Archive Page 2

“But where’s the giant inflatable turd??”

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy with work and fun stuff happening. Danny had a great time while he was here, with a night out in LKF on Friday, before him ending his visit on Tuesday with a visit to Ozone Bar at the top of the ICC with Nat and me. Like I said in my last post, it was great to see an old Lonsdale mate all the way out here.

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We also had our first Departure meeting at work with the protocols of what to do now we’re a month away from leaving Hong Kong. Shit definitely is getting real now, but we all have some great plans for the next few weeks before May 31st.

On Saturday that week, Rich organised a Scavenger Hunt on the island, which was a good laugh going around everywhere on the island, despite being ridiculously hungover and slow-moving. The Thursday after that Nat made a huge pile of Spag Bol at hers for 10 of us in total, so massive respect for her sick kitchen skills. On Saturday Tony, Aids and I went to check out the M+ exhibition ‘Inflation’ at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade. There was massive inflatables – a Roast Hog, pair of legs, a bug and Stonehenge bouncy castle with was probably the best bit. The giant inflatable turd was deflated that day, which is a bit shit, but still cool to see them.

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Saturday night we headed out to LKF again and one of the best nights for a long time – Jack’s place first for pre-drinks then spent the night with a lot of people. The night was made better by the fact that we were getting updates of the Newcastle-Liverpool match from the Brewhouse, always better hearing about a 6-0 victory when you’re high on life and out with your mates.

Sunday was a usual hangover day, made better by the massive Full English Jack made us round at his place! Again, massive thanks mate, you saved all of us from a pit of hungover despair…

So that leaves me with 5 full weeks here until I’m on a flight home to Manchester. Weird how fast the time has flown so definitely going to make the next few weeks count.

Lonsdale Fwwends

So we got back to Hong Kong from China at the start of April. A measly 2 days at work Monday-Tuesday was made much better by the fact that Jess and Zack, mates from uni, were coming to stay. I met them at the MTR on Tuesday night and we stayed up late to catch up over some beers.

On Wednesday, we headed to Happy Valley Racecourse with some beers, Jess and I had a few cheeky wins, while Zack’s horse ‘Zachary’ unfortunately didn’t win. We headed to Wan Chai afterwards and showed them Carnegies, where Jess samples the free Ladies’ Night Champagne. Thursday night they met me at Hung Hom and helped me out at PolyU for the English Society’s Big Mouth Corner. It was great to introduce them to some of the students I work with and let them find out more about China and uni life here. After, we let them check out Ladies’ Market, where Zack got nearly harassed by a woman trying to sell him a belt, while Jess got to haggle a Mulberry purse down from $250 to $60 (I think?). We went to Mr Wongs after, the usual great spread of food where the legend gave 4 of us all-you-can-eat for a total of $150!

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On Friday, after a busy day at work with our monthly event of a Superhero Fashion Show, we headed for a big night out in LKF. I let them sample the classic Char Sui Fan for dinner, while a game of Beer Pong and Pass the Dutch entertained us at Pre-Drinks. LKF was a great laugh that night, but was sad at the end to say goodbye to Jess and Zack who would be leaving early in the morning.

Saturday was spent nursing a hangover-headache but Sunday was much better – Jackson and I went around Sham Shui Po taking pictures in the afternoon. We got ourselves into some buildings, went on random rooftops and explored around Shep Kip Mei.

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On Monday, I had a Campus Swap with Nerys from Morrison Hill, which meant I spent the day with Ka-mun at their campus. Thought it was much better working in Wan Chai than Kwun Tong – loads of great places to eat at lunch, 7/11 next door for snacks, and definitely a lot less people stared at me as they’d be more used to seeing westerners there. We had a mint day, highlight being constructing a fort…

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Another highlight this week was a tweet from the famous Percy Stark in the morning saying he’s coming for lunch at our campus, so Holly and I finally got to try out a Canto-speaking place we always see but can’t go to without a native-speaker. That evening, we met up with my mate Danny Ovens from Lancaster, who’s in town fixing a machine for work (one of the best jobs ever?). We went to Tequila Jacks and had some beers and took advantage of the $10 tacos in Happy Hour, which was fun and good to talk about Lonsdale, Founders and Lancaster with so many people recently. I plan on letting him sample a LKF night on Friday too.

Beijing, Xi’an, Zhujiajiao and Shanghai

For the Easter break, Nat, Rich and I headed to China to do what was basically the ultra-tourist trip of the mainland. Figured we’re so close to China we might as well do it properly.

