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the really useful magazine November 2015

Ahoy Amoy

A weekend north of the border

Keeping it in the family Parents who homeschool

Eat your greens

The best veggie dining spots

meet the eco heroes



Editor’s letter



ISSUE 017 Big day out

4 Contributors

Venture deep into the New Territories at Hok Tau.


48 Food

What’s on

Dates for your diary.

Yummy veggie dining.

12 News

52 Health

What’s happening on the parent scene and a roundup of this season’s Christmas markets.

Goodness for the gut.


16 Giveaways

56 Travel

Free stuff.

18 Stuff

Winter warmers for tots.


Meet the parents

Parents who homeschool.

Money & Me

Little Burro founder Roger de Leon.



A weekend in Xiamen.


Bald truths

Simon Parry decides who is his favourite child.

24 Hong Kong’s Eco Heroes Meet some of Hong Kong’s inspirational eco-activists.


Open day

International College, Hong Lok Yuen.


Principal’s office

Principal Ruth Woodward.




After school

Giddy up! Horse riding classes for kids.


Me & my hobby

Behind the scenes of the theatre with Issy Bowkis.

44 Mumpreneurs W Hub founders Karen Farzam and Karena Belin.

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editor’s message

who’s in charge?



his month’s Expat Parent magazine is all about celebrating Hong Kong’s eco heroes. We have dedicated the cover to a select number of inspiring women from Hong Kong, who all have one thing in common - they are passionate about promoting sustainability and environmental issues in the city. When I joined Expat Parent only a couple of months ago, one of my main goals was to showcase some of the city’s most interesting and inspiring people on the cover of the magazine. Reaching out to my contacts and friends, I quickly realised that this is a city with more than its fair share of people who dedicate their time and energies to making a difference. Be it the environment, charity or even the startup scene, there are individuals from all backgrounds who are passionate about issues that impact us all. Find out more about our cover stars, Nissa Marion from Hong Kong Cleanup, Christina Dean from Redress, Tracey Read from Plastic Free Seas and Krisdean Law from International Conservation Hong Kong (pg 24 - 30). If you are inspired to try your hand at volunteering or charity work, we’ve put together some ideas for how you can get involved (pg.31). Discover Hong Kong’s best vegetarian restaurants that will convert even the most ardent carnivores. We’ve tried, tested and put together seven of the best (pg. 48 - 51). And for those of you who are looking to incorporate the newest food trend into your diet, Carolynne Dear gets the low down on fermented foods and kefir (pg.52). With the beautiful autumnal weather finally here, what better way for you or your children to spend a few weekend hours, than learning to horse ride. Annie Wong trots her way through five of Hong Kong’s best riding centres (pg. 38 - 41). Here at Expat Parent magazine, we really enjoy meeting and speaking to our readers. This month, we’ve spoken with two families who have something in common - they both educate their children at home. Find out how and why (pg.20 - 23). And finally, continuing with our theme of inspirational people, Vasavi Seethepalli speaks to mumpreneurs and Hong Kong startup scene gurus, Karena Balin and Karen Farzam of W Hub (pg. 44 - 45). Discover how these entrepreneurs launched their business and how they balance busy jobs with busy lives. Have a great month! Mawgan

Managing Editor Callum Wiggins

Sub-editor Shreena Patel

Digital Editor Annie Wong

Design Senior Graphic Designer Jack Yip

Art Director Kelvin Lau

Sales & Marketing Head of Sales & Marketing Karman So

Sales Manager Oliver Simons

Sales and Process Manager Alastair Grigg

Sales & Marketing Executive John Lee

Accounting Accounting Manager Connie Lam

Office Security

Accounting Assistant Jason To

Peace Keepers

Cat the dog

Fish & Chips

Publisher Tom Hilditch

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772, 35911719, 35911721,

about the cover Photographer Danny Lee at Hong Kong Photography Studio is seen here hard at work with our eco hero cover stars. Bringing together a group of people to create a magazine cover is no mean feat, but with a great photographer and four incredibly professional women, we managed to pull this cover together in less than an hour. Thank you to both our cover stars and to Hong Kong Photography Studio for helping us create such a good cover for November’s edition of Expat Parent.


Editor Mawgan Batt

Published by Fast Media Ltd, LG1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong Expat Parent is published by Fast Media Limited. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Expat Parent cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. 3


Carolynne Dear

Evie Burrows-Taylor

Danny Lee

Carolynne Dear is an English freelance writer and editor, and mother of four Australian-born, Hong Kong-raised children. She has worked in London, Europe, Sydney and Hong Kong, writing on a diverse range of subjects, from travel and current affairs, to health and beauty, education, lifestyle, finance and architecture. When she’s not dashing around the Territory training for half marathons around South East Asia, she is to be found gazing over the mountains of the New Territories from her home office in Sai Kung, looking for inspiration for her next story.

Evie Burrows-Taylor has been a freelance journalist in Hong Kong since January 2014. In addition to writing for Fast Media she has written for several publications including the South China Morning Post, Tatler and the Huffington Post. While writing on everything from business and finance, to education and travel, Evie enjoys experiencing the cultural delights that Hong Kong, and its neighbours, have to offer.

Originally from South Korea, Danny was raised in Hong Kong for the most part of his life. With his international background, Danny has worked and studied in different parts of the world including the UK and Korea. With a background in design, Danny found his way into photography and has never looked back. When Danny is not behind the camera in the studio he can be found out and about getting back to nature in the great outdoors with a camera in hand - just in case.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

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what’s on

Suits you Sir!


Movember! Movember will once again see men across the globe cultivating their facial hair all in aid of raising awareness for men’s health issues.

whilst helping a good cause on Halloween weekend with Kirsten’s Zoo Charity’s sponsored walk. There are prizes for best costumes (for children and dogs) and most money raised. Aberdeen Country Park, Magazine Gap Road,

NOV 1-7 & 15

NOV 1 24HR Charity Dinghy Race & Black Shrimp Halloween Carnival A big weekend of sailing with teams racing around a short course at the Pak Sha Wan Bay. Plus bouncy castles, stalls, games and live entertainment. Finishes at 4pm. Free entry. Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Pak Sha Wan, 2719 9682,

NOV 1 Pumpkins and Pooches Sponsored Dog Walk Work off those treats from the night before

Hong Kong Art Gallery Week Art talks, activities and over 100 exhibitions at Hong Kong’s booming art districts. Gallery tours including Blindspot Gallery and Mur Nomade. Details at

NOV 1-30 Kin Hong Seafood Festival For the month of November, over 30 restaurants and retailers will participate in the festival to increase the public’s knowledge of sustainable seafood at various locations throughout the city, including a cook off between local chefs on Nov 21 at the HK Maritime Museum. More details at

UNTIL NOV 7 Marco Polo Oktoberfest Fill your tankards for the annual German beer festival. Prost! 6pm-11pm (11.30pm on Friday and Saturday), Marco Polo Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tickets $120-$260 from, 3128 8288.

NOV 7 Charity Race for Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter A 4km walk with your pooch and all proceeds donated to Hong Kong Homeless Dog Shelter. Race starts at 10am at Chinese International School. Participation fee is $150, donations welcome.

NOV 7 Terry Fox Run The annual Terry Fox community run will set off from Renaissance College in Ma On Shan. Runners (or walkers) can choose a 3km, 5km or 10km route. All are welcome and donations will go to cancer projects in Hong Kong. Starts from 10am. 7

what’s on


Lamma Fun Day Live music, market stalls, children’s games and lots of food and drink at laid-back Lamma. All proceeds go to Child Welfare Scheme. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Tai Wan To Beach, Lamma Island,

NOV 7-8 Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier A weekend of rugby - watch teams battle it out to represent Asia in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Hong Kong Stadium, 55 Eastern Hospital Road, So Kon Po. Tickets at

NOV 7-8 Walk for Nature A fundraising walk around a set route known as “paradise for birds”, Mai Po Nature Reserve organized by the WWF. Select a time slot between 9.30am-6pm.

NOV 8 Southern District Sand Sculpture Competition 2015 See sand castles get taken to a whole new level, and then washed away. All good things must come to an end after all. Shek O Beach. For enquiries call 2555 1014.

NOV 8 Ladies’ Purse Day Grab your girls, slap on a hat and enjoy a glamorous day at the races. Noon-6pm, Sha Tin Racecourse,


NOV 14-15

NOV 14-15

Men of Harlech Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir perform some classic pieces with students from Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Concert Hall, HKAPA. Tickets start from $200 from, 2128 8288.

The Pulse International Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Tournament Over 20 Beach Water Polo teams from around the world descend on Repulse Bay. Dodgeball sessions and classes by Flex Studio on the beach too. Free admission. Repulse Bay.

NOV 14

NOV 14-15

Galilee International School Open Day Tour the campus and meet the teachers at Galilee International School’s open day. G/F, 2 Peace Avenue, Ho Man Tin, 2390 3000,

Arts in the Park Mardi Gras Themed “Seeing is Believing”, this annual youth arts festival attracts thousands of young artists and families. Free admission. 10am4pm, Central Lawn, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay,, 2214 0177.

what’s on woof!

NOV 15

Peak to Fong Dogs and dog lovers walk from The Peak to Lan Kwai Fong in aid of Hong Kong Dog Rescue. Treats await at the end. Tickets $250 (children $220) from

NOV 22

NOV 27-29

Hong Kong District Council Elections Don’t forget to vote!

Roald Dahl, The Witches One of our all time favourite books comes to life. Great for children five years and up (plus brave grown ups). Lyric Theatre, HKAPA. Tickets $295-$595 from

NOV 22 Race with Pink Heels Put on a pair of heels and run for charity for the annual race in aid of breast cancer awareness. Races for men, women, families and even the pet pooch (no doggy heels required). Stanley Main Street, Stanley. Enrol by Nov 8 at

NOV 19 Hong Kong Academy Open Evening Learn about the pathways, financial aid and academic opportunities for graduating students at HKA. Starts from 6.30pm. Register at

NOV 26 Thanksgiving Turkey time!

NOV 27-29 Clockenflap Clean Bandit and Flying Lotus headline Hong Kong’s funkiest music festival plus art, film cabaret and a silent disco on grass at West Kowloon Cultural District. Tickets $580-$1,940 from

NOV 19-22 Macau Grand Prix Both car and motorcycle races hit the streets of Macau on one of the most demanding circuits in the world. Tickets from 9

Book now! DEC 22 - JAN 3 Cirque Adrenaline Adrenaline and death-defying performances from a troop of 50 trapeze artists, mixing clowns and acrobats. Tickets $295-$895 from, 3128 8288.

