Page 1









! s a m t s i r h C

the really useful magazine

December 2016


plus party etiquette with Sir David Tang

Your one-stop guide for the holidays Festive Home Styling Markets Trees Food Gifts





Editor’s letter


Christmas is here! But are you ready?

New boarding school and 2,000 cupcakes.

4 Contributors

School news

Meet the team.



We take a look at Victoria Shanghai Academy.

School photos

Educational fun and frolics from across Hong Kong.


What’s on

Your comprehensive Christmas run-down.

14 News

What’s happening this month.

18 Giveaways Debate of the month

Christmas gifts - how do you play it?


Book review

New releases for Christmas plus author interviews.


My Hong Kong


Modern family

A tale of three cities.


Cover story

Principal’s office

With VSA principal.


Life & style news


Life & style

Partying with Sir David Tang; plus how to do Sham Shui Po.

68 Food


Christmas feasts.

74 Travel

At home with Santa Claus.


Exclusive chat with the man in red.



Stars and stripes for the Taste Buddies, plus other news.

Loads of free stuff.


Open day


The best of Hong Kong this festive season.


Colouring competition

Roll out the felt tips.


The big interview


Feeding Hong Kong’s homeless.

Scan and visit our website

28 1

editor’s message

who’s in charge? Publisher Tom Hilditch

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel

Editor Carolynne Dear

Contributing Editor Callum Wiggins

Contributing editor Annie Wong

Senior Staff Writer Eric Ho

Design Design Manager Cindy Suen


seem to have progressed from junk to Christmas shopping in one, easy leap this year. No doubt it’s all to do with my advancing age, but Christmas does seem to be coming round faster and faster with every year that flies by. This year we will be remaining in Hong Kong - which means no frantic packing or panic sweater buying as I prep the kids for a (very) cool yule in rural England. No, this year I have the luxury of waking up in my own bed, with my own family and presents that have been chosen without weight or size restriction. I’d like to say I’ll also be waking up on Christmas Day to the aromatic scents of a turkey roasting in the oven, but I got a bit carried away editing this month’s wonderful Food feature and booked up a brunch in town. My kids are a mixed bunch, brought up on Christmas seafood barbies down under, more traditional lunches at Granny’s in the UK, and the odd picnic (yes, we did ham sandwiches on Sydney harbour the year I got so overwhelmed with babies and toddlers and generally being a trailing spouse that I forgot Christmas altogether), so at least with a brunch everyone will be happy with their personally selected festive feast. This month I particularly enjoyed speaking with Claire Yates of The Lion Rock Press. I’m a sucker for Hong Kong heritage, and it was very special to hear about her family’s rich history in the territory. I thank them for offering to share their stories and hope they enjoy tucking in at the Football Club this year. We have also launched our very first Expat Parent Colouring Competition! The stunning design was crafted by talented local artist Karine Fayard of Little Malabar. She has also generously offered a giant colouring poster to the winning entry. So get colouring on page 40. Which leaves me with nothing more to do than to wish you happy reading, happy colouring, happy Christmas and an amazing 2017!

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing Sales Director Oliver Simons

Sales and Marketing Executive Maria Jones

Sales and Marketing Executive Egbert Cheung

Sales and Marketing Executive Bonnie Li

Accounting Executive Jason To

Digital Marketing PA to the Publisher Digital Marketing Manager Charmaine Mirandilla

Office Security

PA to the Publisher Amanda Chia

Peace Keepers

Cat the dog

Fish & Chips

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 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 Expat Parent is published by Fast Media Limited. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Expat Parent cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

2 3


Annie Wong...

Adele Brunner...

Ellie Kehoe...

... put together our Christmas Food special feature this month. When she’s not hard at work running all over town to bring us the latest in festive feasts, she works at Fast Media as the editor of Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay magazine. Over the weekend, you’ll find her eating her way around Hong Kong and playing the occasional tennis game. Hailing from Australia, the thing she misses most in Hong Kong is her big fourwheel drive.

...put together this month’s Life & Style. Showcasing all the latest in home news, the section takes a look at upcoming 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 sport loving children. a 16 year old student at the Australian International School, Hong Kong. She has chosen to do a week of work experience at Fast Media and has made small contributions by visiting Christmas media launches with editor Carolynne Dear and writing small news stories about her adventures - as well as a couple on coconut oil! We’re looking forward to welcoming her back as a fully fledged writer in a few years.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

Santa shops at

Count Along Cash Register

Noah's Balancing Ark


$250 City Auto Centre


Raleigh Bikes

Baby Walker with ABC Blocks


from $1,399


Sweetheart Cottage with Furniture

Bosch Junior Workbench or Carpenters Belt



Mini Micro 3-in-1 Deluxe


Slam Stars Junior Basket Ball or Reflex Soccer Swingball


from $250

Extending Microphone, Wooden Ukulele or CD Player

from $225

Oven & Hob

$750 Christmas Stockings, Sacks & Santa

from $99

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

Sai Kung Store, Sai Kung T 2976 0223

D Park Store, Tsuen Wan T 2799 2923

4 5

school photos Australian International School

There was a heap of fun to be had at AISHK’s biennial school fair. The theme was “The Great Aussie Adventure”.

Kellett School

1,325 students, staff and parents broke the Guiness World Record for the “Largest Human Image of a Boat”. Happy 40th birthday Kellett School! 6

school photos Anfield School

Anfield students get competitive at the school sports day.

Nord Anglia International School

Nord Anglia celebrates National Day (top and right); plus over 40 students took part in the Global Games Asia (below). 7

what’s on

Decorations at 1881 Heritage, TST, part of Winterfest 2016, until Jan 1.

UNTIL JAN 1 Winterfest Hong Kong’s festive offerings include the Pulse 3D Light Show and the classic Statue Square Christmas tree. Look out for special appearances by Santa Claus and friends while a Christmas choir will serenade the crowds with festive carols,

UNTIL JAN 2 Disneyland Goofy is bringing Christmas cheer to Hong Kong this year as he dons his Santa costume and greets guests during Hong Kong Disneyland’s “A Sparkling Christmas” . An 18-metre LED-wrapped Christmas tree is not to be missed while the night parade is 8

a visual feast of seasonal decorations with Christmas carollers singing all your favourite tunes,

DEC 2 Build Your Confidence Gathering for ladies to tackle confidence issues thought exercises led and designed by Nathalie of Sommer Life. Contributions welcome to support refugee women, Teakha, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan (upstairs), for reservations and times.

DEC 4 & 11 Classics for Kids Christmas Concert The SAR Philharmonic Orchestra’s 15th annual interactive concert introduces

children to classical music and lets them try out the instruments too. 2.15pm and 5pm, Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai. Tickets from $295 from, 3128 8288.

DEC 8-12 Disney on Ice Join all your favourite Disney characters from Minnie and Mickey to Dory, Timon and Pumba in a dazzling performance on ice. Performance lasts two hours with a 15 minute intermission. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai. Tickets from $280-$680 from or call 3128 8288.

what’s on

DEC 8-JAN 22

DEC 11 & 23-24

Wicked The spellbinding musical, which has cast its magic on more than 50 million theatre goers worldwide, takes to the stage at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, find out how the wicked witch of the west became so wonderfully wicked. Tickets from $445 at, 3128 8288.

The Snowman & the Bear Watch Raymond Briggs’ heartwarming Christmas classics on the big screen with a live orchestral accompaniment, narration and singing. Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium on December 11 and Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall on December 23-24.

UNTIL DEC 14 French Film Festival 2016 A showcase of some of the finest French cinema brought to you by the Alliance Française de Hong Kong. Tickets go quickly so book in advance.

DEC 14 Bill Bailey, Larks in Transit British comedian, musician and actor Bill Bailey performs his brand new show - Larks in Transit - in Hong Kong. Larks in Transit delves into Bill’s 20 years of life as a travelling comedian and all the shenanigans along the way. 8pm at Kitec Rotunda 3, Kowloon Bay. Tickets from $488 at

DEC 18 Stride For A Cure Christmas charity walk in aid of Hong Kong Cancer Fund. Five and 10km options for all ages, start and finish line at Hong Kong International School, Tai Tam. Santa plus food, entertainment and games will be there to welcome you at the finish line. Register online at or call 3667 6333.

DEC 24 Christingle at St John’s Bring the children to the lovely Christingle service for carols by candlelight, plus oranges and sweets for the little ones. 4.45pm, St John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central,

St John’s will be leading festive services throughout the month.

DEC 24 Midnight Mass And the blessing of the crib. 11pm, St John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central,

DEC 25 Happy Christmas! Let the festivities begin…

The Stage is Set for Our 18th Anniversary!

Christmas Programmes Holiday Theatre and Creative Writing 20th to 23rd December and/or 28th to 30th December

Free Trial Workshops 10th December 2016 Book your session online! 2547 9114

Weekly Term-Time Drama Workshops With qualified, experienced leaders and unrivalled resources, we offer the best in drama and theatrical education for our members. Join us for weekly drama workshops for ages 3 to 18 that takes place in venues across Hong Kong and Kowloon including: Sheung Wan

Discovery Bay

Mid Levels


Kowloon Tong

Pok Fu Lam

Repulse Bay

The Peak


Faust International Ltd. 5th Floor, Nan Dao Commercial Building, 359 & 361 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan

Top 10

Best After-School Activity


2014, 2015, 2016

Hong Kong

Summer Activities for Kids


After-School Activities for Tots to Teens 9

book now MAY 27 Linked Inaugural Black Tie Wonderland Ball Local charity Missione Possibile Hong Kong is in the process of organising its inaugural Linked Annual Black Tie Wonderland Ball. The charity supports two schools in rural Cambodia, enabling village children to obtain an education at both primary and secondary level. Money raised from this event will go towards

the construction of a vocational college and fund Link Universal’s sex trafficking rehabilitation programme. The ball is being held at the Royal Plaza Hotel and organisers are now seeking sponsors and prize donations for the raffle and silent auction. Please contact

Julia Donaldson will be appearing live at Kidsfest 2017.

JAN 5 - FEB 12 Kidsfest 2017 The biggest children’s theatre festival returns for another year of fun-filled performances at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. One production


not to miss is Gruffalos, Ladybirds and other Beasts which will feature Julia Donaldson herself live on stage. Tickets available at or call 3128 8288.

Fundraiser Audrey Jack (centre) on her way to Cambodia with much needed supplies. 11

what’s on

Christmas markets - your ultimate guide DEC 1 & 2


Shoppinghongkong Fringe Club Holiday Bazaar Loads of goodies in this Central location. 127pm, Anita Chan Lai Gallery, G/F Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central.

Island Five-0 Arts Festival Island School’s winter fair celebrates the school’s 50th anniversary. Music performances, art exhibitions, film screenings and food. Entry $20, 3-10pm, 20 Borrett Road, Mid-levels.

DEC 2 American International School Winter Fair This annual event will include food, game booths, student performances and a grand lucky draw. 3.30-8pm, 125 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong.

DEC 2, 3 & 4 Hullett House Christmas Market Nordic-themed Christmas market with gourmet food and drinks, decorations, handmade accessories and live music. 5-11pm (Fri), noon-11pm (Sat & Sun), 50 Pigeons Courtyard, Hullett House, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, TST.

DEC 3 St Stephen’s Christmas Fete A traditional English fete, with bouncy castles, games, food shopping and more. Don’t miss Santa’s arrival by helicopter at 12.30pm! All monies raised support local charities. Entry $20, free for children, 11am-4.30pm, St Stephen’s College Sports Ground, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley.

DEC 4 Sai Kung Christmas Market Fun family day out, with food, crafts, jewellery, wine and more. 11am-5pm, Hong Kong Academy, 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung.

DEC 3 Christmas Shopping Market & Long Lunch Browse the markets then head to the roof for an al fresco feast, courtesy of The Butchers Club. 12-4pm, The Butchers Club Deli, 16-17/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen. $250/ person with option to add $200 for free-flow wine, beer and soft drinks.

DEC 3 Il Mercatino The Italian Day at Sandy Bay is back with a fab range of Italian delicacies, fashion and more. Oraganised by the Italian Women’s Association in support of The Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital. $20 entrance, 1-5pm, 12 Sandy Bay Road, Pok Fu Lam.


DEC 8 Prestige Fairs at the Conrad Christmas Showcase Get your Christmas shop on at the third in this series of four seasonal bazaars. 10am-8pm, Grand Ballroom, Conrad Hong Kong, Pacific Place.

DEC 10 International Fun Fair The YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College will be holding The Amazing Air Balloon Ride annual fair with food, face painting, game booths, bouncy castles, art gallery and cultural fashion show. 11am - 9pm, 2 Chung Yat Street, Tung Chung, Lantau, email iff@

DEC 10 & 11 Italian Christmas Market Indulge with Italian cheeses and cold cuts and enjoy some great Christmas shopping. 12-7pm, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central.

Market s a m t s i r h C Italian

DEC 11 Wellness 360 Festive Fair Find out how to enjoy a healthy festive season. Live dance and fitness performances plus workout sessions throughout the day. 10am-7pm, Lee Garden One, Driveway, Causeway Bay.

DEC 11, 13 & 27 Handmade Hong Kong Festive fun and lots of handcrafted originals. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Main Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau.

DEC 14 Prestige Fairs at the Conrad - Christmas Gift Festival This final showcase concludes the Prestige run of gift fairs. Shop ‘til you drop! 10am-8pm, Grand Ballroom, Conrad Hong Kong, Pacific Place. 13


Beach life More than 800 local school children and volunteers took to Repulse Bay Beach last month to draw attention to plastic rubbish pollution in our oceans at the 4th Kids Ocean Day. They formed a huge image of Hong Kong’s trash monster “Lap Sap Chung”, the much loved 1970s “litterbug” cartoon that was originally created by the then colonial government as part of an anti-litter campaign. Renamed “Trashvilla”, the monster dominated the beach and it is hoped he will serve as a reminder to all to keep Hong Kong’s waters clear of plastic pollution. The aerial art image was designed by nine year old Ty Curnow from The International School of Macau.

