Page 1


March 2016








the really useful magazine

Live well Green solutions for your home

Top tips for travelling with kids

Is a Cantoneselanguage school

right for your child?

Behind the scenes at

Bradbury School

Art month

what’s on & where to eat



Editor’s letter

ISSUE 021 40

Me & my hobby

4 Contributors

Young performer Zehra Jafree dazzles on stage.


42 Mumpreneurs

School photos and news

What’s happening at schools across the city.

Feeling flawless with Yen Reis of Skin Laundry.


What’s on


Dates for your diary.

A day trek from Shek Pik to Tai O.

Big day out

12 News

46 Food

What’s happening on the parent scene.

Dine in style at these art-inspired restaurants.

13 Giveaways

50 Health

Lots of free stuff.


Things we’d buy

Fabulous soft furnishings.


Meet the parents


Beat the damp and protect your home.

52 Travel

Six of Asia’s best ski resorts.

Families with children at Cantoneselanguage schools.


Money & Me



Green homes

Healthy and sustainable living solutions for Hong Kong homes.


Laurence Fouchon of HelperChoice.

Open day



Bald truths

Simon Parry has some tips for his teenage self.

We take a visit to Bradbury School.


Principal’s office

With Bradbury School’s principal Sandra Webster.


A day in the life

We speak to Nursery teacher Amanda Jones of Miles ELP International Academy.


After school

Arts classes for all ages.




Scan and visit our website 1

editor’s message

who’s in charge? Editorial Editor Mawgan Batt

Managing Editor Callum Wiggins

Sub-editor Shreena Patel

Digital Editor Annie Wong

Design Senior Graphic Designer Jack Yip

Art Director Kelvin Lau

Sales & Marketing


am writing this month’s letter, not from my desk, but instead from Queenstown, New Zealand. This year to celebrate Chinese New Year, we decided to escape the festivities in Hong Kong and spend a few weeks driving around and exploring the remarkable South Island of New Zealand. However, when planning the trip, my husband had ulterior motives - he had signed up to do his first full Ironman race in Wanaka, and knowing how much of a commitment he was about to undergo, at least ensured that we all benefitted from visiting somewhere beautiful as a result! A few weeks of fresh air, mountain views, stunning drives and a few adventures along the way has been restorative for the whole family - I hope you too had a similarly relaxing break over the Lunar New Year period. If you too are planning a family trip abroad with young kids then check out my guide (pg.16) on travelling with children and everything you need to do in preparation. This month’s issue is all about how we can all make changes in our homes to improve our environment. From introducing air cleaning plants, to guaranteeing the best use of your air purifiers, from ditching disposable kitchen items to using environmentally friendly paints on your walls, there are a number of simple and cost effective changes you can make to have a healthy home for the whole family (pg.22). It’s a decision that most expat families in Hong Kong will have considered at some point and in this issue Kate Springer speaks to two expat families who have decided to educate their children in Cantonese-speaking schools. Find out more about why they made the leap and how their families manage some of the challenges (pg.18). Plus, we speak to Laurence Fouchon, founder of domestic helper agency, Helper Choice, on how she’s created a successful online startup (pg 53). Finally, as art month descends on Hong Kong, Annie Wong takes us on a tour of art-inspired restaurants across the city to get you in the mood (pg 44).

Head of Sales & Marketing Karman So

Sales Manager Oliver Simons

Sales & Marketing Assistant Maria Jones

Sales and Marketing Executive Egbert Cheung

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 Published by Fast Media Ltd, LG1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 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.

2 3


Laura Paul

Kate Farr

Rebecca Simpson

Gluten-free guru and champion for natural health and wellness, Laura Paul enjoys bringing people together to improve the lives of families. She is the founder of Healthy Living Asia and the member-based Facebook forum Healthy Living in HK. When she isn’t thinking, reading or writing about natural health, you can find her running parent support groups for highly-able children as a Certified Facilitator of SENG parent groups, working on commission oil paintings and hiking around Hong Kong.

Mum to two busy boys, Kate Farr is a co-founder of boutique writing and editing agency Editors’ Ink and she also blogs about family food, fun and travel in her guise as The Accidental Tai-Tai. Typically found either building Lego for her kids or wielding a laptop for her clients, Kate loves her adopted hometown of Hong Kong and can’t imagine raising her third culture kids anywhere else. This month, Kate catches up with Skin Laundry founder, Yen Reis.

Rebecca grew up in Australia but now calls Hong Kong home. Arriving in Asia years ago for a dream PR role, she delighted in spending much of her time flying around the region and getting paid to talk about beauty products. In between new creams and the latest beauty regimes she found love. After having two daughters, Rebecca now works from their floating family home on Lantau, writing and living a new dream.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

4 5

school photos & news Harrow School

Lunar New Year lion dancing celebrations

The party continues with performers on stage

Local students from Tuen Mun came to Harrow School for a day of drama and music activities

French International School

Lots of happy faces at the French International School during Lunar New Year classroom parties

Island School

West Island School

(right) Brita Cheng, Year 11, showcasing her beautiful photos in the “Through The Eye of the Lens� photo exhibit (left) Dharesha Jhaveri, Year 11, creating a piece of art during the Year 11 Studio Day Lunar New Year celebrations including musical and dance performances were held around West Island School


school photos & news South Island School

Traditional Chinese fan dance

Students getting ready to run for their team house during Sports Day.

Year 11 students learning Chinese calligraphy

Yew Chung International School

Lunar New Year celebrations and crafts by Yew Chung International students

Clearwater Bay School

Glenealy School

Traditional dances and songs saw in Lunar New Year at Clearwater Bay School Lunar New Year assembly 7

what’s on MAR 5-18

Science Alive 2016: “Impossible to possible” A showcase of how the power of science can be harnessed to achieve the “impossible” with leading UK science academics. Discover how science applies to our daily lives with activities including family days, science drama shows, workshops, debates, and more. Free admission. Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. For more information, visit

MAR 5 Yew Chung International School open day The school opens its doors to current students and families as well as prospective parents with games, food and special guest speakers as well as the chance to win some fabulous prizes. The school’s admissions team will also be on-hand to answer any questions. 11am-3pm, YCIS Secondary, 3 To Fuk Road, Kowloon Tong.

champions all things local with over 60 vendors lined up. 11am-5pm, Hong Kong Academy, Wai Man Road, Sai Kung,

MAR 8-17 International Young Readers’ Festival Annual literary festival with workshops and talks by leading local and international authors. Details at

UNTIL MAR 6 Hong Kong Restaurant Week A ten-day tasting journey awaits! With over 80 popular restaurants offering a discounted three-course menu during the Restaurant Week this spring, you are sure to find something you like. Restaurant Week’s winners will be offering another round of tasting menus starting Mar 18.

MAR 6 Sai Kung Sunday Market The monthly indoor market returns that 8

MAR 8 Mumtrepreneur’s Breakfast Gathering Following a successful first event, the Mumtrepreneur’s Gathering is back, this time at Pomegranate Kitchen. Eat and mingle. 10:30am till noon, Pomegranate Kitchen, 4B, 4/F 44 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Sing Tek Building, Wong Chuk Hang. Tickets $250 per head. RSVP

what’s on

MARCH 24 - 27, 2016

Asia Contemporary Art Show See thousands of artworks from Asia and the rest of the world. Browse and buy original paintings, limited editions, sculpture and photography from some of the world’s most interesting and promising artists - from emerging and mid-career artists, to those who have already achieved recognition in private and public collections, and at auction. Buy your ticket online ($220) at and bring a friend for free. Or pay $220 per person on the door. Conrad Hong Kong, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.

MAR 9-12 Hong Kong French Theater Festival Making its theatrical debut, the festival is organised by southside residents Sebastien and Beatrice Biessy. All theatre companies will be performing for free. Profits will go to Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, a charity whose schools educate over 7,000 Cambodian children in need. - Pyjama pour six (A Pyjama for six) by Marc Camoletti (March 9, 8pm) - Inconnu à cette adresse (Address Unknown) by Kressmann Taylor (March 10, 8pm) - Le plaisir de l’amour (The Pleasure of Love) by Robert Pouderou (March 11, 8pm) - Le médecin malgré lui (The Doctor in Spite of himself) by Molière (March 12, 8pm) Book your tickets online at

MAR 10-13 Taste Festival Bringing together some of Hong Kong’s best restaurants including Aberdeen Street Social, Duddell’s, Yardbird and Serge et le phoque, The Taste Festival gives foodies the chance

to create their ultimate tasting menu, plus attend interactive workshops from visiting international chefs. Hong Kong Central Waterfront. Tickets from $108-$608 per person and available from

MAR 11-20 Hong Kong Flower Show Don’t miss this year’s Flower Show “Blossoms in Vivid Art” Featuring the themed flower Antirrhinum majus, the show is a refreshing oasis and comfort zone in the middle of the city. Spend a day out with the blossoms. Tickets $14, 9am-9pm, Victoria Park, 2601 8260.

MAR 13 Discovery Bay Sunday Market Shop till you drop for original handmade crafts, creative ideas, vintage clothes and organic goods. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Plaza, 3651 2345,

MAR 15 The BMW Hong Kong Derby Racing for one of the most historic and coveted prizes, the BMW Hong Kong Derby is the battlefield of four-year-old horses. Derby winners often go on win at international level. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Sha Tin,

UNTIL MAR 20 Hong Kong Arts Festival The city’s annual cultural bonanza with world class performers from Asia and beyond. For more details, visit

MAR 21 Art Gallery Night A chance to mingle with fellow art lovers and enthusiasts ahead of ‘Hong Kong Arts Month’. On the night, special events and exhibitions will take place at participating HKAGA member galleries throughout Hong Kong. Free. No registration required. 6pm-8pm, followed by a ‘By invitation only’ VIP party at 9

what’s on MAR 24-26

Hong Kong Art Basel Art galleries from the Asia-Pacific region and leading international galleries gather in Hong Kong to exhibit an array of captivating works. One-day ticket from $250, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre,

MAR 25 Barney’s Greatest Hits Sing and dance with the big purple dinosaur and friends at Barney’s live stage show. Barney will stick around after the show for a special Meet and Greet. Star Hall, International and Trade Centre, Kowloon Bay. Tickets from, 3128 8288.

the Central Harbourfront. Open to the public.

