Wednesday 15 October 2014

Occupy Central

Trying to catch up on all the news now, as Ross is working late. It makes me so sad to see the violence between different factions in Hong Kong. The students' and occupiers' peaceful protests have made me so proud to be part of HK, and yet now we see the other side of society. The pro-Beijing groups (who seem to be mostly triads) have not justified their support of Beijing and the status quo. Taxi drivers and small business owners are understandably pissed off because their income has been severely affected, but there's a whole bunch of people who are not articulate enough to express why they are acting like they are. It seems like the Gov't is acting in cahoots with these thugs, removing the protesters' barricades just in time for the triads to turn up and create a frightening, violent atmosphere. 

Hong Wrong has some great content about what, why, when

Pepper spray (but not tear gas) was used again last night, as the police tried to clear one protest area. The occupiers responded by moving their barricades elsewhere, and now they are reinforcing with bamboo and concrete. Footage has emerged today of policemen beating a protester who was arrested, which is unbelievable. When every move in this protest is recorded on a thousand smart phones, what kind of idiotic policeman beats the shit out of someone just metres from protesters? Perhaps a policeman who has no fear of repercussions because he has the tacit approval of his least that's my assumption. 

I think a lot of people are so outraged by the government's, police's and other parties' treatment of the protesters that that has become almost as big an issue as the call for true democracy. I hadn't realised until recently that there are precedents, sort of, for this type of action having an effect. In 2003 the government (obviously prompted by Beijing) tried to pass Article 23, an anti-sedition law. Hong Kongers took to the streets in protest, and as a result the proposal was shelved indefinitely, and the Chief Executive at the time (Tung Chee Wah) resigned. And in 2012 they tried to pass some changes to the curriculum that would have painted a very rosy (fictional) picture of how awesome the Central Government in Beijing was. That law was defeated when gov't buildings were occupied by Scholarism, a student movement founded by Joshua Wong, who was, I think, 14 years old at the time. 

So what will happen now? The talks between Occupy protesters and the government - Carrie Lam - were cancelled at the last minute because Carrie claimed that her trust had been shaken because the students proposed to call more people to protest if their demands weren't met. And that was enough to cause her to cancel talks?! More likely she has no wiggle room and she simply does not know what to say. Beijing are not budging on this, but they are delivering their message through the HK gov't, only the gov't doesn't have the balls to either deal with the protesters, or challenge Beijing. 

Monday 13 October 2014

Sarah protest interview:

Friday 28 March 2014


Balut - not my cup of tea. It's a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. Yes, you read that right. It's something of a delicacy in the Philippines, and Vergie's friend brought her back some from her last trip to the PI. 

Here are some photos. I must admit that just the thought of having the thing in my kitchen made my insides feel all funny, but opening the bin to see an aborted chick in there....even minginger. Here are some photos.

The yolk after the chick has been removed

See the head? actually, don't look

Duck foetus

The shell

Thursday 20 March 2014

Car Share Adventure

We had a bit of an exploration adventure this weekend, driving a car in Hong Kong for the first time. We've been here almost 6 years now and we literally haven't driven a mile in all that time. Standard car hire is a bit of a hassle, pricey and you never what you're going to get but a new site launched here recently that let's people rent out their own cars. There are similar services in the UK and the US, but an online service like this is pretty rare in Hong Kong. You can find it at, and can rent by the hour or the day.

So we finally got around to converting our UK licences into HK ones, and finally got approved on their site, then reserved someone's VW Golf over in North Point, for the day. It was all very smooth.
We planned to go see Cath and Holly in Stanley for breakfast, then go to Kadoorie farm out in the New Territories. In the end we were in Stanley on our own, but it was fun driving down there.

The drive out to the New Territories was a bit more complicated, and when we finally got a Kadoorie we found it really hard to park anywhere sensible. With a bit more planning it would probably be good, but we decided to just go the Wetland Park instead which we hadn't been to before.

 Then we crossed over to the other side of the New Territories, another half hour trip, to Bride's Pool. This a waterfall and pool on the edge of a Country Park. Supposedly a bride on her way to a wedding was dropped from her carriage in an accident an died here a long time ago.

