Expat Parent Nov 2017

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the really useful magazine expat-parent.com

November 2017

Granny on the grapevine

Coping with long-distance relationships

Gallic grace

Second-home style in rural Burgundy

Desert island bliss How to rent your own island

Don’t ‘Ming miss our le CHAR & Jingle’ ITY R LUNCHEADER on No v 30!

Hong Kong & the great outdoors

Family fun this autumn

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Editor’s letter


School news

Christmas is coming

That’s cricket

4 Contributors


Open day

Meet the team


What’s on

Getting to grips with the great outdoors

Poppies and parties


Christmas Fairs

Tear it out, pin it to your fridge


Things you need to know

Goings on this month

18 Giveaways

Loads of free stuff


Debate of the month

Two sides to everything


My Hong Kong

Art in the ‘Pun


Book review

Literary Festival must-sees


The big interview

Setting up The Punjab Club


Modern family

Keeping up with the relatives

Life & style

French fields


Things we’d buy

French fields

58 Travel


14 News




Desert island dreams


Flailing spouse

Running woman


34 Cover story

Big days out


Scan and visit our website expat-parent.com


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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Publisher Tom Hilditch tom@hongkongliving.com

Editorial editorial@hongkongliving.com Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel

Editor Carolynne Dear

Editor Eric Ho

Editorial Assistant Catharina Cheung

Editorial Intern Jennifer Lee

Design cindy@hongkongliving.com Design Manager Cindy Suen

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing talk@hongkongliving.com


fter an incredibly hot October, finally some cooler weather has begun to blow in. I’ve already taken advantage of the kinder conditions to complete a stunning hike along Sai Kung’s Maclehose trail, with second-to-none views over Sai Kung and the ocean on one side and the rolling mountains stretching towards Ma On Shan on the other. In a couple of weeks the trail will be swarming with hikers for the annual Oxfam TrailWalker event, for more details see page 12. Along with the cooler weather, ‘granny season’ has also blown in. Our visiting great uncle was also rendered speechless by all that Hong Kong has to offer. With a couple of business trips here under his belt during the ‘90s, he held the typical tourist assumption that Hong Kong is nothing but shopping malls and high rise. He was happy to be proved wrong! With visitors in mind, we have had a lot of fun this month putting together a family-friendly, insiders’ guide to the territory. Alongside the usual tourist favourites (nobody escapes Stanley markets or the Peak at this time of year!) we’ve also uncovered some great day-tripper ideas that don’t crop up in the usual tour guides. I am also extremely excited to announce the first Expat Parent reader event this month - a charity ‘mingle & jingle’ Christmas lunch on November 30. We would love to see you there, so get booking at hongkongliving.com/shop. Have a great month and embrace this fantastic time of year!

Sales and Marketing Executive Venus Man

Sales and Marketing Executive Kiran Hiranandani

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Digital cora@hongkongliving.com Digital Assistant Cora Chan

Accounting charles@hongkongliving.com Management Trainee Charles Lau

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living 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

about the cover A big thank you once again to our regular cover photographer, Hannah Grogan, who braved the heights of Hong Kong’s ‘other’ peak, Fei Nga Shan in the New Territories, to take this back-to-nature shot. Our models India and Maia did a great job in hot and windy conditions to bring a bit of Hong Kong’s fabulous backyard to our cover this month.

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Sales Director Hilda Chan

HONG KONG hongkongliving.com Expat Parent is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. 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.

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Jennifer S Deayton...

Marianne Rogerson…

Hannah Grogan…

...is a writer, editor and filmmaker. This month she explores how expat parents foster connections with extended family. Jennifer’s fiction and nonfiction projects have appeared in various literary magazines and regional anthologies. She currently enjoys introducing her daughters to Hong Kong gangster movies. You can find her work at hongkongbodega.com

...took one for the team this month reporting on south-east Asia’s private desert island resorts. As a family travel blogger, she has explored all over Asia, keeping her followers up to date with her family adventures. She lives in Stanley with her husband Dougie and two children, from where they enjoy forays out to dim sum restaurants and foot massage parlours. Keep up with her at mumonthemove.com

...snapped our cover shot this month. Hannah was previously managing editor at Hong Kong Living but now covers Hong Kong as a freelance writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in publications including the South China Morning Post , Squarefoot, and online magazine Honeycombers. View her work at hannahgrogan.com

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact editorial@hongkongliving.com

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what’s on

Remember, remember the fifth of November at the Maggie & Rose Big Bang BBQ, Nov 4


Freespace at Taikoo Place Freespace brings together local, regional and international artists to showcase art programmes ranging from shadow puppetry, contemporary dance, and immersive theatre productions, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, ticketflap.com/taikooplace


ART & DESIGN MARKET on Tour Art provider Xiko Art has curated a collection of Swedish designers for a week-long ‘popup’ in NoHo (North of Hollywood Road). Includes interior design, fashion, jewellery and homewares. The event was developed as a platform for small designers to reach new audiences and this is the first time the concept has travelled overseas. 1/F 10 Shin Hing Street, Central, artdesignmarketontour.com

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products. Free for under 12s, $10/adult, 3/F, Star Hall, KITEC, Kowloon Bay.

This year’s lineup features Ahmed Ahmed and Paul Ogata. The festival also includes a Comedy Competition, the finals of which will be on November 4. From $250, The TakeOut Comedy Club HK, 34 Elgin Street, Soho, hkcomedyfestival.com

NOV 3-12

Hong Kong International Comedy Festival 2017


Heritage Fiesta 2017 Fifteen historic buildings open up to the public with free guided tours on a first come first served basis. Free admission to all buildings, heritage.gov.hk

NOV 2-5

Mothercare Baby Expo Leading British baby products retailer introduces Mothercare 1st Baby Expo. Visit over 90 booths of baby and children’s

Hong Kong International Literary Festival A diverse lineup of writers, encompassing fiction, thrillers, poetry and live storytelling among others. Tickets to individual events and more details can be found at festival.org.hk

NOV 3 - DEC 10

Secret Theatre Project Mayhem After a series of sold-out shows last year, the Secret Theatre team is back for another round of immersive storytelling, engaging theatregoers as part of the set and story. Early-bird tickets from $850, ticketflap.com.


The Big Picnic Head over to Discover Bay for Hong Kong’s

tell me more

mum about town

Lamma Fun Day Nov 4

biggest community festival, with Kids Zone, stalls, bars, food stalls and live music. 10am-9.30pm, Tai Pak Beach, Discovery Bay, Lantau, thebigpicnic.com


Lamma Fun Day Bring the kids for fun and games, plus live music, bars, food stalls, arts and crafts adn a charity auction. Presented by Child Welfare Scheme and raising money for projects in Nepal. 11am-10pm, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island, cwshk.org


Big Bang BBQ Maggie & Rose will be hosting a ‘Guy Fawkes’ night in Hong Kong with a special BBQ. Kids and their parents are invited to come along and join in the fun, with fun activities and a rooftop BBQ of rosemary roasted lamb leg, plus British classics bangers and mash, bread and butter pudding and more. 7-10pm, tickets from $480 for non-members, 301 The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, info@maggieandrose.com.hk, hk.maggieandrose.com .


Hong Kong Spartan Race Comprising a 13km Spartan Super with up to 29 obstacles and a 6km Spartan Sprint with up to 23 obstacles. Kids Race categories have distances split by age group. Tickets from $480, spectator tickets $50. Kam Tin Country Club, Shui Tau Road, Yuen Long, spartanrace.hk

NOV 4-16

Sai Kung and Beyond exhibition Featuring three locally based artists with a shared interest in depicting and preserving in art the traditions and heritage unique to Hong Kong. Opening night 6-8.30pm, November 4; gallery hours 12-4pm each day except Wednesdays. H Studio Gallery, 1/1 Wan King Path, Sai Kung.

NOV 1-5

Haitong International Hong Kong Open Windsurfing Championships Come and enjoy Hong Kong’s largest annual windsurfing competition. Public viewing from Stanley Main Beach as the competitors splash it

The big blue as photographed by Sammy Jane Freeman

Mingling and jingling Obviously I’m not going to miss the Christmas event of the season the Expat Parent Christmas Charity Reader Lunch on November 30. It’s been put together for all of you loyal readers to come along for an afternoon of fun, food and fabulous prizes. A big thank you to those fine dining experts Castelo Concepts, who are hosting us at their brand new gaff, Mr Wolf on Queen’s Road Central. A heap of local businesses have also stepped up with some gorgeous prizes which means all of the proceeds from our lucky door prizes can go straight to local charity, Box of Hope. Tables are selling fast, so grab some friends and get booking now at hongkongliving.com/shop Tickets are $550/head, or $500/head if you’re booking a table of six or eight, and include goodie bag, threecourse lunch, bubbles and wine. See you there!

Horses and heels Giddy up - it’s that time of year again! The Aussies of Hong Kong will be out in force on November 7 to celebrate the ‘race that stops a nation’, Melbourne Cup. A number of venues across town are offering some great lunch events, including the Australian Association (10.30am7.30pm, Forecourt & 3/F The Millions Stand & Outdoor Terrace, Happy Valley Race Course, ozhongkong.com); Oolaa (11am-3pm, Oolaa, 1 Bridges Street, Central, casteloconcepts.com); Aberdeen Marina Club with Farmers Market and Angels for Orphans (10am-2pm, 8 Shum Wan Road, Wong Chuk Hang, farmersmarket.com.hk); and Butcher & Baker (kid-friendly, 55 Cadogan Street, Kennedy Town, casteloconcepts.com). All venues promise a jolly good time for all, with plenty of bubbles, food and entertainment.

Art night (pictured above) Local photographer Sammy Jane Freeman will be holding a solo photography exhibition opening in Sai Kung on November 25. A former student of ESF King George V School, Freeman trained in New York and has since been travelling the world building an extensive portfolio of surfing photography - well, somebody’s got to do it. Totally living the dream, she has so far touched down in California, South Africa, Bali and Australia, although this exhibition will focus on Hong Kong. Opening night, 6-8.30pm, Nov 25; exhibition 12-4pm (closed Wed), Nov 25-30, H Studio, 1/1 Wan King Path, Sai Kung, sammyfreeman@live.com expat-parent.com 7

what’s on

Family fun at Clockenflap Nov 17-19

out in Tai Tan Bay. On the last day of the competition, Hong Kong Sea School is hosting a windsurfing party with a windsurfing virtual reality game, free ice lollies, face painting and bouncy castle. 10am-3pm, Hong Kong Sea School, 13-15 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley (next to Stanley Main Beach).

is back for its 10th run. This year’s starstudded lineup features Massive Attack, The Prodigy, MØ, Temples and many more. Single-day passes start from $930, $1,940 for a three-day pass, student discounts available. Central Harbourfront, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central, clockenflap.com.

NOV 11

NOV 18

Poppies can be obtained on the streets of Hong Kong Island, 9am-12.15pm on Saturday Nov 11. There will also be a charity booth inside Pacific Place opposite the walkway to Queensway. Proceeds to the Royal British Legion Hong Kong & China Branch.

Women’s Five combines yoga and running. Registration includes a five-week health and wellness program prior to the run and weekly training meetups. Entrance from $390, with discounts for teams, womensfive.com

NOV 12


Poppy Day

Remembrance Sunday

Women’s Five November Run

NOV 18-19

Curated shopping and art party for families.

Shop kidswear from birth to ten years, plus free art workshops and storytime hosted by artist-in-residence Serena Segadelli. The event is sponsored by Catch and KidsFest2018. Storytimes at 10am, 1pm and 4pm, 10am-6pm, Lighthouse Artists, 20B Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, facebook. com/kids+boutiques

NOV 30

The Art of Giving Children’s art exhibition featuring paintings by kids in Vietnam and Mongolia. Come and support the charity and enjoy canapes and holiday cheer. This event is sponsored by Hong Kong Art Space, little miss macarons, Christina Noble Foundation and Ganymede Ltd. 5-8pm, 3 Staunton Street, Central, hongkong@cncf.org

Lest we forget. A Remembrance Day Ceremony will be held at 11am, Cenotaph, Statue Square, Central.

NOV 12

SwimRun #1: Ma On Shan First of its kind in Hong Kong, SwimRun is a Swedish originated multiple-stage race which involves racers swimming and running across over a cross-country race course. The 7.5 kilometre race starts in Sai Kung at 8:30 am, tickets $320, raceresults.com.hk.

