Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shining Jew

Check out the following picture, which V took during his lunch break today.

Yes, it's a jewelry store called "Shining Jew."

I'm shocked to learn that there's a Jew living in Hong Kong because along with black people and Hispanics, decent bagels and a slice, Jewish people are few and far between in these here parts. In fact, I'm quite sure there is no Jewish person affiliated with this shop.  Instead, some industrious Hong Konger has decided to play off of the stereotype (which I'm frankly surprised they even know about).

Oh and as with most English signs in HK there are a few grammatical errors.  Like that "Jew" ends in a period.  Maybe it's the abbreviated version of jewelry?? Or that "Kong" isn't capitalized. And I love that they have the "(Hong Kong)" after the title. Lest you forget what city you're in.

Only in Hong Kong, folks...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Merry Happy!

Three days before Christmas and it's 80 and sunny here.  I'm sure many of you are buried under snow and thinking "smug bitch," but I honestly don't like this weather around the holidays.  It's weird (unless you're Aussie).

Today, we decided to have lunch outdoors and I took this shot of V.  Note the large Poinsetta on our table and the Christmas trees lining the sidewalk.  Also note the blazing sunshine.

If you're interested, you can check out our holiday card blog at:

Happy Hannukah (a week late)!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!
Happy New Year!
[I can't bring myself to say Happy Kwanka as I know no one who celebrates it.]

Foliage Foto

I'm not trying to get all artistic on you, but couldn't pass up photographing a flower that's growing outside our building.  It is the trippiest looking flower I've ever seen in my entire life.

You can't tell from the photo, but it's a soft, cottony type flower.  Almost like dandelions when they've gotten to the stage where you make a wish with them.

OK, back to snarky insightful comments on life here....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Candy Update

Spotted a bag of mixed American candy in the holiday aisle of our local grocery store.  Stuffed between decadent truffles and Belgian chocolate sat the only Reeses products I've seen in Hong Kong!

Needless to say, these found their way into my bag and onto our table.

Things that make me smile, part 2

Passed by two things yesterday that made me laugh:

1. A slight Asian man sporting a lush, burly Magnum PI-esque moustache.

2. A group of raucous teenage boys being French.  Even 13 year old boys screaming at each other sounds chic in French.

Dinner of Champions

Tonight's trailer-tastic dinner:

Have I just lost my illustrious housewife title???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Surgical Mask Mea Culpa

I hate being wrong.  And I really really hate having to admit to being wrong.  So you can imagine how happy I am to publicly acknowledge being wrong on my blog.  Especially on the heels of my Baba about-face.

I've never understood why people here wear surgical masks in their everyday life.  Walk a block and you'll pass at least a dozen people wearing masks - with 2/3 of their face completely obscured.  (I'm still not sure I could pick my allergy doctor out of a line-up and I see that man every month!)  Half of them aren't even sick and most reports I've read say these masks don't keep you from getting sick anyway.  When I pass any of these dental hygienist look-alikes, I can't help but snicker and roll my eyes. Give me a freakin break...

With record-breaking pollution levels, a burning throat and aching chest for 5 straight days, I now find myself screaming a loud and proud MEA CULPA at the top of my polluted lungs.  Except, instead of wearing a surgical mask and fitting in, I have to walk around with a bulky scarf wrapped around my head.  Can only imagine all the jihad jokes that are going on behind my back (and rightfully so!)

I feel like this falls somewhere in between a Murphy's Law and Never Say Never lesson.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Being introduced to international candy has been fabulous - TimeOut bars, Wagon Wheels and CC Lemon fizzy drinks are new friends of mine!  But sometimes a girl wants a Butterfinger or Cheetos and there's only one way to scratch that itch!

I don't want to mislead anyone; you can get American candy in HK, but it's all a big yawn.  There's a Twix and a Snickers in every 7-11, but get a hankering for something "exotic," like a Reeses Cup (!), and you're S.O.L.

You can buy candy in bulk at Gateway -- our ghetto version of Cosco, but the last thing I need is 50 mini-Butterfingers sitting in my pantry. (And you know I've sat in Gateway staring at that bag of Reeses Cups, trying to come up with 1001 reasons why walking out the door with them would be a good idea.)

