Page 1









the really useful magazine

January 2017

The charity issue Make 2017 the year to give back

Chile moments

Skiing in the Andes

LAI SEE & LIONS - how to do CNY





Editor’s letter


Principal’s office

The art of relaxation.

With HKA’s secondary principal.

4 Contributors


Me & my hobby

Meet the team.

Pony tales with Margie Kehoe.


School photos


Life & style news

Educational fun and frolics from across Hong Kong.

All the latest news for stylish Hong Kongers.


What’s on


Life & style

Chinese New Year special, plus catch up with Mum about town.

Feng shui tips and relaxing with aromatherapy.

14 News


Mocktails at Gaucho plus new openings.

What’s happening this month.

18 Giveaways


Food news


Happy dining

Taste testing the Island’s cupcakes.

Can you be bothered with a January detox?


Big day out


74 Travel

Loads of free stuff.


Debate of the month


Into the blue at Plover Cove.

Book review

Author interviews and new releases.


My Hong Kong

28 24

Chocolate heaven.


Modern family

Getting into Hong Kong schools.


The big interview

Sarah Brennan on her brand new calendar tale.

Skiing in the Andes.


Flailing spouse

Brand new column for 2017.


32 All for charity Make 2017 the year to give back.


School news

A round-up of what’s been happening.


Open day


A warm welcome from Hong Kong Academy.

Scan and visit our website 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


appy New Year! I am pleased to announce that this issue will be dedicated to the art of comfortable living. There will be not a single article promoting fitness, diets, green juice, or a “new you” (read “slimmed down you”). Instead, I am hoping to induce a state of calm and reflection in the wake of what is the busiest, most chaotic and exhausting time of the year. Last Christmas I spirited the family back to the UK to spend the holidays with their extended family. Not an easy task, it involved weeks of organising warm clothes, secret stashes of Santa gifts (“what’s in that suitcase mummy?” “Nothing darling! DON’T OPEN IT!! Oh, never mind.”), not to mention the online grocery shopping frenzy as we ended up hosting around 20 family members on Christmas Day. Not to mention the 13-hour flight, four hour drive to our cottage and jet-lag. So by New Year’s Day, I was pretty wrecked. At this point, all extended family members had departed and all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch under a throw, a pot of coffee, a box of Celebrations and the Sunday papers - and stay there oooh, until about March. But my goodness, those Sunday supplements were wall-to-wall fitness and health. I flicked and I flicked but I couldn’t find anything to read that wasn’t basically imploring me to get up off that cosy couch and out into the freezing, wet, foggy outdoors in a pair of running shorts. The guilt trip was longer than our 13-hour flight. And then I discovered, in the back of an old glossy, about Hygge. Pronounced “HUE-gah” it is a Danish concept that very sensibly promotes the enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures - family, friends, a warm atmosphere; in other words, a little bit of cosiness. Because at this coldest, dreariest time of year when we’re all exhausted, who honestly wouldn’t prefer a plate of homemade food, a nice glass of red and some good company to a kale smoothie and a lonely hour on the treadmill? So sit back and enjoy the issue - the fitness editorials are on hold until next month... Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Design Design Manager Cindy Suen

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

about the cover

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

Our beautiful Chinese New Year-themed cover this month has been designed by local artist and illustrator, Theadora Whittington. Whittington trained in both London and Beijing and also holds a degree in theology. She is fascinated by the role of pre-scientific beliefs in Chinese and South East Asian society - traditional Hong Kong holidays, festivals and events influence much of her work. She has also written and illustrated a series of Hong Kong-based children’s storybooks, endorsed by WWF Hong Kong. Check out more of her work at


Fish & Chips

Published by Fast Media Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong Expat Parent is published by Fast Media Limited. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Expat Parent cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. 3


Elaine Yeoh…

Joyce Lau…

Kate Davies…

… is our exciting new columnist for 2017. She will be appearing each month in Life & style News, reviewing the best in new apps for busy expat parents and how they can improve your life. Yeoh is originally from Singapore but has been loving life in Hong Kong for the past ten years. She is co-founder of Simply Fabulicious, an online food, travel and family ezine. Check out her blog at simplyfabulicious.wordpress. com and

… is a freelance editor and mum of two young girls. She was brought up in the US but now lives in Hong Kong with her French husband. Read all about her struggles to access Hong Kong’s notoriously tough schooling system on page 26. Lau was previously a staff editor with The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times, as well as arts editor for the The South China Morning Post and managing editor at HK Magazine.

… loves a challenge and there may not be a more crazy, amazing or entertaining journey than bringing up little people. When her two year old isn’t keeping her on her toes, she’s writing, hiking or on the hunt for a great glass of bubbles. Kate visits Sai Kung’s Hong Kong Academy on page 44 and has a chat with secondary principal Leanne Dunlap on page 48.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

4 5

school photos French International School

FIS hosted a fun Christmas Fair at its Jardine’s Lookout campus. The venue was transformed into a festive forest with hanging Christmas trees crafted by clever students.

Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten

Parents, teachers and students got into the festive spirit with craft and games at the kindergarten’s annual Christmas Fayre. 6

school photos ESF Glenealy

Glenealy students got out into the sunshine and enjoyed a dynamic sports day (left), as well as a Christmas Carols Concert (right top and bottom).

Canadian International School

Senior admin staff marked the last day of term by serving up coffee and breakfast to teaching staff (top); the Lower School Choir performed to staff and students arriving at school on the last day; (right) Upper School students put on a performance of “Elf�. 7

what’s on

Snowy fun at the AIA Great European Carnival, until Feb 12.

JAN 1 New Year's Day Happy New Year!

JAN 2 Public Holiday Enjoy the break.

JAN 1 41st New Year Swimming Lifesaving Championships Hong Kong Life Saving Society’s New Year race is back for its 41st year. The 600m race will start from Middle Bay Beach and finish at Repulse Bay Jetty. Last year’s event saw over 2,600 participants with the oldest aged 81. The race will begin at 10am.

JAN 1 & 2 Dragon & Lion Dance Festival Ring in the New Year with colourful dragons, lions, acrobats and more as celebrations 8

for the start of 2017 take to the streets. Performances take place across Hong Kong, from the Star Ferry to Ocean Park and Victoria Peak.

UNTIL JAN 2 Disneyland Not had enough of Christmas yet? Catch the last few days of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Christmas extravaganza with Goofy and friends. Don’t miss the 18-metre LED-wrapped Christmas tree while the night parade is a visual feast of seasonal decorations with Christmas carollers singing all your favourite tunes. Visit for more details.

UNTIL JAN 2 Ocean Park Christmas Sensation 2016 Attractions include a 4D stage show, the all-new Penguin Dress-Up Delights and the Cyber Illusion Spectacular stage show

featuring world-class illusionists, Michael Boyd and Cassandra Gasser.

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 (see page 54 for our exclusive interview). Tickets available at

JAN 8 Discovery Bay Markets DIY Indie arts, crafts and small traders fair. Stay for dinner at one of the designated D’Deck restaurants and enjoy a free ferry ride back to Central. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau.

tell me more

MUM ABOUT TOWN What’s hot this month

Cinderella takes to the stage, Jan 20-22.

JAN 8 & THE 2ND SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH Music by the Sea Stanley’s monthly busking event is back. With a variety of songs ranging from classic, pop and even originals, why not head over and relax by the sea with some great live music. 2:30pm – 4:30pm, Stanley Plaza. caption

JAN 19 Book signing The launch event of Sai Kung resident and author Matt Cooper’s new book, The Last Gibbon. Held at Kidnapped, 6-8pm, 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung.

UNTIL JAN 22 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

JAN 20-22 Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella Adaptations of ballet classics by choreographer Yuri Ng. Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, tickets from $180,

UNTIL FEB 12 AIA Christmas Carnival Roll up, roll up! The AIA Great European Carnival returns to Central Harbourfront. Attracting more than one million visitors last year, the carnival plays host once again to fairground rides, games, dance shows, pantomimes and magicians. Tickets start at $90 for children and $125 for adults. More information at

JAN 28 Chinese New Year Kung Hei Fat Choi!

JAN 30 & 31 Chinese New Year Holiday Enjoy the time out.

Locally crafted Hong Kong Festival yarn at Yarn In The Works.

Knitters nights Brand new craft boutique Yarn In The Works will be hosting a Beginners Knitting Workshop on January 14. The session will be taking a look at the creation of a beanie and runs from 2-4pm. Regular Thursday night knitting meet-ups also run from 7.30pm onwards they’re free and include a glass of wine to get those stitches skipping. The boutique is stuffed full with gorgeous threads from artisans both local to Hong Kong and Asia, as well as retro accessories sourced by crafters all over the world. It’s a colourful new addition to cool-as-cats neighbourhood Sheung Wan. Drop in at 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, 2915 8211, Cruising the ‘Kung Countryside Adventure Tours is running an excursion around Sai Kung’s geopark, taking in the famous sea arches, caves and stacks. Suitable for all ages, the tour starts at Sai Kung New Pier, from the where your boat will motor over to Yim Tin Tsai, it’s then onto Jin Island for a look at its numerous sea caves and arches, followed by some beach action on Sharp Island. The day is suitable for all ages, 11am-2pm, January 17, $220/adult, $180/child aged three to 12 years, There be dragons Don’t miss Hong Kong’s massive (we’re talking Guinness World Record massive) Dragon and Lion Dance Festival on January 1 & 2. With over one hundred lions and dragons dressing up to show off their fancy footwork, there will be 15 minute performances throughout Hong Kong Island from 11am on January 1, including The Peak, Ocean Park, Bauhinia Square and even on the Star Ferry. At 1.30pm the lions and dragons congregate at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza, TST, for an hour-long parade through the streets of Kowloon, finishing at Kowloon Park. See for details. 9

book now FEB 3-5

MAR 16-19

MAR 20-25

Legends in Concert The live celebrity tribute show features an all-star cast of Elvis Presley, Adele, David Bowie and Madonna direct from Las Vegas to The Parisian, Macau. Running for 33 years, Legends in Concert is Las Vegas’ longest-running live entertainment show. Tickets $180-$480 from, 3128 8288.

Taste of Hong Kong Enjoy signature dishes from the city’s finest restaurants, learn tricks of the trade from worldclass chefs and sample gourmet food and drink while enjoying live entertainment. Central Harbourfront Event Space. Tickets start from $108 from

Art Central Art Central returns to Central Harbourfront for its third edition, featuring over 100 leading international galleries. Largescale installations, performances, talks and panel discussions await Hong Kong’s growing art community. Tickets start from $230 from

FEB 16-MAR 18 Hong Kong Arts Festival The 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival will showcase over 150 performances and over 250 special activities. This year will showcase two trilogies - HKAF commissioned and produced, A Floating Family and New York’s Public Theatre, The Gabriels. Visit for more information.


FEB 25-26 Dragonland Music Festival Hong Kong’s first outdoor concert combining pop and electronic dance music with some of the world’s charttopping artists like Black Eyed Peas, Zedd, Iggy Azalea and Redfoo. Hong Kong favourite, Leon Lai will be holding a special concert during the festival. Central Harbourfront. Tickets from 11

what’s on CNY special




Give lai see

Not sure how much to put in that red pocket? $20 for an acquaintance you see regularly but don’t know well, such as a doorman. $40 for somebody closer to you such as friends’ children or your hairdresser. $100 as a generous gift to someone you care about. This is generally the minimum a boss gives an employee. $500+ – this is not unheard of, but it is usually given with a good motive or on birthdays or weddings. DO SAY:


Watch the Chinese New Year Night Parade - JAN 28

The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade has been the highlight of the season in Hong Kong for over 20 years. The parade features spectacular floats and international performers including marching bands, cheerleaders and dance troupes as they make their way through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui.

“Sun Tai Kin Hong” - when giving lai see to express wishes of good health.

The 15-day grace period Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days from day one of the lunar calendar, and lai see is given only during this period – not before or after. This year, the grace period falls from January 28 until February 11.


The parade starts at 8pm and freestanding spectators can watch the show along Canton Road, Haiphong Road and Nathan Road. Arrive early as the crowds can get busy. Ticketed spectator stands open from 7pm and tickets can be bought from the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre at the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Chinese New Year parade, TST.


Visit the Flower Markets

Visit the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are a popular shrine located in Fong Ma Po village, near to Tai Po. The two banyan trees are visited by thousands of people during Lunar New Year celebrations. Previously, joss paper was tied to an orange and thrown into the tree in an attempt to hang it from a high branch to bring good luck. While the tree undergoes a period of recovery, wooden racks have been erected besides the trees to hang wishes from. An artificial tree now stands next to the Tin Hau Temple. Fortune-seekers holding plastic mandarins with wishes attached can throw them onto the branches. One mandarin should be about $25. Take bus 64K or 64P from Tai Po Market station, get off at Fang Ma Po.


Brace the crowds and visit the flower markets to brighten up your home during Lunar New Year. The biggest of all takes place at Victoria Park which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Orchids are particularly auspicious to buy but any flowering plant that takes your eye will do. Offerings have expanded far beyond flowers and plants in recent years as visitors can also pick up decorations, homeware items and souvenirs. Jostle with the crowds on the last day of the market to pick up a bargain when prices are slashed.

Grab a bargain on the last day of the flower market at Vicotria Park.


Watch the firework display

Grab a good spot along the harbour to catch the amazing annual fireworks show. Fireworks and firecrackers are believed to scare away evil spirits, so expect a spectacular display. The fireworks usually take place on the second day of the Lunar New Year - January 29 this year. Visit for more details. 13


Pirate art Hong Kong Maritime Museum has unveiled an unusual Chinese export painting depicting Chinese troops attacking pirates off Lantau in the 1820s. London art dealer Roger Keverne donated the painting to the museum last month. It represents a valuable addition to the museum’s collection portraying life in the Pearl Delta in the nineteenth century. The painting is believed to depict a scene from the Siege of Lantau, a nine-day battle when government forces attacked

London art dealer Roger Keverne (centre) unveiling an 1820s depiction of the Siege of Lantau with his wife (left) and the Maritime Museum’s curator Dr Libby Chan (right).

the Red Fleet led by legendary pirate chief Cheung Po Tsai. In the picture, the pirates are believed to be in the bay off Tung Chung, on the north shore of Lantau, under siege by Guangdong navy junks at Chek Lap Kok, where the present day airport is located. Tsai and his fleet controlled the coast of Guangdong province between 1800 and 1810 until they were pacified by government forces under Governor Bailing between 1809 and 1810. Tsai eventually surrendered and became a lieutenant in the Qing navy.

