Posts Tagged 'SAR'

Hong Kong: My City (2013)

My video project I’ve been working on…

Inspired by the photos my Grandad showed me from when he was here, through the James Bonds set here in the 1970s and retro YouTube videos of old Hong Kong.

Let me know what you think!

Prom-ice and Gromit

So recently work’s become more and more hard-work. I told our boss on 1 May that I couldn’t believe how fast the year has gone and that I’ll be going home to the UK on 29th. Her reply was ‘Yes, but lots to do before then’. Shit on my parade, eh love? I know they’re gonna milk us as a resource for as much as they can before we leave. And I’m not wrong, had a few times this week asking us to do an event, Info Day preparation, EAT Party, EAT Farewell Party with Chatteris, Promotion Video filming, and lots of extra workshops. They’re definitely getting their money’s worth. Despite knowing that the last 3 weeks here will be nothing like the last 3 weeks were at Primary School, or at Uni, the sun’s really bloody hot these days and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.

On Tuesday 31st, we had a surprise half day birthday surprise for Jade round at the MAJJ Party Palace. Aaron had organised a Jade-Olympics which saw our team of Tone, Aids, Jack and me win at cups, beer pong and win a striptease; before we ended up in LKF. A great night made better that the 1 May Bank Holiday was taken on the Wednesday so no work!!  The rest of that week was taken up with workshops, modelling for a student’s fashion presentation (in which they said I’d put on weight since last time, cheers guys) and doing the Chatteris Yearbook with Jade (which is looking excellent now thanks to everyone who’s contributed).

Friday night was a quiet one round our new local pub, the Chaffee Brandish with Tone, Aids and Flintoff. We asked the owner where the name was from (it has a picture of a warship) and he just said ‘Is American Ship’. Google had nothing, only that ‘Chaffee’ was an American Naval Lieutenant and a type of tank named after him used in WW2 and a few post-war conflicts like Korea and Algeria. Definitely some sort of dodgy tax-avoidance thing going on. But pints were 4 for the price of 3 and some family next to us bought us shots so not all bad.

Saturday 4th was the long-awaited Chatteris Prom. Down in Sheung Wan, at a place called Les Boules, it was ‘Shanghai Nights’ themed and the open bar was a real open bar with every drink up for grabs, not just a selective list. We had a great time there, with massive thanks to Nat Belbin and Ian and everyone for organising it. Can’t remember much, but the photos from the photo booth show it was sick. Even got a waistcoat for the occasion, and little dicky bow…
262408_10151538515857850_124209413_n262522_10151538520767850_116750365_nmkl

Work’s then been pretty standard this week. On Tuesday we had our Extreme Travel Party where kids had to design a trip to Everest/Amazon/Ocean Floor or Space. They mostly understood but a few thought UK was IN Australia while others thought Hawaii was in India. One kid didn’t even know they spoke Spanish in Spain. I swear this organisation needs to spend less money on computer programmes or Chinese DVDs that no one watches, and buy the kids some bloody atlases. I’m also doing a workshop on Spanish which I’m so shit at – my pronunciation is so bad my colleague had to help me, as did Google Translate. But it’s a lot of fun with the language workshops cos the kids like to respond more.

Anyway, I’m off to play footy tonight which will probably be out last game, at probably the best venue – Happy Valley. We’re hoping for a second win of the season which I’m sure we all hope for, but should be a laugh anyway!

Also 12 days left of work, 4 weeks until I’m back home. Start doing a big shop please Mum….

“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.

902030_808619655302_2087753975_o OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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!).

DSC02796

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.

554893_10151517214674489_1357938311_n

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.

601051_10151509575072040_1642831753_n 549400_10151509575372040_1975142465_n

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.

734000_10151509591722040_164212468_n 602768_10151509591352040_1681986580_n

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.

531542_10151509592012040_1986181532_n 429653_10151509592122040_1996665598_n 480_10151509592322040_682922131_n

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.

Hong_Kong_British_Passport408px-Cover_of_HKSAR_e-Passport

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.

Sik Sik Yuen Temple

There’s a saying that “Once you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen them all”.

An obvious generalization and unfair summary, but there is some truth in it. If you’re going to Hong Kong for 2 days or 2 months, the Sik Sik Yuen Temple at Wong Tai Sin is the one to go to. Why? It is everything you would picture a Buddhist temple having, and more!

It is right next to the Wong Tai Sin MTR station and dominates the area. In the same way why palaces like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are the most popular in Europe, Sik Sik Yuen Temple is one of the most popular because it is a living, working temple. Some temples you see here can be old, disused, boring-looking, or not tourist-friendly (i.e., they stare you out of the place). Then there’s a few which are catered to tourists – the Man Mo Temple in the Mid-Levels, or Tin Hau Temple at Causeway Bay/ Yau Ma Tei and Sik Sik Yuen is one of these.

Highly popular with locals, it promises to deliver and surpass your expectations of a working Buddhist Temple in Hong Kong. In a place where space is a commodity and so precious, they even have room for a large inner-city garden which you can visit (for a small donation of $2). The temple has statues galore, good wishes in Chinese writing, hawkers selling incense to burn and fruit to offer and masses of worshippers. It’s difficult to do the ambience of the place much justice, so make sure you check the temple out!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chinese New Year Lanterns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Incense Sticks at the Temple

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Inner-City Temple

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Memorial Garden

How to get there:

Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, then it’s right there out of most exits. Would be hard to miss…