do when filming at TVB. During the interview though, I was more concerned with the content of what I was saying than the accuracy of my Cantonese so it completely slipped my mind.

Douglas; a friend who I have the good fortune to know personally, and whose intelligence frequently humbles me; commented about my remarks regarding middle class people in Hong Kong, how they are not satisfied with their lives or conditions and how many of them have decided to not have babies. I've checked the transcript and audio recording on the interview site and it certainly sounds like I said that. However, I wouldn't say that, at least not the way it has been reported. I wouldn't say that because my wife and I are in exactly the same circumstance as many other middle class (sandwich class?) Hong Kong citizens.

The fact is that life here in Hong Kong is extremely difficult for many of its middle class citizens. We; meaning the middle class citizens; work hard not to get rich, but simply to make enough to pay our mortgages, taxes and eat. With any luck, we'll have some left over to maintain our car or occasionally repaint our flat. Most of our outings take us to the local cinemas and our wardrobes contain nothing special. It's therefore no wonder that many of today's middle class citizens have decided not to have babies. It would be too great an economical burden for most of us. (For those of you living outside of Hong Kong, good schools here in Hong Kong are not free and they're most definitely not cheap, and the expense begins when or before the infant hits the ripe age of just 2 years old.)

Douglas made a good point. It's the midle class people that keep the economy going, or at least keep the government's coffers full. On the other hand, the lower class people get handouts from the government. In many cases, these handouts are absolutely necessary. There are a lot of people here in Hong Kong living on just HKD2,000 a month. Remember for a moment that my wife and I spend more than that just to feed our 'kids' and you'll understand how impossibly difficult it must be for those lower class people to survive in the expensive city that Hong Kong is. The government handouts are therefore absolutely necessary. For these people, the government also provides housing, and there is of course free public schooling, although the final grades of secondary school are not free (please correct me on this if I'm wrong). With these provisions and if you're more concerned with procreating and continuing your family blood line than with the quality of the education your children will get from the free public shools, then it makes sense to have babies. Hence, many lower class citizens continue to have children and bring them up while many middle class citizens decide to do otherwise.

While in Indonesia last year, I couldn't help but observe that family life was a major part of life (i.e., people spend a lot of time with their families), and families were frequently quite large, especially in the poorer areas of the country. I can't help but wonder if technology and 'modern' life styles are anti-family.

But the one thing that keeps repeating in my mind every time I think about how poorer people tend to have larger families is a line from the Christian bible:
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth
. That's truly something to ponder.