“It’s a fascinating image and further research is needed to confirm this interpretation of the scene, but what is certain is that it brings to life a forgotten aspect of Hong Kong’s history,” commented Hong Kong Maritime Museum director Richard Wesley. The picture is on display in the Pacific Basin Pirates Gallery on C-Deck, Central Pier No 8, Hong Kong,

Bamboo bambini A pop-up jungle gym for children, made from 113 bamboo poles, has been constructed in Tai Tam Tuk Village as part of the Agricultural Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) Biodiversity Festival. Designed by the Tai Tam Tuk Foundation (TTTF), this pilot hands-on education project aims to teach children about the ecological, commercial and cultural values of bamboo, Hong Kong’s wonder natural resource. “Like Sir David Attenborough said, ‘people won’t protect something that they don’t care for, and they won’t care for something they’ve never experienced’,” says Jenna Ho Marris, co-founder of TTTF. “We have 60 species of bamboo in Hong Kong and see it on buildings 14

everywhere in our city. We’d love to create opportunities for city kids to experience nature in a hands-on, accessible way and connect it to the bamboo we see all around us. Bamboo biodiversity jungle gym is a great start. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every beach, every country park could have a customised bamboo jungle gym?” Combining local skills, heritage and sustainable practices, the bamboo was sourced from a long established family business in Shek Kong and built by a third generation Hong Kong bamboo scaffold master. It stands on wood chip from Hong Kong’s only wood recycling company. It will be open until the end of February to

Hong Kong boasts 60 species of bamboo.

limited school group. For further enquiries or to arrange a workshop, email


Map it out In an attempt to revive interest and understanding of more traditional parts of town, iDiscover has launched Hong Kong App&Map. Described as a “socially responsible travel app”, App&Map offers community curated neighbourhood walks, each walk containing 20-30 sites that bring local cultural heritage to life, depicting urban legends, local stories and detailed photography. “Cities across Asia are starting to look more and more the same,” said iDiscover founder Ester van Steekelenburg. “The irony is that meanwhile there is an increasing demand for authenticity… Travellers want to feel like a local. We want to empower local partners, such as NGOs and community organisations, to showcase their neighbourhood as a destination and share valuable local knowledge with a new audience.” Hong Kong App&Map has six walks Aberdeen, Sheung Wan, Sham Shui Po, Sai Kung and Kowloon City. The app also comes with a free printed map, designed by Hong Kong artists, representing a flavour of the


Discover Hong Kong’s secrets with App&Map.

neighbourhoods, which are also available from participating restaurants, hotels and cafes. The app is available as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, search iDiscover City Walks. iDiscover is also available for Yangon, Bali, Java and Macau and is currenlty working on

more Asian city guides. An exhibition showcasing the local artists’ design skills is currently open until January 7, 11am-7pm, Teakha, Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan,


MTR links with Aberdeen schools The much anticipated MTR extension linking southern Hong Kong Island with the Island Line finally opened at the end of last month. MTR Corporation opted to launch during a holiday period when schools were shut to take advantage of lighter commuter flow during the first few days of operation. The line links Admiralty station with Ocean Park, Wong Chuk Hang, Lei Tong and South Horizons (on Ap Lei Chau). Schools and businesses in the Aberdeen area are positioned to reap the benefits of additional public transport. “It’s our guess that a number of secondary students will decide to switch from the school bus to the MTR,” said a spokesperson for Victoria Shanghai Academy, which is located in Aberdeen. Singapore International and Canadian International schools (CDNIS) are also located close by. According to CDNIS, more than 80% of the school community currently travels

to and from the school by school bus. According to a survey in the autumn, parents were keen the school add a shuttle bus service to and from the MTR station, an option which is currently being investigated by the school. “The school sees this as an opportunity to deliver a quality add-on service that would provide reciprocal benefits to both CDNIS and the wider school community,” said a spokesperson for the school. The nearest station entrance is at Heung Yip Road, about a 15-minute walk from the CDNIS campus. According to MTR Corporation, the $16.5 billion line will operate driverless, threecarriage trains, running at one train every three minutes during peak periods between Admiralty and South Horizons. Admiralty station has also been extended to cope with the extra flow of passengers, with 17 additional escalators, five new lifts and a floorspace increase of 35,000sqm.

In brief… ...PMQ turns the spotlight on Central of yesteryear with the launch of interactive exhibition “LONG TIME NO SEE: A Virtual Encounter with Neighbourly Nostalgia”. The centrepiece of the exhibition is an interactive mural drawn by local artist Bo Law who grew up in PMQ in its previous life as the Police Married Quarters. Painstakingly hand drawn over the course of two months, the mural incorporates the area’s heritage buildings, including Tai Kwun, Central Market, Man Mo Temple and Kom Tong Hall, which is today the Dr Sun Yat Sen memorial museum. Parts of the mural can be brought alive on your smartphone screen by downloading the AR-EX app. The event runs until March 31,10am-8pm, room H402, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central. Admission is free.

If your teen is interested in

Filmmaking or Acting,

we have the right course to stimulate: Creativity Confidence Communication Collaboration

We provide testimonials for inclusion in college portfolios.

Also, day and evening courses for moms and dads. Call for our January - March schedules. (852) 2887 5833   2887 5366   2887 5488 17

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

Sense of Touch

Multi-award winning spa group Sense of Touch is opening a new Retreat at Le Méridien Cyberport. Chic and pulsing with an urban cool, the spa nestled amongst a backdrop of greenery while overlooking the South China Sea, it is stylishly designed for a unique pampering journey for both body and mind with another level of relaxation. Enjoy a Southside escape with a complimentary 30-minute tension relief back massage and relaxing foot massage worth $840. You can also upgrade your getaway with an Afternoon Tea Set for Two for only $280. Deadline: January 27

Escapade Sports

Ultimate Performance

Rugby fans will love this one — just in time for the New Zealand tour, Escapade Sports has received exclusive rights to sell the British & Irish Lions official replica match jersey. Made using VapoShield technology, each jersey is water-repellent and quick dry. One lucky reader will win a jersey.

Ultimate Performance was conceived with one simple vision in mind — to create and implement the most effective consultative health and fitness model in the personal training industry. Their trainers are absolutely obsessed with making sure their clients see results. We’re giving away one hybrid twoweek membership including two personal training sessions, bodyfat measurements, a movement assessment, a nutrition plan and access to unlimited group classes for two weeks.

Deadline: January 26









Deadline: January 25

Sleep Naked

Famed for their hotel quality bed linens, Sleep Naked also produces robes & wraps that are made from 100% pure 500g combed cotton — true five star quality. Their bath robes and wraps are available in three different colours in cotton velour towelling, with design and size options for both children and adults. We’re giving away two his and hers robe sets in beige and grey. Deadline: January 24

Snow Fox

Snow Fox Skin Care is a simple 3-step regime for flawless skin. It only uses natural, certified organic ingredients that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. The range is great for all skin types, especially for hypersensitive skin - with no parabens, SLS, phthalates, petrochemicals, preservatives or harsh chemicals. With daily use, the range will even out skin tone, balance oily sebum and maintain hydration. One lucky reader gets a full set of Snow Fox products. Deadline: January 23

18 19

debate of the month

January detox

- can you be bothered? The Fast Media team shares its views.


“xx” xx


“I think the premise of waiting until the start of the new year is silly - if you truly want to make a change in yourself, start today!” - Charmaine, digital marketing

I always sincerely intend to, but when January actually comes around I never get round to it! - Maria, sales

I will try, but likely fail. It’s all about the intention, right?! I will exercise daily but January is the most miserable month of the year so I’ll be needing a drink or two to soften the blow - Oliver, sales “Nope, I don’t give my liver a break! Seriously, I think drinking moderately at all times is much more beneficial to health.” - Bonnie, sales

Why detox in January and make the start of the year so miserable? Start gradually and make small changes throughout the year. Make exercise enjoyable and never associate food with guilt. - Callum, editor, Mid-levels

“In my experience, new year resolutions about fitness rarely last beyond March (I wonder how many gym memberships lie dormant by July?). But it’s useful to get a refresh on what your options are and even if it inspires just a few people to live healthier lives, why not?” - Shreena, editor, Southside

I do a dry January every year. For me it’s a habit and it can’t hurt, right? - Anna, design

We want to hear from you! Next month: Valentine’s Day - time to smell the roses, or a marketing extravaganza for Hallmark? Email your views to or go to 20 21

book review

Out this month Cosy up with a good book.

Hygge - The Danish Art of Happiness Marie Tourell Soderberg, Penguin Danish actress Marie Tourell Soderberg travels across Denmark to create the perfect guide to cooking, decorating and entertaining the hygge way. The book is a treasure trove of beautiful photographs, as well as offering simple, practical ideas to make your home life comfortable and cheering all year round. A handy introduction to bringing a little bit of hygge into your life.

The Bird House

Girl Through Glass

The Lady of Misrule

Morgan McCarthy, Tinder Press

Sari Wilson, Harper

Suzannah Dunn, Little Brown

Oliver isn’t really cut out for life in the City of London and he abruptly resigns after his boss makes one demand too many. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Kate has inherited a derelict house in Oxford - not to mention a fierce family feud - and she’s determined to sell it on. But for Oliver the rambling property possesses an alluring romanticism and amongst its dust-encrusted book shelves, he discovers a secret diary from the 1920s. So begins his quest to uncover the author.

An enthralling debut novel that traces the story of a young, aspiring ballerina in the highly competitive dance world of New York City. The story begins in the summer of 1977. Eleven-year-old Mira is coming to terms with the mess of her parents divorce and finds escape in the long hours and rigours of ballet practice. It also introduces her to 47 year old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor. As she climbs the heights of the ballet world, her relationship with DuPont intensifies.

An unusual perspective on two young women immortalized in English history - Henry VIII’s soon-to-be-beheaded Queen of nine days, Lady Jane Grey, and the teenage girl, Elizabeth Tilney, who volunteers to escort her to the Tower of London. The two 16 year olds, cooped up in the Gentleman Gaoler’s house awaiting Grey’s fate, couldn’t be more different - the protestant and icily composed Grey and the lively, catholic Tilney, who is happy just to be away from home.

Running man Clearwater Bay ultra-runner David Gething has published the heroic story of the week he ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days - and won. The World Marathon Challenge in January 2015 saw him battling it out in Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakesh, Dubai and Sydney. Not only did he pull through each race at a breathless average speed of just over three-and-a-half hours per marathon, he also stoically survived seven days worth of plane food. Once each event was finished, it was straight back on board for the next destination - just one hotel had been booked for the entire challenge. A section of each plane was blocked off for the runners - usually, but not always, in business, and they spent a total of 62 hours in the air. 22

Gething says his favourite event was Antarctica - “It was the most amazing experience, majestically beautiful and so quiet. I was in my own snowy world… I ran a good race.” At the other end of the scale, Marrakesh ranked amongst the least enjoyable. Five races in, and with just a couple of hours sleep under his belt following an “uninspiring” run around a park in Madrid, Marrakesh was dark, eight degrees and raining. Worse, Gething tripped on a curb and fractured his ankle. “I’d say this was the point when emotionally I hit rock bottom,” he says. Things improved in Dubai and by Sydney he had the bit between his teeth and, with wife Trilby having flown in from Hong Kong to lend her support, he ran the race of his life and

literally fell over the finish line, behind his main rival, but first overall. Find out how he did it in Relentless, available from Bookazine outlets Hong Kong-wide and Kidnapped, Sai Kung.

book review Fins of change

Helen Sampson hopes her fishy hero will help expat kids transition easier. What prompted you to write the story? Three years ago I was teaching a Year 2 class in Singapore and just couldn’t find a book that dealt with change and transition. I’ve been a teacher for 20 years and this is my first published story - I was determined to finish this project to show my daughters that determination is key. Tell us about the book... I’ve always loved the quirkiness of collective nouns, so I had the idea of developing a story based on a school of fish - my main character is a fish who goes to school. Spratly’s message is one of positivity and encourages children to take a risk and to keep an open mind. Did you draw on your own experiences of transition? Absolutely. As a family we have been expats for 15 years and our lives have been very transient, whether it’s been us who were moving or close friends who were leaving. I have three children who have all changed schools and have all been through the emotions examined in the book at different times. When you’re teaching a class of

children, there are always a handful at any one time who are feeling anxious about change. Where did you get the inspiration for the Worry fish? The Worry fish idea came from giving the children a vehicle to make and create and transfer their worries to. It always means more when a child has made something themselves. My teaching specialism is in art and design, so I set about designing a craft that would be easy for children to achieve. What did you enjoy reading as a child? I was a real bookworm and had many favourites - two of my daughters are actually named after book characters. I loved Dear Teddy Robinson (Joan G Robinson), Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren), What Katy Did (Sarah Chancey Woolsey), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) and many others. What do you read to your own children? My youngest daughter is now 11, but we still read and share a book every night. We have been reading Harry Potter, but we’ve now moved on to Eva Ibbotson. She’s a wonderful writer who uses fantastic imagery. At school I

have a few favourites, usually something with a sense of humour. George (Roald Dahl) is great because there is so much that can be used to teach creative writing. Rumble In The Jungle (Giles Andreae) is a fantastic quick read. Books are just so important for instilling creativity our home is full of them. Any plans for a second book? I’m working on another story at the moment. It deals with perseverance and feeling different to others - it’s another positive book reinforcing the importance of creativity for young children, based on the collective noun for crabs! Don’t Worry, Spratly! by Helen Sampson is available from, Facebook page @helensampsonart or

Monkeying around with new children’s book Hong Kong-based author Matt Cooper has published a new book, The Last Gibbon. “I read about the Hainan Gibbon in an article on the BBC website about two years ago and was shocked to hear that the most endangered primate in the world was just an hour’s flight from Hong Kong and yet I’d never even heard of it,” says Cooper. “I asked around and even a friend from Hainan itself hadn’t heard about the gibbons! So I decided to put that straight by writing a book that introduced children - and, hopefully, their parents - to the gibbon and its precarious situation.” The book, endorsed on the back cover by Dr. Jane Goodall herself (primatologist, anthropologist and famous for her lifelong work with chimpanzees) also includes a non-fiction section where readers can learn more about gibbons in general and what they can do to help them. “[Dr. Goodall] is one of my heroes so to meet her in person was amazing,” says

Cooper. “I plan to visit Hainan in the near future to see the gibbons in the wild - apparently it’s a difficult trek to reach them and I’ve read that Hainan is home to the most poisonous tree in the world so that could be interesting!” Cooper will be signing copies of his book on Jan 19, 6-8pm, Kidnapped, 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung.

Cooper with his latest book. 23

My hong Kong

The girls at work. “We don’t cut any corners and we know exactly what goes into our chocolate,” they say.

My Hong Kong the chocolate makers

Priscilla Soligo and Rachel Whitfield tempt Carolynne Dear into the territory’s healthiest chocolate factory. Priscilla I moved to Hong Kong from Naples in Italy 12 years ago. My sister and brother-in-law were already here and I wanted to live closer to my sister. I met my husband here, had two children - Luca and Mya - and we now live in Sai Kung. I originally graduated from two US culinary academies that specialise in raw, plant-based foods, and also a professional chocolate school in Vancouver. My obsession for plant-based foods led me down the road less travelled to become a chocolate maker as opposed to a chocolatier. I was hard pressed to find a chocolate that tasted like a proper, naughty choccy bar but ticked all the health boxes. 24

I started my own catering company, Rawthentic Food, but decided to join forces with my sister to produce chocolate in our own chocolate factory. Working with my little sister has been the best business decision I’ve ever made as she’s brought so much to the table. She’s super crazy organised and her attention to detail amazes me. She’s a strong woman with a huge heart; she’s the yin to my yang. We are the first and only bean-tobar chocolate makers in Hong Kong. Chocolatiers tend to purchase large slabs of ready made couverture from abroad, melt it, temper it and mould it. But we make our own couverture from the beans, which get broken down into nibs and stoneground in our factory in Kwun Tong. We don’t cut any corners and we know exactly what goes into our chocolate

because we manufacture it, so we can stand behind our products with integrity. You can definitely taste the difference. We are also the only chocolate manufacturer in Hong Kong that is USDA and ACO Australian Certified Organic - then we went after kosher, vegan and paleo certifications, too. I have always stood by what I preach and supported local. There is so much blood sweat and tears that goes into setting up a food factory and sustaining a food business here, as anyone who has done this well knows. When you buy local I believe you are voting with your dollars by saying “yes” I support more small local food production businesses starting up on Hong Kong soil, as opposed to having everything imported. There are so many

My hong Kong great local food businesses we love buying from and give shout outs to on social media because at the end of the day we should all be working together. The name, Raiz The Bar, flew into my head one day because that’s exactly what we try to do all the time, both in our personal and work lives. Raiz also means root, origin or source, and because being connected to the sourcing of every ingredient we use is paramount to us, we decided to spell it this way. Great beans and much love make a quality bar of chocolate. The genetics, terroir, climate, soil, harvesting, fermentation, drying and conching (stone grinding) all affect the end result. The beans tell the story of the farmer’s wisdom in tending and harvesting the cacao pods from the trees, and of the many hands they have passed through. I became a chocolate maker because I love the entire process. I wanted to make real chocolate, not just any chocolate. People don’t realise how much hard work and additional steps go into making our chocolate; we put so much love into everything we do. I love working with chocolate, it never gets old. I love how real-raw chocolate makes me feel, which is very different to commercial chocolate. Recipe ideas come to me in dreams, meditation or when I’m working out. I’m like, yes, I have got to get into the kitchen

The finished product. “It’s impossible to be at work and not eat the chocolate,” says Rachel.

today and try that. It’s a very intuitive and creative process. At the moment I can’t get enough of our latest bar, Cherish Me: Sour Cherry Chilli, with just a hint of heat - it’s perfect, like a rich Black Forest cake. While the weather’s cooler I’m also loving our low glycemic drinking chocolate - we shave our raw couverture into our signature blend. We call upon a mixed crew of chefs, retailers, bloggers, customers and our social media supporters to do tastings and we value their opinions. My sister and I are constantly on the go, so we need to be able to keep up and have our game on. We work

When you buy local you’re voting with your dollars by saying, yes, I support small, local food production in Hong Kong.