JAN 16-17

DEC 4 - FEB 14 Udderbelly Festival Following successful events at both Udderbelly Festival London and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Udderbelly comes to Asia for the first time. Expect circus, dance, music and family shows as well as cabaret and comedy from local and international performers at the big purple cow. Central Harbourfront Event Space, Central. Tickets from, 3128 8288.

DEC 4-6 & 10-13 Hong Kong Players Cinderella Panto Kicking off the Udderbelly Festival, the Hong Kong Players are return to the stage with


their annual Christmas Panto with the tale of Cinderella. Oh yes they are! Tickets from $290 from, 3128 8288.

DEC 11-13 Faust Treasure Island Follow the journey of a young hero thrust into a dangerous journey and world full of treachery and betrayal. Faust’s team of young actors promise to deliver a sterling adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. Tickets from $220 from, 3128 8288.

UCI Track Cycling World Cup The Hong Kong Velodrome hosts a leg of the Track Cycling World Cup for the first time. Watch the riders battle it out for qualification points for the 2016 Olympic Games. Hong Kong Velodrome Park, 105-107 Po Hong Road, Tseung Kwan O. Tickets $18-$200 from 11

news NOV 14


Shopping Hong Kong Start the festive holiday season with the yearly Holiday Bazaar event where you’ll find local and international high-end vendors. As well as old favourites, there will be new additions to the list including 13th Element, Cafe Perfecto and jewellery brand Boho Betty. Free admission. 12pm-8pm, The Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, www.shoppinghong kong.

Island School The retro-style themed fair will have an abundance of food and commercial stalls, entertainment, as well as lucky draws, a haunted house and a silent auction. Entry $10, 12pm4.00pm, 20 Borrett Road, MidLevels, 2524 7135.

NOV 21

Chinese International School This year’s theme is “CIS Gives Back”, highlighting the school’s involvement in charitable service work. There are prizes, t-shirts and bags to be won, along with charity and food stalls. Donations of books and clothing are welcome. 10am-4pm, 1 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, 2510 7288.

NOV 14

NOV 13

AWA Charity Bazaar 2015 Organized by the American Women’s Association, the charity bazaar will include over 70 vendors selling gifts, toys, clothes and food and wine. Plus lucky lai see and a silent auction. The bazaar will be held at PMQ in SoHo. 11.30am-8.30pm, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central,

Hidden Truffles X’mas Artisanal Bazaar Shop till you drop at the fourth X’mas Artisanal Bazaar hosted by Hidden Truffles. Back at this year’s bazaar are over 35 different artisanal vendors selling unique, homemade products. A bistro area will be set up, serving lunch and snacks throughout the day, plus hourly lucky draw prizes. Make sure to stop by the kids’ corner for fun and games. 11am-6.30pm, The Space, 210 Hollywood Road, Central,

NOV 21

Sha Tin College and Sha Tin Junior School The school’s annual fundraiser, “Back to the fair”, returns with live music, food, and over 75 stalls. Enter the raffle to win Christmas treats. 12pm6pm, 3 Lai Wo Lane, Fo Tan, Sha Tin, 2699 1811.

NOV 9, 25


Clearwater Bay School The theme for this year’s fair is “Wicked, Wild West”. Expect cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, sheriffs and much more. There will be stalls, food, games, and arts and crafts activities. Lot 235, DD229, Clearwater Bay Road, Kowloon, 2358 3221.


Conrad Fairs Hundreds of stalls selling toys and accessories on November 9, followed by The Pre-Christmas Gift Parade which will feature international pop up shops selling jewellery, stationery, food and beverages on November 25. Free admission. 10am-8pm, Grand Ballroom, The Conrad Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway,

NOV 27

South Island School Go back to the future at this year’s night fest at South Island School. There will be plenty of stalls, games, food and live performances. Entry $20 per person or $60 for a family. 5pm-10pm, 50 Nam Fung Road, Aberdeen, 2555 9313.

news NOV 28

German Swiss International School Rock out at this year’s GSIS bazaar with musical performances by GSIS Big Band and other musical acts. The traditional German bazaar will include various stalls, games and traditional German and Swiss food and drinks. Free entry. 10am-4pm, Peak Campus, 11 Guildford Road, The Peak, 2849 6216.


French International School Held at the Jardine’s Lookout primary campus, FIS’ Christmas fair is jam-packed with activities, stalls and festive food, including a Christmas concert and Kids Wonderland. 10am5pm, 34 Price Road, Jardine’s Lookout, 2577 6217.


NOV 29

Jewish Women’s Association Charity Bazaar Shop toys, homeware and holiday items. All proceeds go to charity. Free admission for children, $20 for adults. 10am-5pm, Island School, 20 Borrett Road, Mid-Levels.

Italian Women’s Association Sample Italian delicacies and snap up bargains at the II Mercatino bazaar. The event’s proceeds will go to Duchess of Kent Pediatric Hospital and several other charities. Entry $20; bring your own bag. 10am-5pm, 12 Sandy Bay Road, Pok Fu Lam.



Singapore International School The Christmas fair will be held at the primary school campus and will feature stalls, activities, bouncy castles and a Christmas concert performed by SIS students. All funds will be donated to the SIS Foundation. Cash coupons can be purchased in advance for food, drinks and games on the day. 10am-4pm, Singapore International School, 23 Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen, 2872 0266.

International College Hong Kong (Hong Lok Yuen) The school’s first Christmas event will include various commercial stalls, festive food and drinks like minced pies and mulled wine, and a visit from Father Christmas. 11am-4pm, 20th Street, Hong Lok Yuen, 2658 6935.


Quarry Bay School It’s an international affair at Quarry Bay’s Christmas Fayre this year. There will be international food stalls selling specialities from their countries, like Korean, Japanese, Filipino and Italian. 6 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point, 2566 4242.

DEC 13


St Stephen’s Chapel There will be bouncy castles, stalls, and an entertainment programme filled with marching bands, Chinese lion dancers and acrobats at the charity fair. Look out for Santa making a special appearance at the fair at 12.30pm. Free admission for children, $20 for adults. 11am-4pm, Sports Ground at St Stephen’s College, 22 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley, 2813 0360.

Discovery Bay Christmas Market 2015 Start filling the stockings with the Discovery Bay Christmas Markets. There will be over 150 stalls selling local gifts including eco-friendly stationery, ceramics, jewellery, and snacks for your pets. D Deck restaurants will provide food and beverages on the day. Free admission, 11am-6pm. Discovery Bay Main Plaza, 13


Best of British

ESF Winter sports camps With the Christmas holidays looming, ESF’s Winter Sports Camps will ensure your children are kept busy with a fun-filled week of sports at locations across Hong Kong. Both ESF and non ESF students will have the chance to learn new sports skills or brush up on existing ones, while making friends along the way. Activity Sports Camps for children aged two to four years will include three hours of fun games

Throughout November, some of Hong Kong’s best venues will be hosting events to celebrate British culture and enterprise, from ‘The Great British Pub Quiz’ at Chater Garden to ‘The Great British Garden Party’ (hopefully without the rain) at Tamar Park. And whilst Bake Off might be over for 2015, those who think they can teach Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood a thing or two in the kitchen can compete for the title of Great British Cake-Off champion. An outdoor cinema will screen British classics, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Notting Hill, not forgetting the adventures of Britain’s most famous secret agent, James Bond. Grab a pint and some fish and chips at ‘The British Drinks Experience’ in Central or get your Christmas shopping in early at Hong Kong’s very own Carnaby Street, which will be lined with some of Britain’s best-known retailers and fashion labels offering plenty of discounts for shoppers. All events are free but you must register for the cinema tickets.

and activities, while the multi-sports camps for five to 10-year-olds will include anything from football, to basketball, to relay races, obstacle courses and even swimming. Courses cost between $2142 - $2520 and will be held at Kowloon Junior School, Renaissance College and South Island School. Dates: December 21-24 and 28-31.

ESF Winter Language and Learning camps ESF Language and Learning winter camps are open to students from any school and will feature Enhancing Secondary Skills – a course to help secondary students get the most out of their study time, and Beginners Coding – a course for primary students to learn how to code computer programs. These are in addition

to English language, Spanish, art, maths and drama courses. The classes will be held at, Cigna Tower, Hillside Kindergarten, Kowloon Junior School, Renaissance College, Tsing Yi Kindergarten and Wan Chai Learning Centre. Dates: December 28-31.

Pokémon fever at The Peninsula Tokyo The first of its kind, Pokémon Hotel Adventure: The Power of Ten, has arrived at The Peninsula Tokyo. Guests will dress the part with a Pikachu hat, equipped with a Poké Ball, map and magnifying glass and begin on the hotel-wide adventure to catch all the Pokémon characters. Those who successfully complete the experience will receive an original Pikachu

plush doll that has been created exclusively for the collaboration and is donned in the trademark Peninsula pageboy jacket and cap. The Power of Ten hotel adventure is suitable for guests from five years old and above. For room package prices visit or contact the reservations department at The Peninsula Tokyo on +81 (3) 6270 2288.


Stone Nullah Tavern’s Executive Chef Vinny Lauria has put together a classic American all-you-can-eat family-style menu, which includes organic greens, roasted potatoes and apple and pecan pie, with the option of free-flow beverages at an additional price of $198 per head. The Thanksgiving menu ($548 per head) is available on November


26 and 27 with no service charge. G/F, 69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, 3182 0128, The Chinnery The Chinnery at the Mandarin Oriental has kept it simple this year. Along with their regular menu, diners can select from either the pumpkin-inspired menu ($228), or the turkey-inspired option ($528) with chocolate tart ($188) as an extra. Closed Sundays. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2825 4009. Thanksgiving Menu at WHISK Celebrate Thanksgiving this year at WHISK with an all American six-course menu. Fill your stomach with turkey roulade with chestnuts, cranberry gravy, butternut squash with toasted pecans and pumpkin

pie with toasted marshmallows. Other options include US oysters with horseradish cocktail sauce and citrus and sage crusted sea scallops. The Thanksgiving menu is priced at $980 and is available from November 26-28. 5/F, The Mira Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2315 5999, Restoration Restoration has created special lunch and dinner menus for Thanksgiving. The lunch menu starts at $298 per plate and dinner is $638, served buffet style. Dishes include Thanksgiving classics fried turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy and jalapeno cornbread stuffing. Both menus are available from November 26-28. 1/F, 63 Wyndham Street, 2536 0183, 15

giveaways WIN HERE! Click the Giveaways tab on our website:

Feast Catering HK Drawing Room Concept’s newly launched catering service Feast Catering will help you count your blessings over a Thanksgiving dinner with the people you love most. We’re giving away a Thanksgiving Feast for 7-10 people worth $1,688, which includes a 8-10lb stuffed roast turkey, plenty of vegetables, dessert and more. Deadline: Nov 30

Treasure Island See the emotional and physical stakes of a young hero travelling on a dangerous journey in a world full of treachery and betrayal. Performed by young actors aged eight to 18, Faust International presents a thrilling adaptation of Treasure Island. We’re giving away a family package of four tickets for two adults and two children, valued at $980. Suitable for children aged six and above. Faust International Youth Theatre Tickets available from Deadline: Nov 30

The Silk Flower Co. Fed up with buying flowers that die within days? The Silk Flower Co. provides gorgeous bouquets, with special collections for festive occasions, that not only look and feel real, but last. We’re giving away a stunning hand tied 10 stem Blue & White bouquet worth $1,175. Deadline: Nov 27

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to get all our giveaways delivered straight to your inbox: 16 17

stuff Dinosaur and owl hat $165 from JoJo Maman Bebe, Bumps to Babes, 2/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, 2555 6318,

Red Rudolf playsuit 2 tone $290 from Baby Central,

Winter warmers Baby, it’s cold outside.