This afternoon, I head over to the "Handmade in Hong Kong" arts & crafts fair and, nestled among the booths selling hand-crafted jewelry, soaps and baby clothes, is the following "display":

Holy American caloric jackpot! Lucky Charms, Reeses, Junior Mints, Fruit Roll-Ups, Pop Tarts, Bubble Gum Tape- and that's only the stuff that fit in the camera shot!  There were 6 racks total and all were full of the nostalgic, sugary yumminess that you can't normally find in HK.  Unfortunately, this fair only comes around twice a year, which might not be a bad thing for my ass and arteries.

Now if someone - anyone! - could tell me where to get a Diet Mountain Dew in this town (even in bulk!) I would be eternally grateful.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Say What??

This is not necessarily exclusive to Hong Kong, or Asia for that matter, but it is something comical and therefore "blog appropriate": nonsensical, bizarrely worded t-shirts.

You see them all over the world, but there seems to be a disproportionately large number here in HK.  I'm not sure why exactly, but think it goes back to my "Americans with Chinese symbol tattoos" analogy.  People think what they're wearing says one thing, when in fact it says something else entirely or nothing at all.

Case in point, here's one I saw on the bus today:

If you can't read the bottom line, it says "Grow up Mind"... Now it's all clear, right?!

So, you have an adjective followed by a noun, followed by a command, followed by who the hell knows?!  I even tried piecing the red letters together, thinking therein lies the logic.  Nope.  Also tried to the black letters.  Strike two.

I guess it's better than one I saw in NYC before we moved here, though.  It read, "I wouldn't f*ck you for practice."  Classy, huh?

Yesterday, I passed the following 2 tshirts in the same walk!  Didn't have a camera, but the wording should suffice:

"Cheer You Up" (accompanied by large smiley face with two X's for eyes.

"It's the Exotic Summertime" (I think the "the" really makes it.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Paging Stacy and Clinton - What NOT to Wear

I've abandoned all sense of decency in an effort to provide photo evidence of how shockingly bad women here dress.  I do this because I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you think I'm exaggerating.  Be prepared to have your world rocked!

Saturday night, V and I are walking into the movie theatre when the most deliciously perfect example of HK women's fashion strolled right in front of us.  Trusty iPhone in hand, I began unabashedly snapping shots of this "fashionista":

I know what you're thinking - "it's not that bad. So she's wearing black hose with white shorts - not great, but doesn't require a 911 for the Fashion Police."  Take a closer look:

If you're having trouble understanding what's going on here, let me spell it out for you:  a grey embellished tank top, covered up by a black cropped sweater (so far, so good)... Next we hit a black belt, also embellished with some crazy buckle whose design is escaping me and white Daisy Duke shorts (because what's more appropriate for November than white Daisy Dukes??) As we move further south, we get into the good stuff - black patterned tights which flow into wedge booties with fur anklets (I don't even know if a proper term exists for the animals growing around her ankles.)  This ensemble is accentuated by a purple clutch --with a strap!!-- that was also embellished in some ridiculous way.

If there are some of you out there still baffled as to why I dedicate a blog posting about this, here you go:

The patterned tights are THIGH HIGHS!!!!!  Note how they stop just shy of the Daisy Dukes, exposing slices of not-all-that-flattering back thigh skin.

For the record, she isn't the worst case I've seen.  In fact, she's pretty damn normal for these here parts.  Somebody call Joan Rivers stat!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


HK thing #472 that drives me crazy:  Nail salons here have 2 types of nail polish--  those you can use for your manicure and those you can purchase...and never shall the two meet.

Why does it matter, you ask?  Because the colors that are for sale are infinitely nicer than the ones they offer up for manis.  Since it's been summer (and let's be honest it's almost always hot and sunny here), I didn't really notice this because I'm always choosing bright, fun colors.  However, it's cooling off a bit (east-coasters would laugh at what "cooling off" means here) so I decided a few days ago that I wanted to go for more Fall colors.  I've become slightly obsessed with plums, wines, berries - that color palate, but anyway...

The only Fall colors I see are in the OPI "Espana" display, so I grab one.  (Manicurist of Seville, if you're curious.)  The lady then indicates that I'm not allowed to use that color for my mani because it's only available for purchase.  I'll spare you the tit-for-tat conversation that ensued but needless to say it ended with me saying, "But all those colors [available for manis only] are ugly."  And trust me, they were.  We're talking metallic maroon, pearly greys, glittery greens, bubblegum pinks. And that was the stuff that didn't look like something Katy Perry threw up.  Apparently OPI's "Shrek" Collection wasn't selling well so that was thrown in the bunch, too.  (Whoever came up with that concept should be shot.)

