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Diamond celebrations for the AWA
Hello, hong kong! Enjoying our great backyard
Canadian International turns over a new leaf
It’s Granny season! Welcoming visitors to town and other issues.
New sports classes, university advice and other news.
Meet the team.
A warm welcome from The Canadian International School.
Educational fun and frolics from across Hong Kong.
All the Christmas fairs, plus catch up with Mum about Town.
What’s happening this month.
With CDNIS interim principal David Baird.
18 Giveaways Loads of free stuff.
Debate of the month
Babies in Business class - the good and the bad.
War stories and new releases.
My Hong Kong
AWA’s Marcy LaRont gives us the lowdown.
30 Get out there Your guide to making the most of Hong Kong this autumn.
From long lunches to AA - one woman’s tale.
Scan and visit our website expat-parent.com
Life & style
Kids’ bedrooms and a catch up with Luca Alessi.
Secret eats in HK’s cheeriest vale.
Big day out
Clockenflap roars into town.
The big interview
Stars and stripes for the Taste Buddies, plus other news.
A sailor’s tale.
Life & style news
All the latest news for stylish Hong Kongers.
Long weekends in Ho Chi Minh.
Our haggard dad returns.
58 expat-parent.com 1
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Editor Carolynne Dear
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Contributing editor Annie Wong
Contributing editor Eric Ho
Design email@example.com Design Manager Cindy Suen
Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz
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am particularly excited about our cover this month, featuring the latest print from the very talented Louise Hill. For me, it really sums up Hong Kong - fun, colourful, vibrant, with lots going on. It also encapsulates our Feature this month, where we fling open the front door and embrace the great outdoors. Autumn is typically “granny season” with out-of-town guests flying in to enjoy the blue skies, cooler weather and lower humidity. I had a huge amount of fun checking out a variety of “off piste” activities that don’t tend to appear in the main tourist trails and guides. From yoga on Hong Kong’s most stunning beaches to discovering the city’s war history, there are some really great ideas to break up the more predictable outings to Stanley market and The Peak. I also enjoyed a lovely morning with the president of the American Women’s Association, Marcy LaRont, finding out all about 1950s Hong Kong when the association was first set up. The American ladies are still doing a fabulous job welcoming expats (not just Americans) to the territory and the association’s rich social programme is well worth checking out, even if you’re not a Hong Kong newby. We wish them every success as they celebrate their diamond anniversary. We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together - have a great November! And don’t forget to check us out on Instagram @expatparenthk.
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about the cover
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This month’s cover is the latest stunning canvas from artist, Louise Hill. Each piece of work in her Asia series uses a detailed mix of her own photography of Hong Kong with vintage, one-off finds. “This print is my ‘wish you were here’ postcard, it features the essence of what makes Hong Kong so special,” she says. Hill has lived in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain and Australia, but says her heart belongs to Asia. The print is available from selected retailers across Hong Kong, see louise-hill-design.com for details.
Fish & Chips
Published by Fast Media Ltd, L1 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
www.fastmedia.com.hk 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.
...visited the Canadian International School for this month’s Open Day. Rebecca grew up in Australia but now calls Hong Kong home. She used to be delighted spending her time flying around the region getting paid to chat and write. But with the arrival of her two daughters, Rebecca now works from the family’s floating home on Lantau, writing and living a new dream.
...put together this month’s Life & Style. Showcasing all the latest in home news, the section takes a look at up-coming events, new products, new launches and family events. Adele is a regular design contributor to the South China Morning Post and is a past-editor of Expat Parent. When she’s not writing, she’s a busy mum and unpaid taxi driver to three sportloving children.
... and business partner Rachel Read round up the best family dining in Happy Valley. Originally hailing from the UK, Kate is a freelance writer and editor and co-founder of editorial agency Editors’ Ink (editorsinkhk.com). Mum to two busy boys, she also blogs about all things family-related as the Accidental TaiTai (accidentaltaitai.com).
Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact email@example.com
Santa Shops at
Ice Cream Cart
Italtrike Classic Passenger red, pink, blue
Mini Micro Deluxe
Isabella with Flower Activity Rocking Car Walker Seat
Jewellery Craft & Explosive Experiments
Creatix Rescue Station
aqua, pink, purple, blue
Magic Melody Keyboard
Remote Control Mercedes AMG GT3
$299.90 Raleigh Bikes 3-8yrs
$799 - $899
NEW Central Location Entertainment Building Store, Central T 2522 7112
Horizon Plaza Store, Ap Lei Chau T 2552 5000
Stanley Plaza Store, Stanley T 2555 6318
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D Park Store, Tsuen Wan T 2799 2923
school photos Jumpstart
Jumpstart students having fun learning Mandarin.
American School Hong Kong
Students discover that music is fun at the American School Hong Kong. 6 expat-parent.com
school photos Harrow International School
Celebrating Diwali; taking part in a pink charity walk for breast cancer; football training with Everton football club.
Nord Anglia International School
Nord Anglia students enjoy a dress-up day and a visit from Monty the royal python, courtesy of Jurassic Garage. We love to see whatâ€™s happening in Hong Kongâ€™s schools! Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fascinators at the ready for another knock-out Melbourne Cup, courtesy of Farmer’s Kitchen, Nov 1.
UNTIL NOV 4
Box Of Hope A great charity which looks to provide useful and educational gifts to underprivileged children throughout Hong Kong and Asia. Wrap up an old shoebox, fill it with your choice of gifts and take it to one of the numerous drop off locations dotted around Hong Kong. There’s even a competition for the best box design, so get creative! www.boxofhope.org
Handmade HK at The Big Picnic Christmas shopping as part of Hong Kong’s biggest community music and dance festival. Free entry, 10.30am-9.30pm, Main Plaza and Discovery Bay Beach, Discovery Bay, thebigpicnichk.com.
NOV 4 - 13 Hong Kong International Literary Festival A smorgasbord of workshops, talks and performances with authors from around the globe, speaking from a variety of venues across Hong Kong. Authors are also available for school visits (suitable for children aged 14+) as part of the Festival’s Schools Programme. For more information see festival.org.hk.
NOV 5 The Great Aussie Adventure School Fair The Australian International School will be throwing open its doors from 11am-4pm. Enjoy games, stalls, food from the Bush Tucker Cafe, bubble soccer, a silent auction, second hand books and more. 3 Norfolk Road, Kowloon Tong, see aishk.edu.hk for details. 8 expat-parent.com
NOV 9 - 13 Best of British Fish ‘n’ chips at the ready as this annual event returns to Tamar Park. Enjoy Brit food from some of Hong Kong’s top restaurants, an open air cinema every evening, live music, croquet on the lawn, children’s entertainment, live art and installations, British-inspired cocktails, afternoon tea at the Popsy English garden, and more. See bestofbritish.hk for details.
NOV 12 Roalddahlicious Party To celebrate 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, Bookazine and Maggie & Rose are hosting an open day with story-telling, an outdoor library, Roald Dahl-inspired cooking sessions, film screenings (Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), a treasure hunt and quizzes. For children aged four to ten years, 10am - 4pm, Maggie & Rose, Shop 301, 3/F The Pulse, 28 Beach
Road, Repulse Bay. Free entry, registration at email@example.com, 2368 7191.
NOV 12 & 17 Before My Baby Winter Conference This event features 16 local practitioners who will present holistic preconception tips related to their fields of knowledge. Session 1 will be held on Saturday Nov 12, 9.30am1pm; Session 2 on Nov 17, 6.30-9.30pm. Both events will be held at Alive Wellness, 602 Yu Yuet Building, 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central. $350 for one session, $500 for both, tickets from eventbrite.com.
NOV 12 Lamma Fun Day Beach Music Festival Listen to some of Hong Kong’s best bands play live on Tai Wan To Beach while soaking up the festival atmosphere with a bar, arts crafts stalls food, free water, a charity auction, sports and activities for kids. Organised by volunteers and the Child Welfare Scheme Hong Kong, this popular community event has been running for 16 years, raising money for education projects in Nepal. Free entry. 1pm-11pm, Tai Wan To Beach (Power Station Beach), Lamma Island. For more information, visit facebook.com/ LammaFunDay.
tell me more
Picture courtesy of Sunny Lee
mum about town And they’re off! Trailwalker competitors start their 100km odyssey, Nov 18-20 .
NOV 13 Remembrance Sunday Don’t forget your poppy (it should be worn neatly on your left-hand lapel), the proceeds of which support ex-Servicemen and their families in Hong Kong. A ceremony of Remembrance will be held at 11am, The Cenotaph, Statue Square, Central, britishlegion.org.uk (Hong Kong and China Branch)
NOV 18 ESF KGV 80th Anniversary Disco King George V school is looking forward to celebrating with alumni, parents and friends with dinner, dancing and cocktails. $400/person or $700/couple, 6pm, KGV, Tin Kwong Road, Kowloon, email yasmeen. firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
NOV 18-20 Oxfam Trailwalker Hong Kong’s largest fundraising sporting event. Teams of four battle it out across the 100km MacLehose trail, starting at Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung Country Park East. Each team must complete the challenge within 48 hours. See oxfamtrailwalker.org.hk for further info.
NOV 23 Children’s Writing Workshop & Playgroup Free workshop featuring Roald Dahl’s The Twits. Interactive storytelling, writing and craft workshop held in partnership with Bookazine, Stamford American School and KidsFest. Suitable for children aged four to ten years, 9.30-11am, Stamford American School Admissions Office, Two Exchange Square, Level 40, Suites 4005-4007, 8 Connaught Road, Central, said.hk, email@example.com.
NOV 26 ESF Renaissance College 10 College Fair Roll up, roll up for games, workshops, Christmas bargains, an international food court and BBQ, entertainment, inflatables and a raffle. 11am-4pm, Renaissance College, 5 Hang Ming Street, Ma On Shan, New Territories (Heng On MTR, exit A).
NOV 30 Raise The Roof For Kids fundraiser A fundraising party in support of Kids4Kids, a non-profit platform providing assistance for socially responsible and community conscious youth. The evening includes door prizes, activity booths, music and more. $500/person, 6-11pm, FoFo, 20F, M88, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, tickets from kids4kidshk.eventbee.com, or see kids4kids.org.hk.
Get your Christmas shop on at the Conrad Gift Fairs, Nov 21 & 29.
Farmer’s Kitchen Melbourne Cup The race that stops a nation will be celebrated Hong Kong-style on November 1, thanks to Farmer’s Kitchen who will be hosting a postrace lunch at the Hong Kong Football Club. The lunch runs from 10am2pm, with an after-party until 8pm at the Crowne Plaza Rooftop Bar with live music, DJ and dancing. Hong Kong Football Club, 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley, farmerskitchen.com.hk. Gift fairs galore Shopping bags at the ready girls, the annual seasonal series of Conrad gift fairs is back in town. Featuring an enormous range of homewares, fashions, kids accessories, jewellery, food, drink and countless other gorgeous offerings, this really is a Christmas shopping opportunity not to be missed. Beware the crowds (this is not for the faint-hearted) and don’t forget your wallets. If you’re looking for something unusual, away from the malls, this is the place to be. The series kicks off on November 21 with a Gift & Lifestyle Fair, followed with a PreChristmas Gift Parade on November 29. Free, 10am-8pm, Conrad HK, Grand Ballroom, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, see prestigefairs.hk for a full list of vendors. Mix and mingle art night Art and wine - it kind of goes quite well together, especially after a hard day in the office/organising the kids. So I was delighted to receive an invitation from one of my arty friends up in Sai Kung to a Mix and Mingle Art and Wine Night. The evening has been organised to raise funds for local resident Cary Baumgartner, who is in urgent need of medical care to combat cancer. As well as some fabulous artwork, there will be lucky door prizes, a live art show by Katherine Sparrow and music from local band, Stolen Thunder. It really is an evening not to be missed. 5-9pm, November 12, The Hive, Sai Kung, firstname.lastname@example.org. expat-parent.com 9
book now SELECTED DATES BETWEEN DEC 11 & 18
DEC 1 The Annual Christmas Carol Concert Appeal (pictured above) This annual event has been running for five years in support of the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO). This worthy charity supports the poorest of Hong Kong’s society, many of whom are “cage
dwellers”. This year the event is being held at The Helena May. It is open to all and tickets are $600, which includes free flowing food and drink. Tickets are available from Ticketflap, ticketflap.com/ christmas-carol-concertappeal. More information is also available from facebook.com/ ChristmasCarolConcertAppealHongKong.
The Snow Queen Those talented Hong Kong Players are back this Christmas with another laugh-out-loud pantomime. This year’s truly wicked performance sees the icy princess and her evil trolls strike terror into the local village. Will the villagers triumph over winter and bring back summer? Suitable for all ages, there will be gags a-plenty with the magnificent Dame Gloria leading the charge - oh yes there will! This year the cast will be taking up residence at Kellett School, 7 Lam Hing St, Kowloon Bay. Tickets are available from ticketflap.com/snow-queen.
JAN 5 - FEB 12 KidsFest 2017 (pictured right) The biggest children’s theatre festival returns to Hong Kong,
with productions for all ages. Julia Donaldson will be appearing live on stage during Gruffalos, Ladybirds and Other Beasts; and don’t miss Romeo and Juliet Untold, Stick Man, The Snail and the Whale, Horrible Histories Awful Egyptians and The Best of Barmy Britain. Fun for all the family. Book now (group discount packages are available) from kidsfest.com.hk.
Christmas markets Get a head-start on your holiday shopping.
NOV 19 Chinese International School Fair This year’s theme is "CIS United: Building Community," showcasing the school community’s charitable service work. Highlights include a vintage clothing stall, bake sale, secondhand book sale, plus games, prizes and lots of food. Free entry. 10am-4pm, 1 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point, www.cisfair.com
German Swiss International School Compete in fun and challenging games, snack on a mix of German and Asian delicacies and groove to live music at GSIS’ Christmas Bazaar. The bazaar supports the charitable efforts of the school’s senior students. 10am-4pm. Free entry. Peak campus, 22 Guildford Road, The Peak, mygsis.gsis.edu.hk.com
The Repulse Bay Christmas Fair Live music, children’s activities, decorations, ladies accessories, paintings, handicrafts and much more, Arcade Area, 109 Repulse Bay Road, www.therepulsebay.com. For stallholder enquiries, email marketing@ peninsula.com or call 2292 2883.
NOV 23 Kee Club Annual Holiday Bazaar Shop Hong Kong’s best brands under one glamourous roof. This year's event spans both floors of KEE, with an all day "dim sum" bar and plenty of mulled wine, minced pies and tunes to get you into the holiday spirit. This year’s charity partner is Room to Read. Free admission and open to the public. 11am to 8pm, KEE Club, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central
NOV 6 Jewish Women’s Association Annual Charity Bazaar Shop clothes, homewares, cosmetics, toys and more. Take ID for admission. Free admission for children, $30 for adults. All proceeds go to charity. 10am-5pm. Island School, 20 Borrett Road, Mid-levels, jwa.org.hk
NOV 15 The American Club Local and international highend vendors. Open to members, guests and RSVP. 10am-6pm, 28 Tai Tam Road, Vista Ballroom. Credit cards accepted. For more information, contact email@example.com
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Into the blue The Victoria Recreation Club will be hosting a first-of-its-kind four-man SUP race in Deepwater Bay on November 10. The racing begins at 4pm and spectators are invited to come down to the beach and cheer on the paddlers at the inaugural Red Dragon Race, a 200m course around the bay. Red Paddle Co is providing the 22 foot long Red Dragon SUP boards, which are the first dedicated inflatable team racing paddle boards in Hong Kong. Ovolo Hotels will be feeding and watering the competitors post-race. For more information, see firstname.lastname@example.org.
From a getting the floor polished, repairing a laptop or getting some furniture assembled, to booking a caterer or tracking down a kids craft course, it’s the little things in life that can sometimes cause the most drama. New app HelloToby.com aims to nail those niggles with a one-stop online marketplace for service providers in Hong Kong. So far over 600 service professionals have signed up in 130 service categories. So whether you’re looking to shampoo the dog or redesign your lounge room, a relevant professional could be just a few clicks away. Submit a request; select a pro; connect with them; get the job done. According to Ed Tam, CEO and co-founder of HelloToby, the app was created “to simplify and speed up the process of finding and connecting with skilled local service providers. It also offers an opportunity for small businesses and freelancers to find more full-time or part-time employment opportunities online.” Future plans include InstantBuy, for jobs that need to be done in a hurry, and a Cost Guide to understand what the market rate is for the job in hand.
