Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frozen in Time (#3)

Whilst searching around for 'Frozen in Time' Chinese restaurants and takeaways around London I managed to overlook the most obvious place to look - Chinatown itself.

The last few years have seen massive change in Gerrard Street (and it seems there's more on the way) with businesses opening and closing all the time. When even the ancient Kowloon Restaurant gets a makeover, you know things really are changing.

Friendly Inn, at the eastern end of Gerrard Street, has been here as long as I can remember. I think it was even here before Gerrard Street was pedestrianized and had a road running through it.

The exterior sign may look old fashioned now at first glance but it was clearly designed to suggest modernity and class in its time; You can almost picture businessmen with 70s sideburns and wearing large kipper ties coming here for a post-work dinner. Looking inside, you can see fittings and furniture that might not have changed in decades.

In all these years I've never eaten at Friendly Inn once, yet I'd love to see it remain as it is.

'Frozen in Time' is a bbc blog celebration of Chinese establishments that have stood the test of time and kept their original look in an age of constant revamping and updating. If you see any other 'frozen in time' Chinese establishments, drop me a line!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eau de Karen Mok

If you've always wanted to wear a perfume inspired by a diminutive female Hong Kong action star, now's your chance!

Karen Mok has become the first Asian celebrity to launch their own fragrance, following in the footsteps of many western celebrities (and even quite a few non-celebrities).

It's not an obvious choice for a celebrity endorsement but no doubt her fanbase will be rushing out to try out her products. I wonder if the commercials will be anything like her movies, though?:

via Asian Music World

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Images from the New Territories

A nice, evocative set of photos of Sheung Shui village taken by Simon Chan. They really convey that unmistakable, quirky NT atmosphere:

See the full set at Shotxy. Found via Skyscrapercity

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Racism scandal at British university

I found this incident quite appalling, especially as it allegedly involves a member of staff at what is meant to be a place of higher learning.

It is also, in a way, a type of incident that I feel a lot of bbcs can identify with.

Mongolian-born Odgerel Hatenboer wanted to apply for a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants course at Glyndwr University, Wrexham. At the time she was already a masters student in economics and had a diploma from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

When she discussed this with a member of university staff, she was shocked at what she was told:

She said: "The man said something like 'I'm not saying you're Chinese but people like you, Oriental people, tend to accept what is written in the books and what the lecturer says, whereas this kind of course is nothing like you have studied in the past, it requires more analytical skills, you will have to do more yourself."

"This didn't happen on the street or in a shop, this happened in a university which is supposed to be multi-racial institution with educated people.

"I think it's outrageous. I can not believe it happened. It's appalling that a member of staff commented on an individual because of their race. He didn't even ask about my background or qualifications."

I accept that this is one person's account of an incident but if it's true then damn right it's outrageous. However, I'm sorry to say I think this the kind of thing isn't rare. At times it seems we are last race left in Britain that people happily and openly stereotype without a second thought.

To hear stuff like this is bad but in some cases it might have been dismissed as a 'harmless' comment that had perhaps been taken the wrong way.

However, in this case the prejudice behind the comments may have been underlined by the fact that the student's application form was not submitted to the university by the member of staff even though it had been completed.

Had he just unilaterally decided the course was not for this 'Oriental' and chose to deny them even the right to apply?

(Another point: I notice that this condescending, racist person used the word 'Oriental' to describe us, which I've never liked. It's totally out-dated and has a rather patronising, colonial sound to it.)

Odgerel Hatenboer is reportedly planning to take legal advice. Meanwhile, the university has responded by saying it has taken appropriate action but does not say what.

It also says Mrs. Hatenboer's application was 'misplaced' and not deliberately held back. I guess they found it again then, eh?

Full story: BBC News

Related: The Daily Post (North Wales)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Melamine scandal now spreads to vegetables?

China's tainted milk scandal has been covered so extensively in the international press that I didn't even think it was even necessary to mention it on the bbc blog.

Clearly the scandal had exposed the fact that as China's economy has expanded at an explosive rate, its quality control standards have simply failed to keep pace (something that I think most Chinese would have acknowledged even before the melamine scandal).

In this case, those who paid the price were the country's most vulnerable citizens - infants being fed milk.

Today there was disturbing news that suggests the scandal is not over yet: Singapore's Straits Times and Yahoo News have both reported that the toxic chemical melamine has been discovered in vegetables imported from China.

The findings apparently originate from Korea, and has led to a state of high alert in Malaysia:

"We have learnt from Korea that they have detected a high level of melamine in vegetables they import from China," said Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

It may take a while before this news is confirmed or debunked. In the meantime, here are the links:

Story: Taiwan News
Story: The Straits Times
Story: Yahoo News