In the end, I got my way and refused to fall for the old bait-and-switch trick.  It's not like I was aiming for some exotic color.  I'm sure 3/4 of you reading this have a similar color on now.

PS-- Mani/pedis in Hong Kong are EXPENSIVE.  I know what you're thinking, "But aren't all the nail ladies in NYC Chinese?"  No, they're Korean.  Same goes for dry-cleaning.

Boones in DB

Something is very wrong with the world when you CANNOT find a Triscuit or semi-sweet chocolate chip in your grocery store, but they do have Boones.

To add insult to injury, they even have a selection of Boones to choose from.  It took a Hong Kong grocery store to inform me that Boones comes in more than strawberry.

Btw, these are aptly wedged between sake and wine coolers.

Baba the Buckeye

So remember back when I shook my head in disbelief that I worked with someone named Baba?  When I got all high and mighty, looked down my nose and did all the other cliche things that a girl from NYC who thinks she's hot shit does?

Yeah, well it turns out Baba went to high school in England, college in Massachusetts and then went on to business school at THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY!  Yep, Baba is a bonafide Buckeye.

Here's us doing O-H-I-O at our recent event:

How does that famous saying go - Don't judge a book by it's first name cover??

Monday, October 18, 2010

Introducing: Gargantu-Pad

During my recent hostel, I mean hospital, visit I was forced to wear pads the size of Texas.

It's longer than my forearm:

...and the fat part of a tennis racket

It overshadows our ipod docking station...

...and makes normal-sized paper look like an index card.

My shoes are tiny...

And so are V's!

A few more and I could ship wine back to the States!

Or it could double as a towel for my umbrella.

Our longest remote and a standard DVD don't even come close!

Wait - my laptop is almost as big.  (Please refrain from ipad jokes.)

Finally - something comparable!  The pad they made me wear is the same length as my cutting board.

Around 15 inches, to be exact.

A 15-inch pad... is meant to be worn by an Amazon, not a tiny Asian.  How on earth do these fragile birds walk around in these things?!

I'm hanging onto these bad boys in case I find myself in a MacGyver-esque situation.  If nothing else, I'll use them to wax my car or mop my floors!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Problem with a Small Town

Hopefully, you've just read about my hospital experience below.  If you haven't, read that first then come back here.

We love where we live, but it is a far cry from New York City and its lovely anonymity.  Here, I'll see the same person 3 times a day - and this person lives on the other side of the island!  I used to live in the same building as good friends of ours and could go 3 weeks without seeing them.  I also used to be able to roll out of bed and walk my dog in the morning - PJs on, breath all stinky, eyes still caked shut and not worry about running into people.  Here, I know I'll see at least one person I have to have a conversation with during Victor's 7am bathroom break.

This small town lack of privacy was hugely exacerbated during my recent medical issues.  Here's how:

1. As I'm being loaded into the ambulance, the security guy in my building comes running out, pokes his head into the ambulance and asks what's going on.  V and I give him a short run-down and I just know this news will be all over our building by tomorrow night.  (I know this because I get my best gossip from one of the security guards!)
**This would be the same in NYC.  Our building guys were the biggest gossips.

2. There are frequent "Anybody know why an ambulance was called to Onda Court?"-like postings on The Forum every day.  These are inevitably followed by 20 posts with various theories, rumors and very rarely factual reports.  It's an online version of Pearl from 227  - hangin out the window in everybody's business. I just couldn't wait to read what they were going to say about me.
**No one else on the Upper West Side would have any inkling (or care) about my situation.

3. I go to our local doctor's office here for a follow-up visit and am seen by the nurse who just so happens to be in all of my exercise classes.  So now she knows all my business.
**I never saw my NYC nurses or doctors anywhere but inside their offices.

4. A woman I'm doing some charity work with also works in the doctor's office as a receptionist - so now there's a chance that everyone else on the planning committee know what's up with me.  (To be fair, I don't think she'd ever say anything, but it's going to be weird sitting across from her during meetings knowing she knows my medical business.)
**People at work in NYC only knew what I chose to share with them.

While I do love where we live, in situations like this I crave the anonymity of a big city.

My Night in a Chinese Hospital

Remember when I told you not to eat durian and not to get offended when Asian people smile during tense situations?  Here's another one for your Asian Survival Handbook:  Don't go to a Chinese hospital.  I don't care if you're having a heart attack, try your damndest to get the ambulance to take you to a Western hospital.  Trust me on this one.