Congratulations to Sai Kung Pink Ladies who raised a massive $40,350 at their charity “50 Shades of Pink” long lunch last month. This is double the amount raised last year and the organisers would like to extend their gratitude to all who came along and made it such a “fun,
fabulous and memorable” afternoon. The event was kindly sponsored by Winerack, Fossil, Crowne Plaza, Raiz the Bar and Sabai Spa, and the money raised will be donated to Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. Details of the next Pink Ladies event to follow shortly…
Sitting pretty - Sai Kung’s ladies-in-pink raised over $40,000 for breast cancer at their long lunch.
Golden oldies Throughout this month, a number of heritage buildings with a food and beverage service throughout Hong Kong will be open to the public. The Heritage Fiesta was put into action by the Heritage Office of the Development Bureau in a bid to showcase Hong Kong’s rich heritage to the public. “Many historic buildings with a food and beverage service in Hong Kong are wellpreserved. The event is a great opportunity for people to understand and appreciate the histories and architectural styles of these properties,” said a spokesperson for the Heritage Office. Admission to all 25 historic buildings will be free of charge, and some will be offering free guided tours, free snacks or discounts on food and drink. Visitors will also be able to collect special stamps at participating buildings. Heritage properties include The Helena May, St John’s Cathedral, PMQ and The Peak Lookout. For a full list, see heritage.gov.hk. St John’s Cathedral is on this month’s heritage trail.
Take action Hong Kong charity Kids4Kids is hosting a youth forum later this month, designed to encourage children to explore social issues such as poverty, hunger, sustainable cities and gender equality. The not-for-profit charity will be running the event at The Australian International School, Kowloon Tong, and participants will have the chance to work with experienced facilitators to come up with their own community action projects. The best ideas will be brought to life with funding and mentoring support from Kids4Kids through its Ac!on For A Cause initiative. The initiative is open for children aged from 12 to 17 years.
Ac!on For A Cause runs until November 30 and invites kids to pitch ideas for tackling social issues such as the environment, poverty, human rights and education. A panel will then judge entries and the top 20 projects will receive funding and mentoring support. “This project embodies 100% of what we are about - inspiring and empowering kids to take action no matter how big or small the issue; that anyone can make a positive difference,” said Michele Lai, founder of Kids4Kids. See kids4kids.org.hk for more information.
A tale to tell Family and friends is the theme of this year’s Top Story, co-organised by RTHK, EJ Insight and the Hong Kong Economic Journal Education. Submit a story of 1,500-2,000 words and you could win prizes from Pan MacMillan, dining vouchers from the Lan Kwai Fong Group and have your work read on air and 16 expat-parent.com
published on EJ Insight’s webpage and in HKEJ Education. Categories include Junior (12-17 years) and Adult (18+). Entries should be submitted with full name, age and contact details to email@example.com by November 13, or see ejinsight.com/hk-top-story-2016/. Winners will be announced in December.
In brief… ...Moinarchy, a Hong Kong-based science academy for kids, has launched STEAM-focused workshops for birthday parties. Suitable for four to 18 year olds, the workshops are age-appropriate and available in categories including Math & Mensa Genius; Scientist Einstein; Artist Picasso; and Engineer. Each session includes materials, a facilitator and certificates of achievement. They last 60-90 minutes and cost from $175/child. See moinarchy.com for more details. ...Flex Studio and midwifery service, Urban Hatch, will be leading a Prepare Your Body For Labour & Birth workshop. The two-hour session will include advice from Urban Hatch’s Sofie Jacobs on topics such as breathing for birth and baby, using movement to better position your baby for birth, and myths and truths about perineal tears and c-sections. This will be followed with an hour of pregnancy-based pilates exercises. 2.45-4.45pm, Nov 14, Flex Studio Central, flexhk.com.
giveaways WIN HERE! Click the Giveaways tab on our website: www.expat-parent.com
Insight School of Interior Design
$1,000 worth of online learning! Tute.HK can prepare your child for success. They provide premium online tutoring in all subjects with experienced tutors from the best UK universities. What would you like your child to learn online? Tell us the reason and win a free online lesson worth $500! This can be used for any subject. Two winners will be announced on 10 November on tute.hk’s Facebook page. Online lesson must be used by 30 November 2016. www.facebook.com/Tute.hk
Insight School of Interior Design is Hong Kong’s only school dedicated to all things design. They offer a year-long diploma as well as 16 types of short courses for anyone with a passion for design – textiles, history of furniture, lighting and feng shui are just a few. One lucky reader will win the opportunity to attend one day-long course at Insight School. To enter, tell us which short course you’d like to study and why. www.insightschoolhk.com
Deadline: November 9
Deadline: November 21
Originally from Spain, Massada has opened its first spa in Hong Kong. Their Causeway Bay retreat specialises in anti-aging facial treatments, body treatments, professional manis and pedis.
Sleep Naked is Hong Kong’s leading online bed linen supplier, supplying luxury linens throughout the world to many of the world’s leading hotels including W Hotels, The Plaza, Fairmont and Hyatt. Their web site is www.sleepnaked.hk, but one lucky reader will get a bedding set made with 400 thread luxury cotton in their new cross corded colour.
For over 30 years, Massada The Natural Therapy has been using minerals, muds and precious plant extracts collected from the Dead Sea and all around the world, combining the newest biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology to create natural and high efficacy products, offering non-surgical facial solutions for different types of skin.
We’re giving away one Massada Anti-aging Caviar Deluxe Facial Treatment worth $1,680 for a lucky winner. Deadline: November 22
Deadline: November 23
Bilingual Education Bilingual Education aims to give your child a solid bilingual foundation through Mandarin and Cantonese courses taught by native speakers. They also have themed classes for students up to 6 years old, and cognitive classes for those aged 4-12. One lucky winner will win a $2,000 voucher for eight 90-minute one-on-one classes (including interview workshops, Mandarin classes, Cantonese classes, and speech therapist consultations). www.bilingual.com.hk Deadline: November 25
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debate of the month
Babies in Business Happy to see them at the front of the plane; or should they be banished to the back?
Back of the plane! I would find it far too nerve racking and hard to keep them quiet in a business class seat! Kim, Clearwater Bay. “Woohoo! Stick them all in business! I’ve never been able to afford to escape economy, so if all the screaming toddlers are safely up the front, I can enjoy my free newspaper, poor quality wine and tiny economy meal in peace!” Sara, Ho Chung.
Looking forward to CX and other airlines having a kid-free zone - happy to pay that premium! Long overdue. Susan, Repulse Bay. On my last trip from the UK a two year old screamed for about half the flight, in business. A sleepless night wasn’t the end of the world for me, but I did feel sorry for the passengers who had paid $30,000 for a flatbed expecting to sleep! Jo, Tung Chung.
I think it’s age discrimination! You can’t just single out a certain age group and say they cannot sit somewhere. What’s next - old people? Linda, Pok Fu Lam. “Babies have been the least of my problems when flying business class. Loud snorers and parties of drunk people have ruined my peace.” Nicola, Wan Chai.
I will happily take anyone’s baby into business class if the parents would like to buy me a ticket. Ailish, Sai Kung. “I guess if you know your child is horrendous on flights then maybe business class isn’t the place. I do feel for parents struggling with children on a flight though, it’s stressful enough as it is.” Bethan, Tung Chung.
We want to hear from you! Next month: Santa’s coming! Are sacks full of presents the order of the day, or are kids way too over-indulged? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.expat-parent.com 20 expat-parent.com
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Out this month
Night School Lee Child (Transworld Publishers) Jack Reacher fans will be pleased to hear the latest thriller, Night School, hits shelves this month. A prequel set in 1996, the tale takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders. A wired, fiendishly clever adventure that will have cold sweat trickling down your spine.
This Was A Man: The Clifton Chronicles
Rules For Modern Life Sir David Tang (Penguin Books)
Jeffrey Archer (Pan MacMillan)
Sir David delivers a satirical masterclass in The captivating final installment of the Clifton navigating the social niceties of modern life. Do Chronicles, a series of seven novels that has gentlemen ever wear shorts? What do you say topped bestseller lists around the world and to an unwanted gift? Have you ever floundered enhanced Archer’s reputation as a master for conversation at the dinner party from hell? storyteller. This Was A Man opens with a shot Whether you’re unsure of the etiquette of doggy being fired, but who pulled the trigger, and who bags or wondering whether a massage room in lives and who dies? Tragedy engulfs the Clifton your second home would be “de trop”, Sir David family when one of them receives a shocking has the answer to all of your social anxieties - and diagnosis that will throw all of their lives into much more besides. turmoil. All books available from Bookazine, bookazine.com.hk
War stories Lest we forget. Life in Stanley gaol is the subject of Hong Konger Siobhan Daiko’s novel, The Orchid Tree (Createspace). Daiko, whose own grandparents found themselves interned when war broke out, follows the fortunes of a fictional British family whose luxurious lifestyle is destroyed overnight when the Japanese invade. Real events and anecdotes have been woven into the text. Daiko herself attended Kowloon Junior School and King George V secondary until moving to the UK in 1981. She now lives and writes in northern Italy. Wake (Black Swan) by novelist Anna Hope transports us back to the aftermath of the first world war. It’s 1920 and the British nation is struggling to come to terms with the atrocities of the Great War. Hope takes up the tale of three women whose lives are linked by a wartime secret - Hettie, whose wounded brother won’t speak; Evelyn, who is grieving for her lost 22 expat-parent.com
lover; and Ada, who has never received official notification of her son’s death and lives in the hope that he will eventually come home. Just like the nation as a whole, can they ever move on? A contemporary account of life during the second world war from the viewpoint of a middle-aged woman living in northern England is the unlikely subject of Nella Last’s War: The
Second World War Diaries of Housewife 49 (Profile Books). Writing as part of the UK’s (still on-going) national life writing project, the Mass Observation Project, Last wrote every day from 1939 when war was declared, during which time she turned 50, saw her children leave home and came to review her life and marriage. A unique and fascinating female perspective on war. All books available from bookdepository.com
book review Sara Young runs Bookwise, an online bookstore for Hong Kong kids
Bookwise is a family business catering for children from babies to 11 years. I took on the business from a friend who was returning to the UK. Since then we have changed the name and expanded to cater for older children. We also source books for school and kindergarten libraries. I hand-select all the books myself. From
picture books for babies, activity books, sticker books, early readers, fiction and non-fiction, I try to cover all bases. We have all the favourites, like Julia Donaldson, Peppa Pig, the Tom Gates’ series and the Dork Diaries. I’m also trying to expand our non-fiction selection. We currently have encyclopaedias, cook books, science books and the Usborne range. We also stock Christmas annuals and are just waiting for the 2017 publications to come in. My own children love Roald Dahl. They love books with great illustrations We have just finished George’s Marvellous Medicine together which they found hysterical, especially when the grandmother grows through the ceiling. Sophie (aged 8) also enjoys Tom Gates’ books and Jessica (5) likes Topsy & Tim. I am passionate about helping children develop a love of reading. Introducing books at an early age stimulates their imaginations, curiosity and play and is an opportunity to bond with your child. Reading helps
children with writing, spelling and developing their vocabulary. It fills a child’s mind with knowledge and inspiration. When I was young I loved Enid Blyton, particularly the Malory Towers series following the adventures of a group of girls at an English boarding school. They were written in the late 1940s but are just as enjoyable today. Right now I’m reading the hilarious Mr Stink by the wonderful David Walliams - customers are always asking for recommendation so I like to read my stock. Walliams has a brilliant cast of characters; my favourite is Raj, the greatest shopkeeper ever. This autumn we have loads of new science books and coding books for kids aged five and up. New fiction releases include Diary of a Wimpy Kid “Double Down” by Jeff Kinney, Fantastic Beasts by J K Rowling and the 75th Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. There’s lots to look forward to. Bookwise is at bookwise.com.hk or facebook.com/bookwisehk - “like” the page to receive daily special offers and updates.
My Hong Kong- the yachtie As Hong Kong’s Around The Island Race approaches, veteran competitor Oliver Cully tells Carolynne Dear about his love of sailing - and teaching his two-year-old son the ropes.
arrived in Hong Kong eleven years ago, and currently live with my wife, Christina, and two year old son, Arthur, in Wong Chuk Hang. Until recently we were in Happy Valley and before that, Mid-Levels. I’ve been sailing since I was five years old, but Christina was only introduced to the sport relatively recently. We’d been looking for a hobby we could enjoy together after Hong Kong’s party scene started wearing a bit thin. We weren’t sure Christina would enjoy sailing as on the face of it she wasn’t very sporty. However, we were totally wrong and she took to it like a duck to water. Seven years later, she is now a very competent sailor and has even taken part in two Etchells Worlds (Etchells is the most competitively raced class of boat in Hong Kong). As for Arthur, he sailed for the first time at about two months old, and I think he participated in his first race at four months. We
used to put him in his car seat down below while we were sailing, the seat tied to the locker to stop him slipping around. He’d happily sleep most of the race. Now that he’s older it’s a little more difficult. He wants to run around, refuses to wear his sun hat and he gets hot in his life jacket in the summer.
Scallywag. We’re RHKYC members and race and cruise from their club in Causeway Bay. We typically sail our boat with five crew, which means it’s very sociable and a lot of fun. We don’t get out on the water as often as we used to pre-Arthur, but we still manage half a day three weekends out of four. Mostly we sail over to Lamma or Po Toi for seafood lunches.
When he’s a bit older, we’ll start taking him dinghy sailing at Middle Island where the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) runs kids’ sail training. There are also several sailing schools around Hong Kong, including some Government run ones which are easy to access. You don’t need to own any gear – you can just turn up and the school will take care of everything else. It’s best to teach your kids how to swim first though because even though they’ll wear a life jacket to keep them safe, it’ll give them more confidence.
I’ve raced in the Around The Island event about eight times now, and all but once on Scallywag. Our best finishing position was thirteenth out of nearly 200 boats. Many yachts turn up to take part as their one race of the year which is great. But for us, because we’re out most weekends, there’s no real need to train. It’s an easy route, you just follow the Island around and read the instructions so you start at the right time and know the rules for avoiding other boats.
We sail most weekends on our 23 foot sailboat, a Ruffian which we’ve named
I love the social side of sailing, and the competition of racing. But I also just enjoy being
People out on the water with only the wind and the sea in your thoughts - it clears the mind. When you sail, Hong Kong also significantly increases in size. There are so many places you can reach and enjoy by boat. Sai Kung is hard to beat for clean water and lovely green scenery. And although Victoria Harbour may not be the cleanest spot and the wind can be rather light and patchy, for pure convenience (for us) and excitement it’s a great place to sail. Outside of Hong Kong, I think sailing between Taiwan and Japan via Okinawa would be fun, and Burma also appeals. Christina recently did her second World Competition in Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the UK, and a few months back I enjoyed sailing with my brother in Italy. Once you get into the sailing community, options open up all over the place. If you put yourself out there then you’ll always get invitations to join one boat or another either for cruising or for race events. I have so many great sailing memories. One of the best was becoming Class Champions in the Ruffian Class a few years ago, another was
taking the helm of a 112 foot (34m) classic yacht called Merrymaid in the ABC Classic Yacht Rally a few years ago. I’ve competed in a couple of races from Hong Kong to the Philippines on bigger boats, which takes about three days. As a family we’ve also done some sailing around Asia - we took part in a stunning five day event in Phuket Bay, Thailand, when Christina was four months pregnant. Unfortunately rubbish in Hong Kong’s waterways is an issue. Every few minutes you’ll see something man made floating on or just below the surface. Hong Kong’s ban on commercial fish trawling was a brave step in the right direction to help our local environment, but rubbish ending up in the sea is an equally big problem. I once watched a waiter working at a seafood restaurant throw an empty wine bottle straight into the sea – when I challenged him he said “glass can’t be recycled in Hong Kong”. Unbelievable. Sailors themselves also need to wake up, smokers especially. It’s too frequent that I see cigarette butts being flicked straight into the sea. It makes me so angry.
If you want to get into sailing, knowing someone who already sails can be a great starting point. If you are coming into it completely new, you can do a sailing course at Middle Island, or one of the various sailing schools around Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Sailing Federation (www.sailing.org.hk) lists 14 recognised teaching centres around Hong Kong. Another option is to simply show up at a yacht club or sailing club and ask about the sailing programmes, or just turn up when you know events are taking place, because boats are often short of crew. If you ask around, you’ll be surprised how well this can work. I’ve met dozens of sailors in Hong Kong who got into it by just showing up and joining a boat in need of help.