The chocolate beans are stone ground in the Kwun Tong factory, then melted and moulded.

out and have been employing intermittent fasting for the past few years - after dinner we don’t eat again until 11am the following day. We work out ‘fasted’ - usually doing some cardio, core and HIIT, then go home and have a ‘clean’ meal. I don’t do meat, dairy, or gluten; eating plants is my way of feeling energised and light.

Rachel I’ve been in Hong Kong for 13 years. Like Priscilla, I live in Sai Kung with my husband and two young daughters, Isla and Paige. My background is in food and beverage, as well as cabin crew in the aviation industry in my earlier career. I joined forces with Priscilla in 2015 when the time had come to scale up her chocolate business. I am more involved with the business side of the company - Priscilla overseas recipe creation and production and all our marketing on social media. The synergy between us works really well. I can’t eat standard chocolate, I react badly to the sugar, fillers, dairy and preservatives. My skin breaks out and I get headaches. Our own chocolate is much purer - it’s made straight from the cacao bean which is a more expensive process and requires specialised equipment, but it gives us more control over quality as well as fair trade. We strive to use the best ingredients - even our packaging is compostable. The best part of working in a chocolate factory is the taste testing. It’s totally impossible to be at work and not eat any of the chocolate. I’m not going to lie and say I eat chocolate all day and don’t have to do anything to stay in shape - I work out religiously three mornings a week with 40 minutes of cardio followed by 25 minutes of HIIT training which incorporates weight training. I’m pretty passionate about fitness, which is a good thing as I’m pretty passionate about chocolate too. 25

Modern family

Babies-in-waiting Mum-of-two Joyce Lau wonders at the wisdom of interviews for pre-schoolers.


hen my older daughter was about one, I popped her in her stroller and rolled her to three neighborhood kindergartens in search of application forms. My French husband thought I was insane; but compared to other Hong Kong parents I was already late. Some moms are known to show up at kindergartens heavily pregnant, bearing ultrasounds of their yet-unborn offspring. A few months later, my daughter was called for her first interview. So on a Sunday morning, I found myself sitting in a semi-circle with about 20 other mothers. We each had a toddler we vainly tried to keep still. Uniformed staff observed us as they sternly jotted notes down on clipboards.

Something feels wrong in your gut when you’re told your child isn’t worthy of attending first grade.

God knows what they could have been writing. What could even a child psychologist glean from watching 18-month-olds – big babies who can barely walk, talk or control their bowels – clap along to “Wheels on the Bus”? But my daughter was thankfully accepted, meaning we had secured four years at a good kindergarten for her and her younger sister. This year, we’ve started the cycle again as my daughter applies for primary school, a process the approximate length and complexity of getting into Harvard Law. For her first primary interview, she carefully put on a floral summer dress and 26

Lau with her daughter.

cardigan. She packed her Hello Kitty bag with a water bottle, tissue packet and favorite stuffed monkey for good luck. I put a folder of application materials into my purse, and worried because some sort of identification sticker that was supposed to arrive in the mail never did. It was a 15-minute walk from our home - through a shopping mall, past a private residence with faux European columns, and then past a more modest public housing estate. The school is a “direct subsidy”, meaning it receives some government funding, but operates independently of the public system. Many of the city’s elite, colonial-era institutions - St. Paul’s, St. Stephen’s, Diocesan, St. Margaret’s – fall into this category. The staff solved our missing sticker problem – my child was applicant # 875745

– and so we joined hundreds of other parents and students assigned to wait in classrooms and auditoriums. And here was the most unnerving part. We all sat there, hands in laps, silent and nervous. Nobody made eye contact, even though families in my neighborhood are normally friendly. But now, because of an education system we have no control over, we were all in awkward competition with each other. I don’t believe entirely in the stereotype of the Hong Kong “tiger parent”. Or, at least, I don’t believe it comes from any personal mean-spiritedness. When the kids came out of their 40-minute group interview, all were met with hugs, reassurance and congratulations from their mothers and fathers. We put on encouraging smiles for our kids, even though we knew the reality: At a not-famous school, in a not-posh Kowloon neighborhood, 600

modern family

Interviews and testing are commonplace for Hong Kong pre-schools and schools.

shortlisted candidates would be vying for 150 spots. When I logged onto the school website a few weeks later and read that #875745 had been rejected, I spared telling my daughter. I knew there was a 75% chance this would happen. But there is something that feels basically wrong in your gut, when you’re told that your child isn’t worthy of attending the first grade. I know a Hong Kong father – fluently bilingual, overseas educated, gainfully employed – who took his son to 12 of these things. The kid was rejected 11 times; the only acceptance was his father’s alma mater because, in Hong Kong, you get bonus points for that. So like local and expat families across the city, we’re stuck waiting. We hold onto hope that another interview goes better, or a spot opens up at the English Schools Foundation. My husband and I weigh how much we can realistically pay in the nomination rights and debentures – ranging from the tens of thousands to the millions of dollars – that let rich kids skip the queue. Or we resign ourselves to a public school

lottery that may assign Chloe to a nearby school that suits her, or a faraway school that doesn’t. In other circumstances, we would happily let our children attend public schools - as we both did in the West. But the sad reality is that, even among local Hong Kongers, public schools here are known for unkind teachers, outdated methods, high pressure and ridiculous homework. On top of that, there is little support for children speaking Chinese as a second language. It is such an enormous difference to the way I was raised in small-town America. I was never pushed, punished or judged, even though I showed up for kindergarten with basically zero English. And I was never interviewed for anything either – not until I was 16 and applying for college. Joyce Lau is a freelance editor and writer based in Hong Kong. She was previously a staff editor with The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times, as well as arts editor at The South China Morning Post and managing editor at HK Magazine.; @JoyceLauNews 27

THE big interview

Creations to crow about

Children’s author Sarah Brennan introduces her brand new Calendar Tale, Rickshaw Rooster. By Carolynne Dear.

WRITING and CHILDREN, they’re my two true loves, so I have my DREAM JOB - Sarah Brennan

It’s funny,” muses Sarah Brennan, as we sit back with a latte in the comfortable confines of Cafe Causette, where we’re meeting to talk about the release of her latest book. “Bookcases these days never seem to contain books anymore - they’re always full of ornaments and photo frames.” It’s an interesting observation from a writer who is passionate about print and travels the world promoting not just her own stories, but reading in general, to avid school children. We are living in age where technology is fast overtaking the written word, something 28

(Above) Brennan is passionate about the importance of reading for young children; (right and following page) the delightful illustrations of Harry Harrison in her latest book.

that Brennan is very passionate about. But more on that later. Australian by birth, Brennan has always loved writing and has taken on something of a celebrity status in Hong Kong for her Calendar Tales series of stories (my own two primary-aged children were in awe when I told them who I would be meeting for coffee, and demanded signed copies of their favourite books). Each tale - ten have been published to date - follows the story of an animal linking with the current Chinese zodiac year. This year is the

turn of the rather excitingly named Rickshaw Rooster. “Writing and children, they’re my two loves. So I have my dream job,” she smiles, as the wait staff bustle around with second coffees and water. Brennan’s first book, A Dirty Story was published in Hong Kong in 2004 and was an instant success with local school children. She followed it up with An Even Dirtier Story. “So I was promoting these books in schools, and the children were loving them, but then I started feeling a bit guilty,” she says.

THE big interview

“Being Hong Kong, there were obviously lots of Asian children in the classes and I thought it would be lovely to do something about their culture rather than submerge them with yet more western ideas.” So she went away, set up a publishing company and wrote Chester Choi, the story of a Chinese dragon who loves eating children but is secretly lonely. “This was a bit of a dummy publication to see if it worked - actually I needed it to work to pay the start-up bills but I took it into schools and it seemed to be very popular, so I came away and wrote the story of Run Run Rat (to coincide with Beijing’s olympics and the year of the rat). And a few months after that, to my huge surprise, I walked into a party and everyone started clapping. To my utter joy Time Out had run a piece on favourite children’s books in the territory and Chester Choi and Run Run Rat had come in at number one and number two respectively, beating Harry Potter who was at number three. So to my absolute delight, for six weeks and in Hong Kong only, I beat Harry Potter!” Brennan then decided to introduce elements of Chinese history and culture into her stories - Oswald Ox is based on Chinese farming practices, for example, and Temujin on Genghis Khan. And the rest, as they say, is history. But what makes her books so popular? “I write what I want to write and I don’t hold back because my readers are children. I love the beauty of words, so my text is often littered with longer words and more

complex vocabulary,” she explains, using the “precocious Princess Precious” in Temujin as an example. “Children are clever, I haven’t had any complaints so far.” The books have been hugely popular, both in Hong Kong and overseas. “I think with the emergence of China, schools are keen to pick up on something that will encourage the learning of Chinese culture and history. It’s also fantastic to see the looks on the faces of Chinese children in the overseas schools that I visit. When I’m in an Australian or British school and start talking about the Chinese zodiac their faces just light up - they’re thrilled to hear somebody talking about their culture.” Brennan is keen to point out that Chinese history has been fundamentally important to the development of western nations. “Ancient Chinese history has informed a lot of western history,” she says. “Of course for

To my absolute delight, for six weeks and in Hong Kong only, I beat Harry Potter.

books was invented by a Chinese innovator, Bi Sheng, in the eleventh century.” This and Ts’ai Lun’s paper creation, in the second century - sheets made of fishnets, rags and hemp waste that could withstand the rigours of printing, unlike papyrus - boosted literacy across China.

When it finally arrived in Europe in the 1440s, the printing press also made a huge impact on western society, particularly as it needed fewer alphabet characters than the ancient Chinese version with its thousands of symbols. Soon books were rolling off the presses quicker and cheaper than ever before.

hundreds and hundreds of years you had a very active Silk Road promoting cross-fertilization not just of trade, but of culture, religions and ideas. If we’re talking about books, printquality paper and the printing press are classic examples, both were developed by the Chinese in the second and eleventh centuries respectively. We always talk about Gutenberg and the first printing press, but the world’s first movable type printing press for printing paper 29

THE big interview But as enthusiastic as she is about her trade, Brennan does have a bug bear - the thorny old issue of tech. When I bring up the subject, she groans. “Look, I’m just the messenger, I’m in no way an expert. But I do talk a lot to teachers, I do interact a lot with students, and I do read a lot of emerging research. And experts are finding that as the use of tech increases, literacy is on the decline. I personally believe there must be a correlation here.”

The thinking goes that because writing manually is a slower method of note-taking, we automatically listen and process what we’re hearing to filter what we need to write down, whereas with an i-pad, we are merely recording the content without thinking about it.

She quotes research from global five-yearly literacy tests for grade four students in schools where English is the teaching medium. “The results for Australia were appalling,” she says. “And this is a country that is one of the most digitalised in the world in terms of its primary schools.” Studies carried out on students in the US assessed recall after a Ted talk - “there was basically a huge difference between those who had used pen and paper to take lecture notes, and those who had used an i-pad.”

It is also believed that there is a huge deficit in the absorption of information into the brain when using a screen rather than a notepad because of the movement of the pixels that make up screen text. It is thought this movement interferes with the crossing of the information into the deep brain. Brennan recommends reading The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr. “We’re in an experimental age and I do think the clock will turn back at some point. Young children need to be able to know how to

concentrate, focus, listen and analyze, and the digital medium isn’t helping them to do any of that. Give students an assignment these days, and the “skill” is making a cut and paste from google not look plagiarised, it’s got nothing to do with actually learning about the subject area. Digital devices have not improved results in any way, so why are we still investing so much time in them?”

Young children need to be able to concentrate, focus and listen, and tech isn’t helping with any of this.

It’s a good question, but not one we’re likely to see an answer to any time soon. In the meantime, she is revealing very little about her latest creation, the tale of Rickshaw Rooster, except to say the story has a modern Chinese setting. “It’s been published in Hong Kong in time for Chinese New Year, and then I’ll be doing a big launch in March at the Shanghai literary festival,” she says with a smile. I know of at least two small children at home who can’t wait.

The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster is available in Hong Kong bookstores and from Brennan’s website,

30 31

Fe atu re


From saving animals to relieving poverty, make 2017 the year to give back.


re atu Fe Rescue elephants at the Elephant Asia Rescue Survival Sanctuary, Phuket. 33

Fe atu re

A stitch in time

EARS Asia EARS (Elephant Asia Rescue & Survival Foundation) was set up in 2010 by former Hong Konger Louise Rogerson, who wanted to raise awareness of the plight of captive Asian elephants used for the tourist industry. “Whether these animals are performing in a circus, giving rides, or appearing in hotels or beach resorts, they have gone through unimaginable cruelty,” says Rogerson. EARS has worked tirelessly in the field researching the captive trade and elephant welfare in Thailand and Cambodia and, six years on, feels it has come a long way. The charity has now teamed up with Lek Chailert of Save Elephant Foundation and a previous riding camp owner, Montree Todtan, to create the first elephant sanctuary in southern Thailand, based in the lush surrounds of Phuket’s Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. “While we are continuing with our international education programme, through Phuket Elephant Sanctuary we are now able to provide an ethical option for Hong Kongers looking to have their own elephant experience,” says Rogerson. “Prior to the launch of our sanctuary, there were

How you can help If you’re heading to Phuket this year, book a morning with the elephants at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Si Sunthon, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand, Mon-Sun 10am-2pm,, @phuketelephantsanctuary, Make a donation at


Elephants enjoying the new sanctuary in Phuket.

absolutely no elephant-friendly options on Phuket.” In August last year, the sanctuary completed its first rescue - of Madee and Kannika. Then in December, two became three and three became four as the charity successfull rescued Gaew Ta (or “Darling” in English), who is sadly blind in both eyes, and Dok Gaew. All four were rescued from the riding industry, some had also been used in the illegal logging trade. All the elephants at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary have been broken by man to perform for the tourist industry, but the team at the sanctuary has been able to provide them with a happier future in a safe, protected haven. The animals are provided with a rich and varied diet as they would eat in the wild, veterinary care and, most importantly, comfort and rest. The whole team is now fundraising for a number of aspects - to continue construction to enable the rescue of even more elephants; to upkeep the elephants already there; and to be able to provide mobile veterinary care to any elephant in the region, thereby assisting elephants still being worked in the tourism industry. “EARS Asia is incredibly proud to be a founding part of this ground-breaking project,” says Rogerson. “We are currently offering daily morning tours where you can meet me and spend a couple of hours feeding and walking with the elephants. In the two months that we have been open we have had visitors of all ages and we look forward to welcoming even more from Hong Kong.”