I won't share why I was in the hospital, but there are so many comical (and educational) moments from my recent adventure that I just had to share with you.  I'll start from the beginning...

We live on an island with no cars and no hospital.  I'd always thought, "What will we do in an emergency? Where will we go?"  Then I pushed that thought right out of my mind because we're young and healthy, so who cares?

Which brings me to the scene in our apartment around 11pm on a Tuesday night - V and I freaking out about what to do and who to call during our medical crisis.  None of the doctors here have after-hours services or numbers; mine has an answering machine which directs you to an ER nurse's station at a Western hospital. After hearing the issue, this nurse told us to call 999 - not 911 - and have an ambulance take us to an A&E (Accidents & Emergencies) not an ER, immediately.

Words don't do justice to V's "conversation" with the Chinese 999 dispatcher.  I think the call took longer than the actual ambulance arriving.  When they arrived, the very sweet Chinese EMTs informed me that we were going to Princess Margaret Hospital.  "Sounds pretty Western," I thought.  Um, no and it was a 45 minute drive!  Not sure what they would've done had I needed critical care.  Seasoned expats here say they'll wait for the ferry (could take up to 30 mins) to take it to Hong Kong Island (another 30 mins) and drive to a Western hospital (another 30 mins).  What once seemed ridiculous now makes perfect sense.

We arrive at the hospital and I'm placed in a cubby hole (you can't call something without walls a room, can you?) with a man who I'd estimate to be around 105 years old, wheezing loudly and sounding like he's about to die (literally).

Oh but wait --before that, as I'm being wheeled in, this old Chinese nurse comes up with an ear thermometer and shoves it in my ear so hard that I jerk my head away and yelp, "ouch, that hurts!"  Completely unfazed, she shoves it in even harder yelling "TEMPERATURE!" I then have the visceral reaction of slapping her hand away from my head.  She grabs my arm and tries holding me down, like I'm some pscyh patient.  (V is checking me into the ER so I'm by myself dealing with this crazy lady.)  I yell again, sitting up this time, ready to come to blows with this lady if I have to (I must have a good 40 lbs on her) when a young nurse and doctor step in and (I'm guessing) tell her to stop in Cantonese.  She then proceeds to (again, guessing) curse me out in Cantonese.  The only word I can make out is "temperature" but there are lots of mafiosa-like hand gestures that universally mean "fuck off".

Another key learning - little Chinese ladies are surprisingly strong.

Yes, I did think about getting up and walking out at that point.  (I can hear you asking the computer this right now.)  But, I figured I'm here, I'll have a few tests done and be on my merry way.

Except that instead I sat in my cubby hole listening to a man wheeze for over an hour.  The doctors took one simple test and then admitted me upstairs to the hospital.  "Aah, here's where things get better," I think.  Now I leave the ghastly "general population" and get my own room, dedicated care, etc.

Wrong again!  I'm given hospital issue PJs (the only redeeming part of this nightmare as they are cute and comfy flannel PJs -- could've been Land's End!) and led to a room with 10 beds in it.  First I'm asked what kind of food I eat - and when I respond "Western" they inform me that option is gone so I'll be given a Chinese breakfast.  (Just when you think hospital food can't get any worse...)  V is sent home and I spend the night in a hospital room (actually, more like Army barracks) with 10 other women.  There are no walls or curtains between us, so I could literally reach out and hold hands with the women on either side of me.  I didn't.

As you can imagine, it wasn't a good night's sleep.  The lights were on, women were snoring, machine alarms were going off intermittently and nurses were coming in and waking us up.  At 6:30am - after not having been seen by a doctor once this entire time - I go to the nurses station and ask what the deal is.  I'm informed that I won't be seen by a doctor until well after 9am and start doing the math.  My regular doctor - who speaks perfect English, understands Western care and knows my history, will be in her office by 9am, so I check myself out, despite the protests of the nurse.  I want to get out of there before my Chinese breakfast arrives.

Looking back I realize that what should've been a medical experience was really just a night in a cheap hostel.  The only upside (besides the PJs, which I contemplated stealing but then thought about all the people who'd worn then before me and got really grossed out) was that the entire night cost me $200HKD or around $28USD.

Later that morning my regular doctor laughed when I told her I'd stayed overnight at Princess Margaret (and she's local!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Somebody call OSHA

...because this is what passes as construction "safety" over here.