MAR 21-26 Art Central Hong Kong’s vibrant contemporary art fair returns with large-scale installations, engaging talks, performance art and tours. Official opening night on March 21, 5pm-9pm; VIP Preview on March 22. Central Harbourfront. Tickets priced at $500 for opening night. Otherwise: $230, adults; $110, concession; $50, student: free for children aged 12 and 10

under accompanied by a paying adult. Tickets can be purchased onsite or in advance through HK Ticketing,, 3128 8288. Book in advance and get two for the price of one, plus fast-track entry to the fair.

MAR 25

MAR 21-APR 9

Good Friday Public holiday!

ESF Easter Camps ESF Language and Sports Camp are offering a wide range of fun learning activities and camps this Easter Holiday. For more details visit,

MAR 28 Easter Monday And another public holiday, a very long weekend!

Book now!

APR 14-24

MAY 13-15

The Illusionists Astonishing acts of magic, illusion and mindreading from the biggest selling magic show in Broadway history. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tickets $395-$995 from, 3128 8288.

Affordable Art Fair Returning with a fresh mix of artworks and featuring over 100 galleries, the Affordable Art Fair is sure to inspire and enlighten you. An extensive collection of high-quality yet affordable art pieces. Tickets are $150 for adults, $80 for concessions and free for children under 16. Hong Kong Convention and Trade Centre, 1 Expo Dr, Wan Chai,

APR 27-MAY 28 Swan Lake on Ice The classic love story told on ice from the award-winning Imperial Ice Stars troupe. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tickets $395$995 from, 3128 8288.

MAY 14-15 Peppa Pig live! Treasure Hunt Seen by more than half a million fans around the world, the popular pig comes to Hong

Kong for the first time with her live theatre show. Oink, Oink! Star Hall, KITEC, Kowloon Bay. Tickets $280-$580 from, 3128 8288

JUN 3-5 Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach Join James and his friends - Miss Spider, OldGreen-Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybird and Earthworm - on their adventure of a lifetime as they venture to New York City in their giant peach. Lyric Theatre, HKAPA, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. Tickets $265-$295 from, 3128 8288. 11


Sai Kung Art And About

Ready, steady, cook! Learning has never been so delicious thanks to newly launched cooking and kitchen management classes by Spatu.La. Offering a variety of courses to cater for everyone, current workshops include ‘Cooking with Kids’, ‘Help for your Helper’ and ‘Spoken Mandarin in the Kitchen’. Students can learn up to four yummy dishes per lesson in a fully-equipped student kitchen in Hang Hau. They also receive a set of Spatu.La gear to use in their own kitchens. Course and enrollment details can be found at or email

Sai Kung is hosting its first art fair ‘Sai Kung Art And About’ on March 19 and 20. Working with local artists from Sai Kung and around Hong Kong, lead organiser and contemporary visual artist, Tony Cheng, is excited to see his vision of a Sai Kung art fair finally come to fruition. “For years I have wanted to put together an event to help artists across Hong Kong promote themselves”, says Cheng. “Not only to exhibit their work, but also to interact with the public

and hopefully to inspire.” An outdoor gallery walk will exhibit artists’ work for the public to explore, and each artist will have a booth offering interactive workshops to encourage visitors to try hands-on art, including sculpture, street art graffiti and painting. The outdoor gallery walk will be exhibited on the upper level of Sai Kung Waterfront Park; the art fair will take place on Mei Yuen Street (next to Sai Kung sports ground).

The Hong Kong Beach 5s cancelled One of our favourite outdoor family events of the year will sadly not be returning this March. The annual Hong Kong Beach 5s, which has been supported by title sponsor Prudential for the past three years, has failed to find a new title sponsor for its sixth edition. Taking over Repulse Bay beach for a weekend of rugby, sports and general partying, the event has become one of the major highlights on the calendars of families and rugby enthusiasts alike. We hope for a successful return next year!

ESF Education Seminar ESF will hold two seminars during March to help parents find the right school for their child. The first seminar on March 3 (6pm-7pm) will cover kindergarten and primary school levels. Rebecca Clements, ESF Senior School Development Officer (Primary and Early Years) and Sandra Hite, Principal of ESF International Kindergarten Tung Chung, will share their insights into the IB Primary Years Programme and the advantages of the ESF curriculum and approach to learning. 12

The second seminar on March 15 (7pm8pm) will explore a personalised approach to learning in ESF secondary schools, led by ESF School Development Adviser (Secondary) Chris Durbin. In both seminars, ESF Head of Student Support Jonathan Straker will talk about the admissions criteria and procedures. All parents are welcome. ESF Centre, 25/F, 1063 King’s Road, Quarry Bay,

Let’s dance The team at Rumple & Friends has yet another way to get kids’ parties started with their new RF Discos party package. Packages include one fabulous DJ, energetic hosts, a fog machine, lighting rig with lasers, top of the range speakers and microphones, banging tunes and, of course, a disco ball. Tailored parties for seven- to tenyear-olds and children aged 10 to 14 are also available and last up to two hours. For full details and booking information visit soon to launch

Twinkle toes

Twinkle Dance Company opens a branch in the Southside on April 1. Founded by Twinkle Lam in 2007, the company offers ballet, jazz and contemporary dance classes for children aged 14 months all the way to adults. All of the teachers have professional training and qualifications. The launch party will take place at the new Aberdeen studio on April 3 from noon, with performances by a guest dancer from the Hong Kong Ballet and the Twinkle Dance production team. Each guest will receive a free pass to an adult dance class, plus food, drink and a lucky draw. Shop 311, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Aberdeen,

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

Raiz The Bar

Reebok CrossFit Asphodel

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning programme designed to be broad, inclusive and most importantly effective. Short, intense daily workouts are designed to maximise the results for any individual. Since opening in 2010, Reebok CrossFit Asphodel has been helping its members to successfully achieve their fitness goals. We’re giving away a three hour ramp session to three lucky readers where you will learn about the programme and the nutritional approach. Once completed, the winners will also receive a free week of classes. The total prize value is worth more than $2,000. The session will take place at Reebok CrossFit Asphodel, G/F, Fook Hing Factory Building, 33 Lee Chung Street, Chai Wan. Deadline: Mar 22

NOSH by Secret Ingredient

NOSH by Secret Ingredient believes in reinventing the takeaway and office lunch business by delivering fresh and healthy meals daily through our third party partners. The food arrives ready-to-eat and is delivered directly to your workplace or home for a comfortable, quick and easy experience. We’re giving away four $300 vouchers to hungry readers. Deadline: Mar 29

Hong Kong’s first and only local bean to bar makers who happen to also be sisters and mothers with young children. Raiz The Bar specialises in organic, raw, vegan, low-glycemic, paleo and allergen friendly handcrafted chocolate without the use of refined sugar, dairy, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fillers, or GMO. We’re giving away three ‘Bundle Me Gift Packs’ valued at $495 which include six bars of your choice from The Raiz The Bar Collection wrapped in an exclusive hand-painted Easter wrapper printed by local designer Alison Tan, plus Raiz The Bar drinking chocolate with real chocolate shavings. Deadline: Mar 21

Rafferty’s Garden

Rafferty’s Garden is Australia’s premium brand of baby food. A range of cereals, rusks, smoothies, meals and snacks was developed to provide nutritious, preservative-free food for babies as young as four months. We’re giving away a Rafferty’s Garden hamper worth over $1,000 packed full of flavoursome products your baby will love. Deadline: Mar 25

Chef’s Choice

Chef’s Choice specialises in offering customers a great variety of high quality imported steaks, marinated and smoked meats, poultry and seafood as well as a selection of wines, cheeses and cold cuts. Opening its third branch in Sai Kung just last month, we have two $500 vouchers which can be used in any Chef’s Choice store. Deadline: Mar 24 13

things we’d buy Antoinette Spring Blossom cushion cover $350 from Maven

Water Lillies quilt $1,600 from Maven

Maroc quilt $1,600 from Maven,

Skyline – Hong cushions $720 from Folklore Hong Kong,

A cushy life

Cushions, curtains and other soft furnishings.

SNABBVINGE cushion $59.90 from IKEA, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay,

EIVOR CIRKEL rug $1,490 from IKEA

MALISEN cushion $149.90 from IKEA


Cowhide cushion $690 from Hidestyle,

things we’d buy Union Jack curtains $9,400 from Timothy Oulton,

Starburst Silk cushion cover $349.50 from Indigo Living,

Camila cushion cover $449 from Indigo Living

Red Floral cushion cover $249.50 from Indigo Living

Sunny Kim Moroccan cotton towel $465 from Mirth

Milk&Sugar cushion $460 from Mirth, 15

new parents

Safe travels Mawgan Batt shares her top tips for stress-free family holidays.


ravelling with children is a drastically different experience to flying solo. From the additional packing required, to the extra time it takes to pass through security, the whole process requires planning to ensure that stress levels remain manageable. Be prepared It’s essential to factor in extra time to get from your home to the airport to allow for last minute feeds, nappy changes and dealing with extra baggage. The days of arriving at the airport five minutes before check-in is due to close are over! Secondly, choose your seating carefully. Children under two years old do not routinely get their own seat when you fly. However, it is possible to book an extra seat, usually by contacting the airline by telephone. You may need to sit your child on your lap for take-off, landing and any incidents of turbulence. Bassinets and bulkhead seats are usually allocated to families with the youngest children, however this is not always guaranteed. Booking flights via a travel agent can help you to secure the bulkhead seats and that extra space. For all babies, feeding on takeoff and landing is a great way to help reduce pressure in their ears and keep them settled on board. If you are breastfeeding, you may want to pack a nursing cover to ensure privacy when you feed on board. If your baby is on formula, some countries have very strict regulations regarding what liquids can


be carried on board a flight, so it’s always sensible to check in advance to avoid any nasty surprises. Pack wisely Think not only about the journey but also the destination. What will you need in terms of clothing? Will you need a stroller or a carrier, or both? Have you packed a first aid kit and basic medicines in case of emergencies? What about extra outfits for all the family in your carry on bags? Do your research on the destination to find out about local shops and restaurants. Will you be able to find nappies and formula or should you take enough for your whole trip? Don’t forget to pack your toddler’s favourite snacks and even breakfast cereal or food pouches in case the local food is not appealing to your young traveler. In-flight entertainment Travelling with toddlers can be even more challenging than with infants. Their desire to explore their new environment may mean you spend the flight trying to keep them contained. Travel savvy mums swear by packing a selection of brand new toys for toddlers to pull out of the bag at moments of impending tantrums. Wrapping the toys in gift wrap and spacing them out over the duration of the flight will keep your toddler distracted and engaged and hopefully allow you a few minutes of peace to eat or rest. There are also a wealth of toddler-friendly iPad apps and age-appropriate TV shows available that will help them to sit still for a few minutes.

