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Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Leftovers, anyone?

The latest talk-of-the-town mass media sensation is Hong Kong’s first (at least so on the city’s free longstanding and conservative TV station) reality TV show, “Bride Wannabies“.  Don’t let the show title fool you, it’s nothing like “The Bachelorette” of the States.  5 single ladies allow a TV crew follow their every move in their romantic adventure toward finding their future partners.  The show won’t be nearly as entertaining or captivating to the public without the abundant supply of so-called life coaches, match makers, psychologists, dating strategists, and of course, a variety of makeover stylists and cosmetic surgeons.  Everyone I know have watched the show with at least a comment or two, to say the least.

The show centers around one theme, which is the literal translation of “leftover ladies” in Chinese.  Apparently some also called them “3S” ladies meaning ladies who are single, seventies and stuck.  I think that’s harsh.  Anyway, it generally refers to women who are highly educated, make a good living and certainly have high standards of everything in life, including their choice of men.

Enough has been said about the show itself, the 5 bride wannabies, and the highly controversial experts.  I am rather interested in the social phenomenon and why there is such a difference in treatment between the men and women in this city.

I will never understand why single women are brutally labelled as leftovers as if there is something wrong with them.  What about the men?  Alright, scholars are rationalizing it saying it’s the conservative notion of women looking for men to protect and take care of them, and that there is still this historical belief of female inferiority in our society.  In my opinion, if you have lived through life with enough experience knowing that Prince Charming only exists in fairy tales, you will certainly adapt and adopt a new standard of your significant other as you age.  However, if you feel that you need to be absolutely honest with yourself with what turns you on, both physically and emotionally, by all means keep your faith, look for your Mr. Right,  and embrace and enjoy your single life in the time being.  There is no right or wrong.  You are the owner of your life.

Some people brought in the financial aspect claiming that it’s becoming less and less viable sustaining in this economy without living a coupled life.  Isn’t it better however making your own bucks than looking for a meal ticket somewhere?  It’s harder than winning a lottery really, and you still risk losing it through unexpected breakups or divorce.  It’s not a business transaction.  If you are really committed in setting yourself as a commodity in the market, please, assess your market position and how much bargaining power you have.  That goes for both men and women.  In my line of work, so many buyers and sellers fail to come to an agreement solely because of the absence of such awakening.  My job is to shake some sense into both parties.  I kid you not, I can very well make a career change into a match maker in this booming market.

Some women complain that men are often intimidated over how successful they are.  Well, either these men are not worthy for them to begin with, or the women need to reflect over themselves whether they have actually been sending derogatory remarks all along.  If it was the latter, then they are just digging their own graves by possessing extremely poor social skills.

There is nothing wrong with singles, women or men, at any age.  The key is whether they lead a happy life, and be content with what they already have.  Step out of your comfort zone and expand your circles.  Whinners are losers, if they are not doing anything about it.  Time and time again people report that they are attracted by cheerful, confident guys and gals.  And remember, confidence doesn’t mean cocky.  If you carry yourself well with elegance, humility, confidence and a positive outlook on matters, I really don’t see how you won’t find yourself surrounded by admirers.

So instead of those stupid and meaningless dating strategies that are nothing more than sound bites, you will never go wrong with investing in yourselves, and believing that leading your own life in your own way probably is one of the best blessings of it all.

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Is asking this question a sign of ageing?  I hope not, as the targets I studied aren’t only the Generation X and Ys, but also people of my age or above.  I just cannot get over ladies dragging their ankles walking around the office floor with disturbing clunking noises (don’t mistake that with heels please), people chewing their food loudly like cows next to me, commuters screaming into their cellphones on the top of their lungs yapping about meaningless gossips, or professional athelete-type passengers who compete for a new Olympic Games category of jumping into occupied elevators or subway cars, holding the poor exiting souls hostage.

If you think we can just be chilled over all this nonsense and smirk over it, look me in the eyes and tell me you aren’t shocked and disturbed by the well suited man who jumped into the subway seat one second before you even had the chance to offer it to an elderly woman.