NOV 17-19

Clockenflap Hong Kong’s biggest music and arts festival SwimRun Nov 12

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BOOK NOW DEC 1-3 & 7-10

Aladdin The Panto Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet and Conrad Dy-Liacco

The Hong Kong Players are back (oh yes they are!) with more fun and terrible gags with their take on classic tale, Aladdin. This is an allsinging, all-dancing extravaganza suitable for the whole family, from toddlers through to granny. Expect glitzy costumes, men in tights, singing, dancing and a little bit of acting. After a couple of years on the road, the panto is also back at its usual venue of Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Wan Chai, ticket.urbtix.hk

Don’t miss The Nutcracker Dec 15-26

DEC 15-26

The Nutcracker Join Clara on her magical journey and root for the heroic Nutcracker as he battles the evil Rat King and enjoy Tchaikovsky’s iconic repertoire along the way, accompanied live by Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Matinée performance

at 2:30pm, evening performance at 7:30pm, tickets from $180 and aside from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, ticket holders can enjoy 15 per cent off in restaurants and bars at the InterContinental Hong Kong on the performance date. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre,

10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, hkballet.com

JAN 2018

KidsFest Hong Kong Loads of live entertainment for littlies including Hairy Maclary & Friends, The Gruffalo, Emily Brown & The Thing, Monstersaurus, Ugly

Duckling, I Believe In Unicorns, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, Lost & Found and What The Ladybird Heard. Performances take place over a five-week period at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tickets on sale now from hkticketing.com, more info at KidsFest.com.hk

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what’s on Christmas Markets and Fairs

Pu l & k l-out eep !

cosmetics, toys and homewares, and all proceeds go to local charities. $30, 10am5pm, Island School, 20 Borrett Road, Midlevels, jwa.org.hk

NOV 24-26

Swire Properties White Christmas Street Fair Fun and games at Star Street Precinct, Wan Chai, Noon-8pm (Nov 24), 1-7pm (Nov 25 & 26), facebook.com/ SwirePropertiesWhiteChristmasStreetFair

NOV 26

Discovery Bay Sunday Market Another chance to snap up homemade gifts from Hong Kong’s small traders. Arts, crafts, jewellery and gift ideas. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Main Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau, handmadehongkong.com

NOV 26

The Repulse Bay Christmas Fair

Fill those stockings at The Conrad


Shopping Hong Kong Bazaar The month kicks off with gift shopping at the American Club. If you’re not a member, email shoppinghongkong@ gmail.com to be added to the RSVP list, 10am-6pm, Vista Ballroom, The American Club, 28 Tai Tam Road, Tai Tam, shoppinghongkong.blogspot.hk


AWA Charity Bazaar Stuff those Chrissy stockings courtesy of the American Women’s Association, 11.30am7.30pm, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, awa.org.hk

NOV 12

Discovery Bay Sunday Market Keep it local and keep it homemade this Christmas with this market for small traders. Loads of arts, crafts, jewellery and gift ideas. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Main Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau, handmadehongkong.com 10 expat-parent.com

NOV 15

The Gift & Lifestyle Fair

The Prestige Fairs juggernaut continues with a second gift fair in its Christmas shopping series; expect everything under the sun and then some, 10am8pm, Grand Ballroom, The Conrad Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, prestigefairs.hk

NOV 18

Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar Give your Christmas a Scandi twist with food, decorations, clothing and games, plus live music and drinks by the pool. $50 on the door, 10am5pm, The Mariner’s Club, 3rd Floor, 11 Middle Road, TST, facebook.com/ ScandinavianChristmasBazaar

NOV 19

Jewish Women’s Association Charity Holiday Bazaar Shop clothing, shoes, accessories,

Shop decorations, children’s gifts, paintings, handicrafts, jewellery, home accessories and more, 11am-6pm, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, therepulsebay.com

NOV 27

The Pre-Christmas Gift Parade Another day, another Christmas bazaar, this is the third in the Prestige Fairs series. Don’t forget your shopping bags, 10am-8pm, Grand Ballroom, The Conrad Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, prestigefairs.hk

NOV 29

Shopping Hong Kong Fringe Club Holiday Bazaar Loads of great gift ideas with homewares, jewellery, toys and more. 12-7pm, G/F Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, shoppinghongkong. blogspot.com

NOV 30 - DEC 2

Swire Properties White Christmas Street Fair Come and join the Chrissy fun at Tai Koo Place, Noon-6pm (Nov 30), Noon8pm (Dec 1), 1-7pm (Dec 2), Tong Chung Street, Quarry Bay, facebook.com/ SwirePropertiesWhiteChristmasStreetFair

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things to know Trailwalker was established in 1981 by Brigadier Mervyn Lee as a training exercise for the British Army’s Queen’s Gurkha Signals.

Photo by Crowthower via Wiki Commons


Qu Cap een b s G adg urk e of ha Sig na ls


After handover, the Gurkha regiments were relocated to the UK and the event was organised over the South Downs in Sussex.


Civilian teams were invited to join in 1986 and Oxfam Hong Kong was asked to co-organise the event.


! are a w e B s re' ! The limit e tim

The Hong Kong event follows a 100km course along the Maclehose Trail, starting at Sai Kung Country Park, with a time limit of 48 hours.

48 hr

Things you need to know Oxfam Trailwalker Following months of preparation, teams hit the trail on November 17 this year


This year, for the first time, a group of Filipino domestic helpers will be taking up the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Sunny Lee

tiful the trail offers beau d an Isl views over High Reservoir

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Each team must have four members who are required to cross all checkpoints and finish together. Only one is allowed to retire during the race.

At last year’s event, the winners were a group of Nepalese soldiers who romped home in 11 hours, one minute.

Photo by RT


There are 15 Trailwalker events in 11 countries.

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Gig workers stripped bare Co-working specialist naked Hub has opened a second Hong Kong venue in Sai Ying Pun. The slick, light-filled space accommodates 300 people across four floors, from hot desks to private offices. The New Street Hub also offers a street-level outdoor terrace, coffee bar, multifunction room and naked Gallery which doubles as a yoga studio and event space as well as offering exhibition wallspace to local artists. There is even a ping pong table to get those creative juices flowing. naked Hub, G/F-3/F, 5-13 New Street, Sai Ying Pun, nakedhub.com

Turkish style Interiors specialist Abbey Hall has taken the classic ottoman and given it a new lease of life for space-tight Hong Kong homes. “A consistent theme in Hong Kong is limited space,” said Hall. “So having a piece of furniture that doubles in functionality is paramount. The ottoman can have plenty of uses, from a petit school at a study desk or vanity, a coffee table equivalent with a gorgeous tray, or additional seating for extra guests.” The ottomans come in a range of incarnations, including footstools and side tables. Standouts include The Diva, which

Meet the ottomans with The Hallmark

boasts a ribbed velvet body and comes in ‘Grand’ or ‘Petit’, The Donald which can be customised in plain or pattern fabric, and The Duchess, which has a brushed brass or rose gold base and soft cotton velvet fabric available in six colours. Hall will be launching a series of intimate ‘Meet The Ottomans’ pop-ups across Hong Kong where she will be on hand for a mini interior consultation and advice on space, styling, fabrics and colours. The current series is available for pre-order at hallmarkinteriorshk.com - prices start at $2,200.

Party time! Announcing the Christmas event of the season - the Expat Parent ‘Mingle & Jingle’ Christmas Charity Reader Lunch on November 30! This is an open invitation to you, our readers, to come along, let your hair down and enjoy a glass of bubbles and a threecourse lunch. We’re very lucky to have the support of those fine dining experts Castelo Concepts, who are hosting us at their brand new gaff, Mr Wolf on Queen’s Road Central, as well as Jebsen Fine Wines which is endeavouring to keep us topped up with bubbles for the afternoon. 14 expat-parent.com

A heap of local businesses have also stepped up with some gorgeous prizes - think handcrafted leather bags, prints, jewellery, restaurant vouchers and more - which means all the proceeds from our lucky door prizes can go straight to local charity, Box of Hope. Tables are selling fast, so grab some friends and get booking now at hongkongliving.com/shop Tickets are $550/head, or $500/head if you’re booking a table of six or eight, and include goodie bag, three-course lunch, bubbles and wine. See you there!

The naked Hub management team


Lolly launch in Pacific Place

Sweet sensations in Pacific Place

Confectionery store The BonBonist has opened in Admiralty-based shopping mall, Pacific Place. Hoping to entice the ‘inner child’ in customers, French curator of the BonBonist, Olivia Niddam, boasts no less than ten years of expertise in the sweetie world. “The idea behind The BonBonist is to enliven our senses - after all, the pleasure of the senses is what drives us in life and gives us happiness,” she said. The range of 70 selections of sweets and chocolates has been sourced from Europe. Customers can mix and match three or eight crystal cubes holding a variety a bonbon variety of their choice into a customised sweet box. These can then be personalised further with a choice of ribbons and stickers at the ‘gift-wrapping station’. 10.30am-8.30pm, Shop 200E, Lvl 2, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, thebonbonist.com


Kids art workshop launches at PMQ Local charity the Lizzie Bee Foundation is launching craft workshops for kids from a brand new, permanent space at PMQ in Central. The foundation has been championing art projects in Hong Kong over the last seven years, as a means to bring people together and enrich communities, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds. Bizzie Bee focuses on sales of DIY craft kits and hosting workshops, which both provides jobs for young men and

Cake bake dates in Wong Chuk Hang Mother-and-son enterprise Baking Maniac has opened its first venue in Wong Chuk Hang. Baking Maniac was founded by Ankrish and Renuka Gidwani when Ankrish was just 12. A passionate baker, the opening follows the

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women with learning difficulties and boosts funds for the foundation. “The new studio provides us with a dedicated workspace where we can host workshops and events for kids, while providing valuable employment opportunities for the overlooked in the local community,” said founder and executive director Liz AvernBriers. “We noticed (in Hong Kong) a lack of quality creative workshops for kids in general,

completion of his university studies earlier this year and fulfils his long-harboured dream of opening his own cake shop. The venue’s 1800-square-foot space consists of a commercial kitchen and a multi-purpose event and dining space that will be available for parties, classes and corporate events. The Gidwanis hope to host baking and cake/ cupcake/cookie decorating classes and birthday parties. They also plan to rent the space out for private dining with ten per cent of total proceeds donated to local charities.

not just those who are underprivileged.” The DIY craft kits can be completed by children independently, in groups or with the help of an adult. “They are educational, creative and fun and are designed to help children develop their imagination… and express their individuality,” said Avern-Briers. Find out more at bizziebee.org

Cupcake heaven

The shop is located at 5C, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, bakingmaniac.me

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giveaways WIN HERE! Click the Giveaways tab on our website: expat-parent.com

Bayard Children’s Magazines


Get your kids hooked on reading! Bayard Presse Asia is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Hong Kong this year! To celebrate, we are giving away three 12-month subscriptions, valued at nearly $600 each, to one of their fabulous children’s magazines. Your children can choose from Bayard’s StoryBox (3-6 years), Adventure Box (6-10 years) or Discovery Box (9-12 years) series. The magazines are filled with illustrated stories, articles about nature and history; games and fun

activities and more—all specially designed and crafted to suit different age groups’ needs.

Hong Kong Yachting

Instant contouring at The Ritz Carlton

Are you looking for something new and interesting to do in Hong Kong? Join Hong Kong Yachting’s Container Boat Trip for a great day with family and friends and a rare opportunity to get a closer look at the port action. After the port tour, the yacht will anchor at a beach for a BBQ lunch before stopping at the Ma Wan deserted village, where you’ll get to stroll through the village and get a taste of the old Hong Kong. We’re giving away a pair of vouchers to one lucky winner, valued at $1,800 in total. Each voucher includes a boat trip, BBQ lunch and free flow drinks.

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Enjoy a 90-minute pampering experience at The Ritz Carlton. The Ultimate Turnaround uses ultrasonic peeling to revitalize and cleanse the skin, leaving a brighter and smoother complexion. A special wrinkle comb is applied to target fine lines and trigger tissue repair for skin healing. This is followed by jowl-lifting, an eye treatment and a facial to lift, firm and tone sagging skin. The experience is wrapped up with a comforting face massage which stimulates circulation and lymphatic drainage, giving you a smoother appearance and instant contouring. We are giving away a Ultimate Turnaround experience to one lucky winner, valued at $2,880!

Experience Hong Kong Island from above and beyond! In this 15-minute helicopter trip, you’ll get to fly across Hong Kong Island with a view of the famous Victoria Harbour skyline like you’ve never seen before. Then the helicopter will take you down and around the beaches and bays of the Southside. We’re giving away a single-seat Hong Kong Island Experience voucher, valued at $1,999.