Colour me! Expat Parent and Little Malabar have joined forces to bring you the first ever Expat Parent Christmas Colouring Competition! We’re inviting young and old alike to grab their felt tips and lend their imagination to our centrefold Christmas image (page 40), designed by local artist and entrepreneur, Karine Fayard. Fayard started her creative company Little Malabar in 2011, following her passion for drawing and for children. She is inspired by her two young boys, who both love to draw. Her giant posters can be coloured alone or with friends - there are currently two versions, including a Hong Kong landscape, with a third due for release in January. Watch this space. Great for Christmas presents, the posters also come in a travel format and make fun gifts for overseas friends or family - or for keeping kids busy when you’re on the move. Post your completed entries, including the artist’s name, age and email address, to Expat Parent Colouring Competition, Fast Media, Lvl 1, 222 Queens Road Central, Central, Hong Kong. The deadline is Monday December 19, the winner will be announced in the January issue of Expat Parent and will receive a giant colouring poster and felt tip pens courtesy of Little Malabar. Little Malabar colouring posters are available from Partytime stores. 14

American women celebrate 60 years

AWA president Marcy LaRont (centre) with guests.

The American Women’s Association celebrated its diamond anniversary in style last month with a gala dinner. The event was held at the Aberdeen Marina Club and welcomed special guests American consul general Kurt Tong and his wife Dr Mika Marumoto, deputy consul general Thomas Hodges and his wife Sandra, the American Chamber of Commerce chairman Dr Richard Vuylsteke and head of the AmCham Charitable Foundation Peter Levesque. The honourable Mrs Anson Chan, former chief secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong government, also attended. AWA president Marcy LaRont spoke

passionately about the organisation’s impact on Hong Kong society. “The AWA has been responsible for funding over $30million in charitable grants and education scholarships, affecting countless women, girls, children, the elderly and disabled,” she said. “We are vested in Hong Kong and hope to give something of ourselves because Hong Kong has given us so much.” The evening raised $60,000 for various Hong Kong-based charities. Formed in 1956, the AWA has more than 650 members from 35 countries. For membership enquiries, contact


Landmark under fire for circusthemed Christmas display

Maids’ Christmas wish-list

Hong Kong’s Landmark shopping mall has come under criticism from animal rights groups for its annual Christmas installation. The display features circus animals that include bicycling elephants and hippos dressed in bathing outfits posing on podiums. It was designed based on drawings by French illustrator Eric Giriat about a little girl who helps Santa Paws master his circus skills and together they travel the world in a magical hot air balloon. Giriat sketched nine different scenes which have been transformed into the huge installation at Landmark Atrium on Queen’s Road Central. Over 100 colourful figurines burst into life every 30 minutes with music and lighting. But Animals Asia, a charity that campaigns to end abusive animal practices, has questioned the Landmark’s choice of installation. “We’re shocked,” said the charity’s founder and CEO, Jill Robinson. “When did cruelty become a part of Christmas? Thankfully no live animals are being harmed… but they are setting an awful example. The display has the potential to normalise cruelty, particularly among the children it is aimed at.” A statement from The Landmark said that while they appreciated the concerns regarding animal welfare, it would “never condone animal cruelty or live animal performances.” “We note that there are some negative reactions to The Landmark’s Christmas installations and we regret for any misunderstanding caused,” continued a spokesperson for Hongkong Land. “This year’s display represents a surreal, fantasy story of animal characters and a little girl.”

One in five domestic helpers say they have never received a Christmas gift from their employer, according to a recent survey. HelperChoice, an online platform that connects employers with domestic workers, asked helpers throughout Hong Kong about how they spend Christmas. Asked what their dream present would be, 46% of respondents said a ticket home would be their ultimate gift. One in ten said they would like a sponsored training course to learn new skills - such as cooking, business or hairdressing; and a handful said they would like a ticket for an activity such as Ocean Park, the movies or a massage. Over a third said they would most like a cash bonus. Most of the helpers surveyed said they planned to send home cash for Christmas, and some said they would also be sending boxes of gifts containing chocolates, clothes and toys. “I want to go home, that’s my best gift - to be with them this Christmas, especially my little daughter,” said one. However, the survey was found that for most helpers, especially those with nonexpat employers, Chinese New Year is the most important time for gift sharing. All domestic helpers are entitled to one day off over the Christmas period, either Wednesday December 21 (Chinese Winter Solstice Festival) or Christmas Day - and as December 25 falls on a Sunday this year, most helpers will be given the following day off in lieu.

She emphasised that the Landmark will also be donating to the Make A Wish Foundation via tickets bought for the installation’s Santa Paws Christmas Wish Machine. But animal rights supporters remain unconvinced. “Of all the Christmas messages - why on earth did they choose this?” said Robinson. The installation runs until January 1 at 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central.

The Landmark is running with a circus theme this year.

Turtle trials Local Southside resident Kirsten Zaki discovered this handsome chap washed up on Stanley beach late last month. Sadly the turtle was dead, but it was tagged, so was potentially being traced by Hong Kong Marine Life’s turtle conservation programme. The programme is run by the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department (AFCD), who in happier news successfully released ten green turtles earlier last month into Hong Kong waters. The turtles had originally been seized from a fish raft in Sok Kwu Wan. After 16

assessment by vets at Ocean Park the turtles were tagged and returned to the ocean. By tagging the turtles, the AFCD is hoping to collect valuable data to better formulate conservation measures. Zaki noted that the beach where she discovered this turtle was also covered in plastic refuse. She is urging residents to consider carefully how they dispose of rubbish. All turtle sightings should be reported to the AFCD via 1823, or A deceased turtle washed up on Stanley beach.


Story creatives come to Central PAPINEE, a global children’s storytelling social enterprise, is collaborating with Pearl Lam Galleries in Sheung Wan and the Mandarin Oriental to present a multi-sensory exhibition. The initiative is intended to inspire children through creativity and storytelling. “Imagination and curiosity is what empowers kids to dream about their future and soar through life with a smile,” said PAPINEE founder Dev Suj. “We wanted to bring the PAPINEE animal storytelling kits to life with a spectacular multi-sensory art installation that takes children on a journey across the globe.” The Mandarin Oriental will also be hosting a PAPINEE installation in its lobby as well as the largest ever PAPINEE sculpture - a 7’ tall edifice. Cafe Causette will be converted into a PAPINEE Storytellling Cafe and a PAPINEE pop-up store will plough proceeds into Changing Young Lives Foundation. The installations run in both venues until January 6. The Pearl Lam Galleries will be welcoming underprivileged local children and schools to the exhibition every weekday

In brief… ...Maternity, baby and child specialist Bumps to Babes has moved from its Pedder Street store to a new Central location. The retailer stocks essentials from birth to eight years and has been a stalwart for new parents and young families in Hong Kong for the last 14 years. The new location also offers a mother and baby feeding/changing room and is open seven days a week. The company says its trained staff will continue to be on hand for expert advice and customer service. The new store is open 10am-7pm Mon-Sat; and 11am-6pm Sun and public holidays. It is located at 13/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2522 7112,

PAPINEE founder Dev Suj.

between 10am and 4pm; it is open to the general public 4.30-7pm on weekdays and 12-6pm on Saturday, No 1 Soho 189, 189 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, 2857 1328. PAPINEE World at Mandarin Oriental is open throughout until January 6, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2522 0111,

Where Early Years Matter !"!#$%&'($)&'($ Streams: English and Bilingual Age: 12 months to 6 years

Address: Tower 18 Parkview,

88 Tai Tam Reservoir Road, HK Tel: 2812 6023 Fax: 2812 2938


Streams: Bilingual and Trilingual Age: 12 months to 6 years

IB Au t h o r is Wo r ld ed Scho o ls

Address: Podium Level, Kowloon Station

1 Austin Road West, Kowloon.

Tel: 2812 6801

Fax: 2812 6201



!!!"#$#%"&'(")* 17

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

Flex studio

Start 2017 the clean way with a six-day detox at Flex Studio led by Michelle Ricaille, Homeopath Doctor and EYRT-500-hour Yoga Alliance Instructor. One fortunate reader will win a spot at this transformative detox, which starts on January 16th. The workshop includes a comprehensive detox manual, a lecture and cooking class, a daily yoga class and much more. Deadline: December 23

Ovolo southside

Enjoy the ultimate staycation by spending two glorious nights at Ovolo Southside. On offer is two nights’ accommodation at the hotel’s premier room category, the Long Loft as well as Sunday buffet brunch* for two in a total package worth $6,000! And of course, all of Ovolo’s amazing freebies are included – breakfast, Wi-Fi, mini bar, happy hour, self-laundry, flexible check in / check out, yep, all free. *Beverage packages must be purchased separately for brunch Deadline: December 21

Benefit cosmetics

Benefit Cosmetics is giving us a Christmas to remember: there are seven holiday sets to choose from this year, and we’ve got three pairs to give away! Take your pick from Girl O’Clock Rock, their advent calendar containing 12 bestsellers, Kissy Missy (for the lipstick lovers) or Girls Gone Wow (containing full size products for your entire face)! Deadline: December 22


brought to you by YCIS 19

debate of the month

All wrapped up

Will Santa be keeping it real this year - or will those stockings be well and truly stuffed?

“I TRY to keep it simple! “One you want, one you need one to wear and one to read” - we also do a craft activity to sell, and donate the money to charity.” - Jane, Gold Coast.

Just a few gifts for us. - Sara, Pok Fu Lam.

“We keep it super simple. We create a present list during the year and nearer the time they get to choose one item.” -Ifat, Sai Kung.

“Something to wear, something they want (but nothing too crazy!), something they need and something special from us.” - Lori, Hong Kong.

“We usually get something they want. My son’s list is always super long!” - Jazabelle, Tai Wai.

The last few years I’ve gone overboard and then regretted it. This year I’m getting the gift he really wants (a bike) and then there will be a Santa stocking at Grandma’s house. - Nicola, North Point. “Every year I try to keep it simple, then something takes over in my the week before Christmas and I end up buying way too much!” - Mawgan, Happy Valley.

+ “The sky’s the limit! It’s Christmas! I just love the joy and glee on their faces. I’m living life vicariously through my kids!” - Amber, Tai Tam.

Although fearful of being lynched, I’ll admit, we go all the way. We have a Santa sack from Father Christmas and other gifts from family. No overthinking here. I love it, it’s Christmas! -Nicki, Pok Fu Lam.

“I try to keep it small and simple but end up buying too many “little” things closer to the big day. I like to make it special, especially as we won’t have any family around on the day.” - Paula, Discovery Bay.

We want to hear from you! Next month: January health kicks - great way to start the year, or a guilt-trip too much? We would love to hear from you! Email your views to or go to 20

Lam Tin

Tin Wan, Aberdeen



Year 1 to Year 13

Nursery, Reception & Year 1,2 & 3

Enrolling for Year 10 from August 2017

Opening August 2017*

* Subject to receipt of customary regulatory approvals

Applications now being accepted

Join one of our Parent Information Sessions and see for yourself what makes our school special.

Why Choose Our School? As part of an international family of 43 schools, and exposure to our unique Global Campus, we give your child access to unparalleled learning experiences and resources. Taught by outstanding teachers, and underpinned by our Be Ambitious philosophy, we empower students to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. This, combined with our exclusive collaborations with two of the worlds most prestigious organisations, The Juilliard School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), means your child will be engaged, challenged, and inspired throughout their educational journey with us. Students at NAIS Hong Kong follow the EYFS framework, IGCSEs and IB Diploma. With a focus on individualised learning, our rigorous curricula ensures that students have a creative and challenging learning experience.

Contact the Admissions Team to reserve your place.

+852 3958 1488 21

book review

Winter’s tales

Bookseller *Ursua Uber’s top picks for children this Christmas. The Night Before Christmas Niroot Puttapipat A stocking-filler edition of the classic children’s poem, complete with stunning silhouette illustrations, cut-paper pages and a spectacular pop-up finale. Open up the house to reveal the characters within, peer through the doors and windows to catch a glimpse of St Nick’s arrival.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them JK Rowling Learn all about Newt Scamander and the incredible film from JK Rowling’s Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A magical interactive scrapbook that takes readers on an interactive adventure through Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

Smartphone Movie Maker Bryan Stoller A beginner’s guide to making movies with your smartphone. With expert advice on all aspects of movie making, from planning a story, to casting, shooting and editing. The box transforms into a film projector with a lens - slot your smartphone into the box and play your film on a large screen (or white wall). Action!

The Snowman and the Snowdog Pop-up Picture Book Raymond Briggs A beautiful gift edition of the enchanting Snowman and Snowdog animated film. Plus there are LED lights that are light-activated, hold them up and watch them twinkle.

The Snow Cat Holly Webb Bel is nervous about spending the lead-up to Christmas at her Grandma’s place, a sheltered housing complex converted from a grand, but eerie, Victorian manor. One night she wakes convinced she has seen a cat wandering across the grounds. She follows its footprints in the snow and is transported into the past…

Home Lab: Exciting Experiments For Budding Scientists

Dorling Kindersley Stir up some slime, build a solar system with rubber bands, power a speed boat with soap. Twenty eight brilliant projects using items from around the home with amazing photography and step-by-step instructions, Home Lab is perfect for inquisitive kids. There are fact-filled panels to explain the science and realworld examples.

* Uber’s bookstore, Kidnapped at 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung.


The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit Emma Thompson Emma Thompson continues the adventures of Peter Rabbit in this new Christmas tale, featuring Peter, his comical little cousin Benjamin Bunny, and a feathered friend called William. Brilliantly told and with charming illustrations by Eleanor Taylor, this story is set in Potter’s homeland, the English Lake District.

Santa’s Tree: A Pop-up Tale of Christmas in the Forest Janet Lawler A charming winter’s tale featuring seven pop-up spreads and a holiday hike-and-seek - plus each of the five middle spreads highlights a letter and readers can have fun finding animals and objects with names starting with that letter.

The Midnight Gang David Walliams Midnight is the time when all children are fast asleep, except of course for the Midnight Gang. That’s when their adventures are just beginning… When Tom gets hit on the head by a cricket ball, he finds himself at Lord Funt hospital. Things go from bad to worse when he meets the wicked matron in charge of the children’s ward. A funny, thrilling, heart-warming adventure about five children in a hospital ward on the hunt for adventure. 23

book review

Stocking fillers Brand new reads for December.

The Mistletoe Murder & Other Stories PD James (Faber & Faber) As “Queen of Crime”, PD James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best are published in this The Mistletoe Murder. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise. A satisfying read for these darker days of the year.

Hurrah For Gin

Rather Be The Devil

Katie Kirby (Hodder & Stoughton)

Ian Rankin (Orion Publishing)

This is not a “how-to” guide - it is a book about modern parenting that contains not a single useful piece of advice. Don’t expect to come away knowing how to get your baby to sleep or toddler to eat. Instead, it shares beautifully honest anecdotes and illustrations from the parenting frontline. A book that embraces the exciting and amazing, yet frustrating and disheartening whirlwind that is parenthood.