Baby transport Depending on your destination, you will need to ensure that you have the right equipment for getting your baby from A to B. If you have arranged airport transfers through your hotel, check the provision of car seats before you travel in case you need to take your own. The same applies if you are hiring your own car. If you are heading for a beach destination, strollers are often more of a hindrance than a help, however they do double up as somewhere for your baby to sleep or for a tired toddler to rest. For city breaks, consider taking a baby carrier to give you freedom to explore without worrying about navigating tricky terrain. Where to stay In the days of holidaying without children, staying in hotels and enjoying long leisurely buffets, lie-ins and spa treatments was what holidays were all about. However with children in tow, things become a little different. If you have booked into a hotel, find out if they have allocated a travel cot before you travel - where will your little one sleep? Is there somewhere for you to sit in the evenings when your child sleeps, or will you find yourself creeping around a hotel room in the dark watching movies on an iPad? Staying at a serviced apartment, holiday home or Airbnb rental with kitchen and seating area can make for a far more relaxed break with children than a hotel. There are numerous family friendly options available that still ensure you holiday in style. 17

meet the parents

Character building Kate Springer quizzes mums about sending their kids to Cantonese-speaking schools. were both really happy and we loved the system, we thought let’s just do it as long as we can. How did you decide on a school? We’re in Discovery Bay so the nearest local kindergarten is in Tung Chung. We’d heard about Green Pastures so we enrolled and took the plunge. Arthur is in K3 now and he only does a half day at school until he’s nearly seven, so we are happy with this aspect. Olive is at Wei Lun in Discovery Bay and we love that she can walk to school. Are you able to communicate with teachers and help with homework? There’s an app that gives the translation in English and Cantonese so parents can all read notices. Tons of messages come home all the time, but you do feel like you have less input in the school because you can’t communicate. The kids are responsible from day one — it’s a little more hands-off. Olive goes to a homework club after school as we can only help her with the English homework. I was unsure about this at first but it’s a very relaxed club, they eat snacks and do it in their own time.

Eleanor McColl Probert British-born artist and educator, Eleanor McColl, moved to Hong Kong 16 years ago and set up her own art school. She met her husband William Probert within the first week and never left. They have three kids: Olive, seven; Arthur, five; and Oscar, two. When did you start thinking about what kind of school your kids would go to? Even before we had kids, we both agreed that we would love to send them to a local kindergarten, so that they’d speak Cantonese. William grew up here and doesn’t speak any Cantonese, so that was our main priority. We 18

wanted them to speak the local language first and we thought Mandarin could come along more easily later. So what was your plan? The plan was to send them to a local kindergarten and then international school from primary upwards. But when it came to switching, we got accepted to two international schools and we weren’t sure what to do. Giving up those places was a very hard decision. A few friends who already had kids in local schools said that if we pulled them out at age five, they would lose all their Cantonese language skills by the time they were 18. Being fluent in another language felt like a gift we could give them and, as they

How do you feel about the education style? It is a lot of rote learning. In order to learn Cantonese, you have to learn the order of the strokes and memorise over 3,000 characters before you can actually read. We don’t have an issue when it comes to Chinese and maths. As long as I can take them to a gallery and teach them how to look at something critically as they grow up while arranging other creative and imaginative activities, then I feel like the balance is OK. We are lucky that my schedule is more flexible. How do you keep up with their English language skills? Both my mum and sister are English teachers, so I check in with them now and again about the books that the kids should be reading at this age. We read every day and Olive is devouring chapter books like most of her

meet the parents friends the same age. But because the kids are learning two languages at the same time, there can be some time delays depending on the child. Arthur’s reading is not where Olive’s was at this age but he is a different child and eventually it will come, I’m pretty relaxed.

Being fluent in another language felt like a gift we could give them living in Hong Kong

What are the prices like? Government schools are totally free, although there is a small token of $41 a month for kindergarten as opposed to several thousand at international kindergartens. We pay for the uniforms and the books. It’s amazing value for being fluent in another language. If Olive is learning the language, then we can supplement her extra curricula activities like sport and dance. I am relaxed about that as well, as I don’t want them to be doing things every single day after school. They just play a lot at home or with friends. So how are the kids doing? Olive is the first one to go through it and she is doing really well. With Olive, she is completely soaking it up and is speaking fluently, it’s amazing to hear her. She just chats switching back and forth from English to Cantonese. It’s

very cool. Her reading is getting there. She is in a special class for non-Chinese-speaking students as she would not be able to keep up in the regular Chinese class. It’s great that the school offers this. What about Arthur? Arthur is kooky and creative. He has been at kindergarten for three years and he literally knows “strawberry” and “chocolate” [in Cantonese] the same as the day he started. He is making slower progress, but he may be picking up more than we realise. I had a tendency to switch off and be in my own world, so I think he might be doing that too. We will have to see how he does next year in P1. For now he is a happy, funny and thoughtful kid and he enjoys school. What else do you hope they get out of it? We thought that if they live here, or move back here in their 20’s or 30’s, then speaking the language would be a real asset. They should be able to get along in both communities having grown up here and full immersion is the best way to do that - even if it does mean my kids grow up with a love of fish balls… 19

meet the parents

Oonah Buist

teaching them how to draw. In the Western world, you would be very well trained if you have talent. So you sit down and draw something amazing at age four, then you will probably get instruction and teaching from then on. But if you scribble on your paper when you’re four, then you risk being labeled inartistic forever.

Edinburgh native Oonah Buist moved to Hong Kong in 1994 with her now-husband. She has three sons: twins Tristan and Kasper, both 11, and Myron who is seven. Buist explains how her kids ended up in a local government school and how she’s come to embrace it. When did your children first go to a Cantonese-speaking school? We enrolled them into a kindergarten where the teachers did not speak any English to them. The twins did two years there and continued at a primary school next door. A year into that, the primary school announced that it was closing down after 90 years. We were completely lost really. But the board of directors helped us to arrange a transfer to a school in North Point. Our youngest followed them there when he finished kindergarten. 20

How would you compare the Chinese and Western philosophies of education? You want your kids to be happy, thrive and do well, not be left behind and left out. So what makes a happy child? Is it a child who can achieve great grades at school and develop skills? Or is it a kid who develops naturally through play and socialisation? The Chinese philosophy is that a child will be happier if they have the skills. You don’t make a happy child by telling them to draw a picture without

How do you feel about the Hong Kong school system? People criticise the school system but, personally, I don’t know how you’d learn the language and the characters without doing it this way. It’s something astronomical like learning five new characters a day, every single day. If you think about it, it’s massive. Chinese is like building a house and if your first level doesn’t work out that well, your second level will be a complete disaster. It’s a very cumulative way of learning.

meet the parents What surprised you about yourself — or your kids? Some people might be relaxed about it but it’s so hard to see your child failing all their exams, and look at your child’s face and how upset they are. At first I thought it doesn’t really matter how much they learn because anything they pick up will be a bonus, but that’s not true. If they can’t achieve what they want to achieve, it matters terribly for their self-esteem. So have they picked up Chinese? What about their English? I think it’s a myth that kids can just sop up nine languages like a sponge. My own experience is that what you gain in one you lose in the other. You can’t have the same level of English if you attend a Chinese school for eight years. It’s all very well if the parents speak English at home, but we are so busy now with the Chinese homework, exams, piano lessons and tennis, that we don’t have time to chat about dormant volcanoes and vacillation. Why did you choose Cantonese instead of Mandarin? I had been trying to learn Chinese for ten

years and realised how hard it was. Our children would be born here, living their life here, yet if they ever wanted to speak as an adult they would have to go through what I went through to speak badly. In a way, as British parents, you think of your children as British. But they’re not British. They are actually Hong Kong kids and the expat side is only one side of Hong Kong. We felt that culturally it would be great if they knew their home in their home’s own language.

I think it’s a myth that children can just sop up nine languages like a sponge

What do your kids think about learning Cantonese? Someone said to the little one, ‘You speak really good Chinese!’ And he said, ‘Of course I do, I am half Chinese!’ At first, I was really shocked. I said, ‘No, darling, you’re not at all Chinese!’ And he looked at me and he said: ‘No, mummy, I know that I’m not Chinese by blood. But I’m half Chinese because I was born in Hong Kong, I live in Hong Kong, I go to a Chinese school, I speak Chinese, I eat Chinese food. Doesn’t that make me half Chinese?’ It’s a very interesting question. 21

Fe at ur e

Healthy homes 22

e ur at Fe


hile living in Hong Kong might make us experts at getting the most out of space at home, we may not be making the most environmentally-friendly or sustainable choices. We’ve spoken to the experts for some top tips to make your home cleaner, greener and safer for the whole family.