Younibody is a one-stop holistic health lab that provides Bioresonance health assessment and therapy that can regulate and detox your body. Bioresonance therapy is recommended in particular for children and people suffering from allergies, eczema and attention deficit disorders (ADD). It’s noninvasive and safe for children. We are giving away a free kids’ allergy assessment program which includes one assessment plus two therapy sessions, valued at $3,280!

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debate of the month

Family ties

How do you navigate long-distance comms with tech-wary grandparents? “I knew a lady here who Skyped her grandchildren every Monday in the US. When she went to visit one summer, the kids were told grandma was coming and they ran straight to the computer. There were completely fooled when she appeared in real-life!” Debra

My mother-in-law always sends little postcards and notes to the kids, which is lovely. Lily “When I’m home in Hong Kong, I video-call my daughter in London every day, either on Messenger or WhatsApp. It means I also get to see my gorgeous, clever and naughty granddaughter!” Sandra

I’m desperately trying to get my parents onto WhatsApp! I think we’re getting there, Anna “We have dinner every Sunday and my in-laws join us via Skype - whilst eating their breakfast in Spain. We also have a family WhatsApp group called Granny Updates, as between us we’re based in Hong Kong, Spain, Moscow, Ireland and the UK. The other grandparents are in Dubai.” Amanda “Facetime has been a game changer. Even the most tech-phobic in-laws have been able to figure it out.” Sarah

“We have weekly FaceTime with my technophobic 85-year-old mother-in-law. We have to text her first to remind her to turn on the ipad - and hope her mobile’s turned on too!” Niamh

My 77-year-old grandma checks her Instagram daily for my posts - along with all her @Britishmonarchy accounts! Chelsey “One set of grandparents turn their phone off to save power. So I use the VIBER app to call their landline from my mobile - it’s cheap as chips and suits them.” Melanie

We want to hear from you! Next month: Christmas lunch: Do you pander to fussy little eaters? Email your views to editorial@hongkongliving.com or go to expat-parent.com 20 expat-parent.com


Stamford American School Hong Kong to Host Bay McLaughlin as Global Mentor Stamford American School Hong Kong officially opened its doors this term, welcoming more than 350 students from Pre-Primary to Grade 7. The new school is located in Ho Man Tin, easily accessible to families living on Hong Kong Island, in the Kowloon area or the New Territories. Since opening Stamford has brought to life its vision for education which combines inquiry based learning with a standards based approach that fully integrates a progressive STEMinn program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Innovation). This program prepares students for tomorrow’s world by developing critical thinking, collaboration skills and the ability for a student to design and produce patent worthy work.

Stamford also wants to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by offering students opportunities to engage with leaders who are living the vision of “achieving more than you believe you can”. The Global Mentor program which is unique in Hong Kong but already an established part of Stamford’s sister school in Singapore allows students to meet and work with leaders in a variety of fields. Prior to opening in 2017, the students were introduced to a gymnastics world championships judge, a tech entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and a famed TV scientist. Stamford is excited to announce that on November 30th, Bay McLaughlin, the co-founder of Hong Kong’s own Brinc and founder of Apple’s Entrepreneurship

Evangelism channel, will be speaking to both students and teachers as the first global mentor of the first academic year. Bay is a perfect fit for Stamford due to his diverse tech experience and his enigmatic speaking presence. He brings a unique perspective on IoT (internet of things) hardware and startups and is sure to further ignite students’ passion for technology and entrepreneurship. The school will expand to offer Grade 8 in the next academic year and will eventually expand to Grade 12 culminating with IB diploma graduates. Until December 31st Stamford will be offering priority assessments for Grade 2 - Grade 8 applicants.

Website: sais.edu.hk/ Email: admissions@sais.edu.hk Tel: +852 2500 8688 Address: 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong expat-parent.com 21


My Hong Kong the artist Italian-born painter Florence Traissac tells Expat Parent why she’s inspired by Sai Ying Pun I arrived in Hong Kong just over five years ago. I originally came from Australia for personal reasons, but I ended up staying longer than intended. I live in Sai Ying Pun with my children Chloe and Noah and my Australian cat, Oscar. I love the area’s vibe, the mix of traditional and new and its proximity to great transport and things to do. There are so many little cafes and restaurants that I enjoy, the parks and public swimming pool - it’s so convenient. I love the juxtaposition of Hong Kong’s amenities, local markets backed up against big shopping malls. It’s changed a lot since I’ve been here and in a very short space of time. I graduated in art, graphic design and advertising in Paris and worked as a graphic designer before moving into fashion. I studied at both the Ateliers Met de Peninghen and later the Ecole de Communication Visuelle. I’ve done a lot of different jobs but my passion has always been drawing. I’ve drawn since I was a kid and it was the thing I really loved doing. But I didn’t study in this area as I didn’t think it would realistically become a paying job for me. The hardest thing is to believe in yourself, but once I did it all worked out and now I draw and paint for a living. It’s always stimulating arriving in a new place. After a while, you start to see things through different eyes. When I first arrived from Australia, the streets in Hong Kong spoke to me. There were so many stories to tell, it was like theatre for me, every corner held a little bit of magic. Some of my favourite artists include Klimt, Egon Schiele, John Singer Sargent, Fernand Leger, Bonnard, as well as the drawings by Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. At the moment I’m working on four separate client orders and also preparing for my next Hong Kong exhibition, which is being held this month at the Visual Art Centre. I have recently been Florence Traissac at work in her studio

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Traissac’s favourite canvas, Magic Night

contacted by a New York gallery which is incredibly exciting. Paris is also on the cards, so I have a busy year ahead in 2018. I will also be working on some new art wall projects around Hong Kong. When I’m not painting, I enjoy going to the beach and just spending time with my children and friends. Deepwater Bay is the easiest for us to reach, but we also enjoy a day out at Clearwater Bay. One of the best things about Hong Kong is being in the city but also having the beach and nature on your doorstep everything’s a reasonable distance. Being Italian born and bred, coffee is a pretty important part of my life. If I’m after a caffeine hit, I love the coffee shops on Peel, Hazel and Hershey Streets. Particular favourites include Barista Jam in Sheung Wan, Winston’s near Sai Ying Pun MTR on Queens

Road and The Cupping Room, also in Sheung Wan. My kids love eating at Pizzeria Italia on the High Street in Sai Ying Pun, it’s a small place but their pizza is one of the best in Hong Kong. But I also enjoy dining in the Tai Hang area - there are some charming restaurants and bars. Favourites include Kanamono and The Minimal. The Metropolitan in Sheung Wan does some great French food and I have also painted an art wall for them. This summer I went back to my parents summer house in Antibes, France. I’ve spent nearly all my summer holidays here since I was a child. It’s nice to go back to your roots and appreciate both what you had and what you have now. I miss the clear blue skies and the beautiful architecture. When I’m in France I also try and spend some time in Paris visiting friends from when I studied there and immersing my kids in French culture.

Don’t miss it Traissac will be exhibiting at the Visual Arts Centre, 7 Kennedy Road, Midlevels, on Nov 23-27. See facebook.com/ arteflo for details.

expat-parent.com 23

book review

Out this month The Crow Girl


The Snowman

City of Friends

Erik Axl Sund (Vintage)

Ali Smith (Penguin)

Jo Nesbo (Vintage)

Joanna Trollope (Pan MacMillan)

This Scandi crime novel opens with the discovery of a body hands bound, skin covered in marks. When two further bodies are discovered, it becomes clear Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is searching for a serial killer. Together with psychotherapist Sofia Zetterland, Kihlberg exposes a chain of shocking events that began decades ago. And so begins a race to catch the killer before somebody else dies.

Shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize, Autumn has been described by critics as “puckish, yet elegant, angry, but comforting,” - and as Britain’s first post-Brexit novel. Daniel is a century old and Elisabeth, born in 1984, has an eye on the future. The country is in pieces, divided by an historic, oncein-a-generation summer. This is the first in Smith’s Seasonal quartet of standalone novels exploring time - both what it is and how we experience it.

One snow-blanketed morning, a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He finds wet footprints on the stairs and in the garden looms a snowman bathed in cold moonlight and adorned with his mother’s pink scarf. Inspector Harry Hale is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier. Delving into the unsolved crimes file, Hale soon discovers an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Who is she, if not the city high-flyer, the partner at one of London’s top equity firms? As Grant reconciles her former professional life with a new one of long days at home with the dog and her ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to get home, she falls back on ‘the girls’, her two best friends from university days. But the women have problems of their own and their long cherished friendships will be pushed to the limits.

Foodie favourites

Ghost stories

With Christmas comes the latest slew of celebrity chef offerings

Tale of Abraham Lincoln scoops Man Booker

5 Ingredients (Penguin) is Jamie Oliver’s latest offering and it does exactly what it says on the tin - no recipe requires more than five ingredients. Because even the most creative and accomplished of family cooks amongst us have evenings when the shopping hasn’t been done or you’ve just run out of inspiration. Flicking through the inventive offerings, it’s actually quite incredible what you can do with just five items. Nigella Lawson has popped up after a two-year break with At My Table (Vintage). Writing for cosy dinners with family and friends, Lawson openly admits she is no fancy chef (she’s never even owned a set of professional knives), but what she does excel at is generously portioned ‘real’ food. Think comforting chicken dinners and gooey desserts, as well as more unusual dishes such as pork and prune casserole and Hake with peas, bacon and cider. Meanwhile BBC presenter Nigel Slater has entered the fray with The Christmas

Chronicles (HarperCollins), otherwise known as the story of Slater’s love for winter. With recipes, decorations, fables and fireside suppers, he wends his way through winter with tips for Christmas preparation and how to manage the leftovers. The book opens on November 1 and covers British celebration Bonfire Night through to New Year and Epiphany. Told in a warm, intimate style, it makes you want to sell up and move to the depths of the British countryside.

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury Publishing) has been announced as the winner of this year’s Man Booker prize for Fiction. This is Saunders’ first full length ‘experimental’ novel - he was previously a short story writer - and he is just the second American to win the prize in its 49-year history. The novel traces the story of Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, and the untimely death of his son, Willie. The boy is laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery where Abraham, shattered by grief, arrives under the cover of darkness two days later.

Winning author George Saunders (center)

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expat-parent.com 25

book review

Festival fun

Why Mummy Drinks

Hong Kong’s Literary Festival rolls into town this month. Here are the highlights

Gill Sims (Harper Collins)


If you’re looking for a light read and a bit of a laugh, Why Mummy Drinks is the book for you. Sims is the author of mummy blog and Facebook site ‘Peter and Jane’, which has garnered a cult following in the hundreds of thousands, and this is her first foray into novelwriting.

Photo by Rosanne Yu

Loosely based on her own home life, Sims follows a year-in-the-life of an ordinary, harassed mummy, her ‘gadget-twat’ husband and her two ‘precious moppets’, Peter and Jane.


Dinner with Ian Rankin British crime writer Ian Rankin’s works have sold more than 30 million copies, been adapted for television and radio, and earned him a place in the pantheon of great British mystery authors. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to enjoy an intimate dinner at Pomegranate private kitchen with Rankin as he discusses his indelible characters and celebrated career. 7:30-10:30pm, Pomegranate Kitchen, $1,200, including dinner and wine.


20 Years of Hong Kong Verse Local poets Louise Ho, Nicholas Wong, Michael O’Sullivan and Chris Song join moderator Tammy Ho Lai-Ming for a discussion of Hong Kong poetry in the 20 years since the handover. What is Hong Kong poetry? Who is writing it? What’s it about? How can poets and readers cross the Chinese/English language boundary in verse? 12:30-1:30pm, naked Hub, $100.


A Hong Kong Crime Scene In The Borrowed, we follow Hong Kong detective Kwan Chun-dok across several decades, from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre to the 1997 handover, and to the present day when Kwan is asked to solve his final case—the murder of a local billionaire. Chan talks to Albert Tam about his career and what makes Hong Kong a compelling setting for crime fiction. 2-3pm, naked Hub, $100.

NOV 5 30 Years of Rebus with Ian Rankin Ian Rankin in conversation with Stephen Vines to 26 expat-parent.com

talk about his career, his latest book, Rather Be the Devil, and what the future holds for his wellknown character, Rebus. 4-5pm, Wang Gungwu Theatre, Graduate House, University of Hong Kong. $125.


Amy Tan: Where the Past Begins Published this autumn, Where the Past Begins offers a composite portrait of Tan woven from long-forgotten memories and boxes of journals, letters and other family memorabilia. Duncan Clark leads the author in a conversation about her life as a writer. 7-8:30pm, Wang Gungwu Theatre, Graduate House, University of Hong Kong, $125.