It’s not like we are at war times.  Most of us live in adequately provided environments and more often than not, nobody really owes us anything.  I don’t get how parents will inflict this upon their kids by encouraging them to be selfish, misbehaving snobs.  Alright, it’s probably because the parents themselves are like that, at work and at play. 

For me how a person carries himself or herself speaks a lot about their character.  Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do count people out by the negative traits I observe, and I don’t think I am alone.  To me, I cannot entrust them in anything if I feel that they do not even respect themselves. 

If you can think of a constructive way to steer the city back to the right direction, do let me know.  It will be a cause that I will stand proudly behind.  For now, I am doing my small part in my own professional space, so that I can sleep better at nights.

I wish. 

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I’m On Reality TV

I have written more than once about my experience at Starbucks in town.  In fact, I think I deserve a token amount of sponsorship fees from the popular chain.  Lounging at any one of the 100 plus establishments in the city proves to be both relaxing and entertaining.  Other than my last psychic experience, today I found myself assuming the entertainer role.

Chatting with a friend over green tea latte and cappuccino is a treat of itself, particularly when it’s over 32 degree celsius outside, and we were happy to finally have the opportunity to sit down catching up rather than endless texting.  2 minutes down our conversation, we couldn’t help but noticed a couple of teenage girls staring our way.  Yes, literally staring and listening intently.  It’s a wooden bench type of seating, so I accepted that privacy was never warranted.  Yet listening while looking straight at us was certainly far from discrete.

The girls were not talking amongst themselves.  They were not flipping through magazines, and it felt like my friend and I were a giant television screen right in front of them.  They heard all of our gossips and juicy exchanges, but no one other than the two of us should be able to make sense over what we were yapping about.  Strangely, the girls giggled when we laughed.  Okay, this was downright creepy.

My friend signalled me to lower my voice, since I admit I do have the tendency to get overly excited when I am deeply involved in a conversation.  However, it seems that the quieter we muttered, the more appealing our apparently secretive conversation became to our audience.

I feel that the curious duo should pay for our drinks.   When we left the cafe, I could see them looking our way laughing and mouthing apparent judgements on us.

Yes, we all judge.  We all like to pass judgements over people we hardly know.  My friend and I probably have a million punch lines waiting to be abused by the observant onlooker.  Yet, it’s my first time experiencing it in my face, and in broad daylight without the slightest attempt of coverup.

Maybe this is just a tip of the iceberg.  If we hadn’t left that early, we might find ourselves captured on YouTube tonight.   They could have called for their parents to physically enjoy the free entertainment and mockery session.

My conclusion is that Starbucks is a hotbed of interesting (creepy) personalities, and I should really go back more often to get inspirations for my writing.  If I can’t avoid being the freelance entertainer at times, maybe I should at least erect a signage of http://corporateshopaholic.com  on my coffee table, as a desperate attempt to promote my blog while being featured.

Starbucks, here I come.

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Political Brain-Washing? Really?

I’m a liberal, and I am definitely not a fan of political propaganda drawn up by the sometimes out-of-touch administration and its mothership.  Yet when some critics claimed that the latest talks of civic education planned to be rolled out in our primary and secondary schools are  “brain-washing tools” , I can’t help to think that the teachers perhaps need to develop better and more sophisticated rebuttals than that.

No I’m not that naive to think that the administration isn’t planning to spoon-feed our young generation of the glorious prosperity of our state, ever.  Every policy and every cent spent has an agenda, so the motive is definitely there.  Though I believe whoever finding the way to “brain-wash” our generations Y & Z through a few hours of public school curriculum deserves a Nobel price.