Newborn microfleece long sleeve one piece outfit $129 from UNIQLO, Shop 3231-2, 3/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 2175 0810,


Embroidered elephant tee $220 from Seed Heritage, The Pulse, Shop 201 A & B, 29 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, 2803 1677, Umberto $3,580 from Gusella, Shop 224, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay,

stuff ‘Shan Shan’ panda onesie $194 from Baby Hero,

Sleeping animals baby jumper $428 from Molo, Shop 1063, 1/F, IFC mall, 2352 0182,

NY dogs babysuit $428 from Molo, Shop 1063, 1/F, IFC mall, 2352 0182,

Hug me Jersey wrap blanket $498 from natures purest, 6/F, Sogo Department Store, Causeway Bay, 2831 3994,

Velour snuggle boots $298 from natures purest, 6/F, Sogo Department Store, Causeway Bay, 2831 3994, 19

meet the parents

School of Thought Kate Springer quizzes two families about their decisions to homeschool their kids.

Brynn Steimle Originally from the US, Brynn and Josh Steimle have two kids: Seven-year-old daughter Magdalena and five-year-old son James. The organiser of Hong Kong Homeschool Meetup group (, Brynn explains why she and her husband think homeschooling is the best option for their family. When and why did you move to Hong Kong? We moved to Hong Kong in June of 2013 because we are in the process of adopting an older child from China. We wanted to live in Asia as a family and become more familiar with Chinese culture and language to help us better understand our daughter’s native culture. We feel like living here will help with the transition for her and for our whole family. 20

Most of our learning comes through reading and experiencing the world

At what point did you start thinking about homeschooling? I grew up with friends who were homeschooled, and by the time I was a teenager, I already knew I wanted to homeschool my children. My husband was interested in homeschooling before he met me too. As Magdalena, our oldest child, grew up, the thought of sending her off to preschool did not appeal to me. I

didn’t want to give up that time with her and I also didn’t like the idea of sending her to be shaped by other adults whose backgrounds and values I didn’t know. How old were the kids when you moved to Hong Kong? When we moved to Hong Kong, James was three and Magdalena was five. We opted to keep James at home, for the same reasons we didn’t send Magdalena to preschool. Although we had originally planned to continue homeschooling Magdalena, we felt that in Hong Kong there were two things she could learn at school that we couldn’t teach her well at home: Chinese language and Chinese culture. How did Magdalena do in school? We opted to send her to half-day K3 at a local Cantonese-language kindergarten that we had heard great things about. Prior to entering K3,

meet the parents she was fun-loving and loved learning. But the homework was excessive, and combined with frequent oral and written testing at the school, she was no longer excited about learning. She also started complaining regularly of stomachaches. At first, we thought she might have a gluten intolerance, and altered her diet. But nothing changed. What did you do? It was very difficult to get her to go to school after each break and she began to miss a lot because of her stomachaches. In May of 2014, two months before the end of the school year, we withdrew Magdalena from school and began homeschooling her. It didn’t take long for the stomachaches to disappear, and we realised they were actually anxiety-induced. Were you worried about homeschooling? It’s a lot of pressure — there was some concern that our kids might fall behind, or that I would fail to teach something they needed to know. I am not an expert on everything my kids want to learn about, but there are so many resources available online and at the library. What I want more than anything is for my kids

to love learning. There are plenty of people out there who think our decision is strange or even crazy, but I’m confident we are doing what is best for our children. Did you feel confident about teaching? I am the primary teacher, but Josh contributes a lot. He is a self-employed entrepreneur and works from home most of the time. When we began homeschooling, I was self-conscious and lacked confidence. It’s scary venturing into unknown territory, and when none of your close friends or family is doing it, it can feel lonely. After years of researching homeschooling and seeing the difference it has made in our children, I am now much more confident. How do you come up with lesson plans? I began by reading books and articles online about different home education styles and approaches. Then I joined some Yahoo and Facebook homeschooling groups and talked to other parents about their curriculum choices. Although we do have a curriculum, we only do a few lessons from it each week. Most of our learning comes through reading and experiencing the world.

What other activities do they do? We do lot of arts and crafts, but our kids also experience a lot of real-life learning and activities outside the home like dance, art, piano, and gymnastics lessons, as well as nature walks, hikes, swimming, and snorkeling. Because our kids are with us all day, every day, they also get to experience a lot of normal, adult life. How do you incorporate technology? Some of the learning resources we use are computer games like Brainzy, Minecraft, Dance Mat Typing, and PBS kids games. We also use lots of mobile apps and online videos — there are so many educational videos available online for free on sites like YouTube. Many people think homeschooling is illegal in Hong Kong. What’s the situation? It’s legal, but part of the confusion is caused because the EDB does not formally “approve” homeschooling and there is not a formal application process. One does not “apply” to homeschool. Rather, they notify the EDB that they are homeschooling by emailing and then the EDB will follow up with questions. 21

meet the parents

Michelle Franks

What concerns do you have? Being primarily responsible for guiding my son through his entire childhood education puts a great deal of pressure on my shoulders. Am I disciplined enough to keep us on track? Wise enough to recognise any problems? Flexible enough to let my son lead his learning? Will I be able to provide the resources he requires once his knowledge of a subject exceeds my own? And what if he hates his teacher!

American expats Michelle and Erik Franks are just embarking on their own homeschooling adventure. Michelle talks about why they are homeschooling two-and-a-half-year-old Lucas this year. When did you start thinking about homeschooling? I decided to homeschool for preschool when my son was just a few months old. It wasn’t until last year, when we found out about moving overseas, that I seriously looked at continuing past then. This is our first time overseas and we are still getting to know our new home. Why are you homeschooling Lucas? I want my son to love learning. Not as a means to an end, but purely for the sake of education itself. I want him to be able to move at his own pace; to work rapidly through material that comes easily and take the time to master material that doesn’t, or that sparks a deeper interest. 22

What’s missing in traditional education? So much of brick-and-mortar schooling is focused on getting the grade, pacing coursework to the mean, and teaching to the test. I have no doubt that there are incredible teachers in all of these schools, but in many cases their hands are tied. They simply don’t have the freedom that I do educating one-to-one.

How are you approaching the curriculum? Homeschooling offers a lot of freedom when it comes to material choices, so if one format does not work, we can switch to another that does. Overall, we will be following what is known as the “Classical” style. Early years are spent absorbing information. In the middle years, students learn to dissect that information and think through arguments. Finally, they learn to gather information on their own, analyse it, then express their conclusions in a clear and logical fashion. Science is taught through weekly field trips and experiments. History is approached as a living, dynamic entity. Time will not be

meet the parents “pushing through” to the next item on the agenda. It’s wonderful. How does homeschooling affect your family dynamic? My husband’s career as a pilot provides us with ample opportunity, but also an unpredictable schedule and a great deal of time spent away from home. Schooling this way allows us to maximise both the amount and the quality of time we have together as a family.

Being primarily responsible for guiding my son through his entire childhood education puts a great deal of pressure on my shoulders

spent sitting at a desk listening about the experiences of others, but out in the world having those experiences first-hand. What’s the best part about homeschooling? Freedom! Freedom to set our own schedule. Freedom from being locked into a pace or method that does not work. Freedom to explore diverse subject matter and to delve deeper into topics of interest as opposed to

Are there any common misconceptions about homeschooling? Probably the biggest misconception about homeschooling is that the child will not receive “adequate socialisation”. But the exact opposite is true. My son will have the luxury of learning to socialise with individuals of all ages and all abilities — not only his age peers. We will spend time with white-collar professionals in their fields, as well as farmers in theirs. My son will see that everyone has some unique skill, talent, or point of view to share with the world and I hope that will serve as inspiration to find joy and fulfillment in his own path. 23


Hong Kong’s

Eco Heroes

Tracey Read


Krisdean Law


Mawgan Batt finds out how these truly inspirational women dedicate their time and energy to tackling environmental issues in Hong Kong.

Nissa Marion

Christina Dean

For some people, having a passion for the environment takes them far beyond sharing meaningful memes on social media or putting their names on petitions, and becomes their long-term focus and goal. We’ve spoken with inspirational women in Hong Kong whose commitment to the environment and to education sees them dedicate their time, skills and energy into really making a difference. Find out what motivates and inspires these eco-heroes and how you can support their work. 25

Feature Christina Dean Redress Redress founder Christina Dean has lived in Hong Kong for ten years. A mother of three children, Jaspar 12, Luka, 10 and Naomi, six, she holds a lifelong passion for sustainable living, which culminated in the launch of her charity, Redress, in 2007. The organisation promotes sustainability and waste reduction in the fashion industry and it’s Dean’s goal to educate shoppers to consume less and to buy better. With the support of the Hong Kong government, Redress is a registered charity and sponsored by Create Hong Kong, the body that aims to promote the city’s creative industries. Redress’ work sees them involved with the entire fashion supply chain and has several objectives. With thousands of garments arriving at landfills every