We did far too much to mention in this blog, so here are the Vlogs (Video Blogs, Mum, if you’re reading).  But the highlights included:

– Eating Peking Duck in Peking (Beijing).

– Seeing Tienanmen Square (site of the 1989 protests) and the Forbidden City.

– Seeing the Great Wall of China, getting some epic photos of it, going on the illegal, forbidden bit and definitely Tobogganing down it!

– Travelling on a Bullet Train to Xi’an at 300 km/h

– Seeing the Terracotta Warriors!

– Travelling on a Sleeper Train for 15 hours from Xi’an to Shanghai

– Seeing the Bund and Pedong in Shanghai (Bund is so much like Liverpool)

– Going up the Oriental Pearl Tower and seeing the magnificent views there

– Seeing the beautiful Zhujiajiao, known as the Venice of the East.

Here are the Vlogs:

Mancunians: On China:

Street Beijing:

Exploring Xi’an:

Shanghai Streets:

If Hong Kong was in London

If you took the surface area of Hong Kong and slapped it on the top of London and Greater London…………..I’ve live in Peckham and work in Bromley.

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Just to see, I put HK on top of Manchester, turns out I’d live in Oldham and work in Greenfield. That’s creepily accurate…

St Patrick’s Day in HK

Been a long week in HK this week. The week started OK, Monday morning blues aside. On Tuesday though I left work early and went to the Doctors, feeling faint, dizzy and nauseous. He (his name was Dr Buddy – I thought he’d be like Will Ferrell dressed as an Elf…) said it was Gastro-Flu, some bug that’s been going round, and gave me meds. Spending the equivalent of £55 for the Drs consultation and meds renewed my massive appreciation for the NHS. I was off work on Wednesday and Friday because of this (stupidly braved it on Thursday but that didn’t help).

On Wednesday night however, we had our Spring Ball at our campus.  Basically, everyone in Chatteris is encouraged to do a ‘Development Project’ – something unique that helps out the programme in different ways, so Holly and I repeated last year’s Spring Ball and wanted to improve it massively. Months of preparation, paperwork, reservations, sign ups, posters and $3000 on food/drink had gone into it, so no chance I was missing it. We had students from all other IVEs come to our campus too, and had over 60 kids there (a bid ask since it was 5:30-7:30pm). We did Ceilidh Dancing, Venetian Waltz and a Group Dance Off (massive thanks again to Molly, Jack and Mirella for helping lead these, and the 21 CNETs who came along to help us!).

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Luckily, I was near enough 100% better by mid-Saturday so got to get out the house a bit. We went round to Molly’s place that evening for a St Patrick’s Day/Emily and Gill’s birthday party. Not much to add apart from it was pretty sweet, had a great time, Sunday was a write-off. Most productive thing was putting some pants on and going to 7/11 for some chocolate. Lazy Sundays are the same in every country.

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Birds, Cam3ls & Fleas

This week has been another corker in HK. We had a usual sort of week at work. I’ve started March workshops on Greek Myths and Switzerland, which the kids love. Also had a more boring vocabulary/grammar workshop to prepare the kids for their upcoming exams but nothing too difficult. We’re still having big preparations for our highlight event of the year – Spring Ball. We have spent around $3000 on food and drink for it (almost £300) on Friday, and went for a massive Dim Sum with Joanne (our mentor). Still trying to learn some of the dishes but I’m still at the stage of ‘That white thing with prawn in it’ or ‘That one that’s like sausage roll but with BBQ pork in it’.

 

On Friday night we headed to Sandy and Erin’s place for some drinks before Red Bar to meet a few others and LKF afterwards. Can’t remember everywhere we went to that night but the African Bar had a good vibe to it, even if the drinks were expensive. Getting in at nearly 5am showed it was a sick night though. Met a cool guy Fabian, Angela’s friend from Boracay. Obviously my alcohol-fuelled self thinks he speaks fluent German, but Fabian was a good sport with it.

 

On Saturday we took a very chilled day. Adrian and I ended up on one of our camera walks to wherever we ended up. We headed to the Bird Market in Mong Kok, had a drink from Pacific Coffee Company and found a new market on Fa Yuen Street that we hadn’t been to yet. The weather was gorgeous recently, hitting 27 degrees on Sunday. The shorts and flip flops are back out, jeans back in the suitcase for now. On Saturday night we headed to Jack’s Cam3l Bar at his flat. A great house party despite stopping feeling ridiculously hungover only a few hours previously.

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On Sunday then we had the Chatteris Flea Market in Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui. Tony, Ka-Mun and I were pretty lucky to have the promotion job, walking around, giving out balloons and flyers to families and kids. Highlight definitely was Tony being swarmed by kids outside a playground, them all wanting balloons.