If you’ve got some wool, a pair of needles and a bit of spare time, check out the easy knitting patterns at Knit For Peace grew out of projects in Rwanda and India which brought together women from traditionally hostile communities to knit clothes together for street children and orphans. The knitters were paid and the clothes distributed by local NGOs. The word spread and knitters in developed countries asked if they could knit volunarily for those in need. As well as being fun and therapeutic, knitting brings people together to help others. All items are passed on to those in need and never sold. The charity accepts knitted goods for babies, children and adults. Check out the patterns online, or feel free to use your own. Simple baby jumper • 100g double knitting yarn, 4mm needles. • Cast on 44 stitches loosely and knit 60 rows. • Cast on 30 stitches loosely at the beginning of the next two rows. These 104 stitches will form the sleeves. • Knit a further 26 rows. • Next row: knit 36, cast off 32 for the neck, knit 35. • Next row: knit 36, cast off 32 stitches for the neck, knit 36. • Work another 26 rows on these 104 stitches. • Next row: Cast off 30, knit to end. • Next row: Cast off 30, knit to end. • Work another 60 rows on these 44 stitches. Cast off loosely. • Sew the side and sleeve seams on each side. • Send completed work to: Knit For Peace, Back Lane, London NW3 1HL, England. 35

Fe atu re

Crossroads Foundation Crossroads is a non-profit organisation which aims to “connect people in a broken world”. In other words, bringing together those who need help with those able to offer support. It accepts donations of all sorts of goods which are then redistributed to those in need either within Hong Kong or overseas. The organisation also regularly works with schools, corporate groups and community groups to run collection drives. They are currently urgently looking for donations of furniture - including bunk beds, chests of drawers, computers, sofas, wardrobes, tables and chairs, fridges and washing machines. This month they are also currently pushing a stationery drive. “Something as basic as stationery can be the difference between a child attending school or not,” said Crossroads communications manager Emily Au-Young. “If you want to donate a stationery kit, or even individual items, please ensure they are new. Used stationery is of limited life and a disappointment to the little lives we are seeking ot help.” Every second Saturday the charity runs Silk Road Storytime for preschoolers to come for stories, songs and crafts that teach about a world in need. Classes resume on January 7, please see the website for details.

Storytime for preschoolers at Crossroads.

How you can help Encourage your kids to put aside their pocket money to make up the following stationery kits. Items should be placed in a ziplock bag. 3 x pencils, 3 x pens, 1 x pencil sharpener, 1 x eraser, 1 x ruler, 3 x exercise books 1 x glue stick, 1 x set of 12 colouring pens. Mail or drop off at Stationery Donations, Crossroads Village, 2 Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. All items must be new.


Expa Parentt designa charityted


The Pathfinders team offers an invaluable service to struggling migrant workers.

Pathfinders is a non-government organisation that provides support for vulnerable, pregnant, migrant workers. The team provides legal assistance; emergency shelter; food and clothing and medical support for workers who have been illegally terminated from their jobs or are victims of abuse. “Once a domestic helper has her position terminated, her visa also expires, meaning she no longer has access to any kind of social services in Hong Kong and is living here illegally,” explains Pathfinder’s communications manager, Rachel Ganly. There are many reasons helpers do not return home having been fired. Sometimes they are too scared about returning home pregnant and in disgrace, often they just don’t have the money for the airfare. “There is a lot of ignorance and fear about helper rights, on boths sides of the fence,” says Ganly. “It is illegal to terminate a migrant worker just because she is pregnant, and sometimes if we are able to talk things through with the employer, issues can be resolved.” However, many helpers suddenly find themselves on the street and alone, with no idea where to turn for help. It’s a desperate situation to be in, especially if they are pregnant or with a newborn to care for. While it is theoretically illegal to fire helpers just because they are pregnant, in

practice it takes time for those terminated to process a legal claim, and without a work visa these women tend to fall through the cracks of Hong Kong society. Pathfinders works hard to tailor their response to the needs of each individual case. Volunteers are often shocked by the level of poverty that exists in Hong Kong. Pathfinders works closely with Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to bring the plight of these helpers to the attention of the government, making suggestions for policies and long-term solutions. The charity also provides a Sunday outreach programme to spread the word. “Every child deserves a fair start in life, no matter the circumstances behind their birth,” says Ganly.

How you can help If you have professional experience in medicine; law; communication; events management or administration and also have some spare time, Pathfinders is constantly looking for pro bono volunteers. Pathfinders is always in need of clothing (mother and baby); toys; books; nappies and toiletries. Give office manager Rebecca a call on 5500 5486 to find out what is needed and where to drop off. Cold hard cash can always be put to good use - please consider donating at

New Term starts THIS MONTH! Celebrating 18 Dramatic Years

Holiday Theatre & Creative Writing Programmes CHINESE NEW YEAR 1st to 3rd February EASTER 3 to 6th April and/or th 10 to 13th April rd

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

2547 9114


Top 10

Best After-School Activity


2014, 2015, 2016

Hong Kong

Summer Activities for Kids


After-School Activities37 for Tots to Teens

Fe atu re

Missione Possibile president Audrey Jack and supporters at the Roong village school.

Missione Possibile Hong Kong MPHK was set up by a group of local expat mums who raise money on behalf of MP to fund two schools in rural Cambodia. “Whether these animals are performing in a circus, giving rides, or appearing in hotels or beach resorts, they have gone through unimaginable cruelty,” says Rogerson. They provide funding plus basic necessities such as school equipment, clothing, personal hygiene items, uniforms and sporting goods. They also head out to the schools a couple of times a year to distribute donations and spend time with the children. The two schools are located in Roong Village, an impoverished rural area around 60km outside of Phnom Penh. Director of Italian non-profit charity Missione Possibile (MP), Gerry Testori was invited by village chiefs in Roong village in 2005 to discuss the possibility of the village selling land to MP in order to start a school. The village is in an extremely impoverished rural area and most adults are illiterate. Using local materials, the building was opened in 2006 with four classrooms. In 2012, land adjacent to the primary was bought to

How you can help MPHK is busy organising the inaugural Linked Annual Black Tie Wonderland Ball at the Royal Plaza Hotel, Mong Kok on May 27. If you have anything to donate to either the raffle or silent auction, the organisers would love to hear from you. Contact, or see


create a secondary school and enable the children to continue their education. Nearly half of the Cambodian population live under the national poverty line and children are commonly required to work in rice fields or factories to help feed their families. Around 70% of girls are forced to leave school after Year 6 (about 10 or 11 years old) to start work, and just 10% of Cambodian villages currently have a secondary school. And so it was with determination that the group fundraised to complete the secondary school, and then set out to Cambodia to meet the village and deliver much needed school supplies - including stationery, uniforms, textbooks, medical supplies and teaching salaries. “My first visit to the school was such a positive experience,” says current MPHK president Audrey Jack. “Four expat ladies delivering over 120kg of donated school supplies, before spending three days teaching and playing with these beautiful children in their new classrooms. It was such a contrast to our privileged lives in Hong Kong, and so rewarding on every level.” Mum Birgitta Carter who took part in a 2016 trip believes the experience has changed both her own and her daughter’s perspectives on life. “It was hot and tiring work but the joy on the children’s faces made it all worth it,” she said. “My daughter’s understanding of things that are merely “wanted” and things that are really “needed” has totally changed since this trip. Her eleven-year-old daughter Thea agreed that the trip has taught her to be grateful for what she has. “I noticed that all the children were happy, even though they had so little,” she reflected.

The charity provides optical support for the students.

Sobering news As you begin to emerge from the haze that is the Christmas party season, the Hong Kong Cancer Fund is launching Soberman, an alcohol-free fundraising campaign that runs throughout this month. Participants are invited to sign up online, set a fundraising target, and ask family and friends for sponsorship. If you don’t feel you can commit to an entre alcohol-free month, there is the option to stump up $100 for a “liquor levy” to cover those invites you just can’t refuse. “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 the campaign too.” To keep you on the straight and narrow, prizes for top fundraisers include luxury breaks and dining vouchers. Sign up at 39

school news

School news

Students tackle world issues

VSA’s Nicholas Binge led the 40-strong MUN Club members who planned and delivered the “Building Bridges” conference.

Victoria Shanghai Academy has hosted a two-day Junior Model United Nations (MUN) event. The conference - themed “Building Bridges” - aimed to give students a voice as global citizens and help them develop an appreciation of the power of collaboration. Around 300 secondary students, aged from 11 to 17 years, from 15 Hong Kong schools, took part, debating real world issues such as ending the Syrian civil war and the challenges arising from religious extremism. “It (the conference) promotes openmindedness, critical and instant thinking…

about the the most pressing issues that our countries face,” said Nicholas Binge, VSA MUN Club teacher-in-charge. The students were expected to debate, makes speeches and alliances and write resolutions to try to solve these real world problems. Matt Friedman, former regional project manager of UN Inter-Agency Project on human trafficking, also addressed the conference. Following the success of the conference, six VSA year 11 students went on to attend the Students’ League of Nations at UN headquarters in Geneva.

Justice appeal Human Rights NGO Justice Centre Hong Kong is launching its annual Young Advocates Programme. The programme runs every summer and is open to all Hong Kong students aged from 14 to 18 years studying subjects such as law, international relations/politics, social policy and social work. The programme enables students to gain hands-on experience in a human rights setting, with coaching by Justice Centre’s staff and an opportunity to develop skills and experience to start applying for university courses. Students get involved in all areas of Justice Centre’s work, from the provision of legal and psychosocial support to refugees, to antihuman trafficking research and advocacy. An open evening will be held on 17 January and the deadline for applications is 27 January. Places are limited, see yap or email Zamira Monteiro at to request an application pack or to RSVP to the open evening.

Young advocates set to work on justice programmes.

Asia flying high in international rankings Hong Kong students have ranked second overall in an international education rankings test. Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests were taken last year by 15 year olds in over 70 countries. Singapore came out with the highest achieving students, taking top spots in maths, reading and science. 40

In science, Singapore was followed by Japan and Estonia, with Hong Kong coming in at ninth, behind China: Macao at number six, but ahead of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong at number ten. In both reading and maths, Hong Kong students secured a second place ranking behind Singapore. China: Beijing,

Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong achieved a top ten ranking for maths, but failed to make the top 20 for reading. Asian education systems dominated the tables over Europe and America. Top scoring areas included Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, China and South Korea. Pisa takes place every three years.

school news

Woolly work

Stage struck

Students from Harrow’s secondary school section put on an energetic display at the Senior Christmas production last month. The Tuen

Mun-based British school pulled out all the stops with carol services and music ensembles to entertain enthusiastic audiences.

Diary dates January 14 Safari Kid will be leading small group tours at its Pok Fu Lam campus. It is inviting parents of preschoolers to come and find out about the school’s bi-lingual programmes, playgroups and registration for 2017-18 classes. Safari Kid, 101 Chi Fu Landmark, Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Pok Fu Lam,

The Woolmark Company’s student design competition is open for submissions for its 2017 event. Secondary students have until May 19 to send in their entries. Students should design an outfit for their favourite musician to wear on stage, using a minimum 80% Australian Merino wool. Students are not expected to physically make the outfit. Woolmark is launching an exhibition this month featuring illustrations from last year’s competition finalists - they were asked to create a sports outfit made from Merino wool. First launched in 2012, Wool4School has involved more than 40,000 students in Australia and Hong Kong learning the fundamentals of fashion design and and exploring the versatility of wool. Teachers who register their class will receive a free resource pack to complement lesson plans. The exhibition will be held 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, January 9-19, HKSAR Education Bureau Podium, West Block, EDB Kowloon Tong Education Services Centre, 19 Suffolk Road, Kowloon. For Wool4School info, see

January 14 Join students, professors and alumni for a look inside SCAD Hong Kong at an open house event. The SCAD Hong Kong Workshop Day will enable prospective students to explore SCAD’s learning environment at SCAD’s home at the North Kowloon Magistracy Building, Sham Shui Po. Email for more details.

January 16 & 17 Stamford American School is offering free gymnastics workshops hosted by Joy Koh, three times world championships judge and coach and Singapore’s highest qualified gymnastics coach. She will be teaching a combination of fundamental movement patterns at sessions suitable for kids aged four to eight years, Jan 16 & 17, Suite 601, 6 Floor, World Commerce Centre Harbour City, TST, Kowloon, register at 2500 8699, or

January 18 & 19 Meet Stamford American School superintendant Malcolm Kay at the school’s Open House dates this month. There will also be an opportunity to meet the admissions team over light refreshments. The school is open to registration for children aged five - 18 years and the Ho Man Tin campus is due to open in August 2017. Jan 18 & 19, 12-2pm & 6-8pm, Two Exchange Square, Lvl 40, Suites 4005-07, 8 Connaught Place, Central, RSVP to 2500 8688,,

January 19 Yew Chung Early Childhood Education Information Session with talks from the co-principals and school leaders. Register at 2pm on the day, session is from 2.30-4pm. The information session will be held in English. Auditorium of Yew Chung International School, 3 To Fuk Road, Kowloon Tong. For more information email

Last year’s winning Wool4School design by Lee Hei Ching from St Catharine’s School for Girls. 41

school news

Board games Currency movement means UK-based schooling has never been so attractive. Carolynne Dear speaks to boarding expert Oliver Marlowe about securing a spot. Apart from a favourable exchange rate, why the UK? A boarding education may not suit every child, but many British schools do offer a first class education, combining independent thought and rich extra-curricular opportunities. Can students switch from IB to a Britishbased system? In a word, yes. Many overseas students choose to board in the UK and follow the more selective A-level programme as they know which subjects they enjoy most and want to focus on these in their final two years. Is school location important? It’s helpful if the school is reasonably close to a UK airport which your child can reach directly from Hong Kong. Cathay, for example, has recently started flying into Gatwick airport which makes southern suburbs such as Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire more accessible. Schools can arrange taxis, but it’s even better if there is a direct train. Also think about the surrounding environment - rural, urban; is it somewhere you can imagine your child being happy? What should parents be thinking about in terms of timetabling? First of all, check the school offers a genuine seven-day-a-week boarding programme. You really need to know what happens over the weekend. Ask if the school has lessons on a Saturday morning, and how many students are involved in sports matches on Saturday afternoons. How many students are resident on a typical Sunday? How busy is the school dining room for Sunday brunch, for example? What about academics? Find out which universities their leavers have gone to in the past three years. You should ask to see all the university destinations, not just the selected highlights. Note how many have secured places at the Russell Group of the UK’s leading universities. Take a look at the Good Schools Guide to assess a school’s academic standing -


Marlowe chats with students at Eastbourne College.

How important is extra-curricular life? Very important. Parents should find out how rich the life of the school is outside of the classroom, not least in those areas where their child already has a passion. Bear in mind that sports that can be played all year round in tropical Hong Kong, such as tennis and cricket, may only be offered on a much shorter seasonal basis in UK schools. What should parents be asking about pastoral care? Modern boarding schools take their responsibilities of looking after your child very seriously. As well as the housemaster or mistress, there will be a team of adults dedicated to looking after pupils. Make sure you seek out and introduce yourself to the master or mistress before term starts - housemasters and housemistresses are the first point of contact and are used to keeping in regular touch with parents. The pastoral team also often includes the matron and teachers assigned to the child’s particular “house”. Many schools train existing students to act as buddies and mentors for newbies.

What sort of accommodation can families expect? Many boarding schools these days boast facilities which few universities can match. Most younger boarders tend to share a bedroom to help them make friends and, as they go through the school, they will eventually be given their own room. Each “house” will also have social areas and kitchens where students can prepare snacks and meals outside of normal mealtimes. What happens at exeats and half term? Most boarding schools have an exeat (weekend leave) every three weeks or so when the school closes so pupils and staff can recharge their batteries. Week-long half term breaks occur midway through each term. Families who live overseas will normally be asked to provide a guardian, part of whose role is to have the child to stay during these weekends. This can be a relative or family friend, but organisations can also recommend guardians. Oliver Marlowe is head of external relations at Eastbourne College, a co-ed boarding and day school,





OPEN HOUSE | JANUARY 18 & 19, FEBRUARY 15 & 16 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. 43

open day

Community relations

Kate Davies finds out how Hong Kong Academy is keeping its students on their toes.