Forty years may have passed, but for John Rebus, the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a rock star was also staying, her killer has never been uncovered. This is a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries set in the Scottish town of Edinburgh. A gripping read from a master storyteller.

Hong Kong author James Stevenson launches his first novel, The Medusa File This is the first book in the Harvey Ashton series. It’s an action adventure novel following main character Harvey, a teenager growing up in Hong Kong. His parents die in questionable circumstances early in his life and he ends up becoming involved in a mystery that takes him to Japan. The ensuing adventure may offer answers to his past, but also poses many risks. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. My oldest son Tomas was captivated with my initial story idea and helped flesh it out into a book. Inspiration comes to me unexpectedly - the main thing is to write these ideas down, if you don’t save them for the future they may be forgotten and lost. When I’m in writing mode I try to write for a couple of hours every day. When the narrative is flowing, it’s hard to pull yourself away to deal with more mundane, everyday 24

issues - you want to burn the midnight oil and let the words take shape on the page. The story outline for the next book in the series is well established, along with sketches of new characters to be introduced. I draw on a wide collection of writers when reading, including the surreal writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquis and Haruki Murakami, the realism of Hemingway and thrillers by Robert Ludlum and Jo Nesbo. I am currently reading Canadian writer Alice Munro’s book, The View From Castle Rock. The Medusa File is being launched on December 2 at the Victoria Recreation Club in Emerald Bay, Sai Kung, 5.30 - 9pm - everyone is welcome, especially budding writers looking to learn about the writing process and publishing.

The Medusa File is available from Kidnapped, Sai Kung or from

book review Partying Singapore-style with author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan Tell us about your new book… Sarong Party Girls follows the life of a modern Sarong Party Girl (SPG), Jazerline Lim, who is 26 turning 27 and worried she will be left on the shelf. She’s torn between two worlds, that of traditional, patriarchal Singapore and the glitzy world of 21st century Singapore that she desperately wants to be a part of. Her journey to achieve this goal takes her through various pockets of Singapore which lead her to ponder modern day gender and racial politics in Singapore and the values people hold. So what’s an SPG? A woman whose main goal in life is to meet a white expat man, marry him - and have a “Chanel” baby. SPGs have always existed in Singapore. In the ‘80s and ‘90s when I was growing up I would peer into these SPG bars and wonder about the women I would see there. Why did they place such value on a person or marriage partner purely based on race and socio-economic standing? SPG has always been a derogatory term in Singapore,

but today it’s a term that some of my friends are owning in a new way, referring to themselves jokingly as SPGs. Is the book based on personal experience? Not at all. I left Singapore at 18 for the US and though I return a few times a year to see family, I’ve never come of dating age there. It’s a work of fiction, although some of the kopitiam (old-school coffee shops) and bar or restaurant scenes are based on real events that I witnessed. Was it fun to write? I so loved writing this book. The voice of Jazzy spoke to me urgently and with great verve from the first page, and at times I felt I was typing as fast as I could just to get all of her thoughts down on the page. I did some research - in bars and clubs to check out various scenes and vignettes, and also interviewing friends and checking out pockets of Singapore I wasn’t privy to.

What’s on your own nightstand at the moment? In my reading rotation right now are Nutshell by Ian McEwan (I love him), Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot by the lovely Australian writer Annabel Smith and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I’m also a massive Carson McCullers fan. How will you be spending Christmas? Writing or reading by a fire back in New York with a glass of something good in my hand, if I’m lucky. Sarong Party Girls is available from Bookazine. 25

My hong Kong

My Hong Kong - Father Christmas

Father Christmas relaxing at home in Lapland. Christmas Eve is “one big rush,” he says.

Santa talks flight plans and finishing on time with Carolynne Dear. I first started coming to Hong Kong in the 1840s. The Qing Dynasty didn’t celebrate Christmas, they had their own celebrations going on. But when the British arrived I added Hong Kong to my list. It was pretty quiet back then, I used to land the sleigh on the Praya by the harbour and the coolies used to make a big fuss of Rudolph. I don’t think they’d seen many reindeer before. I used to follow the scent of the incense trees to guide me in. Nowadays it’s all high tech and I’m directed by Chek Lap Kok air traffic control along with all the other flights. I prefer landing on Lantau to Kai Tak. It was lovely flying in past all those high-rise bedroom 26

windows, the children used to wave to me as I swooped down. But these days my reflexes aren’t what they were and it’s nice to have a bit more space to play with. Back in the day my toy sack was quite empty, but over the years it’s grown and grown as the number of boys and girls in the territory celebrating Christmas has expanded. It’s nice to think I’m more in demand now than ever before. Hong Kong comes after Indonesia but before Vietnam. If I’ve got some time on my side, I do like to drop in at the Captain’s Bar for a restorative whisky. The staff at The Mandarin really know how to take care of me - I have a special seat in the far corner.

Most years though I’m quite pushed for time, especially as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to take off on time. It’s a bit like that Moontrekker event in October - beat the sun. So far I’ve never lost! Air traffic control designates me a special transponder code that puts me to the front of the queue on the runway, but I still have to abide by air traffic control rules like everyone else. I’m toying with altering my flight-plan next year to get South East Asia done and dusted before looping back up to China. It might work… My favourite area of Hong Kong is The Peak because there are still a few houses up there with chimneys, which does make life easier. Otherwise I have to do what I can with balcony doors. The concierge staff are really helpful on

My hong Kong the Island, but I have had problems with village dogs in the New Territories. They’re friendly things, but they certainly know how to bark when they hear me approaching! The toughest part of my job is children who won’t go to bed. I just can’t deliver any presents until they’re tucked up. So far I haven’t had to abort a present delivery, but it can be touch-and-go. It would be great if mums and dads could make sure kids are in bed at least before 9pm on Christmas Eve. I do remember a very stubborn little boy in Mid-levels once. I had to get on and finish China and Mongolia before coming back when he finally dropped off. It added a lot of time to my already tight schedule. I enjoy the bits and pieces children leave out for me and the reindeer - Chris Patten always used to leave a couple of egg custard tarts. Absolutely delicious. I quite like wontons; dim sum are great too, but noodles tend to get stuck in my beard. At the end of the day, you can’t beat a good old traditional mince pie Marks & Spencer’s are my favourite.

During the summer when nobody’s really thinking about Christmas, I do try and pop back to take a proper look at places that catch my eye on Christmas Eve. I really enjoyed trekking the Dragon’s Back in July this year. Without my red suit, I’m just a man with a beard and a walking stick. I also enjoy a junk - Mrs Christmas loves her seabreezes! We usually bring a few of the elves along. It’s good to let your staff know that you care. We try and head away from the crowds so we don’t get recognised - I’m ok, but 40-odd elves rocking out to Katy Perry on a boat can look a bit strange. Last year we puttered up to Sai Kung, past Clearwater Bay and out to the Sai Wan beaches. Not many junks get that far. We had to pay a bit extra for the petrol, but it was worth it.

going in Lapland with a few of the neighbours. My eye-sight’s not so good these days and I can’t tell my North Wind from my South Wind, so I just leave them to it. I will be celebrating Christmas Day with a whisky and a long snooze. And then it will be back to work preparing for Christmas 2017…

Guest appearances Father Christmas will be appearing throughout at Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. Call 2844 8988. He will also hanging out at Bookazine stores on December 3, 4, 10 and 11, Track his sleigh live on Christmas Eve at, with hourly texts on his progress beginning on Christmas Eve morning (southern hemisphere-time). Or write him a letter at Santa Claus, Hong Kong. Don’t forget to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Mrs Christmas also enjoys a game of Mahjong. She learnt from a lady at the Helena May before the war, just kept dropping in every week on the sleigh. She picked it up very quickly. She now has a little Mahjong group 27

Modern family

Relative values

Local entrepreneur Claire Yates founded greetings card specialist The Lion Rock Press four years ago. She and her family share their memories of Hong Kong and Christmases past.

Yates, with business partner Simon, who is also her uncle.

Betty (Claire’s grandma) grew up in London and moved to Hong Kong with her Chinese husband in the 1950s. I can’t remember very much about my childhood Christmases, it was so long ago now. I do remember that we only ever had one toy, and certainly no stockings. It wasn’t like it is these days. When I had my own family, we always went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve because I had to spend all of Christmas morning cooking. Our amah didn’t know how to cook Western food, so although she could do a lot of the preparation, I would cook the traditional English Christmas lunch for the family. Hong Kong has changed so much over the years. I’ve been saddened by the demise of so many little stores. Years ago we used to buy everything from different shops - everyone had their speciality and everyone knew one another. I still drive over to Kowloon City to buy my soup ingredients 28

and my fruit as I trust those small proprietors - they’ve known me for years and I know they will give me the best produce at a fair price. One good thing is the variety of food and cuisines available today - there’s nothing you can’t get hold of. Years ago I used to bring eggs and sausages back from England in my luggage. It drives me mad when Claire complains about the long-haul flights with her children. When my children were young the flight to London was more than 40 hours with six stops. We’d land in places like Burma, Calcutta, Delhi, Cairo, Jerusalem, Beirut, Frankfurt… One year I flew to England for my sister’s wedding with Claire’s mum, Mary, when she was a toddler and I was heavily pregnant. I flew back a few weeks later with Mary and her newborn baby sister. You just got on with things back then. I always flew alone as my husband was working. Kai Tak was just a tin hut with a fence

alongside it where you could wave to your relatives on the other side as you were getting on or off a plane. The police used to stop the traffic on the road by the airport to let the planes maneuver. The kids would always hope for that to happen as we passed by. This Christmas we have all the UK side of the family flying in. I wasn’t involved in the family business in the early days, but today I help Claire folding and packing her cards, cutting ribbon and threading gift tags. I’m head of operations! At this time of year, my house looks like a warehouse as we fold and pack more than 40,000 Christmas cards by hand in just a few weeks. Years ago I used to sell charity cards on behalf of the Samaritans - I used to pack all of those cards, too. We would sell them in a lovely shop called Welfare Handicrafts in the basement of Jardine House. The younger generation don’t seem to appreciate handcrafted items anymore.

modern family Mary (Claire’s mum) was born in the UK and arrived in Hong Kong aged two. I was born in the UK where my father was training in accountancy. I arrived here by ship - which in those days took about seven weeks via the Cape of Good Hope because of the Suez Crisis. I started at Diocesan Girls’ School when I was four, the school had a kindergarten in a green wooden hut. I stayed there for primary, but after one year in secondary I was sent to a boarding school in the UK. I remember Christmas as being a happy time. The most exciting bit was when the big Christmas decorations box was retrieved from a high-up cupboard which was not opened at any other time of the year. The lights would be all tangled and and many of the bulbs wouldn’t work and often an electrician had to be called. The tree would be dressed and the paper chains hung around the ceilings. The adults would dress up in furs and jewellery and go out to functions, but we children would watch our parents get ready and stay home with the amah. There wasn’t the long build-up that you get for Christmas today, no expectations of specific presents, and the day was low-key with just parents and siblings. When I had my own children, I always gave them stockings (and later sacks) filled with small inexpensive items. As they grew older they were not always appreciative of the “sensible” items - like a new toothbrush, stapler or post-it notes! As a child in Hong Kong, we were very independent. There were few organised activities outside of school hours, apart from the obligatory Carol Bateman ballet lessons at the Helena May and piano lessons. I remember playing with my cousins and the family getting together on Sundays for dim sum in favourite hotels, such as Shatin Heights Hotel and Castle Peak Hotel. The Fung family (my grandfather’s family) also had a “bungalow”, which was in fact a country home with a swimming pool in Tsuen Wan, where we all used to congregate. Both myself and my children learnt to swim in that pool. Inevitably it has since been sold and a high rise development now occupies the space. This year will be a special Christmas as all of the family from the UK will be joining the Hong Kong family. There will be 24 of us - from my youngest grandson who is not yet two, to my father who will have reached 88 on Christmas Eve. We will be eating our Christmas lunch away from my parents’ home for the first time, at Hong Kong Football Club.

Betty at Kai Tak with her daughters in the 1960s.

Yates’ grandfather with her mother and siblings.

Betty celebrating Christmas in Hong Kong.

Hard at work at a Christmas fair with mum Mary. 29

Modern family Claire Yates runs The Lion Rock Press with silent partner, her uncle Simon. She grew up in Stanley. I was born in England but was back and forth throughout my childhood for long holidays with grandparents and Chinese cousins in Prince Edward. And then my father was posted to Hong Kong in 1990 and we lived in Stanley Mound Road. I went to Bradbury and South Island School before being sent back to England to attend Malvern Girls’ College as a boarder. Christmas has always been the happiest time for me. My mum always used to take me to the holiday fairs - I remember the Conrad especially vividly. I’ve been a stallholder there for the past four years and it’s a very different animal now! We’d always take a trip on the family boat to see the Christmas lights on the buildings. Winter solstice is around the 22 December and that’s when all my Chinese family would gather together - up to 60 of us. Each year there would be more and more children to play with. My grandfather has ten siblings, so it’s quite a clan! I remember Christmas at Nannie’s place in Prince Edward - the huge rosewood table with all the Christmas spread and the enormous tree with an impossible amount of presents underneath. It was as magical a time as you could ever have hoped for as a child. My own children are still very young, but we try and teach them the essence of Christmas and to remember how lucky they are. We have a big clear-out in the weeks before and I teach my son to give the toys he doesn’t play with to children less fortunate. We always leave a note for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph. We go to midnight mass at Christ Church in Kowloon Tong - the same service my grandparents have been attending since the early 1950s. I think my childhood in Hong Kong was fairly similar to what my kids enjoy now - we do pretty much the same things. We enjoyed a lot of freedom - nobody locked their doors and we were always in and out of people’s homes. I remember the typhoons were much more ferocious - we used to have to tape up all our windows which was very exciting. As children, we used to adore going up to Beas River (Hong Kong Jockey Club) near Fanling, to our “bungalow” in Tsuen Wan and out to the Clearwater Bay Country Club - my grandparents were among the first members before the road was even built. We also used to go out on the family junk and fish off our speedboat. Whatever we caught, if it wasn’t too big, I would take back to my huge fish 30

Claire’s cute Hong Kong-themed Christmas tree ornaments are available from Bookazine and Christmas markets.

tank in my bedroom in Stanley (appalling when I think about it now!) where everything lived in harmony - until I caught a tiny squid one trip which must have been attacked in the tank, let off its ink and everything died. I was devastated! In the ‘90s we used to catch a bus from Stanley to Pacific Place where we would rollerblade (if we didn’t get caught) and hang out in the Food Court (which had McDonalds and KFC) and try on all the perfume in Body Shop. We used to come home reeking of

I usually spend Christmas with a ready-cooked turkey and pudding from the Hong Kong Club

chicken fat and Anais Anais. I am proud to be continuing the tradition of the family paper business. When I was a child, my grandfather still ran his stationery shop out of Pottinger Street. He originally started the business printing import and export documents for shipping merchants - of course Pottinger Street was on the waterfront then. He was only a handful of people licensed to do this work. I used to absolutely love going there and choosing bits and pieces for school. I then had to take the basket upstairs and justify why I need every single item - it taught me the value

of money and also how to think on my feet. I don’t think I ever had to put anything back. I loved watching people pay - the money was put in a little bucket which was winched to the ceiling and ran along a rope to the till clerk. When I moved back to Hong Kong in my thirties I wanted to carry on the tradition of using high quality, responsibly sourced paper, but in a more creative way. The Lion Rock Press is a fusion of my love affair with Hong Kong and a family besotted with paper. My uncle Simon is in the luxury paper business, and his expertise has allowed Lion Rock to keep competitive and up-to-date with all the latest technology. I usually spend Christmas with a readycooked turkey and Christmas pudding from the Hong Kong Club. But this year we are heading to the Hong Kong Football Club with 24 family members. We will go back to my grandparents place in Mid-levels afterwards for an extended gift-opening session, followed by rounds and rounds of Mahjong, Racing Demon and Roulette - basically anything we can bet on! 31

Fe at ur e

Twelve days out this Christmas It might be cosy on the couch, but Hong Kong is chock-full of fab things to do this season.