Yesterday I walked past a house in our neighborhood that's under renovation. The construction guys had ripped out all the interior doors plus some large pieces of wood and instead of throwing them in the dumpster, they created this "ramp" by piling them all on top of each and nailing them together.  Yes, I actually saw someone nailing this mess together.

You have to respect that kind of ingenuity, although I wouldn't be caught dead walking on the thing.

The big question is - will they pull those doors up at the end of the job and put them back in the house?? Knowing this town, my money's on "YES"!

UPDATE:  Today I walked by the same house and they had set up a new ramp configuration.  I didn't think it was possible to top yesterday's masterpiece, but I was wrong!

They now have the dumpster lined up with the stairs and have created an elevated ramp using 2 layers of trash cans and wood planks!  Just to prove me wrong, a man with a trolley full of debris walked right over it with a big smile on his face.

Only in Hong Kong, folks...

The Land of Missed Calls

We've covered food, television and personal hygiene -- I think you're ready for what they call telephone "etiquette" over here.  Where do I even begin???

Let's start with "Hello" -- or, as they say, "Waaaaaaay?" It gives Ed McMahon's "Here's Johnny" a run for its money as the longest one-syllable word on the planet.  To top it off, when I respond with "Hello?" the person repeats themselves, so I have this conversation at least 3 times a week:

Phone rings; Me: "Hello?"
Person: Waaaaaaaay?
Me: Hello?
Person:  Waaaaaaay?
Me (very annoyed): Helloooo?
Person: Speak Chinese?
Me: No
Person: CLICK

Even more baffling is when I answer the phone with the very clear English greeting of "Hello?" and the person just launches into some spiel in Cantonese.  They're talking like a mile a minute and I literally have to cut them off by yelling into the phone, "I don't speak Cantonese" multiple times.

Now all of that is just child's play compared to what really gets my blood boiling:  no one in this country leaves a message.  This is frustrating for two reasons:

1. You take the time to leave someone a detailed message and they don't even listen to it.  Half the time, they don't even know you called.

2. You get 5 missed calls and no voicemails.  This leads to the dilemma - do you call up the missed calls and have the awkward conversation of "You called me; who's this?"or do you let it go?  In the States, this comes off as pure desperation. Someone so starved for attention that they have to call wrong numbers and missed calls just to make sure someone wasn't trying to reach them!  Here, however, it's standard business practice because otherwise you'd spend all your time being a stalker and calling someone 200 times before they picked up.

Today, for instance, I stepped away from my phone for an hour and came back to see 4 missed calls (all different numbers).  Since these could be potential work calls, I decided to swallow my ego and call them back.  Here's what ensued:

THEM: Discovery Bay Transportation Service
ME: Hi, someone from this number called me and didn't leave a message.  My name is XX and my number is XXX.
THEM: Hold please.
THEM (after long wait): No one here called you.
ME: Yes, they did.
THEM: OK, give us your name and number and we'll ask around.

I call up the second number:
THEM:  Discovery Bay Transportation Service

This has to be a joke, right?  Or in the very least, a gross exaggeration.  No, all 4 numbers (which strangely were all different) rang back to DB Transportation.  And each time I called, the person there had no idea who I was or what I was calling for.

Five minutes later, my phone rings and it's someone from DB Transportation - a guy I had spoken to about an event I'm planning.  He copped to being my stalker and apologized after I explained what I had been through to try to call him back.  Since it was work-related I didn't have the balls to ask him what he had against leaving a message.

In the end, I have to ask myself -- if you're not going to leave a message why activate your voicemail at all?  Why not just text??

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oz: Land of Sunshine, Hungry Jacks and Dead Kangaroos

We finally made it to Australia - and Oz didn't let us down!  The sunshine, topography, cuisine and people are gorgeous - and so much more than we envisioned.  As was the cost of food!  A can of Coke out of the vending machine cost $3.50.  Breakfast for 2 people from the corner deli (we're talking small coffee, small bottle water and small tasteless pastry) was $35!  If you're planning a trip to Oz, start saving now or find a bank to rob!

It was all worth it though for views of the Opera House, beaches and iconic Harbor Bridge.

Here is a random assortment of observations and stories from our trip:

On the flight there I had another language barrier situation.  Ordered my meal and then couldn't for the life of me figure out what was in my salad (see below).  The printed menu said "surimi" which I'd never heard of it, so I asked the stewardess (YES, stewardess - when did that become a dirty word??)  She didn't know the word in English, so I asked, "Is it a vegetable?"  She replies, "Yes, vegetable."  Except that it's not. Turns out "surimi" means imitation crabmeat in Japanese.  Blech.