Around the Island Race is Hong Kong’s biggest sailing competition and is organised by the RHKYC. Staggered starts begin from 8.30am in Victoria Harbour on 27 November, and boats race in a clockwise direction around Hong Kong Island. See rhkyc.org.hk for more information. Oliver Cully also runs a sailing website, Asia at Sea - asiaatsea.com.
THE big interview
It’s not just for Americans - AWA members wave their flags.
Hong Kong’s slice of American pie
As the American Women’s Association celebrates its 60th birthday, Carolynne Dear catches up with current president, Marcy LaRont.
t’s diamonds all the way for the American Women’s Association (AWA) this year, as they celebrate 60 years in the territory. Tipped off by a friend-in-theknow, I recently checked out one of the Association’s historical talks at its Sheung Wan offices. Having only ever had contact with the Association via an annual 26 expat-parent.com
shopping blitz at the Christmas Bazaar, I was humbled to discover the AWA is by no means “just for Americans” and the talk Hong Kong’s opium history - was wellworth the hot walk from my office along Queens Road. So I’m catching up with its current president, the enormously likeable Marcy LaRont, over coffee and pastries to find
out a bit more about the AWA and its Hong Kong story. “The Association came about in the ‘50s purely and simply because of the rising number of Americans arriving in the territory,” she explains succinctly to my opening line of questioning. As a Brit, I am well-versed about my own country’s history in Hong Kong, as
is presumably the rest of the territory. But the history behind the American slice of the Hong Kong colonial pie I confess to knowing very little about. With rising tensions in the region (namely Korea and Vietnam) American servicemen were suddenly being stationed in Hong Kong, which was being used as a gateway to the rest of Asia. The growth in the manufacturing industry also saw many businessmen swooping in. “The wives, pure and simple, were trailing spouses,” says LaRont, matter of factly. “There were no husband-hunters, no single women looking for work, as with the Brits. They were wives, and one of the early aims of the Association was to provide them with a “soft landing” in Asia.” She points out that many of these women would never have expected to venture outside of their state before, let alone set up home on a new continent in distant Asia.
The 1950s wives were, without exception, trailing spouses. Our role was to provide them with a “soft landing” in Asia.
Unfortunately historical records documenting the beginnings of the Association are so patchy that even the names of the women who first set it up have proved untraceable. As for images, forget it. “Believe me when I say nobody is more upset than I am that I can’t provide some nice sepia photographs documenting the early days of the AWA,” laments LaRont. “We have asked past members, searched high and low, but there is nothing at all until more recent years.” The AWA is sadly not the first Hong Kong club or association I have come across with limited or non-existent early records. Many precious documents disappeared during the war, others have been obliterated by flooding, typhoons or Hong Kong’s destructive humidity in poor storage areas.
The pre-tunnel Vehicular Ferry sevice from Central, circa 1950.
Photo courtesy of www.gwulo.com
THE big interview
Legal aliens New Yorker Geoff Emerson recalls his early days in Hong Kong. “I came to Hong Kong from New York in July 1964, in my mid-twenties, on a two year contract to teach at St Paul’s College on Bonham Road. I have now been here over 50 years. Never having lived out of America until coming to Hong Kong, of course it was quite a shock… Fortunately I had an American friend living here… so I had a place to live and help getting adjusted to Hong Kong’s wicked summer heat. At that time air conditioning was not everywhere like it is today. One of my very early memories is of going to Causeway Bay to shop at Asia “supermarket”, and suddenly realising I was the only non-Chinese on the crowded streets. I say supermarket, but it was nothing like the supermarkets of today. I would go into the crowded, seemingly unorganised store and sit on a high stool with my list. A very polite clerk - “Good morning sir, what would you like today?” - would come and take my order. Then he would run around the shop and find the merchandise, bring it to me and list it item by item. I paid cash. The groceries would be delivered later that day.
“At least today’s tech-savvy generation means we won’t be encountering the same problems in another 50 years,” she smiles wryly. And of course, I counter, maybe those ladies had no idea the AWA would last for so long? “It has always strived and I think succeeded in achieving that “soft landing” over the decades,” agrees LaRont. “I really believe we have been an important starting point for a lot of women who have suddenly found themselves in unfamiliar territory. We have also worked hard to adapt to changing times. Of course these days we are open to all nationalities, not just Americans. And to men as well - there has definitely been
Life in Hong Kong was certainly different then. I was lucky to have a car soon after I arrived, at any time of day I could drive down to Central, park free in front of Hong Kong Bank, where Statue Square is today, and run into the bank or do other errands. Eventually I gave up the car because by the late 1970s, the roads became congested and driving became expensive and often unpleasant. In the 1960s, there were no tunnels from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and if driving, we simply planned our time to include the vehicular ferry crossing. I recall how nice it was to meet visitors at Kai Tak airport, drive onto the ferry, get outcaption and stand at the front of the ferry and watch the visitors’ reactions of awe and delight as Hong Kong Island opened up in front of us. A pleasure soon lost once the first cross-harbour tunnel opened.” Emerson is author of HK Internment, 19421945, available from Hong Kong University Press, hkupress.org and amazon.com. For more information, see his website at gcemerson.com.
a rise in the number of trailing husbands in recent years,” she adds. “We are also looking at junior membership possibilities.” Another interesting observation which is rather telling of where Hong Kong stands today, is that not only is membership down (American expat numbers have decreased 8% year on year according to the Department of Immigration, not to mention 10% fewer Brits and 5% fewer Australians) but there are fewer and fewer women around in the daytime. “In these financially challenging times we’ve found more and more women are following their husbands into some form of paid work,” says LaRont. The AWA was initiated in 1956 by three philanthropic American ladies (identities expat-parent.com 27
THE big interview frustratingly unknown), one of whom was involved with the Project for the Blind; one with The Workshop (later renamed The Children’s Welfare Committee, which provided vocational education for local and refugee children); and one with The Servicemen’s Guides Volunteers, which was dedicated to providing support for American servicemen on leave in Hong Kong. The three groups were meshed together to form the AWA and all three charitable areas are still supported by the Association today. At the time of the AWA’s inception, Hong Kong was undergoing huge change due to the waves of migrants flowing
The AWA’s birth year also witnessed one of the first full-scale riots in the territory. By 1956 Hong Kong had changed almost beyond recognition. into the territory from mainland China following the resumption of the nationalistcommunist civil war. In the early 1950s, refugees were arriving across the border at a rate of 100,000 a month. Between 1945 and 1951, the population exploded from 600,000 to 2.1 million. The British government was determined to keep Hong Kong a capitalist outpost within a sphere of communism, and Hong Kong was a valuable trade centre at the mouth of China - with a seemingly never-ending source of cheap labour. Hong Kong’s economic miracle had begun. However, the AWA’s birth year also witnessed one of the first full-scale riots in the territory, a result of low wages, long working hours and overcrowded conditions. Hong Kong had changed almost beyond recognition, making the Association’s charitable contributions all the more important. A sign of the times, improving family planning support for Hong Kong women, the challenges of starting a school for expat children, and the conflict in Vietnam were all recorded as topics of discussion at the AWA monthly luncheons of the era. 28 expat-parent.com
Volunteers and family members stuffing food bags for the hungry with Sunshine Action.
Violent riots - often anti-colonial continued into the 1960s. But even when things calmed down in later decades, the Association continued with its charitable works. In the 1960s, it was donating monies raised to Hong Kong University for scholarships, to Sandy Bay orthopaedic hospital, and to schools for the deaf and for the blind. In 1968, $22,000 was donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Hong Kong. Much of the funds raised was also donated to vocational training for Chinese immigrants - today the AWA continues to donate scholarship funds to the Vocational Training Council. The Ebenezer School for the Blind and the Hong Kong Society for the Blind are also still recipients of charitable grant money. And American servicemen can also still expect a warm welcome thanks to the Association - “these days they don’t need billeting, but we do ask local American
families to volunteer a few hours of their weekend to maybe take them on a hike or out for a meal and generally make them feel welcome,” explains LaRont. The AWA also maintains its social status, with a rich programme of cultural and educational pursuits. It has Mahjong, Bridge and golfing groups, as well as a Dragon Boat team, and there are regular talks, lunches and historical tours, along with overseas trips. They’re a friendly bunch, and it remains a great place to enjoy that “soft landing” into Hong Kong society. “We’re still here and still very proud to be so. Hong Kong has always embraced us and we are fully committed to helping Hong Kong become a better place for those that need help,” says LaRont. Membership is open to all nationalities and enquiries are warmly welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Great escapes Visitors in town? Carolynne Dear rounds up the best days out this autumn.
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strike a pose
Sun salutations on Ham Tin Wan, Sai Kung Country Park East.
It’s 8.30 in the morning and I’m standing at a bus stop in Sai Kung’s Country Park with a small herd of cows. A novel way to start the morning, and it certainly makes a change from the school run. I’m waiting for the number 94 bus (I’m not sure about Daisy and her mates) which will whisk me through the park to Wong Shek pier. The only cars permitted into the park belong to residents with permits, but the huge car park by the gates (almost empty on a weekday) make it easy to access the restricted area via public transport. Once at the pier, a boat should be waiting to speed me across Long Harbour to Chek Keng pier and the beginning of my hike. I have joined a yoga and hike expedition with the lovely Barbarah Dudman of Yuti yoga studio in Yau Ma Tei, who has been taking yoga “out of the studio” for the last couple of years. We have been blessed with a gorgeous Hong Kong autumn day - all blue skies, sunshine and low humidity - and the water is positively sparkling. My spirits rise even further than they did first thing this morning when I woke up and remembered I had been relieved of my school run duties for the day. Traffic clogged Kowloon Tong, or the wilds of Sai Kung Country Park East? No, don’t even begin to answer that one. The rest of the group consists of a gaggle of fellow expat mums and a couple of tourists who have ventured away from the malls of TST. I never tire of the “no, it’s not all a concrete jungle” conversation with astonished visitors when they first stumble across Hong Kong’s stunning backyard. The boat trip cuts off a good chunk of quite a lengthy hike to Ham Tin, in fact the whole of stage 1 of the MacLehose, and picks up part-way through stage 2 at the pier. This leaves us with a pleasant hour or so of reasonably easy walking which warms us up nicely for the yoga session ahead. Dudman describes this hike as requiring “a level of fitness” as there are expat-parent.com 31
Fe at ur e uphill sections. An accomplished hiker herself, she knows these trails like the back of her hand and is quick to point out a land slippage here (“it must have happened during rain earlier this week, it wasn’t there last week”), a good viewing point there, and a host of other interesting bits and pieces. She tells us about the 100km hiking event in Nepal that’s she’s training for and about the YogaB classes she runs out of Yuti. It’s a really pleasant and relaxing way to spend a morning. Finally we reach our destination, Ham Tin (“salty field bay” in Chinese) village. Ham Tin Wan is part of the larger Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay), a three kilometre bay on the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula. The four pristine beaches in the bay include Sai Wan (West Bay); Tai Wan (Big Bay); Tung Wan (East Bay) and Ham Tin Wan. They are generally agreed to be the most beautiful stretches of sand in the territory. As we wind our way through tiny Ham Tin village, we turn a corner and suddenly Ham Tin beach is there before us in all its glory. It is utterly deserted as the sparkling water gently laps the caramel sands. Dudman leads us over a small stream and we lay down towels and begin our Hatha yoga session, in the sunshine and to the sound of the waves. It’s a real “life is good” kind of moment. After an hour of sun salutations, downward dogs and child’s poses, we amble our way back up the beach to the local dai pai dong where a vegetarian lunch is ready and waiting. A couple of brave souls venture into the water for a dip (the sun may be out but the water is a bit on the nippy side for me) while the rest of us tuck into spring rolls, noodles and fried rice. The walk back to the pier runs steeply uphill, then flattens and descends back to water level. Lunch is well and truly digested by the time we’re back in the boat. Then it’s back to Wong Shek pier and the number 94, and back to the park gates and reality. Dudman has added another hike to her “Taking It Out Of The Studio” adventures, a less challenging option to Tap Mun (Grass Island) with guided meditation and a vegetarian lunch at the local dai pai dong. Contact email@example.com or call 6076 7134. All classes and hikes resume this month after a hot weather break. 32 expat-parent.com
We made it! Stopping for a drink and a snap in Ham Tin village (top); crossing to the beach for the yoga class (below).
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Check out the big boys on HK Yachting’s Container Port Tour.
We all love a good junk - sunshine, banana boats, free-flowing food and drinks. But now that Hong Kong’s thermostat is on a downward curve, why not grab the opportunity to see Hong Kong from the water from a different angle? Hong Kong Yachting’s Container Port Tour comes highly recommended for transportobsessed small people (and big ones too for that matter). You hop on at Central Pier 10 and cruise through Victoria Harbour to where the big boat action happens, at Hong Kong’s
container port, or Kwai Tsing Port as it is officially named. Watch tiny tugs pull massive ships, and all manner of other marine vessels churn up the waters of what is the world’s sixth busiest port (we’ve been pipped to the post by Shanghai, Singapore, Shenzhen, NingboZhoushan and Qingdao). There are nine container terminals dealing with goodness knows how many containers of furniture, baked beans and other assorted imported goods. A marine expert on-board talks you
through the action as you enjoy nibbles and a drink. Kids will be awed by the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with these hulking great boats. Then it’s over to Park Island and a chance to get off and stretch your legs before enjoying a barbecue lunch. The boat returns to Central Ferry Piers in the afternoon. The Container Port Tour will be running on November 6 and 20, and December 4 and 18. Bookings can be made at hongkongyachting.com.
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With great trepidation - I wasn’t too sure what I’d let myself in for - I found myself standing on a street corner in Jordan one autumn evening with our visiting Granny and Grandpa, my husband, and three of my children, waiting for our guide. We’d booked onto an urban food tour through the lanes of Kowloon, the brochure promising a smorgasbord of local offerings - I’m no stranger to the area and have enjoyed many a raucous evening with friends, a plastic seat, a Tsing Tao, a bowl of fried rice and a roll of toilet paper slammed unceremoniously down on the middle of the table in place of serviettes; butthe allusions to a “surprise stop” had me slightly on edge However, I wanted to learn a bit more about local fare and with family in town, it seemed like a fun way to introduce them to a bit of Cantonese culture. First stop was Wong Chi Ka for a taste of Shanghai. Our guide explained that following the victory of communism in China in 1949, the ensuing flood of refugees into Hong Kong included a large proportion from the Yangtze River Delta, and so Shanghai cuisine arrived in the territory. We enjoyed xiao long bao - the chef explained how the delicious drop of soup is magically infused into the bun along with the pork, but I won’t give the game away. We also tried drunken chicken, chicken vermicelli with peanut sauce and turnip fritters. I’m not a big fan of bitter turnip, but it was lovely to see the kids deftly operating their chopsticks and slurping up their food with gusto. Granny was most impressed and - a stickler for using the right cutlery at the right time - asked the guide how “one should approach chopsticks”. “I don’t know,” came the wonderfully throwaway response. “They’re just sort of shoved into your hands as a toddler and you just have to work it out.” We then walked around the block to the renowned Mak Man Kee noodle shop. It’s been running for over 40 years and is these days world renowned (it has it’s own Facebook page and appears on Trip Advisor) for its noodles. The shop was packed when we arrived and we waited patiently in line until a couple of tables came free. It’s very back to basics, with punters shoved cheek to jowl noisily slurping their wanton soups. 34 expat-parent.com
Hard at work at Mak Man Kee noodle shop, Jordan.
We watched the noodles being made behind the counter (the secret is apparently to use duck eggs rather than chicken eggs) and enjoyed a bowl of soup and some braised pig’s trotter, for which Mak is also famous. The wantons were tiny - our guide explained that traditionally they should be small enough to fit on a teaspoon - and again the kids tucked in with gusto. Granny was also starting to hit her stride now and ordered extra sweet and sour pork.