Fast fashion has a lot to answer for hour, and consumers addicted to fast fashion, Redress’ aims are all about waste reduction in the production of clothing and educating consumers to buy less and to buy better. “The fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest global polluters.” states Christina “And whilst China’s pollution comes from many sectors, fashion is one of the biggest culprits.” Dean’s vision is to make more of a caring culture towards clothing, to change the mindset that clothing is disposable and to encourage consumers to look at their clothing in a different light. “Fast fashion has a lot to answer for in terms of its environmental and social devastation,” she remarks, “In order to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, consumers need to change their habits.” The charity is working in a world where consumers love to shop, have the latest fashion and follow trends. This is supported by fast fashion brands and evident throughout Hong Kong, but Dean feels that shoppers are losing out, “Consumers have fallen into a false trap that buying more will make them feel better, but I 26

don’t think that’s true.” Dean encourages consumers to consider their garments’ durability and use. In general, premium products have a lower environmental impact during the production process, but even cheap clothing that is still being worn and in use years after purchase minimises its impact on the environment. Redress celebrates sustainable fashion with its annual Eco Chic design awards - a sustainable fashion design competition. It’s grown over six years from a Hong Kong only competition to become the biggest competition in the world for sustainable design. “I’m very proud of it because we’ve created a project which on the surface is all about fun, fashion and celebrity, but actually delivers a very strong message of education that reaches throughout Asia and Europe and involves over 70 university partners.” Redress also works with fashion brands to help them launch capsule collections with sustainability at their core. The organisation has partnered with Espirit for the last six years on a global collection of sustainable clothing that uses recycled fibres in the garments. Their latest

partner is Hong Kong stalwart, Shanghai Tang, which is producing a collection made from its own waste. Look out for it in stores in January. How can you become involved in the Redress’ work? The charity is known for its twice yearly clothing drives, which culminate in pop-up stores for consumers to purchase top quality clothing at a fraction of the price. To ensure waste is minimised during this process, Redress recycles any unsold clothing to local Hong Kong charities. The next drive will be after Chinese New Year, so it’s the perfect time to review your closet, pick out what you don’t wear, and donate it on for resale. Dean’s sage advice for all of us who want to reduce our environmental impact but retain our love of fashion is simple. “Buy less, buy better and wear what you have. Don’t be conned by trends and wear what makes you happy. Rethink your consumption, review your wardrobe, take out what you don’t wear, and donate it.” For more information on Redress visit


Nissa Marion and Lisa Christensen Hong Kong Cleanup & Ecozine Longterm Hong Kong residents Nissa Marion and Lisa Christensen founded the Hong Kong Cleanup in 2000. Dismayed by the increasing amount of waste on beaches and trails, they launched Hong Kong Cleanup to empower people in Hong Kong to become active in keeping the city’s beautiful coastal areas and country parks clean. In 15 years, the organisation has gone on to engage over 200,000 participants in cleaning up over 17,000,000kg of trash. The clean ups are now a regular part of the Hong Kong event calendar with participation from many of the city’s largest organisations. “The goal of the clean ups is more than cleaning up”, remarks Christensen. “The purpose is to inspire community members toward more responsible daily behaviours and to think reusable instead of single use and disposable.” Realising that there were more and more health and environmentally aware consumers in Hong Kong, Christensen and Marion took the plunge and launched Ecozine magazine in 2014 - a quarterly publication and online site dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle and to making green mainstream. “Our readers want to lead a good life, while making smarter, more sustainable choices for themselves and

If enough consumers begin to demand less packaging and waste, producers will take note their families,” says Marion. “ We aim to inform consumers, inspire individual and community action, engage businesses who are doing good things and to empower consumers to make smart choices.” The results of the Hong Kong Cleanup are significant but with the government slow to legislate around waste issues and reluctant to admit the severity of the current crisis and ocean pollution situation, there is still a way to go. “Many people do not see how vital and urgent the issue is,” says Marion, “There is a lack of education and awareness but also a ‘pick up after me’ mentality which is prevalent.” The vast majority of rubbish collected on the clean ups is plastic - cheaper to produce than it is to reuse and recycle. A lack of industry incentives to make changes means that the Hong Kong Cleanup involves citizens, businesses and schools to change consumer behaviour. “If enough consumers begin to demand less packaging and waste, producers will take note,” states Christensen. The Hong Kong Cleanup was instrumental

in lobbying for the plastic bag levy which is now in force. Marion and Christensen also launched the viral ‘Face of Litter’ campaign on Earth Day, which received over five million social media shares and was covered by almost every major international media source. The team are responsible for bringing the Zero Waste movement to Hong Kong which saw the popular citywide Zero Waste Week take place, as well as a Zero Waste Global Summit. Zero Waste is a goal which is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary to guide people and businesses to create practices which emulate natural cycles and see discarded materials being resources for others to use. The movement has been successfully adopted by other cities and businesses, and with the ever present issue of waste in the city, Hong Kong sets to reap the benefits. Christensen and Marion will continue to be key influencers in future waste related policies in Hong Kong. However the government’s costly plan to build a super incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau, which uses outdated technology and has potentially dire health and environmental impacts, illustrates that the task at hand is challenging. “If we don’t address the volume of trash that we are creating and disposing of every day, the future looks very bleak indeed,” says Christensen. “We all need to reflect on our own plastic footprint and how to to reduce it.” For more information visit 27

Feature Krisdean Law Senior Manager Partnerships and Communications, Conservation International Hong Kong Born and raised in Hong Kong and with a background in working with NGO’s on donor relations and communications, Krisdean Law has recently followed her passion for nature and the environment and joined Conservation International Hong Kong. Conservation International is a global organisation employing around 900 people in 30 countries working on numerous multi­million dollar, high­-impact solutions to protect nature and ensure humanity’s long­term well­being. In partnership with local NGOs, academics, communities and government, as well as the most influential corporations in the Hong Kong and Asia ­Pacific region, Conservation International H ­ ong Kong focuses on supporting the conservation of lands and seas around the world that underpin the food, fresh water, economy, and climate stability of Hong Kong’s current and future generations. “Our mission is to empower communities, governments, and corporations to be environmentally responsible and sustainable,” says Law. Their work in Hong Kong takes several approaches and involves partnering with a number of other organisations including the Clean Air Network, Green Monday and HK Recycles who all share the objective of creating a greener Hong Kong. “Our goal is to support and accelerate Hong Kong’s leadership and prominence in urban and corporate environmental sustainability,” remarks Law. Waste management and air pollution are amongst the biggest environmental challenges for Hong Kong, but another significant issue that the city faces is its reliance on importing food and water. With over 90% of its food and 80% of its water imported, the long-term economic prosperity of the city is inextricably linked to the health of seas, farmland and forests across the world. To engage with a global audience, Conservation International’s ‘Nature is Speaking’ film campaign aims to give a voice to nature. The involvement of celebrities


Let’s go out and support businesses that supply green, organic and sustainable products, so that we can see the products become a regular staple in all stores

including Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey and Harrison Ford clearly demonstrates the organisation’s global influence and the films have received over 40 million views worldwide. However it’s the influence of prominent corporations, whose decisions and investments have a huge impact on us all, which will have the most tangible benefits. Law is confident that consumer behaviour in Hong Kong is slowly evolving towards green, organic and sustainable products. “Everyone needs to have a greater understanding of where the stuff they buy comes from, how they are made and what kind of environmental and social exploitation we are feeding through our consumption.” says Law. “Let’s go out and support businesses that supply green, organic and sustainable products, so that we can see the products become a regular staple in all stores and cost­competitive with non-­green alternatives.” As well as promoting greener consumption, Conservation International Hong Kong is also working with the government on waste reduction, recycling and incentives for green building. They are pushing for the government and people of Hong Kong to think carefully about land use with a long term strategic plan for a low-carbon, affordable, liveable and walkable city that recognises the unique treasures of the city’s country parks. If you would like to support the work of Conservation International Hong Kong, connect with them via their Facebook page, newsletter and watch the series of Nature is Speaking films. “Engage your company or other influential decision makers to work with us on collaboration opportunities,” says Law, and remember, “Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” Krisdean Law, Senior Manager Partnerships and Communications, Conservation International Hong Kong. 29

Feature Tracey Read Plastic Free Seas Australian Tracey Read has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years with her husband Jeff and children Finn, 11, and Evie, eight. Her passion for the environment resulted in the launch of Plastic Free Seas in 2013, to take environmental

If after our programmes, students decide to use less single use plastic... we’ve influenced behaviour

education into schools and the community. Specifically focused on increasing the awareness of plastic marine pollution and its impacts, Plastic Free Seas seeks to encourage, support and empower people to make changes in their daily lives. The organisation influences businesses and government with a view to instigating legislation and policy changes to reduce waste and to incorporate a plastic

marine pollution curriculum into schools. Although only a relatively new charity (registered in 2013), Plastic Free Seas has already worked with over 60 local and international schools and spoken with over 13,000 students on the problems and solutions for plastic marine pollution. “Our first of its kind Sea Classroom on board a converted fishing trawler allows us to take students and community groups out to sea to participate in research and education,” says Read. Their social media and community reach enables the organisation to engage with key stakeholders but also to influence consumers. “If after our programmes, students decide to use less single use plastic or a school implements a recycling programme, we’ve influenced behaviour,” remarks Read. When a typhoon in 2012 resulted in 150 tonnes of raw plastic beads being lost at sea, Plastic Free Seas was instrumental in drumming up media support and volunteer action to tackle the issue. “We were also responsible for the government taking plastic marine pollution seriously for the first time, resulting in an interdepartmental working group focused on collecting data on plastic bead pollution over a two year period.” Read is passionate about the cause and although the organisation focuses solely on plastic waste and reducing the amount of plastic in the oceans, she emphasises that the issues of waste, recycling and air quality are all interlinked. “In some cases the solutions may be similar, and the problems easily looked at together when finding sustainable solutions.” With millions of plastic bottles sent to landfill every day, Read would like to see a refund levy to give plastic a value and to encourage recycling. Polystyrene food and beverage containers are also a huge problem and she would like to see them banned. “Until Hong Kong has a proper sorting and recycling infrastructure, waste will continue to be a huge problem that needs to be controlled and reduced.” Read’s work with Plastic Free Seas focuses on changing behaviour and she encourages us all to reduce our environmental impact by using less and wasting less. From what products we choose in the supermarket, to always carrying our own shopping bag; from refusing plastic straws to carrying a reusable coffee cup and drink bottle, simple changes can have a big impact. “Make a change and make it a habit,” she says. “Set a great example for other people to follow and be advocates in your school, work or community.” For more information visit


Hong Kong needs you

There are a number of organisations doing great work across Hong Kong trying to improve our environment. Here is how you can get involved. Crossroads Donate unneeded goods such as home and office furniture, household goods, toys, clothes, electrical items and many more things. High quality goods are distributed to those in need in Hong Kong and around the world. Information on how to donate or volunteer can be found at DB Mothers & Friends This Discovery Bay-based social enterprise provides a donation collection service and works with a network of local charities and social workers to redistribute collections to those in need. DB Mothers & Friends collects unwanted household items including furniture, appliances, toys, clothes and has to date saved over 700 tonnes of potential waste from going to landfill.