Who is God?” “How does the brain work?” “How do bones grow inside your body?” These are the questions on the minds of children, handwritten on post-it notes and stuck to a wall in one of Hong Kong Academy’s kindergarten classrooms. Questions that might make a parent like myself quietly panic, but not the teachers. They encourage kids of all ages to volunteer what they know about subjects, ask what they don’t and then help them find answers on their own. It’s part of a conceptual, inquiry based learning programme that underlies the school’s entire educational ethos.


The fundamentals of this mission are where the Hong Kong Academy’s story begins. Some 16 years ago, two parents, Teresa Richman and Ben Frankel embarked on a journey to create a place of learning for children who acquired knowledge in ways different to the fixed teaching standards of the day. They set up an environment they felt was inclusive, individual-focused and community-minded. It is a model that the current principal, Stephen Dare, helped grow for a student population that now counts student numbers in the hundreds. From the fledgling kindergarten on Stubbs Road, the school

has moved twice on Hong Kong Island to accommodate the burgeoning student body and is now in its permanent, purpose-built campus in Sai Kung. Today Hong Kong Academy is a fully fledged independent, international nonprofit day school that offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes. The class sizes are deliberately kept small so as to ensure a low student-toteacher ratio with most having two or more teachers to make sure accelerated learners as well as students needing support are well looked after.

open day

Kicking around on the school’s astro-turf football pitch.

At just three years old, the Sai Kung campus is big, open, modern and, thanks to a lot of glass, full of natural light. There is a clear nod to sustainability in the building’s design and construction materials, but more importantly the students are active in learning about and protecting the environment - from small beginnings such as the kindergarten garden, to more ambitious service learning projects - including activities such as beach clean-ups - that are built into the secondary school curriculum. The principal of the HKA’s secondary school, Leanne Dunlap, has only been a part of the staff for a year and a half but has been impressed by what the school stands for. “Any child who comes here to visit will want to stay, I have no doubt about it… A part of that should be directly attributed to Dare and the school’s vision, I know that’s why I came here”. Dunlap says she didn’t interview for her position thinking she would actually take the job, thought that interviewing with the HKA would give her good practice for other interviews.

“But when I reached the second day I knew this was where she wanted to be,” she says.

A middle school project culminated in a working bicycle, made from scratch.

sports hall and multi-purpose theatre. In return, students use the local council-run stadium, sports ground and swimming pool nearby. When Dunlap joined HKA, the secondary school was running a seven-period day which included ten minutes passing time between classes and one long break. “It was a hectic day for the students” she says. So, she suggested a personally created and coined ‘Rotating Block Schedule’. The framework is not unusual: four classes a day at ninety minutes each with three breaks between them, including an hour for lunch.

The school now boasts more than 630 students aged three to 18, all of whom are taught on the same campus. While the primary and secondary schools are largely kept separate day to day, there is overlap in the use of some spaces. The school also shares its facilities with the wider Sai Kung community who make use of the indoor 45

open day The kicker is that the classes rotate, meaning if you start this Monday with Maths and finish Friday with Science, next week those classes will be at different times on the schedule, keeping everyone on their toes. It took an open-minded administration

to give it a try, but what has turned out to be a scheduling victory is part of the reason Dunlap tells me the school is succeeding. The leadership body and the teachers see the need to be flexible, adapt and grow according to what’s best for the students.

A handful of the school’s 630 students take time to smile for the camera.


“The idea that everyone has to be a life learner is intrinsic to what we teach so we have to model it”. And they do: every Wednesday is a half-day for students as teachers gather in the afternoon to continue their own personal development. Personally, I found the idea of a half-day every week a bit unusual, but I’m told the older students use this time to get ahead in their work. After seeing the types of projects that some of the middle school students were developing I can understand why they’d be grateful for a little extra time. A brief tour of the library concludes with a look at one of the middle school student’s end of year projects: a working bicycle assembled from scratch. I’m also told another student intends to patent and sell his project: a working vacuum cleaner made in the shape of a glove. What these 16 year olds were achieving made me somewhat less proud of my latest effort in successfully assembling an IKEA stepladder on my own. For the students though it is about more than the product, it is a lesson in solo time management, motivation and exploration, and they have

open day

as much support from teaching staff as they need. The final two years of the IB program are by far the toughest as they determine what the student’s next stage in life will be. The approach to these years is broken into three ‘paths’ - HKA Diploma with full IB diploma; HKA Diploma with up to six IB certificates; and solely the HKA Diploma which is run along similar lines to a US high school diploma. “Any student can pass the diploma program with support,” says Dunlap. “We

don’t screen anybody out. HKA caters for the gifted student and the student who needs support but wants to do the program”. Support is expected at home and parents are encouraged to take part in the school’s operations. The HKA School Board itself is made up mostly of parents, who also encourage their counterparts to voice their opinions on school issues. Parents and guardians are also encouraged to volunteer in the school shop and are welcome to participate in activities, or to sit and have a coffee in the school cafe. I’m told that parents are viewed as “partners”, and Dunlap is frank about the fact that the families who join the school need to value academia as much as the social and emotional well-being of the child. “If we do nothing else – given what’s going on in the world – we need to turn out good people. People who have a moral compass, people who stand up to demi-gods, people who speak for those who don’t have a voice. This generation of kids will change the world, I have no doubt”. In the hands of a leadership with her confidence, dedication and enthusiasm, they may do just that.

School Report Hong Kong Academy Established: 2000 Class size: average of 22 Curriculum: International Baccalaureate World School - PYP, MYP, IBDP Fees 2016/2017: $131,000-$206,500 Non refundable capital levy: $25,000 (if no debenture) Address: 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung Tel: 2655 1111 47

principal’s office mission. Often I have the same conversation with parents and teachers if there’s an issue.

HKA’s secondary principal Leanne Dunlap reveals all. What triggered your desire to teach? I was a math major and thought I would be an engineering student so I did a failed internship at Boeing. Failed on my part; I got there and I said, “These are not my people”. So I went to the University of Washington and sought out an advisor who said, “You have enough credits, if you switched your practicum from working at Boeing to a teaching practicum you could graduate with a teaching degree and a math major. So, that’s what I did. The moment I stepped into a classroom I thought, ‘I can’t believe they pay people to do this!’. I haven’t looked back since. Teaching is my nirvana. I worked a couple of years in the States and I found out about international education and I’ve made my way around the globe since then. My first job was in Brazil, my next job was in Tokyo and then from there I worked in Warsaw and Copenhagen and now I’m back in Asia.

What makes a good teacher? At the core, they have to love kids. They need to be curious and empathetic. I can teach anyone the content and how to structure a lesson, but the ethos around teaching and who you need to be as a human being, I can’t do that, so you’ve got to come with that.

What was your favourite subject in school? English. I have an English minor. I’ve been an avid reader from a very young age. I can’t go to sleep at night without reading and I think that’s where my love of travel came from… the love of books. There were worlds that were opened up to me through books.

What’s the toughest part of a principal’s day? The toughest part of my day involves any hard conversations I have to have with people. That could be with a student because I’m disappointed in their behaviour, that could be with a parent because they are not aligning with our mission and I have to be that person to hold them accountable, and that could be with a teacher in this building because they’re not aligned with the

What is the most memorable thing a teacher has ever said to you? You can be the change. 48

I like the yin and the yang of Hong Kong. I like that I feel comfortable as a Westerner and I like that it’s so multi-cultured.

What are your school’s greatest strengths? Our school’s greatest strength is the ‘growth’ mindset that everybody has here. A fixed mindset was fully embedded in the 60’s with IQ tests: this is who you are etc. that’s why in the US kids were tracked in college. You went into this track if you were college bound, you went into this track if you were going to go into a vocational education and that was determined at a fairly young age based on standardized testing. What we know now, especially from the work from Stanford University Psychologist, Carol Dweck, is that our brains keep changing and evolving, that everybody can learn and that capacity is unlimited. So, as an educator, if you don’t believe that, it’s pretty easy to give up on kids, or get frustrated. What do you see as the benefits for students being raised in Hong Kong? I think it’s a microcosm of the world they’re going to inherit. We are becoming smaller and smaller and more and more global and Hong Kong will allow kids to see that on a daily basis. They don’t even know it, but especially the kids who have been here since primary school, they adapt all the time. I see kids switch languages and they don’t even see that they’ve done it. Personally, I’ve always loved Hong Kong. The first time I came here was in the early nineties and it’s changed so dramatically since then. I like the yin and yang of it. I like that I feel comfortable as a western person here and I also like that it’s so multi-cultured. What are your views on technology? It’s amazing how technology has allowed teachers to be more personal in the classroom and give feedback much more rapidly. Nothing moves students on the learning continuum faster than feedback, and technology allows that to happen quicker and more directly. But I’m not a fan of technology for technology’s sake. As a teaching tool and as an engagement tool, for example, Google drive has transformed what education looks like as far as the paper and pencil path because we’re pretty paperless here. The collaboration that’s able to happen in a Google environment among students is amazing. Tell us a secret about yourself… I’m a closet tech geek and sci-fi freak. 49

me & my hobby

Pony club

Equestrian Margie Kehoe tells us about her love for her horse Buzz, Beas River eventing and brilliant gymkhanas. Introduce yourself to us… My name is Margie Kehoe, I’m twelve years old, I study at the Australian International School and I LOVE horse riding. Why horses? I’ve always loved animals and so about three years ago my mum suggested that I go on a holiday camp at the Clearwater Bay riding stables (Clearwater Bay Equestrian and Education Centre, CEEC). I enjoyed the camp so much that I asked mum to sign me up at every opportunity to go holiday camps after that. What do you enjoy about it? When I ride I get “into the zone”. I feel very calm and focused, I go with the flow and it’s a place where homework doesn’t exist. I feel at my happiest when I’m riding my horse, Buzz, in the big paddock at CEEC. He loves jumping as much as I do. Where do you ride? I still ride at the CEEC. Actually it’s not very close to home, the government stables in Pok Fu Lam would be a lot closer, but once I had fallen in love with all the horses at CEEC it was very hard to consider moving stables. I occasionally ride at Lo Wu Saddle Club for inter-school competitions and recently at Lei Yue Mun Riding School for an inter-club competition in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s (HKJC) Children’s Cup Challenge. Do you have a favourite horse? I now have a horse on livery at the CEEC. He is a ten year old off-the-track thoroughbred who has been re-educated for the type of riding we do at the riding school. His stable name is Buzz and his racing name was Watch First. Buzz originally came from New Zealand and he stands 16 hands in height - which means 16 x 4”, so 64” from the ground to the top of his withers. What level is your riding at? The focus of my lessons is dressage and jumping as this is what I do in competition. Jumping is my favourite out of the two - I can

now jump a round of 70cm. In dressage we learn a test and we need to memorise it and practise. The test often involves stages of walk, trot and canter. It has taken a lot of practice to get to this level.

I feel at my happiest when I’m riding Buzz in the big paddock at Clearwater Bay.

How often do you ride? Two or three times a week, but I would ride every day if I could. I mostly ride in group lessons and occasionally have a private lesson when there is something specific I want to work on.

and I only reward Buzz when I think he’s done his best. Have you ever fallen off? Yes, many times! Too many to count. When I was first starting, falling off a horse came as a shock and was a big setback for my confidence. My riding instructors were great as they understood my feelings and were patient with me until my confidence returned. Is it a tough sport? There is much more to riding than you might think. Every move the horse makes is directed by the rider and to an onlooker this is not obvious. When we ride in competition at other stables we are assigned a horse out of a draw. This can be a challenge as I won’t know what makes this horse “tick”; every horse is different. What are your goals? I would love to eventually compete in cross country riding at Beas River.

What is your biggest achievement so far? When my CEEC team took first place in the school stage of the HKJC Children’s Cup Challenge at Lei Yue Mun Riding School. We couldn’t believe we had won, and the rosette was the biggest I’ve ever seen. What sort of equipment do you need? Tack can be super expensive, but the CEEC provides everything I need to ride. Recently I received my own stirrups for my birthday - I love them as the footplate is very grippy. I know that the length is adjusted for me so I don’t waste any time fiddling with stirrup length at the beginning of lessons. The other thing you need is treats. I try to remember to bring carrots and always have horse pellets in my bag. I’m a bit strict Buzz and Margie.

50 51

life & style

Life & style news Lady in red Lai See at the ready this month, as kids brand China Doll launches a range of Chinese New Year inspired dresses. Each dress in one-ofa-kind and available during this month only at Partytime stores in Central and Causeway Bay,

Light show Lululemon celebrated the opening of its Shatin store last month with guests joining a mega yoga session “under a canopy of lights, with a sea of 300 inspiring individuals.” The mat work was followed up with canapes and drinks, a rowing competition and dancing. This is the first shop the Canadian activewear group has opened in the New Territories, and the third store to open in Hong Kong. Along with a wide range of products covering running, yoga, training and cycling, the store will display a community board with information about local activities,

Now you Lai See it... Chinese chic for Lunar New Year.

Open in Times Home accessories specialist idecorate has opened a second store in Causeway Bay. The shop is located in Times Square and offers a wide range of globally sourced items for stylish homes. The brand prides itself on “affordable luxury for everyday living”. This is the second brick and mortar shop, following the opening in summer 2016 of its Admiralty store. Items can also be bought online, with click and collect from either store or the idecorate warehouse in Kwai Chung, or free delivery on orders over $300. The store also provides sourcing, styling and interior design services. It is open 11am to 10pm at level 9, Times Square, Causeway Bay, 52

Yoga party to launch Lulu Lemon’s Sha Tin store.

from the latest yoga studio to open up to the closest cycleway. The store has been fitted out in shades of blue, inspired by the local Shing Mun River. It also features a custom painting by local Canadian-born artist Peter Yuill, depicting nearby Lion Rock. In an innovative move, the store will offer community bicycles to borrow for riding along the Shing Mun River and Tolo Harbour cycle track. The store is located at Shop 469, New Town Plaza, Sha Tin,

French flair Luxury children’s clothing line Bonpoint has launched its Summer 2017 range with brightly coloured pieces for boys and girls. Design influences include the 1960s Palm Springs of French photographer Robert Doisneau, the beach photos of Italian photographer Massimo Vitali and the palette of French postimpressionist artist Paul Gaughin. Faded jeans, fitted 60s sweaters and cherry prints mix with delicate hand embroidery and vibrant flower-prints. Stand-out pieces include dresses stitched with fabrics from the Liberty vaults and detailed accessorising. From babywear to teenwear, the range also includes footwear and accessories. Bonpoint Hong Kong Island store is located at Shop 329, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central,

Gaughin-inspired prints from Bonpoint.

life & style

Charitable reflections Students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) were invited to come up with a design to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cathay and UNICEF HK’s Change for Good inflight fundraising programme. Change for Good aims to improve the lives of children in more than 150 developing countries and territories. The SCAD students were tasked with developing creative concepts using coins collected from the programme. “Drip Drop” was created by second year students Branwen Bindra and Nikhil Nagarkar and was inspired by UNICEFs work on water, sanitation and hygiene. It shows a drop of water falling into a pool, signifying how a single drop can have a huge impact. The piece is currently on display in the Headland

SCAD students with winning design “The Bloom”, which was auctioned for charity at UNESCO HK’s 30th anniversary gala dinner.

