Monday, December 20, 2010

Bad Food in Hong Kong? Is it possible?

Well, of course it is. But I'm so used to reading about/experiencing great HK food that it's sometimes a shock to hear a negative opinion.

This comes from the witty blogger extraordinaire, film-maker and perhaps the best Scandinavian Cantonese teacher in the world, China Droll aka Cecilie.

What I thought was prawn spring rolls turned out to be a kind of deep fried dough with one prawn, a piece of mango and loads and loads of mayonnaise. It was, to be charitable, inedible.

The next “thing” was deep fried tofu, always a safe bet I thought, but it was a kind of goo that had once looked at a soy bean, then turned tail and run headlong into a vat of fish paste, staying there for the next few months before turning up at our table looking exactly like infant’s poo and being, again very very charitably, totally inedible.

Are there any other examples of bad food in Hong Kong?

Link: China Droll

Related: Cantonese - The Movie continues apace

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Unhappy China forces Nobel boycott and launches own 'Peace Prize'

In an unusually overt and high-profile move, China has made its displeasure with the Nobel Foundation well and truly known by setting up its own rival 'Peace Prize'. The Confucius Peace Prize is to be awarded one day before writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is honoured as the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Liu has been imprisoned by the Chinese authorities since December 2009 for subversion - his fourth prison term for political offences - and his awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize has seriously aggravated the Communist Party, unsurprisingly.

So much so that it has threatened consequences for other countries if they participate in the prize ceremony which has been held annually since 1901. The threat has been enough to cause 18 nations not to attend.

State news agency XinHuanet says:

Everyone knows that Liu Xiaobo, who is supposed to be "honored" in a ceremony in Oslo on Friday, is an imprisoned criminal and what he has done has nothing to do with "peace. Why did the Committee select Liu as this year's winner?

The answer is clear: Liu has done everything he could to subvert the Chinese government, and that suits the strategy of some organizations and people in the West toward China

Liu was one of the authors of Charter 08, a political manifesto published in 2008 which called for political reform and an end to one party rule in China.

He also played an instrumental part in persuading many students to leave Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protests, saving many lives. Ironically, for those actions he was dubbed one of the "Four junzis of Tiananmen Square". Junzi is a term meaning an exemplary, commendable person and was coined by... Confucius.

Liu is serving an 11 year sentence to run until 2020.

Story: Daily Telegraph

Related: Liu Xiaboa, Wikipedia

Related: XinHua

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wanted: Chinese males for advertising campaign!


Dear readers,

Do you know any Chinese males aged around 35-70?

If you do, London-based The Eye casting agency may be interested in using them for a major forthcoming print and poster campaign. The campaign requires Chinese males aged between 35-70 who would be available for a photo shoot in London during the week starting November 29th. Successful applicants will be paid up to £1000!

Please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested!

For full details, please email Carey Mann

Good luck!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mission Implausible: Asian Man uses movie-style disguise to board plane

A man, likely to be a Hong Kong or Chinese national, has been caught going to extraordinary lengths to disguise himself for a flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver. However, no-one is quite sure what his plan was or how he achieved his professional-looking disguise.

The details being reported are sketchy. Apparently, the Asian man boarded the plane using a swapped boarding pass. This implies that he went through passport control using his real identity then obtained a different boarding card whilst in the departures waiting area. Perhaps he got past security because he had a ticket for a different flight (not to Vancouver)?

Reports suggest the Asian man got the boarding pass from an accomplice (who would have been booked on that Vancouver-bound flight). In which case, what happened to the accomplice. Did he just stay behind in HK?

The plot was rumbled on the flight itself when it was noticed (by flight attendants, I guess) that the 'elderly man' had youthful looking hands. Although, since the disguise was ditched in mid-air, you would think that the sudden disappearance of a passenger and the appearance of a Chinese man from out of thin air might also have raised eyebrows!

A very strange story, indeed.