Environmental Protection Department The government website includes tips on waste reduction as well as information on how and where to recycle materials. Feeding Hong Kong Feeding Hong Kong’s mission is simple - to feed those who would otherwise go hungry. As well as raising awareness about food waste and poverty in Hong Kong, Feeding Hong Kong also works with food retailers and manufacturers to donate surplus food to local charities. Individuals can donate their time in a number of ways by helping to organise food drives or working with the organisation as a volunteers. Full details and sign up forms can be found at Hong Kong Cleanup Register for the 2015 Hong Kong Cleanup Challenge which runs until December 1. Clean up a country park or take on a coastal cleanup to tackle the rubbish that finds its way onto to our beaches. Individuals and teams can sign up at


Plastic Free Seas Plastic Free Seas works to change the way that we all view and use plastic and ultimately have cleaner seas and beaches. One current initiative underway is the Plastic Straws Choose to Refuse campaign which aims to influence individuals and businesses to eliminate the use of plastic straws. A range of Take-Action postcards are available from their website to help individuals and businesses communicate effectively. More information on current projects and how to get involved can be found at Redress Redress aims to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. The charity works along the whole fashion supply chain and is involved in fashion design competitions, education workshops, fashion shows and clothing drives to raise awareness about Hong Kong’s high clothing waste. A number of clothing drives take place throughout the year. Find details of the latest campaigns at 31

open day


open day

International College, Hong Lok Yuen Evie Burrows-Taylor takes a tour.


estled among the leafy hills of the New Territories, International College Hong Lok Yuen (ICHK) is a world away from the bustle of the city. Here, kindergarten and primary aged children are able to complete their early education in the peaceful surroundings particular to this area of Hong Kong’s ‘dark side’. With an additional campus for secondary students in Sha Tau Kok, the school aims to make students resilient, confident risk takers. This is an aim supported by the small school environment and PYP curriculum, which aims to inspire students with physical and intellectual independence. “We run an inquiry based curriculum but I think our children develop a natural curiosity because they’re in such a warm community,” says headteacher, Ruth Woodward. “All the children know each other.” With a low staff turnover - the school even counts an alumni member among its team -

I think our children develop a natural curiosity because they’re in such a warm community ICHK offers students a level of stability hard to achieve in a city known for the transience of its residents. To support this feeling of stability, the school always makes an effort to make space for ex-pupils who are returning to Hong Kong. “If they leave, you generally find that they want to come back to our school. We try and make it so that at some stage we can take them back,” says Woodward, who has been with

the school for over 15 years. “We try to pick up on what our parents need. This year there were a few first time parents and we realised that they were a bit anxious, so we held a workshop where they could discuss what they were worried about,” she explains. It was 35 years ago when ICHK, like many of Hong Kong’s international schools, was launched by a group of parents looking for something different from the choice of education available. In this case, they wanted their children to learn Chinese. As one of the first schools to offer a comprehensive Chinese language programme, today the school teaches the language five days a week. The children, who learn using traditional characters, which they see in their everyday lives, learn to speak Mandarin. Naturally, the students are streamed for these classes, with the native level group also given the chance to prove their bilingual muscle during drama sessions run in Chinese. 33

open day While the majority of lessons are held in groups of up to 26, Chinese classes are no bigger than 14. ICHK’s respect for Hong Kong’s culture can also be seen in its work with the city’s charities. In particular, the Home of Loving Faithfulness, a residential house dedicated to those who suffer physical and intellectual challenges, located close to the school in Fanling, which receives a percentage of any profit made by the school. Further afield, the students recently raised enough money to rebuild two schools in Nepal. As a result, two earthquake-proof schools have been built out of bamboo and stone, and the school will continue to follow up and send resources. While this might be indicative of the school’s IB outlook, students do not need to look far to learn about other cultures. Around 35 nationalities are represented by the student body, with 50% of the student body accounted for by Hong Kong Chinese pupils. The remaining half of the school is made up of Australian, American, Spanish, German, Russian and French students, to name a few, as well as a strong Dutch community. As a


open day result the school runs an after-hours Dutch school two days a week, and keeps Dutch language books in its well-stocked library. In terms of staff, while the majority are from the UK, there are also teachers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The lively community spirit of the school was recently seen in evidence during its Party in the Park event, which saw over 1000 people turn up to enjoy family fun games, music and performances, in both English and Chinese, from the children. While there is currently a waiting list for the school, Woodward stresses that the school makes room where it can. Younger students are also able to attend playgroup, accompanied by a parent or helper, which allows them to become familiar with the school environment before attending the nursery. The group is run by one of the nursery teachers, who can advise on daily routines, toilet training and the introduction of language. The school’s facilities nod to both the benefits of modern and traditional teaching methods and equipment. Recently purchased Macs and robotics technology are accompanied by an impressive school field,

and outdoor space, including a garden where children have boxes they can use to plant vegetables and flowers. “There’s a great saying: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow”,” said Woodward, referring to the quote from American educational reformer, John Dewey. “We’re all about a balance – it’s not all about children being in front of the computer, but on the other hand, it is their world.”.

School Report International College, Hong Lok Yuen Established: 1983 (formally opened 1984) Number of students: 400 Class size: max 26 Curriculum: PYP (IB) Fees 2015/2016: $110,500 Non refundable capital levy: $12,000 Address: 3 Hong Lok Yuen, 20th Street, Hong Lok Yuen Tel: 2658 6935 35

principal’s office

Ruth Woodward Principal of International College, Hong Lok Yuen. By Evie Burrows-Taylor. Sometimes when they are in this part of the school they will pop in to have a chat. What do you like most about Hong Kong? The diversity, weather and the buzz. When I first came here I worked for the British forces. I used to be a headteacher in Sai Kung and they would fly me down for meetings in a helicopter, so I had a very good entry into the city, and now it’s my home. My boys, who were both born in Hong Kong, still live here. What has been the most memorable event of your career? The graduations and year six performances: seeing what these children have become and what they’re capable of. Those events make me proud, and give me goose bumps, every time. What was the best advice you were given as a child? My mum used to say, you can do anything you put your mind to. Why did you become a teacher? I wanted to do drama and my parents weren’t very keen on that. So, I went to teacher training college and did drama at the same time. How long have you been a teacher? I’ve been a teacher for 39 years. I qualified as a teacher of the deaf and taught at a school in Sussex, England, before moving into socially challenged schools in Brighton. I was only in the classroom for 11 years I’ve been a principal and a deputy for 29 years now. I like to think I’m one of the most experienced in Hong Kong. What are some of the challenges of being a headteacher? Trying to understand that you can’t be everything to everybody. You have to try to do the best that you possibly can, knowing that you have to stand by what you believe 36

I’ve been a principal and deputy for 29 years now

professionally. However, we operate as a partnership and I do welcome feedback. We have the children that we need to take care of and they’re the most important thing. What do you enjoy most about your position? The children; they’re wonderful. I love that they feel they can walk freely into my office.

How do you like to spend your free time? I do sewing and crafts, and I walk a lot. I love the theatre and ballet would probably be my favourite thing. I’m also a copious reader. Who was your favourite teacher? Miss Moxon. She had a warmth about her and I still think of her when I’m looking to appoint teachers. I have to get a sense of warmth from them and if I don’t, then I worry. Which quality do you value most in people? Integrity. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I was more musical. I can play the piano and recorder but I never took it to the level that I probably could have done. The other thing would be dancing – I just love it but never pursued it.

Sponsored Column

Cracking the School Interview

Tips to help you fully prepare your child for Reception and Primary One interviews. Children need to listen carefully, make good eye contact and must not interrupt the teacher. It is important for the child to be natural and to smile as much as possible. Also remind your child not to mumble but to speak clearly without simply answering “yes” or “no” Bring children to new and different social situations, such as a restaurant, office or family gathering where they can interact with “approved strangers.” Ask children to introduce themselves by making eye contact, shaking hands and answering questions. Encourage children to order their meals at a restaurant or answer the phone. Remind your child to sit up straight and to avoid nervous habits such as playing with their hair or pulling on the sleeve of their sweater. And last but not least, remind your child to have good manners, to say please and thank you.

It’s important for a child to be cooperative and always listen for instructions. Teachers have no way of assessing a child’s ability if they do not know what is asked of them. Many educators say a lack of basic motor skills can be an indication of larger learning challenges. To test for this, teachers mark down how a child grips his or her pencil, copies a series of shapes or builds with blocks. To help develop this dexterity, parents can ask kids to participate in household activities, such as pouring their own juice, cleaning up toys or putting away dishes. While most kids are accustomed to listening as parents simply read them a book, group interviews typically involve what educators call reading comprehension. During the story, teachers may ask children why characters feel a certain way or what

they think will happen next. Rather than drilling kids and making them robotic, incorporate skills into daily routines and normal play. Not only is it better for a child’s learning, but it can assuage schools on the lookout for too much test prep. Visit the school before the interview. Tell your child some nice things about the school. Attend an open day or family event with your child and show your child the classrooms and playing areas. ITS Education Asia provides an education consulting service that works with families and employers to find the right schools for individual children in Hong Kong, from nursery to secondary schools. ITS also offers research, policy and advisory services for corporations. For more details, contact, 3188 3940 or 37

after school

GIDDY UP! Annie Wong trots through five of Hong Kong’s best horse riding centres.