Hotel lobby at Cathay City, Lantau. The second winning design, “The Bloom” was created by second year students Paola

Chen and Helena Cheng and was auctioned at UNICEF HK’s 30th anniversary gala dinner last month.

California dreaming With our girl in the know, Elaine Yeoh

Style-it-right at new homewares boutique HD Buttercup.

All the way from the US West coast, furniture specialist HD Buttercup is launching in Horizons Plaza, Ap Lei Chau. Currently in a soft opening phase, the full opening is anticipated for next month. The Los Angeles-based brand offers a wide range of furniture, floor coverings and accessories, including locally handcrafted pieces and globally sourced items. The range will be grouped into themes to help shoppers source what they’re looking

for, including ‘California Coastal’, ‘Family Style’, ‘Mid-Century Modern’ and ‘Luxe Living’. HD Buttercup is located in Los Angeles and San Francisco and prides itself on its “extraordinary, expertly curated” pieces from around the world, from classic to modern and vintage to luxury. The Hong Kong store will be located at 2/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 10am-7.30pm,

If the new year has sent you into a frenzied “declutter” mode, then log onto Carousell, a new app that proves that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This useful site lets you sell off all your pre-loved, gently-used items, as long as they’re in good, useable condition. Think outgrown clothes, toys, unwanted Christmas gifts, even cars and property. This is ebay but with zero listing fees. There’s an in-app camera to let you shoot and edit your items and listings take just 30 seconds to upload. Follow your favourite sellers and buyers and share your sale listings on instagram, twitter and facebook. So no more excuses for delaying the mega spring clean! Carousell is free-to-use and is available from Apple HK App Store and Google Play Store. A desktop version is available at Yeoh will be reviewing a new app every month. Contact her at or 53

life & style

Sublime rhymes and other stories Carolynne Dear catches up with world-renowned children’s author, Julia Donaldson, as she prepares to take to the stage in Hong Kong.

Donaldson and fellow actors in the lead up to the Hong Kong show. A keen performer she recalls as a child growing up in north London “there were always lots of books and music around”.


You just want a good, clever storyline,” says children’s author Julia Donaldson, attempting to describe how she comes up with her seemingly bottomless treasure trove of story ideas. “I’m not thinking about the children when I plan, I’m thinking about the story.” She is quite often influenced, she says, by traditional tales from around the world The Gruffalo for instance, is loosely based on a Chinese folktale about a fox who borrows the terror of a tiger. We’re chatting by phone as she packs for her much publicised Hong Kong appearance later this month, where she will be taking to the stage in Gruffalos, Ladybirds and Other Beasts at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts as part of KidsFest 2017. She says she is looking forward to this, her third trip, to the territory. “I’d like to try and do some hiking this time, and visit the outlying islands. I love the vibrancy but I also like the feel of the countryside there.” Donaldson’s children’s stories are a global publishing phenomenon and are beloved by children everywhere. Highlights include The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom and Stick Man, to quote just a few. At the last count, her publishing tally came to a whopping 184 books. Donaldson was born in London in 1948 and grew up with her parents, sister, aunt, uncle and grandmother in a three-storey house near Hampstead Heath to the north of the city. She recalls enjoying reading with her granny and aunt in their rooms upstairs; early influences include Lewis Carroll (of Alice in Wonderland fame) and the nonsense poems of Edward Lear. “I liked reading as a child, we were very lucky as there was a good library locally and also lots of second hand bookshop for me to spend my pocket money in. I had a friend who also read a lot and we’d go to each

life & style others houses and swap books,” she says. As any child will tell you, Donaldson’s books are well known for their rhymes; her family was a musical one, she herself played the cello as a child, both parents were members of the Hampstead Music Club and played instruments themselves, and summers were spent putting on musical shows with her sister, Mary. “I grew up with a granny who used to read to us a lot and parents who told us lots of stories and sang in a local choir; so there were always lots of books and music around.” Later, student life also passed putting on performances and making music - she busked in Paris while studying there as part of her degree and then post-university she and future husband Malcolm busked their way across America. On their return to London they played in restaurants and at events, with Donaldson composing the songs. She says she still enjoys performing at book festivals and still writes plays. Away from the stage, she admits to a certain amount of trepidation when reading to her six grandchildren. “My own children were teenagers when I first started writing children’s books, so I was more likely to perform the stories to an audience of many at festivals. So the idea of reading one-onone is quite a frightening one - I did have a slightly galling experience with my oldest grandson recently. He said “actually Granny, I prefer this book,” picking up a Star Wars catalogue. I didn’t read it! Actually I prefer not to read my books when I’m with them, I’d rather investigate what else is out there. I’ve just been visiting my son and reading a lot of Dr Seuss to his children, and also a lovely book called Biscuit Bear by Mini Grey.” With regards her own stories, she says she is never short of ideas. “There are several stages to my writing process, it starts with a little germ of an idea which might stay buried for a long while, because it’s often very hard to know where to go with an initial thought. “A good example is The Detective Dog - for a while I’d wanted to do a story about smell, so I decided it should be a dog because they have a very sensitive sense of smell. The idea changed and developed as I went - originally the dog was going to get kidnapped and find his way home through his sense of smell, or maybe the child could get kidnapped and some sort of adventure ensue - lots of thoughts go through my mind at this stage. In the end I decided that the

With one of her best-loved creations, The Gruffalo.

dog, through listening to stories being read by the children, could lead the children to the books that had been stolen from the school and find the book thief.

If I’m struggling for ideas, I find walking untangles my thoughts. That, or wallowing in a warm bath. “It’s only when I’ve got the story in my mind that I sit down and start writing. In terms of the actual words, I tend to write in a stream of consciousness, noting down good rhymes and phrases along the way throwing some away and keeping others, and gradually crafting the story.” She says writing in rhyme can be

maddeningly difficult, “but at least there’s a discipline. I enjoy writing in both rhyme and prose - Spinderella, a recent book about a spider who learns to count, is written in prose just because I just wanted it to be very, very clear. I also enjoy writing plays and dialogue.” Does she ever suffer from writer’s block, I wonder? “I’m lucky in that I’m not tied to a book contract where I have to produce so many stories a year or whatever. If I don’t have any ideas, I don’t write. I do find walking helps untangle thoughts, though, or wallowing in a nice warm bath.” Of course you don’t produce this volume of work without some kind of official recognition, and in 2011 Donaldson was appointed Children’s Laureate, and in the same year received an MBE for services to literature. “Yes, that was lovely, going up to Buckingham Palace and so on. It’s a very well-oiled machine, you sit listening to the Queen’s musicians playing in the Minstrels gallery while you wait. Actually I could have sat there all day because there are such wonderful pictures on the walls. 55

life & style

Rehearsing for Gruffalos, Ladybirds and Other Beasts.

The Queen is refreshingly formidable - people tend to be so gushy these days, and she had a definite air of sternness and majesty about her which I quite liked.” As Children’s Laureate she did a lot of work both to promote libraries and to help deaf children. “I have a hearing problem myself and have to wear a hearing aid. When I’ve done shows for children sometimes you get a signer on stage and I’ve always been fascinated by signing. It was an area I just wanted to find out a bit more about. “I was invited to help a group of deaf children make up a story through a charity called Life and Deaf, which I managed to get published as What The Jackdaw Saw. They were so chuffed and at the launch they acted it out so beautifully with beautiful homemade masks. “The other thing I found out is that deaf children love to see a character in a book wearing a hearing aid. Nick Sharratt (one of Donaldson’s illustrators) is very keen on being inclusive, and so he started adding deaf children here and there into his illustrations.” How closely does she work with her illustrators? “I just hand over my work - the 56

image of us working side by side is a popular one but a long way from what actually happens. Normally we work quite separately. Although Lydia Monks does put ideas in my head, she encouraged me to write about a mermaid which ended up as The Singing Mermaid.

Receiving an MBE was lovely. The Queen was refreshingly formidable - people tend to be so gushy these days.

“What I really enjoy is when a book is finished is and the illustrators join me on stage for a performance. Axel (Axel Scheffler) is a good actor, and Nick Sharratt has helped

me in performances of What The Jackdaw Saw.” She has also enjoyed success on the small screen, with recent adaptations for television of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room On The Broom and Stick Man. She says she particularly enjoyed Stick Man, which appeared on British screens last Christmas. “The producers got straight into the story. Stick Man has less momentum than other books and is quite repetitive, so I think they did really well to give it a bit of a shake and build it up to a climax. I really enjoyed it.” She says the current production in Hong Kong is very scripted, so there will be less room for deviating from the script than there is at the numerous book launches and festivals she attends. “It’s a proper play about an actor visiting a library, although I’m sure there will be a few topical references thrown in for its Hong Kong debut. I’m really looking forward to it.” Donaldson will be performing live on stage in Gruffalos, Ladybirds and other Beasts, at Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts in Wan Chai as part of KidsFest 2017. Tickets are from available 57

life & style

Reasons to be chi-full

Apprentice feng shui master Thierry Chow shows Adele Brunner how to let the good times roll in.

Study time. “If you were born in the year of the rooster, 2017 is a good year to renovate,� says Thierry Chow.


life & style


hether you’ve decided to detox, climb a mountain or simply calm down, there’s nothing like the beginning of a new year - Western and Chinese alike - to make a fresh start. And how else to complement the new you than giving your home a bit of a makeover too? The ancient science of feng shui was conceived in China thousands of years ago. Meaning “wind” and “water” respectively - two basic elements required for human survival and associated with good health - it is all about increasing the flow of positive energy (qi, or chi), in your home or office, through the correct placement of furniture and objects. Harmonious alignment and organisation are believed to positively affect your health, wealth, relationships and life in general; conversely, negative, stagnant energy can result in poor health, financial worries and relationship issues. “Feng shui is the study of the environment. It is important to be aware of how these things affect us and how we can arrange things in our lives to boost our overall well-being,” says Thierry Chow, artist and daughter of respected Hong Kong feng shui master Chow Hon Ming, to whom she has been apprenticed for five years. Although a traditional practice, Chow feels feng shui is still very relevant today, particularly when the trend seems to be for a more tranquil and mindful lifestyle to counteract the somewhat chaotic state of world affairs. Her company TRE combines enduring feng shui concepts with the energy and innovation of modern design. “If your sign indicates you will have a bad year, you will definitely need to improve feng shui at home and work to help with overall luck. It will make a big difference,” she says. Top of the list is to have a good clear out. Your home is a mirror of what is happening in your life, so if things are looking a bit on the cluttered side, this is not good. Chow says keeping your home clean and tidy is an instant mood lifter. Negative energy loves nooks and crannies that are messy and disorganised, so the “out of sight, out of mind” trick won’t do you any feng shui favours. Interestingly, your wardrobe is a reflection of your self-esteem, so if it needs a bit of TLC, chances are you do too. Colour is super important in feng shui, says Chow, because it affects our moods and emotions. Each colour is an expression of one of the five elements (fire, earth, water, wind and metal) but their use depends on the position of each particular room in your home,

Chow showing a group of students how it’s done.

its purpose and what kind of energy you hope to attract. Red relates to fire and brings passion, high energy and warmth so is great in office spaces and master bedrooms; but not so much for nurseries containing already active toddlers. If you don’t want to go the whole hog and re-paint walls, incorporate whichever shades are required in a room with different accessories. Lighting should be warm - not too dark or light - and as natural as possible. Open windows to let in fresh air and fresh energy. According to Chow, a home’s feng shui changes and renews every Lunar New Year. So what of the Year of the Rooster? “It will be a good year to buy a home, but that of course depends on your birth chart. If you were born in the Year of the Rooster, 2017 is a good year to renovate as it will enhance your luck - use “rooster colours” such as accents of yellow. Hang out more in the east corner of your home as the lucky star arrives in the east. Place plants in the northeast corner to enhance work and academic luck.” Meanwhile the northwest doesn’t bode well for sickness this year so best to avoid it. It’s not always easy to re-position the contents of your home, but having a spring clean is a cathartic experience in itself and if you attract good luck by moving your sofa or buying a few plants, so much the better. Check out Thierry Chow’s feng shui/ fashion/lifestyle blog at

Happy homes Front door

This is the main entry point for the attraction of strong chi. Make sure your entrance is well cared for (no dead plants or peeling paint) and not blocked by obstacles such as trees, shoes and large flowerpots.

Living room

Place sofas against a solid wall - ideally the farthest from the entrance.


The head of the bed should be positioned against the wall farthest from the door but not directly across from it. Avoid positioning your bed so your feet are pointing directly out of the door. If you don’t have room to manoeuvre, place a high bench at the end of the bed that is slightly taller than the mattress to shift the energy. Don’t store stuff under your bed because it sends out energy all night and can disturb sleep. Add a splash of pink (love, happiness, romance) to the master bedroom.


This relates to your ability to attract money. Keep the hob, the fridge and the cupboards clean and full of food that you actually use.


Open plugholes and toilets will encourage money to drain out of your pockets. Keep loo lids down and plugholes plugged. 59

life & style

And breathe...

Therapist Christina Salcedas invites exhausted editor Carolynne Dear to relax and digest the benefits of aromatherapy.

The sense of smell is so powerful and is linked to survival - I find it fascinating. - Christina Salcedas


orget the green juices, the best detox in town is relaxation, according to aroma-specialist Christina Salcedas. “And aromatherapy is such an easy way to achieve that state,” she adds. Salcedas heads up training at Londonbased Aromatherapy Associates, who produce a range of sweet-smelling products that has also now launched in Hong Kong. We’re about to sit down for lunch at Central’s recently launched Popsy Modern Kitchen (it’s all pretty English country gardens with huge flowers decorating the walls, which is immediately making me feel relaxed), but before we start, Salcedas has offered me a personal consultation. “Just smell the oils and tell me what works for you,” she says, offering me a variety of scent sticks. “What jumps out at you today is completely mood driven, so what you select now will be different from what you might need tomorrow.”


I’m feeling pretty good, although with a nagging feeling that I should really be back at my desk attempting to meet the January print deadline rather than enjoying three course restaurant lunches, even if it is for work. “Aha, you need frankincense, a stressreducer,” she says as I select my preferred scent, proffering a tiny bottle of precious essential oils. “Take this home tonight and put a capful into a bath.” Our sense of smell is the most powerful of all the senses, conjuring up memories from many years ago, and aromatherapy has been used to this end for hundreds of years. “I find it fascinating,” Salcedas admits. “The sense of smell is so powerful and is linked to survival and instinct. I find the best way of explaining it is to use the example of petrol - some people love the smell, some

hate it - and if you hate it, it probably means at some point in your life you used to get car sick. Personally I had real issues with frankincense it all dated back to being dragged to church as a child. However, you can alter this memory. Once I became a therapist I ended up working with Frankincense over and over and eventually it’s switched to become a positive scent for me.” Essential oils are purloined from flowers, bark, stems and leaves and are believed to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The inhaled aroma is thought to stimulate brain function, while oils absorbed through the skin travel into the blood-stream and can promote whole-body healing. They’re used for mood enhancement, pain relief and in some cases increased cognitive function. Salcedas says the company’s

life & style best selling product at the moment is the bath and shower Deep Relax. It contains vetivert which is a natural sedative, chamomile which is calming and sandalwood which is grounding. Not just for relaxing stressed out journalists, essential oils can be used to treat an enormous range of ailments. Each oil has its own therapeutic benefit, so from acne to antiseptic qualities, menopause, colds, flu, stress and migraines, aromatherapy can offer a wide range of benefits. Salcedas’s enthusiasm is contagious. Our chat brought back memories of digging out essential oils back in the 1990s, pre-husband and pre-children, when I had all the time in the world to wallow in baths (and to be fair, probably wasn’t that stressed in the first place). But over the years life has taken over and I don’t give myself that sort of time off anymore. School events, social events, catching up on social media - all of these things seem to take over in the evenings. The trendy term is mindfulness, but I do go home that evening and carve out an hour for a therapeutic bath with my precious little bottle. And I sleep deeper than I’ve done in a long time. Maybe that’s just coincidence, maybe

the early morning school run and gym session, the deadlines and the parent-teacher meeting after work all combined to create a comatose state in bed. But no matter, it was nice just to take Salcedas’s advice by leaving my mobile downstairs and closing the door on the family just for a little while. So maybe that’s my New Year’s resolution, reviving forgotten relaxation techniques.