It was lovely to see the kids slurping up their noodles with gusto. We wandered through the markets and stopped outside a traditional herbal teashop. This was our “surprise” stop and it turned out to be for turtle soup. One local was tucking in so enthusiastically he barely drew breath between mouthfuls. My husband tried a spoonful but declared it inedible. Personally I couldn’t bring
myself to eat it for more ethically-based reasons - I don’t think those poor turtles need any more harassment than they’re already getting. So, not a huge success, but we were pretty full by then anyway. We wandered further into the markets, our guide explaining that the delapidation of many of the buildings was caused by slipshod builders using saltwater rather than fresh water in the concrete. I like to refer to it as a “shabby chic” look. Our last stop was a packed dai pai dong, Hing Kee. We had to sit on plastic stools on the busy road outside waiting in line, which was a huge novelty for our guests. Finally a table became free and we enjoyed the restaurant’s speciality claypot rice with chicken and Chinese sausage. My husband ordered the snake soup (which he rather disappointingly described as tasting like chicken), and a well deserved beer. As an eating experience, I think the China Club the following evening went down rather better with our guests, but this is was an unusual adventure that we will no doubt be talking about for years to come. Urban Delight, urbandelight.hk, 2214 0011.
Creating a Dynamic envirOnment for play, inquiry and learning. Hong Kong Academy Early Childhood Open Houses are designed for parents of children ages 3-5 years old. Parents have the opportunity to tour HKA facilities, hear from our Admissions Team and Primary School Principal, and find out more about the learning curriculum at HKA.
17th nov 9:30am to 11:00am 8th Dec 9:30am to 11:00am Hope to see you there! Spaces are limited, and only registered participants may attend. Early Childhood Open Houses are intended for parents and guardians only. To register, visit hkacademy.edu.hk/visitus
HKA is an IB World School offering a rigorous international education for children ages 3 to 18. Come visit us in Sai Kung to learn more about our dynamic learning community. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact our admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org. learning, growing, understanding
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With Remembrance Day fast approaching, a tour delving into Hong Kong’s war past seemed like an appropriate way to be spending a Wednesday morning. I am ashamed to admit to a very patchy knowledge of Hong Kong’s war years, based mainly on my reading of fictional novel The Piano Teacher, set on war-torn Hong Kong Island. And so I found myself with a mixed group or visiting relatives, tourists and expats in Statue Square, waiting to meet our guide for the morning. Standing beside the Cenotaph, our enthusiastic guide, Jess, talked us through the bloody advance of the Japanese, across the infamous Gin Drinkers’ line in the New Territories and on into Kowloon, culminating with the grisly Battle of Hong Kong for HK Island. Statue Square itself was built entirely on land reclaimed at the end of the nineteenth century. It takes its name from the statues that used to stand there, mainly of British royalty. Unfortunately under Japanese occupation they were removed and taken to Japan to be melted down for the war effort. After peace was declared, the statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, chief manager of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, was the only statute to be brought back to the square. Queen Victoria now stands in Victoria Park and the bronze of George V was lost during the war and never replaced. The Cenotaph is a replica of the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall, and was unveiled on Empire Day (May 23) in 1923 by governor of the day, Sir Reginald Stubbs.
The Statue Square statues were removed during the war - only banker Sir Thomas Jackson returned. After a good snoop around and a few photos, we moved on to the HSBC building that runs along one side of the square, and outside 36 expat-parent.com
Stitt and Stephen the lions have been guarding the HSBC building since 1935.
of which lie two bronze lions that have been guarding the bank since 1935. Fondly referred to as Stephen and Stitt, they were taken away by the Japanese - along with all the other statues - but, the story goes, they were saved by an American serviceman in Japan who stumbled across them and realised where they had come from. These days, Stitt appears on Hong Kong’s paper bills and it is considered good luck to give their paws a little stroke if you happen to be passing. We then walked up to St John’s Anglican Cathedral on Garden Road. As the Battle for Hong Kong raged outside, the cathedral bravely continued with its Christmas Day service in 1941. After the surrender on Boxing Day, it was used by the Japanese as a recreation hall. Private ladies club The Helena May just across the road was completely looted, and it is believed part of the club was used as a stables.
We catch the Star Ferry across the harbour, and step briefly into the glamourous confines of The Peninsula Hotel. This stunning 1920s building was swiftly requisitioned by the Japanese as their HQ for the duration of the war, and it was here that the Governor General, Sir Mark Aitchison Young, performed the onerous task of signing the surrender papers on Boxing Day, 1941. The tour was an insightful but sobering morning and we had only really scratched the surface of this truly horrific period in Hong Kong’s history. But I did feel I had at least begun to peel back another layer of this fascinating city. The tour was led by Hello Hong Kong (hellohongkong.com.hk), who run a range of historical and foodie tours across the territory. This year’s Remembrance Day Ceremony will be held at the Cenotaph, Statue Square, 11am, on Sunday November 13.
Why Leading Schools Deliver Individualized Learning Plans Discover how Stamford American School ensures every child achieves more than they believe they can
Every child is an individual. That statement can be especially true in the context of learning, where many children and parents would prefer an education option in which learning is experienced at a personal pace. In good news for parents in Hong Kong, one such education option is opening in our city in September 2017 - Stamford American School. Parents may recognise the school from its highly successful sister campus, Stamford American International School in Singapore, which boasts an impressive statistic for graduates. 90% of Stamford graduates from their SIngapore campus were accepted to their first choice universities and colleges - a very notable achievement! What does the school credit for its remarkable academic prowess? They credit a rigorous curriculum and a very unique program of standardised testing which results in teachers personalising each student’s educational path. Stamford offers a curriculum based on the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) and Common Core Plus Standards, growing to a choice of over 40 International Baccalaureate Diploma Program courses in Grades 11 and 12. This curriculum combination means students have the choice to graduate with either the IB Diploma or an American high
school diploma, or both. Stamford American School’s dual certification gives students a wider choice of university application options and greater competitive advantage. The school takes a significant departure from the traditional classroom structure of a one-size-fits-all model, thanks to Stamford’s individualized learning plans generated by using MAP® assessement results. From age five, all Stamford students undergo standardized Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) assessments in Reading, Math and Science twice a year. These results are assessed and benchmarked against U.S. and International norms, allowing teachers to craft individualized learning plans based on each student’s instructional level. The MAP® testing approach facilitates a better understanding of a child’s continuum of learning and allows parents to see the projected growth of their child in each subject area. The school’s highly experienced teachers use this data to deliver learning plans specific to each child’s strengths and weaknesses. While this standardized assessment is an incredible resource for teachers and parents, it’s important to note such testing is not for comparative purposes nor to enforce certain standards are met. The assessments are used to gather data on students so teachers can
work to improve learning and literacy. This powerful approach to student-centric planning allows students of Stamford American School to achieve more than they believe they can! Supporting student’s social development is also key to a student’s academic success. The relationship between happiness and academic success is well understood at Stamford. The school runs a highly successful Social Program based on the award-winning Second Step methodology, which promotes skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and conflict management. The school is also proactively combating social issues such as bullying as Second Step works to improve behaviour, positivity and academic performance. This structured holistic learning program has proven to improve prosocial skills and behaviour, leading to a clear gain in academic achievement. For parents interested to learn more about Stamford and enrolments please contact Website: www.sais.hk Email: email@example.com, Tel: +852 2500 8688 Address: Stamford American School Admissions Office, Two Exchange Square, Level 40, Suites 4005-4007, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong
" I'm an
My husband didn’t know. He travels a lot and is a normal drinker. I looked like I had my shit together but I didn’t.
expat mum and an
From long lunches to AA - one woman tells her tale.
empty. My life was unravelling and I didn’t understand why. Alcoholics Anonymous saved me.
I came to Hong Kong as a trailing spouse. I’d had a great career, but when my husband got a job in Hong Kong I quit and came with him, and we started to raise a family. My life seemed idyllic: Big house, domestic helpers, driver, long lunches with other mums, afternoons at the pool. But, without a career to define who I was, I was struggling.
No one knew I was alcoholic. I didn’t know I was an alcoholic. My drinking wasn’t out of control. But it got very, very frequent. I gravitated towards other women who were like me. It was civilized. We didn’t go to Lan Kwai Fong. It was more afternoons in private clubs nice wines, the long lunch scene.
I needed a drink to be social. But drinking doesn’t solve insecurity. It allows you to avoid dealing with it. My anxiety got worse. I stopped feeling good. I just felt sick. But I still didn’t know I had a problem...
I thought I can’t possibly be an alcoholic. I had stopped drinking for a year when I was pregnant. And I occasionally gave up for a few days at a time.
It was like someone pulling a string really, really slowly. My life was starting to unravel. I wasn’t the person I used to be. I found it hard to make decisions.
Get to a meeting…
" alcoholic rom the outside, it looked like I had it all. But inside I was
The biggest thing is the loneliness.
Drinking is so easy in Hong Kong. You have a driver, you have Uber, to get you home. You have helpers to get the kids off to school in the morning. At no time are your children being neglected while you drink alcohol. In the evenings, I’d drink more either at home or at a dinner party.
I never thought I was an alcoholic. There was always someone else in the group who drank more than me. We used to laugh about our drinking. I never worried.
The pain began when my son started primary school. Several friends had left for new posts abroad and I started to feel more and more anxiety. I hated going to my son’s school. He would be playing a sport after school and I hated being there. I was struggling to get through the day. Waiting for 5pm.
I used to start drinking at 5pm. If I was drinking on my own I would last four hours. 5pm would take me through to 9pm.
Hong Kong AA has over 40 English-language meetings each week. If you have a desire to stop drinking you are welcome at all meetings. Those unsure if they are alcoholic or wishing to find out more on behalf of a friend or family member, should visit an open meeting. Here’s the two most central locations.
Mid-levels 12 Borrett Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong Island. Getting there: Go to Central or Admiralty MTR and then take a 10 minute taxi ride up the hill to Borrett Road (in Cantonese Bollo Dough.) Top tip: Meetings are held every night at 6.30pm. Monday 6.30pm is a “beginner’s meeting” - ideal for non-alcoholics interested in learning more about the programme for themselves or someone else. Get there a few minutes early and say hello to the meeting secretary. And don’t worry - everyone was nervous attending their first meeting.
Central St Joseph’s Church Room B, 37 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong Island. Getting there: 10 minutes walk from Central/ Admiralty MTR stations – just a little further up the hill, past The Peak tram and on the opposite side of the road to the US Consulate. The meeting room is at the rear of the church. Background: Daily hour long meetings, Monday to Friday, at 7.45am and 1pm. Top tip: There is a beginner’s meeting each Monday at 7.45am, open to those wishing to just learn more about recovery. (Contact Matt 9105 9202). A “Women Only” meeting is held every Monday at 1pm to 2pm for women who want to stop drinking. There are also regular meetings in Sai Ying Pun, Wan Chai, Yuen Long, Stanley, Discovery Bay, Tung Chung, and Lamma Island. An LGBT meeting is held at Borrett Road, 11.30am Saturday morning.
When do you tip from being “fun” to being an alcoholic?
I procrastinated. Lost confidence. Became more self conscious. I was unravelling. The ability to experience joy and happiness was leaving me.
There was no disaster moment. It was the small subtle things. The number of hours in the day when I was effective - when I was not drunk or hungover - got shorter. I started to miss important events. Let my children down. There were episodes. For example, my birthday. I was smashed. I turned up early. Got into a bottle. Had a row with my husband. I was the drunk that I hated to see when I was young. I was slowly losing respect for myself. I contemplated suicide. I sat there in the shower. I wanted to end it all and I didn’t know how to escape the downward spiral. And I still didn’t know it was the drinking.
lunch meeting at St Joseph’s. I got there early and was ready to run out when a woman who was setting out the chairs said hello and welcomed me. She explained anonymity was at the forefront of Alcoholics Anonymous. I could join the meeting without having to worry about anyone knowing
Sitting in that meeting was a revelation. The women told me what it was like for them. They honestly told me. I identified with their stories. It was the first time in my life that I was with a group that felt the same way I did.
I’ve never seen anyone drink themselves smart, happy or successful.
My doctor told me to quit drinking for 30 days. I changed doctor. I had looked at the AA website (www.aa-hk.org) a few times. I had called the number a few times. But I did not think I was an alcoholic. Finally I thought, maybe I can just go and take a look. Maybe they could teach me to control my drinking.
The first time I went to AA I was so nervous. I went to the Monday women’s
I had expected a bunch of hopeless drunks. But these women were successful, high achievers. And they were happy and connected to the world. I saw everything I wanted to be in these women. I wanted what they had.
I was really cynical. I expected that I would have to give some sort of commitment
or contract. But it wasn’t like that at all. It was just “don’t drink today”. They all gave me their phone numbers. I instantly had a support network of women around me.
Alcoholism is a disease. Once I knew that I could begin to heal.
The people in AA are incredible. They have turned their lives around. I couldn’t talk to a counsellor about my problems. But these women understood me. It’s an incredibly supportive group of people.
So today, the outside is still the same. But inside, everything is different. It happened slowly. I slowly got to build the life I want. My relationship with my husband and family is great. I do so much more. My days are really full now. I feel useful. I feel awake. I feel alive. I’m growing again. I respect myself again.
I sponsor women. Women selflessly showed me their program of recovery. Now, when a woman comes into the room I can show her how I got sober. And I do that through sponsoring. If you are concerned you may have a drinking problem or wish to learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous, call Hong Kong AA’s hotline on 9073 6922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
School news New campus for Nord Anglia Nord Anglia Education has announced it will be opening a second campus for Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) Hong Kong. The new venue will be situated near Aberdeen on the south of Hong Kong Island and is expected to open in August 2017, with a capacity for approximately 520 places, subject to regulatory approvals. Nord Anglia Education will be investing approximately US$11 million in the new project, which will cater for students from kindergarten to Year 3 (ages two-eight years). The additional capacity will allow NAIS
Hong Kong to educate students all the way through to year 13, as its existing campus in Lam Tin, New Territories, will be enhanced to include iGCSE and IB Diploma facilities for students in years 10 to 13. Andrew Fitzmaurice, chief executive officer of Nord Anglia Education said he was “delighted” to have secured the new Hong Kong Island campus. “This is the next phase of development for our school as it goes from strength-to-strength to meet the demands of the students and parents of Hong Kong,” he said. Nord Anglia students at the school’s existing campus in Lam Tin.
Diary dates Nov 7 & 14
ESF Education Seminars - ESF’s senior school development officer, Rebecca Clements, and principal of ESF International Kindergarten Wu Kai Sha, Christopher Coyle, will share insights into the IB Primary Years Programme and the ESF curriculum (November 7). On November 14, ESF education director, David Whalley will look at how a personalised approach to learning can maximise opportunities. ESF admissions manager, Julie Wong, will talk about the ESF admissions procedure at both seminars. Register at esf.edu.hk/seminars-Nov2016.
Nov 12, 19, 26 & Dec 3 Meet The Headmaster - Mount Kelly International School founding headmaster, Gary Wright, will be on-hand to meet prospective parents at this series of open days. Mount Kelly will be Hong Kong’s first British preparatory school, for students aged five to 13 years and is scheduled to open in August 2017. Sessions run 10am-12pm, and 2-4pm. Call 3974 5588 to reserve your place. The sessions will be held at Unit 812, 8/F, Star House, 3 Salisbury Road, TST.
Nov 12 & 26 Woodland Preschool Open Days - come and find out more about the Woodland group of preschools. Doors will be open to prospective parents and students at Montessori Academy, G/F to 3/F On Fung Building, 110-118 Caine Road, Mid-levels; and Kennedy Town Pre-School, G/F to 2/F, Hau Wo Building, 3C Davis Street, Kennedy Town, 9am-1pm on November 12. And at Happy Valley Playgroup Annexe, 1/F Happy Court, 39E Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, 9.30am-12.30pm on November 26. See woodlandschools.com for further details.
Nov 14, 15 & 16 Stamford American School Open House - meet school superintendent Malcolm Kay, who will be explaining how the new school plans to educate five to 18 year olds through individualized learning plans and continual standardized assessments. The school’s admissions manager will also be onhand. Sessions will run 8-10am; 12-2pm; and 6-8pm, Two Exchange Square, Level 40, Suites 4005-07, 8 Connaught Place, Central, sais.hk; email@example.com; 2500 8688. 40 expat-parent.com
The British education invasion continues with an announcement from the University of West London (UWL) that it will be launching its first centre in Hong Kong. The move is a collaboration between the university and and Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher Education and will see the UWL Hong Kong Centre delivering eight undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. They include healthcare, tourism, finance and music courses. Students will also be offered work placement and internship opportunities with international corporations for up to a year. Students studying at the Hong Kong Centre will be able to take some of the course components and work placements in the UK. In Hong Kong, programmes will be delivered face-to-face by UWL staff. UWL plans to launch centres throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Last month’s launch ceremony was attended by Hong Kong’s Under-Secretary for Education, Yeung Yun Hung, as well as government officials, professionals and academics. See uwl.ac.uk for details.