Xu Xi: From Fiction to Nonfiction Often described as a “transnational” or “thirdculture” author, Xu Xi—Indonesian-Chinese, HK-raised, US-educated—writes with first-hand knowledge of the insider-outsider’s experience in Hong Kong. Here, she talks about her two most recent works Dear Hong Kong, and Interruptions. 6:30-7:30pm, Upstairs, Fringe Club, $100.


Madeleine Thien: Do Not Say We Have Nothing Thien’s acclaimed novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing follows three talented musicians who meet at the Shanghai Music Conservatory in the early 1960s, just as the stormclouds of the Cultural Revolution are gathering on the horizon. Thien speaks with Melanie Ho about her novel and about writing history’s grand tragedies on an intimate scale. 8-9pm, Upstairs, Fringe Club, $100.

But behind the veneer of middle-class sophistication is a mummy-duck frantically paddling to keep up with family life. And when her new-age sister-in-law from hell descends with her brood of six free-range, vegan, gluten-free children for Christmas, all chaos is let loose. “There is not enough wine in the world,” mummy wisely opines. While the book is set firmly in the provincial, Waitrose-dominated shires of ‘sensible’ England, the tale is one that exhausted mums everywhere will be able to relate to. Whether you’re on Sydney’s North Shore, in Manhattan’s Upper East district, or on Hong Kong’s Southside, you will understand the struggles of a middle-aged mother (who was once a groovy young twenty-something) and who is now trying desperately trying to keep up appearances - whilst avoiding the lycra-clad ‘coven’ at the school gate and falling into the ‘nice’ yummy mummy trap of book clubs, yoga and boasting about your children’s achievements. As the promotional blurb says, it’s honest, it’s funny - and it’s just a little bit sweary. See expat-parent.com for a full author interview.


Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson Much-loved British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy reads from her collected poems, comprising works from The World’s Wife, Rapture and The Bees, whilst Sampson plays an array of fascinating period and modern instruments. 7-8pm, Upstairs, Fringe Club, $125.

NOV 12

Antony Dapiran: City of Protest Join Hong Kong-based lawyer and writer Antony Dapiran for an in-depth conversation on his book, City of Protest, which illuminates the cultural and structural forces behind Hong Kong’s public protests, placing 2014’s Occupy Movement and 2016’s “Fishball Riots” in Mong Kok in a broader historical context. 12:30-1pm, Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, $100. For more information and to book tickets, visit festival.org.hk

expat-parent.com 27

THE big interview

Tales of the tandor From Lan Kwai Fong to Lahore, restaurateur Syed Asim Hussain tells Carolynne Dear how his expat childhood inspired his latest project, The Punjab Club


lack Sheep Restaurant group has more on its plate than usual. Dashing between a new opening in Wan Chai and brand new joint The Punjab Club on Wyndham Street, company co-founder Sayed Assim Hussain is a man with quite a few missions - and slightly out of breath. “Hi,” he smiles, grabbing a water and sliding into a seat at the far end of his latest Soho eatery. “Welcome to The Punjab Club.” This is the 15th, or 16th restaurant - depending on how you place the two newbies, the Wan Chai venue being Italian-influenced Osteria Marzia - to be opened by the group in five years. A Hong Konger born and bred, Hussain spent a fair chunk of his childhood embroiled in Hong Kong’s fickle food scene. His father, Syed Pervez Hussain, owned The Mughal Room in the 1980s and the Hussain children were kept closely involved in the family business. “We spent all of our summers running chores for dad and the restaurant,” laughs Hussain. “I remember calling dad from my boarding school in Lahore one year and asking if I could go abroad for a cricket camp in the UK for the summer, and he replied ‘what do you mean abroad? You are abroad, you’ll be coming home to Hong Kong as usual’. “One year we spent the entire summer holidays as a sort of “cleaning crew”, we had to scrub toilets, help the dishwashers, push rubbish carts from Wyndham Street to the garbage depot in Lan Kwai Fong - and wash down the kitchens. We saw parts of Hong Kong other kids knew nothing about.” Fond memories now, Hussain admits he possibly resented the work at the time, but says it laid foundations that grew into a passion for the restaurant business. Food has been a strong thread woven through Hussain’s family history from when his family first arrived in Hong Kong over 100 years ago. The family’s home in the Punjab was at that time part of the British Raj, and many soldiers - particularly soldiers from the Punjabi Regiment - were sent across to Hong Kong, another part of the sprawling British Empire. Indeed around 2,700 Indian soldiers were

28 expat-parent.com

Syed Asim Hussain atThe Punjab Club

present at Britain’s takeover of Hong Kong in 1841 and troops were continually transported to and fro until Indian independence in 1947. Hussain’s own great-grandfather ran the army canteens at the former barracks in Wan Chai. The family is originally from Lahore, which was the capital of unified Punjab and now the capital of modern-day Pakistan, and this is the story Hussain hopes to tell in his latest restaurant, the story of unified Punjab. Today the area is split into two, east Punjab is

modern-day India and the west lies in Pakistan. “But if you ask a Punjabi where they’re from, they’ll say Punjab first, India or Pakistan second. So it’s a beautiful story.” Hussain describes his own father as “a very bad restaurateur back in ‘80s Hong Kong”. “Yeah, we don’t talk about it any more!” he laughs. “You know, he was the cliched Indian restaurant owner of that decade - he jokes now about not knowing what was going

THE big interview on, but in truth he knew exactly what was happening, from staff machinations down to how many prawns he had ready for the following morning’s service. Restaurants at that time I would say were built out of scarcity, today they’re created out of abundance.” Hussain started in the business young - he can remember trips to the wet market aged five - but at age six he was packed off to boarding school in Lahore. “Yeah, it sounds a bit young now. But you know, it was fine, I went with my brother who was seven at the time. It was a very prestigious school (Aitchison College, ex-pupils include cricketing legend and former Pakistani president Imran Khan) and I have some great memories. Dad didn’t want us to lose our connection with Pakistan. He was Hong Kong born and bred, to the point where his Cantonese is better than his Urdu. He wanted us to have roots in our homeland.” School memories include regular weekly forays into the world outside of the school gates. “I used to run away every Thursday night,” he laughs. “There’s an ancient road called the Grand Trunk Road that links Pakistan with India and runs just past the school. It had excellent dhabas (roadside restaurants) and I used to sneak out of school, stuff myself silly and then sleep it off overnight in a motel. A lot of the food on the menu here has been inspired by that time.” The boys would travel back to Hong Kong every summer, times which Hussain describes as a love hate relationship. “We’d come back and all my friends were off travelling to different places or learning new languages or off to summer camp, and my entire summer would be spent working in dad’s restaurants. And dad was really struggling as a restaurateur too, so I think those summers have really prepared me well for the highs and the lows of the industry. It’s not all Instagram shots and rainbows and unicorns. Difficult times, but they are serving me well now.” He admits things got more fun when he and his brother hit 16 or 17, with beers smuggled into the kitchen and late nights out with the staff. From school Hussain followed his brother to the US to complete a finance degree and from there moved to New York and a career in banking. “In retrospect I think hospitality school might have been more useful, but there was a lot of pressure from the school, which was very academic, to do the right thing. I spent four-and-a-half years as a trader and you know what, it’s a very similar thing to working in restaurants - fast and furious and lots of information being thrown at you, a busy

Highlights from the menu

environment, quick decision making and so on. It’s an environment I do very well in.” But he always knew he would come home to Hong Kong and back to the restaurant business, and so, nudged gently by his father, returned home in 2011. “I think my father was keen I should taste the success that had alluded him, so I think he’s kind of living vicariously through me.” He then spent a year-and-a-half easing himself back in with a stint working for Dining Concepts, and then founded Black Sheep with Christopher Mark, now culinary director of the group. The rest, as they say, is history and with an eclectic stable of 16 restaurants covering Vietnamese street-food to Argentinian steakhouses. So why did it take him so long to embrace his roots? “I think a lot comes

down to confidence - and a bit of fear - about getting it right. In many ways it should have been the first restaurant that we opened,” he admits. “But having seen how much my father struggled with his Indian restaurant, I think that made me cautious. We’ve been talking about this for a long time, I guess it’s taken five years for us to develop it. The menu is a little nostalgic, the Mughal Room Makhani is a salute to my dad - the Makhani was the most popular dish on his menu. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved, from a culinary point of view, I’d say there is no better in Hong Kong. We’ve created a new genre within Punjabi and Pakistan cuisine.” The Punjab Club, 34 Wyndham Street, Central, 2368 1223, blacksheeprestaurants.com.

expat-parent.com 29

Modern family

Relative values

Jennifer S Deayton finds out how Hong Kong’s kids are keeping up with the grandparents


hen Fiona Spanos’s family moved to Hong Kong in 1986, they could afford to call her maternal grandmother in Newcastle once a month. Spanos, aged four at the time of the move, recalls her mother writing Grandma a letter every week for the ten years they lived here. Sometimes Spanos and her brother would contribute a card or drawing. On very special occasions, her civil engineer father would borrow a video camera from work, and they would film a family video to mail to the folks back home. Flash forward twenty years and Spanos is now a Hong Kong returnee and new mum to one-year-old James. She says she’s in touch with her mum in England just about every day: 30 expat-parent.com

Modern technology has opened up the lines of communocation

On special occasions her father would borrow a video camera and they would mail a film home sending photos and short videos of James, relaying anecdotes from work or just chatting about her life as a teacher, wife and mother. The ease and affordability of technology has undoubtedly bridged the communications gap that once existed for expatriate families.

FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype mean that anyone with WiFi in any part of the world can still connect with ‘home’ at very little cost. As a new generation of tech-savvy grandmothers and grandfathers pop up on screens to watch birthday candles being blown out and first steps taken, there’s no reason why extended family have to miss out on significant moments. But can these high-speed, clear-channel links truly foster deeper connections? Mary Markos and her husband have lived overseas for almost two decades: first Japan and now Hong Kong. Markos admits that many of their nine-year-old daughter’s strongest memories of her maternal grandparents are actually digital.

expat-parent.com 31

Modern family “The last time we saw my father was on Skype. It was just after we’d been home for Christmas. Doah was only three, but she remembers ‘Poppa’s big nose’ on the screen. I remember that moment too. It was actually very special.” With two large families spread between the US and Eastern Europe, the couple rely heavily on technology to stay in touch. Markos talks almost every day with her sister, and they have a regularly scheduled video call each week with her mother-in-law. Doah can even Skype with ‘Yutsi’, her 98-year-old great aunt in Romania, who goes to computer class at the local city hall. What remains a challenge, according to Markos, is physically seeing everyone on trips home. “The expectation is: you’re the expat. You’ll travel and make the effort, and we do. Whenever we go we always have a great time, but at the same time, I feel like we have to see everyone in one day and then to me, Thanksgiving becomes a blur each year of oh I saw Aunt Diane for 20 minutes, I saw Aunt Darleen for 15 minutes.” Due to time and distance pressures, not to mention work commitments, expat families are often caught prioritizing relationships – one side of the family versus another – and then feel guilty for doing so. The natural and normal desire of relatives to see new babies and children can be both welcoming and problematic. What if, after a six-hour car ride to dear old Aunt Julie’s house, your child looks at her as a complete and utter stranger? One international school counsellor recommends introducing children to extended family through personal stories. “It’s about including your wider family in your family stories,” she says. “Starting at a very young age with your children - talking about aunts and uncles as ‘my sister’ or ‘my brother’ makes them real people. And the more humorous, more playful, the more positive the stories you tell, the more likely the child is going to want to engage with relatives.” Until the dream of Star Trek transporters becomes a reality, expat parents will continue to battle the logistical and physical trials of long hauls, jet lag, time zones (and screen fatigue after yet one more video call). But the effort is not just for Nanna’s benefit. Both the young and the old gain from these relationships. “Our children have grown up seeing most of their cousins every summer and frequently connect with them on social media like Facebook and especially Snapchat,” says Nick Appel, father of teenagers Christopher and Olivia. “They look forward to spending 32 expat-parent.com

time with their cousins and have a tough time parting from them when together.” Those cousin relationships are especially important to Christopher now that he’s started university in California. As Appel’s wife, Terri, explains, “There’s a lot of connecting with older cousins, as they’ve experienced college life. They’re good with advice.” After many trips to both their American and European families, Markos says she too is pleased that Doah, an only child, knows her cousins. “She feels an immediate comfort around them, and that’s true on both sides of our family. She sees how at ease we feel with our own aunts, uncles, cousins, and she senses that attachment. This is a safe zone. It’s a good feeling to have, especially as an expat where you’re always an outsider.”