Not only do we live in a city where roadside and air pollution can exceed World Health Organisation maximum limits, but the air inside our homes may be even worse than the outdoors including pollutants such as mould, pollen, dust and pet dander. Stagnant indoor air rife with contaminants and a lack of ventilation can cause “sick building syndrome” with symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye, ear and nose irritation. Air purifier range from substantial units that are designed for whole apartments to units specifically tailored for smaller rooms. When it comes to choosing the right unit for your home, the first step is to organise an air quality test. The teams at both Renaud (www. and Blueair ( hk) can arrange a complimentary visit with a qualified air quality technician who can advise on the type and size of units that would best suit your space. If you’d rather avoid bulky stand-alone units, try the Air Revival (www. units which are smaller and more aesthetically pleasing. However, it’s not simply a case of switching on the filters and forgetting about them. To maximise the effectiveness, a device such as the PEEKair air quality monitor allows you to check the effectiveness of air purifiers and position them for maximum coverage. Through measuring PM2.5 particles in the air, you can choose to filter the air in your children’s room until it becomes ‘good’ and turn up your filters on days when air pollution is high, or even switch them off when the air quality is good ( 23

Fe at ur e Back in 1989, NASA released a study outlining the effectiveness of using plants to remove pollutants from the air during research in the International Space Station. Furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit a variety of toxic compounds, such as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toluene and ammonia, but certain plants are effective at removing these substances from the air. Even in apartments with limited space, a few select plants dotted around can increase oxygen levels and help to clear harmful chemicals. Easy to maintain and readily available varieties include Aloe Vera, Spider Plants, Gerbera Daisy and Goldon Pothos. Head down to the Hong Kong Flower Show at Victoria Park from March 11-20 to snap up some new plants at the biggest horticultural event of the year.

Branch out further and grow a few of your own herbs and vegetables from home. Not only is having plants in your home good for the 24

Once you’ve decided to make these changes... not only does your health benefit, but your wallet too air, but you also save a bit on your shopping bills while making sure your food is free of chemicals and pesticides. Even if you are tight on space with only a windowsill or small balcony, the team at recently launched City Hydroponics ( has developed some ingenious, space-saving hydroponic growing systems that are perfect for Hong Kong. Founder, Wouter van Marle has developed an environmentally-friendly and sustainable technology that uses only natural light. “My systems don’t come with growing lights, instead they use natural light and even have the option to use solar power for the pumps,” he explains.

In a city packed with high-rise buildings, unused rooftop spaces are perfect places for transforming into an urban garden. Social enterprise Rooftop Republic (www. is spreading the message of “grow your own” to Hong Kong businesses and households. Co-founder Michelle Hong wants the organisation to enable city dwellers to reconnect with their food and where it comes from. “Urban farms are not only places to produce organically grown vegetables and herbs,” she remarks, “but also places where city dwellers can have a first hand experience of farming and growing food, learn more about how their food is grown, and to establish a greater sense of sustainable living and more conscious consumption”. If you don’t know how to make the most of your outdoor space, the team at Rooftop Republic are on hand to help, plus they are spreading the word on urban farming through talks and community engagement.

Switching from shop-bought cleaning products to home-made is an easy step to reducing the number of potentially harmful

e ur at Fe

chemicals and irritants in your home. The good news is that making the switch does not mean a reduction in cleaning power, plus homemade is usually cheaper than shop-bought. There are some basic, natural ingredients that can be easily sourced in Hong Kong, including white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and essential oils, which are highly effective at removing dirt and grime.

All-natural cleaning recipes 1.Citrus infused bathroom cleaner: Add a few citrus rinds, two sticks of cinnamon, and a few whole cloves to a mason jar. Fill the jar three-quarters full with white vinegar, then add water to fill the jar. Cover the jar and place in a sunny place for a couple of weeks, then pour the liquid through a strainer and into a spray bottle. Use the citrus vinegar as a cleaner. 2. All-purpose cleaner: Combine 50/50 water and white vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils. This is a good cleaner for surfaces including worktops and floors. 3. Thieves oil disinfectant: In a 4oz spray bottle, add ½ teaspoon of salt, then 20 drops of Thieves Essential Oil Blend. Allow the salt to absorb the oil, slowly add water, put the lid on, shake, then spray. 4. Laminate floor cleaner: Combine one part water with one part vinegar and one part rubbing alcohol. Add a few drops of washing up liquid and a few drops of lavender essential oil and add to a spray bottle. Spray your floors, leave to dry, then go over with a microfibre cloth. Pick up your supplies at Wing Hing Chemical which carries a vast range of ingredients to make your own cleaning products,

Clingwrap, tinfoil, and kitchen roll are all single-use items and therefore hugely wasteful materials to have in the kitchen. Ditch these items in favour of a reusable product like a Beeswax wrap, which can be washed and used repeatedly to keep items fresh in the fridge. Replace kitchen roll with old clothes cut into cloths, or have a stack of e-cloths ready to mop up any spills. Claire Sancelot, founder of HK Green Home, has been reducing her family’s waste for several years. She recommends looking at the bathroom and kitchen cupboards to see what products can be swapped with organic ones. “Bamboo toothbrushes for kids and adults are compostable and the feeling of wood in the mouth is so much nicer than plastic,” she says. “If you have babies, consider making the switch to reusable diapers from disposable, plus there is also now a wide selection of reusable sanitary products available for women”. And if the 50 cent surcharge for plastic shopping bags hasn’t already made you purchase a reusable shopping bag, then pick one up now!

Although the majority of homes in Hong Kong will have water-based paints on the walls, the quality varies. There are paints on the market that have either low or no VOC levels, to give complete peace of mind to families who want to ensure their home is as safe as possible. Joakim Cimmerbeck, owner of innovative paint manufacturer eico paints (www.eico. hk), outlines how technology and the need to protect the environment can work together. “All aspects of our company and our products are as sustainable as we know how to make them,” he explains, “We are a carbon-free production company and only use the highest quality raw materials available”. The result is a range of paints that can be used both indoors and out and with over 10,000 colours available, plus new ones developed daily, using healthy paints in the home does not need to be dull. Running dehumidifiers is crucial at various times during the year, but if mould does appear, then Cimmerbeck’s advice is to not paint over it. “It won’t go away just because it’s not visible”, he explains. “It needs to be removed properly and a good anti-mould paint applied”. Living in a built-up city with high levels of pollution and a sapping tropical climate means having a clean and healthy home is all the more important. Not only providing a more pleasing and family-friendly living environment, a few simple changes can reduce everyone’s exposure to harmful chemicals, mould and air pollutants. Once you’ve decided to make these changes, you’ll realise that not only does your health benefit, but your wallet too. 25

open day


open day

Bradbury School Rebecca Simpson takes a tour.


efore I was somebody’s mother, I was much cooler. In that previous life working at record labels, I took many celebrities to TV and radio interviews. Humans are drawn to celebrities, those with golden souls that give something intangible back to their fans – it’s a positive energy exchange and it really does inspire good things. As the Principal at Bradbury School, Sandra Webster, kindly showed me around the grounds, I got a little flashback to my days babysitting pop stars with golden hearts. Bradbury kids adore her, they come running to tell her about their day with bright eyes bursting with important stories. Bradbury School is led by a woman the students love – and who loves her students. “I love my job. Can you see why I love my job?” remarks Webster, in the role for over ten years since moving from New Zealand. While on our tour of the school, one student even shares her disbelief – her friend goes to another school and the principal there is a boy. A boy! Webster bends down and

Bradbury School is led by a woman the students love

reassures her - boy principals can be pretty good too. As Webster and I walk around the school and interact with the student body and visiting parents, she shares with me her belief that children learn best when they feel happy, safe and want to come to school. “Even though we are a large school, we are fostering a strong sense of community”, she says. “This is what sets us apart from other schools. We have a

great staff who have been here a long time”. Employing a teaching body of about 50 passionate educators, the ESF primary school is dedicated to creating an enjoyable learning environment for all young minds. Currently the school supports over 20 children with moderate learning difficulties who need significant support to access the mainstream curriculum. The school supports these students to remain with the mainstream curriculum as much as possible with the help of specialist staff members. Webster is clearly known to the students and parents alike and talks with great fondness about Bradbury families, delighting in getting to know them personally over time. “We have a fantastic parent body here, I really enjoy meeting the parents”, says Webster. “We have parents who enroll their first child when they’re five years old and then subsequently enroll their younger children. I remember when I first started we had one family who had been here for over 20 years after putting all their children through Bradbury”. Every day, every student gets visibility 27

open day

with the school’s leader as Webster stands at the school gate to greet each student in the morning. Including her farewells as they leave in the afternoon that’s 1,500 hellos and goodbyes a day. Her status as one of Happy Valley’s most-loved celebrities is certainly well earned. A Creative and Green Campus The Bradbury School campus is not significant in size and the facilities are by no means state-of-the-art, but the school has created beautiful spaces and resources for its students. The school grounds are steeped in student expression from artwork on the walls to student-styled and maintained landscaping. “Facilities fall into insignificance when you consider the emotional health of your child”, says Webster. “If they have beautiful classrooms but are miserable, then the school doesn’t work. Just because a school has a rugby field, it doesn’t mean it’s inspiring incredible rugby athletes. We go down to Happy Valley for rugby and use South Island School’s swimming pool. Facilities don’t make the school, a community makes the school.” One facility that the school is proud of - and which budding bookworms adore - is the school’s library. The space is an inviting, colourful, winding, seemingly endless cavern of books. It’s a beautiful library loved by the children and proudly maintained. In the concrete jungle of Hong Kong, Bradbury School is breath of fresh air. Literally. The school is consistently adding green 28

elements, including NASA-recommended air purifying plants across the campus, and green walls in outdoor spaces. Add on-site composting initiatives run by the Year 6’s and the school has 750 little green thumbs ready to make a difference to the environmental future of our city. The Hong Kong government has acknowledged the school’s green efforts as the Cultural Department recently awarded a $600,000 grant to develop a green space on the school roof. This new initiative will allow students to increase their green efforts and grow even more plants. Student Showcases Bradbury students are a bright and busy bunch. They’re rightfully very proud of the work they do. Each class is offered the chance to showcase their work to parents and guardians throughout the year. These showcases allow parents to visit the school and see the students’ recent work on display. It’s a chance for students to shine in front of their parents and for parents to see their child within the campus context and to explore their hard work. These events also provide opportunities for the teaching staff and parent body to connect with each other. Navigating Hong Kong’s School Choices Webster is clear with her advice for parents seeking input on the right school path for their child. “Choose the school that you feel

comfortable with, when you walk in the door you feel welcomed, you’re comfortable with the staff and you have a good vibe about it”, says Webster. “It’s a relationship that goes on for six years. So, you need to feel confident your voice is going to be heard, you are going to be listened to as a parent and your child will be looked after and nurtured. Don’t worry about what you hear from other people. Choose the school that in your heart feels right, the one that you have a good gut feeling about.”.