Playing in the pool was fun, until Felix fell in and got his shoe wet! Josh's face in the background is awesome:

Saturday 15 March 2014

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Uh oh

So on Saturday (1 March) Joshy fell off the wall around a raised flowerbed, and broke his arm - greenstick fractures to both bones.

Luckily, Rowena's mum was there at the time, and she said that he might have broken it, so we should take him to get checked. When he fell, he cried for a couple of minutes, but nothing more, he was whiny and not using his arm, but not in a great deal of pain at all. And he could still move his arm and all his fingers.

We took him straight to the Sanatorium in Happy Valley. They x-rayed him, and confirmed that at least the radius was broken. We had the option to call the orthopaedic specialist for a $2,000 consultation (it was after hours by this time) or wait till Monday.

We went home, and all slept like logs! Josh slept in my bed, and didn't seem to be in pain (he had had some nurofen). On Sunday morning we decided to call the ortho guy at the Sanatorium and just pay up for the extra charge. We went to the hospital about 9am, and he arrived about 30 minutes later  (they won't call him until you arrive at the hospital). I didn't feel too comfortable with him - he didn't ask any questions or suggest any choices - just said we had to give J a general anesthetic and manipulate the bone before casting it. I wanted a second opinion, so decided to wait.

Here's Josh with Furby, the Froggy class's mascot that we were looking after for the weekend. He had quite an adventure! 

On Monday morning I called the Duchess of Kent Children's Hospital, but they couldn't give us an appointment for 2-3 weeks. So we went to Asia Medical Specialists, who were recommended. We saw Dr Y H Li - a pediatric orthopedic specialist. He was very calm and thoughtful, asked lots of questions, gave us options, and voiced his opinion. He said that actually both bones were broken, and a reduction under GA was one option, or the other was to plaster it straightaway. He said that in kids this young the alignment often corrects itself in 2 years or so anyway, and in any case Josh's misalignment was only around 20% (the arm looks a bit curved to the naked eye). He recommended that course of action, and did the cast right away. Josh had some stuff wound round his arm that looked a bit like bubble wrap, then the doctor wound a bandage on top of this. The bandage was wet, and he shaped it quickly while it was still sticky, then it set rock hard in just a few minutes. Here's J looking very happy with it!

He keeps telling me he loves his cast. He went with Ross to buy a special pink pen so that his friends can write on it. 

I was so relieved  by Dr Li's professionalism and kindness that I almost burst into tears in his office! Awesome, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him. Not cheap - about 1,500 for the consult, then another 4,000 for the plaster cast procedure and materials.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Sri Lanka - Negombo and Kandy


  • Playing with the kids on the beach, finding naughty pinchy cribs and pippies
  • Making friends at Sweet Cinnamon and discovering the cinnamon, coffee, mango, lemon and avocado trees
  • Hanging out by the pool at Queen's Hotel in Kandy, looking up at the blue sky through the frangipane trees while the boys splashed about in the pool
  • BBQ on the beach
  • Both meals at Serendib in Negombo
  • Arriving at Sweet Cinnamon
  • Squirting at the crows from the pool at The Cove
  • Listening to Triple J's Hottest 100, particularly Daft Punk's Lose Yourself to Dance & Get Lucky, Lorde's Royals, and Vance Joy's Riptide. 
  • Realising we had rarer-than-rocking-horse-poo seats in 2nd class on the train to Kandy!
Thursday 30 January 2014 - Flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, and from Singapore to Colombo

Our pre-booked taxi never turned up, so we got a cab to the Airport Express instead, where we met Jo, Aaron and Ben. Checked in, got the train to HKIA, and made our way to the AmEx lounge where we helped ourselves to the free food and drink. Uneventful flight to Changi, where we got a taxi to East Coast Park in the hope of getting chilli crab at No Signboard restaurant. But because it was CNY Eve, only a fixed menu was available so we went next door. The first of many beers, a big fat crab and lime juices.

Back to Changi for our late night flight. Arrived in Colombo, very easy transit out of the airport to our pre-booked transfer to The Cove.

Friday and Saturday we relaxed at The Cove, enjoying awesome cooked breakfasts each day and hanging out by the pool or on the beach. Lots of communal story reading with Az, lots of communal baths (for the kids!) and every evening we shared our best and worst bits of the day.

Sunday was Ben's birthday, so Jo baked a cake and we put up a few decorations in the living room. 

We went for a long walk on the beach and saw the fishermen sorting out their catch. We also went into Negombo with the boys, got some cash at HSBC, and saw the surprisingly pretty lagoon, and had lunch at Ice Bear Cafe

Tuesday 4 February 2014 - Train from Colombo to Negombo

By Tuesday morning, Jo Gareth and Sydney had headed back to Singapore and Jo Aaron and Ben were on their way back to HK. We set off with the boys in a taxi into Colombo. It was Sri Lankan Independence Day (4th February), so the traffic was really light and many shops were closed. We arrived at Colombo Fort station about 8am, and were faced with a big sign saying ALL FULL. Cue an hour or so of confusion and chaos, while we went from counter to counter and tried to figure out the trains. In the end, we managed to get 2nd class tickets on a non-intercity express train that went to Perediniya Junction (thank god I remembered that random name! every time we asked for a train to Kandy the ticket clerks said no). The Tourist Information office promised to try and get us some cancelled tickets and offered us the (un)attractive package of tickets + a driver for 4 days for about 39,000 rupees (just to put this in perspective, our train tickets cost 380 rupees, about 1.50 GBP each, and we didn't need tickets for the boys....)

Seems like the only way to book tickets in advance is by going to Colombo station, or calling from a cell phone that is connected to a particular network...needless to say, we didn't manage that. However, the Sri Lankan Rail website does allow you to calculate the cost for sending chicks and fish...

Once we had our tickets, we grabbed a quick brekky of curry, daal and roti at the station cafe and bought some snacks for the train. Then we headed to the platform to wait for the train. Having asked the railway employees where the 2nd class carriage would be we waited there, and miraculously got seats in the carriage as soon as the train pulled in. A few milliseconds after we boarded there was a massive scrum of people dashing onto the train - not surprising since seats are first-come first-served. By the end of the journey, both Josh & I and Ross & Felix had an extra passenger on their seats.

We were directly behind the engine unfortunately, so it was quite noisy (the driver sounded the horn every 4 or 5 seconds) and we needed the windows open. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, just right with the breeze coming in. The views from the train really are gorgeous, it was a fun ride.

Finally arrived at Peredeniya Junction after about 4 hours, and got a tuk tuk to Sweet Cinnamon. It's a gorgeous guest house about 5 mins' tuk tuk from Kandy city centre. The garden is gorgeous, with a mango tree, coffee bush, cinnamon tree, lemons and a clove tree.

We spent the next couple of days at the Botanical Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth Relic and Kandy Lake.
Kandy Lake

Botanical Gardens

Roadside shop

A tuk tuk outside Amaya Hills, where I got a massage and Rossco looked after the boys despite the fact that I forgot their floaties which ruled out our plan of swimming

The War Cemetery

The next day, we had a driver to take us to Nuwara Eliya, a 2 1/2 hour drive away. We had a little puke stop for Felix on the way (the roads were VERY windy) and saw a waterfall on the way. Once we arrived, we tried to ride a pedalo on Lake Gregory (ludicrously over-priced, so we walked away) and tried to get pony rides for the boys (way too much hassle so we walked away). Nuwara Eliya itself was a bit underwhelming actually, but the tea factories we visited were great. The first one was Blue Hills, where the boys enjoyed the playground and we had a short tour round the factory. On the way home, we visited the Labookelie Mackwoods factory. Actually we didn't go in the factory, just headed out of the gate down to the valley behind the factory, so we could wander through the tea bushes.

Ramboda Falls

Kotmale Reservoir

Pink post office in Nuwara Eliya

Spent the last day hanging out in Kandy, mostly lazing by the pool at Queen's Hotel