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A proper nice day, Jack W and Adrian playing tunes on the guitar, all my mates were there: pretty damn sweet. To top it off, Adrian and I headed to Cocky Bar on the 18th Floor of The One in TST to meet Maddie and Ellie for a few beers. Bloody fantastic views up there, and we caught it at the right time to see the sunset and the island begin lighting up. Reminded us so much of how lucky we are to be here, how fantastic this place is and how it’s gonna be a long time before we leave indefinitely. Mostly, it hit home how much Hong Kong is definitely our home now.

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The Price of Identity

A student came to me a few weeks ago with a problem (as many 18-21 years old have) of money. They were basically in a predicament of having to buy their own passport as a young adult. For Hong Kongers who were born in British Hong Kong pre-1997, they were legally classed as ‘British Nationals (Overseas)’ or BNOs. This was an option available by application and was non-transferable to a different category – the deadline for applications being 31 December 1997.

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The student who had this problem is very interested and enthusiastic about Britain. They ask me a lot of questions about the UK and would like to visit one day, if not study or live for a longer time period. They ended up paying a lot of money to secure their identity as a BNO so they could fulfil their dream.

This got me thinking about the problems people here may face in getting the official identity status that they feel they are.

1) The Practicalities

Dennis Chong  wrote in the South China Morning Post on 15 August 2012 about the threat of cost increases  for HK-ers to apply for BNO Passports. The threat of increases is due to the Coalition Government’s cost-saving measure to close Hong Kong’s British consulate’s passport centre by April 2014. On a pragmatic basis, this means that HK-ers wanting to apply for a BNO passport (renewal or otherwise), will have to apply directly to Britain – sending their important documents 600 miles away to London – and be without them for much longer than if they applied to the office in Hong Kong. This is just one of the forces acting against people here, who want to remain BNOs as oppose to just solely Chinese Nationals.

http://www.scmp.com/article/1003693/cost-fears-uk-passport-office-closure

2) The Cost

This was the main issue for my student. Basically, the cost difference between wanting to remaining  a BNO is astonishing and can be a huge financial barrier to people who want to remain a BNO. 

For a British passport, the current application fees are HK$1,600 for a 32-page passport and HK$1,932 for one with 48 pages.

With recorded delivery postage and other costs after the closure of the British Consulate’s passport centre, this would be relatively higher.

From June 2006, the cost for a HK SAR Passport was HK$370 for a 32-page passport and HK$185 for a child’s passport.

Furthermore, the cost of a straight-out People’s Republic of China Passport is HK$430.

In Pounds Sterling, for an adult over 16 years old, we’re basically looking at:      British Passport: £137     HK Passport:  £32     Chinese Passport: £37

3) The Numbers

Even if you’re the sort of person who gets a passport to keep in a drawer and visiting other places isn’t your thing, the cheaper options are clearly the most attractive and practical to get. We can see this through the statistics. Chong’s article provides some useful information:

  • About 250,000 Britons live in Hong Kong
  • 3.2 million British Nationals (Overseas) passports had been issued (to people who applied pre-31 Dec 1997).
  • The number of Hong Kong SAR passports in circulation by year is as follows:
  • 2010: 4,261,263
  • 2009: 4,088,337
  • 2008: 3,934,288
  • 2007: 3,920,780
  • 2006: 3,670,115
  • 2005: 3,326,200
  • 2004: 2,959,900

 

To summarise, the laws of the status of British overseas citizens are highly confusing: there are so many, their names change and the acts mean different things in different places. The stats show though, how limited the 7 million people who live here, are when choosing an identity. There are people here, like my students, and a colleague of mine (Who once had a conversation with me in his Marks & Spencer’s suit, “I miss Chris Patten!”), who don’t have a huge issue with the cost, as their identity means so much for them. These people are clearly in a minority when it comes to the practicalities of applying for a passport though.

I don’t really know what I think about the topic, as I’m lucky to be a full British citizen with the right to abode in the UK: the biggest issue for me was when my passport photo made me look like a scally. The Coalition Government really isn’t making it easy for people here to be officially a BNO with such costs and impracticalities, which I find the hardest thing to accept. If someone feels they belong to a certain identity, surely governments and the relevant departments should support their choices and make it easy for them to be recognised as it. But then again, the whole area of national identity, passports, visas, immigration is such a complicated area, you can see why it’s so complex. In the end though, if people feel their belonging strong enough, nothing can really stand in their way of it.