 

Today’s youth is rebellious in nature, and it is not necessarily a bad thing.  We have to embrace it no matter we like it or not.  They are independent thinkers, though some may argue the logic of their thinking.  One thing for sure, they will not take in any knowledge or thoughts as granted.  So what are the chances of having them brain-washed by the most transparent form of patriotic education?  Just look at the student riots everywhere from London to France to Seoul.  These countries have a much longer standing as sovereign states, and they are still struggling of social unity across the classes.  So what is Hong Kong afraid of being a territory known for our indifference in our nationality?

Come on, except the occasional declarations on immigration forms abroad, how often do Hong Kong people acknowledge our nationalities?  We distance ourselves from mainland China because we cannot condone the many backwards policies and practices in the country, but we want their cash and the related business and job opportunities.  We make an effort to explain to our foreign friends that we are from Hong Kong and it’s used to be a British colony, but we know it’s political incorrect to express any reminiscing sentiments over the colonization period.  We know we are led by the supposedly independent Hong Kong government, though it is so lame-ducked and out-of-touch with the general public that it’s just unfashionable to even be sympathetic with the unimaginable duty it shoulders.  So what’s left of us?  A bunch of incredibly materialistic citizens who will flock to wherever that brings us instant gratification.  In more cases than not, to Hong Kong, that means CASH.

That’s why if you think our youngest generation has not caught on with the trend, you are just kidding yourselves.  Instead of brain-washing through civic education curriculum, just dangle a big fat deck of $500 notes in front of them.  That will do the trick.

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I think it was year 1990 or 1991 when I was in the United World College attending a media summit organized by the school faculty and students.   A few prominent speakers, including some movers and shakers of the media industry, were invited to address the students about the role of the media and its impact in the political world.  I don’t remember who the speaker (some American journalist) was now, but she was talking about her views on news productions around the world.  “You know what’s the worst news reporting production I have seen so far,” she shared in the middle of her speech.  “It was the Hong Kong TV news programs.”  There was laughter and gasps.  My schoolmates immediately turned to me giggling.  Being one of the only two Hong Kong students in the school, suddenly I felt that I was singled out.  Should I say something?  Should I defend something – anything?  The speaker didn’t need to be a genius to realize that a poor Hong Kong ambassador was in the hall, and she reiterated: “I’m serious.  The newscasters were babbling on and on at a piece that needs not much explaining.”

Maybe I didn’t quite get it at the time, since I hardly had much else to reference to, having only been away from my home town for less than a year.  But I get it now, big time.   Some 20 years later, I am still amazed and amused by where we are today with our news productions.

First a disclaimer.  I know nothing much about the industry, and my frame of reference since then has been largely related to that of the States.  But I think I am still entitled to share my views as a TV audience, and one attempting to seek up-to-date information from the local programs.  By the way, there aren’t that many choices to begin with.

I am a complete believer in news reporters’ and the station’s impartiality in any news stories, but do they all have to be so stone-faced and robotic?  Those of us who are also in the “people business” understand that we as the messengers play a huge part in getting our messages across.  How we say it and how we deliver it is an art by itself.  Yet throughout the few decades of TV news programs I have seen, it seems that there is a cardinal rule in their training programs that no news reporters or anchors should ever shed a single hint of emotion and intonation, whatsoever.  Hey, don’t get that mixed up with adding an opinion, as I know they aren’t talk show hosts and they are not supposed to.  I am talking about adding the right pause, phrasing, and emphasis to the key points, conclusions and transitions.  Sometimes subtle body language and hand gestures may be appropriate.  Though no, all I see is complete stiffness from beginning to end.  Maybe this is requested and demanded by the viewers?  I’m not sure, and I’m not one of them.

I like news anchors who have credibility and professionalism, and it takes them years on the field to gain that hard-earned reputation.  I don’t want them to turn into another extreme like some of the TV news programs in Taiwan, where the programs are much closer to entertainment than anything else, just so they could push up ratings in a relatively much more competitive media market than Hong Kong.  Despite the authoritative figure, I like to see some personalities being presented from time to time.  That brings an element of relatability, trust and connection with the audience.  I understand it can be hard to do here because the local presenters are not as high paid, their career prospect not as secure and promising, and hence it will be much tougher for them to build a distinct brand for themselves.

That’s what I would like to see changed, at least progressively.  It starts from the top at the leadership level, and goes down to where news stories are reported.  The news transcripts do not need to repeat everything we are already seeing on TV.  Come on, we are watching news with news feeds.  The news stories can stand to be a bit more original and non-repetitive.  Interviewing parents and school kids every year on September 1 when the new school year starts is not newsworthy material, similar to shooting at the flower market every Valentine’s Day, or dim sum restaurants on Mother’s Day.  Asking passing by citizens on the streets what they think of the recent public bus fare hike can only lead to one uniform answer.  Every time, I feel that 20 to 30 minutes of my life is robbed.  I don’t dislike the events themselves, I am just longing for a few more original questions or angles on them.

We need some pioneers and some daring moves to push everyone out of their comfort zones once in a while, even if they are of the TV viewers.  I want to envision myself jumping out of my auditorium chair some day, defending the next coming critique if I am fortunate enough to get stuck representing Hong Kong again. 

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CNNGo.com put up an article of “Life after dark:  10 things best done around midnight in Hong Kong“.   How appropriate.  One of the biggest reasons I still consider Hong Kong my most favorite place of abode is its ultimate accessibility.  Where else in the world could you find convenience stores, eateries, massage centers and karaoke boxes around the clock?  And you don’t even need to get on taxis if you don’t want to.  There are affordable enough buses and mini-vans to almost every corner of the territory, 24 hours a day.  I admit it, I am just spoiled, and I hope my fellow Hong Kongers could realize that they are amongst the luckiest ones on earth in terms of convenience and indulgence.  Of course, the price to pay is light, noise and crowdiness pollution.  There is just no way to escape it.

Alright, let’s see what 10 things CNNGo has in mind for us to do here past midnight.

  1. Go squid fishing.  Well, I think the only time I ever did that was over 15 years ago, and I think you don’t need to wait till midnight to do that.  You can rent your own junk or join one of those packaged tours with fellow passengers you don’t know.  I only remember that I was so excited to catch my first squid that I yanked it a bit too hard and found myself and my friends splashed by black ink all over our clothes.  Actually, I also remember that the squid didn’t taste that good afterwards.  I blame it on the primitive cooking techniques on the boat.  My point is, unless you are under 20 years old, don’t do it.
  2. Visit the “gwo laan”.  Gwo laan is the Chinese name for the wholesale fruit market in Yau Ma Tei.  I did that about 2 years ago around midnight and it was exciting to see fresh fruits arriving in boxes fresh from their source, and many of them come from Japan and the United States.  The fruits are fresh, and the prices are much cheaper than retail without the mark-ups.  The only draw back is that you have to buy in boxes, so be prepared to share it with your friends and family afterwards before they go bad.  Last but not least, have someone drive you.  It wasn’t much fun for me to carry a heavy box of Japanese peaches on the overnight bus that day.
  3. Take a red minibus to MongKok.  Or, I should say, take one from MongKok to anywhere in Hong Kong.  MongKok is like the center of nightlife in Hong Kong, and it is ready to transport people to everywhere else after you take everything out of it.  You will see every layer of Hong Kong population you can imagine on the minibuses and around the waiting lines.  Teenagers, working class, suits, drunks, you name it.  Plus you will get the most exhilarating ride you can ever imagine.  7 minutes will get from MongKok to the New territories.  It’s much more exciting than any roller coaster ride since the latter is definitely more safety proven than the former.  Take it at your own risk, please.
  4. Get lost on Cheung Chau.  Hmmm, this is something I never did at the wee hours at night since the last ferry back to the island departs around 11:00pm (or not? I don’t really know).  Cheung Chau to me is a bit too commercial within the many outlying islands of Hong Kong.  Though if you get to stay overnight there, the severely haunted holiday houses near the beach will surely make any scary movies ridiculously amateurish.
  5. Watch a rooftop movie.  Oh sorry, I don’t even know this existed to be honest.  In Hong Kong’s humidity, I think only tourists will find this enjoyable.
  6. Hang out at the beach.  Actually this is really a romantic thing, especially if you have a car, since it won’t be much fun to be stranded without return transportation.  But come on, it’s still only less than 30 minutes away from city center.  Where else can you find beaches that accessible on earth?  It’s a good place to chat, enjoy the silence and hear the soothing waves.  It can be a bit scary to stare at the dark waters, but isn’t it incredibly sweet to hold on to your companion’s hands to begin with? 
  7. Eat at an all-night dai pai dong.  This is also an amazing experience, but I will advise you to let your partner know of this ahead of time rather than swinging it out of nowhere.  As long as expectations are managed, the experience is down to earth, casual and oh-so-much-fun.  If your partner has his or her clubbing attire on, the scene can be a little ridiculous.  However if this is the contrast you are looking for, who cares?
  8. Get middle-of-the-night dim sum.  Well a lot of our midnight activities center around food, and I can’t find anything more applaudable  than the recent around the clock dim sum phenomenon.  There is nothing more satisfying than having freshly steamed dumplings, cheung-fan and beef balls when you have too much to drink.  I prefer that to the oily pizza slices, kebabs and hot dogs, any day.
  9. Walk with the ghosts.  Again I didn’t know there is such a tour of Wanchai’s ghostly neighborhood, until now.  A tour guide will “explain the abundance of ghosts stems from Wanchai’s long history and high rate of casualties.”  Hmm, I also believe this is really designed for tourists.  In densely populated Hong Kong, everywhere is a ghostly neighborhood.  Come on.
  10. Go for a bike ride.  Alright, at least there is some suggestion that is not food oriented.   I have a feeling however that this is also popular for someone aged under 25.  This is a subtle hint that I am nowhere qualified.

So, how many of the above have you done around midnight in this city?

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Aside from sit-down restaurants, the most patronized F&B outlet in town for me is Starbucks or Pacific Coffee.  No I don’t really go for the caffeine kick or the taste of freshly ground coffee beans, and quite frankly I don’t find the quality of these coffee chains any appealing either.  I visit their outlets when I need a place to rest my feet, stay sober from the crazy pedestrians on the world’s most crowded streets, and to kill time in between appointments around the city.  In Hong Kong where a 500 square feet jewellery store in Causeway Bay was reportedly rented for HK$1.4 million per month, or the new to-be-opened Apple store is spending US$20 million on fit-out in Central’s IFC mall, a HK$33 venti cappuccino feels like a bargain for a 2-hour refuge in the midst of all that madness.

 

There is a lot to be studied under the Starbucks logo.  Economists use Starbucks’ pricing of different sized drinks to explain costing theories.  Psychologists will tell you how that each order can be customized provides the one final shred of perceived control that each patron gets to salvage in today’s helpless world.  Nutritionists question the high calorie content of its Frappucinos (and plenty more), though Starbucks fearlessly rolled out its Trenta-sized iced products that are 30% larger than Venti.  At 916 mL, the Trenta is actually larger than the average capacity of the adult human stomach (900mL).

So what are The Top 10 Things You don’t Want To Hear From A Guy At Starbucks?  Here is David Letterman’s answer.

10.”We ran out of coffee filters, so I’m using one of my old undershirts.”

9.”Try our triple cappuccino — It’s a legal alternative to crack.”

8.”Let me make sure that’s not too hot.”
 
7.”You know, I licked every one of these stirrers.”
 
6.”One Decaf Venti Skim Latte — 39 US dollars.”
 
5.”Sugar with that?”
 
4.”Grande Caramel Macchaito? Talk English!”
 
3.”If I catch any of you people going into a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, I’ll break your legs!”
 
2.”Some whipped cream for you… and some whipped cream for me.”
 
1.”After work, I’m gonna pick up a hooker-uccino.”

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