Once in Oz, the same commercial for a gardening center kept playing on TV.  I can't tell you how odd it is to hear "Plant your tomatoes now and they'll be ready by Christmas."  The whole southern hemisphere thing is wacky!

Have I mentioned that my husband has turned into a marathon machine?  The real reason we went down to Sydney (other than so that he could be the first Birardi to step foot on the continent) was so that he could run in the Sydney half marathon.  I've lost him to wholewheat pasta and hours of hip flexor stretching, so I enjoyed the pay-off of seeing him finish in record time!

Check out what the Aussies call Burger King and Rice Krispies:

I've officially become a hot-blooded Hong Konger because there was a large clothing differential between me and the locals on Bondi Beach.  Here I am in a leather jacket and jeans (the scarf that I took off for the picture is in my bag) while there were multiple chicks frolicking in the ocean in their bikinis.  Usually I'm the maniac wearing open-toed sandals in snowy December.

If you do happen to find yourself in Bondi, make sure you check out Icebergs - a swimming club whose pool might be the coolest I've ever seen!

I know the term "meat pie" doesn't sound very appetizing, but trust me - this Aussie treat is DEE-LISH.  It's like a full Thanksgiving meal (beef, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy) in a tiny little puff pastry cup!

Now onto the low point of the trip...  We decided to drive from the Blue Mountains to Hunter Valley.  I was nervous and slightly giddy about driving on the "wrong" side of the road.  Can't tell you how many times Vin yelled, "You're veering off into a ditch!" All the internet reports said it was a picturesque journey through the Aussie countryside that's not to be missed.  Our trip was a 5 and a half hour nightmare that included some carnage.

The first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth (you get the picture) kangaroo I saw in real life were all road kill  The first living kangaroo I saw hopped out in front of my car, which was going 50 mph on a 2-lane road.  With a car behind me and one in the oncoming lane, there wasn't much I could do besides lay on the horn and pray for the best.  (My Aussie friends say this is the worst thing you can do as the roo just freezes up.) Vin and I both closed our eyes on impact, so didn't see anything but did feel the ba-bump, ba-bump as our car went over him.  That's right, I killed a kangaroo.

Can I just take the time to point out that I drove in the US for 16 years without hitting anything and manage to take out a kangaroo less than a week in Oz?  Here's me smiling minutes before "the incident":

Kangaroo hit-and-run aside, Sydney was an incredible trip!  I will definitely go back (and promise not to step foot in a car!)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I now work with someone named Baba.  As in the nickname you give to a child's bottle.

He's a grown-man.

I don't know.  I just don't know anymore.

Chinglish TV shows

Channel 100 features all Cantonese-speaking shows.  The funniest thing is that many of them have English names -- corny English names like "Have a Nice Day" and "Home Sweet Home".  Now I have no idea what's discussed on these shows because they're all in Cantonese, but I get such a kick out of the commercials for the shows because they sound like:

"wang cha shin wan tau gang wok you Have a Nice Day shui san wing jon chu lok"

From the commercials, it doesn't look like Home Sweet Home has anything to do with homes, either.  Which makes me wonder if these people know what these freakin' phrases mean.    Maybe it's like all the idiotic Americans walking around with Chinese tattoos on their lower backs.  Someone told them they mean "peace" and "strength" when really they mean "idiot" and "fat-ass".

Getting back to HK TV, the show that REALLY freaks me out is called "Medical Check-up Horror Show".  I am not joking.  What on earth could this show be about??  I don't even want to venture a guess.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More from the HK Zoo

Where we have pythons in Discovery Bay, my friend Laura who lives on the other side of HK in Cleanwater Bay, has these:

She took this picture with her iphone in her neighborhood!

Can you imagine walking out your front door and seeing a monkey strolling down the street?!

Sexy Time

Unshowered. hair dirty with chlorine from yesterday's swim. teeth not brushed. coming off strep throat and a massive cold.  wearing an old dress with visible stains on it.  no makeup.

I walk into my dry cleaners and have a 10-minute conversation with the lady.   There's lots of "please separate lights and darks" and "yes, fabric softener" and "where's your dog today, missy?"

As I'm walking out the door, she yells, "very sexy today, ma'am!"

...which just goes to show the power of large, black sunglasses.  I honestly can't see anything else about my appearance that would qualify as "sexy".