38 39

after school

Lo Wu Saddle Club Hong Kong’s first independent riding club, Lo Wu Saddle Club has over 50,000 sq ft of stables and riding arenas and three full time coaches. Members and non-members can enjoy a range of classes including lead rein lessons for four year olds and advanced coaching for competitive riders. Private and group lessons can be taught in English and


Photo by The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Hong Kong Jockey Club The Hong Kong Jockey Club operates three public riding schools across Hong Kong including Tuen Mun, Pok Fu Lam and Lei Yue Mun Park. Novice and experienced riders aged from six to 60 can attend a range of courses where they can learn about horse care and equestrian sports like dressage, show jumping and cross-country training. Private, semi-private and group lessons are offered across the three locations. Lessons need to be purchased on a monthly basis, with each lesson starting from $305 for children and $375 for adults. Riding equipment and shoes can be hired upon joining. Three locations across Hong Kong including 75 Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road, Pok Fu Lam, 2550 1359,

(Top) Students enjoy riding lessons at Hong Kong Jockey Club lessons. (Bottom) Lo Wu Saddle Club

after school Chinese by BHS qualified instructors and coaching for all BHS qualifications is also available. Classes start at $350 for members and $435 for non-members. Check website for membership fees. Club members can enjoy discounted rates on classes. Riders of all levels are welcome. Sheung Shui, New Territories, 2673 0066, International Riding Centre Located in Yuen Long, International Riding Centre is one of the largest private riding centres in Hong Kong. With six highly qualified coaches and over 30 horses, children can enjoy private or group lessons, starting from $480 on weekdays before 5pm and $550 from 5pm onwards. Packages available. 228 Fan Kam Road, Pat Heung, Yuen Long, 2488 0828,

Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre

Tai Tong Riding Club Located within Tai Tong Organic EcoPark, Tai Tong Riding Club is a long-established private riding stables. With a long list of prestigious prizes to it’s name, the riding centre offers English and Chinese speaking classes for beginners to advanced riders. In addition to in-

the-saddle instruction, classes also incorporate stable management and horse care. Private lessons start from $700, with courses and half and full day camps available. Tai Tong Tsuen, Yuen Long, 2470 3638, Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre Taught by highly experienced instructors, the Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre (CEEC) offers riding lessons and courses for members and a limited number for non-members. Children as young as four that are not members can enjoy a 30 minute lesson starting at $550. Lessons include a 20 minute horse ride, as well as stable management activities such as grooming, tacking and untacking and hosing down. For children aged six years and above, 25 and 50 lesson packages is available. Yearly memberships start at $8,000 per person, with member lessons starting at $465 on weekdays and $540 on weekends. However, there is a long waiting list for memberships. Riding parties and summer holiday camps available. The Peninsula, DD235, Lots 139-144, Lobster Bay, at the very end of Lung Ha Wan Road, 6398 6241, 41

me & my hobby

Curtain call Issy Bowkis explains how she became the creative director for her school’s theatre productions. By Callum Wiggins. to inspire students to become more confident and creative. I love to watch the acting and the performance on stage, but I also love to see all the work that goes on backstage; the lighting, sets, music, and most of all, the costumes.

Photo by Anna Bowkis Photography

Where does your creative spirit come from? From a very young age I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people. My mum and grandma are both very creative. My grandma used to make wedding dresses when she was younger and my mum owned a shop that sold costumes and decorated furniture. She is now a photographer and I am always surrounded by wonderful pictures.

Tell me about yourself and how you became the creative director for your school's theatre productions? I’m 15 years old and I study at International College Hong Kong (ICHK). I have always been creative from a young age and I became interested in fashion and textiles when I was about nine years old. I signed up to do a sewing course and my teacher, Evgeniya, gave me lots of encouragement to do what I love doing. I took my passion for creating and designing things to my school’s drama productions. I felt that while the acting of my fellow students was amazing, the costumes were not up to the same standard. With the support of my drama teacher, Mr Greenall, I was able to turn my ideas into reality. What shows have you been part of? I have helped with the school’s productions 42

of Romeo and Juliet and most recently Alice in Wonderland. The production of Romeo and Juliet came alive with the vibrant clothing and beautiful colours. The actors and actresses told me they felt much more in character wearing the costumes that I helped design. I am really excited for our upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland. I have so many ideas and creative flashes that I can’t wait to put into the production. I think the show will be our best one yet. Why are you interested in theatre production and what aspect do you enjoy the most? I only became involved in theatre production after joining ICHK. The drama department works hard

What has been your favourite theatre production that you have seen and why? With my school I had the chance to see a production called Political Mother. The show really opened my eyes to how music and lighting are an integral part of a show. The production was much more than just acting — it was full of wonderful dancing and the live music gave the production such a powerful feeling. I would recommend everyone to watch a Hofesh Shechter show. What are the most challenging aspects of what you do? The most challenging part of what I do is not the making of the clothes or sourcing the fabric, but actually the deadlines and sketches. The creative process starts with the sketches and it’s the stage where you try to find the spark to design something truly special. Would you like to be involved in producing theatre shows in the future? Yes, absolutely. Continuing to help produce shows will help me learn a lot about how the theatre and theatre industry works. I would like to become a fashion designer or a costume director and I know that the experience I am gaining now will be invaluable in the future. 43


W Hub: On the search for startups Vasavi Seethepalli speaks to the women behind the hub of startup knowledge.

Co-founder Karen Farzam and family


ounded by close friends Karena Belin and Karen Farzam in 2014, W Hub aims to unleash the full potential of startups by connecting them with the best talent and enabling them to make the right connections for growing their business. They share how the business came to fruition and how they balance busy jobs with busy lives. Tell us about W Hub? Karena: Our objective is to bring startups to the next level and help them grow their business by making important connections to the resources they need. Startups can evolve rapidly and we felt there was a need to help them establish organic growth through being connected to the right people. W Hub is more than just a directory, it’s a community.


Karen: We are the connector within startup ecosystem. More than just showcasing products and services, we bring trust into our communities enabling startups to evolve. What made you decide to launch the business? Karena: Karen and I first met in Tokyo in 2005 when we had two daughters who were in the same class. Through our respective friendship circles, we met many entrepreneurs and were blown away by the energy and passion they had. Entrepreneurs were not able to connect with the right talented individuals and we felt the urge to help solve this issue and enable them to bring their business to the next level. Karen: The number of startups is growing rapidly and the demand for talent and

resources is rising simultaneously. It was getting harder for startups to recruit and we knew that people were becoming tired of corporate jobs and looking for real change. We knew that if we could communicate this between entrepreneurs and talented individuals looking for change then it would be a perfect match. How did you meet? Karena: Karen and I both came from large institutions – Karen had worked for Goldman Sachs and I worked for Procter and Gamble. We wanted to forge careers outside the corporate world and we wanted to connect with other people who shared this same passion. Karen: Essentially, we had this idea together. As neither of us would have started without the

Mumpreneurs impact in their community is energising! The authenticity and can-do attitude among entrepreneurs is hardly seen in large corporations and making that difference in the community is satisfying. Has living in Hong Kong changed the way you perceive business? Karen: Hong Kong is a very vibrant city and there are so many things you can do to really be part of the life of the city. Asia is an ideal location for women to start a business. It would have never been possible to start a business in France as the cost of a nanny is four times that in Hong Kong. Karena: Networking seems to be ingrained in the DNA of people in Hong Kong. Just going into a bar it’s possible to strike up a useful conservation. In Hong Kong it is very easy to set up a business. You open a bank account, hire staff, sign a few legal documents, then you start right away.

Co-founder Karena Belin and family

other one, it was not about finding a partner, but both feeling that something had to be done. What is an average day like at W Hub? Karen: As we are still a startup and with a team of only five people, we have our hands in almost everything. Karena and I have very complementary skills. I am involved more in the tech side and startup-community building. Karena is responsible for marketing and fundraising. We both decide together on the business developments. We also attend a lot of events and meet many entrepreneurs and investors. What has been the most satisfying moment in your business so far? Karen: It is really satisfying to see people you don’t know sign-up on your platform looking for jobs and posting jobs in an effort to reach out. It feels like you are building something that people are actually using and that is an awesome feeling. Karena: Making a difference within a community is very gratifying. Eventually meeting some of those people is extremely rewarding. How do you define success? Karen: I think success is to have a business

Working hard and following your passion are values we are happy to pass on to our children that I am passionate about and that is able to make a difference in the startup ecosystem. Karena: Success is when you are comfortable with failure. With persistence and passion you will succeed because the goal you have in mind is much stronger. What do you love most about what you do? Karen: Working with entrepreneurs is very inspiring, their energy and passion is contagious. I used to work in the finance industry and the environment there was very different. Being able to help startups grow their business by connecting them to other startups, talent or investors is rewarding. Karena: Same for me. Working with entrepreneurs who want to make a direct

How do you juggle the business and your children? Karen: The biggest challenge I face is stability. I believe that a fixed routine is very important for kids. The perfect scenario would be if I were to work in a job which has regular fixed hours because the kids know what to expect. As an entrepreneur, we are on call most of the time and our schedules can be quite unpredictable. Karena: To find the right balance between what you are passionate about professionally, and being physically and emotionally available for your family, is my biggest challenge. At the end of the day, you have to try and make them work together hand in hand. What advice would you give to other working parents? Karena and Karen: Don’t feel guilty! Working hard and following your passion are values we are happy to pass on to our children. What would your advice be to a new entrepreneur? Karena: Dare to fail – don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t work out because entrepreneurship is demanding and there is no right or wrong path. What is your vision for W Hub in the next five years? Karena: We want to help make a difference within the startup world by providing important connections and making a visible impact. We are hoping to spread our passion across Asia. 45

big day out

How to Hok Tau?

(clockwise from left): lakeside reflections; stone steps on the ascent; light fighting through the dense vegetation.

Rory Mackay ventures deep into the New Territories in search of adventure.


f you fancy exploring a hidden natural world that lays undiscovered, then a day trip out to Hok Tau Reservoir could be just what you are looking for. Located within the innermost depths of Pat Sin Leng Country Park, it is a region that is as much unknown as it is remote. Fortunately it is easy to access via public transport and well worth the effort to reach. Nestled amongst rolling hills and forming the gateway to the northern parts of Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Hok Tau is truly rural. Life moves at a different pace here and the locals 46

are as relaxed as you will come across in Hong Kong. It rubs off quickly and once there, you certainly won’t be in a rush to leave. Continue to venture into the higher peaks of Pat Sin Leng and discover hidden gems that lie within. The simplest way to get there, other than driving, is to head into the northern New Territories on the MTR East Rail Line before disembarking at Fanling Station. From there, catch the 52B minibus that departs roughly every 20 minutes. Hop off the bus at Hok Tau Wai and make your way to the T-junction. Continue along the sealed road in a southerly

direction following signs for Hok Tau Reservoir. The imposing ranges of Pat Sin Leng loom ever nearer and before you know it you’re in amongst the rocky peaks. After rising up, a dam wall and the impressive panorama of the lake held behind is unveiled; from this point onwards the adventure begins in earnest. Keep right and climb the stairs following signs for the ‘Hok Tau Family Walk’. You will be quickly rewarded with stunning views across the lake below and mountains above. The well maintained dirt path then delves under the forest canopy, into a realm where

big day out

Pat Sin Leng main ridge from the southern end of the trail

light fights its way through the lush vegetation emerging in ethereal rays. Every now and then, a glimpse can be caught through the undergrowth of the surrounding hills. Keep an eye out for some delightful wildlife, especially on the quieter weekdays. There are a couple of ways to circumnavigate the reservoir - the simple way and the adventurous way. If you want to take the simple route, keep turning left and follow the well signposted Family Trail, which takes just over an hour to complete. Alternatively, follow the signs for Sha Lo Tung to delve deeper into a genuinely remote portion of terrain. This route can take up to three hours depending on your speed and navigation skills. The land flattens out as you pass by abandoned Hakka settlements, mountain vistas and multiple streams. Make sure to then take all left hand turns at junctions in the path if you wish to return towards Hok Tau. There is the option to continue south over Cloudy Hill and back to Tai Po,

A day trip here serves up an insight into Hong Kong’s past but I recommend heading back to Hok Tau Reservoir. Back at the reservoir, you can either rejoin or continue along the Family Trail beside the lake. This final leg of the loop is particularly pleasant, walking along a flat paved surface under large shady trees that cloak the water’s edge. Have a breather and soak up the tranquil atmosphere and relaxing views across the water. It’s perfectly feasible to walk the lakeside loop in a clockwise direction, but the anticlockwise adventure makes for the best experience and simplest navigation. Once back

at the dam wall, retrace your steps down the valley to Hok Tau village. Return travel from Hok Tau Wai is fairly simple being more or less the same way as when you came in. However it is probably worth catching a taxi back to the main highway near Fanling if possible to avoid waiting for a minibus. This far-flung corner of Hong Kong has an incredible amount on offer for those who enjoy venturing into the wild; a day trip here serves up an insight into Hong Kong’s past and the full scope of her landscape. Escaping to Hok Tau provides a peaceful retreat for those wishing to find space for reflection or satisfy a burning urge of wanderlust. Rory Mackay runs adventure company Wild Hong Kong. For details, visit 47


VEGGIE DELIGHT Tired of restaurants’ vegetarian options being an afterthought? Annie Wong checks out the best spots in town where vegetarians come first.