School Report Bradbury School Established: 1992 Number of students: 720 Class size: 30 Curriculum: IB Fees 2015/2016: $78,700 Non refundable capital levy: $38,000 Address: 43C Stubbs Road, Hong Kong Tel: 2574 8249 29

principal’s office

Sandra Webster Principal of Bradbury School talks to Rebecca Simpson.

Did you have a standout teacher when you were at school? One of my high school teachers really stands out. He was my home room teacher and was liked by us all as he was caring and compassionate. All of my classmates felt that he enjoyed being our teacher and we could easily talk to him, he was very approachable and non judgemental which is important when you are a teenager. What’s the best advice you were given by a teacher? This from an Art teacher: natural talent will only take you so far, it is constant practice that makes the difference. How do you like to spend your spare time? I love to spend time with my family. I have two married daughters here in Hong Kong and one has a little girl who is just 13 months old. I love being ‘Nana’ on the weekends!

What are some of the challenges being a principal? Ensuring that you are a good leader, able to inspire and have a solid strategic vision that reflects current thinking, the needs of the school and most of all, is in the best interests of the students. What do you enjoy most about your job? Without a doubt the people I interact with each day: the students, the staff and our parents. What has been the most memorable event in your career? Becoming the Principal at Bradbury School. It was a total life changer for me and my family. Did you always want to work in education? No, for many years I wanted to be a social worker. 30

I absolutely love everything about Hong Kong

What do you like most about Hong Kong? I absolutely love everything about Hong Kong; its vitality, energy, food and the people. Do you have any hobbies? I enjoy printmaking, but find it difficult here in Hong Kong in terms of access to the correct equipment and space.

What qualities do you value most in people? I really value people who do what they say they are going to do and do not make false promises. I guess that is a high degree of integrity, reliability and commitment. Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to read music and play an instrument. Also, I would love to be fluent in a language other than English. What was your favourite subject at school? Art was always my favourite subject and I took it to an advanced level. In fact, as an adult, I completed the first year of a fine arts degree. Tell us a secret about yourself. I love driving and I would love to be able to drive a high powered motorbike.

Sponsored Column

International School Trends in Hong Kong Anne Murphy explains why the number of international school places is rising.

After years of a shortage in the supply of international school places, a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Children seem to be progressing through waitlists faster, thanks to the expansion of existing schools and opening of new campuses since 2011, including Anfield, Kellett, Harrow, ICA, Hong Kong Academy, Island Christian Academy IMS and Nord Anglia. Furthermore, the recent allocation of new land will lead to the expansion of two existing campuses and the opening of three new international schools in 2016 and 2018, respectively. NEW LOCATIONS: French International School. Opening in 2018, in Tseung Kwan O, the new primary campus will include a spacious gymnasium, state-of-the-art swimming pool, running track, 300-seat auditorium and three large playgrounds. The Harbour School (primary and secondary

education) is moving to a new location in Ap Lei Chau. The new campus will include an indoor forest, open-plan lounge, and a two-story library. The school is known for its inclusivity, dedication to each student, and experiential approach in science, history and the arts. NEW SCHOOLS: The American School Hong Kong (ASHK) opens this August in Tai Po. Open initially for Kindergarten through to Grade 6, it will evolve to a fullscale K-12 school, offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, US High School Diploma and Advanced Placement options. The curriculum is based on the US Common Core. Contact Admissions Director Mary Ewing on 3974 8554, The UK’s Shrewsbury School is to open its second international school in Hong Kong. The new co-educational Primary School will open in Tseung Kwan O (Siu Chik Sha) with

space for over 850 international students aged five to 11. It will offer the National Curriculum for England. Contact Malvern College Hong Kong will open in Tai Po in September 2018 with 380 primary places, and capacity rising to 960 once full. The school will offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum and will be open to children aged six-12. Applications open this September. Contact Communications & Marketing Director Gill Keefe on 3898 4688, 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 31

A day in the life

Miles ELP International Academy Nursery teacher Amanda Jones shows us around Miles ELP International Academy in Repulse Bay.


manda Jones is responsible for a class of two and three year old children at Miles ELP International Academy. The school offers bilingual (English and Mandarin) classes for children aged between eight months and six years.

and compare the sizes of the planets. To help children understand concepts of 2D and 3D, we have them use different shapes to design rockets on paper, then provide them with building blocks of different shapes and ask them to construct a 3D rocket based on their 2D designs.

Every day we start our class with free play to settle the children into the start of the school day. Some children choose to play with their favourite toys and some help me with classroom tasks such as watering the plants, feeding our class pet Rollie, and preparing snacks. We then have circle time to talk about the theme of the day that is related to our monthly inquiry unit; children also greet each other and sing songs together during circle time. After that, it is exploration time – four to five learning stations are set up for children to freely explore. They mainly involve language (English and Mandarin), logical thinking, science, practical life and art and craft. This structure allows children to learn at their own pace and it motivates them to learn based on their interest and ability. It also gives teachers time to work with children individually. After exploration, we have snack time and playground. Depending on the weather and pollution, we sometimes stay indoors or go to the beach or our rooftop garden. After that, we either have music time with our professional musician teachers, show and tell, imaginative play, library time, or a volunteer parent might lead an activity. We then have a little quiet time before finishing the class where children can read books, draw or play with building blocks.

One of the important elements of our teaching approach is natural play. We believe that nature is the best classroom and it provides many open-ended resources to stir children’s imagination and creativity. That’s why we bring our children out to the beach and rooftop garden for them to explore and discover. Children need outdoor play for at least 45 minutes a day, but in a busy city like Hong Kong this is difficult to achieve. We are lucky to be situated right next to the beach. On the other hand, we incorporate our carefully designed curriculum so it is not just free play when we bring our children outside. For example, we recently did painting on mirror and aluminum foil under the sun so that children could explore the concept of reflection.

Our child-centered program requires us to do a lot of observation in class so that we can design the curriculum based on children’s learning habits, interests and abilities. Each month we have one inquiry unit which we use to teach across subjects. This creates a cohesive learning environment which helps 32

children to relate one idea to another. Based on this inquiry unit, and with reference to Early Years Foundation Stage Framework of the British National Curriculum (EYFS), we design four to five learning stations every day. Our Experiential Learning Program (ELP) emphasises hands-on experiences and motivating children to find answers to their questions independently. Most inquiry units are followed by outings or meetings with specialists to help children understand that what they learn in the classroom is useful in their daily life, motivating them to learn more. For example, we have an inquiry unit on ‘Space’. We enhance children’s language skills by having them role play astronauts and go through the names of items we see in space and the space station. We make planets using yarn (children practice their hand movement by wrapping around a balloon using yarn)

School Report Miles ELP International Academy Application date: Rolling admission policy Year founded: 2014 Total number of pupils: 80 Age range: 8 months to 6 years School fees: $8,200 per month for half day sessions, $11,200 for the full day. 33

after school

Acrylic painting at Banana Art Club

Art attack Kristy Wong scopes out the best in arts and creative classes around town. Kids’ Gallery Kids’ Gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary in Hong Kong this year and has branches in Singapore, India and China. Initially concentrating only in visual arts, Kids’ Gallery has grown into an all-round arts centre, providing courses on communication, performing and other various forms of art. Children get stuck into arts and crafts classes covering drawing, painting, modelling and sculpting as well as fine arts and studio arts. Classes take place in Central, Pok Fu Lam, Kowloon Tong and Yau Tong, for children aged from one to 12 years. Details at, 2501 4842. Group work Kids’ Gallery


Banana Art Club The Banana Art club offers ESF after school lessons, in-home lessons and regular lessons at a number of locations around Hong Kong. Popular classes include manga and cartoon drawing courses which teach basic construction theories and skills to draw comics and cartoons. More traditional art classes include oil and acrylic painting courses where students can explore the artworks of renowned artists and create their own using a variety of techniques and styles. Painting on ceramics, dolls, glasses and even umbrellas is highly encouraged in the mixed media classes. Suitable for children over five. Details at, 6020 5476. 35

after school Colour my World Colour My World will certainly bring colour to your world. The art centre provides a wide range of visual and performing arts workshops for kids, teens and adults. Junior visual arts courses for three- to nine year olds cover the essential basics of drawing, painting and sculpture allowing kids lots of room for messy and creative play. Older children and adults can explore the whole spectrum of visual arts with classes including ceramics, photography, pulp fiction comic art, architectural studies and portfolio building. Full details at Room 108 Aberdeen Marina Tower, 8 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen, 2580 5028 Little Picasso With Pablo Picasso’s philosophy in mind, Lindy Moran believes that all children are artists. She established Little Picasso in a brightly-lit and vibrant studio in 2008. Every course has a unique theme, ranging from spooky ghosts to Japanese scenery. Apart from drawing, children can create 2D or 3D art crafts and learn basic colour theories. Tailored private tution classes are available upon request. The


Animal drawings atLittle Picasso

after school

Anastassia’s Art house

studio is also open for art parties on Fridays and Saturdays. Classes suitable for kids aged three and above. in Wong Chuk Hang. Details at Studio 6, 15/F, Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 5220 7720. Anastassia’s Art house Taught by a large team of professional artists and educators, the Russian Art Academy is a popular studio for budding artists to study mix-media art and explore different painting and drawing media. Children can learn to appreciate art as masterpieces from different eras and styles will be introduced. Creative drama courses are available. Centres located all over Hong Kong, including Happy Valley, Sai Kung and Stanley.

Artful Kids At the core of all art classes run by Artful Kids is belief in ‘unstructured play’ to allow children the time and space to let children explore and aid their development. Ting Hands, Big Fun for children up to 18 months sees children playing with paint, colour sand and water to explore the world around them and experiment with different materials and tactile surfaces. The studio also holds parties for children including activities such as painting canvases and making hats fit for princesses. For kids of all ages, those aged 18 months and under must be accompanied by an adult. Details at, 21/F Chu Kee Building, 435 Kings Road, North Point, 9722 8353.