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blood Suckies

Walking through Central, you will see at least one office being picketed by locals.  It's kinda like the big blow-up rat in NYC -- it crops up at different spots around town every week.  I have no idea what these people are picketing about -- but the signs are the best.

One time I read one that said, "Canadians are killers."

And this one Citibank branch must be doing something wrong because there are people picketing outside EVERY DAY. And I don't mean every day the last month.  Every day for the last 20 months I've lived here people are outside with signs and bullhorns.  My friend Laura walked by last month and saw a sign that read - "Citibank are blood-suckies"

Blood-suckies?!  Priceless.

(Sorry I don't have photographic evidence for this posting.  I'll bring my camera to Central next week and see if I can get anything good.)

Shake 'em Buns

Shake 'em Buns is a popular burger chain in the Hong Kong.  Never having been inside but seeing the signs everywhere, Vin and I always laughed about how cute the name is.

Then Vin went in for lunch yesterday and had to choose from the menu that offered burgers called: Gang Bang, Debbie Does Dallas and Missionary.

Make that a clever, pornographic play on words.

My other favorite when perusing this menu is "Red on the Neck" which I have to assume is meant to be "redneck".  We don't get many rednecks in these here parts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yo Ho

Vin started working remotely with a woman named Yolanda Ho.  After a few email back-and-forths, her manager jumped in and called her Yo, which means she goes by the name Yo Ho.

I wonder if she knows how many rap songs she's named in?!

For those of you keeping score at home, Morgan Stanley Hong Kong has a Chewbacca and a Yo Ho working for them... and those are the ones we KNOW about!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Movies in Hong Kong: A Love/Hate Relationship

I know I've waxed poetic on the the movie theatre experience here in Hong Kong and, while it's just lovely once you're inside the theatre, getting there can be F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-N-G!

As some of you may know, I have a dirty little secret -- I'm a Twi-Hard.   The latest installment from the franchise (Eclipse) was released when we were in NYC.  Clearly, I wasn't going to prioritize Bella and Edward's love affair over seeing friends and family (although I did when New Moon came out at Christmas!) so decided to wait and see it when I got back to Hong Kong.

Information critical for this story: Hong Kong movie times are not the same throughout the entire time it's in the theatre. Whereas in the States a movie will have the same 7:20pm start time for the 5 weeks it's in the theatre, a movie in HK could play at 7pm on Thursday, 8:10 on Friday and 10pm on Saturday.  They don't post the times until 2-3 days before, either.

The Wednesday I'm back in HK, I decide to buy tickets for Eclipse on Friday night; however the website displays only showings for Wednesday.   Finding this odd since you can order Friday night tickets for other movies on the site, I decide to swing by the theatre on my way to lunch.  Here's the frustrating conversation that ensued:

Me: I'm trying to buy Eclipse tickets for Friday.
Movie Person: Eclipse may not be here on Friday.
Me: Oh, so today is the last day for Eclipse?
Movie Person: Maybe.  We don't know yet.
Me: I don't understand. How can you not know?
Movie Person: Ma'am, this movie has been out for a long time already.
Me: I understand that but what's going to happen between now and Friday that dictates whether the movie continues?
Movie Person: BLANK STARE
Me: OK, what about tomorrow?  Is it showing tomorrow?
Movie Person: Maybe.  We don't know yet.
Me: So you're telling me that the 3:30pm showing of Eclipse today may be the last time Eclipse is shown in your theatre?  But, there's a possibility you will change your mind and decide to play it tomorrow or Friday?
Movie Person: Yes, that is correct.
Me:  That is ridiculous, but give me a ticket to today's show.

Later that night I go online and, wouldn't you know it - Eclipse tickets are available for an 11am showing on Thursday morning!  Only in China would a business put tickets on sale for show less than 12 hours before it's airing -- for an 11am Thursday showing, no less!  Where is the logic??  Someone please tell me!

In other, less-frustrating, more-hysterical movie viewing news, check out the sign that they posted regarding the movie Inception:

They charged us more money because Inception is a "long" movie.

Smuggling for Somalis

There's a great couple in our building whose enormous German Shephard dog is Victor's BFF.  She's Nordic; he's British and, while we haven't spent any time indoors with them, you can tell they're cool people.