Many of our daughter’s strongest memories of her grandmother are digital

Extended family – the visual reminder of shared DNA – is a crucial component in shaping identity, whether a child lives around the block from the Grandad he resembles or eight thousand miles away. According to Appel, long summer visits with East Coast relatives and opportunities to explore the US’s rural beauty have nurtured in Christopher and Olivia a strong sense of their American selves. “Whenever they were asked where they were from, as children, they’d reply ‘America’ even though they were both born in Hong Kong.” As the counsellor explained, tangible encounters – being fully engaged - with people and places create lasting memories, which is crucial to building identity. “Attachment definitely comes from physically being in your home country and having positive experiences there. No doubt.” Being a Cantonese-speaker and student at a local primary school, Doah straddles two worlds. While she’s well aware of American culture and keeps up with her extended family online, when she goes back to the States, she says, “It definitely feels different, the society, the people, the way they talk. It’s nice to be there, I can open my mouth.” After hearing from expats about how they connect to extended families, the valuable role

of technology has been a universal theme. But parents also stress the benefits of embracing the world that’s right outside your door. “It’s important to make friends who are like family nearby,” says Appel. “Sharing birthdays and anniversaries and important holidays with local friends who become like aunts, uncles and cousins. These kinds of relationships help foster better relationships with our family living back in the USA.” After experiencing expat life as both a child and a parent, Spanos realizes how difficult it is for the people left behind. “But I think the best thing people can do here – I mean the only thing that you can do - and it’s the secondbest is FaceTime and Skype,” she says. “If you can’t actually see someone in the flesh, then at least you can see them on a screen.” Both the Markos and Appel families also recommend ongoing social media contact for expat children in addition to quality (not quantity) physical time with relatives at least once a year. The Appels’ tech tip is an app called Marco Polo, which facilitates instant video chats. Markos’s husband, whose Eastern European family have been the quickest to adopt tech innovations, likes to envision a future where everyone has an iPad in the corner of their living rooms streaming their lives to far-flung relatives. Yutsi would feel right at home.

The way it was “I came to Hong Kong when I was four years old. My parents used to make cassette tapes of us to send back to grandparents.” Michele “Home was a long way away in those days. We all had landlines and I remember sending love and a record request to family via Forces Favourites* from the British Forces Post Office (the BFPO provides a postal service to British Forces stationed around the world). It was so exciting hearing your name and that of your family being read out on a Sunday!” Julie *Family Favourites was broadcast on Sunday lunchtimes via the British Forces Broadcasting Service until 1980. Ten requests were read out each week, with the programme focusing on a different part of the former British Empire each time. “I remember making the trip to Cable & Wireless once a week to make a brief IDD (International Direct Dialing) call,” Sandra *Formerly known as Hong Kong Telecommunications, prior to 1999 Cable & Wireless held a monopoly on international phone services in Hong Kong.

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expat-parent.com 33


25 great days out with Granny In-bound relatives this autumn? Keep them busy with our family-friendly guide to the territory

34 expat-parent.com


25 Hong Kong Wetland Park

Photo by HK Arun via Wikimedia Commons

Escape the city for the wildlife of the far north New Territories. The Hong Kong Wetland Park has over 60-hectares of parkland demonstrating the diversity of the territory’s wetland ecosystem. Originally set up as a mitigation area to compensate for wetlands lost due to the Tin Shui Wai New Town development, it now bills itself an international park with visitor centre. Expect to see mangroves, butterflies, birds, reptiles, crabs, fish and more. If you’re coming by car, some parking is available, otherwise catch the MTR to Tin Shui Wai and change for Wetland Park Station/Tin Sau Station on the Light Rail Line. Open everyday except for Tuesday, 10am-5pm, $15 for three to 17 year olds and grandparents over 65, $30 standard, wetlandpark.gov.hk

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Hong Kong Wetland Park

Promenade and 24 Aberdeen sampan tour

Stroll along the pushchair-friendly Aberdeen Promenade from the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market at the western end - don’t forget to check out the catch of the day - to the east side where you can hop on a sampan for a tour of the typhoon shelter. Expect to pay around $80/person for a half-hour tour, during which you will get up close to the floating fishing village which is still semi-home to a number of the boat-dwelling Tanka people. And at the other end of the social scale, view the glossy yachts jostling for position in Aberdeen harbour - one allegedly belongs to Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan.

22 Peng Chau

Grab a ferry to laidback tiny Peng Chau lying off the north-eastern coast of Lantau. Famous for its temples and seafood, the island used to be a hive of activity with a matchstick factory and lime kilns. There is now just one kiln left - lime was produced by burning oyster shells, clam shells and coral, and was used in construction and ship maintenance until the 1950s - and the former Great China Match Factory is now no more than a few stones marking the boundary walls. Today the island is great for easy hiking (we did it with a grandad and a four-year-old) - head up to Finger Hill for panoramic views over the Tsing Ma bridge and Disneyland, then hit the Peng Chau Family Trail which is

a paved walk around the island. Allow two to three hours. Bring a picnic, or try one of the handful of local-style restaurants.

Chau and the pirate 21 Cheung caves

Busier than Peng Chau, Cheung Chau is a wonderful hour-long cruise from Central Ferry Piers (opt for the upper deck on the slow ferry). The island is just ten kilometres south of Hong Kong Island, and nicknamed ‘the dumbbell’ because of its distinctive shape. Cruise into the insta-friendly fishing harbour and hit the waterfront promenade with its cafes, restaurants, bakeries and knick-knack stalls. Turn left and head to the lavishly decorated Pak Tai temple, or hire a bike to explore this end of the island. Cheung Chau is also a great place to hike, with paved walkways and lots of viewpoints. If the weather permits, hit the beach, or pick up a sampan from the main pier to Sai Wan Pier (around $5/person) to view the infamous Cheung Po Tsai ‘pirate’ cave. Pick the right time and cruise home as the sunsets.

Photo by Daniel Case via Wikimedia Commons

who devoted his life to Taoism and to whom the temple is dedicated. Wong Tai Sin literally means ‘great immortal Wong’. The temple includes a Nine Dragons Wall, fortune telling hall and a Good Wish Garden with Taoist garden pond. Catch the MTR to Wong Tai Sin, siksikyuen.org.hk

Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin 23 Sik Temple

Located in Kowloon, this traditional style Chinese temple is nestled between high rise shopping malls and residential buildings. It’s actually one of Hong Kong’s most popular temples and well-known amongst the international Chinese community. Sik Sik Yuen is the Taoist organisation that administers the temple, while Wong Tai Sin, or Wong Cho-ping, was a young shepherdboy from Zhejiang province around 300AD

Peng Chau

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Photo by Mk2010 via Wikimedia Commons

and forearmed! Alongside the climb are dozens of golden and painted life-size buddha statues, all of which are different, so take your time and catch your breath while you have a look. And watch out for the local monkey population, too. At the top are views across the New Territories and the bright red pagoda that appears on $100 bills printed between 1985 and 2002. Take the MTR to Sha Tin, the steps are at the end of Sheung Wo Che Street on the left-hand side.

Yau Ley

Led by enthusiastic local guide Wouter van Marle, these tours are aimed at English-speakers who want to see the ‘other side’ of Hong Kong. The adventures tend to take place in the wilds of the New Territories, but an easy meeting point at an MTR station or similar is always provided. Suitable for all ages, this month the agenda includes an historical tour of Tai Po, a Sai Kung islands cruise, a Bats & Fireflies night hike and a ghost villages tour, adventuretours.hk.

at Yau Ley 19 Lunch Seafood Restaurant

Head up to relaxed Sai Kung Town and jump on a sampan to Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant. Enormously popular with locals and junk parties during the summer, the restaurant is calmer at this time of year and is great for an easy family lunch in the sunshine. The restaurant is open-air with views over a little beach to one side and and the landing jetty and floating fishing village on the other. The sand on the beachside is perfect for small people to have a play and work up an appetite, while the cove offers protected swimming opportunities. Older kids will want to get stuck into a spot of ‘jettyjumping’ on the north side. Lunch covers the usual seafood favourites, with a well-stocked ice cream freezer for the children. The restaurant offers a speedboat service to and from Sai Kung for an extra charge, 11am-4pm, 2791 1822.


Tai Hang culture tours

Boutique hotel Little Tai Hang is partnering with local tour guide company HoHoGo to craft hour-long walking tours around quirky Tai Hang area. According to organisers, Tai Hang is a unique crossroads of cultures, from colonial times to the shiny

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new bars and restaurants of today. The walking tours focus on the food, architecture, culture and heritage of this close-knit neigbourhood and are free for local residents, hohogo.com.hk.

17 Luk Yu Teahouse

An interesting venue if you’re looking to treat Granny to traditional Chinese tea and dim sum. Running since the 1930s, this elegant three-story teahouse is one of the longest operating in Hong Kong and used to be patronised by opera singers, writers and painters. Expect Cantonese classics such as dim sum, prawn toast, fried beef with noodles and egg tarts. Waiters are white-jacketed to fit with the evocative pre-war decor of ceiling fans, oriental screens and stained glass. If you’re not a regular, expect to be seated on the second level. 7am-10pm, 24-26 Stanley Street, Central, 2523 5464.

10,000 Buddhas


Chi Lin Nunnery

This large Buddhist complex in Diamond Hill, Kowloon, was founded in the 1930s as a retreat for Buddhist nuns. It was rebuilt in the 1990s following traditional Tang Dynasty architecture - it is constructed entirely from cypress wood, using no nails, and is in fact the world’s largest handmade wooden building. Once you’ve viewed the nunnery, let the kids have a scamper over 3.5 hectares of landscaped gardens across the road at Nan Lian Gardens. The gardens also house a tasty vegetarian restaurant and teahouse. Take the MTR to Diamond Hill, 5 Chi Lin Drive, Sheung Yuen Leng, 2354 1888, chilin.org.

16 Heritage Museum

Grab some culture at this spacious, well thought-out museum beside the Shing Mun River in Sha Tin. It boasts Hong Kong history, art and culture via a variety of exhibits. Highlights include the New Territories Heritage Hall with mock-ups of traditional local Hakka villages, a Cantonese Heritage Opera Hall, a Bruce Lee exhibit with over 600 pieces of memorabilia, and a children’s area with an interactive play-zone. Jump on the MTR to Che Kung Temple Station, 10am6pm, closed on Tuesdays, 1 Man Lam Road, heritagemuseum.gov.hk.

15 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Best attempted at this cooler time of year, the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is actually five temples, four pavilions, one pagoda - and 430 steep hillside steps to reach them. Make sure Granny is forewarned

Photo by Kroisenbrunner via Wikimedia Commons


Countryside Adventures

Chi Lin Nunnery

13 Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City Park started life as a military stronghold. Its strategic position on the waterfront (these days it’s land-locked and surrounded by high rise) meant in the 1840s it was turned into a garrison with massive stone walls and watchtowers. By the 1940s it housed over 40,000 inhabitants and had become a centre for vice and crime, triad

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Photo by Barbara Dudman


Hanging around on Lantau

activity and prostitution. In the 1990s it was demolished, the inhabitants resettled, and the area transformed into tranquil gardens. There are water features, photographic displays tracing the area’s history, a chess garden and paved walkways, as well as a playpark at the entrance on Junction Road. Adjacent to the gardens is a bike park with cycles for hire. Take the MTR to Lok Fu Station, 6.30am11pm daily, Tung Tau Tsuen Road, Kowloon.


Food tour

Local tour guides Hello Hong Kong run public food walks around Sheung Wan, Central and Wan Chai every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning, taking in the history of food in Hong Kong, from Cantonese classics to western influenced dishes that started popping up in the 1950s. The tour starts with a traditional dim sum breakfast in a teahouse with an 85-year heritage, followed by a bowl of Wonton noodles in a shop that dates from the 1960s. There’s then a Hong Kong-style milk tea break, followed by a tram ride to finish the tour with a dan tat, or custard tart. The tour lasts approximately four hours and covers 2.5km, $750/adult, free for under sixes, hellohongkong.com.hk.

11 Yoga and hike

A great way for visitors to view the stunning New Territories is on an organised hike with local yogi Barbara Dudman. Meeting at Sai Kung Country Park gates (there is ample parking right by the gates on a weekday), Dudman accesses stage two of the stunning MacLehose trail with a speedboat ride from Wong Shek Pier to Chek Keng. She then leads a moderately challenging hike (with some uphill) of about an hour until you

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Yoga on Ham Tin

descend into the beachside village of Ham Tin. She then conducts an hour of gentle yoga on the sand which is followed by a vegetarian lunch at the local dai pai dong. The hike back to Chek Keng is around one hour. Yoga B hikes are $350, including yoga, lunch and a boat ride, barbaradudman@mac.com.