Artful Kids

HK Art Tutoring Students who require extra help in preparing for their Art IB, GCSE, IGCSE, or A Level coursework may find specifically-tailored courses at HK Art Tutoring useful. Gail, an experienced teacher who has taught art for over 18 years, will review and improve students’ portfolios to ensure they comply with all examination criteria in her one-toone sessions. She also assists students in their preparation for college and university interviews. Students are welcomed to communicate with her any ideas or difficulties they encounter in their art studies. Located in North Point, see or email for more information. 37

me & my hobby

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE Zehra Jafree,16, is a student at The Chinese International School. She speaks to Mawgan Batt about her passion for drama and performing arts. onstage, it’s the apprehension that something might go wrong (and it usually does!). No show is ever the same. Every time you go on stage, even if you have rehearsed scenes over and over again, something will change. That is an extremely special feeling.

I love to take the audience on an emotional journey with me

When did you become interested in acting and performing? It’s always been a huge part of my life, to the extent where I think I can safely say I don’t remember not loving theatre. I remember being on stage at around four years old and even at that age I was seduced by the whole experience. What inspired you to get involved? My mum signed me up for drama lessons when I was very young, and my passion has developed over time. What really struck me was the fact that the experience was live. Whether you are in the audience, backstage or 38

Do you also get involved backstage? I really enjoy directing. I’ve written, produced, choreographed, done set design, lighting and sound. What have been your favourite moments on stage? I’m naturally quite energetic and totally the opposite of a lot of characters I love playing. I think one of my favourite moments was when I played Piggy in Lord of t he Flies . It was not the most glamorous role, but it was a brilliant show and we were able to perform outside, which was an amazing experience. I also really love playing any character by a playwright called Dennis Kelly. His plays are very dark and focus on the extremes of human nature. Do you have any tips for budding young actors? Firstly, never be afraid of looking odd or silly on stage. Self-doubt is so obvious and very awkward to perform alongside. Don’t ever limit yourself to a certain type of role, even if a role makes you uncomfortable, embrace it - that’s what acting is about. Good actors can successfully throw themselves into almost anything. The only way to get there is to gain experience by acting in different roles. Finally, it is important to be a team player. A strong ensemble is vital for a strong show. Any finally... I love telling stories and that’s why I love the theatre. I love to take the audience on an emotional journey with me. It’s really beautiful. 39


Saving face Kate Farr chats to Yen Reis, founder of Skin Laundry about her start-up history, launching in a completely new country and finding balance as a working mum. Tell us about your family. My husband and I have been married for over twelve years and we have three boys aged ten, eight and six. My sons were all born in Singapore, however we are all originally from Australia. With three boys, everyone keeps telling me that I need to have a girl!

our treatments affordable enables a larger audience to access laser and light technology and enjoy the benefits on a more regular basis. And is there anything that you’re not so keen on? We now have twelve Skin Laundry locations in total – in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong – so my job now involves a lot of travel, meaning that I’m often away from my boys. It’s really tough to miss out on seeing them on a daily basis.

What brought you to Hong Kong? My family and I recently relocated to Hong Kong in order for me to open and oversee three new Skin Laundry locations here at the pulse, Century Square and Lane Crawford IFC. What did you do before launching the Skin Laundry? I grew up in Sydney, however at an early age I moved abroad to travel. My first job was in web design for a dotcom in San Francisco, and I later moved to Singapore where I was offered a job as a crude oil futures broker. After my three sons were born, I decided to go back to work, launching Gallery Reis, a contemporary art gallery representing emerging and established international artists in Singapore. During that time my husband and I diversified into investing in a variety of startups. I really enjoy the process of building a sustainable business from the ground up. Where did the idea come from to go it alone? There is always such a huge sense of achievement when you build a business from scratch. I love the challenge and really enjoy the experience – you learn so much very quickly. How did you translate your business idea from concept to reality? It’s an ongoing process and you have to be prepared to begin with an idea that will continuously evolve. Transforming that idea into reality involves surrounding yourself with 40

How do you juggle running Skin Laundry with family life? What’s the biggest challenge in maintaining a good balance? Since becoming a mother I’ve learned to be very efficient, and I always try to maintain that efficiency in everything I do. Whether it’s packing the kids’ lunchboxes or training my staff, I always try to use my time wisely and effectively, so that when I do have the chance to take time off it’s spent with my sons doing something fun.

a strong team of very hardworking individuals who – hopefully – will also believe in your concept as strongly as you do. What has been your biggest business challenge to date? Educating the market on the effectiveness and safety of using laser and light technology on a regular basis to maintain healthier skin. Laser facials are still very new to many people. What do you love most about what you do? I love hearing about and seeing such great results from our treatments – this really makes all the hard work worthwhile! Keeping

What advice would you give to other working parents? I think that balance is key, however there are always going to be moments where one will outweigh the other. You need to prioritise your time so you’re at your most efficient at work, and then the best parent you can be at home. What’s next for Skin Laundry? What are your plans and aspirations for the business? Skin Laundry still has a long way to go! We have two more locations opening in New York City by mid-2016, and the Hong Kong launch opens up additional opportunities in Asia, which I find really exciting. I would also like to focus on educating consumers on the benefits of Skin Laundry and further expanding the existing Skin Laundry product business. 41

big day out

Off the beaten track Rory Mackay heads to the south of Lantau for his next adventure, hiking from Shek Pik to Tai O.


here are many spots in Hong Kong that can feel far removed from the city, but are in fact just round the corner or over the hill from town. Then, there are those rare confines that are genuinely far removed from civilisation. The southern tip of Lantau Island is such a place. Take the time to venture out to this enclave and you will be rewarded with a trip back in time! An untarnished landscape bursting with deserted beaches, fertile valleys and lush jungles lying in wait. Despite southern Lantau’s geographical isolation from the rest of Hong Kong, it is easily accessible and can be reached from the city within a couple of hours. Once there, southern Lantau is best explored by foot. My favourite route follows the coastline regions,


starting at Shek Pik in the east and finishing at Tai O in the west. As a direct hiking route, more experienced hikers can complete the 15 kilometers within four to five hours. However, there are many sights worthy of a cheeky detour along the way and it is worthwhile dedicating an entire day to this adventure. As a coastal hike, the main path avoids any major hills and is ideal for families who enjoy the outdoors. It is advisable to bring a map along if you are unsure of your directions and bring plenty of fluids during the warmer months. To reach the start of the trail, catch either the no.11 bus from Tung Chung, or the no. 1 bus from Mui Wo to Tai O. Keep an eye out for Shek Pik Reservoir and disembark at the first bus stop immediately after crossing

the dam wall. Take in the beautiful sight of Shek Pik Reservoir and Lantau Peak before following the Lantau Trail south. The first part of the walk follows a catch-water and serves as a gentle warm up before hitting the dirt track. Staying up above the coastline, there are beautiful views to be had across many bays and beaches on this section. The path then descends to the idyllic Fan Lau Peninsula and its two sandy beaches. There is a small dai pai dong here with a friendly owner who can whip up a wholesome bowl of noodles, complete with drinks and fruit. This is the only such facility along the way, so make sure to recharge before heading on. If you are interested in historical sites, you can take a half hour excursion to visit Fan Lau Fort on the far end of Fan Lau

big day out

Peninsula. Built in 1729 during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, the fort was subsequently abandoned by the British in 1898 and a large stone rectangle is about all that remains today. The second half of the walk from Fan Lau to Tai O follows a much more sheltered section of coastline. The area possess great biodiversity, so keep an eye out for interesting plants and animals. Pass through the majestic village of Yi O; complete with agricultural farmland, grazing cattle and abandoned buildings, it’s an exceptionally surreal settlement to stroll through. Shortly after passing through Yi O, the path meets an area of mangroves on the coast, at this juncture there is an option to check out the most stunning of detours at the

Man Cheung Po waterfalls and infinity pool. Turn right onto a less distinct path and follow your way up the hill past a few abandoned houses. Continue for around 20 minutes up the valley until you reach the pools. It’s quite a popular spot, so you may suddenly see more people in the first five minutes than you have on the entire walk to that point. Although it is prohibited to swim in the infinity pool (as it serves as a reservoir for Tai O), the numerous rock pools and waterfalls behind it are fair game. Once you’ve gone for a dip, go back down the same way you came up to return to the main path. From here, it’s a simple one hour walk to reach Tai O. Once in Tai O, make sure to wander around the village and grab a bite to eat as

reward for a long walk. From Tai O you can simply hop on the bus back to civilisation, although beware that the no.11 bus to Tung Chung can sometimes have long queues during holiday seasons. If this happens, then I strongly recommend cutting your losses by opting for the no.1 bus to Mui Wo and an onward ferry to Central. Southern Lantau is an incredible part of Hong Kong to take the time to explore. Any adventure here will leave you with a bunch of great memories and a sound night’s sleep! Rory Mackay runs adventure company Wild Hong Kong. For details, visit 43


Full of art Combining great food with creative art, Annie Wong checks out the best restaurants to complement Hong Kong’s month of art. Bibo Dine French at luxury art space and restaurant, Bibo, located on the slopes of Hollywood Road. Every corner of Bibo is layered with quirky and colourful street art and you’ll even find a portrait of Kate Moss on the wall. The dishes are beautifully presented, with choices including slowcooked Japanese pork belly and lobster with mushroom ravioli. A three-course lunch set is priced at $380, and dinner is an a-la-carte menu. Wine pairings available. 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2956 3188,


food Dine Art Tucked away in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang, the private kitchen is lead by Italian Chef Cosimo Taddei. The multi-purpose venue oozes cool and sophistication and is perfect for large get-togethers and dinner parties. The works of international leading artists can be found on the walls of Dine Art, however the art exhibitions are updated frequently. Changed on a weekly basis, a set lunch is available on weekdays with a range of main meals. Additionally, guests can opt for a specially prepared private luncheon prepared by Chef Cosimo (minimum spend $6,000) or an elegant 5-course private dinner available for 10-30 guests (available Monday-Saturday, minimum $12,000 spend) which includes complimentary canapés and Italian prosecco. 16/F, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 2805 8555,