One morning, a few days after returning from New York, I run into the guy while walking our dogs.  We proceed to have the following conversation:

Him: Were you away on holiday?
Me: Yes, we were back in New York.
Him: Man, I love New York.
Me: Oh, you've been?
Him: Yeah, I used to be a smuggler.
Me, trying not to sound alarmed: A smuggler?
Him: Yeah, I used to I used to smuggle...
Me: Drugs?
Him: No, nothing that bad.  I used to smuggle illegal plants in for some Somalians living in Harlem. I guess they had this plant that they liked to chew on and it was banned in the States.  So, some guy paid me and a few of my friends a few thousand dollars to smuggle these plants into the country.
Him: Actually, I'd call myself a courier more than a smuggler.

My mind immediately went to Banged Up Abroad and I thought, "How on earth did he get them in?  No one's body cavity can hide an entire plant!"  He said they just put them in suitcases and walked right through customs.  

His buddy got busted once, but they let him go.  Five years later he takes his new wife to NYC for their honeymoon and gets rejected by customs at JFK.  He's permanently black-listed from entering the States.  Someone had A LOT of explaining to do to their wife!


Walking through the mall today, I had the craziest, most unexpected experience:  a Chinese man held the door for me.

First time that's happened in 19 months of living here.

I'm still not convinced he was local...or that it really happened.

The Great Cultural Debate

What happens when six women (2 Americans, 3 Brits and 1 Irish lass) get together over a boozy birthday dinner?  Well, besides getting tipsy, we got into a major debate that pitted Americans vs. non-Americans a la the Revolutionary War.  We weren't arguing over politics or whether ketchup works better with fries (excuse me, chips) than mayonnaise.  No, the great debate was over circumcision.  Yes, of the penile variety.

It started because I admitted that my friend's newborn son's penis was the first uncircumcised one I'd ever seen.  (TMI?!)  After incredulous reactions by the Irish/Brits, some of them admitted that they'd never seen a circumcised one before.  Who knew the Atlantic was the Great Penis Divide?

It got a little heated when they asked why we Americans circumcised anyway and my fellow American explained that it was a matter of hygiene.   Friendly tip: Implying that someone's husband and sons have dirty penises is not a good idea.  I also ruffled some feathers when I said that an uncircumcised teenage boy would have a very tough time in a U.S. high school.  Can you imagine how fast THAT news would spread?!

When all the shouting was over, I did leave wondering why circumcision became the norm in the States while the rest of the world (save for Israel) leave their newborn penises alone.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poser Alert

Things I have started to say:

"air con" (in lieu of A/C)
"holiday" (instead of vacation)

Things I've been thisclose to saying:

"bloody" (as in "really" or "very")

With only 4 days before I'm back in NYC, I feel the need to put this out there...because chances are I'm going to let one of these slip and you're going to give me hell for it.

Things that make me smile

I know I complain and joke here a lot, but there are many things about Hong Kong that I like.

The transportation system puts NYC to shame -- taxis are dirt cheap; the subway is a clean, air-conditioned, lovely affair!

My exposure to Chinese, Indian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai and other Asia cuisines has skyrocketed!

Every Friday on my way to an exercise class, I pass these people who are doing tai-chi in our Plaza.  I love that they all bring their little sword that they practice with!

The other night some friends took us to an Italian place in the Mid-Levels.  It was pretty high up the mountain so we had a killer view of the Mid-Levels escalator - another great part of HK.

When I'm ripping on the lack of manners or style, remember that there are many things in HK that make me smile!

Hammer Time!

I'm sure I will get shit about this from someone, but I just have to say it: Chinese people have no sense of style or fashion whatsoever. Yes, there are a few stylish diamonds in the rough here, but by and large you see a lot of Hello Kitty and scrunchies and bad perms. The funniest part is that most of these people are pretty wealthy, so it's not like they can't afford to have stylish clothes. It's just that they think wearing a baggy t-shirt with the words "Louis Vuitton" equals cutting-edge fashion. And wearing their LV t-shirt with an ill-fitting red pleather mini-skirt, bedazzled pumps and with a patent leather bow belt?  Well, that just kicks it up a notch.

Even when they do get their hands on a trendy piece of clothing, they somehow manage to mess it up.  I was walking in Central the other day and saw a girl wearing baggy leggings (leggings!).  The whole point of leggings is that they are tight.

Sadly it's not all women. I've noticed a new trend among Chinese men: harem jeans, a.k.a. MC Hammer pants. The pairs I've seen on the street don't stop there -- these Hammer pants are acid-washed to boot.

Can you handle the hotness??