Roll up to the AIA Great European Carnival on Central Harbourfront.

On the 1st day of Christmas.. ...All the fun of the fair The AIA Great European Carnival will be returning to Central Harbourfront with rides, new and traditional games, booths and entertainment. There will be selfie opportunities with vikings, pirates, 3D trick art and European photo boards. Don’t miss the street artists as well as a food court serving up European and Asian gourmet dishes. Enjoy entertainment for all ages, from choirs to dance shows and pantomime, DJs and magicians. 32

The carnival will also be working with charities and schools to ensure all members of the Hong Kong community are able to enjoy the event. “We are back this year with rides, attractions and games that Hong Kong has told us they love,” said Michael Denmark, CEO of the Great European Carnival. “Personally I”m excited about some of the new technology that we’re bringing for the first time this year, but my

favourite will always be the dodgems.” The Great European Carnival is open from December 16 2016 to February 12 2017. Entrance costs $125/adult (10 tokens), $90/ child aged three to 11 years and disabled (seven tokens). Admission is free for those aged under three or over 65. Entry for all without tokens is $35. One token costs $10. More information is at

e ur at Fe

On the 2nd day of Christmas.. ...Jungle jinks

Faust International Youth Theatre’s young stars are performing in the Jungle Book this month. Described as a “fast paced, rhythmic adaptation” of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories, the play has been in production since September, with the young cast enthusiastically squeezing in rehearsals between their packed school schedules. “We make the jungle come alive on stage,” enthuses ESF Island School student Olivia Appel, who will be playing Akela, wise wolf and jungle leader. “I think people will love the diversity of the performance there’s humour, action, sad bits. The stage fighting should be a particularly big hit.” With all actors full-time students, balancing school work with the demands of production schedules was tough at times. “I think some of the older kids have had to try really hard to keep up with everything the closer we get to the show,” admits 15-year old Canadian International School student Lizzy Marland, who will be playing Raksha, the mother wolf. “You just have to make sure you manage your time well. “I think the first rehearsal was one of my favourites, simply because it was really cool getting to meet all of the cast and seeing the people you’re going to work with,” she says. “Generally, we have full cast rehearsals on Friday evenings and another four hours on Saturdays. There are also smaller group rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings.”

All main characters are performing in all the shows, although the part of Mowgli is shared between twins Alex and John Hardy, who both attend Kellett School. Faust production veterans, they have previously performed in Fantastic Mr Fox and Treasure Island. “We all get nervous before the performance,” says Alex. “Before each show, I take a few deep breaths and think to myself, “I can do this”.” “So far rehearsals have gone smoothly,” admits John. “Although yesterday I fell down the stairs on the way back to the changing rooms and cut my leg. My favourite part is the relief and joy you feel when you bow during the curtain call! I think there’s something for everyone in the show - the

We’re hoping to blow your socks off with our performance.

energy of the cast is magical.” According to Appel, her part involves “speaking and movement, but no full dance number. I started with Faust two years ago and have since fallen in love with acting - my grandma says I’ve got the bug,” she says.

“I love becoming different people with the roles I’ve taken on. As I work with the directors and cast, my character becomes more real and the lines start to stick in my mind. Then after a while, they just start to flow. In this production, I’m wearing a nice grey fur vest, but it’s the face make-up that really makes the difference. I like how my face is changed, it makes me feel more intense.” Bagheera the panther will be played by ESF South Island School student, Poppy Conway. “I love everything about performing, it’s such an adrenaline rush when you step on stage,” she says. “I also love my costume so much! It’s a long, burgundy, fluffy coat with red piping around the neck and sleeves. It helps me get into the role and I feel like a different person when I’ve got it on. Conway is currently studying for her GCSEs, as well as attending three dance classes each week on top of rehearsals. “I’m very busy,” she admits. “I’m not the best at learning lines, and need to go over them a lot. But I’m proud to say I’ve memorised them all now though! “I think the audience is going to love our unique take on the original story. It has some very funny moments which feature some amazing puns and also has some sad and touching moments. We’re hoping to blow your socks off with our performance.” The Jungle Book will be performed on December 1 & 2, 10am & 7.30pm; and December 3, 2.30 & 7.30pm, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. Tickets available from WCTHEJU1216 - quote JB2016 for a 10% discount. The Jungle Book cast raring to go performances are on December 1, 2 and 3 at HKAPA. 33

Fe at ur e

On the 4th day of Christmas.. On the 3rd day of Christmas..

Don’t miss Hong Kong Ballet’s stunning adaptation of this Christmas classic.

...Sugar plum fairies are go

Nutcracker choreographer Terence Kohler takes us behind the scenes of Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic. “Like any choreographer, I’m influenced by my own fantasy, but when you start creating in the studio together with the dancers, it’s their individual qualities and impulses that help to shape the work. Hong Kong is lucky to have such wonderful dancers. I can only give them the choreographic score; they bring it to life each show. “A common misconception about The Nutcracker is that a definitive version of the ballet exists worldwide. Over the years, each ballet company has formed their own tradition, and very little of the original choreography is performed nowadays. In terms of my own trademarks, I guess nobody can really escape themselves when creating new work. “I have been listening to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score ever since I first discovered my parent’s record collection as a child. My 34

favourite moment is when we have our first orchestral dress rehearsal just before opening night because the dancers are so inspired by the score it pushes them even further. “Opening night is a “blink and you miss it” kind of moment. We have normally been working so hard to get the production ready that there is only enough time to grab something to eat, put on a suit, and suddenly there we are. I normally go backstage to greet the dancers and wish them well. Then I wait for the ballet staff on the side of the stage and we head out into the auditorium together. “And it doesn’t matter how many years we have been doing the ballet, as we sit there waiting for the lights to dim and the first notes of Tchaikovsky’s overture, we all have butterflies in our stomach.” The Nutcracker is performed by Hong Kong Ballet, December 16-18 and 2025, Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, TST, tickets from

...Carols for charity The Helena May will be hosting a carols evening in support of human rights charity the Society for Community Organisation (SoCo). “We invite you to an adult evening of freeflowing drinks, canapes and carols to benefit SoCo,” says charity spokesperson Sophie Hughes. “This is the fifth anniversary of the carol concert and we are thrilled it has become a tradition for so many.” SoCo reaches out to struggling sectors of Hong Kong’s community, including the infamous “cage” dwellers, tenants with financial difficulties living in dire conditions, street-sleepers, the mentally ill, ethnic minorities and others who have slipped between the cracks of Hong Kong society. Donations of $500 can help an underprivileged child access free learning opportunities, while $1000 helps a family living in a cubicle to modify their living environment. Singing ensemble Tallis Vocalis will be adding their voices to the evening and Sotheby’s Wine will be keeping champagne and wine glasses charged. The event takes place on December 1, The Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Mid-levels. Tickets cost $600 and are available from 35

Fe at ur e

On the 5th day of Christmas.. ...Tea-time Pinkies at the ready for the annual festive afternoon tea at The Peninsula. Featuring the glorious voices of the Hong Kong Treble (December 22) and Heep Yunn School Choir (December 23). Enjoy scones, fancies, sandwiches and a refreshing pot of tea as you are serenaded with Christmas classics in the glorious confines of this 1920s colonial hotel. And at the Peninsula’s Repulse Bay sibling, The Verandah, there will be a series of Children’s Afternoon Teas throughout December. Peninsula tea sittings are 2.30-4pm and 4.30-6pm, $458/person, diningphk@ The Children’s Afternoon Teas are 2-5pm, December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, $358/person,

The Peninsula lights up for the festive season.

On the 6th day of Christmas.. ...Sing a song for Christmas The Hong Kong Women’s Choir will be getting into the festive spirit to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Kicking off with a Christmas For All family lunch at Grappa’s Cellar, the ladies will be accompanying the festivities with choreographed Christmas favourites such as Wonderful Christmastime, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Underneath The Tree and more. Both sections of the women’s choir will be performing - the exuberant NOVA choir will be accompanied by a band, and the sassy a capella Grace Notes will also be making their voices heard. The lunch will also see a visit from Santa, with treats for the kids. This year the choir is supporting Bring Me A Book Hong Kong and The Sisters of the Good Shepherd - an international group dedicated to promoting the welfare of women and girls. Further concert dates include a performance by Nova and Grace Notes at the Children’s Tea, Li Sing Tai Hang School on December 3; Grace Notes will be appearing at The Hub Holiday Concert, Wan Chai on December 12; and there will be an MTR Flash Mob performance at Central Station on December 16. The lunch is at 12:30, Dec 11, tickets are $550; for reservations or more info see or 36

On the 7th day of Christmas.. ...Carols in the cathedral St John’s will be hosting the Light Up A Life Christmas Concert in support of The Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care. There will be traditional carols and a tree lighting ceremony, and the event will be followed

up with mulled wine and mince pies in the Cathedral Garden. Performing will be the renowned Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir as well as the Island School Orchestra and Choir. Tickets are $200 and are available from the cathedral bookshop - a limited number will be available on the door. 7.30 - 9pm, December 5, St John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central,

Traditional carols in St John’s Cathedral, December 5.

e ur at Fe

On the 8th day of Christmas.. ...Secret Santa’s workshop Rumours of a secret workshop opening in Hong Kong this month have been confirmed. According to head elf Doink, Laplandhk will be operational from the beginning of December. He is now appealing for “nice list” families to come forward and train to be “elfers” (elf helpers) in case extra help is needed over the festive period. “Coming from the sub-zero temperatures of Lapland, some elves have struggled to acclimatise to Hong Kong’s heat and have had to return home to cool off. We are therefore a little under-staffed in

the new branch,” explained Doink’s assistant, Pippo. Training will take place on December 10 and 11 in a secret location on the east side of Hong Kong Island. Sessions last 75 minutes and run continuously throughout the day from 11am to 4.30pm. Elfers will be supplied with a uniform apron and manual to keep track of tasks and activities they have completed. They will be lead by the elves through various parts of Santa’s Secret Kingdom and will be presented with an Elfer Graduation Certificate on successful completion of the session. Dec 10 and 11, tickets and info available at event/santassecret-kingdom/

On the 9th day of Christmas.. ...It’s panto time - oh yes it is! Those talented Hong Kong players are back this Christmas with another laugh-outloud pantomime. This year’s truly wicked performance, The Snow Queen, sees the icy princess and her evil trolls strike terror into the local village. Will the villagers triumph over winter and bring back summer? The show is suitable for all ages, from toddlers to grannies, with plenty of gags, spangle-tastic costumes and the magnificent Dame Gloria Stampworth to lead the charge. With over 50 years worth of pantomimes under their belts, the cast is confident this year’s production will be another successful extravaganza of song, dance and jokes. This year also sees a venue change to Kellett School in Kowloon Bay. Tickets from $250 at, shows take place on December 11 at 6pm; Dec 14, 7.30pm; Dec 15, 7.30pm; Dec 16, 7.30pm; Dec 17, 2pm & 7pm; Dec 18, 11am & 4pm. Kellett School, 7 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay. 37

Fe at ur e

On the 10 day of Christmas.. th

Fun at Snowie’s Christmas Party, Ocean Terminal (above); IFC has tranformed into a polar resort until Jan 3 (right).

...Deck the malls Pacific Place is running with a “Where Christmas is Made” theme, inviting you to “create your own Christmas” with pop-ups and workshops. The Christmas display features a Sensory Garden - inhale the scents of chestnuts roasting, mulled wine bubbling and marshmallows toasting. The space has been designed by local artist, Shannam, with miniature scenes illustrating how Christmas is made. Santa will be available for meet and greets in the Garden Court and for the first time there will be a gift-wrapping station in the mall. Until Jan 2 Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong call 2844 8988 for Santa times.

On the 12th day of Christmas.. ...Christmas craft workshops Hong Kong Parkview will be hosting a Charity Christmas Art Workshop in support of the Lizzie Bee Foundation. Children are invited to turn their hand to three fun tree decorations, with workshops lead by the very imaginative Liz Avern-Briers, founder of Lizzie Bee Foundation. Follow simple instructions - with the help of mum or dad - to conjure up metal ornaments from aluminium wire and beads; design garlands made of elegant organza ribbon and pearls; and come up with fun baubles using 38

On the other side of the harbour, Harbour City has launched Christmas Together, which also marks the 50th anniversary of Ocean Terminal. Snowie the snowman enjoys a lead role at the installation, as Ocean Terminal is transformed into Snowie’s Christmas party. Snowie is a combination of two giant snowballs, created over and over in 32 different designs. A 12-metre Christmas tree and carousel also add to the festive ambiance. Until Jan 2, Ocean Terminal Forecourt, Harbour City, TST.

festive paper, metal and beads. All of the money raised at the workshops will go towards the Lizzie Bee Foundation to support Lost & Found, an initiative that works with the elderly who find themselves on the fringes of Hong Kong society. “We’re thrilled the funds will wholly go to support Lost & Found,” said Parkview’s general manager, Olivia Au. “It’s also key for us at Hong Kong Parkview to see arts appreciation thrive across the generations.” The workshops will be held at Hong Kong Parkview serviced apartments and clubhouse, December 17, 9am - 12pm, or 3 - 6pm, $250 per participant (all funds go to charity), register at,

On the 11rth day of Christmas.. ...Scandi chic Historic Hullett House is hosting its annual Christmas market, a Nordic wonderland in the middle of bustling TST. The courtyard has been converted into a village setting, with over 30 exhibitors offering seasonal treats, Christmas decorations and hand-made jewellery for Christmas shoppers, plus the Hullett House Christmas Food Stall offering an exclusive menu of festive Nordic canapes. Fill your plate with gooey raclette and potatoes, moorish mussels and frites, meatballs in lingonberry sauce and hot smoked salmon and wash it down with winter warmer, Glogg wine. Meet Santa in the Santa Claus Village, and take the opportunity to wander through one of the oldest buildings in Hong Kong and admire the colonial architecture, before posting seasonal greetings to friends and family at the special seasonal Hullett House Christmas Post Office with custom-designed stamps. The Christmas Market is open December 2, 5-11pm; December 3, 12-11pm; and December 4, 12-9pm. Hullett House, 50 Pigeons Courtyard, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, TST, events/1243342985729693, or email, 39

Colouring competition

Illustration courtesy of Little MalabarŠ

Let your imagination run wild!

Include your name age and email and post to Expat Parent Colouring Competition, Fast Media, L1, 222 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. Deadline: December 19. The winning entry will receive a giant colouring poster, courtesy of Little Malabar.

40 41

The big interview

Food for thought

All prepared for a homeless handout evening.

Between the turkey and the trimmings, impactHK’s Jeff Rotmeyer is making sure Hong Kong’s homeless don’t miss out this Christmas. By Carolynne Dear.


anadian school teacher Jeff Rotmeyer is slowly but surely making a difference to Hong Kong’s homeless community. His humble contribution, in the form of food and clothing distributed on “homeless handout” evenings, show just what can be achieved through a very simple act and a lot of motivation. Having just taken part in a Tedx Hong Kong presentation, Rotmeyer finds a moment in his packed schedule to catch up with me one lunchtime. An English teacher in the local school system by day, his evenings and spare time are filled with plans for not one, but two charitable associations - impactHK to support the homeless, and the Love 21 Foundation for Down Syndrome children - both of which are now in the last stages of receiving the final stamp of approval for registered charity status. 42

“The origins of impactHK are pretty simple,” he explains. “I wanted to reach out to refugees with a sporting programme. So I contacted a few charities, rented a pitch and asked around from some of my contacts for kit and boots. It was that straightforward.” Post-university in Vancouver, Rotmeyer had enjoyed a similar experience using sport and friendship to reach out to Canadian youth at risk. “Again, it was a very simple concept. We played basketball and built connections. Sometimes when you’re having problems, all you need is empathy, just a friend to lend a hand.” After one such football match in Hong Kong, he was approached by a local charity and asked if he would do the same thing for Down Syndrome children. And so, for the last nine years, he has been playing football every weekend with a group of Down Syndrome kids.

“Which has been such a fantastic experience. But a couple of years ago I thought, hey, maybe I could be doing a bit more,” says Rotmeyer. This lead to a blog. “It was tough work getting it moving,” he admits. “Of course my mum was a big fan. But the stats were still pretty depressing, no matter which way I looked at them. And then a couple of blogs about my charity work really seemed to strike a chord, so I thought maybe this was the way to go.” Rotmeyer got in contact with a friend who was trying to help the homeless in Sham Shui Po, and the pair basically went out, bought some food and handed it around. “Again, there was nothing complicated about it,” he says. On the back of this, he created impactHK, an “organic, humanitarian movement where I just got together with some mates, and we went out and handed out some food.”

the big interview The group grew, so he added more handouts per month, and then it grew some more, so he added some more locations. The group of over 400 volunteers now delivers food multiple times a month to the homeless in Happy Valley, Jordan, Fortress Hill, North Point, Sai Wan Ho, Kwun Tong, as well as Sham Shui Po. “We ask volunteers to bring $100 to spend on food in the local supermarket, and a disposable bag, and then we walk around and hand it all out.” He is also forging relationships with local restaurants with a view to providing homeless locals with a number of meal vouchers each month. Kindness Walks have also been thrown into the mix, which involve wandering from Tin Hau to North Point handing out unsold goods from local bread-maker Passion Bakery along with Park ‘n’ Shop vouchers. Recipients include the homeless, the elderly and local workers on the bread-line. There is limited pension provision in Hong Kong, and some of the territory’s elderly will be soldiering on collecting rubbish, sweeping streets or packing recycled bits of cardboard until they drop.

I got together with some mates and handed out some food. Not only the homeless, handouts are also made to Hong Kong’s largely unseen cage dwellers and rooftop communities. And asylum seekers that tend to slip between the cracks completely are also remembered. With no right to social welfare or a work visa, they are more often than not homeless and penniless and completely reliant on handouts. Refugees make up around 60% of Hong Kong’s homeless. “These situations are pretty embarrassing for Hong Kong,” Rotmeyer remarks. Another useful thought is a free laundry service - Rotmeyer believes he is the only charity to be doing this in Hong Kong. Not content with all of this, he is also currently working on a job creation programme for the homeless in partnership with SoCo, which he has named The Second Coat Painting Co. “I believe you need multiple connections to overcome something like poverty. So I’m trying

Volunteers show off their hand-crocheted “kindness mats”.

to connect people with a job opportunity, with a home and with friendship.” The jobs he hopes will come via volunteer painting and decorating professionals who will train up individuals and then provide them with work painting residential and commercial properties. Trainees can then progress, with the aim of ultimately being employed by an external company. Rotmeyer has already teed up with a good quality paint company and hopes to see his plans come to fruition shortly. In terms of a home, Rotmeyer is hoping to rent out subdivided apartments for the apprentice painters, which can be decorated themselves. And for friendship, he is hoping volunteers will continue to step forward with clothing, food and monetary donations. “I want to spoil them,” he says. “At some point, something in their lives has gone very badly wrong, which is why they are in this situation. I want to give them the optimism to get back out there and flourish.” Brownies and students get knitting.

Calling all knitters Kindness Mats can make a heap of difference to those sleeping rough. These clever creations are crocheted together using old plastic bags, but they take a while to put together. impactHK is on the look-out for crocheters and knitters with some spare time to help out. Message Facebook page The Guest Room or for more details.

Want to help? impactHK is running a Sox Appeal fundraising evening on December 3 at DreamLike Bubbles in Kennedy Town. For tickets, see Facebook Sox Appeal or The Great Big Clothing Drive is being held on December 17. If you have anything you would like to donate, see Facebook The Great Big Clothing Drive or 43

school news

School news

Artist’s impression of Mount Kelly’s Tuen Mun campus, due to open next year.

New boarding school unveiled The territory’s second international boarding school, Mount Kelly, is on schedule for a September 2017 opening, according to founding headmaster Gary Wright. It will also be Hong Kong’s first British preparatory school. The first phase will include Years one to four, with an intake of 420 students. Interviewing has already begun. Eventually the school anticipates expanding to include years one to eight by 2019 with a total of 820 students, with years six to eight being offered the option to board. This is the first overseas venture for the UK-based private school, which was founded in the south-west of England 140 years ago. “We will be incorporating the very best of British independent education within a Hong Kong setting,” confirmed Wright. Teaching will be broad-based and follow the National Curriculum for England. It is anticipated the majority of students will 44

continue into Year 9 either in the UK or at British curriculum-based schools in Hong Kong. Mount Kelly will also be the first HKbased international school to offer the UK Common Entrance Exam. Core subjects include English, Maths, Chinese, French, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Computing, Art, Drama, Music and Physical Education. The school also offers the Shackleton Programme, which has been developed by Mount Kelly UK and aims to develop leadership and teamwork skills. An extended school day will allow students to incorporate extra-curricular activities into their regular timetables. Annual fees are expected to start at $155,000, rising to $185,000. Construction is currently underway at the school’s campus in So Kwun Wat, Tuen Mun. For more information, email

Christmas crunch Online tutoring specialist TuteHK is offering tailor-made revision courses for Maths, sciences and languages in a special package for the upcoming school holidays. With major exams looming for many students in the spring, the company is offering a package of six lessons between December 15 and January 5 for $2,850. Lessons are delivered via live video streaming to enable students one-on-one tutorials from the comfort of their own home. Tutors are UK-based and selected from top British universities, predominantly Oxford, Cambridge and the Russell group. Students - and parents - can view tutor profiles before booking, and schedule classes through the e-booking system. All sessions are recorded to allow students or parents to refer back to the class at a later date. For more information, call 3166 5988 or email 45

school news

Ruby celebrations for Kellett School British International School Kellett has celebrated its fortieth anniversary with 2,000 cupcakes. Local cake baking expert Jude Bailey created the design based on the school’s distinctive dragon emblem. Kellett School was founded with two classes of forty four students in 1976. In 1980, it moved to its present primary campus overlooking Kellett Bay in Pok Fu Lam, and in 2009 it was allocated a greenfield site in Kowloon Bay to expand and open a secondary school. Bailey, who has two children at Kellett, worked on the ambitious project full-time for two weeks leading up to the event, designing a full size print out with the cake matrix, the dragon and the “40” design so she could see which design would go on which cupcake. She then pre-cut all the red and white discs to exactly match the size of the cakes.

Bailey and her ladies and the 2,000 cupcakes.

“I did outsource the baking - 2,000 was too many for my oven to cope with!” she admitted. “The buttercream was whipped up the day before - I had to manage the project down to the tiniest detail as there was no room for error.” On the morning of the celebration she split the six tables into groups of two so all the cakes could be reached, and then

carefully moved them back into position at the end. A team of three helpers sliced the tops of the cakes so they were flat, two pipers squeezed on the buttercream and two placed the relevant disc on top. All went well although people were reluctant to eat them, said Bailey. “I think they were more interested in looking at them. It was pretty impressive.”

Prepare your child for school interviews and assessments. ITS Education Asia Tel: 852 2116 3916 Email:


Diary dates December 3 The Harbour School is hosting an open day and information session at The Garden, its brand new secondary campus in Ap Lei Chau. The school is opening to prospective parents of students in grades 7 to 12 between 10am and noon. The programme begins with a 9.30am registration, followed by a tour, opening remarks by head of school Dr Jadis Blurton and principal Christine Greenberg and student-led workshops and talks. The Garden, 138 Lee Chi Road, Ap Lei Chau, register at or call 2816 5222.

school news

Going for gold Over 40 Nord Anglia School students tasted sweet success at the recent Global Games Asia, held in Hanoi, Vietnam. They competed against British International School Hanoi and British Vietnamese International School Hanoi in swimming, track, field and football events.

December 3 & 10 Yew Chung International School’s primary and secondary schools are welcoming prospective parents and students in their upcoming open days. Activities and performances will run throughout the day, with admission staff will also be on hand to answer questions. Doors open at YCIS Secondary, 3 To Fuk Road, Kowloon Tong at 11am-3pm on Dec 3; and YCIS Primary, 11 Kent Road, 2 & 22 Somerset Road, Kowloon Tong 1pm-4.30pm on Dec 10, December 17 Mulberry Tree Unschool is holding an open house between 10am and noon. Come along, meet the teachers and find out more. Registrations are at or Whatsapp 9779 5205. The school is located at 61 Nam Wa Po Village, Tai Po. 47

open day


Best of both worlds

open day

Chinese cultural programmes and bilingual classes are propelling Victoria Shanghai Academy to the top of the class, writes Rebecca Simpson.


ictoria Shanghai Academy, on a campus with sweeping views over Aberdeen harbour, is a “throughtrain” fully accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) School and one of the few schools in Hong Kong to offer the PYP programme in a bi-lingual format. As with most of Hong Kong’s international schools, it enjoyed relatively humble beginnings, starting out as the Victoria Kindergarten in buildings in Causeway Bay. A primary, the CS Victoria English Primary School in nearby Tai Hang, was soon added, and by the early 2000s land for a whole school had been located in Shum Wan. The government granted the school $230 million for the new campus and between 2005 and 2007 the school was accredited for the IB Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme, creating the first “through-train” IB World School in Hong Kong. The new campus was officially opened in 2008 and by 2014 it had received full accreditation by the International Baccalaureate, The Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Current principals Dr Judith Guy (head of academy and secondary principal) and Ross Dawson (primary principal) were appointed in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Which is where the school was sitting when I was invited by Dawson for a tour last month. But despite the certificates and accolades and Dawson’s own impressive resume (he has a masters degree in IT in education and has spent a recent sabbatical studying coaching psychology at Sydney University) he insists that “happiness is central to learning”. In person, Dawson comes across as passionate about education as he is about the well being of students. While “east-meets-west” is a rather overused term in our cosmopolitan city, VSA is probably positioning itself harder than most at this juncture. Along with an IB education, the school focuses heavily on Chinese culture and work ethic from primary years,

and primary is taught simultaneously in both English and Putonghua. “It’s a unique offering at VSA,” says Dawson. “We have two teachers in the classroom teaching simultaneously.” “You may have two tables of children working together - one working with the Chinese teacher in Chinese and the other in English,” explains head of academy Dr Judith Guy. “This allows children to concurrently develop vocabulary about a particular unit of enquiry in both English and Chinese. And that is what a lot of primary education is about, vocabulary acquisition.” In practice, while a true bilingual primary programme may be attractive, a minimum standard of Chinese and English must be met, even for admission into P1. Most VSA students join the PYP from Victoria Educational Organization (VEO), VSA’s kindergarten partner, which also offers a bilingual curriculum, laying the foundations for a bilingual PYP. For non-Chinese speaking families, this does require additional support from outside of the classroom. “As with learning any language, you do need exposure outside of

VSA students are offered a varied bilingual curriculum. 49

open day

Students enjoy a superb outlook across Aberdeen.

school hours,” says Dawson. “It’s ideal if children have playdates or an extracurricular activity, like learning an instrument, in that second language.” Guy agrees. “Placing kids in a social environment where they’re forced to use the language is the very best way for them to consolidate and build on their language skills.” Celebrating Chinese culture is central to the experience on offer at VSA. This year the school has appointed a director of Chinese Studies, Dr Zhou Zejun. Zejun will oversee VSA’s Chinese programmes across the PYP, MYP and DP, as well as developing the school’s China programme. Zejun has 20 years experience in education in both mainland China and the US and Guy hopes he will “propel” VSA to be a “strong Chinese language and cultural learning centre”. The school currently offers travel and exchange opportunities with mainland China and a strong arts programme. The school also runs a Chinese cultural subsidy programme where students can opt to explore a traditional Chinese art, such as calligraphy or an instrument. 50

In terms of teaching strategies, VSA is working with students and the parent body to achieve a responsible use of technology. Students from year 6 onwards are all given laptops, “but we’re working around responsible use of technology,” says Guy. The latest buzz word is creating “digital citizens” - students are asked to explore what makes a good digital relationship. The school also provides suggestions for parental software and invites parents into school to discuss approaches to tech. Away from academics, Dawson is leading a mindfulness programme aimed at helping students learn skills for dealing with life’s challenges. “Wellbeing is a focal point of VSA’s leadership,” he says. “We look at the way technology can aid teaching and the science behind well-being and how our brains function best,” he says. Simple practices like stopping for a minute to admire the VSA’s views over Aberdeen Harbour can set the tone of the day. “Empathy and gratitude are two big things we can work on in life to make our existence happier,” says Dawson.

School Report VSA Established: 2004 Number of students: 1,800 Class size: 28 Curriculum: IB PYP, IB MYP and IB DP Fees 2016/2017: (PYP) $118,700; (MYP & DP) $135,300 - $171,450 Non refundable capital levy: N/A Address: 19 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Tel: 3402 1000

The Lifelong Impact of Teachers At Nord Anglia International School


6 quailties all great teachers have! Ask most people who their favourite teacher was at school, and without a doubt, they’ll be able to give you a name almost immediately. This is the impact and power a great teacher can have. Someone, who, 10, 20, 60 years later, is still a vivid and fond memory. Quite simply, a great teacher stands out and has the ability to influence us for the better. But what makes a great teacher? Here are the top 6 things a great teacher does: 1. Adopts a personalised approach - Offering individual help, monitoring the progress of individual students, make time accessible for and know the learning style of each student and tailoring lessons to be inclusive - Ensuring student’s learning is optimised for their best performance 2. Is passionate about, and has an indepth knowledge of the subject coupled with an ability to make it accessible - Received specialised training in the field - Has ongoing training to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest best practices in teaching - Devises creative ways to arouse and keep student’s interest - Embeds and connects everyday situations with the subject 3. Sets high expectations for both themselves and their students - Leads by example and is organised, prepared, and sets clear learning objectives - Encourages and motivates students to do their best - Constantly challenges students to perform above their standard, giving them the support and tools necessary to have the confidence to do so 4. Continuously seeks new opportunities for development and learning - Actively wants to improve their teaching and subject knowledge 5. Communicates regularly with parents - Develops synergy between school and parents, working together for the best outcomes

- Establishes rapport and trust with parents in order to help student succeed 6. Respects and engages with students - Brings joy to learning and inspires curiosity in young minds - Values all ideas and opinions, making students feel safe to express their feelings while learning to respect and listen to others At Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) Hong Kong, we ensure all of our teachers embody these six key points. NAIS is at the forefront of delivering quality education in the city and providing professional development opportunities for its teachers. The school believes each teacher has a direct effect on the success of students. That’s why we only select the best teachers worldwide through our OTOS (Outstanding teachers for outstanding schools) programme and offer them continuous training through Nord Anglia University, the home of professional learning in Nord Anglia Education. Specialist teachers are also afforded the privilege of being regularly trained by global leaders in education and our students benefit from enhanced and extended learning opportunities. Our exclusive collaborations with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme are two ways in which the school

seeks to be ambitious for both its teachers and its students. To ensure the school’s STEAM offering is cutting edge, NAIS science teachers spent one week at MIT learning about an array of subjects ranging from nuclear fission to aeronautics, to mixing electronic music and more. Teachers in the music and performing arts department aim to inspire and equip students with the creativity, curiosity, and cultural literacy with our exclusive curriculum developed by The Juilliard School. All of these distill down to the students and reinforce NAIS’ philosophy of “Be Ambitious”. With our strong commitment in teacher’s development, students at NAIS are the true benefactors of all the learning and opportunities afforded to NAIS teachers. Our incredible teachers are able to offer individual help to ensure each student reaches their full potential. That is inspiring for any parent! For parents interested to learn more about NAIS and enrolments. Contact the Admissions Team for more details. Website:, Email:, Tel: +852 3958 1488 Address: Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong 11 On Tin Street, Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong 51

principal’s office Hong Kongers are proud of their identity and rich culture - Chinese culture is incredibly important to us at VSA, which is reflected in our bilingual programme.

Primary principal Dawson with students.

Principal’s office VSA primary principal Ross Dawson reveals all. What’s your Hong Kong connection? I originally came to Hong Kong in 1995 and stayed until 2014. I have just returned from studying Psychology of Coaching at Sydney University and working as an educational consultant around Asia-Pacific. So in total I’ve been here 20 years - it’s home to me.

left for after school or late at night. Ensuring a healthy work/life balance can also be difficult. Dealing with all the multiple ideas milling around in your head and getting up fresh in the morning can be tough. I like to use technology for scheduling tasks, making lists and setting reminders.

And what’s your story in education? I’ve been in education for over 25 years, originally as a teacher in New Zealand and then in the UK and Hong Kong. My last school-based role was as deputy principal at Victoria Shanghai Academy. I am also a consultant, trainer and school visitor for the International Baccalaureate. Teaching has always been a natural fit for me - once I got into the classroom, I was hooked. Teaching allows me to be creative while capitalising on my people skills.

What do you see as the school’s greatest strength? People - we all really care about one another and support each other. We have a fantastic staff who really go the extra mile for students and in return, students go that extra mile too. We also have high standards - and we believe that happy, challenged students will rise to them.

What’s the toughest part of your day? You come to work in the morning with a to-do list - but other things come up. In the end, children, teachers and parents are your first priority so often the admin work gets 52

What do you see as the biggest benefits for kids studying in Hong Kong? Students are exposed to a wide range of different perspectives and points of view. This makes them very tolerant. Hong Kong has a very strong work ethic which means educational standards and expectations are high.

What are your views on homework in primary? At VSA we call it home learning as we believe it should be an extension of the classroom. We think it should enhance what is happening at school and not be just extra busy work. As an inquiry school, students will often research and gather data at home to be used in the classrooms for lessons. We also build choice and differentiation into our home learning. For me, one non-negotiable is reading. Reading is extremely important for developing confident learners with strong vocabularies who can access the vast amount of information we now have access to. But again, it should be fun and exciting. Young children also need the opportunity for unstructured play, time to use their imaginations. And they also need at least ten hours of sleep each night. In the end it’s all about balance. What are your views on the use of tech in the classroom? I think technology is amazing. It allows us to inquire, collaborate and communicate like never before. The other day one of our classes was taking part in a Mystery Skype with a school in Australia - that would never have been possible just a few years ago. As a school, we use Googleclassrooms, Google docs and a variety of other applications to enhance learning. But, I think it’s important to make sure we’re using tech to achieve things we couldn’t before, not just for the sake of using it. Of course along with this access to information comes the need for greater responsibility. We educate the students about being good “digital citizens” and partner with parents to promote the the responsible use of technology. Did you have a favourite subject at school? Yes, art, drama, technical drawing and computers, which fascinated me as they had just come out. I was into anything creative - I strongly believe the arts are vital for creating well-rounded, confident students who can communicate and collaborate well. Please tell us a secret about yourself… Now if I told you that it wouldn’t be a secret... 53

life & style

Life & style news Doors open on new Books in the bay eco store Eco homewares specialist Tree has opened a branch in Sha Tin, New Territories. Located on the ground floor of HomeSquare, the new store offers a range of Tree products, including sofas, lounge and dining furniture and “eco-chic” accessories, as well as a Christmas decorations line. The HomeSquare store is the second Tree store to open in the New Territories following a successful launch in Sai Kung, and the first in the Sha Tin area. “We’re delighted to be opening the doors to the latest Tree store,” said managing director Kate Babington. “This is an exciting next chapter in the Tree story as we branch out in Hong Kong.” The Sha Tin store is open daily, 11am-9pm, Shop 101-102, HomeSquare, Sha Tin.

While bookstore Page One says goodbye to Hong Kong, Discovery Bay has welcomed a new book shop to its midst. Bookazine has opened in the Main Plaza, offering children’s books, international magazines, best-sellers, cookbooks, cards, stationery, toys and games. Sister company, Partytime, will also maintain a presence within the store. This is the eighth Bookazine store to open in the territory, following relocations in Prince’s Building and IFC to bigger premises earlier this autumn. “The Discovery Bay branch is very exciting because not only is it our second biggest Bookazine…, but also the first time we have combined the brands Bookazine and Partytime into a single shop,” said director Shonee Mirchandani. “In 2016 the group has seen great success and we feel so grateful to our wonderful customers for their support.”

The new Discovery Bay store.

The new store is open Mon - Sat 9.30am - 8pm; Sunday and public holidays 10am - 8pm, Shop 104B, 1/F Block A, Ddeck, DB Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau, 2987 1373.

Foodie feast Local food writer Adele Wong has launched a stunning photographic homage to Hong Kong’s food scene. The chunky hard-back is packed with stunning images, fascinating commentary and tried-and-tested recipes from all over the territory. Learn about Hong Kong’s fascinating east-meetswest food culture through the eyes of local artisans, restaurateurs, herbal specialists and streetside hawkers. Pick up some handy

Cantonese terms along the way, and try your hand at a few classic Cantonese recipes while you’re at it. The perfect gift for food fanatics and lovers of Hong Kong culture. $380 from Bookazine stores.

Stay sober for a good cause

A new range of Hong Kong-inspired crockery at the recently opened Sha Tin store.


The Hong Kong Cancer Fund is launching Soberman, an alcohol-free fundraising campaign that runs throughout January - the time of year notorious for “health” resolutions after the annual Christmas blow-out. Participants are invited to sign up online this month, set a fundraising target and ask family and friends for sponsorship. If you don’t feel you can commit to a 100% alcohol-free month (this is Hong Kong, after all) there is the option to pay a $100 “liquor levy” for invites

and events where you just can’t say no. “Soberman was a popular, fun challenge last year and raised funds towards the free services and programmes we offer for those touched by cancer,” said Cancer Fund founder Sally Lo. “This year we have included “Soberwoman” in our campaign, too.” To keep you on the straight and narrow, prizes for top fundraisers include luxury breaks and dining vouchers. See for details.

life & style

Nuts for coconuts

Starry starry nights

Dipping temperatures, lower humidity and central heating - it’s the classic recipe for dry skin and hair. Beat the flake with an ethically produced and sustainably packaged range of organic coconut products crafted by artisanal communities in the Solomon islands, providing much-needed employment in an economically struggling part of the world. Coconut Matter was created by ecowarrior Diane Van Zwanenberg and includes the very versatile WILD Coconut Oil - apply after a shower, massage into hair before shampooing, or leave in as an overnight hair mask. It can also be used to remove makeup. Alternatively, add Coconut Sugar - also from the range - for a DIY face and body scrub. Or just add it to a morning cup of coffee for a healthy dose of “good” fats. WILD Virgin Coconut Oil is $90 for 200ml, Coconut Sugar costs $68; both available from Logon stores or

The planets have aligned at Lush as it launches a brand new spa treatment. The unusual three-hour treatment includes a facial, palm reading and massage. While you are totally at liberty to lie back and shut down, the treatment does encourage you to open up to the therapist to allow “muscles to relax and release”. Holst’s The Planets symphony lends occasion to the treatment throughout. Phase one, which represents the past, is a full body massage with time to “reflect on the past and release it from the body”. Phase two, the present, includes a cup of tea, a hand and arm massage and a palm reading. Phase three ends the treatment with a facial with techniques to “lift” skin and facial muscles. Lush spa is located at G/F, Soho Square, 21 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 3915 0638; the treatment costs $4,500 for 180 minutes. Keep it sleek and simple this winter with coconut oil. 55

life & style

Santa’s selection Great gifts for kids...

Large Lloyd rabbit $480, Mirth, Ava the dolphin soapsox from $158, Indigo Living,

Mercedes Benz Ride on car from $399, Toys”R”Us,

London bus $699, Bumps to Babes,

Reindeer games gift set $650, Lush,

Nesting and sorting garage and cars $199, Bumps to Babes

Nativity scene $560, Monster Kid, Shop 324, 3/F, Landmark Prince’s, Central (flagship)

Cowgirl kid’s cutlery set $120,

56 57

life & style

Gifts from the heart For mum and dad...

Contemporary chess set $3,490, Indigo Living  ietnamese Rose and Delentii V hand and body lotion $220, Cochine at Indigo Living

 elvedge Grooming gift set S $650, Harvey Nichols,  tar Jewels S aromatherapy gift box $510, Lane Crawford, Coffrette Colonia gift set $1,345, Lane Crawford Grande CuvĂŠe Tradition $650 + $15 for christmas packaging (reindeer wine bottle sweater and hat),

Philipponat Champagne $399,

Hello Cities aromatic soaps $110,  ohnnie Walker Blue Label J and The Peninsula Boutique Christmas chocolate gift set $2,180, The Peninsula Boutique Pouch $245, GOD,

 ed Lamps R luggage label $125, GOD Passport cover $245, GOD 58

 ilk upcycled Japanese S kimono clutch $1,800, 59

life & style


How to do Sham Shui Po

life & style

Insider tips on navigating the fabric bedecked lanes of deepest Kowloon.


f you’re looking for advice on Sham Shui Po, home accessories designer Kim Buggins is your lady. She happily admits to spending “most of her time” trawling the lanes for materials and inspiration for her designs. She knows the suburb like the back of her hand, and is on first-name terms with many of the shopkeepers. So where to start? First up, a coffee. For those in the know, Cafe Sausalito on Tai Nan Street is the only place to go. “There didn’t used to be a lot here for coffee lovers,” admits Buggins. “But since (Sausalito owner) Michael Tam opened up, I have my perfect caffeine stop.” The coffee is indeed so good I would actually make a detour for it - along with a lovely latte, Tam does a nice line in sandwiches, cakes and other assorted snacks and lunch items. Fully caffeined up, now it’s time to shop. For first-timers, the blocks of streets and myriad shops can be daunting. However, if you know what you’re doing, the roads can be divided into specific items. Yu Chau Street, for example, is all about beads and ribbons. While Buggins has a handful of personal favourites, she says on the whole they’re all pretty good. “And so cheap. You can buy an entire roll rather than just a length for a great price. My cupboards are groaning with rolls of ribbon, fantastic for giftwrapping.” Shopkeepers are also happy to cut snippets if you need to go away and compare colour schemes. “From wrapping presents, trimming cushions or just keeping lengths of ribbon for kids’ hair ties, the products are great value,” says Buggins. Top buys at this time of year include Christmas-themed ribbons decorated with trees, gifts and stars, to anything glittery including yards of sparkling rope “which would look great as a tie for napkins or for hanging name labels onto chairs at the Christmas table. Also fabulous for trimming hand-made stockings and sacks.” The MTR end of the street is stuffed with bead and button shops. Let your imagination

run riot - from stitching colourful beads onto stockings or gift bags, to creating necklaces for kids or using them to trim a plain dress or top, there are plenty of ways they can be used to accessorize. Tai Nan Street is chock full of leather goods. Certain shops offer masterclasses in leather-making - Buggins recommends the bag making classes. Alternatively, the rolls of brightly coloured leather could be used for placemats at the Christmas lunch table. Ki Lung Street is a treasure trove of beautiful fabrics. Ricky’s at 1J-1K Shek Kip Mei Street is overflowing (literally, some jostle on the pavement outside) with rolls of gorgeous material - there are loads of silver and gold options that would look great as table runners or napkins. Lengths of white cotton are good value and cheap enough to turn into luxurious looking table cloths that can soak up the odd red wine stain without too much stress. It’s also worth rummaging inside the shop for the odd designer remnant - we turned up gorgeous rolls of designer end-of-line. Also recommended is Kazaf Chau on Yu Chau Street - the silks are to die for and would make perfect party dresses or wraps. Buggins recommends purchasing materials (and also zips) to be tailored from Sham Shui Po rather than buying in Shenzhen - “the quality is better.”

All that sparkles. Rolls of rope at Wai Hung Weaving Factory.

If you’re looking for stocking fillers, head to Fuk Wa Street, it’s bright, gaudy and perfect for cheap decorations, dress-ups and bits and pieces for the kids - and generally cheaper than Pottinger Street. Buggins’ Love Friday designs can be found at Mirth,

Where to go

Top tips

Coffee stop - Cafe Sausalito, 201 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, 6305 1887. Leather workshops - Tepee, 217 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, 2488 9101; Brothers Rope - Wai Hung Weaving Factory, 90 Nam Cheong Street, Sham Shui Po, 2394 7838. Ribbons Company, 162 Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2394 8863. Personalised ribbons and woven tags - Mei Shing Company, 164D Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2381 0991. Fabric - Ricky, 1J-1K Shek Kip Mei Street, SSP, 2393 3525; Moon Yue Piece Goods, 1/F, 125127 Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2789 9661.

DON’T go if it’s raining - a lot of the marketholders stay closed. DON’T go before 11am - Hong Kong is a late opening kind of city! DON’T go on a public holiday - many stores and market-holders will stay closed. DO take a small handbag and fold-away shopping bag - the fabric shops in particular are stuffed with treasures, you don’t want to be toting over-sized bags around the material rolls. DO catch the MTR - Sham Shui Po is on the Tsuen Wan (red) line, seven stops from Central, exit A1 and walk straight ahead until you reach “bead street” (Yu Chau Street). Happy shopping! 61

life & style

Stuck for small talk? Not sure how to make an exit? Sir David Tang has you covered with his new book, Rules for Modern Life. He speaks exclusively to Expat Parent about surviving Hong Kong’s party season. EP: What makes a good party? Sir David: A good party is one where the host only pays attention to his or her guests.

It’s often said it’s fashionable to be late, but how late is too late?

What’s the biggest faux pas you’ve committed at a party? I don’t commit faux pas.

If you’re hosting, how do you go about evicting unwanted guests?

It is never fashionable to be late. People who are late are rude.

One should be firm about unwanted guests and drunks. You must make sure that they leave. With help if necessary.

Any tips for making small talk?

Is it ok to serve prosecco?

All small talks should be banned.

Yes because it’s all relative.

How do you navigate duller guests?

Are handwritten thank you notes still de rigeur?

When you meet someone boring, leave them in mid-sentence.

vid... a D r i S s i This

Email is an acceptable substitute these days. It’s not the mode of thanks that counts, it’s what you actually write that matters.

How will you be spending Christmas Day?

If I don’t like the party, I simply slip away without saying goodbye to anyone.

What about e-Christmas cards?

Doesn’t politeness dictate that you seek out the host when you’re leaving?

Your own social diary must be looking pretty busy about now...

In terms of Christmas decorations, how do you dress your tree? Sleek and sophisticated or submerged in hand-crafted ornaments from younger family members?

No, no, no. I never accept any Christmas parties.

I like old-fashioned Christmas trees full of oldfashioned decorations.

Do you enjoy Christmas?

Is an artificial tree ok?

Yes, yes, yes.


Any advice for escaping the party from hell?

It really depends on how well you know the host. On the whole, if you’re leaving because you’re not enjoying the party, say nothing to the host. But if you’re leaving full of beans, then thank them.

I hate e-cards.

I always spend it quietly with my family.

...and t is his bhoisok



Music app strikes a chord with kids This one-of-a-kind game will have children striking the right note. Music is a powerful element of a child’s education, but it’s often one that brings a strong element of parental nagging to a household. A reluctance to engage in music practice is a common story among budding young musicians. Let’s face it, most kids would rather be playing games on mum’s iPhone than practicing guitar scales. In good news for kids that would rather play games than practice their music, a new game called Monster Chords has gamified guitar learning, and has potentially begun a new era of nagless music practicing! Monster Chords is a one-of-a-kind music app, available on iOS, that makes learning every guitar chord a fun challenge thanks to its creative game play. It’s safe to say the world has a fascination with games – more than 20 million people in the US alone play Pokemon Go each day. Much of that fascination comes from our children, they’re almost always willing to engage with a video game – on the TV, the iPad, or a parent’s phone. Even as

adults we’re easily drawn into the engaging experience of a well designed game. So it comes as no surprise that the education industry have turned to gamification to capture and maintain the interest of learners. Monster Chords aims to do exactly that, to capture and maintain the interest of those who are eager to learn the guitar, taking away the tedium and potential boredom of music education and music practice. How does Monster Chords work? In the game, shy, music-loving monsters roam the dark forest. These monsters would like nothing more than to hear some good music. Players simply play the right guitar chords in time with the music to draw these monsters out of hiding. Each time the correct chord is played, the monsters move closer towards your cozy campfire. But be warned, these monsters are discerning music lovers! If a player makes a mistake, they will go back into hiding. With over 20 original compositions, and 30 challenging

levels, Monster Chords offers hours of music practice for game-loving kids (and even parents). New levels and songs will be added to the game every month, keeping the content fresh and young music students actively engaged. Monster Chords is free to download and offers the first five levels, and use of the gamified tuner, free - providing the perfect way for parents and students to try the game before they commit to a subscription. This ‘try then subscribe’ model also makes the game an affordable alternative to hiring tutors, and allows children to learn the guitar at their own pace. It is also a good companion app for students who are currently being tutored. Children will require their own guitar, good quality models are available from Download Monster Chords on the App Store or scan the QR code here:

life & style

H&M Home is on trend with this year’s ‘rustic’ look.

Deck your halls There’s no right or wrong way to do Christmas - but there’s always room for improvement, says Adele Brunner.


veryone has their own traditions at Christmas, and whether you’re a stalwart of the pile-em-high brigade, or prefer something more minimal, it’s up to you how you deck your halls. But then again, who hasn’t felt a twinge of tree envy when faced with a friend’s stunningly decorated fir or wanted more of a creative Christmas table? The key is planning says Jude Bailey, cofounder of party planning company Events For Life. “Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time both to assemble your ideas and to actually decorate,” she says.


If you want a stylish living area, she advises, it helps to have a stylish room to begin with. With space so tight in Hong Kong homes, too much furniture and clutter can stop a room from looking its best. Bailey suggests moving furniture around and decluttering shelves and other areas to create empty space for Christmas decorations. “Decide which areas of the room you want to accent and create one or two focal points (such as a Christmas tree in one corner or a festive display on a sideboard) which will draw the eye towards them,” says Bailey. “Don’t go overboard or it will look messy. It’s also best to have a plain backdrop so the decorations really

stand out.” She also advises sticking to one or two neutral base colours such as white, silver or gold, and adding pops of colour to these. This even extends to the colour of your wrapping paper, which should be bought to complement your decorations and complete the overall look. “It’s worth investing in some good quality baubles in your base colour because they will be used every year,” she says. “If you like a bit of colour at Christmas, buy cheaper decorations in that shade. That way, you can change it from one year to the next without breaking the bank. Purple, green and red are the obvious Christmassy colours but if you

life & style want something more contemporary, try hot pink, lime green and orange.” Bailey suggests playing with scale - even going “big” in a small flat - and using windows, windowsills, ceilings and balconies and banisters if you have them. “You can get some fabulous snowflake stickers from stationery shops that you can stick onto windows, or boughs of greenery with battery powered fairy lights entwined in them that look great running up a banister,” she says. Nor does having children mean you have to abandon all sense of style, even though they often have a homing instinct for picking the most garish, gaudy decorations they can find. Bailey suggests allocating them their own corner to decorate, giving them a box of pre-selected decorations that they can use in any way they like, or letting them go wild in their own bedrooms. (Or you could discreetly change the choice and placement of tree ornaments and decorations once they’ve gone to bed). “I would advise not going overboard multicoloured flashing fairy lights are a definite “no” in my book,” says Bailey. As with room decoration, similar rules apply to your table setting - don’t overdo it, invest in

a couple of key festive pieces to go with what you already have, and keep it simple. Candles, fresh foliage, a table runner and sprinkles of table confetti are all relatively inexpensive elements that can easily be used to jazz up a table; coordinating napkins, name-cards,

Having children doesn’t mean you have to abandon all sense of style.

placemats and crackers add to the elegance. Try filling a clear vase with baubles or fresh clementines, or a assembling a tower of crackers. Stanley market is a great location for sourcing good quality, snow-white table linen; or try Sham Shui Po for inexpensive lengths of silvery fabric for table runners.

“Be careful with the height of your centrepiece,” says Bailey. “It should either be low down on the table or very high. If it is at eye level, it will only get in the way.” If you are entertaining children at the Christmas lunch table, incorporate table games like Secret Santa, or tactile centrepieces such as a nativity scene with wooden animals. Personalised messages and gifts at each person’s table setting create are also nice touches.

What’s hot this winter Pastels - combine pale blues and greens with pale grey and white, translucent, metallic and frosted. Rustic materials - go for a homemade approach with hessian, twine and brown paper packages. Vintage kitsch - bring on turquoise, hot pink, canary yellow, red and lime; the brighter, the better. Geometrics - delicate, angular baubles in gold and silver. Beautiful birds - peacoks, owls and birds of paradise as well as mini bird houses. 65

life & style

O Christmas tree Looking for the real deal? Look no further. The real deal Anglo Chinese Florist

including Upper Basement, Parklane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 10.30am-10.30pm.

This year is the florist’s 70th anniversary. Choose between Noble fir, starting from $936, and Douglas fir, starting from $990. All trees are sourced directly from the Oregon Tree Farm. G/F & Basement, No. 9 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 8am-8pm, 2921 2986,

Order a tree in just a few clicks. XmasTreeOnline ships Hong Kong wide until December 10 and also operates a limited removal service after Christmas. Order online at

Don’t want a tree taking up too much space in your home? This year Ellerman is offering miniature Christmas trees from $680. Trees can be custom designed with florals ribbons and ornaments. Unit 15B, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, 2291 0388,

Faux firs City’super

Oliver’s Douglas, Noble and Nordmann fir, all imported from USA Oregon State. All trees will come with a stand. Prices start at $1,198. Open for orders until December 12. Shop 201-205, 2/F Landmark Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central

During the festive season, the aptly named Flower Market in Mong Kok is lined with Christmas trees and other festive plants and decorations. Don’t buy too quick, shop around for the best bargain! Flower Market Road, Mong Kok, 9.30am7.30pm.

IKEA Order a real fir tree, grown in a sustainable ecoenvironment, from IKEA. Prices start at $599 for a 150cm tree with orders open until December 18. Available to order at any of the IKEA stores 66

Pick up a tree next time you’re doing your groceries. Wellcome is stocking Nordmann, Douglas and Noble fir, with prices starting at $1198. Red Hill Plaza, Shop G25, G/F, Tai Tam, 2813 1783


Ellermann Flower Boutique

The Flower Market


The premium supermarket is stocking six different types of artificial Christmas trees this year, with prices ranging between $98 to $1,680. ifc mall Level 1, Shops 1041-1049, Central

Oncor Recycled Trees Oncor stocks just about every shape and size of artificial tree you can think of with prices ranging from $240 to $5,490. Free shipping. Available online at

P&F Garden

Toys “R” Us

P&F Garden have over 30 years of experience in Christmas trees. Pop down to this local nursery and pick out a Noble or Douglas fir. Prices start at $588. 50 Shui Choi Tin Village, Victoria Road, Pok Fu Lam, 10am-5pm, 2572 6430,

Toys “R” Us have a selection of miniature artificial christmas trees, coming in fun neon colours as well as more traditional styles. Shop 23, 2/F at Site 2 of Aberdeen Centre, 4 Nam Ning St., Aberdeen, 11am-10pm, 2572 6430,

Sophie’s Christmas Trees - Ma On Shan Visit the website, fill out an online form and send it via email or post. Prices start from $685 for a 4-5ft Noble fir. 42E Ha Pun Shan, Ma On Shan Tsuen, Ma On Shan, 2649 6280,

Stanley Flower Shop Choose your perfect Christmas tree from this Stanley Market flower stall. Stanley Flower Shop, 434A Stanley Market Road, Stanley, 2813 0624,

life & style

Nutcracker Ballerina tree decoration $199 from Indigo Living

 utcracker soldier tree N decoration $199 from Indigo Living

 utcracker tree decoration N $199 from Indigo Living  anvas Christmas C stocking ornament $65 from TREE  anvas table top Santa C From $65 from TREE Xxxx Xxxxx 67


Festive feasts Annie Wong rounds up the best Christmas menus on the Island. The Optimist The Optimist brings Spanish fever to their fivecourse Christmas menu. The menu includes the restaurant’s signature dishes - think grilled Galician octopus, wild monkfish and Spanish fillet Chateaubriand. The festive repast finishes with Turrón de Navidad, a traditional dessert of sweet nougat, honey and roasted almonds. Available on December 24 and 25. $688 per person, with free flow packages starting from $240 for bottomless wine, beer, prosecco, champagne and house spirits. G/F-2/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2433 3324. Limewood Limewood will be putting together a festive menu with a South East Asian, Caribbean and Hawaiian twist. Highlights include Hunter Valley free-range charcoal roast turkey, with pineapple sausage stuffing and served with glazed baby carrots, caramelized shallot mash and turkey jus. Shake things up with a peanut butter cake with marshmallow and toffee sauce. Takeaway turkeys are available throughout December and can be picked up on site or delivered to your door via Deliveroo - they cost $880 and must be ordered 48 hours in advance. the pulse, Shop 103, G/F 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, 2866 8668. 68

Popsy Modern Kitchen Art inspired restaurant Popsy Modern Kitchen will be transformed into a winter garden with shades of gold and black and silk flowers. The restaurant has prepared a special eightcourse Enchanted Christmas menu with dishes including seared scallops, pan seared duck foie gras and poached turbot. Following tradition of roasting game, roasted duck will be served and finished with a ‘Christmas Wreath’ dessert, $988 per person. 5/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, 2907 8188. Pirata Celebrate the Italian way with Pirata’s festive lunch and dinner menu. There will be a giant carved out parmesan wheel full of boletus mushroom risotto during brunch ($298 per person; free-flow for an extra $180). The five-course dinner menu ($648 per person) tantalises taste buds with wild boar ragout, Tuscan sea bass and butcher’s cut steak, followed by popular Italian desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta. 29-30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2887 0270. Jamie’s Italian Sharing is caring at Jamie’s Italian. The eatery has two specific menus this Christmas Festive Lunch Set and the WOW menu. The

lunch set has an option for two ($168) or three ($198) courses which comes with starters, mains and dessert. For groups of 10 or more, the WOW menu ($468 per person) includes three courses of two starters, two mains, two side dishes and a dessert. Available throughout December. 2/F, Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 3958 2222.

Big wows at Jamie’s Italian this year.

208 Duecento Otto Enjoy a spot of la dolce vita at 208 Duecento Otto. Yummy Christmas dishes have an Italian twist - feast on venison carpaccio, porcini and wild mushroom risotto, Christmas trifle and more. And walk away with a complimentary panettone. Christmas menus are available December 21-27. $180 for free flow Veuve Clicquot. 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2549 0208.

food Aberdeen Street Social Located in PMQ, Executive Chef Chris Whitmore has crafted a British fare for diners this Christmas. The menu starts with soup, appetizer with various traditional dishes as mains including turkey, venison wellington, roasted south coast bass, dessert and mince pies. The restaurant will be serving complimentary mulled wine during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. $750 per person. Available Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. PMQ, JPC G/F, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2866 0300. Catalunya Along with specially created dishes like homemade terrine foie gras and and seafood platter for two (available December 24th, 25th, 31st), a spanish brunch awaits at Catalunya. The Christmas Day brunch starts from $780 ($208 for children aged 3-9) and includes free flow French oysters, as well as a seafood station and signature dishes like charcuterie, pinchos, salads and desserts. Free flow starts from an additional $230. G/F, Guardian House, Morrison Hill, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, 2866 7900.

Free-flow French oysters at Catalunya.

Zuma Go fancy with Zuma’s Baikingu Christmas brunch. Acclaimed for their Japanese cuisine, the menu will feature their signature dishes, like iberico pork ribs with Japanese BBQ sauce, teriyaki salmon fillet, roasted blue lobster and white truffle will be shaved table side. Zuma will also be offering their homemade mulled wine for the festive season. $590 per person; $650 for Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne. Available on Dec 24 and 25. Landmark Level 5 & 6, 15 Queen’s Road Central, 3657 6388.

Casa Lisboa For cosy Portuguese fare, Casa Lisboa’s Christmas buffet is stuffed with new dishes. Sample from their cold buffet, hot food, bacalhau, and dessert station. Homemade Portuguese bread, soup and sharing plates will also be available. ($480 for adult; $250 for children aged 4-11). Free flow options start from $90 per person. 8/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2905 1168 69


Turkeys to go If you can’t stand the heat - let someone else do the hard work. Blue Raised on the banks of Hunter Valley in Australia, Blue is offering a whole ($1,880) or half ($980) semi deboned Hunter Valley freerange turkey to tuck into at home. The turkey comes with mashed potatoes, homemade pork stuffing, chorizo brussel sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce. Plus all orders include sweet potato pie and cinnamon whipped cream. All turkeys must be ordered 48 hours in advance. 108 Hollywood Road, Central, 2613 9286.

The complete package from Oliver’s.

Whole Australian turkeys from Blue.

Morty’s Delicatessen Feast in the comfort of your own home with Morty’s Delicatessen’s Family Feast@HOME package ($2,788). Available throughout the month of December, the package can feed 10-14 people, with a whole roasted American turkey, apple smoked bacon stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato mash and more. Dessert dishes include Martha’s apple pie and homemade blueberry cheesecake. Extras like honey glazed ham (8kg), salads, desserts and other treats can be ordered separately. Orders need to be placed at least three days in advance. Order at, or call 3665 0900. Oliver’s The Delicatessen Oliver’s offers two choices of turkeys this festive season. The Ali Oli Christmas turkey dinner set ($4,388) comes with a full spread of antipasti, roasted turkey with apple and walnut 70

stuffing, honey-glazed ham, salmon, sides, desserts and mulled wine. Orders must be placed by Dec 19 with four days in advance for delivery. Alternatively, there’s an oven ready 13lbs US roast turkey without stuffing ($680 each, needs to be picked up). Order by emailing oliversdeli@dairy-farm. or for more information, call 2810 7710,

Invisible Kitchen Hong Kong’s gourmet little helpers has put together a classic Christmas home hamper. The hamper serves 8 to 12 people and includes a traditional roast turkey, sliced turkey breast with pork and cranberry stuffing, roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts and more. $2,400 per hamper. Call 2711 5788, or visit

GREAT Food Hall Choose from different sizes of turkeys from the GREAT Food Hall. Frozen, chilled and organic turkeys available, and range from 3kg to 9.5kg from France or the US. (Prices vary depending on type of turkey chosen). Festive sides like roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, truffle potato gratin and turkey gravy can be ordered separately at an extra cost. Cooked dinner sets also available and start from $1,299. Orders need to be placed by December 19, and ordered four days in advance. Order online hk/christmas, call 2918 0091 or in store Basement, Two Pacific Place, Queensway. Keeping it traditional at Invisible Kitchen.

2016 PRESTIGE CHRISTMAS GIFT FAIRS Grand Ballroom Conrad Hong Kong

 THU 8 DECEMBER - The Christmas Gift Showcase  WED 14 DECEMBER - The Christmas Gift Festival

A Ballroom of One-Stop Shopping

Free Admission, Open to Public, 10am-8pm Sponsored by:

ExpatParent_Dec16.indd 1



24/11/2016 12:06:49 71


Box of tricks Luxurious hampers that are almost too good to give away.

Marks and Spencer There is a wide range of hampers available from Marks and Spencer including the Christmas Spectacular ($3,699) which is filled with all the Christmas goodies, the Christmas Joy ($299) and Kids’ Delights ($125.5). Gluten free hampers available. Order to be placed before Dec 16 to receive free delivery, call 3656 2223, The South African Shop The South African Shop will be giving away a Christmas hamper bursting with great South African goodies - including biltong, classic sweets, teas, pastes and chutneys, old-school crisps and loads more. A perfect treat and a perfect homesickness cure if you’re from that part of the world. To enter your name into the lucky draw, just comment on Facebook page TheSouthAfricanShop with the code ISMAGXMAS. Check out for more goodies. InterContinental Hong Kong There are four hampers to choose from; The Festive Foodie Basket ($2,998), The Epicurean 72

($3,998), The Gourmet ($6,998) and the New Life Organic Holiday Hamper ($1,998). Each hamper is topped with various festive items like Panettone, Christmas pudding and mince pies. Hampers come in a specially designed carry case. Order from 2313 2323, Available till December 30.

Sweet treats from InterContinental.

Berry Bros & Rudd Make the festive season more merry with Berry Bros. & Rudd’s King’s Ginger Gift Set ($499). Along with a bottle of The King’s

Ginger Liqueur, the set comes with a leather hip flask and a brace of two extendable cups. The liqueur is an element to make the perfect Christmas mulled wine. Order from Classified Choose from a variety of hampers from Classified that are filled with all your favourite Christmas goodies including gingerbread, mince pies and mulled wine mix. Hamper sets include The All I want for Christmas Hamper ($2,600), Winter Wonderland Hamper ($1,190), Little Drummer Boy Hamper ($900) are all available. Delivery fee varies depending on location. Orders must be placed before December 26, by emailing 73


Not content with a letter, Nayla Ventura and her family flew to Lapland to visit Santa in person. 74



or as long as I can remember, Lapland has always fascinated me. When I was a child, I used to tell people I came from Scandinavia. I know, a bit odd, but it just sounded like such a magical country for me. Being Spanish I had never really known snow or reindeer, let alone elves working in little forest workshops. So last year I bit the bullet and booked up a trip. I ended flying the silliest route with my two children, Nora (aged six) and Jan (aged threeand-a-half), in order to “pick up” my husband who was working in Germany at the time. We went via London on a British Airways flight, spent a night in Frankfurt, and then jumped on a Finnair flight the following morning to Helsinki and then Rovaniemi. All in all, it took forever. I think if I did the trip again, I would fly direct with Finnair from Hong Kong to Helsinki and from there to Kittila, which is 50km from Akaslompolo - where we stayed - or Rovaniemi, around 170km away. It’s a journey of 17 hours, so do bear that in mind. Once we landed, we were transported straight into a winter wonderland. The airport itself was covered in snow and as soon as we left the terminal we found ourselves in the middle of a forest. I had never seen so much snow in all my life. It was so calm. Just us, the forest and a long, white road. We had booked a log cabin called The Berrystay - it was lovely, cosy but with plenty of space, plus a playroom attic for the kids. The family who rent it out was also very friendly. We were over the moon with everything we did - it was the best family holiday we have ever had and we came away with so many wonderful memories. My husband - who is usually keener on tropical beach resorts - was really happy with the trip and the kids still ask me when we can go back and play with the reindeer again. Our schedule was pretty packed. I planned the trip online - there are so many activities and events offered in the area and it’s very easy to be overwhelmed. There are also a lot of activity organisers. I ended up using professionals for some excursions, but others I booked myself. Activities included a Snowmobile Family Safari on the first day, which was fantastic and included a guide. On another day we joined a reindeer ride with ice fishing and snowshoeing - the best bit was making the hole in the ice to fish, harder than you might think. Snowshoeing was fabulous fun, just goofing around in the snow in the beautiful forest. 75


Icy fun (above); at home with Father Christmas (right).

We also spent a day in Levi, which has amazing ski slopes. We didn’t want to ski but did Ice Karting (adult only, but the kids loved cheering my husband on), and Kids’ Land which was really fun for the kids and had great sledging. A really memorable day was spent in Hetta in Enontekio meeting the indigenous Sami people at the Fell Lapland Nature Centre. We were the only non-Sami people there, and they were incredibly welcoming. We enjoyed a Sami concert, lots of reindeer soup and a great exhibition. The kids had a lot of fun running around. A big highlight was a day spent husky sledding. We were pulled along by six huskies - I went with the kids and the guide while my husband drove his own sled, and then we switched. It was actually really relaxing. The 5km run was followed by grilled sausages and coffee in a traditional hut. We also spent a day cross country skiing you can rent skis at one of the sports shops in the village. But of course the highlight of the holiday was meeting Santa. We drove to the Santa Claus Village in Joulumaantie - while there are lots of santa opportunities in Lapland, Joulumaantie is the real deal. The village is open 10am to 5pm and entrance is free, although there is a charge for official video and photography. We finished the visit with a trip to the Kota restaurant in the village which was great value and had a lovely atmosphere. According to the kids, they loved the reindeer ride, ice fishing, playing with the baby huskies and of course meeting Santa. My husband enjoyed snow walking in the forest, and I loved a solo horseriding trip - cantering on the snow makes you feel like you’re flying. It makes you laugh out loud like a child - so good for the soul. 76

Reindeer ride through the Finnish forests.

Fact file The family stayed at log cabin Berrystay, which is on Facebook page the berrystay. The Snowmobile Family Safari was organised by Destination Lapland, Horseriding trips can be booked at Konijanka’s Kinderzoo,

Galloping in the snow was a highlight.

From a practical point of view, we were really happy we brought good snow gear with us. Because I’d splashed out on good quality clothing, we were able to enjoy every activity and really throw ourselves around in the snow. For the kids, we took double of everything and always carried a spare set in the car. I would recommend taking good boots at the very least. We stayed for twelve days, which worked out really well.

The reindeer ride, ice fishing and snowshoeing adventure was booked with At Levi, the ice karting was booked via karting. Kid’s Land is at childrens-levi/kids-land-at-front-pistes. Husky sledding was booked through Santa’s village is at Santa Claus Village, Joulumaantie 1, 96930 Rovaniemi. Ventura can be contacted at,


xx xx. 77


To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.


Excel Fencing

X'mas Fenicng Camp

Shop 203 & 205, 2/F., One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang Tel: 2110 9655  Whatsapp: 5512 2169



To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.

Holiday Shopping at and SAVE up to


FREE Shipping on orders $300+

Join Earn and Redeem Online or at Store Discovery Bay ! 5690 4960 Tung Chung ! 6310 7074

/ 79

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love, all the team at Fast Media. See you in 2017! xxx 80





OPEN HOUSE | DECEMBER 8 & 9 We are pleased to launch a new campus in Hong Kong, September 2017, following our huge success at Stamford American International School in Singapore, which today has over 3,000 students from 70 nationalities. We offer a rigorous standards-based curriculum for students from 5 to 18 years, graduating students with the International Baccalaureate Diploma* to 1st tier universities worldwide.

Contact Us +852 2500 8688

*Stamford American School Hong Kong will apply to the International Baccalaureate for program candidacy in December 2017. 1


Expat Parent Dec 2016  
Expat Parent Dec 2016