Monday, December 19, 2011

More adventures in my (lack of) multilingualism

I'm going out of town for a week (48 hours of travel for four days with the family, but totally worth it just to get some Texas food) so I called to cancel my water delivery.

Me: "I'm going on holiday and I'd like to cancel the delivery."
Water rep: "How long you like to suspend your cervix?"

Well that sent some damn shivers down my spine. I think I'm in for some particularly terrifying nightmares tonight.

But I'm under no illusions that my attempts at speaking Canto don't create similar WTF moments. For example, the other day at the fruit market I was attempting to ask the vendor "Do you have four of these?" But I'm pretty sure I said, "Are you dead with this?" while pointing at a guava.

She looked nervous and nodded.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dry it, and they will come.

My new office is in Sheung Wan along "Dried Seafood Street".

Well, not always dried. I guess this is smoked fish (if exhaust fumes count as smoke).

So, of course, the neighborhood is inundated with cats. Here are a few of my favorites -

This is the fat guy who lives next door to my office. He has a smaller brother, but I think they don't get on well because fatty is really self-conscious about his weight.

This morning he was frantically rubbing his head on some cardboard boxes to get a rub, so I stopped to pet him. But not before snapping a photo.

Here he is, very conscious of the dramatic lighting and striking a pose.

Cats kicking back on bales of dried... um... somethings.

Looking wistfully at some dried fish.

And a proud owner.

I love it here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Yesterday Kelly and I went to day one of Clockenflap - a two-day music festival. Tickets are free, but you have to register well in advance because attendance is limited. After missing out last year, we registered as soon as we heard about it this year. So far, we haven't been disappointed. The music is awesome - Zebra and Snake have been the best so far, but tonight is the Cribs and Santigold, who should both be pretty good. The location is the promenade along the West Kowloon Cultural District, and it's gorgeous. Some photos:

Waiting to get in:

Me with my two favorite things - beer and Kelly:

Handsome men:

The harbour:

Christmas lights across the harbour:

After dark - cool weather and a full moon. Perfect:

And a brief video clip right after sunset during the Zebra and Snake show, just to get a sense of the venue:

Lots of fun, headed back today!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Epic Trip - The Movie!

Our epic trip from Hong Kong to Kazakhstan (by train!) has been made into a movie by the fabulous Happy Jellyfish Peoples Democratic Language Bureau. Not only does this film feature yours truly, but it contains all the information you need to make this epic trip yourself - Mando phrases, drinking etiquette, where to visit (and where to avoid), the best foods to try... even the proper backpack to carry! At $100 HKD, that's less than one HKD per minute! Check out the trailer, then head over to Happy Jellyfish to get yourself a copy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grocery shopping is never boring.

You can tell I shop at the classy supermarket because they only sell EDIBLE frog.

(Also, how awesome is it that I live in a place where they print the scientific name of the animal on the package?)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hong Kong in 2x5 inches

My new iPhone cover, bought in Shenzhen. Louis Vuitton, gold, rhinestones.... the Hong Kongiest thing I've ever owned.

In other news, the new iPhone will be released in Hong Kong on November 11th. Families in Central should start sending their domestic helpers to wait in line right about... now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I take back everything I've ever said about Cantonese food.

Okay, not really. But holy wow - last night we had some amazing food.

We'd walked by the Hoi Tin Garden restaurant a few times and noticed a plaque on the facade proclaiming that The Wall Street Journal (that bastion of culinary discrimination) had called it one of the "Top 10 Restaurants in Asia." What? In Tuen Mun? So we had to give it a try.

It's located on a street full of shops selling seafood, so first you walk around and buy your victims.

" die."

You then carry the writhing, dripping bag into the restaurant, hand it to your waitress, sit back, drink a beer (okay, it was three beers. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME), and wait.

And then the food begins arriving. We started with a few non-seafood dishes. First, the best char siu pork I've ever had:

Roasted goose:

Then on to the seafood. Crab in curry:

Prawns with garlic:

Fish steamed in soy sauce:

Stop staring at me, fish! What did I ever do to you?? Oh... nevermind.

And razor clams with noodles:

I think there were some vegetables as well, but really - who cares?

Saturday, October 15, 2011


We went to King Ludwig's BeerHall in Yuen Long last night. Here's how the conversation with the waitress went:

Me: I'll have one liter of blahblahlager.

Her: One liter?


"One liter?"


"One liter? You?"


(I also had the pork knuckle, which the menu suggested was "for 2-3 people.")

And later I ordered another beer. That's right, waitress - I'm a gweilo and THAT'S WHAT WE DO.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Epic Trip: Highlights - The longest train trip in the world, and the Buddhist monastery in Xiahe

I've posted photos of some cute cats and, most importantly, posted about the glorious food, but I suppose I should describe a bit of what we actually did on Epic Trip.

The trip itself was action-packed with nary a lull in sight - with the exception of train and bus trips. For example, the 44-hour train ride from Shenzhen. The only seats left were the top bunks in a car stuffed with about 70 other people. We were about 20 inches from the ceiling.

Children screaming. No air conditioning. Near death. Please note my shirt soaked with sweat -

We were saved only by the beer trolley wheeled up and down the train by a woman who I grew to love dearly. And by a pretty good restaurant car. Eggs with chilies, greens with fungus -

Tofu with chilies, sour and spicy potatoes, eggs with tomatoes -

And other passengers trying to escape the screaming mayhem of our car -

We got off for five-minute periods at various stops to stretch our, well, everythings. (Note the bandana tied Axl Rose-style. I found that a bandana soaked in cold water is actually very poor protection from mid-August, mid-China heat.)

Luckily I've blocked out most of that journey by now.

So let's begin with the first highlight of the trip.

We took a bus to visit a Buddhist monastery on the Tibetan Plateau in the town of Xiahe. What should’ve been a 4-hour bus ride turned into an 8-hour clusterf*ck for many reasons – not least of which was that for much of the journey the bus driver let his wife drive while he walked alongside to try to solicit passengers.

Also, I found out that Tibetans are terribly prone to motion sickness. I was surrounded by vomiting. But no worries – they were kind enough to vomit neatly in plastic bags. And then throw them out the bus window.

But the town and the monastery were beautiful, especially after a brief afternoon thunderstorm.

Up next - the Great Wall, and wandering in an industrial wasteland.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Epic Trip: Mainland cats

Yeah, so I took some photos of some mountains and stuff, but most of the time I was too lazy to dig my camera out of my bag. But cats? Always photo-worthy. Here are some of the kitties.

We tried to give this kitten some chicken, but he only wanted bones and cigarette butts:

Tied up outside a shop:

Chillin' on a scooter:

Neighborhood watch:

A shady spot:

Headed home:

Waiting for customers:

This guy did not want his photo taken - biting the camera strap:

So I placated him with rubs: