High Turnover in Hong Kong

It has been a terrible week of awareness. When people say that change is the only constant, they probably do not have Hong Kong in mind. In Hong Kong, change isn’t merely a constant. It also represents a steep gradient.

There are two units currently undergoing renovation in my building and the drilling noise irritates me to the core. Everyday, without fail, the drilling starts at 9.30am and does not seem to stop until the sun sets. I frown and wonder what on earth requires so much drilling. How many walls does an apartment have? I lament over my poor musical talent, of which otherwise, I may have easily convert these noise pollution to music pleasant to my ears. (more…)

September 21, 2011 3 comments

Falling in love with a Chinese man

Sara, who is a Finnish girl living in China, recently wrote a post on Seeing Red in China blog about her relationship with a Chinese migrant worker:

“Being in a relationship and living with a Chinese guy is a process of learning. My boyfriend doesn’t speak any English and our common language is Mandarin Chinese. After learning the language for year and a half in Finland and one year in China, I can manage and survive with it. It means that we aren’t discussing physics, but fortunately topics like, ”what should we eat” and ”what TV channel you want to watch” are more common topics in our relationship.

While dating a Chinese man means that in the end you marry his whole family. At the same time it seems to be that you also let other people to comment and criticize your relationship. Or the others give themselves the right to voice out their opinions.”


September 15, 2011 2 comments

Living in Hong Kong

I live in a small Hong Kong apartment – 450 square feet, barely enough for me to walk around once I set up a big clothing rack to dry my laundry. I have shifted my bed to the living room ever since I spot molds in the bedroom walls. Humidity is a big issue in Hong Kong, especially during winter. My landlord clearly loves IKEA and adores white coats of paint.

The building has two security guards rotating on a 12-hour shift. They smile at me whenever I get home and, sometimes, we engage in small talks. Let’s see, by now I know that they earn around HKD8,000 every month and have an off-day every week. It is not a lot of money, considering that the amount is less than my rent in Hong Kong. Some people say that it is not difficult to make money in Hong Kong. I guess it depends on the group of people that you are looking at. Most locals do not seem to have it that easy. I laugh to myself whenever I come home late at night, noticing how they manage to make themselves comfortable enough to fall asleep in that small space. On days when I feel wicked, I let go of the heavy metal gate fast just to jolt them up from their sleep with a loud bang. I justify by thinking that, “hey isn’t it their job to stay awake?” Clearly, a long day out in Hong Kong does great damage to my sanity.


September 2, 2011 1 comment

My English is not your English

Is ‘disorientated’ a word? Ask someone from the USA, and they are likely to say no. But it’s absolutely correct in British English.

Languages change constantly and English is no exception. That causes confusion sometimes, and not just if you’re learning English as a foreign language. The variations of English which have developed in the USA, Canada and Australia have been around for some time. But other world regions have also developed their own brand of English. There are regional variations of English within the UK itself. Singlish, Hinglish, Chinglish and others are all becoming more commonly heard. When two non-native speakers communicate in English, they are likely to use a kind of ‘International’ or ‘Global’ English.

English is sometimes described as ‘the world’s second language’, and the ability of people in many different parts of the world to communicate using (International) English undoubtedly helps global trade and communications. And as global interaction increases, so does the use of English as lingua franca.


April 6, 2011 10 comments

Road rules in Austria

Test your cultural expertise with our weekly quiz. This week’s question is from Austria.

When either a pedestrian or a driver in Austria, you should be extra careful to observe the road rules and etiquette.

True or False?


February 24, 2011 3 comments

How many ethnic groups are there in China?

Test your cultural expertise with our weekly quiz question. Know the answer? Tell us about it in the comments.

China is a multi-ethnic nation. How many ethnic groups coexist in the country?

A. 56.
B. 76.
C. 106.


February 17, 2011 1 comment