Grassroots Pantry Having recently relocated to its new home on Hollywood Road in Central, Grassroots Pantry has brought its faithful following from Sai Ying Pun and is converting plenty of newcomers if the first few months are anything to go by. The new restaurant emphasises a minimalistic decor while retaining a homely feel. Headed by chef Peggy Chan, the team creates predominantly plant-based dishes that are packed with flavour using sustainable and organic ingredients. The menu features a range of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes including lemon chia seed pancakes and the organic sweetcorn brown rice risotto. Make sure you leave room for their “guilt-free” affogato. Raw, vegan, gluten and nut-free options available. Brunch available on weekends. Reservations are recommended. 108 Hollywood Road, Central, 2873 3353, 48

food Veggie SF Built on the owner’s love of San Francisco, Veggie SF is a breath of fresh air, with an eclectic vibe in the heart of Central. A replica of a typical 1950s cafe in San Francisco, the bright coloured walls are filled with handpicked vintage collectibles and American memorabilia like movie posters and street signs. The decor is American-inspired but the diner serves an international range of dishes including burgers, curries and vermicelli. Dishes are free of meat, seafood and MSG, using only the freshest organic ingredients from local farmers where possible. Try their signature organic beetroot burger and Oakland Breeze - a Vietnamese-inspired noodle dish with tofu. Open Mon-Sat from 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-9pm. 10/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central, 3902 3902,

The Herbivores The Herbivores offers a modern spin on vegetarian dining with the international menu inspired by Italian dishes with Japanese flavours. The restaurant serves a number of buddhist vegetarian-friendly dishes which are cooked without garlic or onion. The Hysan branch sports dark wooden furniture and blackboards introducing the menu. A long communal table stretches across the middle of the room allowing large groups of diners with small tables for a more intimate dining experience. Don’t miss the beetroot fries, the Japanese Crunch and the Herbivores Bomb which is made of sun-dried tomato, saffron arancini stuffed mozzarella with a side of coconut curry and grilled pineapple skewers. Leave some room for the desserts. The Herbivores has just launched their Tsim Sha Tsui branch. Vegan options available. Branches throughout Hong Kong including 9/F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, 26132920,

Chi Lin Vegetarian An idyllic escape in Nan Lian’s Tang Dynasty gardens. The restaurant has an elegant and tranquil ambience and is surrounded by a picturesque environment, with the symbolic waterfall flowing outside the restaurant’s topto-bottom glass window. Chi Lin Vegetarian offers upscale meat-free dishes and uses the freshest mushrooms, vegetables and high quality herbs and sauces. Set menus and afternoon tea are available as well as an a la carte menu. Closed Sundays. Long Men Lou, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, 3658 9388. 49

food Artichoke Canteen Tucked away in an Ap Lei Chau industrial building, Artichoke Canteen serves mainly international vegetarian cuisine, with a few fish and chicken options for the carnivores. The restaurant has a laid back ambience with an open and spacious terrace and a domed wood-fired pizza oven. Try their three-course Sunday brunch ($550 for two), served from noon to 6pm. On their a la carte menu, don’t miss the green pea soup cappuccino with white truffle oil and parmigiano foam and creme brûlée. Open Wed-Sun, noon10pm. 311 Harbour Industrial Centre, 10 Lee Hing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 9684 9964, Maya Cafe If you’re craving a light healthy meal, Maya Cafe hits the spot. Previously located in Wan Chai, Maya Cafe has now moved to a small space in Central. The quaint little cafe has limited seats with salads, soups and a few main dishes making up most of the menu. Maya Cafe uses a range of raw, natural and organic ingredients like Celtic sea salt, raw agave, coconut nectar and stevia to make dishes like


raw vegan zoodle with truffle cashew cream sauce and organic tofu steak. Wash it down with a cacao maca mocha shake. For those on the run, pick up some vegetarian snacks like falafel and potato croquettes. Raw, paleo and diabetic-friendly options available. Open from 10.30am-8.30pm, Shop G7, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road, Central, 2111 4553, www.mayacafehkcom


3 quick grab & go vegetarian options MANA! Raw Wild Juicery The sister eatery of Mana! Fast Slow Food, selling cold-pressed juices, raw granola bowls, and vushi (vegan sushi). 97 Wellington Street, Central, 2259 5125,

Mum Located conveniently on the ground floor of One Island South, Mum embodies a healthy lifestyle with great vegetarian food and a “yoggie lunch� at the restaurant which includes yoga workshops followed by a veggie lunch. Mum has a comforting and unpretentious ambience with simple and rustic interior, furnished with large wooden tables and

plants. Mum works on the concept that the dishes are something your mum could make at home, serving predominantly noodle and rice dishes and sweet treats. Try their mushroom risotto and baked aubergine with mozzarella and topped with quinoa. Open Sun-Fri, 8am5pm, G07, G/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 2115 3348,

Kale Aptly named, Kale, sells salads, sliders and juices that are loaded with the superfood. Lunch sets available. Life Cafe and Restaurant Located on the steps of SoHo, Life serves modern vegetarian food, with gluten and sugarfree options, including organic chocolate tofu mousse cake. 10 Shelley Street, Central, 2810 9777, 51


In a pickle Carolynne Dear has a gut feeling she’s on to something good.


nce the staple of every good 1950s tea table, preserves are very much back in vogue. It turns out our frugal “waste not want not” grandparents were onto something much more than home economy when they pickled-up the leftover summer vegetables each autumn. Almost any vegetable can be fermented just think sauerkraut, kimchi or Indian pickles. But the key to their re-found popularity is down to the fermentation process, which creates probiotics, or “good” bacteria. When consumed, these probiotics can really improve the flora in the gut. And as the gut controls around around 85% of our immune function, so it follows that by encouraging good gut bacteria, our overall health will improve. Until last century, most of the vegetables we ate were fermented in some way. In a world before refrigerators and air freight, food was eaten seasonally, with leftovers preserved so they would last long periods of time without going off. Without even realising it was healthy, every culture fermented foods - from Indian pickles, to Korean kimchi, German sauerkraut, or Japanese miso. But over the latter half of the twentieth century, our diets changed enormously. The ability to freeze and chill food meant those healthy little jars of fermented veggies more or less disappeared. Shortcut preserving methods, such as vinegar, were also introduced, which skipped the all important fermentation stage. Not only that, but refined sugars, flours and processed foods - which actively encourage “bad” bacteria to thrive - became commonplace.


Current research also suggests that the widespread prescription of antibiotics - which kill useful as well as hostile bacteria - might be a factor behind rising rates of asthma, diabetes and IBS. There is a growing body of evidence that bacteria in the gut can even influence mood and behaviour. Along with fermented foods, kefir, the other latest buzz word in the health food industry, is also recommended to re-balance the gut. Kefir is a bacterial fermentation starter and is extremely high in probiotics. Wholefood coach Britt Joynson recommends consuming both fermented vegetables and kefir to promote an altogether healthier flora in our guts. Kefir comes in fresh water or milk form and is very versatile. “My family is non-dairy, so I use fresh water kefir,” explains Joynson. “I leave it to ferment for three days and then add organic fruit or fruit juice. If you seal this up in a bottle and leave for another couple of days, it creates an incredibly fizzy, tasty drink. My kids love it - it’s like giving them a healthy can of Fanta. “Real” lemonade, beer and ginger ale also goes

through this fermentation process,” she adds. Coeliac-sufferer and mum-of-three Dannielle Madden recently hosted a fermenting class led by wellness specialist Jacqueline Renee Cohen. “I was interested in fermenting from a personal health perspective,” she says (coeliac disease is an autoimmune illness that affects the lining of the gut). “The class was a lot of fun and the recipes were beyond easy. I’m pretty thrilled with the results, to be honest,” said Madden. “I now have jars of vegetables fermenting in my kitchen which I can’t wait to use.” “Consuming kefir and fermented foods is not the only answer and it’s certainly not a magic cure,” says Cohen. “But incorporating them into your everyday diet will certainly help.”

Getting Started If you would like to join a kefir-making class, or learn more about fermenting, try out these health and wellness specialists: Jacqueline Renee Cohen of LantauMama, www.lantaumama. com; Shima Shimizu of Sesame Kitchen, www.; Louise Kane Buckley of LoulaNatural,; Rowena Hunt of Rowena Hunt Health & Wellness,; Britt Johnson, Raw Galore To get started, you can pick up free grains from: The Body Group and Sol Wellness 53

money & me

Roger de Leon The founder of Little Burro restaurant chain serves up some financial know-how. By Callum Wiggins. Tell us about what you do I am the founder of multi outlet restaurant chain Little Burro. We specialise in Mexican American fare, focusing on burritos, tacos, salads and bowls. I opened the first outlet with my partner Lori Granito (of Magnolia Private Kitchen) and have opened two more over the past two years. We’ve been fortunate that we created a product that was unique in a market that needed it.

a very tight team, including another investor, James, who helps keep things rolling. Without him this would be even more of a challenge. What was your worst investment? I’ll let you know in a few months. Do you play Mark 6? I don’t gamble. I find I have pretty good luck in life and really don’t need to push it.

What was the inspiration to set up the business? There was a severe lack of affordable western food options in Hong Kong especially in the lunch sector. I’ve always thought a lunch focused venue with fresh ingredients at affordable prices would do well, and Little Burro can now attest to that. It has been proven even more so by the amount of sales we do for dinner as well. It’s split about 50/50. Good food is necessary at any time of the day. Photo by Aydee Tie

What was your best paid work? I also DJ professionally at the weekends. I play a lot of corporate gigs and those still manage to be the highest payouts.