Story: Toronto Star

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New HK movie 'Dream Home'

This looks interesting and kind of different to the usual Hong Kong movie. Stars Josie Ho and Eason Chan:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Side by Side

Being a BBC is a bit like inhabiting two worlds: The Western, British world and the Chinese world. This can be taken literally if you have spent a lot of time in both the UK and Hong Kong. So I wondered if it would be interesting to pair up some familiar, everyday things from both worlds and show them side by side - a sort of pictorial description of the world through BBC eyes.

This isn't meant to show that one side is better than the other or anything; It's just to try and show the 'two worlds' that we become familiar with as BBCs.

What do you think of the pairings? Accurate or off the mark?

(If it isn't obvious, the left side is always UK and the right side HK)

More later... :-)

Photo credits:, dlade, rfeldman11, thesocialistway, dailymail,,,,, webs-of-significance, absolutginger,,

Friday, October 01, 2010

Introducing bbc-Youtubers, MissYau and bubbiosity!

Asian American youtubers have already gained a degree of fame and notoriety (see thewinekone and Peter Chao)

So it's great to see some bbcs getting in on the act with their own distinctive Youtube channels - and very good they are too. Check out the sample vid from MissYau (aka Garbo from Swansea) below and go to her Youtube channel here.

Keep it up MissYau! Respect! :)

And from Northern Ireland we have a Triad-based epic from bubbiosity who seems to be playing at least three roles here:

You'll find the multi-talented Bubbi's channel right here.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Strange, old song, 'Chinatown, My Chinatown'

You might have heard this odd little song on the video game 'Mafia'. It actually dates from 1910 and is a jazz interpretation of the 'exotic Orient' done by the popular songwriters of the day William Jerome and Jean Schwartz. It ends with the immortal lyrics.. "wing, wong". Erm, yes, classic.

Related: Wikipedia

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hong Kong tourists caught up in Manila hostage incident

Truly awful news; A tour group including 22 Hong Kong citizens was caught up in an hostage drama in Manila. Tragically 7 people have been confirmed dead in the ensuing shoot-out. No information as yet on whether the Hong Kong tourists were amongst the casualties.

Story: Evening Standard

UPDATE: Video of the incident shows what must be one of the most incompetent police operations of recent times. It is being reported that officers took 45 mins to break their way into the bus after the first shots were heard.

Story: Hong Kong Standard

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Miniature Hong Kong

Found this nice video online that shows typical views of Hong Kong but with a special camera effect that makes everything looks like it's a miniature toy set. Have a look:

Little Big City - Hong Kong Tilt Shift from Fershad Irani on Vimeo.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Large protests over attempt to 'push aside' Cantonese

Photos: China Droll

There have been reports that thousands of people in the Cantonese-speaking southern Chinese city of Guangzhou staged a peaceful protest when the government announced it would switch most local television programming to Mandarin, the official national language of China.

Beijing has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of dialects and numerous minority languages.

Cantonese is still widely spoken in the booming southern province of Guangdong, thanks in part to the spillover influence of Hong Kong's wildly successful and racy vernacular pop culture, but some people fear for its future.

Chinese newspapers and Internet sites have reported on companies where employees are fined for speaking Cantonese at work, prompting anger.

"I support Cantonese. If we don't speak it, we are shaming our ancestors," wrote "Bright Star" on the popular Chinese internet portal

I have to say, even as a rubbish Canto speaker living in England, I feel quite proud that people are willing to stand up for our language like this.

Language preservation is a contentious issue; The Communist party and its supporters see language adoption as an important tool in promoting homogeneity and unity in China. But for those whose native dialect is not Mandarin, language is a vital part of their identity and heritage.

How can China protect and - dare I say - promote local diversity in language without conflicting with its goal of homogeneity? Is that even possible?

Source: Reuters via SkyscraperCity

Related: The Changing Sound of Chinatown

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Does your family have an interesting story to tell?