Sweet tooth

Duddell’s Duddell’s is a winning combination of sophisticated Cantonese dining and art gallery. Designer Ilse Crawford’s ambition is to give the ambience of an art collector’s home. Duddell’s also houses an outdoor terrace on its rooftop, giving ample space to relax and dine. Led by an Arts Committee, Duddell’s hosts regular exhibitions, screenings and features artwork from renowned artists like Song Dong and

M.K. Lau. As for the menu, Chef Siu Hin Chi’s Peking duck ($600 for one course and comes with all the trimmings, available during dinner and carved at the table), crispy chicken ($250 for half and $500 for full) and the extravagant dim sum brunch ($480-$680, $250 for children under ten; served only on weekends) are all veritable crowd pleasers. 3-4/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, 2525 9191,

Watch on as personal dessert artists at ATUM Desserant take your dessert to the next level. You’ll be left inspired with their contemporary and creative approach to presentation, whereby they paint your dessert right in front of you. A popular choice is Improvisation for Two ($383), where the artist will take free reign and use their imagination to create your art dessert. A wonderful array of toppings include raspberry sorbet, brownie slices, orange jelly and colourful splodges of purées and creams. A range of dessert platters in different sizes and extravagance available. 16/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, 2956 1411, www.atumhk. com 45

food The Popsy Room This cute, whimsical venue presents a tailormade art-inspired menu, made to awaken the five senses for private parties. The Popsy Room serves Western cuisine and dishes are playfully named, like Spring Memory (French crab meat ravioli), Clouds (a 36-hour crafted lobster bisque) and Dream (pan-seared scallop served with squid ink tagliatelle). The Popsy Team headed by Founder Jennifer Chung creatively injects elements of the art pieces displayed on the walls into the dishes. Customers can choose from an array of four- ($388 for lunch and $688 for dinner), six($988 for dinner) or eight- ($1,388 for dinner) course set menus, served with petit fours and coffee or tea. 30 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, 2234 6711,

Open Door Café + Courtyard Child and pet-friendly Open Door Café + Courtyard is a rare gem in the heart of Sai Ying Pun. As well as dog yoga classes, the laid-back café holds many exhibitions that feature the works of local and international artists, with the café’s courtyard mural painted by Alex Croft and Bao Ho. The menu is a celebration of healthy and wholesome food featuring salads, light meals and a range of mouth-watering smoothies. Check their Facebook page for current art exhibitions. Private party bookings available. G/F, 120 Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun, 3460 3880,

Gormei Art Month Gormei, in collaboration with leading restaurants and celebrated artists, presents three specially curated art programmes in March - Art Hour, Art Table and Eat Art. The programmes will feature local and international artists and galleries including Simon Birch, Parkview Art and popular dining destinations Stone Nullah Tavern, Duddell’s and VEA Restaurant and Lounge. For a list of participating artists and upcoming events, visit

46 47


Defy the damp Laura Paul of Healthy Living Asia shares her top five natural tips for keeping your home clean and dry in humid weather.

Mould We all know the consequences of pernicious mould. Distilled white vinegar is one of the best and most popular options to both clean and prevent mould growth; it’s easy to clean carpets, walls and clothing. For carpets, spray undiluted white vinegar and leave for one hour before cleaning with a damp cloth. If the mould is still there, add half a tablespoon of baking soda to the vinegar spray bottle and try again. For walls and hard surfaces where colour is not a factor, try spraying a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Keep the area dry with a dehumidifier to prevent regrowth. If you get recurrent mould, spray every so often to prevent growth using the baking soda and white distilled vinegar spray. Check sealants Making sure the bathroom is water-tight will prevent mould and mildew from creeping into your home. If you use a shower curtain, spray the curtain, especially the bottom half, with vinegar at least once a week to prevent growth. Mildew thrives in humid areas and when ambient home temperature is above 48

25 degrees. Keeping a dehumidifier close to the bathroom will help prevent moisture from escaping into the open and promoting mould growth elsewhere throughout the home. Aim for a relative humidity of 50% or lower. In the summer, running the air conditioning also helps keep rooms dry. Only open windows and doors if the temperature outside is eight degrees lower than inside. Although not environmentally friendly, small areas with higher moisture levels, purchase individual dehumidifying boxes. Dust mites The enzymes in the faeces of dust mites as well as their shells are the cause of many chronic environmental allergies. What may not be known is that dust mites thrive on humidity. By reducing relative humidity in your home or apartment to below 50%, it significantly reduces the numbers of mites and calms any dust mite related allergy symptoms. For serious allergies, consider investing in mattress and pillow protectors specifically designed for dust mites. Wash your washing machine Whether you have a front-loading or top-loader

washing machine, it is a good idea to regularly clean the rubber seals and inside the drum. First, wipe the door and inside drum with a cloth or scrub pad soaked in vinegar. For stubborn areas, add baking soda. Next, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda in the drum of the washing machine. Add vinegar to the detergent area, and set the machine for a hot cycle without any clothes. After the cycle has finished, any smells should have disappeared and your machine be sparkling. Remember to leave the door open to prevent odours and to let the washing machine dry between loads. Protect your belongings It’s not just moths eating your favourite sweater. Many other pests in Hong Kong gnaw away wool, feather and silk such as warehouse beetles and cockroaches. Silverfish and booklice also like to munch on adhesives and other glues in books and artwork. All of these pests thrive in humid conditions. Keeping rooms properly sealed, relative humidity low, using disposable dehumidifying boxes and installing fans in damp areas can prevent creepy crawlies from attacking your prized possessions. 49


Let it snow Wishing you had a white Christmas? Remember, the mountain never came to Muhammad. Here are eight of Asia’s best ski resorts. By Shreena Patel. Japan Niseko Village Hokkaido The Niseko United ski area was named Japan’s Best Ski Resort at the 2015 World Ski Awards. Characterised by ancient caldera lakes, the protected area comprises a number of interlinked ski resorts with a combined 2,191 acres of skiable terrain. Niseko Village, at the base of Mount Niseko Annupuri, has accommodation, two hot springs (with indoor and outdoor onsen) and an art gallery. Winter activities include reindeer sledding and horseback riding. Where to stay Kasara’s three-bedroom townhouses come with priority privileges and a private concierge service. Guests can enjoy complimentary access to the Hilten and Green Leaf onsen. Alternatively, the Hilton sits next to the Niseko Gondola that takes you to the top of Mount Niseko Annupuri. It has restaurants, a spa, fitness centre, onsen and a children’s playground. Finally, The Green Leaf offers ski-in ski-out accommodation, a spa and onsen. Get 10% off when you book 60 days in advance. Season December to March Getting there Direct flights available to Sapporo Chitose Airport. From there, it’s take the Hokkaido Resort Liner to Niseko Village - book in advance. Alternatively, take the JR Rapid Airport train to Kutchan or Niseko. A free shuttle service runs from Kutchan station to Niseko Village; taxis available from both. Appi Kogen Resort Tohoku Known for its well-groomed slopes and Aspirin snow (light and fine), Appi Kogen Resort has over 45 kilometres of runs (some are for skiing only). Lessons are available in English. There is a family park for beginners, snow play area, child care and a small petting zoo. Tours available in February include ice fishing, sake tasting and a trip to Iwate Snow Festival. Where to stay The Hotel Appi Grand has direct access to the slopes, a heated pool, squash court, games room, massage 50

therapists, and an all-you-can-eat crab and steak restaurant. Alternatively, the Appi Grand Annex is a 5-minute walk (or a free shuttle bus ride) from the lifts and has newer facilities and direct access to hot springs. Rooms at the Appi Grand Villa can accommodate up to seven people - ideal for groups. For cheaper accommodation, check out the pension village about one kilometre from the resort. Season Mid-December to early May. Getting there Direct flights available to Narita Airport. From there, take the JR Narita Express to Tokyo, then the Shinkansen “Hayabusa” train to Morioka. From Morioka Station, get a bus to the resort or take the JR Hanawa Line to Appi Kogen, from which there is free shuttle bus to the resort. Beware: shuttle buses do not run for early morning and late night trains. Kiroro Resort Hokkaido Situated in the mountains west of Sapporo, known for accumulating ample amounts of powder snow, Kiroro is further from the city and less well-known than some of its neighbouring resorts, but also less crowded. Fun extras include snow segway, snow banana boat and snow rafting. To relax, visit the hot springs, the resort pool, or get a massage at the spa. Where to stay The Sheraton Hotel offers ski-todoor accommodation and is directly connected to the Mountain Centre where you’ll find rental shops, lockers, children’s facilities and a public bath. Alternatively, The Kiroro, is a three-minute bus ride from the ski lift and has more capacity. Season December to the first week of May Getting there Direct flights available to Sapporo Chitose Airport. From there, take the Hokkaido Resort Liner (adults, ¥3,980; children, ¥1,990) to Kiroro. Alternatively, take the JR Rapid Airport train to Otaru Chikko and hop on a shuttle bus (seats are free but it’s first-come, first-served).