10 Kayak and hike

An action-packed day on the water with an educational twist, Kayak + Hike is suitable for kids from around eight and anyone with a degree of fitness. Begin the day with a speedboat ride from Sai Kung to High Island; there is then a light kayak to Millionaires Beach in the next bay, with an opportunity to have a dip. Kayaks are doubles or triples and Etherington patiently goes through paddling technique while you’re still on the sand. Next up is a longer kayak across the Inner Port Shelter to Bluff Island. After morning tea and a snorkel, the group is escorted on a short hike to the top of Bluff with stunning views out over the ocean and back to Sai Kung. Then comes the toughest paddle of the day, around Bluff and through a sea arch. It’s then back into the speedboat and off to High Island for a social al fresco lunch. The tour is punctuated with loads of information about the geo-park and the geology of the area, kayak-and-hike.com.

cable car and Po Lin 9 Lantau Monastery

As construction work continues apace on Lantau, this trip becomes ever more fascinating. Be wowed by the juxtaposition of massive-scale engineering projects and nature as you travel south from the airport over rolling emerald mountains towards the Big Buddha and the village of Ngong Ping.

The Buddha and surrounding temples are just about saved from Disneyfication (souvenir shops abound) by their authenticity - expect lots of incense burning, prayers and feral buffalo wandering around. Book a return ticket, or there are public buses and taxis available for the 30-minute trip back to Tung Chung. Take the MTR to Tung Chung, parking available at Citygate, np360.com.hk.

8 Peak tram

Another iconic Hong Kong postcard shot is that of the distinctive red funicular trams zipping up and down Victoria Peak. Hack of the day is to take a taxi or bus to the top and catch the tram back down - this way you avoid the monster queues on Garden Road. If your group is looking to stretch their legs, the flat, paved and shady Lugard Road circular walk is just under 4kms and offers views across Pok Fu Lam reservoir, Aberdeen and Lamma, the Tsing Ma bridge, and finally the city in all its high rise splendour. The Peak is undergoing major renovation at the moment and many of the ground floor cafes and shops are currently closed. We took our visiting great uncle for lunch on the terrace of The Peak Lookout Cafe, which has great views and an extensive menu to suit all tastes, 10.30am-11.30pm, 121 Peak Road, 2849 1000, peaklookout.com.hk.

Che Wo Walled Hakka 7 Lai Village

Lai Che Wo in Plover Cove Country Park is one of Hong Kong’s best preserved Hakka villages. The village is over 300 years old and was completely abandoned in the 1960s. These days it is semi-inhabited and activities such as rice growing have once again begun in the nearby paddies. Visitors are free to

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Beautiful Southside is sure to stun guests

wander the laneways and view the 200odd houses in the village; it’s also home to temples, ancestral halls and a square fringed with banyan trees, and boasts an intact feng shui woodland - a seven hectare crescentshaped wood embraces the village from behind. If you’re hiking in - a shaded but tough woodland walk of around two hours from Brides Pool - bespoke tours can be arranged on arrival with at least two weeks notice, and if you’re travelling in by boat on the Sunday ferry service, there are regular weekend tours including a fun ‘sticky rice’ demonstration. The one ferry per week runs at 9am on Sundays from Ma Liu Shui Pier 3 (nearest MTR is University) and returns from Lai Chi Wo at 3.30pm, $50/single, $80/return, trip takes 1.5 hours. Contact Culture Development Society of Lai Chi Wo lcwculture@outlook.com; ferry information 2555 9269.

6 Temple Street Night Markets

Bag a bargain, haggle to your heart’s content, ‘fess up to a fortune teller, it’s all happening on Temple Street come nightfall. From handbags to wallets, clothing, trinkets, souvenirs, toys and everything in between, this is a hardcore, fast-paced version of chi chi Stanley Market. And when you’re done, take the weight off your feet (and the pressure off your purse) with a beer and some noodles from a roadside food stall - we’re not talking high glamour here, expect plastic seating and toilet roll napkins. But the service is efficient and the food tasty and inexpensive. Temple Street, TST, nearest MTR station is Jordan.

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Stanley Markets

If you’ve got guests in town, you’re not going to escape a trip to Stanley Markets, so embrace it with a stylish arrival on Aqua Luna followed by a nice lunch. There are restaurants aplenty on the waterfront, a great place for watching the world go by as you catch up on all the news from back ‘home’. On weekends the promenade is pedestrianonly, scooter heaven for the kids. Aqua Luna sails from Central Ferry Pier 9 at midday, picking up at TST and arriving at 1.30pm at Stanley Blake Pier. The return journey leaves Stanley at 3.30pm, $280/adult one-way, $190/ child, aqualuna.com.hk.

4 Walking tours with App&Map

Local company idiscover has launched a number of city walks for iphones. Hong Kong App&Map, an ensemble of community curated neighbourhood walks, aims to promote understanding of more traditional parts of town. Each walk passes around 20-30 sites that bring local cultural heritage to life, depicting urban legends and local stories. There are six Hong Kong-based walks to enjoy, including Aberdeen, Sheung Wan, Sham Shui Po, Sai Kung and Kowloon City. This is a great opportunity to marry techsavvy grandchildren with the more traditional ‘grandparent-friendly’ pursuits of walking and looking at things. Download iDiscover City Walks free from the App Store and Google Play, i-discoverasia.com.

3 Container Port Tour

As one of the world’s most important shipping hubs, Hong Kong’s container ports

are a must-see on many visitors’ bucket lists, not to mention small people with a transport obsession. And a tour from the water is a great way to go. A series of Container Port Tours hosted by Hong Kong Yachting kick-off this autumn, running every Sunday from now until December 10. The valiant Jungle Jane takes guests right up inside the container port terminal to see the action at close hand. The day concludes with a trip to a nearby beach for a BBQ lunch and swim and a wander through Ma Wan deserted village. The guides have been involved with the shipping industry for over a decade and really know their stuff, $900/adult, $750/child, hongkongyachting.com.

2 School days

It’s why grandparents were invented - filling those seats at school productions, music recitals, dance performances and drama events. This is your once-in-a-year opportunity to introduce Granny to the kids’ school, even if it’s just to help out at reading club or sit through a spelling bee.

at home with a cup of 1 Chilling tea

Let’s face it, it’s why they’ve flown all this way - quality time with the grandchildren. And what’s nicer than a cup of tea on the couch while they catch up with the kids?

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School news Marathon event Diary dates NOV 2 for ESF

Hong Kong Academy Open House

Over 2,000 runners helped English Schools Foundation celebrate its 50th year with its first ever running event. Open to the general public as well as the ESF community, it included one to ten kilometre runs and a one kilometre family walk. Despite the heat, the competition was strong, with Brendan Kean from ESF Clearwater Bay School and Jennifer Whybrow from ESF Peak School crowned champions in the 10km individual run events. They finished with respective - and very respectable times - of 0:33:22 and 0:45:47. The day was concluded with a community carnival at Edinburgh Place, Central.

ESF families enjoying the races

British Chinese takeaway In 1894 an English language “British school”, which eventually became ESF King George V, was being set up in Kowloon. Move forward 150-odd years and the British are seeing the first Chinese immersion prep school roll out in London. A sure sign of the times, principal Jo Wallace explained that the dual-language English and Chinese immersion programme aims “to have your children fluent in both Chinese and English.” The school has been named after British diplomat and sinologist Sir Thomas Wade, who was British minister to China in the 1870s. But the prep school proves that embracing the times doesn’t necessarily come cheap Kensington Wade will eventually hold 200 three to 11 year-olds, each paying £17,490/year. 42 expat-parent.com

Find out more about this IB World School in Sai Kung, free, 9.30-11am, Hong Kong Academy, 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, hkacademy.edu.hk

NOV 2, 7, 16 & 21

Shrewsbury School Open House Loads of important information about this brand new British primary, scheduled to open for the 2018-19 academic year. 1-2pm, Nov 2; 1-2pm, Nov 7; 6-7pm, Nov 16; 1-2pm, Nov 21, 7/F Bangkok Bank Building, 28 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, shrewsbury.hk

NOV 4, 11 & 18

Discovery Montessori Academy Open Days Come and find out more about these preprimary and primary schools at Discovery Montessori School Central, 10am-12pm, Nov 4, 35-43 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan; Discovery Montessori Academy, 10am-12pm, Nov 11, 92 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay North; Discovery Montessori School, 10am-12pm, Nov 18, 92 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay North; discoverymontessori.


Creative Play the Waldorf Way Join Janni Nicol, UK early childhood representative for Steiner Waldorf schools and kindergartens, for a discussion about the benefits of the Steiner Waldorf approach to creative play. Free with refreshments provided, 7-8.30pm, Highgate House School, 2/F, 100 Peak Road, The Peak, creativeplayhighgate.eventbrite.hk

NOV 11

SKIP Open Day Come and check out this woodland-located playgroup and pre-school in Sai Kung, with an open play session for under 5s. 10am-12pm, 159 Che Keng Tuk Road, Sai Kung, skip.edu.hk

NOV 18

City Kids Christmas Fair

Join the festive fun, with a sausage sizzle, bake sale, shopping, bouncy castle and a visit from Santa, 10.30am-4pm, City Kids School, 2/F East Wing, 12 Borrett Road, Midlevels, citykidshk.org

NOV 18

Malvern College Coding Workshop Taste lesson on coding in partnership with BSD Code & Design Academy. Suitable for ages five to 12 years, come along and enjoy this relaxed and fun introduction. Free, Hong Kong Science Park, Sha Tin, malverncollege.org.hk/coding-workshop/

NOV 25

Highgate House School Advent Fair & Open House Join the seasonal festivities, games, crafts, face painting and bake sale, plus food buffet and BBQ on the terrace. Enjoy affle prizes, puppet shows and open day opportunities to view the school grounds. Free, 10am2:30pm, Highgate House School, 100 Peak Road, The Peak, eventbrite.hk.

NOV 25

Fairchild Christmas Market & Open House Come and check out the school and enjoy gift stalls for all ages. Vendor table fees and donations go to the Make A Wish Foundation. 2pm-6pm. G/F and 1/F, Kong Chian Tower, Block 1, 351 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, fairchild.academy

NOV 25

Chinese International School Fair Fun and games at the school’s annual flagship event, celebrating the theme ‘Standing Together’, 10am-4pm, 1 Hau Yuen Path, Braemer Hill, Hong Kong, cis.edu.hk

NOV 28

British Boarding Schools Show Meet heads and representatives of leading UK boarding schools, plus talk to boarding school specialists. Free, 10am-2pm, and 5-8pm, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, eventbrite.hk If you have a schools event you would like to share, contact editorial@hongkongliving.com

Kellett nets cricket stars


Kellett students bowled over by the school’s new cricket nets

Kellett School enjoyed a jolly good innings when ex-England cricket captain Mike Gatting and ex-Pakistani player Yasir Arafat arrived with their bats and balls at the school’s Kowloon Bay campus.

Students were hit for six (sorry, but we’ve got plenty more! - ed) when the pair led workshops for the eager young Kellett cricketers. The day was organised to celebrate the

installation of state-of-the-art cricket nets at the campus and the school was bowled over (last one! - ed) to receive support from Cricket Hong Kong coaches and Hong Kong national team players.

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Say it out loud

Effective communication is increasingly important for students. Voice coach David Pope explains to Carolynne Dear how to get yourself heard


Voice coach workshops take place in a professional sound studio in Yau Ma Tei

’m no stranger to the sound of my own voice, but when it comes to addressing a room full of people, I’m quite the shrinking violet. Being able to confidently project your voice and hold the attention of an audience will have the most self-assured of people nervously shaking in the wings. But forget the corporate world, these days our children are increasingly being asked to get up and present, whether they’re compering a school assembly, presenting a project they’ve been working on in class or to an audience of parents as head boy or girl, these days the ability to communicate is skill vital to school success. So what to do when the mic is definitely not your best mate? David Pope is founder of All Voice Talent, Hong Kong’s only studiobased voice coaching organisation. And he has recently launched Speak Up, a series of voice coaching programmes for 13-19 year olds. As a coach, Pope has taught many senior level executives who suddenly find

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themselves in a position where they are centre stage and need to work on their vocal skills. “Taking to the limelight is not everyone’s cup of tea,” he says. “We work on volume, pace, projection, vocal tone, articulation, gravitas and so forth to enhance ‘presence’. A lot about a successful presentation is not what you say, but how you deliver it. How do you make your speech ‘pop’?” His Speak Up! programme delivers the same skillset, but to a younger audience. “Maybe students have an oral exam, maybe they’ve got school or university interviews lined up. Whatever the case, the ability to present yourself confidently to adults is vital,” he says. As well as voice projection, Pope also looks at body language, dealing with nerves and organising what you’re going to say in the first place. And of course the skills students take away are for life, not just for that college interview.