Can you help, or know anyone who can?

The BBC is making a 60-minute documentary about family life, to broadcast early next year as part of BBC Two's prestigious Wonderland strand.

The film will feature families going on car trips in the UK this summer. You could be going on your holiday, or for a weekend break - to visit friends or family, or even just for a day-trip. We'd film you on your journey to and from your destination, but while you are away we will leave you alone to have a good time.

We want to make a film that reflects the diversity of the modern British family and we are on the look out for a British-Chinese family to be part of this.

We want to get to know you over the course of the trip - who you are, and what life is like for you as a family. The biggest thing for us is just that you would be happy to have us along for the ride, and want to tell us your story.

If you are going on a car journey of longer than 2 hours between July and September this year, and would like to find out more about our documentary (with no commitment necessarily to taking part), please do drop me a quick e-mail or give me a call whenever is convenient.

Please get in touch with Rebecca Arnold on 0208 008 5587 (

Monday, August 02, 2010

Have you spotted any 'Frozen in Time' places?

A request to bbc blog readers: Have you noticed any 'Frozen in Time' Chinese restaurants or takeaways where you are? If so, please take a pic and send it in! I'd love to add to the ones already posted.

'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.

Click here to see what I mean.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Spenders from the Mainland - two sides of a story

Just as the UK's Daily Telegraph publishes a wide-eyed article about the extravagant shopping habits of China's newly wealthy tourists, there comes a viral video from Hong Kong that shows a tour guide berating her party of Mainland guests for not spending 'enough' during their visit to the SAR.

The Telegraph article - which to be honest could have been written any time in the last 5 years - paints Chinese tourists as potential saviours of a struggling UK economy whilst at the same time pointing out some of the eccentricities of the new Chinese rich:

Nowhere is China’s confidence seen more clearly than in its demand for luxury goods. Last year the People’s Republic overtook the United States to become the second biggest market for the luxury sector; and by 2015 it will have overtaken Japan, with a market projected to be worth £11 billion annually.

...The eccentricity of Chinese buying habits takes other forms. Fine wine may be a status symbol in the high-end restaurants of Shanghai but many locals are not so enamoured of the actual taste.

“The Chinese used to water down the cheap wine they first encountered and now consider that the normal way to drink it,” says Mr Grant. “Which can be a bit of a shame when you’ve just opened a nice Margaux.”

The flip side of this story comes in the form of the viral video, in which a tour guide called Ah Zhen - thought by some commenters to be a Hong Kong based Mainlander herself - does a 'Bus Uncle' by launching into a long, insulting tirade against her clients who seems remarkably quiet whilst being chastised.

Some of the choice quotes being reported in the press are:

"It's you who owe me here, not me owing you. I provided you with food and accommodation but you people will not give."
"If you don't repay the debt in this life you will have to repay it in your next life."
"It's OK to be poor at home, but you can't act like this when you are outside. Don't tell me you don't need [the jewellery], I say you don't need to eat either. Tonight I will lock all hotel room doors, because you don't need accommodation."
"We don't do this for charity. Let me be responsible for charity. I donated 10,500 yuan [HK$12,027] for Sichuan earthquke victims."
"Why did you bother to come to Hong Kong?"

All this an not one person threw anything at her. What a polite group of tourists!

Who knows, if the UK economy were to decline even more maybe we'll start to see rants like this on the streets outside Prada and Gucci? Well, maybe not :)

Guide video via Living In Hong Kong

UK shopping article via The Daily Telegraph

Monday, July 05, 2010

Profile of a Walled City

Imagine a city with 30 times the population density of Manhattan. Imagine it was a lawless den of vice in which drugs, prostitutes and illegal gambling were all available. Imagine it sat directly under the landing path of one of the world's busiest airports.