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Helping hand for uni entrance
Princeton graduate Cindy Hah has lots of advice for accessing top universitiies.
“Preparing for US university entrance starts from day one of high school,” warns Cindy Hah, US advisor and director and and co-founder of education consultants Aegis Advisors. As university application deadlines loom across the world, Hah advises specifically on the US university application process. While the US deadline for early applications
hits on November 1, the main deadline is January 1. Application is not just based on predicted grades, but on a whole host of factors, including SAT or ACT results (these need to be taken in the last two years of high school), a detailed profile (outlining all extracurricular roles taken up throughout secondary - “universities basically want to know exactly how you have utilised your time in high school,” says Hah), dozens of personal statements, recommendation letters from teachers and a school councillor, not to mention school reports. Arts and music applicants will also need a portfolio. If you’re struggling to work out a SAT from an ACT, or just don’t know where to start with the profile, this is where an advisory service comes into its own. “We take an holistic approach, starting with the child,” says Hah. “We begin a dialogue with the student, working out what is important to them. The earlier this dialogue begins, the better. We can then explore how they can best develop their interests and engage in relevant experiences. We can also help with IB selection and exam prep. This really is a four year plan.” As a former member of the Princeton interview panel, Hah can also lend valuable
Coffee morning invite Online tutoring company Tute.HK, which launched earlier this year, will be holding a series of coffee mornings this month to explain how online tutoring works. The company invites you to find out how a virtual classroom can help your child get on top of homework and how to hone revision and exam techniques. Tute also offers “offline” services for parents looking for advice on admissions to UK boarding schools or universities. The sessions will be led by managing director Rebecca Merrett (pictured right) . Online tutoring company Tute.HK provides Hong Kong-based students with a customised online tutoring service, connecting them with UK-based tutors selected from Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell Group universities. The coffee mornings will be taking place on November 1, 10am-12pm, Recharge Cafe, Level 4, Cyberport 2, Pok Fu Lam and November 2, 10am12pm, Stan Cafe, Shop 505, 5/F Stanley Plaza, Stanley. See tute.hk or facebook.com/tute.hk 42 expat-parent.com
insight into the Ivy League interview process. “They will basically be looking for students who have done their research, are genuinely passionate about their interests and can present themselves well,” she says. The UK application procedure is slightly less involved, but still requires good preparation. “British universities have a strict minimum grade system, and require academic commitment in the student’s chosen field,” says Aegis’s UK specialist, Jennifer Liu. “Offers are made by individual faculties, not the university.” Supplementary information will be required from international students. Predicted grades, along with a personal statement, are vitally important. The deadline for UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) applications is January 15 and most UK universities will interview Oxbridge interviews begin this month until mid-December. Liu and her team have a plethora of advice for both the application and the interview process. “It doesn’t usually happen, but if grades are not met, we can also help with the clearing process,” says Liu. Aegis Advisors can be contacted at aegisadvisors.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
In brief… ... Children’s music specialist Baumhaus will be opening a creative learning play space in Harbour City, TST. Featuring a spacious, bright and light play environment, the venue will also be hosting Kindermusik classes and a coffee lounge. The opening party will be held on 11 December. The company will continue with its existing venue in Wan Chai. See baumhaus.com.hk ...Hong Kong language school, Mini Mandarins, has launched a Central-based campus which is now open for enrollment. The school offers a curriculum for oneand-a-half years and up, designed with monthly changing real-life settings and interactive learning methods to build love and confidence in the Chinese language. The new campus is at Unit 1703, 17/F, Universal Trade Centre, No 3-5A Arbuthnot Road, Central, minimandarins.com
Malvern Preschool students get back to nature.
Malvern moves in Carolynne Dear meets the new heads of school as they touch down Hong Kong-side.
o far all is running smoothly for new kids on the Hong Kong education block, Malvern College Preschool and Malvern College. With its foundation stone laid earlier this year, the school is on track for a 2018 opening and has appointed Dr Robin Lister as founding headmaster of its New Territories-based campus. Lister has been teaching at the 150-year old British private school since 1989 and will be leaving his current post as senior deputy head at Malvern College UK to take up the top spot at Malvern Hong Kong. “I am really enjoying Hong Kong,” he enthuses as we meet to discuss Malvern’s opening. “I’m loving the “backyard” - the mountains, the beaches - it’s certainly not all high rise as we’re led to believe overseas.” A keen hiker and cyclist, Lister’s enthusiasm for all things outdoors also stems from the importance the school places on nature as a learning platform. The college will be based in leafy Tai Po, and while the preschool has premises in not-so-green Yau Ma Tei, Malvern has secured land in the New Territories to enable preschoolers to access Hong Kong’s great outdoors on a regular, weekly basis. “The environment will be fundamental to our learning process,” says Jacqueline McNalty, who will be moving from Singapore
to head up the new preschool. Malvern College Preschool will indeed be the territory’s first Forest School, run by Forest School leaders, certified by the UK’s Forest School Association at the highest level (level 3). “Our Forest School programme will run in all weather conditions, subject to safety conditions of course,” says McNalty. “As students extend their education beyond the confines of the classroom walls, they grow in confidence and increase physical and social skills, enabling holistic development of the children.” The education of the “whole child” is indeed at the heart of Malvern’s ethos. “Academics are of course important, but not exclusive,” says Lister. “I am a strong proponent of a holistic education, educating the whole child, not just the academic child.” Extra-curricular activities, for example, will be central to the school day, not just an add-on after the bell rings. Where sport is concerned, there will be inter-house competitions and the school is keen to make its mark on the wider, Hong Kong school sporting leagues. Although maintaining day-school hours, the school will be run with a boarding school ethos. Students will divided into “houses” with designated house masters or mistresses, plus personal tutors to monitor
every student as they progress. “The personal tutor will not just be checking the student is academically on track, they will also be ensuring the child is taking up every opportunity available to them - from community work to sports, music and drama, the tutors will make sure students are participating in school life to the best of their capacity, with report cards going home regularly during term-time,” explains Lister. Academically strong students will be offered “stretch” classes, and if any students are found to be struggling, personal programmes will be set up to support them. Tutors and housemasters will also be asked to sit with students during meal-times. “This encourages good table manners and social skills, all part of educating the “whole child”,” says Lister. The school is looking at exchange opportunities with Malvern College UK to further enrich its education programme. As far as technology is concerned, Lister believes nothing beats a teacher interacting with a class. “Of course this will be backed up with the latest tech. But I strongly believe in the strength of old fashioned interaction.” The application process is now open for both Malvern College and Malvern College Preschool. Contact email@example.com (preschool) or firstname.lastname@example.org (school) for more information. The website is at malverncollege.org.hk
Fact file Malvern College is scheduled to open in August 2018, with 960 places for primary and secondary students, aged five to 18 years. Overall teacher/student ratio: 1:10. Curriculum: Full International Baccalaureate, with rigor in teaching of mathematics and science, and compulsory English and Chinese throughout primary and secondary. Fees: Approximately $148,000/annum, subject to Education Bureau approval.
One preschool has added an extra ingredient to its sports classes this winter.
ports development officer, Jon Kemp, has developed a brand new researchbased after-school sports curriculum for two to five year olds. Instead of throwing the students into a variety of sports, he is taking things back to basics and teaching them the mechanics of essential sporting skills throwing, catching, running, balancing, kicking, ball bouncing and dodging, before they hit the sports field. “Bad sporting habits are formed because kids learn an action, they achieve a successful outcome with it, and the brain basically gives this action a big tick,” he explains. “And it doesn’t matter if that one success was a complete fluke and next 20 times the action ends in failure, the brain has still been programmed to remember the original successful outcome, and the action becomes a bad habit.” Kemp’s concern is that if children fail too many times at a sport, they will drop out. “I aim to give students the confidence and the ability to get it right from the outset.” According to Sandra Hite, principal of ESF Tung Chung International Kindergarten, which has rolled out the sports programme at its brand new venue, children of this age should be spending a large part of their day engaged in physical activity. 46 expat-parent.com
Jump for joy - but not all sports techniques come naturally.
“This is an age when much learning is transmitted through the large muscles, when the learning goes from the hand to the head and not the other way round,” she said. “We have also welcomed the programme at Tung Chung Kindergarten because the school has a large space designed for it. ” Kemp’s programme is based on the latest sports science and bio-mechanics research which is changing the way sports education is approached. “Multi-sports is traditionally all about throwing the kids into lots of different sport. But children in the two to five years age bracket just don’t have a good enough skills grasp for this. Instead, spending time learning individual actions will have much bigger benefits in the long-run. “Just getting the over-arm throw action right, for example, will enable them to go on and successfully play tennis, baseball, cricket, soccer and more.” Bio-mechanics research has also found that boys are basically wired differently to girls, which explains why games such as football have been traditionally regarded as “boys” sports. “Because of the differences in upper body dominance, girls don’t have the same natural throwing capability as boys. But now that we know that, we can work on it. The results have
been huge and it means girls are no longer left behind.” According to Kemp, working with younger children provides them with an invaluable foundation for playing sport for life. He says children in the six-11 year age bracket can also benefit enormously, and also runs a Junior Development Programme (JDP). “If we can show them the right way early on, it becomes part of what they do,” he says. He runs the Kinder Development Programmes (KDP) for two to five year throughout the ESF portfolio of preschools; the 45-minute sessions are open to parents and carers so that they can be shown how to offer guidance at home when children are practising what they have been taught. There are twelve skills covered, and each skill is broken down into three learning phases with multiple sequences in each phase. Science aside, the sessions are very relaxed and all about having fun. “And hopefully they will springboard the children into a lifetime of successful sports participation,” says Kemp. Both the KDP and JDP are available at multiple ESF venues. For more information, see esf.org.hk or email email@example.com
Artist’s impression of the new Sai Ying Pun campus.
New kindie for Sai Ying Pun Fairchild Kindergarten is scheduled to open its doors later this month. Carolynne Dear takes a sneak peak.
ith one successful campus under its belt, Fairchild is hoping to open a second venue this month, pending licensing from the Education Department Bureau (EDB). While the original campus which opened in February this year, Fairchild Junior Academy, is based in Tin Hau, the new
school will be located in up-and-coming Sai Ying Pun. Head of School Dave McMaster, and Head of Early Childhood Education Kathy Nutting, both formerly of the Canadian International School, say the kindergarten will be placing a strong emphasis on “the atmosphere of happiness in the school”. “The sense of respect and care for
people and nature that is intrinsic to Fairchild programmes is reflected in the day-day-today interactions. The “smile index” indicates that children, staff, caregivers and parents love to come to school every day,” said McMaster. Daily activities at the school will include time for uninterrupted play, stories, creative arts activities, singing, dancing, group-work,
school news projects, painting, literacy and numeracy games and phonemic awareness in a fun environment. The Kindergarten will offer an inquirybased programme, with a focus on play, for children aged six months to six years. The programmes are guided by the British Columbia and Ontario (Canada) Early Learning Framework/Kindergarten Framework, and the Early Years Foundation Stage from the UK. The kindergarten will also be collaborating with leading schools and universities in Canada to incorporate research-based learning activities into its programmes. Teachers have been selected on the basis of their international early years’ education experience and their ability to stimulate learning through the Reggio Emilia approach - a system of learning developed in Italy post-second world war, based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration in a supportive environment, based on the interests of the children. Fairchild Kindergarten will offer accompanied classes for children aged one to turning two, and unaccompanied classes for children aged two to three years. Depending on interest, a K1 class for children aged three turning four may be offered from January 2017.
At full capacity, the Kindergarten will have classes for pre-nursery through to K3. An International and Dual Language stream in English and Chinese will be offered for the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year. Accompanied six to 12, 12 to 18 and 18 to 28 month classes will have a ratio of two teachers to every nine students; 24 to 36 month unaccompanied classes will have one teacher to every six students; the Preschool (three to four year) classes will have one to every nine children; and Kindergarten (four to six years) will have one to every ten students (final Kindergarten class sizes are still subject to EDB licensing).
If you’re interested in attending a trial class or open house, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or download an application form at fairchild.academy. This should be submitted with a nonrefundable application fee of $200. While expressions of interest are welcome now, formal applications can only be accepted after the licence has been granted by the EDB. The new campus will be located at Fairchild Kindergarten, Kong Chian Tower Block 1, 351 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun (MTR HKU, Exit B1). The school places a strong emphasis on “happiness”.
How the new classrooms will look.
After a turbulent couple of years, the future is bright for CDNIS.
Rebecca Simpson visits the Canadian International School as it embarks on a new chapter.
odern parenting is tough. Today’s parents face challenging moments - an endless stream of new technologies, the challenges of social media, the new ways young adults explore their relationship with themselves and our world, and of course the avalanche of questionable information we deal with every day. Sometimes it’s easier to shy away from the tough subjects. But when it feels tough and overwhelming, that’s exactly when parents need to lean in and learn. And that’s what’s happening at the Canadian International School (CDNIS). 50 expat-parent.com
The CDNIS community has leant right into technology, they’re learning about what it means to be a good local and global citizen, and even about what a healthy sexual experience is for young adults (if that last one makes you squirm as a parent, you’re not alone). A new year brings new leadership First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Any prospective parent who has Googled CDNIS will see it has forged through some rocky times in the past few years. But in 2016, the school has its eyes firmly on the future
under the leadership of a new Interim Head of School, David Baird. With the calming effect of a teacher with a wealth of knowledge and years of experience at a raft of international schools, Baird has come out of a very brief retirement to join CDNIS as Interim Head. After a long chat I get the impression he’s a “fixer” with the powerful but understated gravitas to move the school forward and leave history where it belongs, in the past. What’s important is that, with all his international experience, he’s genuinely impressed with the school and speaks with great regard for the close community the
(Above) “It’s extremely important students are happy here, says intermim principal David Baird.
CDNIS teaching and student bodies have created. “I’ve worked in a lot of schools, very quickly when you walk into schools you can feel the tone. I knew right away this was a place that has a really good tone.” Since arriving this summer, he’s worked together with CDNIS staff to redevelop the school’s mission and vision, including a firm plan that’s both actionable and accountable. “We’re using our 25th anniversary to redefine where do we want to go as a school of excellence?” he says. “How do we keep that Canadian-ness, that family feel and the joy and happiness here?” “It’s an excellent school – the resources that are here, the location, the clientele, the international flavour. It was put on hold for a bit, but we want to take an excellent school and continue to be excellent. And that’s where we’re going”. A sense of belonging CDNIS is a sizeable school, with around 1,780 students currently enrolled. Despite its size, Baird assures this is not a faceless school. “That family feel is here, the kids are really happy here, they fit in.” He continues, “It’s extremely important for a kid to be happy and accepted. I believe that they feel that here.” He credits the teaching staff for their ongoing efforts to ensure the community at CDNIS feels connected, “The ability to keep that friendly, family feel when you get up to this size – that’s hard to do. But I know the teachers continue to work really hard maintaining that special atmosphere”.
Discovering that learning can be fun in science class (above); committed staff are continuously moving the school forward (below).
open day Dual curriculum delivering strong academic performance CDNIS uniquely offers a dual curriculum for secondary students – the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as well as Canada’s Ontario Secondary School Diploma. This is an important point of difference, not just for Canadian families looking for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma but also as a seal of approval for the quality of education at CDNIS. This dual system means the school is monitored by two highly respected third parties – the International Baccalaureate Organization and Ontario Ministry of Education. Baird believes his teaching body has a unique and very Canadian connection with the students. This relaxed, mutual respect fosters a different way of instruction to other schools. CDNIS teachers are both IB and Ontario-certified, and the school offers consistent training for staff. The school sees enormous academic success with multiple students achieving perfect scores in the 2016 IB. Walking the technology talk Schools across the globe are spending significant amounts of money on technology to facilitate learning in the classroom. CDNIS is one such school that has a robust technology offering, with students and teachers able to access a plethora of tech. What sets the school apart though, is the way CDNIS is managing its technology offering, “I’ve never seen a school like this that has so much IT,” says Baird, remarking how impressed he is with the digital integration and the staffing provided to support CDNIS teachers and students. “I’ve seen it in many places, schools come up with the funds for the hardware, because they want to keep up, but where they fall short is the professional development”, he explains. At CDNIS the school has a dedicated faculty of five learning teachers who work with other teachers to integrate new technology, support IT needs and offer ongoing professional development. The school also has a dedicated, physical space called ‘One Door’ where students and teachers can source, often immediately, IT help desk support. The One Door team are a busy lot, helping CDNIS students are immerse themselves in technology, whether that’s building robots or coding websites. “We’ll be moving to coding, looking at it almost as a foreign language”, says Baird. “It’s great to see grade fours learning to code to make robots work. We also have grade five and six students designing apps.” It’s not all robot battles and app creation, technology is a serious business at CDNIS and 52 expat-parent.com
Riding high in primary.