The sessions take place in Pope’s voice recording studio in Yau Ma Tei, and each three-hour workshop focuses on specific vocal skills. Record and playback facilities mean students can quickly pinpoint what they’re doing right - and what needs more work. In a highly competitive world, of course the big focus for most students is on academic skills and exam results. But being able to get up in front of a group of adults and speak in a confident, polished manner is something that is sure to set them apart from the crowd. For more information about Speak Up!, see allvoicetalent.com


Building blocks for primary success

Preparing your child for early years education is a tricky business. Nord Anglia Education has opened two new preschools in Hong Kong, offering pupils a through-train experience It’s a tough gig selecting a preschool for your child. The sheer variety of schools now open in Hong Kong today can be overwhelming - from the plethora of curricula on offer, to differing approaches to learning and pastoral care, not to mention practical considerations such as location. Other variants to weigh up include level of linguistic tuition, will the children have adequate time for play and exploration, and finally, what happens next? Many preschools ‘feed’ into various primary schools these days, but of course others now offer a ‘through-train’ education, thus effectively reducing the child’s anxiety - not to mention the parents’ – at major milestone transition periods. All children are different and of course all parents will want to select a pre-school that is a ‘right fit’ for their child. This year, Nord Anglia International School (NAIS) opened pre-schools in Tai Tam and Sai Kung, which means parents now have the option of a through-train education with the Nord Anglia Education group of schools from Nursery through to Year 13. The pre-schools offer the English National Early Years curriculum at both locations which is play-based and with a personalised approach to learning, using UK trained early years educators and specialist teachers in Music, PE, Mandarin, Art and Drama. NAIS believes that this approach efficiently develops motor skills, language proficiency, confidence and creativity, as well as individual talents in music, sports and the performing arts.

Not only that, with so many different interests being nurtured, such a curriculum creates a sense of community and belonging. NIAS HK has unique collaborations with prestigious institutions around the world. Working with NAIS HK, The Juilliard – Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme has been designed to give students a deep engagement with performing arts – promoting cultural literacy, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. Through their new approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM), they teach their students the skills to invent the future through their collaboraitons with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In preparing children for pre-school, NAIS also plans to open playgroups soon and extend their excellent teaching and education philosophy through these sessions. Tots aged from 12 months to three years will be exposed to arts and crafts, storytelling, music and movement, plus lots of time for

indoor and outdoor play - an important time for children to socialise and develop selfconfidence. NAIS encourages all parents to research early years options thoroughly, and to investigate all areas of the education being offered carefully before taking the plunge. Curriculum, medium of instruction, through-train option campuses and teaching approaches all play an important role in shaping your child. For parents interested to learn more about NAIS and enrolments, please contact the Admissions Team for more details. Website: www.nais.hk, Email: admissions@nais.hk Tel: +852 3958 1428 Address: Sai Kun Pre-school 285 Hong Kin Road, Tui Min Hoi, Sai Kung / Tai Tam Pre-school Red Hill Plaza, Red Hill Road, Tai Tam


Digging the dirt Rebecca Simpson escapes Hong Kong’s concrete jungle for a more natural pre-school experience


his is a good news story for parents concerned by the lack of green spaces in Hong Kong schools. In September, Malvern College Pre-School Hong Kong (MCPSHK) opened its doors (and the great outdoors) to young Hong Kong students. It’s a school of contrast, offering students the opportunity to learn at both a brand new campus in deepest Kowloon and fortnightly explorations to an outdoor ‘classroom’. Yes, you read that right - an outdoor classroom, with dirt and grass and bugs and just the trees for shelter on rainy days. MCPSHK is Hong Kong’s first pre-school offering the Forest School programme. Forest Schools, as they are known in Europe, were introduced into the UK from Denmark in the mid-1990s. They offer a programme of (minimum) fortnightly outdoor

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Forest School leaders get down and dirty with the students

learning experiences as well as traditional classroom teaching. At these outdoor learning experiences, children normally spend the morning or afternoon session in a woodland setting near their school.

The Forest School is a perfect excuse for a morning of mud pie making

For MCPSHK students, that means a bus ride out to the green, open spaces of Sai Kung, where the children are encouraged to explore the forest, make crafts, and participate in group challenges. So I got on board to find out more. After spending a beautiful morning exploring Hong Kong’s outdoors with the kids and parents from MCPSHK, I can’t help but note the contrast. I arrived at the pre-school campus on Coronation Circle in South West Kowloon - a brand new, European-style building which houses a mall and a residential tower. The pre-school is new, very well appointed and fully resourced, with parents adorning special covers on their shoes to maintain hygiene in the classroom. But a bus trip later and I find myself under a tree examining creepy crawlies and gazing out over some of Hong Kong’s most

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schools beautiful waterways. It really captures the ‘chalk and cheese’ moments our city offers up. As I stand in the clearing watching the young students and parents explore the forest, it’s such a wonderful opportunity for our children to connect with nature during the school week. And one of the best parts is that they need parent volunteers, so it’s the perfect excuse for a morning of mud pie making for parents. But while it’s nice to connect with nature and mess around in the dirt, many parents will be wondering what exactly is the educational value offered by the Forest School Programme. Yvette Cheevers, Forest School leader at MCPSHK explains as she unfurls a rope swing for her excited charges. “They’re going to go off now and look for a tree for this swing,” she says. “Is it high enough? Are the ropes long enough? Will it come too close to the ground? This is a realtime maths question, happening outside.” Cheevers also explains the value of Forest School sessions beyond curriculum content. “What makes someone succeed?” she asks, “It’s grit. It’s continuing to have a go. It’s facing up to your fears - I realise that not everyone embraces the outdoors, but neither is everyone suited to the indoors, so we get to see where people’s strengths lie. There was a little girl who was scared of the water, a week later she decided she wanted to have a splash and went right up to the water’s edge. Now, we can talk about how she overcame that fear.” Being outdoors, Hong Kong’s unpredictable weather surely throws some curve balls to the Forest School schedule? Cheevers laughs and says they’re not put off

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Experimenting with sticks at the Forest School

that easily. “Rain, hail or shine - yes we still come out in the rain. That’s when you have the most fun.” And of course dirt is good, too. Often viewed as a negative part of life, this is a mindset that needs resetting, according to Cheevers. “In the early stages, I’ve devoted a lot of time allaying concerns and answering parental queries. Kids come here with a preconception of what dirt is. But we’re resetting the word ‘dirt’ with ‘earth’. We talk about how that’s where your food comes from, that’s where trees grow from - actually it’s where everything comes from. Quite a few children have reset already. We can distract and set a task – like collecting items – and that helps overcome any worries.” At MCPSHK’s Forest School days, even the parents are getting down and dirty. Forest days mean lots of adventuring, craft with natural materials, bug catching (and releasing), water collecting and play, forest tools to learn about, hammock and swing construction and general exploration. It’s a

very busy time and it’s a morning embraced by students and parents alike. “Malvern follows the Reggio Emilia approach which views parents as the number one educator for their children - we want to work as much in partnership with mums and dads as we can,” says MCPSHK’s founding principal Jacqueline McNalty. “Forest School offers children, young people and adults opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment. It enhances the richness of the Early Years Forest School curriculum, placing emphasis on active, play-based learning with a balance of childinitiated and adult-led activities.” Malvern College Hong Kong opens in 2018 and will offer the Forest School programme for primary students, along with an IB curriculum in primary and secondary. MCPSHK attendance is not a guaranteed entrance into the primary school, but all MCPSHK families are considered, malverncollege.org.hk.

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British rules Thinking about boarding in the UK? British education expert Arabella Davies explains how to nab a top spot There have been recent changes to the UK application procedure. What’s the entrance process and when should parents start looking? The entry system for UK boarding schools can vary considerably. At prep level (eight to 13 years) most schools run their own individual entry and assessment process which differs from school to school. For senior schools (or public schools), they have, until recently, relied heavily on a final common entrance exam taken at either 11+ or 13+. All the leading boys and co-ed schools still do 13+ common entrance, whereas most of the leading girls schools still offer an entry point at 11+ as well as 13+. However, as of 2018, almost all of the leading schools will be adopting a new system of pre-testing children at the age of ten and 11. As a result, families need to be considering applying to these senior schools when their children are around nine years and registering their interest by the time their child is 10. Some schools now have a cut-off for registration at 10 years and six months. How can children prepare for testing from Hong Kong? Despite the introduction of these pre-tests, schools still require students to sit common entrance at 11 or 13 for streaming purposes. If children are currently being educated outside of the UK system, then most schools will be flexible on the subjects taken, but children will need to have final results in Maths and English as a minimum, with most schools also requiring science and a modern language. Most of the leading schools now offer 50 expat-parent.com

firm confirmed places to children up to two years before this final exam following pretest, which includes a computerised test and an interview. These tests are designed to assess the potential of a child, not to see how many hours they have been tutored. Basic preparation can be useful by practising the online testing available on the internet - but more as a means of familiarising the child with the testing method rather than cramming them with information.

What about students who aren’t so strong academically? There are plenty of opportunities for less academic children as well as children with special educational needs such as dyslexia. Most schools want a wide ability range amongst their pupils. The majority are looking for well-rounded individuals and children who are going to embrace the school. The new pre-tests mean schools are looking beyond just results and want to see the child.

schools What questions should parents be asking? Every family will have a different set of questions dependent on the strengths and weaknesses of their child. Look for inspiring heads and passionate teachers. Ignore the league tables as they often give an inaccurate view point. For overseas boarders, pastoral care is terribly important who is actually going to be looking after your child, what is the structure of the day, what do current pupils enjoy about the school and what they would change?

As of 2018 almost all leading schools will adopt a new system of pre-testing at age 10

How should families tackle the school search? The British school menu is endless, and the search can be time consuming, costly and stressful. My advice is to decide if you want a co-ed or single sex school to narrow down the initial list. Then take a look at individual school websites - a lot of information and a “feel” for the school can be garnered this way. If the family is going to remain in Hong Kong while the child is in the UK, I also

advise finding out if the schools are “full” boarding, or if they empty over weekends. But my biggest piece of advice is to consider the location - find out the true journey time from Heathrow to the school and how this will be achieved. Narrow the search to around half-adozen schools and then go and visit for a tour - if your child is over eight, I would recommend bringing them with you. Their perspective can be very informative to your final decision.

What are the practical issues of managing a child boarding overseas that families should be considering? School location is one of the most important factors, bear in mind many schools offer airport pick-ups. Most full boarding schools have two or three exeats (a British term used to describe a weekend leave of absence from a boarding school) in the Christmas term and usually one or two in the spring and summer terms. They run from Friday to Sunday and students must vacate the school premises. There are also ten-day mid-term breaks, with some schools having a 17-day break in the Christmas term. Certainly parents don’t need to fly in for exeats or mid-term breaks but schools will require a family member or appointed guardian to oversee and house the child during these times. So it might be wise to select a school within an hour’s drive of a relative or guardian. All dormitories are cleared at the end of each term, but for overseas boarders, kit can be left for laundering by the school (there is sometimes an additional charge for this). For more help, tips and advice on any of the points raised here, contact Arabella Davies at Their Best Years, theirbestyears.com

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life & style

Michael and Emma Linnitt at their French farmhouse

Gallic flair

Ever dreamt of life in the French countryside? Emma Linnitt tells Carolynne Dear how she transformed a run-down farmhouse into a welcoming summer retreat

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life & style


ed up with trying to please relatives scattered the length and breadth of Britain, mum-of-three and long-term Sai Kung-resident Emma Linnitt decided to throw caution to the wind and buy her dream home in rural France. “We had relatives in Suffolk, relatives in the Lake District, relatives in Devon (if you’re unfamiliar with the UK, these locations are about as far away from each other as you can get), and we were spending the majority of our summer holidays in the car tearing up and down English motorways,” she explains. “And nobody was happy. So one year after a particularly frenetic summer where my three children never seemed to leave the backseat of our hire car, I threw my hands in the air and decided enough was enough. We didn’t seem to be pleasing anyone, so I thought we might just as well buy a holiday home in France and at least enjoy our summers.” Linnitt’s close university friend had years previously married a Frenchman and moved to the Burgundian countryside in northern France. “This was why we picked south Burgundy. They knew the area and were able to advise on where to look, where not to look and also on the whole legal process of buying in France.” In a bold move, Linnitt and her husband ended up buying a large, traditional stone farmhouse near the village of Ozolles (around 60 miles north of Lyon) on the advice of her friend and without a single viewing. The