Where to start

Top drops...

Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil - promises to drop you into a deep sleep; with vetivert (sedative), chamomile (calming) and sandalwood (grounding). Light Relax Bath & Shower Oil - “like a glass of wine at the end of a busy day” - key ingredients are lavender (natural analgesic), ylang ylang (uplifting) and petitgrain (clears the mind). Destress Mind Bath & Shower Oil - clear busy minds, with frankincense (focuses the mind), chamomile and petitgrain. Frankincense Pure Essential Oil aromatherapy on-the-go; add it to a burner, on a tissue or in the palm of your hand - breathe deeply and focus your mind on the task ahead. Aromatherapy Associates is available from Lane Crawford,

Lavender - one of the most popular essential oils, it’s used for stress-relief and also has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Frankincense - this featured prominently in my consultation, it fights anxiety, helps reduce stress reactions and negative emotions (studies have found it to reduce heart-rate), and also has immune-enhancing properties. Lemon - a stimulating scent and good for brain energy. It also has detoxifying, antiseptic and antifungal properties. Peppermint - a cooling oil and great for sore muscles when used topically. It’s a good decongestant, so ideal for winter coughs and colds. When inhaled it is believed to enhance memory function. 61

life & style

Quilt and cushion cover $1,099, Zara Home

Red metallic lantern $459 Zara Home,

Seeing red Brighten up your home for CNY, says Adele Brunner. Double Happiness candles from $75, GOD,

Canvas sitting rooster $145, TREE,

Chinese New Year storybooks Bookazine,


life & style

Tin rooster set $795 each, TREE

Double Happiness teapot $195, GOD

Nespresso Maestria Red $4,688, Nespresso,

Cushion cover $595, TREE

Pelican style lounge $3,860, decor8, 63

food news

Food news Thai tonic

The Taste Buddies

The new year sees our taste busters getting their groove on at glitzy Gaucho.

New decor for a new year at Ayuthaia.

Local Thai favourite Ayuthaiya boasts a new look for the new year following a recent makeover. Neutral colours, textures and materials bring a fresh look to the restaurant, plus a revamped menu. The kitchen will be serving up a range of Siamese regional dishes from throughout the Land of Smiles, including a variety of sharing dips and main dishes. Dips are an integral part of Thai cuisine and Ayuthaiya has enthusiastically embraced the trend - highlights include mild Prig Pla Salid Heang (gourami fish with caramelised shallots, garlic and palm sugar) to spicier offering Nam Prik Ong (Chiang Mai-style pork with tomato and dried chilli). Fresh Thai salads and moreish mains also take pride of place on the new-look menu. And forget the detox - the restaurant continues to mix a mean line in cocktails, including new entrants Tom Yum (houseinfused Ayuthaiya chilli vodka, crushed lime leaves and lemongrass and orange juice); and Buddha’s Hand (gin and vodka with housemade ginger syrup, Thai tea and guava juice). Happy Hour runs everyday from 3-8pm with drinks starting at $45. And a new front terrace also means you can kick back and enjoy the cooler weather. 35 Hollywood Road, Central, 12pm-12am, Sun-Thurs; 12pm-2am, Fri & Sat, 3105 5055.


Oh my Japanese nights Japan meets Peru at brand new eatery, TokyoLima, that opens later this month. The latenight destination is Hong Kong’s first restaurant to serve Nikkei cuisine (a Japanese inspired Peruvian cuisine) in an “izakaya” (a Nipponese version of the gastropub) atmosphere. The venue offers a fun sake and cocktail menu pulled together by mixologist Isabella Vannoni, as well as a chilled out restaurant space headed up by Peruvian chef Arturo Melendez. He describes his menu as “marrying the passionate heat of Peru with the clean freshness of Japan”. It offers small to large plates - ideal for sharing and an abundance of fresh seafood. “In an izakaya, anyone is welcome,” explained TokyoLima co-founder Christian Talpo. “People can stop by through the night for a quick cocktail and a bite to eat at the bar, a carafe of sake, or a catch up with friends over a Nikkei feast.” 18 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central; restaurant Tues-Thurs, 6pm-12am; Fri, Sat & Sun, 6pm1am; bar - Tues-Thurs, 5pm-1am; Fri, Sat & Sun - 5pm-3am. The official opening date hadn’t been released at time of going to press, stay tuned at

We were really excited to be invited to Gaucho this month. They serve a wicked brunch on weekends and we couldn’t wait to get started on the mocktail menu. We both opted for a Carino and later we enjoyed a Mint, Mango, Passionfruit Crush. They were both very good. Mum said she was also very excited by the drinks menu - she said to include in our article that it is free-flow Veuve, which apparently is her favourite champagne. She and dad did seem to be very thirsty. The restaurant is very glamorous so we were glad we’d dressed up a bit, I was wearing my brand new Converse and we both had new tee-shirts on. The waitress was really nice and showed us to the kids play room while we were waiting for our food. There were lots of toys for younger children, free balloons and also ipads. By the time we’d had a good look at everything mum came to say our blueberry pancake stacks had arrived. The menu is brilliant because you get to try as many small dishes as you like. We both loved the pancakes, but also the steak and egg - we never get steak for breakfast at home and we both thought it was a really good idea. We also loved the bacon sandwiches and the bell pepper and oregano frittata. Mum liked the eggs benedict and eggs royale (with smoked salmon) and dad kept going back to oven baked chorizo sausage. We tried every dish on the menu, sometimes more than once, and we finished up with churros, which are like long sugary donuts that you dip into a yummy caramel sauce. Gaucho Sunday Brunch is $600/person; $100/under 12; free for under 3s; free-flow food, Veuve Cliquot champagne and listed beverages; 11am-4pm; beverage offering valid for two hours from first drink; 5th Floor, LHT Tower, 31 Queens Road, Central, 2386 9090. If you have a kids menu you would like our tween team to review, drop us an email at

SPONSORed by Helping Students to Succeed The Importance of Nurturing at Nord Anglia International School Children’s development and the importance of a nurturing environment Children’s development is an important topic in parenting and research findings show that nurturing is a key component in a child’s growth. For example: - A child’s learning is significantly influenced by their social environment and their peers; this affects both their behaviour and the development of their cognitive ability. - Children who have a good start in life are more likely to do better at school, attend regularly and enjoy activities with friends. - A supportive milieu will provide a child with the skills to do well at school, perform well socially and to deal more confidently with challenges. Promoting a reassuring environment at Nord Anglia International School (NAIS HK) Educators at Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong (NAIS) understand students’ needs and are dedicated in building a nurturing environment in the school. The school dedicates resources to areas such as pastoral care and whole person development to ensure its young students receive the support needed. A dedicated pastoral care professional is tasked to take care of students’ academic needs and general wellbeing.

Ambitious” is also embedded in the school’s teaching approach, Cooklin believes that it empowers students to achieve beyond what they may have thought possible - academically, socially and personally.

“We believe in treating each child as an individual, setting them specific targets for progress, building their confidence and giving wide opportunities for success – nothing succeeds like success!” explains Brian Cooklin, Principal of NAIS.

Academically, the school places a strong emphasis on nurturing all areas of learning such as languages, sports, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths), music and performing arts. Activities such as Spanish Day, Sports Day, Curiosity Challenge, music concerts, singing competitions and extracurricular activities aim to foster student learning in all areas. Through exclusive collaboration with leading educational institutions such as MIT and the Juilliard School, NAIS is able to provide an inspiring learning environment for its students. In terms of the performing arts, NAIS offers the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme, designed to give students a deeper engagement with the performing arts - promoting cultural literacy, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

“We believe in treating each child as an individual, setting them specific targets for progress, building their confidence and giving wide opportunities for success – nothing succeeds like success!” explains Brian Cooklin, Principal of NAIS. In fact, NAIS’ philosophy “Be

activity-based education opportunities such as out-of-class workshops to stimulate learning. In students’ non-academic development, they develop teamwork and sportsmanship through participating in team sports and competitions,. For example, students have the opportunity to take part in the Global Games Asia and meet counterparts in the wider Nord Anglia family.

In developing a child’s interest in STEAM subjects, the school adopts an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to science and technology learning based on its latest collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Such teaching approach aims to inspire students to create and build through hands-on, cross-functional activities and challenges. The school also believes the importance of developing a high proficiency in languages. It boasts an experienced teaching staff in English, Mandarin and Spanish, using immersion and

And the nurturing culture extends well beyond the classroom. With the support of the NAIS Parent Teacher Association, the school works with different charities and NGOs by raising money and supports through charity bouncea-thons, Christmas Box of Hope and other charitable initiatives. With a strong commitment to supporting students’ potential and talents, NAIS is confident its staff will draw the very best out of each child, encouraging them to make the most of their abilities. For parents interested to know more about NAIS, please contact the Admissions Team or join the school’s Open Day on 18 March, 2017 (Saturday) at the Lam Tin Campus. For details and reservation: Website: Email: Tel: +852 3958 1488 Address: Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, 11 On Tin Street, Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

food news

Vive la revolution

Meat-free Mondays

Clean greens at Arcane.

Chef Shane Osborn of Central-based eatery Arcane has declared January a “meat-free month” every Monday. Not happy with vegetarian dishes being tacked onto the end of menus as an “add-on”, the Michelin-star chef has created an imaginative all-vegetarian tasting menu. “Cutting out meat once-in-a-while is good for all of us,” said Osborn. “This menu is not catering purely for the vegetarian, but also to inspire meat eaters with delicious dishes where the vegetable is the hero. I find that all too often the vegetarian option is an afterthought that suffers from being bland and boring - quite frankly this is not fair.” The seven-course tasting menu includes treats such as Japanese winter tomato spiced aubergine, sour cream and a salad of sort herbs;

Crapudine beetroot with pickled black radish, horseradish chantilly and wasabi leaves; heartwarming butternut squash ravioli with Swiss chard, sage and almond butter; and sweet treat Japanese winter strawberries with rhubarb, vanilla ice cream and muscat grape consomme. And if you’re cutting out the alcohol too, Arcane has partnered with Punch Detox for a juice pairing menu. The vegetarian tasting menu costs $750 and is available on Mondays throughout this month, with individual dishes available to order throughout the week. Lunch Mon-Fri, noon-2.30pm; dinner Mon-Sat, 6.30-10.30pm, Arcane, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2728 0178.

Melting moment Take a mindful moment this Chinese New Year to enjoy a bar of organic chocolate from local Hong Kong chocolate makers, Raiz The Bar. Gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, organic and made from scratch in the territory using the highest quality cacao beans, these bars come

French flair at 12,000 FRANCS.

pretty much guilt-free, too. The seasonally designed gift boxes contain four flavours raspberry rose acai, orange white mulberry, cold drip coffee and classic original. $288 from selected stores Hong Kong-wide and

Guilt-free chocolate from Raiz The Bar.


12,000 FRANCS is the latest restaurant to open in bustling SoHo. The menu, created by former Bibo and TRi chef Conor Beach, features European cuisine with a modern twist with an emphasis on both traditional and modern preservation methods. It’s divided into sections, including Picked + Potted, Smoke + Salted, Vacuum + Fire, and Sugar + Sweet. The name of the restaurant, 12,000 FRANCS, is inspired by the 1795 Imperial cash prize offered by Napoleon Bonaparte to anyone who could devise a method of preserving food for his conquering armies. Confectioner Nicolas François Appert claimed the Emperor’s prize, storing food in wine bottles that were heated to boiling point before being sealed. While the menu will change seasonally to reflect available local produce, signature dishes upon opening include the suckling pig shoulder and short rib pastrami with barley and rye. 12-3pm & 5pm-1am, Wed-Sat; closed, Sun-Tues; 43A Elgin Street, Central, 2529 3100.

Red alert Loved ones will be clucking with joy on receipt of creamy Lindt chocolates, gloriously presented for Lunar New Year. Yummy chocolate pralines come wrapped in shimmering red, gold, blue, brown and pink to symbolize the five types of fortune in Chinese mythology - joy, wealth, wisdom, blessings and beauty. The chocs come generously gift-packed in red, gold or translucent pink gift boxes. The special edition Lindor Milk Chocolate Gift Box, Lindor Assorted Chocolate Gift Tin, Lindor Assorted Tube and Swiss Classic Collection Box are available throughout the Lunar New Year period. Available from retailers throughout Hong Kong.



Cute as a cupcake


Our super sweet posse round-up the best sponge treats Island-side.


Ace Cakery

Now I will say one thing about sugar - the warnings are all correct. Opening up a box of cupcakes for a bunch of nine year olds is akin to lining up the tequila shots for a group of adults in Lan Kwai Fong. After the first one, calm prevails, after the second, things start to heat up, after the third and fourth, all hell breaks lose. And I have to say our first tray of cakes was probably the sweetest of the lot - the airy sponge bases were not as substantial as other offerings, and the icing creations were brightly piled onto the cakes, albeit in cute designs (there was a bit of a tussle over the “puppy” cupcake). The packaging wasn’t as slick as other venues, and by the time we reached home with our stash, a few toppings had gone somewhat awry. However, for a group of young girls, these were the most eye-catchingly designed cakes and had them fighting for a piece of the action. Flavours include Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Red Velvet, Banana (which went down really well with the adults) and Lemon. $35/cupcake; LG/F, 11 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Mon-Fri, 10.30am-8pm; Sat, 11am-8pm,

Kisses Cupcakes

Along with venues in Admiralty and Sheung Wan, Kisses has taken up a rather neat position opposite the Hopewell Centre on Queen’s Road East. A bit of a building site for a number of years, the area has now welcomed the return of an extremely polished Amoy Street and is home to a number of little cafes, health food shops and smart looking bistros. We had a bit of a wander and then back to Kisses where we selected a box of six - including Smores, Lemon, Red Velvet, Mocha, Baileys and Lychee. Kisses is a New York brand that has made the tedious 16-hour flight to bring you the “finest cupcakes” using


Abbie and Scarlet, both 9 years old, get stuck into the gloriously decorated cupcakes.

the “best ingredients” baked fresh everyday (the website doesn’t elaborate any further). The cakes were neatly packaged, although I would say a takeaway menu, maybe with the cakes you have chosen highlighted, would be very useful. Double chocolates and mocha chocolates and chocolate chocolates all tend to look very similar once you get them home. Anyway, grumble aside, the cakes were all lovely to look at and were swiftly gobbled up apart from the poor old lychee which was very attractive with its pale buttercream swirl and purple sugar flower, but was the least favourite of the bunch. Smores, coated in melted marshmallow, won the day. $145/box of six; G/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, 11am-9pm,

Twelve Cupcakes

Singapore-based Twelve Cupcakes arrived in Hong Kong last year and now has four outlets - IFC and Windsor House on Hong Kong Island, plus Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay and Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong. Since it opened in the Lion City in 2011, it claims to have sold over three million little cakes and now has branches in Jakarta, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. We shopped the IFC branch, which had a plethora of sponge-based treats nicely displayed in a glass case. The cakes are apparently handmade from scratch and freshly baked every day, and served up in distinctive pink boxes. We tried the standard selection (there are also weekly specials) which consisted of a Chocolate Chocolate, a Strawberry Chocolate, Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Salted Caramel, Rainbow Vanilla and Red Velvet. Again, the cakes were robustly packaged. Once home, the overall winner was the Rainbow Vanilla, with two votes for Strawberry Chocolate. $25/cupcake; $135/box of six; $250/box of 12, Shop 3098B, Podium Level 3, IFC 8 Finance Street, Central, 10.30am-9pm,

3 69




Sift shops have sprung up all over Hong Kong since founder Jennifer Cheung opened her first homage to sweet treats on Graham Street in 2006. We shopped the Prince’s Building branch, which is easy to find on the second floor. The cakes were so alluringly laid out - and there was so much choice - we were there rather a long time, the biggest debate seemed to be between Luscious Chocolate and Salty Caramel Chocolate (Salty Caramel won). We came away with a very neatly packaged box of six - Lemon Meringue, Strawberry, Red Velvet, Oreo, Triple Chocolate and the long debated Salty Caramel. Top marks were awarded for looks, presentation (the sturdy box and bag was a godsend carrying the cakes back to IFC carpark through busy streets), and sponge base - this had a firm consistency and had obviously whipped up using quality ingredients (on closer inspection of the website it turns out the cakes are indeed flavoured with natural ingredients and dairy products flown in from France). All tasters voted these to be top cakes and the overall winner was - you guessed it Salty Caramel. From $28/cupcake; Shop 240-241, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 10am-7.30pm,

Thank you to our testers for giving up their Sunday; Abbie, Scarlet, Amelia and Eloise.