Meeting Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau.
Smiley, happy students.
that means a serious discussion about how it impacts on our lives. The school employs an acceptable use policy which students adhere to, and this policy provides education around how to use technology safely. This is an education that even spans the school’s librarians who teach students how to verify information and identify when sources can be trusted. Baird explains this is about helping kids navigate the knowledge explosion. “How are kids trained to ask the right questions and access the right information? It’s the people who know how to access the right information in a timely fashion, that’s what we want the students to know. We don’t want to pack their heads with content, because content changes rapidly.”
a $60 million dollar venture created to expand the exposure of CDNIS students to the Chinese language and culture. The CCC features teaching spaces, a library and performance facility in a design that honours the Chinese Yin & Yang philosophy of balancing elements of life. Hong Kong and Canada enjoy a bonded relationship, one that is embraced and celebrated at CDNIS.
A strong Chinese connection Hong Kong is home to a large number of Canadian citizens, many of whom are of Chinese heritage, thanks to a significant wave of immigration to Canada from Hong Kong back in the early nineties. This celebration is manifested in the school’s Chinese Cultural Centre (CCC),
Established: 1991 Number of students: 1780 Class size: 18-26 Curriculum: IB Primary Years Programme; IB Middle Years Programme; IB Diploma Programme and Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) Fees 2015/2016: $98,000-$178,000 Non refundable capital levy: $29,000 Address: 36 Nam Shan Road, Aberdeen Tel: 2525 7088
Interim head David Baird talks sailing, social media and staying on top of his game.
While tech may be useful, Baird believes there is no substitute for personal interaction.
How long have you been in education? I began my first job as a teacher in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia in 1982. My wife and I didn’t want to take a safe route in an established school district in Vancouver, but sought an adventure. Going to teach on these remote islands was pretty appealing for a young teaching couple. I was previously a federal park naturalist with Parks Canada - the interaction with visitors I think helped me decide on a career in teaching. What’s your Hong Kong history? I arrived in August but I’d visited a number of times while living in Vietnam and Thailand. Head of School is a pretty demanding role, but when I do get out I rely on guide books and recommendations of long-time residents. We’ve explored Soho and the Flower Market so far. Last year, I finally decided to take up sailing - I have a day skippers licence and I’m eager to take it up in Hong Kong. Did you have a favourite subject at school? I loved biology and geography. It’s interesting how a few inspiring teachers can steer you on a path you would least expect. At university, I continued with these subjects, though chance courses in Canadian and US Foreign Relations almost made me switch majors. Again, the impact of a passionate teacher cannot be underestimated. I might have had a career in the diplomatic service had these courses come in my first year of studies instead of my last. 54 expat-parent.com
What’s the toughest part of a principal’s day? Trying to manage information and stay on top of social media. There is so much room for error on social media - rather than seeking information directly from the school, questions are raised and opinions posted. The fall-out from social media can divert valuable time away from what really matters - creating a safe and inspiring environment for the education of the students. What do you see as the school’s greatest strength? Three things - the calibre of the students; the overall quality of the teachers; the incredible facilities we have here. I’ve been amazed at the engagement of the students and their enthusiasm and their respectful approach to learning and to one another. I’m incredibly impressed with the digital learning programs that have been developed here, the blogging, the constant striving of teachers to be leaders in their fields. How do you feel about homework in primary years? People often use Finland as an example of where the emphasis on homework is significantly different than other countries. I think a very small amount of homework, as long as it is age appropriate and given in moderation, with clear communication to parents, is acceptable. As a parent of three children, all of whom went on to university, I’d recommend reading with
children in the evenings as a priority. The love of reading starts with that evening time, sharing stories and being available to discuss them the next day. For me, this time in the evening can be worth so much more than an extra hour with a tutor. What about extra tuition? All students learn at different rates and having a student sit for an hour after class can be tough. However, at the right age and time, it can be exactly what is needed to help a student break through a perceived learning barrier or concept block. Do you support the use of tech in the classroom? Technology is incredibly useful. It’s here and it’s going to be an essential tool in 21st century environments. At CDNIS, we have one of the most diverse and widespread digital learning programs I have ever seen in a school. But these tools are not a substitute skill set for oral and written communication or the ability to engage in respectful debate, or to express oneself thoughtfully. Technology does not teach empathy, or cross-cultural understanding. Neither a pen nor a keyboard writes the great stories of the world; technology is a tool, an implement to give voice to the creativity and uniqueness of the author.
The school interview
The school admissions process varies from one school to another, but one requirement is universal: the interview. Here’s what to expect. Reception to Year 2 First stage: Students are observed in small groups (of six to eight) on their interaction and speaking skills, before a teacher takes each aside for a one-to-one interview. This often includes oral comprehension, drawing and discussing a picture, counting, naming animals, shapes and colours, etc. Second stage: Students who make the shortlist may be invited back for a second interview. Final stage: Prospective students and their parents may be invited to meet the Admissions Director or Principal.
Year 7 First stage: Assessments are typically conducted over two to three hours, and include tests in English (reading & writing), Mathematics, non-verbal and verbal reasoning. Some schools in Hong Kong use CATs; American-based schools often use the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Examination). Bilingual schools often also test Chinese skills (writing and speaking). Second stage: Those who pass the first stage may be invited for an interview in English with the Head of School.
Year 3 to 6 Students must typically complete a written or online assessment in verbal, non-verbal, spatial ability, English reading and comprehension. Some schools use Cognitive Abilities Tests (CAT), to test general intelligence in three different areas: verbal, quantitative and non-verbal reasoning.
Preparing for the Interview • Create realistic targets. Temper ambition to get into the most sought-after schools with a rational perspective of how your child will cope with the assessments. Ensure that all subjects – for instance, English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning – are afforded attention, but
proportion this according to relative strengths and weaknesses. • Practice timed mock tests well in advance of the assessment date. • Prepare some questions in the week leading up to the interview. • Get your child to meet and interact with new people, so that they feel comfortable doing it. • Decrease subject learning and increase revision and mock tests in the run up to the exam. 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 email@example.com, 3188 3940 or www.itseducation.asia.
life & style
Life & Style news Rags to riches Shanghai Tang’s first upcycled range of clothing has just hit stores. Designed by EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 winner Kevin Germanier, the seven-piece, womenswear, capsule collection is 100% produced using the brand’s surplus textile stock. “We have been promoting the business virtues of brands taking control of their own textile waste,” said Christina Dean, founder of environmental NGO Redress which founded the EcoChic awards. “As the curator of modern Chinese chic, Shanghai Tang is in a key position to present to Asia and the rest of the world a positive solution to the future of fashion,” she added. Following his success on the runway at the awards during Hong Kong Fashion Week, Germanier spent six months at Shanghai Tang’s head offices working in collaboration with its design team. The end result is a modern interpretation of Mongolian patchwork and the qipao dress. Each piece of the black and red collection uses up to six different types of materials left over from previous seasons. “While some may have seen the limited quantity of fabrics as a challenge, I saw it as an opportunity to experiment with
Shanghai Tang’s first upcycled fashion collection.
complimenting and contrasting textures and colours,” said Germanier. “It was a departure from Shanghai Tang’s normal sourcing practices but I found that adding commercial value back into the surplus fabrics was well received by the team.” “The result is a beautiful demonstration of creativity that has brought a second life to excess luxury fabrics,” commented Raffaele Borriello, creative consigliere of Shanghai Tang and international judge of the EcoChic
Swedish brand Fjallraven has launched in Hong Kong.
Swedish outdoor clothing specialist Fjallraven has launched in Hong Kong, with a full range of its kidswear and outdoor equipment. The brand’s concept of producing hard-wearing equipment and clothing that make it easier for people to enjoy the great outdoors was developed in the 1960s by founder Ake Nordis. As a young scout, he pioneered the backpack and backpack frame on his mother’s sewing machine after learning that it was better to distribute weight higher up the back than contemporary bags allowed. Today, the products remain functional, durable and reliable - all garments and kit are tested on treks through Scandinavian forests or clambering up Nordic mountains. All jackets incorporate G-100 weather resistant fabric - one of the world’s hardest
Design Award. “For me the process makes perfect business sense.” Ten per cent of sales of the collection will be donated to Redress to support sustainability in the fashion industry. The 2015/16 EcoChic winner, Patrycja Guzik, is currently in collaboration with Shanghai Tang for her collection. For more information about sustainable fashion brands, see redress.com.hk.
wearing outdoor materials. G-100 is a mix of cotton and polyester impregnated with Greenland wax and is both cold and wind resistant. This season’s collection incorporates knitted wool-blend hats with a soft fleece lining and cute Artic fox (Fjallraven means Arctic fox) pattern, woollen sweaters, backpacks and hard-wearing jackets. Perfect if you’re hitting the slopes en famille this winter. The new store is at Shop C, 2-4 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay.
life & style
Maternity design house Mayarya has launched its fall 2016 collection. Founder Reika Kato Shetty has drawn on her own pregnancy experiences to design a stylish but practical range of work-wear, evening dresses and lingerie. From clever wrap dresses that flatter your changing shape and grow with you, to entirely useful triple support maternity belts and tops with discreet nursing access, Shetty has managed to create a range is both elegant but at the same time meets all the varied demands of pregnancy and breast-feeding - not an easy task. Must-have seasonal staples include cozy fleece-lined leggings and sophisticated knits in cashmere and wool blends. The collection is available from Mayarya stores at 26 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, or Mira Mall, Nathan Road, TST. See mayarya.com for details.
Tickets are now on sale for the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association’s (HKAGA) Gallery Walk for charity. Involving over 40 galleries in Hong Kong’s arty areas from Central to Sai Ying Pun, the walk takes in all participating galleries plus music and dance installations, and food and drink from a variety of restaurant kitchens, including Fish & Meat, Stockton, Brickhouse, Mott 32, 208 Duecento Otto, Aberdeen Street Social, Bayta and Tartine. There will also be street art and surprise artistic performances. The walk takes place on 3 Novemb er, 5-10pm. Admission is $250/student and $390/ adult. All monies raised will go towards The Society For Community Organisation (SoCO), HKAGA’s Artist Residency Abroad programme and HKAGA’s Arts’ Education Programme. Tickets are available from ticketflap.com.
The new fall collection from Mayarya.
Photo courtesy of Indigo Home
life & style
Every child needs a special sanctuary.
Instill peace and calm with a stylish sanctuary, says Adele Brunner.
o matter what age and stage your child is at - from the “terrible twos” when it can be a struggle to get little ones into bed, to the door-slamming teenage years when you almost can’t get them out - their bedroom is central to their world. At various times in their lives, it can be somewhere to play unfettered by adult “clutter” and rules, a sanctuary from annoying siblings or parents, a quiet study space - and that’s not counting sleep. Even as adults, there’s nowhere quite like your own bedroom. Studies have shown that the way a child’s bedroom is decorated and arranged has an impact on their state of mind, with the ability to calm, excite and even agitate. Top of the list of psychological influences is, of course, colour. “As adults, we can be affected by colour even without realising it and children are much more sensitive than we are,” says Charming Pau, early years practitioner and founder of specialdeliveryforkidz.com, which supplies play kits comprising natural sensory materials and developmental essentials for little ones, from birth to age six. “You need to strike a balance between 58 expat-parent.com
stimulating the senses to help with development and providing a calm environment.” The shade you paint your child’s walls can affect mood, behaviour and even sleep patterns. Yes while younger children in particular are attracted to bright colours, these don’t always get the thumbs up in bedroom decor. “Parents need to ask themselves whether their child is very active or more of an introvert,” says Kim Leong, design consultant for furniture store, Indigo Living (indigo-living.com). “Active children do best with a tranquil environment so neutral colours like pale blue and grey are ideal. You want to avoid strong colours like red and orange for a very active child. Although they are warm, they can over-stimulate, so settling this kind of child at bedtime could become impossible.” Less energetic children, continues Leong, might do better with bold colours such as orange or yellow, but even then she cautions against overuse. “Dark colours tend to absorb energy and light, but using them as accents is fine,” says Leong. “Don’t go over-the-top but don’t be afraid to play with colour. If you want to make a neutral room
richer, consider a feature wall or introducing bold colour in toys and soft furnishings like cushions and rugs. They can easily be changed if the colour doesn’t work or preferences change.” Pau agrees. She is a fan of neutral walls and furniture to promote a sense of rest and relaxation for all ages but she also believes in making children’s bedrooms fun and interesting. “High contrast colours are best for newborns’ developing sight but don’t overwhelm them and keep the majority of the room muted. “Teenagers will obviously have a say in how their bedroom is decorated. Listen to them and give them one wall to do whatever they want with. Patterns such as stripes on one plain wall work well too.” Including different textures in the room in the form of cushions, rugs, bedding and toys is important for comfort as well as sensory development and visual interest. Children and clutter - usually of the primarycoloured, plastic kind - go hand in hand, but that doesn’t need to be the norm. Pau says that toys strewn all over the place can actually be too much for children to cope with.
life & style “It’s like a buffet - you’ve got all this delicious food laid out in front of you, so it’s really hard to decide what you’re going to go for first,” she says. “A lot of Hong Kong kids don’t have a great attention span because there are often too many other distractions and they can’t focus on one thing.” Psychologists believe that a tidy environment promotes a calm mind so getting the distraction of toys out of the way before bedtime is paramount. Clever storage systems also give children control over how they sort out their toys and treasures and can even help them to become more organised. “Storage systems that offer low drawers as well as higher ones mean even young children can access them, giving them the freedom to decide where to store their stuff making it easier for parents to train them to put their belongings away,” says Leong. While parents may hanker after a more minimal style, children naturally want to show off their creativity and imagination. The best kind of rooms give space to kids’ creations such as bookshelves for displaying Lego models, or a magnetic or cork noticeboard for hanging their latest masterpieces. “Don’t limit your child’s creativity and if
possible don’t tidy it away,” says Pau. “Paintings, Lego models and wooden blocks are all mini projects so if they aren’t finished, leave them out for the child to carry on with the next day. Children love it if their art is kept displayed. If they don’t get to finish and see their end product, they stop seeing the point of doing the activity and get into the habit of not completing things.” All children love nooks and crannies to curl up and hide in, and Pau believes that dedicated enclosed spaces offer comfort and safety. Little ones can sometimes be intimidated by the sheer size and space of a room, and she suggests making it more child-friendly with a play tent or something hung from the ceiling like a mosquito net. Egg-shaped chairs are an extension of this concept and make ideal hideaways. “It’s a little space they can crawl into and calm themselves down, especially when everything gets too much and they’re having a meltdown,” she says. “My rule of thumb is to give kids room to breathe. Hong Kong kids often have so many people around them - parents, siblings, friends, helpers - and they need time to process what’s going on. Keep bedrooms as uncluttered and calm as possible. It might seem obvious, but it’s the little things that make a huge difference.”
Experiment with textiles and colour.