That's Kowloon's walled city, as profiled by a number of websites listed over at

...with no streets and little daylight, it was a rat infested, cockroach ridden filthy labyrinth. KWC was a no-man’s land that fell neither under British Jurisdiction nor Chinese

It had 161 unregulated doctors and dentists along with food producers from whole pig roasters to the suppliers of most of Hong Kong’s fish balls. Most of the people that lived in KWC never left.

Via: oobject

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The hidden Tiananmen commemorations


21 years after the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the issue is still too politically sensitive to be commemorated in China. But on the internet, discussion about what is obliquely referred to as 'May 35th' can still take place and ensures the events of June 4th 1989 will never be forgotten.

Twenty-one years have passed, how much longer must we keep commemorating this in a virtual space [instead of being allowed to do it openly]?

Gradually aging comrades, we must tell the story of what happened 21 years ago to the next generation. We cannot let these seeds, thirsty for freedom, be extinguished. We can not let our sons and grandsons continue to be slaves.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Chinese men and 'suspicious liquid' spark air alert

Here's an intriguing little story.

A US-bound Delta Air Lines flight turned back to Japan after two Chinese passengers locked themselves in a toilet with what authorities said was a container of suspicious liquid.

The pilot of the Boeing 747-400 with 407 passengers and crew bound for Minneapolis turned around three hours into the flight from Tokyo after the two men refused to leave the toilet.

The pair, both in their 20s, had boarded the flight during an earlier stop in Shanghai.

So the question must be: What was the liquid that two Chinese men would want to take into a toilet? Would anyone care to guess?

Story: Hong Kong Standard

Monday, May 17, 2010

Use a rice cooker to make bread!

Yes, it's true! I saw it on the internet!

Apparently if you own a modern rice cooker i.e. one with a timer function, not the old fashioned ones that that just have an On/Keep Warm button, you can actually 'hack' it to turn it into a breadmaker. And if people's comments are to be believed, the results aren't even that bad.

Get the lowdown from The Lazy Chef.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Differences Between Chinese and Japanese Women

A cheeky (and slightly narrow) examination of how Chinese and Japanese women differ, as found on

But what would the list for Chinese and Japanese men be like, I wonder? :)

Link: 14 Differences Between Japanese Women & Chinese Women

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bad medicine: Deadly Chinese remedy may still be on sale in shops

The BBC reports that a banned product that has been found to cause cancer in those taking it may still be on sale in some Chinese herbal remedy shops.

The distributor, Ekong International (UK) Ltd, issued a recall last month, but more than three quarters of the stock has still not been returned.

Packs of the product, brought to the UK from China, have had a new English label put on to hide the original label which contained the Chinese symbols for Aristolochia, a banned toxic and carcinogenic derivative of a plant.

The medicine is packed in white plastic bottles, each containing 180 round white tablets.

Anyone out there who uses these types of products or knows someone who does - Beware!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Events March 26th-27th 2010

I get emails every now and then about social events and gatherings etc. so I thought I might as well share them with bbc blog readers:

BCS Friday night Drinks - Friday 26th March

Join the BCS for a few drinks at Gordon’s wine bar, thought to be the oldest wine bar in London. After a hard week at work, you’ll be able to sample the impressive range of wine on offer.

Date: Friday 26th March
Venue: Gordon’s wine bar, 47 Villiers Street, London (Charing Cross or Embankment tube station)
Time: 5pm onwards

If it’s your first time to a BCS Drinks don't fret, just send an email to with "Drinks" in the subject, and the organizer will be in touch to help welcome you.

Allure Party - Saturday March 26th

Come Party with us! have exclusively hired a venue for us to pack with glamourous party people so please join us!