Korea YongPyong Ski Resort Pyeongchang-gun The largest ski and snowboard resort in Korea. Yongpyong will host the technical alpine skiing events of slalom and giant slalom for the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. Nearby attractions include Sam Yang Ranch and Mt. Oh-Dae National Park. Where to stay There is accommodation to suit a range of budgets, including the five-star Dragon Valley Hotel, three condominiums and cheaper youth hostel accomodation. Season Mid-November to early April. Getting there Direct flights available to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. From there, the easiest option is to take the threehour non-stop Purple Ski Bus to Yongpyong resort. Buses run five times a day. Book in advance. Adults: 35,000; children: 25,000 (one way). Alpensia Resort Pyeongchang The filming location for “Take Off” (2009), a movie about Korea’s first national ski jumping team, Alpensia Resort is the main venue for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. It has a ski jump tower, cross-country routes, bobsled facilities and an indoor water park that is open all winter. Nearby attractions include Odaesan National Park and Korea

Botanic Gardens. Where to stay The main providers in the resort village are Intercontinental Hotel (Korea’s first five-star resort hotel), Holiday Inn Hotel, and Holiday Inn Suites (a village condominium). Season Late-November to March. Getting there Direct flights available to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. From there, take the Purple Ski Bus to Yongpyong resort. Buses run five times a day. Book in advance. Adults: 35,000; children: 25,000 (one way). High 1 Resort Gangwon The highest altitude of all the Korean ski resorts, High 1 is 1,345m above sea level, making it one of the best resorts in Asia to find natural, fluffy powder snow. It has 18 runs for all levels of skiers, all starting at the summit (so you get a longer run). The resort also has a revolving restaurant and a casino for those who like to get their thrills off the slopes. Also home to Korea’s first ski school for those with disabilities. Where to stay A standard room at the High 160,000/night. More 1 Hotel starts from expensive options include the Kangwonland Hotel (home to the only casino in Korea where Korean nationals are permitted to gamble) and

the Convention Hotel. Three condominiums offer standard rooms up to family suites. Off-resort, the nearby village of Sabuk has pensions, hotels and apartments. Season Late-November to March Getting there Direct flights available to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. From there, only one Ski Bus per day operates to the resort. Book in advance. Adults: 33,000; children: 30,000 (one way). Alternatively, take the intercity bus to Taebaek. Get off at Gohan or Sabuk Bus Terminal and catch a metered taxi (around 5,000 from Gohan) or shuttle bus to the resort.

TOP TIPS There is often a big variance in price between off-peak and peak season. Consider going offpeak: there are great deals to be had and the larger the group the cheaper the price. If you’re unable to book directly with the resort, there are other options. Ski Korea offers bespoke ski packages and transportation from anywhere in Korea. This season it has partnered with Yongpyong Ski and Board school to offer discounted rates. It can book large groups, arrange tours of the area and maintains a presence on the resort. www.

The Intercontinental at Alpensia Resort, Korea. 51


China Nanshan Ski Village Miyun County, Beijing Just a half-hour drive from Beijing (confirmed host of the 2022 Winter Olympics), this resort boasts 25 trails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, a snowpark with a half-pipe and jumping trail, an advanced mogul trail and a children’s playground. You’ll also find sledding, a 1,318 metre toboggan run, a children’s snowmobile route, and cable hang-gliding. Where to stay Within the resort, the Shirton Inn - an Alps-style log cabin - overlooks the nearby Rimbaud Pond and has 30 double rooms, each equipped with a fireplace. Rooms from RMB580 per night, RMB680 during holiday periods. Groups may prefer one of the two six-bedroom Norwegian Villas. Prices start at RMB4,880 per building per night (rental also available by floor). Season December to late February. Getting there Direct flights available to Beijing. Once in the city, hop on the 980 bus from Dongzhimen bus station to West Bridge (Xidaqiao), then take a taxi to the resort (around RMB20 per car). Alternatively, book a place on the shuttle buses, which depart daily at 8.30am from Sanyuan Bridge and Wudaokou subway stations (book at least one day in advance). 52

Yabuli Ski Resort Shangzhi Host of the 1996 Winter Asian Games and the training ground of China’s national team, Yabuli is China’s largest ski resort. During the Qing Dynasty, the area was a hunting ground for feudal lords. Nearby attractions include the world’s longest toboggan run and the controversial Siberian Tiger Park. The Harbin Ice Festival in the neighbouring snow town of Harbin runs until February 25. Where to stay For those seeking R&R, Club Med Yabuli is home to a L’Occitane spa with an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steamroom, and sauna. It also offers a number of bookable excursions. Alternatively, try the resort’s two three-star hotels, the Windmill Village and the Tinyihu, whose facilities include indoor swimming pools, fitness rooms, restaurants and a bowling alley. Season Mid-November to late March. Getting there Direct flights available to Harbin. A special tourist train leaves Harbin Station every morning to Yabuli South, a short taxi ride (RMB20) or 10-minute walk from the resort. Book in advance. Alternatively, take a three-hour bus or train to Yabuli Town, approximately 20km from the resort, and from there a minibus.,

money & me

LAURENCE FOUCHON co-founder, Laurence Fouchon, speaks to Mawgan Batt about spending, saving and launching a successful start-up. in the south of France. This way we have at least secured housing for the family, and the grandparents are happy to see us more often as well. What was your worst investment? Buying a car in Hong Kong. We live in the New Territories and thought it would be more convenient with a car, but the dealer crashed the car during a routine check-up. Let’s just say their handling of the issue was beyond poor. Do you play Mark 6? No. What was your best paid work? When I worked in finance. Running a start-up is riskier as you don’t know what will happen six months from now. We’re confident we will succeed, but at the moment income is a luxury.

Tell us about what you do I co-founded and run HelperChoice - an ethical start-up connecting employers and domestic helpers. We are very proud that we do not charge domestic helpers to list their profiles on the site. What was the inspiration to set up the business? Hiring the right domestic helper was very challenging even though there are so many helpers in Hong Kong. When I finally hired someone, I learned that she had paid illegal fees to the agent. I decided then and there to do something about it so that other families can find a great helper who is not indebted and with whom you can leave your children worry-free. Are you a spender or a saver? I am a saver. My daughters are still young, but schools are already charging high fees. I do like to go on a family holiday now and then to recharge and spend quality time with the kids. That said, I love a good bargain.

How much is in your wallet? $390 and some coins. You never know when your Octopus may run out. What credit cards do you use? I use only one credit card: HSBC Visa. There are already so many things in my wallet. Plus, I prefer using EPS over a credit card. When were you poorest? What did you learn? I cannot say I was ever poor, but my parents taught me to be careful with my money. As a student living in Paris I had to be careful. If we went out with friends one night, I would make up for it the next day by eating a baguette with cheese. Do you prefer to manage your own affairs? Yes. It is always good to know what is going on in your life so that there will be no nasty surprises. What was your best investment? We recently bought a house in my hometown

Do you have any advice on teaching children about money? When they’re old enough, let them manage their own pocket money. Encourage them to keep track of what they spend it on and go over it at the end of the month. If they run out of money after three days, don’t give in. The earlier they learn responsible spending, the better. What is the most extravagant thing you have ever bought? In my dreams I’ve owned a helicopter to fly to my private island. In real life, I mostly splurge on tech. Do you invest in stocks? I have never been a gambler. Many Hong Kongers swear by investing in stocks so who knows, in ten years I may eventually be convinced. What is your inspiration? Cliché, but my biggest inspiration is my children. Their enthusiasm for the smallest things in life is heartwarming. 53




To advertise, email or call 2776 2772. 55

bald truths

A Letter to My Teenage Self Simon Parry has some top tips for his teenage self.


t isn’t easy being a teenager, my children have reminded me recently. You find yourself in uncharted territory. After all, no one else has ever been a teenager before, and no one else in the world can come within a million miles of understanding what it’s like (except maybe Morrissey on a particularly wet and windy Wednesday in Manchester). What you need is guidance and reassurance, but these are things no parent can give because parents are part of the global conspiracy to make the teenager miserable. The only person who can find a way through the suffering is you, and you’re too adrift in an ocean of raging hormones and unrequited emotions to find a way to the shores of sanity and reason. That’s why I’ve given up on giving advice to my teenage offspring. Whatever I tell them, they only ignore or do the opposite – and all my bitter, gut-wrenching, painfully-acquired experience of failure, rejection, incompetence and bad decision-making is wasted. Which is a shame, because I’m certain that if I’d been around to help out my own 15-yearold self, things might have turned out rather better. It would be a big job, admittedly, and I’d have a lot of ground to cover. In fact, I’d have so much to put right with my teenage self that I’d probably still be wittering life instructions to myself until I was well into my 20s. But if – on this imaginary B ac k To The Fut ure-style jaunt to Parryland circa 1980 – I was given only a few brief minutes to impart my wisdom and help myself avoid some of the anxiety, financial disaster and social embarrassment that lay ahead, these would be my Top Ten Tips: 10: Stay away from Big Brenda. Your mum’s right on this one. She’s bad news and it won’t last. What’s more, her disproportionate weight ratio will have fatal consequences for your Robin Reliant. 9: For pity’s sake, stop buying records


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

Parents are part of the global conspiracy to make the teenager miserable

by ELO, the Alan Parsons Project and Toyah. However much you might enjoy their catchy melodies, you’ll be profoundly embarrassed one day when someone cool spots Dis c overy , IRob otand Thund er in t he M ount ains tucked away in your vinyl collection. 8: No, it doesn’t make you go blind, so carry on and stop fretting about it (although on second thoughts I can’t say for certain that it

doesn’t cause premature hair loss.) 7: Put some money on Wimbledon to win the FA Cup, and while you’re in the bookies, stick whatever you’ve got left on Leicester City to win the Premier League in 2016. 6: If you ever feel the slightest temptation to embark on a career in newspaper journalism, grab a rolled-up copy of Tod ay or the New s of t he W orld and beat yourself repeatedly around the head with it until the sensation disappears. Remember, there are plenty of other careers for opinionated, socially inadequate, semi-educated sociopaths in industries that have a much brighter future (banking, arms dealing and ESF teaching to name but three.) 5: Buy shares in Apple and as many apartments in central London or on Hong Kong Island as your pocket money will stretch to. 4: Stop being so bloody awkward and selfconscious. So what if you’re plain and boring? In a few years, you’ll be fat and bald as well as plain and boring. So make the most of it and ask out anyone you fancy because this is probably the best you’re ever going to look. 3: It isn’t big or clever to smoke. 2: Never, never keep a diary: Unless, that is, you want your own children to one day discover what a total saddo you were as a teenager – especially your toe-curling ‘mottos for life’ and the bits where you write out the week’s top five singles with last week’s chart positions in brackets. Yes, really. (My final pearl of middle-aged wisdom is one that on reflection I would probably keep to myself. Otherwise it would take all the fun out of the intervening years – and in any case, how annoying would it be for my parents to have a teenager who not only thinks he knows everything but who actually does know everything?) 1: She’s called Hazel and you’ll meet her at a party 14 years from now. Then, slowly, the madness will begin to fade, and things will start making sense. 57


Profile for Hong Kong Living Ltd

Expat Parent Magazine March 2016  

Expat Parent Magazine March 2016  

Profile for saikung