2016 PRESTIGE CHRISTMAS GIFT FAIRS Grand Ballroom Conrad Hong Kong
MON 21 NOVEMBER - The Gift & Lifestyle Fair TUES 29 NOVEMBER - The Pre-Christmas Gift Parade
A Ballroom of One-Stop Shopping
Free Admission, Open to Public, 10am-8pm Sponsored by:
life & style
House of style Luca Alessi reveals this season’s new product range from his family’s Milan-based design house. By Adele Brunner.
f ever there was a homeware brand that combines inherent style and exquisite detail with robust practicality and a touch of tongue-in-cheek humour, it is Italian design house, Alessi. This is the company that gave the world design classics such as the Anna G corkscrew in the shape of a lady by Alessandro Mendini, and the whistling kettle by Michael Graves. Not to mention clever reinventions of every stalwart household appliance under the sun, including coffee pots, cutlery sets, salt shakers and toilet brushes. Every product has a story behind its inception and is designed to move people and suprise them by doing the opposite of the expected norm. With headquarters in Milan, Italy, the familyrun company has been going strong since 1921 and now features the fourth-generation of Alessi scions among its workforce. “In Italy, family-run companies usually survive until the second generation but are then sold off,” says Hong Kong-based Luca Alessi, international sales and development manager for Asia-Pacific and great-grandson of founder Giovanni Alessi, who originally produced metal products for eating and drinking. “We have survived due to a very strong vision and creative mindset. My uncle, Alberto Alessi, made the brand what it is today. He has great passion for the brand, he really loves it and is also very talented.” Just because Luca is in the clan doesn’t mean it is a given for him to work for the company. Strict Alessi rules mean that everyone has to prove themselves in their chosen field by working for and becoming successful in another company for at least five years before they are even considered for the family business. Nor does Alessi employ internal designers but prefers to work with people from all over the world, many of whom already have a list of design accolades to their names. “If you use only internal designers, you limit your range of creativity,” explains Luca. “The world of creativity is infinite and Alessi has always pushed (the envelope) of shape and design. We are well known for collaborating with an encyclopaedia of designers.” The company currently has two methods
It’s a family affair. Luca Alessi with this season’s collection.
of selecting the designers it works with. Either Alberto Alessi has a specific product in mind and gives a design brief to one of the designers who he feels could produce the product in the best possible way; or, designers who have a genius idea knock on Alessi’s door. “Alessi is very democratic and open to ideas,” says Luca. “Unknown designers have come to Alessi with their projects and then go on to be famous. Philippe Starck is a great example. My uncle went to Starck, when he wasn’t so famous, and asked him to design a tray. Starck couldn’t do it. He was still trying to come up with an idea two years later and was in a pizzeria, eating squid and sketching them on a napkin. These sketches went on to become the Juicy Salif lemon squeezer, which is one of Alessi’s most important products.” So no pressure, then, on designers such as Australian Abi Alice who has collaborated with Alessi on some of this season’s new products that hark back to the company’s roots in sheet steel cutting and bending. Inspired by the geometry of shapes, Alice’s Ellipse collection features oval containers in three different sizes, with curving sides and the thinnest laser-cut stainless steel. As well as shiny silver and 24K gold plate, the platters are coated in
gorgeous powdery blue, lemon yellow and white so that you can combine different colours and sizes to create different looks. “Abi’s products are simple, minimal and very functional,” says Luca. “You can use them for whatever you like and in any room you like because they go with everything. She believes, as I do, that colour affects people’s psychology, with the potential to uplift your mood, so she used colour for this reason.” Alice also came up with this season’s range of Dotty wall clocks (in the same colours as the Ellipse containers) and the Infinity Clock, whose sensual curves represent the perpetuity of time. In today’s throwaway mass market where products are redundant within months, Alessi’s designs are timeless. A tea and coffee set that Luca’s grandfather designed as a gift for his girlfriend, who would eventually become his wife, looks as relevant today as it did in 1945 when it was conceived. It is also selling better than ever. “We are not a traditional company - we see ourselves as the mediator between architects, designers and the marketplace, committed to a creative design approach that is always balanced against the needs of our customers,” says Luca. Alessi, Shop 247, Landmark Prince’s, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2869 6377.
life & style
Phillipa Milne reveals what’s on the cards at this year’s International Literary Festival. By Amanda Sheppard. Phillipa Milne, manager of the Hong Kong Literary Festival
Tell us a bit about the festival’s history.
The Festival was founded by Nury Vittachi and Jane Camens in 2001. Its goal then was to promote literacy and the literary arts whilst uniting book lovers in Hong Kong: a mission we are continuing fifteen years later. In 2012, the Young Readers Festival was founded and in 2013 we were given charitable status. Since its beginning, the festival has featured some literary greats including Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Colm Tóibín and Anne Enright.
Has the festival changed?
Our aim has always been to celebrate literature and to encourage people to read, write and exchange ideas. We want the world’s greatest writers to share their stories and writing experiences with our book loving community. Over the years, the programme has developed to reflect the interests of our audience – we have more non-fiction and current affairs events than ever before. We are increasing the number of “Off-Festival” events held outside of the festival. We strive towards promoting the work of local writers and always look forward to hosting book launches.
weekends jam packed with events. We have ‘in conversation’ style talks as well as panel discussions, readings, literary lunches, writing workshops and signings. We also have an annual gala dinner – this year it features the brilliant Lionel Shriver at the American Club. You’ll also be able to catch writers at various venues including the Fringe Club, the Visual Arts Centre, KEE Club and Hong Kong University.
Which event(s) are you most looking forward to? So many! Of course, the big names like Lionel Shriver, Adam Johnson, Hanya Yanagihara and Bei Dao. I can’t wait to see Helen Oyeyemi – her writing is just wonderful. I’m also really looking forward to our North Korea series and in particular the talk with North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee. Her memoir, The Girl with Seven Names, is incredible.
What led to your own interest in literature? Was there one particular
book that stood out to you as a child?
I read voraciously as a child. My parents read a lot and we would make trips to the local library every week. The Wind in the Willows, the Nancy Drew series and pretty much everything written by Roald Dahl were particular favourites. As a young adult, I completely fell in love with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I’ve read them countless times and they never get old.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors in Hong Kong?
There are some great writing groups in Hong Kong. Women in Publishing, Hong Kong Writer’s Circle and SCWBI are just a few offering fantastic support to local writers. Of course, I also recommend coming to the festival; you never know, you might just find the inspiration to finish the novel you’ve always wanted to write! The Festival runs November 4-13, see festival.org.hk
What’s different this year?
Well, it’s cheaper, for one! We have reduced the cost of tickets considerably in order to encourage higher attendance. We’re already seeing a big difference, with a number of events selling out. I’m proud of the diverse line-up on offer this year – we have writers coming from the world of science, translation, hiphop, journalism, fiction, poetry…even yoga! It’s a cliché, but there really is something for everyone.
Let’s talk about the programme…
There are public talks taking place throughout the mid-week evenings and there are two 62 expat-parent.com
Writer and feminist Germaine Greer takes to the stage.
Life & style
If you’re going for a less is more approach, make sure your chosen object isn’t over- or underwhelmed by its setting, and go for something unusual or eyecatching.
Sheep figurine $480, Tequila Kola
Terracotta owls $225 (small) and $276, TREE
Bits on the side
Antique bircages from $3,450 each, TREE
Make a statement of your sideboard, says Adele Brunner.
Vary the heights, shapes and sizes of your sideboard accessories to create visual interest. Group odd numbers of objects together. This looks more aesthetically pleasing than even numbers.
Don’t forget about candles. From tea lights to pillar candles and everything in between, they add mood, warmth, soft lighting and scent. What’s not to love?
Globe candlestick $1,260, Nambe at Town House, townhouse. com.hk
Assorted jars from $390 each, Bowerbird Home, bowerbird-home.com Cochine Tuberose & Wild Fig Scented Candle $450, from Indigo Home, cochine.com 64 expat-parent.com
Life & style
Artwork and sideboards are a winning combo. Tie them together by picking out one of the colours in the art and echoing it in another accessory. Meadow Belly handmade vase $1,380, Tequila Kola, tequilakola.com
Choose asymmetrical arrangements for a modern, informal look, such as grouping a cluster of small objects at one end and balancing it with a single lamp or a large vase of flowers at the other.
Hydrangea photo canvas by Belinda Bath Images $4,500, belindabathimages.com
Copper table lamp by Tom Dixon $5,000, Lane Crawford, lanecrawford.com
Lattice lamp $2,590, Bowerbird Home
Assorted vintage vases from $390 each, Bowerbird Home
Copper clock $380, Decor8, decor8.com
French Green Hydrangeas from $625 for five stems, The Silk Flower Co, thesilkflowercompany.com expat-parent.com 65
Food news Gluten-free cookbook for Hong Kong kitchens Hong Kong-based health entrepreneur and founder of foodie blog Here In A Nutshell Ifat Kafry Hindes has launched her first cookbook, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign has been led by Asia-based crowdfunding platform, Next Chapter, which aims to support female-led businesses. “After launching Hong Kong’s first entirely gluten-free restaurant and bakery Choice Cooperative, by popular request I am now releasing my first cookbook of healthy, tasty, gluten-free recipes,” said Hindes. The book is suitable for beginner and experienced cooks, with easy ingredients, a pantry-list guide for Hong Kong kitchens and insider tips and tricks. For every book purchased, Hindes will receive a $50 cash coupon for supporters to spend at health and wellness store qualitarian. co. To buy the cookbook and learn more about Here In A Nutshell’s crowdfunding campaign, see nextchapter.com.hk.
Hindes’ new book has been crowdfunded.
menu of French cuisine complemented with Asian flavours. A lively team of mixologists have also put together a cocktail menu of 24 libations inspired by Hong Kong. Go for the views and stay for a drink (or two). 27/F, The Park Lane Hong Kong, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 2839 3327.
Drink up the view at Skye, The Park Lane.
Our taste busting tweens sink their teeth into Morty’s Deli.
“Last week, me and my Taste Buddy Margie
Cocktails with a view The Park Lane Hong Kong has opened its 8,000 sq-ft rooftop bar and restaurant - Skye - offering fabulous views over Victoria Harbour. A $300 million makeover has transformed the rooftop area to host up to 165 people. The renovations include a main dining room, three private function rooms and a temperature-controlled terrace complete with bar. Chef Lee Adams bring a continental
The Taste Buddies got to experience lunch at classic American diner, Morty’s Deli. I had no idea it was there at the bottom of Jardine House 1 and nor did my mum, as it’s kind of tucked away, but we will definitely be back. I’d like to bring some more of my friends as they really like this style of food. The authentic American restaurant has got a kids menu as well as a wide variety of dishes on the regular menu. I ordered a kid’s Grilled Cheese and Margie had the kid’s spaghetti. My mum chose a Citrus salad and a Morty’s Poutine and Margie’s mum had a Strawberry and Smoked Duck salad. Let me start with the kids meals. The Grilled Cheese came as a mini grilled cheese stack of four sandwiches loaded onto a skewer, with a side of fries. I loved it. Margie said the spaghetti was awesome but for me, mum’s Morty’s Poutine was the winner. It was a pot of fries drenched with melted cheese and mini pieces of pastrami to finish it off. We hoovered it up in minutes, it was delicious. Mum said it was a dish she sort of wished she hadn’t discovered - it was so yummy but I don’t think it’s helping with her diet. The adult salads were also a success although maybe more with the parents than the kids. The Strawberry and Duck salad was great - it was unusual but tasty and the strawberries balanced out the duck with a sweet punch. The Citrus salad was flavoursome with orange and pastrami scattered over the top. The food at Morty’s is divine and can also be ordered as a takeaway online. We loved the decor, with a baseball match playing on tvs behind the bar. This is a truly magnificent American Deli.” Morty’s Delicatessen, Shop 12-14, Lower Ground Floor, Jardine House 1, 1 Connaught Place, Central. Morty’s has “Festive Feast” takeaways this month for US Thanksgiving on November 24. Order at firstname.lastname@example.org or mortys.hk, with home delivery options.
Catch a tram to some of Hong Kong’s top gourmet stops.
Happy dining in the valley There’s much more than ding dings and horse racing to Hong Kong’s cheeriest vale. Kate Farr & Rachel Read sniff out Happy Valley’s tastiest eateries. Dim sum delights If you prefer siu mai to scones with your afternoon tea, then Dim Sum, The Art of Chinese Tidbits is for you. It has been based in the same spot for nearly 25 years and everything about this yum cha joint - from its art deco-inspired interior to the long queues that snake down Sing Woo Road every weekend - makes for a unique experience. The food is every bit as memorable; classics 68 expat-parent.com
like spring rolls, har gau and char siu bao come perfectly executed without a hint of MSG, making them suitable for the whole family. The restaurant is open weekdays from 11am-11pm, or 10.30am-11pm at weekends (closed daily between 4.30 and 6pm), but we recommend swerving the scrum by dining mid-week. G/F, 63 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, 2834 8893, dim-sum.hk.
Spice it up Can you take the heat? The Michelin-starred Golden Valley sits on the first floor of The Emperor Hotel and with its traditional decor and relaxed ambience, makes a pleasant change of pace compare to the usual rowdy Chinese banquet restaurants. Whilst it dishes up great quality dim sum during the day, it’s Golden Valley’s sizzling Sichuan cuisine that really has us coming back for more
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French brasserie-style dining at Saint Germain.
- try the poached fish in hot chilli oil for a tastebud-tingling hit of numbing mala spice. Alternatively, opt for a hot-pot to cook your choice of meat and veg with a mix-your-own dipping sauce; the yin-yang style pot means you can have both a fiery Sichuan broth and more mellow chicken soup base bubbling away at once, pleasing all family member’s palates. 1/F, The Emperor (Happy Valley) Hotel, 1 Wang Tak Street, Happy Valley, 2961 3330, emperorhotel.com.hk. Our daily bread As befits a locale with a well-established French community, Maison Eric Kayser brings four generations of boulangerie expertise to the heart of Hong Kong. Specialising in French bread, cakes and pastries, the bakery’s enduringly popular croissants have won awards in Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and New York, so you’ll need to be up early to snag yours. In addition to the bakery, which also sells coffee-to-go, Maison Eric Kayser also has a light and airy 70 expat-parent.com
cafe space, giving you the opporunity to linger over your latte with a freshly baked tart, delicate macaron or indulgent slice of cake. The perfect spot for early risers, grab your morning pain from 7.30 every day. 60 Ventris Road, Happy Valley, 3107 0008, maison-kayser.com.hk. Paris match Another hint of the Valley’s French influence lies within the bar-brasserie Saint Germain. Situated directly opposite Happy Valley’s famous racecourse, this chic little Parisian eatery is a relaxed location for a convivial glass of wine with friends. The bar menu includes authentically French tipples such as calvados and pastis, an extensive list of regional wines, and a weekday happy hour that includes twofor-one champagne. Soak up your libations with a traditional menu that features escargots, coq au vin, or opt for bar nibbles including cold cuts, terrine or classic croques monsieur. G/F, 1A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2836 6131, french-creations.com/saint-germain.
Award winning croissants from Maison Eric Kayser.
Market fresh Plastic stools, bin bag tablecloths, bowls to clean your own cutlery - eating in a wet market is definitely not an experience for the prim and proper - but you don’t get much more uniquely Hong Kong than this. Located on the second floor of Happy Valley’s Cooked Food Centre, Gi Kee delivers delicious, reasonably priced Cantonese cuisine that has made them something of a favourite in local celebrity circles. Fresh seafood, which you can pick yourself (still swimming) from the restaurant’s tanks, is a speciality; baby clams in black bean sauce and steamed scallops with garlic, spring
onion and vermicelli are always winners. However their most famous dish has to be the garlic chicken - juicy, tender fried chicken topped with liberal amounts of golden crunchy garlic… now that’s fingerlickin’ good. Shop 4, Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, Wong Nai Chung Municipal Services Building, 2 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley, 2574 9937.
Old-school sophistication A stalwart of the Hong Kong dining scene for almost 50 years, Amigo’s retro grandeur has a charm all of its own. The setting is part antique-stuffed Bavarian castle, part Downton Abbey-esque mansion; the waiters (many of whom have been around for as long as the restaurant itself) are white-gloved and coat-tailed; the food is classical French, with cherry stone clam chowder and beef tenderloin
Sichuan favourites at Michelin-starred Golden Valley.
with goose liver some of their best-loved signatures. Just in case you were in any doubt that this is a “special occasion” kind of joint, each diner is given a notepad customembossed with their name, there’s a live band playing songs on request, and every lady guest receives a red rose before she leaves - they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Amigo Mansion, 79A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2577 2202, amigo.com.hk. Hong Kong hideaway For a freshly baked pineapple bun and hot cup of milk tea that comes with a side serving of Hong Kong history, the iconic Cheung Hing Coffee Stop is a must-visit. This old-school cha chaan teng has been going in various iterations for over 50 years, but its current incarnation - with lovingly restored original furniture fittings and in-house baker sifus might just be the best yet. Dishing up all the classic cha chaan teng staples, from egg tarts and HK-style French toast to spam macaroni and beef brisket noodles, this is the perfect venue for a mid-morning or afternoon pit-stop. 9 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley, 2572 5097.