Date: Saturday 27th March, 2010
Time: 8pm - 2am
Venue: The Distillers, 66 Smithfield, London, EC1A 9DY
Ticket: £10 in advance, £14 on the door
Group Discount: For groups of 8 or above tickets are £8 each - they must all be bought at the same time.
Promoter Discount: For every 10 tickets you buy, you get one free
Note: This is a ticketless event, please print out your Paypal receipt as proof of purchase and ensure you give us the names for the guestlist.
Dress code: Glamour, Allure
The music will be a mix of commercial, pop and r&b

For more information and to buy tickets please go to

All proceeds go to The Chinese Community Centre; a registered charity.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New website explains Right of Abode in Hong Kong

A big thank you to Harry Li who has told me about his highly informative website that explains in depth the issue of Right of Abode in Hong Kong.

This is what I think a lot BBCs have been waiting for; a clear, informative website in English by someone who understands the complicated issues involved.

Head over to Harry's website here.

Related: Old Hong Kong ID cards to become invalid

Monday, February 15, 2010

So much for the new, improved Oriental City?

Eighteen months after the closure of London's much-loved 'alternative' Chinatown, Oriental City remains closed and derelict.

As reported on the bbc blog, the mall - which housed an Asian supermarket, popular Chinese restaurants and a brilliant Asian food court - was bought out by a developer who obtained planning permission from Brent council to turn the site into a shopping and residential complex. The ambitious plans even included building a school on site. As reported here, the planning permission was conditional on some part of the new development being devoted to Asian businesses.

In fact, that developer (Development Securities) decided to sell the site to another company which was subsequently unable to stump up all the cash to seal the deal. The mall is reportedly now in the hands of administrators and the planning permission that was granted will expire in June.

Story: BBC News

So no new development, no new school and no new Oriental City. Or is there?

Wikipedia reports that there are talks amongst former tenants to take back the site and re-open it for business. Good news if they spend some money to renovate the abandoned site. Not so good if they simply switch the lights back on and carry on as before - the site did need some sprucing up, in my opinion.

But furthermore, there are signs that a new development in nearby Wembley wants to stake a claim on being the 'new' Oriental City. Pacific Plaza was set-up by a former Oriental City tenant and once fully opened may offer the same type of services as the old mall.

Link: Pacific Plaza on London Randomness

It's only partially open but could Pacific Plaza take over where Oriental City left off?

Related: The bbc blog's coverage of Oriental City

Photo: Kake Pugh

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gun Hei Fat Choi, Sun Leen Fai Lok!

Wishing all readers, wherever you are, a happy Chinese New Year.

Here's a sample of personal CNY thoughts and celebrations around the world, courtesy of Twitter.

Well, the bbc blog does try to keep up with the latest trends ;)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Perhaps the riskiest tourist attraction in China

... and maybe the world.

Huashan in Shaanxi province is one of China's sacred mountains and a hugely popular tourist destination. Besides the sedate pleasure of temples and awe-inspiring scenery, there is also a precarious pathway that is becoming known as one of the most deadly tourist activities in the world, a narrow trail that takes hikers up a steep mountainside with at times nothing but a couple of planks or a chain to stop you plummeting to your death.

So how dangerous is this trail? Actually no-one knows the official figures because none are available. But from seeing online accounts and photos, I think we can safely say it's not somewhere you want to take your digital SLR.

Kudos to the guy who installed those planks, though!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Scary attack on crowded HK street

Photos: RTHK

This is certainly not what you want to read if you live in Hong Kong...

Since 2008 there have been 6 'acid attacks' in Hong Kong in which corrosive liquid has been thrown at people minding their own business walking down the street.

In the latest attack, thirty people were injured. The attack place in the crowded Temple Street night market at 9:30 pm, a time when the street would have been especially crowded. Emergency services were dispatched but the culprit remains at large. No word on what the liquid thrown was, but it was dangerous enough for the victims to have to go to hospital.

What a shocking and scary incident - especially as it might be just the latest in a series of attacks. I truly hope the person responsible is caught quickly.

In a new development, RTHK is reporting that police have arrested a suspect who was found hiding on a rooftop near the scene of the attack where several plastic bottle caps were also found.

Story: RTHK

Friday, January 01, 2010