Dad’s homemade

Ok, so they hadn’t risen very well (it was news to our dad that plain flour has totally different properties to self raising when creating a cake), they were a little bit lumpy (sieving of the flour had also been judged superfluous to requirements) and they only came in one flavour - gloopy glace icing - but these top treats had been mixed with love and sprinkled with affection. Free!

Abbie, Eloise and Amelia line up the second batch of cakes to be tasted (top); the sugar rush starts to kick in (above); glorious creations from Sift (right).



Discover A New Way To Fall In Love With A Much-Loved Literary Classic, Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play pictures and designs on your iPad or iPhone no matter where they are! There’s even tons of Thomas & Friends™ stickers and badges featuring all your favourite engines. The Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play app is available via subscription. Simply download the app from the app store and subscribe for unlimited full access to all content, including the latest updates. Currently, Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play offers two early bird subscription options, a monthly subscription for HKD38 (Originally HKD78) or choose one simple annual payment of HKD398 (Originally HKD798).

A passion for reading and a relationship with classic literary characters is one of the best gifts we can give our children. Placing a modern twist on one of Britain’s much-loved literary worlds, The Railway Series, is the Thomas & Friends™ eBook app, Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play. This new app helps parents work double time to encourage a passion for books and storytelling, while also capturing the imagination of the next generation who look to read in a new format, eBooks. The Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play app offers a library of interactive read-to-me audio eBooks, Thomas videos and a bounty of fun educational activities that are built to provide a lively learning experience for little ones who enjoy using iPhone or iPad devices. Many parents find allowing their young child the use of iPhone or iPad devices to be challenging, especially when inquisitive young minds begin clicking and exploring on open apps such as YouTube. The Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play app has been developed so that kids and parents can enjoy lots of literary fun in a completely familyfriendly and AD-FREE environment.

The app offers three exciting areas to explore: 1. READ-TO-ME AUDIO & ANIMATED BOOKS: Kids can get to know all your favourite engines from Thomas & Friends™ while they get lost in interactive, narrated classic stories from the Island of Sodor. Each story is narrated with official Thomas & Friends™ voice-over in standard native English. These interactive stories offer colourful pages with delicate movements and animations, allowing children to discover sounds and noises, like Thomas’s whistle, Bertie’s horn and so much more. 2. THOMAS & FRIENDS™ VIDEOS: The app also houses a safe library of AD-FREE Thomas & Friends™ video content. These just-for-fun videos and educational content are available for curious minds online or can be downloaded for off-line times such as travelling. 3. CREATIVE DRAWING WITH THOMAS & FRIENDS™ STICKERS: Future artists will never be caught without a canvas and a way to express themselves, thanks to the Thomas & Friends™: Read & Play app. Let your child draw whenever and wherever with a jampacked virtual tool box of pencils, coloured pens, paints and chalk to create fun colourful

To ensure each child remains engaged with Thomas & Friends™, subscribers can enjoy weekly updates of new content. New books and activities will be added at no extra cost every week, providing an ever-dynamic and exciting place for children to explore. readandplay

big day out

Pearl harbour

Rory Mackay heads to Plover Cove Reservoir, Tolo Harbour and beyond.


The tranquil waters of Plover Cove reservoir - it was constructed in the 1960s following disputes with China over water supply to the territory.

f you fancy exploring a natural world that most folk don’t know about within Hong Kong, then a day trip to Plover Cove Reservoir might be in order. The area is easily accessible via public transport and totally worth the effort to reach. Nestled amongst rolling hills, it’s the gateway to the eastern expanses of Tolo Harbour and Double Haven. Begin the trail at Tai Mei Tuk and venture out into the wilds of northeastern Hong Kong to discover hidden gems. Once there, you certainly won’t be in a rush to leave. Take the MTR to Tai Po Market, then catch a bus (either the 20C minibus or 75K KMB bus) or grab a taxi to Tai Mei Tuk. Make your way towards the water sports centre and continue up the small road until you reach the lake. Soon, you’ll be greeted by the sight of Plover Cove Reservoir’s dramatic two-kilometre dam wall. Plover Cove was the world’s first ‘at sea level’ freshwater reservoir, its construction began back in 1960 amid disputes with China over Hong Kong’s water supply. Walking the dam wall is usually a relaxing experience of solitude and tranquillity, as you gaze across the dazzling waters of Tolo Harbour. Tolo Harbour was the heart of Hong Kong’s once thriving pearl industry. It is understood that pearls were first collected here, as an imperial monopoly, as far back


as the Tang dynasty. The industry continued intermittently until the early stages of the Ming Dynasty, when the imperial monopoly ended due to exhaustion of the beds. Gathering oysters from the seabed was dangerous and cost many lives. The pearl fisher was tied to a weighted rope, lowered from the boat into the sea and left there to collect oysters until the boatmen pulled him back up. During the mid-1950s, the Japanese invested in pearl farms in Tolo Harbour and Long Harbour, rearing various kinds of clams and sea snails. There were four pearl farms in total, located in Sham Chung, Lo Fu Wat, Ngau To Wan and Fu Long Wat. On a weekday or public holiday, the promenade is abuzz with folk enjoying the outdoors in various ways, be it windsurfing and kitesurfing out on the water, or casting a line from shore in the hope of landing a fish. Watch out for manic cyclists and kite flyers too! Once at the far end of the dam wall you will arrive at a small island in the middle of the harbour. Turn left and continue through the gate. Now you can leave the cyclists and most others behind and venture into the heart of the route. Keep the calm turquoise waters of the reservoir on your left and the darker more rugged seas on your right, as you follow the twisting and turning road around scenic nooks before traversing a few smaller concrete dams. After this the hiking

trail begins in earnest, rising and dropping many times over small hills, each one more dramatic than the last. It’s up to you how far you wish to venture before turning back. For intrepid types who wish to do the entire circuit around Plover Cove Reservoir or venture towards Double Haven, the trail over the hills to Wu Kau Tang or Double Haven is fulfilling but requires a full day of hiking. The approaching winter months lend themselves to undertaking such distances, but make sure you are thoroughly prepared. I recommend beginning at Wu Kau Tang instead of Tai Mei Tuk. An infrequent but reliable minibus service (20R) runs there from Tai Po Market MTR. This way, if you are circumnavigating the lake, it is nice to finish at Tai Mei Tuk where there are plenty of amenities and transport options. Rory Mackay runs adventure company Wild Hong Kong. For details, visit 73


Skiing Chile

Alejandra Gyngell and her family flew to Santiago for a snowy adventure.



It’s so dry in the Andes that even after a few days with no new falls there is still powder in the huge back-country. - mum-of-two Alejandra Gyngell


am Chilean, my husband is Australian, my children - Seb and Xavier - were born in London and we’re currently enjoying life in Hong Kong, which makes us, like most expat families, a bit of a mixed bunch. I try and get back to my homeland whenever I can, and a ski trip last July seemed like a great opportunity, especially as being in the southern hemisphere it meant escaping the steamy Hong Kong summer for a couple of weeks. Skiing in Chile is unique and it’s great to get a different experience from European and Japanese resorts. It’s also the only place I have ever skied where we’re the only native English speakers - almost every other guest was from Argentina or Brazil. The Chilean ski season runs from mid-June and can go until mid-October. Generally, the best time for dry powder is July, August and up until the second week in September. It’s broadly the same season as Australia - but with much less chance of skiing on grass and tree-stumps. Chile is, literally, the exact other side of the world to Hong Kong. There is no quick route, but the best way we’ve found to do it is to stop over in Sydney (a flight of around eight hours), and then take the fifteen hour flight across the Pacific. Both Qantas and Lan Chile fly from Sydney to Santiago, with Lan stopping over in Auckland. I would advise staying for a couple of nights in Santiago. It’s a fantastic city - very modern and one of the most cosmopolitan in Latin America. Once there, the ski-fields are very close to the city at just an hour’s drive up into the Andes from the centre of Santiago. The drive itself can be hair-raising and it’s well worth hiring a professional transfer for ease of mind. We used Ski Total ( who are one of the best, plus they also offer ski hire. We stayed in Valle Nevado, which is the biggest and best known resort in Chile. It’s part of the Tres Valles (Three Valleys) along with neighbouring ski resorts La Parva and El Colorado. Within Valle Nevado, there are a number of accommodation options, including three hotels (Hotel Valle, Hotel Puerta del Sol and Hotel Tres Puntas) as well as many serviced apartments. There are other ski resorts in Chile, including the famous (and expensive) Portillo resort. We opted for Valle Nevado because of its convenience from Santiago, its English speaking instructors and the large ski terrain (it’s the biggest in South America). 75


Sunrise over the Andes on day one (left); the boys hit the slopes.

Our accommodation was a two bedroom serviced apartment, which was a five to seven minute walk to the children’s ski school and slopes, close to the restaurant and, importantly, very near the bar. There is a small food shop as well although it is worth stocking up for the week in Santiago as resort prices can add up. We stayed for seven nights, skiing most days. The weather was amazing, either snowing or bright blue skies. There is not a huge amount

Watching the sun rise over the Andes on our first morning was absolutely breathtaking. of other activities to do in the resort, but the combination of jet-lag and the high altitude meant that we were asleep by 9pm most nights anyway. Valle Nevado Ski School provides private and group classes (ski and snowboarding) from beginners to experienced. There are plenty of very good English speaking instructors, including a number of Europeans there on summer holidays. The ski-school is by the restaurants and bar so you can have a drink while watching the kids swoosh past. The snow is outstanding. It is so dry in the Andes that even after a few days of no snow there is powder in the huge back-country and the groomers do a great job on the slopes. Piste grading is the same as the US, 76

Xavier (left) and older brother Seb take a break on the mountains.

with green beginner slopes, red and blue intermediate and black for experts. The resort doesn’t have a huge amount of expert terrain by US or European standards, but it is a perfect resort for beginners and intermediates. It is all above the tree line and there are rarely queues for the lifts. We took snowboards with us, but there are plenty of cheap hire places, either in Santiago (which is cheaper) or on the slopes. Many retailers have outlets in the resort. Highlights of the trip included watching the sun rise across the Andes on the first morning, which was absolutely breathtaking. Banging down an empty slope from nearly 4,000 metres with the tunes turned up loud will also live in my memory, as will watching the boys master their first jumps on the snowboards. In terms of apres ski, there are a number of food options from a couple of high-end

restaurants at the hotel, to take-away and bar food. We ate regularly at La Lenera, which served simple meals and sandwiches in a cozy and lively atmosphere. The mid-station bar, Bajo Zero, was also quite cool - sitting out on the deck enjoying a beer or a pisco sour while enjoying one of the best views in the world was unforgettable.

How they did it The family flew Qantas Airways to Santiago, with a stop in Sydney - Transfer from Santiago to the ski resort was made with Ski Total - The children skied with Valle Nevado ski school - They stayed in an apartment serviced by Valle Nevado - or 77



Kids Name Labels, Gifts & More


To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.


To advertise, email or call 2776 2772. 79

flailing spouse

losing my mind Christmas is over and it’s back to normal for our frustrated mum.


he joy of Christmas has been swiftly replaced by gritted teeth and deep sighs as family life reverts back to chaotic normality and, as usual, half of my possessions appear to be missing. Waking up on a bright Saturday morning I bounce out of bed thinking I’ll go for an invigorating run. Running shorts, top and sports socks are all neatly in place - but no trainers. It transpires my running shoes - specially sourced from the only sporting goods shop in Hong Kong that stocks my size - have vanished. Cue much gnashing of teeth. Having interrogated the family, it turns out they’re somewhere in Mid-levels on a sleepover with the Teen Child. Ditto my running water bottle. Meanwhile my i-phone case is apparently on my husband’s desk at work - but hey, he needed it for those lunchtime gym sessions. Ok, so the run is out; I head for the shower instead. But lo and behold, I step into the bathroom to discover... my special little bottle of extremely expensive shampoo (sleek bobs on Western heads come at a heavy price in steamy Asia) has disappeared. More gritted teeth. “Oh,” volunteers the Boy Child a few minutes later after the house has stopped reverberating to the sound of my frustrated screams. “I think it’s in China.” It turns out the Tween Child couldn’t find a suitably small “travel” bottle of shampoo while packing for a soccer tour of Guangzhou at the beginning of the week and so purloined my small bottle for lack of anything more convenient. I resign myself to dirty hair until the Tween Child returns the following day. At least the grease should keep the frizz at bay. And to my delight, as I re-enter the bedroom I find the Blonde Child spreadeagled on my bed with a colouring book - no minecraft, no pokemon, just a simple packet of felt tip pens, a pair of scissors and - oh god. A hole in my snowy white, hotel quality duvet cover. “Oops, sorry mum!” she smiles winningly. “I was trying to cut out a mask.” 80

Our columnist is a long suffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third culture children. She lives in Hong Kong.

Gritted teeth. Deep breath. Fine. No problem. The twelve year old is in school wearing my diamond earrings.

More deep breaths. Oh well, no problem. I can just hop right back onto the website of that extremely expensive Londonbased department store that actually stocks the sheet sizes we need (who knew our Indonesian bed frame wouldn’t fit Scandinavian bedding?) and ship a load more linen halfway around the world. Actually the pinnacle of the “oh, let’s just help ourselves to mum’s stuff” movement was reached earlier this year when the Tween Child had to make a presentation about the life of Princess Diana, dressed in costume. As I congratulated her afterwards, I noticed sparkling earrings glinting in her little lobes. “Are those new, darling?” I enquired. “Nah,” she rejoined. “I couldn’t find those ones you got me from M&S so I borrowed these - they were on your dressing table,” she added helpfully. Gritted teeth. Deep breath. Fine. No problem. The twelve year old is in school wearing my diamond wedding earrings. But as it turns out I might be eating humble pie by tea-time. The Teen Child has just asked if I’ve seen her Kylie Jenner lip gloss. And suddenly it dawns on me - having sworn I would not be lining a good-for-nothing celebrity’s bank account with her father’s hard-earned cash (to be honest I’m still not absolutely sure who Kylie Jenner is, but would of course never admit that to the children), in a moment of weakness I relented. And as it turned out, the lip kit was actually quite good, and just my colour (although it does have quite worrying “staying” power and requires sort of “chipping off” the following morning), so I might have popped it into my bag last week when I was meeting friends in Soho. “Sorry,” I mumble to the Teen Child. “I’ll see if I can find it.” “That’s ok mum,” she smiles cheerfully. “I think it’s normal to start losing stuff when you’re old.” Ouch. 81


Expat Parent Jan 2017  
Expat Parent Jan 2017