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big day out
Music to the ears Now in its eighth year, Clockenflap is back, bigger than ever and in a brand new venue. Carolynne Dear catches up with music director Justin Sweeting.
hat are the highlights of this year’s festival? Every single part of Clockenflap is curated to the nth degree, and all chosen for very specific reasons, so it’s hard to pick just a few. On the one hand, the larger profile acts with huge live productions like The Chemical Brothers and Sigur Ros are going to put on incredible and memorable shows. But a key component of festivals is discovering your new favourite band, and acts like Blood Orange, badbadnotgood, Pumarosa and so many others are bound to have people talking afterwards. Apart from the music, art has always been a huge component of Clockenflap. This year’s theme is Future Human. There will be some amazing visual and 74 expat-parent.com
performing arts taking place throughout the three-day weekend. You’re in a new venue on the harbourfront this year, how does that change things? The new site places the fans right in the heart of the action - Hong Kong’s iconic neon skyline will dominate the performances and stages. It’s going to be a truly magical environment for a festival. Plus, you simply don’t get any more central that Central, and that certainly has logistical advantages. We’re really excited to be using the space in ways people won’t be expecting - we can’t wait to open the festival gates.
How long does it take to set up an event like this? It ebbs and flows, but effectively it’s a yearround endeavour. We have an incredible full-time team, which is complemented further leading up to the festival. We are always in the process of continuous improvement and fine tuning. We’re all pretty passionate about what we’re doing. How did Clockenflap first come about? Everyone thought we were crazy when we first started. At that time, Hong Kong didn’t have a music and arts festival, which we thought was sorely missing. We were told it wouldn’t be possible to make an event like Clockenflap work in Hong Kong - marrying music, arts and festival experiences for both expats and locals of all ages.
big day out
However, I was lucky enough to meet festival co-founders Mike and Jay, and although at the time we had no idea where our vision would take us, we’ve always dreamt big. Last year we welcomed over 60,000 visitors and this year’s it’s even bigger. Will you be supporting up-and-coming local talent? For me, the key to festival planning is all about balance, and whilst I’m not generally too interested in where an artist is from, the one exception to that is we will always go above and beyond when it comes to supporting local Hong Kong talent. Since our inception, we have always had more local artists play the festival than from anywhere else. The area that most interests me is how we help cultivate and encourage more local acts to be in a position where they can play the larger stages in later time slots. That all comes down, case by case, to each act’s profile - the positive sign is that
the momentum is moving forwards in this regard. What are you looking forward to personally? As I have young children, spending whatever time I can with them and watching them enjoy the family friendly entertainment and form their own Clockenflap memories will be an absolute joy. How challenging is it signing up international artists? The booking process never stops, and we’re already in discussions with acts for 2017. Of course it’s always a challenge aligning schedules for our specific weekend - the artists we are looking for are in constant demand not just throughout the world, but in terms of fitting in with their other demands as artists, such as recording. The good news is that we’re now in a nice position in terms of being firmly
established on the global festival map as an event which artists want to play. Lots of international industry attend the festival and their feedback is always so reassuring in terms of it truly being a world class event. If you could sign up one dream artist, who would it be? If I had to choose just one, it would be Radiohead. Though for a festival of our capacity and ticket price it’s nigh on impossible to make their kind of fees work. Any wild rock ‘n’ roll stories to tell? Not that I’m prepared to share! No, seriously, 90% of the time it’s not as glamorous as people think. What about diva requests? We’ve been pretty lucky on this front in that we’ve yet to really have a diva on the levels you hear about. So far, it’s all been quite reasonable.
big day out What peripheral entertainments do you have planned? Clockenflap has always been about the overall experience of the festival, and the entertainment around the music is a key driver to this. One main highlight on this front is the return of the ever popular Club
The Chemical Brothers Sigur Ros Foals Jose Gonzalez George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Blood Orange
Minky venue. This is a curated, threeday programme featuring performances discovered at fringe festivals around the world, transporting festival-goers into a surreal and bizarre underworld of theatre, cabaret, comedy, circus and live music. I highly recommend it. What about family entertainment? Our family-themed area, Future Fields, is bigger and better than ever. Performing on the Acorn stage will be international and local music acts, comedy, theatre and variety performances. There will also be workshops (build your own robot), a bouncy castle, children’s art and much more. We also have infrastructure for parents of very young children, such as baby changing and nursing stations.The idea is that people of all ages will be able to enjoy their own Clockenflap experience, whatever their age. What sort of food and drinks will be available? We take our food offering very seriously and over the years Clockenflap has trail-blazed the way for outdoor events of this scale. We’ve had numerous successful food concepts who have chosen to launch at the festival. This year, there will be even more vendors, handpicked by our food curator. There’ll be something for everyone.
What safety procedures do you have in place - particularly to calm the nerves of parents of teens? We have a team of in-house and internationally sourced qualified experts in crowd safety, first aid, security and crowd management - we have ensured that our safety set-up goes well above and beyond local legal requirements. Basically, it’s our highest priority. We have a zero tolerance policy towards underage drinking and drugs, with officials patrolling the site at all hours, not just responsibly policing the event, but also ensuring that anyone in need of help receives as efficiently as possible. How will you be celebrating when it’s all over? Sleep! The team will go into a welldeserved but short-lived hibernation, where we can catch up on some rest and get back to dreaming about what we’ll do next. This year Clockenflap will be held at Central Harbourfront from 25 - 27 Nov. Tickets are available at clockenflap.com/tickets. For up-to-date programme information, see clockenflap.com.
Hong Kong’s biggest outdoor music festival is back with a bang.
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Vietnamese fragrance specialist Kate Crofton tells Carolynne Dear why Ho Chi Minh will always hold a special place in her heart.
t’s a blustery day (we later discover it was actually a T3 blowing through) as I catch up with fragrance house Cochine Saigon’s elegant founder, Kate Crofton, over an al fresco lunch in Soho. Her home is now very much in Hong Kong, but she spent her initial expat-ing years in the tropical sunshine of Ho Chi Minh in southern Vietnam, a city which also inspired the creation of her company. Such is her depth of knowledge and love for the place, she has become a sort of amateur “go to” travel adviser for family and friends. I am here to plumb the depths of her knowledge for the Expat Parent readership - I know, a tough gig, but someone’s got to do it. “It was a glorious time,” she remembers. “My husband’s job had been transferred to Vietnam and I had managed to transfer with my company, L’Oreal Paris. We initially landed in Hanoi for a couple of months to acclimatise. We were expecting to live in Saigon for a few years, and I didn’t want to drop into the city completely green, knowing nothing about the country. So we spent a number of weeks learning Vietnamese at Hanoi University and discovering Vietnamese culture. “Hanoi is in the north and although I really enjoyed it, I would say that there is a big difference between the north and the south of
Vietnam, both in terms of weather and culture. “As soon as I landed in Ho Chi Minh, I fell in love with the place. It has this amazing, laid-back vibe. It’s a beautiful city, with lots of French architecture - I was particularly struck by the pale green shutters (hence the pale green tassel on all Cochine presentation boxes), the faded elegance and the chic “indochine” style.” As Crofton explains, the weather in the south is much warmer than the north, with no winter. “The south is more tropical, but not
The Vietnamese say that life is sweeter in the south. as humid as nearby Singapore. I adored the beautiful, soft light. The Vietnamese say that both the food and life in the south is sweeter. People are more easy-going, which might be due to the warm weather enabling them to enjoy up to four harvests a year. Everyone we met during our time there was certainly very welcoming and friendly.” Looking back, she
describes her existence as “pretty dreamy”. “I realised straight away that rather than introduce a product into the country (she had been tasked with launching Garnier skin-care on behalf of L’Oreal), I wanted to create a product that encapsulated the place.” So from the terrace of her riverside villa, she founded Cochine Saigon, which today incorporates a range of candles, diffusers and body products in a variety of fragrances using Vietnamese plants and trees. “I teamed up with the local university and also with a fragrance house in New York to blend the best that Vietnam has to offer. I was influenced by morning bike rides to the boulangerie past flowering jasmine, by the scent of tuberose floating over our villa at dusk. There were just so many beautiful scents to inspire me. I would then spend happy hours on my terrace with a panel of friends testing the results. They were truly heady, halcyon times.” These days she heads back several times a year mainly on business, but tries to enjoy the odd weekend relaxing with family, particularly now that her cousin lives there. “I would say it is the perfect long weekend from Hong Kong. The flight is just two hours and the airport is a mere twenty minutes from the centre of town.” She highly recommends it for children too,
Arriving for cocktails and dinner at The Deck.
Time for tea at L’Usine.
although warns that the old tiled pavements in the city are not stroller friendly and the motorbike-clogged roads can be challenging to cross. “I’d say it’s a better destination for slightly older children, five and up.” The best time to visit is outside of rainy season, which runs from August through to October - this time of year is perfect. There is no typhoon season, and the rest of the year it is pleasantly warm and sunny. In terms of accommodation, she says you can’t go past the Park Hyatt. “This is the best hotel in Ho Chi Minh, and is right in the centre. You can reach everywhere by foot from here. It also has a lovely pool.” However, if you’re looking for something a little more boutique, she highly recommends Villa Song, an old home that has been converted into a hotel by French expat Valerie Gregori Mckenzie. “It’s been gorgeously restored, with a riverside restaurant. It’s in District 2 which is away from the hubbub of the city and I think it’s the nicest boutique hotel in the city.” Eating out, Crofton says she loves Ben Thanh market. “It’s a covered market that sells amazing linen, silks, rattan, ceramics, flowers, coffee, fresh spices (think cinnamon and chamomile), coffee and food, and has a great food market.” She also recommends Quan An Ngon, a traditional Vietnamese restaurant styled as a food market, also in District 1, which is particularly good for lunch. “I’d also advise having dinner at rustic Cuc Gach Quan (also known as “The Brick”) for a quirky experience. You climb a ladder up to the rafters and then into a bed frame to eat. It sounds slightly odd, but it’s fantastic and has garnered a bit of a following since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie turned up for 80 expat-parent.com
Rush-hour in central Ho Chi Minh.
dinner there, so definitely book ahead. And if it’s in season, make sure you try the Taen Ly flower dish.” Another hot spot for dinner is The Deck. Also in District 2, you can reach it by boat at dusk, puttering through the fragrant water hyacinths before disembarking for cocktails and an Asian-fusion meal by the river. “Just be aware that in Vietnam dinner is taken fairly early. Eating when it gets dark at 6pm is quite normal.” During the day, the Cu Chi tunnels are not to be missed. “They’re around a three hour drive from Ho Chi Minh, but Ex Tours have started offering a boat trip there, which speeds things up considerably and is also a very pleasant way of travelling. “The same company offers tours to the Mekong Delta - seeing the little river boats piled high with fruit and other market goods is definitely worth the trip.” A meander through Ben Thanh market is a must, as is a trip to Antique Street (Le Cong
Kieu) just nearby - brilliant for vases, Marelli fans and hidden treasures. “If you’re looking for art, an English art historian called Sophie is a local expert and will take you around the galleries with an introduction to Vietnam’s art history. It’s also worth finding out if artist Pham Luan has an exhibition on - his work is divine. “Also check out L’Usine on Le Loi Street near the Park Hyatt, it’s a concept store full of high-end Vietnamese craft. It has a very good French-inspired cafe for lunch.” Unfortunately the T3 is whipping itself into a possible T8, and so I reluctantly take my leave. But I do think there is nothing more inspiring than being recommended a destination by someone so passionate and so obviously fond of a place as Crofton. I have already been online to book a flight… Cochine Saigon products are available in Hong Kong from Indigo Home, Harvey Nichols and Four Seasons Hotel Spa, cochine.com.
Crofton recommends… ...for lunching Quan An Ngon, 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, 7am10pm, quanngon138.com, +84 8 3852 7179; Ben Thanh Market, Phan Boi Chau, Ben Thanh, 6am-6pm, ben-thanh-market.com.
...for shopping Ben Thanh Market, Phan Boi Chau, Ben Thanh, 6am-6pm, ben-thanh-market.com. Antique Street (Le Cong Kieu). L’Usine, 70B Le Loi Street and 151/1 Dong Khom Street, lusinespace.com.
...for dining Cuc Gach Quan, 10 Dang Tat, Tan Dinh, District 1, 9am-11pm, cucgachquan.com.vn/en, +84 8 38480144. The Deck, 38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, District 2, 8-12am, thedecksaigon.com, +84 8 37446632.
...for exploring Sophie’s Art Tours, sophiesarttour.com. Ex Tours, exotravel.com. Food tours by motorcycle, Belles on Bikes, saigonfoodtour.com.
To advertise, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 2776 2772.
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The Indignity of Old Age Spots might be embarrassing but liver spots are excruciating, Simon Parry discovers as he goes into rapid middle-aged decline while his teenage offspring flourish.
Oh, it’s you,” my eldest son James groans, looking up from his bowl of Cheerios as I walk into the kitchen for breakfast. “I was hoping you might have passed away in the night. Why do you bother getting up in the morning anyway? You’re pointless and you’ll be dead soon.” “That’s weird,” I reply nonchalantly as I rummage in the cupboard looking for Golden Syrup to pour over my Pop Tarts. “Either I’m still asleep and dreaming, or there’s a huge pulsating zit sitting at the table and attempting to speak to me in sub-human grunts. Someone call Clearasil HQ and tell them to rush round with a team of operatives with a hose and a lance.” That’s roughly the way our morning conversations used to go, and I was perfectly happy with the banter until two shattering events intervened. Firstly, in a matter of weeks, my son’s skin cleared up, leaving me with a litany of spot-related taunts and insults I could no longer use (at least until his younger brother began to erupt). Secondly, and even more seriously, I suddenly started to get really, really old. Obviously, I realised it was always going to happen sometime. But I had assumed it would be a steady, graceful process that would subtly add to my allure rather than diminish it. An extra crease in the forehead that would give me a touch more gravitas as I issued forth on the latest political turn of events; a mild deterioration in my short-distance vision that would require a slightly stronger but distinguished pair of reading glasses as I pored over the Economist editorial; a minute or two off my half marathon time but a correspondingly higher and more impressive ranking for my new age group. But it wasn’t like that at all. Instead, I turned 51 and suddenly everything went saggy and wobbly almost overnight. My face started to sag and hang from my cheekbones like a bag of overripe aubergines. My pelvic bones disappeared 84 expat-parent.com
Simon Parry is a jaded, middleaged journalist and father of four. He lives in Hong Kong.
I turned 51 and everything went saggy and wobbly almost overnight
beneath a layer of fat as my belly became bloated and distended. My knees sagged and my chest wheezed and my feet ached when I attempted exercise. It was clear that James’s mocking prophecies had come alarmingly true and I was waddling towards an undignified end. It wasn’t as if there had been any sudden change in my lifestyle. I was eating as badly, drinking as excessively, exercising
as infrequently and generally living as irresponsibly as I had been when I was 50 or 40 or 30. The only difference was that time had caught up with me and I couldn’t get away with it any longer. The portrait had come out of the attic and the rest of my body had suddenly decided to fail me and catch up with the male pattern baldness that brutally mugged me in my mid-20s. There are tried and tested reactions, of course. I could take up yoga and become a teetotal vegetarian. I could run obsessively further and further to burn off all the excess fat, racing to catch up with a sinking sun in a vain effort to slow the clock of degeneration. I could even go onto a spiritual retreat to wean myself off all of my bad habits and gain a new perspective on life where I accept the ageing process and embrace its positive aspects. But let’s face it. Any one of those options would involve effort, commitment, mental concentration and drinking considerably less beer. They also overlook the best of all options: Becoming a middle-aged curmudgeon who has basically given up on life and dignity and shamelessly plays the sympathy card to avoid outright abuse and mockery. So, at breakfast the next morning, I turn to James with a thin smile and try to strike a truce as I spread thick layers of butter and Frank Cooper’s thick-cut marmalade over the top of my Weetabix. “Can we make a deal James?” I ask him. “If I don’t mention your spots any more will you ease off a bit on the ageist stuff?” He shrugs nonchalantly then – with a spoonful of Coco Pops in one hand and a peanut butter and jam sandwich in the other – asks me with a fresh-faced grin: “Is that you talking or the dementia, you sad old loser?