Are you a spender or a saver? I am extremely frugal 99 per cent of the time. It’s just that 1 per cent where I can prove to be a bit impulsive. If I want something, and think its needed, I won’t hesitate to buy it. How much is in your wallet? Usually around $200-$300. I like to keep spending at a minimum, and carrying less cash definitely helps that. What credit cards do you use? I have a Cathay Pacific Amex that I use for everything to try to get those points. I also have a couple of Visas. One attached to a US account and one for Hong Kong. I’m trying to streamline them as we speak. When were you poorest? What did you learn? I was poorest the entire first year of Little Burro. So it was pretty recent. It’s been an uphill battle but one riddled with lessons and good experiences. There’s one anecdote I tell everyone that I can’t stress enough. I invested my own savings into my startup dream so I 54

spent every waking moment working at in order to succeed. I literally had no more savings to fall back on. I learned the hard way. I now advise people to either invest your savings in someone else’s idea, or get an investor to support your dream. It’s very difficult to do both. Do you prefer to manage your own affairs? I manage my own affairs personally. I always think about having an assistant, but I feel that I would still lose too much time explaining things, when I could have just done it myself. What was your best investment? So far, my best investment has been Little Burro. But then again, I have more than money invested. I am very close to the business, working in the shops every single day and making sure things are running smoothly. I have

Do you have any advice on teaching children about money? I won’t be getting my kids any credit cards. I think it’s important that they realise credit cards should never be depended on and only used in emergencies. How much pocket money do you give your children? My son is still a toddler, so we keep his expenditures to a minimum. At the moment his favourite currency is raw emotion. That’s both good and bad. What is the most extravagant thing you have ever bought? My wife’s engagement ring. Do you invest in stocks? I have a very small portfolio where I have invested in commodities over the past five years. It’s pretty low risk. More of a savings plan with slight return. What is your inspiration? I find inspiration in music and design. They are both significant pillars in both my upbringing and formal education. I graduated with a degree in Industrial Design and I spent the beginning of my professional career running a design studio. I think I will find myself back in that field eventually. 55


Ahoy Amoy! Rebecca Keiller spends a weekend in the historic Chinese port city Xiamen.


here’s a certain hesitation about travelling in China. It’s not for everyone and a busy weekend over a Chinese holiday is enough to give anyone second thoughts about future travel plans. With some trepidation I visited Xiamen (formerly Amoy) over a long weekend and Chinese national holiday. A destination that I knew little about but had done enough research to discover it was a popular Chinese


holiday getaway. Arriving in Xiamen I realised my fears were unfounded and a delightful weekend in China’s Fujian province awaited. Getting there Travelling to Xiamen from Hong Kong is remarkably easy. After crossing over the border into Shenzhen, a three-and-a-halfhour bullet train direct to Xiamen is both comfortable and relatively cheap - return

tickets can be had for less than $400. Leaving Hong Kong after work on a Friday night, staying in Shenzhen for an evening to be ready to catch the 8am train from Shenzhen North Station the next morning is a highly achievable feat. Alternatively, catch one of the six flights per day from Hong Kong. The journey by bullet train is itself something special. Sit back and relax in the spacious carriages and take in the luscious

travel views gliding past the windows on either side. As a bonus, the price difference between First and Standard class is negligible if you are looking for a bit of extra legroom. On arrival in Xiamen North Railway Station, follow signs for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service to the centre of town. Zhongshan Lu is the main tourist strip and this wide pedestrianised street should be the first point of call to orientate yourself on Xiamen island. Lined with cafés and tourist boutiques, it has a laid-back holiday vibe. Combine this with nearby Renhe Lu or ‘Taiwan snack street’ where endless delicious savoury and sweet food stalls jostle for position, you have the perfect introduction to Xiamen.

What to do In terms of must-visit attractions to tick any firsttime visitor’s list is Gulang Yu. This small island just a short hop across the water from bigger Xiamen island is a (not undiscovered) treasure. Heavy influence still remains on the island from its time as an International Foreign Settlement and European and Japanese consulates were established on the island in the late 1800s. Staying for a couple of nights at one of the island’s beautiful colonial villa hotels to soak up its charm is highly recommended. The southern parts of Gulang Yu houses the more touristy attractions; a terrarium reminiscent of Jurassic Park, a walled Chinese

garden, the piano museum and the island’s summit at Sunlight Rock. For a more leisurely experience, take a stroll into the residential area to discover the impressive colonial mansions amongst a warren of narrow alleyways and backstreets. Cars are banned on Gulang Yu which makes for a peaceful afternoon strolling around. The area is well-known for its quality seafood restaurants whilst the many westernstyle cafes, hotel restaurants and tap houses are also very inviting. Due to overcrowding (it’s said that the island sinks more and more each year due to the volume of visitors), tourists now can only access the island from Dongdu International 57

travel Ferry Terminal (don’t forget your passport), and the price has been increased to 35RMB return (previously 8RMB). Despite these methods of crowd control, the island is still extremely busy especially during weekends and holidays. Get back to school Xiamen University and its grounds and surrounding area are well worth a visit. Stepping onto campus is akin to entering an American university with its wide palm tree lined boulevards, students whizzing about on bikes, leafy green spaces and imposing red brick buildings. The Jiannan Auditorium is immediately noticeable with its three stories of white colonnaded architecture topped by an upturned, Chinese palace-style roof - a metaphor for wearing a Western suit and a Chinese hat and it overlooks the university’s grand sports stadium. The university’s one-kilometer long Furong art tunnel deserves a special mention for its dedicated display of graffiti artwork. Finally make a detour to Xiamen island’s seascapes and the road that hugs the coastline all the way from the university in the south west to Wuyuanwan bridge in the north east. Pedal, walk or jog past beaches, fortresses


travel and sculpture parks then stop for a dip in the ocean or for some watersports at one of the many beachside sailing clubs. Grab a bike from one of the many rental stalls and allow time for the full route. The further along the coast from the university you venture, the nicer and less crowded the beaches become. What to eat Rich, flavoursome and not too spicy with a heavy emphasis on soup bases and seafood, Xiamen cuisine is something the locals are rightly proud of. The most popular local dish is undoubtedly Shacha Mian, a peanut satay-like noodle soup incorporating a variety of seafood. Peanuts are a recurring speciality in many dishes. Those after something sweet should try Huasheng Tang, a delicious sweet peanut soup. If you’re feeling adventurous, the sea worm jelly, which takes pride of place at any Xiamen banquet table, is a risk worth taking. Any regular visitors to Taiwan will certainly see similarities in Xiamen’s cuisine and general laidback and friendly approach to life. An unexpected pleasure and easy weekend getaway from Hong Kong, I can’t wait for my return trip.

My top tips Train Tickets: I booked through Flights: Dragonair and Xiamen Airlines have flights daily. On the water: Huandao Beach near Hulishan Cannon Fort rents all sorts of watersport equipment such as paddle boards, kayaks and windsurfers. There’s also a pool and inflatables at the beach club. Bicycle rental: Many locations near Baicheng beach and the university’s south gate. 59




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bald truths

Daddy, who’s your favourite? Simon Parry contemplates which of his children he likes the most.


addy, daddy, daddyyyyy,” my youngest son William squeals excitedly as he skips into the living room, resplendent in his bright orange Teletubbies onesie. “I’ve got a question to ask. Who’s your favourite-ist child? Go on, tell me, tell me, pleeeeease.” “That’s easy, sweetpea,” I chortle in reply with an indulgent paternal smile. Then I put down my newspaper and pipe and sit forward in my armchair, contemplating for a moment this most delicate of questions for parents and deciding it’s best to be direct and honest. “The truth is William, I dislike all of you equally,” I say. “Now get dressed and go to work. You’re 28, you’re a sociology graduate and frankly it’s time you started acting your age.” Okay, so once again I’ve taken a little bit of artistic licence with my anecdote of home life. William is actually 12, he probably couldn’t even spell sociology let alone get a degree in it, and he doesn’t wear a Teletubbies onesie (at least not since we bought him those One Direction pyjamas which he’s never out of). However, I do stand wholeheartedly by the remark I made about the equal division of feelings towards each of my four children. I can honestly say I feel the same antipathy towards each of them without exception and I wouldn’t dream of favouring one over another. It’s only natural for children to assume their parents have favourites. I remember when I was a child being convinced I was probably my mother’s favourite, being the only son, and that my father favoured the eldest of my two sisters. (The younger of my two sisters sensibly accepted from an early age that, being a middle child, she’d be lucky if either parent even remembered her name or acknowledged her existence.) There would be subtle clues like the fact that my mother would only beat me halfunconscious during my weekly beatings while


Simon Parry is a jaded, middleaged journalist and father of four. He lives in Hong Kong.

I can honestly say I feel the same antipathy towards each of them without exception

my sisters would invariably be thrashed to within an inch of their lives, or the way my father would let my big sister out of the cage in the corner of the kitchen first to fight for the leftovers under the table after they’d finished dinner. But as I grew to become a parent myself, I found that those little signs of apparent favouritism can be symptoms of any number

of things on the part of mothers and fathers: Pity, sarcasm, guilt, mischievousness and a twisted sense of humour to name a few. We treat our children differently because of their different personalities and abilities. My father didn’t let my big sister out of the cage first because he loved her more, he did it because she was slowest due to the friction of her knuckles scraping the ground, taking all of the suspense out of our nightly scramble for the discarded bacon rind. One generation on, when we maniacally cheer one of our children along in a race at school sports day and jeer and boo the next one – or when we tell one child ‘I adore your siblings but you’re just a waste of oxygen’ – it honestly doesn’t mean we love one child any more than the other. It usually just means mummy and daddy are bored of being unpleasant to each other and have decided to pick on the children instead because they’re such soft targets and cry so much more easily. Personally, I resent them with equal contempt and bitterness for keeping me financially insolvent and holding me back in life. When I told them I wanted to give up journalism and set up a hippy cult on an island off Vietnam with me as its Messianic guru they just giggled and said, ‘Oh daddy, you’re so silly’. They can snigger all they like. I may be old and feeble but I still have my dreams. So, as the tears roll down William’s needy cheeks while I taunt him mercilessly about his manifest failings such as not knowing the names of the all winners of the English League Cup from 1970 to 1989, he can take solace in the fact that it doesn’t mean I don’t love him. I’m just having fun picking on someone smaller than myself for a change. Anyway, if he doesn’t like it he can go and stay with his grandparents for a while. I believe they still have the cage in the corner of the kitchen. 65


Expat Parent Magazine November 2015  
Expat Parent Magazine November 2015