The Linnitts’ five-bedroom Burgundian farmhouse

property comprised a five-bedroomed main house, two barns, a pigsty and a field. “Our friends had had a look at it, it was big enough for us to entertain visiting family members, and we were happy with what we could see from the photos, so we just went for it. Looking back, I agree it was a brave move. Once all the paperwork had gone through, we flew out from Hong Kong,

this strange, add-on little room with an oven, a bit of a work-surface propped up on bricks and not much else. Every wall had a door, so there was nowhere to hang shelving or fit cupboards properly.” A kitchen designer was enlisted and the whole room was moved to the back of the house and given a facelift. The ceiling was removed to reveal the wooden beams, creating a much bigger and brighter space. The original kitchen area is now a large entrance hall cum lounge room. Further works have included separating the downstairs bathroom into a lavatory and shower room, the adding of a new staircase and the relaying of the driveway. “We knew we wouldn’t be using the house for much of the year, so we removed most of the flower borders in the garden and replaced them with a wide, gravel drive for ease of maintenance. We pay a guy in the village to come and mow the lawn.” Less appealing jobs included digging up the entire garden to have a septic tank fitted. Linnitt admits one of the biggest challenges was finding workmen. “French builders tend to be very parochial and won’t step on each others toes. Unfortunately the guys working on the septic tank and the bathrooms all fell out, which was a bit of a nightmare.” In a fortuitous turn of events, the former owner of the house, a French lady who still lives locally, dropped a note through the door

Each relative was handed a pot of paint, a brush and expected to decorate the room they slept in

literaally stopping at the local IKEA on the way to grab some bedding. It was very exciting.” Although structurally sound, the house needed major updating and modernising. That first summer, all relatives were invited over from England and handed a pot of paint and a brush on arrival. “The decor was a bit weird, our master bedroom had an Asterix border running around it, for example,” Linnitt says. But one of the biggest first challenges was getting the kitchen right. “It was kind of

The updated kitchen

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life & style recommending a local English builder. “It was very sweet of her,” recalls Linnitt. “And the new builder got on with the job really well.” “It’s been a labour of love. In terms of the house as an investment, I guess that hasn’t really worked out as it’s cost a lot to do up over the years. But completely unforeseen by us, the whole family has fallen under its charm and it is now ‘home’. “Ultimately, after Hong Kong, we hope to spend half our time here and half in the UK. I think as an expat you can get caught up with investments and returns - sometimes things are about something deeper than monetary value. We do rent it out from time to time, but more to keep it ticking over while we’re in Hong Kong than for any monetary gain. Its primary raison d’etre is as our summer home.” Linnitt has cleverly introduced hints of Hong Kong into the home, with colourful Chinese letterboxes sourced from a friend hanging in her son’s room, jade draw hangers from Mong Kok’s jade market, and the typically French two CV pictures hanging in one of the bedrooms actually came from a boutique in Sai Kung old town. She has maintained the French farmhouse feel with a stunning painting of a local Charleroi cow in the lounge room which she had copied from a photograph by an artist in Dafen art village. The vintage Air France prints in the study are from Hanoi and there are china ornaments that have been sourced locally mixed in with Indonesian pieces from when the family lived in Jakarta. Linnitt’s mother has beautifully sewn all the window drapes and soft furnishings, with the odd union jack cushion thrown in as a nod to the family’s British heritage. Last winter an outdoor pool was fitted which transformed the family’s summer holiday this year. “It was so lovely relaxing on a lounger with the Burgundian countryside rolling away in the distance, a local tractor buzzing around the fields while we cooled off with a dip. “The whole family loves it here. There’s no street-lighting, the nearest village is 20 minutes away and we really are in the middle of nowhere - such an antidote to Hong Kong living. I come away with an amazing sense of calm at the end of each summer.” The property is available for rent outside of Hong Kong summer holidays through airbnb. For more information, see www. facebook.com/linnittatlesdrouillards.

Linnitt’s daughter’s room is decorated with finds from Sai Kung Old Town

l t i o na a r i d a e tr Th e ouse i s n armh Ozolles f e n of st o lage l i v th e

Emma recommends Love2Taobao - those girls can get you anything, engtaobao.com Zara Home - great for linen and knick-knacks, zarahome.com Candy Bedding - good quality sheets, 5th Floor Lowu Commercial Centre, Shenzhen Sai Kung Old Town - littered with homewares boutiques for browsing Al fresco dining is the order of the day

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life & style Double face alpaca throw $7,200 from L’Objet, available in mauve and taupe or black and white lanecrawford.com.hk

Black marble Fleming lamp $3,990 from Indigo Living, indigo-living.com

Kushi floor lamp $8,350 from Kundalini, available in brass and copper, lanecrawford.com.hk

Cozy up

Beautiful things for winter. By Catharina Cheung Multicolour autumn throw $399 from H&M, hm.com/hk Bartholomew bear $210 from Picked By Poppins pickedbypoppins.com

Neck heating pad with organic cover $420 from Kristin Green kristingreen.com

Handmade lumber pillow $200 from Kristin Green kristingreen.com

Velvet Devonshire armchair $5,950 from Bowerbird Home bowerbird-home.com

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life & style

Claridge sofa $35,000 from Jonathan Adler lanecrawford.com.hk

Woodlines medium rug $17,300 from Carl Hansen & Son, available in white and black lanecrawford.com.hk

Rectangular stripe rug black/white $21,300 from Tom Dixon 52 Hollywood Road, Central

Winter cushion cover tassels $149 from H&M hm.com/hk

Gingko ginger flower scented deco candle with lid $1,480 from Shanghai Tang shanghaitang.com/en-hk

100% beeswax French lavender scented candle $140 from Picked By Poppins pickedbypoppins.com

Green winter throw $499 from H&M hm.com/hk

Calm chair grey cotton $8,580 from Mirth mirthhome.com

Saddle brown Moroccan leather pouf $1,100 from Thorn & Burrow thornandburrow.com expat-parent.com 57


Picture perfect on Pulau Tengah, Malaysia

Island living Mum-of-two Marianne Rogerson discovers you don’t have to travel far to enjoy your very own desert island


s our boat approaches our remote tropical island destination, the aquamarine water is so clear and the sand is so white, I wonder if we have taken a wrong turn and ended up in the Maldives. But no, we are just a 3-hour drive from Singapore’s Changi Airport, on an island called Pulau Tengah in Malaysia, home to luxury beach resort Batu Batu. Batu Batu is just one of many private island getaways easily reachable by boat from Singapore. These beach resorts offer the ultimate in barefoot luxury. They are the kind

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of place where you kick off your flip-flops the moment you step ashore and don’t even look for them again until it is time to leave. These islands are exactly how you would dream up your ultimate beach retreat. Rustic chic pervades throughout the villas and ecoconsciousness is the name of the game. Some islands have no Wi-Fi; some have no airconditioning. There aren’t even any locks on the villa doors here. We are all friends in paradise after all. Pulau Tengah originally caught the world’s attention when it starred as the location for

Expedition Robinson, the original Swedish television series behind Survivor. It has since played host to similar television franchises from France, Holland, Belgium and Finland. The island became home to Batu Batu resort in 2012. The 22 luxury air-conditioned villas are a far cry from the subsistence living of Survivor, but the rugged natural beauty of the island is still at the forefront of its charm. Sandy pathways wind through coconut groves and the villas are set in amongst the wild jungle, or along the naturally white powdery beaches.


Swimming and exploring the resort of Batu Batu, Pulau Tengah

The villas, built by local carpenters using native hardwood, feature large 4-poster beds with mosquito nets and huge bathrooms with oversized bathtubs. Sizeable private balconies offer views out to sea or into the thick of the jungle, while children’s annexes outfitted with bunk beds give parents the privacy so often lacking in hotel rooms. But with such an incredible island to explore, we don’t waste much time in our villa. Within seconds of alighting on the jetty the kids have spotted a blue spotted stingray, some needlefish and a cuttlefish in the crystal clear waters below. So our first stop is the dive centre, where we borrow snorkelling gear to explore the protected reef of Johor Marine Park. Batu Batu’s conservation efforts include a Turtle Watch Camp, where they compensate local fisherman for handing over turtle eggs, in order to give them the best chance of survival. We take a tour of the onsite turtle hatchery and learn about the critically endangered Hawksbill and Green turtles. The rest of our days are spent hanging out at the sea-facing infinity pool, checking out the island’s eight beaches and exploring by kayak and paddleboard. We enjoy sundowners at the beach bar and evening meals in the open-sided pavilion restaurant. All too soon it is time to seek out our flipflops and bid farewell to paradise, but at least we have an equally intriguing destination in mind: Telunas Private Island in Indonesia. Telunas Beach Resort has been a fixture in the Riau Islands for 13 years, since three American college friends created it as a backto-basics beach resort in 2004. When its Private

(Above and below) Living it up at Telunas Beach Resort, Indonesia

Island resort debuted in 2014, they decided to take things up a notch, and the Private Island resort was quickly welcomed into the prestigious Conde Nast Johansen Luxury Hotel – Spa collection. Here 15 villas branch out on stilts over the water, resembling a local water village or kampung. The villas are constructed using ethically-sourced local materials, where even the roofing comes from sagu leaves that are

only collected once they have naturally fallen to the ground. While these water villas may be Indonesian kampung on the outside, their interiors are all New England beach house, with whitewashed wood paneled walls, distressed wood flooring and shabby chic furniture repurposed from local fishing boats. There’s a separate living area with rattan sofas and a children’s loft bedroom that sleeps up to three children. expat-parent.com 59


Strutting the boardwalk at Telunas Beach Resort

Good to know Live out your castaway dreams on Pulau Joyo, Indonesia (above, top right, and right)

There’s no Wi-Fi or television on Telunas so it’s all about good wholesome family fun. The kids try their hand at fishing off our private balcony, jumping off the jetty and paddle boarding in the calm waters. We take a family kayak expedition around the island (it takes around 30 minutes to circumnavigate the island) and embark on a nature walk to discover the ‘secret beach’ on the other side. One morning we take the 2-minute shuttle boat across to the Telunas Beach Resort. Although the accommodation at the Beach Resort is distinctly no-frills, it does benefit from a spectacular beachfront – a huge expanse of sand where we hunt for hermit crabs and mudskippers and splash around in the shallow water. The big advantage Telunas has over the other private island escapes is its fully supervised kids club. So while the kids are being entertained with hermit crab races or arts and crafts activities, I escape to the blissful open-air overwater spa. Here I indulge in an aromatherapy massage to the sound of the splashing waves and cicadas in the mangrove trees. Life doesn’t get much better than this. 60 expat-parent.com

But wait, we have one more stop to make. On another Indonesian island not far away, we find Pulau Joyo to be the ultimate castaway isle to live out our Robinson Crusoe fantasies. Originally built by Hong Kong-based shipping magnate Antony Marden as a family holiday home, the island opened its doors to the public in 2011. Construction here has been restrained to just five driftwood ‘palaces’ and two traditional Javanese joglos, so seclusion and privacy are guaranteed. We spend three full days on the island and, apart from evening meal times, we barely see another soul the whole time we are here, despite full occupancy. We start each day with a walk around the island, following monitor lizard tracks in the sand. We swim, we snorkel, we paddle board, we kayak, we read, we eat we play, and we laugh a lot. We end the day with a bonfire and dinner on the beach, we count the stars and we are thankful that there is more to life than traffic and shopping malls and television and emails, and all the other mod-cons we have happily done without whilst in our own little slice of paradise.

Getting to Batu Batu:

Private taxi from Singapore to Mersing in Malaysia (details on Batu Batu website) takes approximately 3 hours. Private boat transfer from Mersing to Batu Batu takes around 20 minutes, batubatu.com.my

Getting to Telunas:

Ferry from Singapore’s Harbourfront ferry terminal to Sekupang in Batam takes approximately 50 minutes. Transfer via private boat from Sekupang to Telunas takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes, telunasresorts.com

Getting to Pula Joyo:

Ferry from Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani in Bintan, Indonesia takes approximately 1 hour. Land transfer across Bintan is around 1 hour 20 minutes, followed by 25-minute boat transfer, pulau-joyo.com

Other private island resorts near Singapore:

Nikoi Island – nikoi.com Cempedak Island – cempedak.com (Adults only) Pangkil Island – pangkil.com (Whole island hire only) Bawah Island – bawahisland.com (Accessible only via seaplane, ages 10+ only)

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To advertise, email talk@hongkongliving.com or call 2776 2772.


To advertise, email talk@hongkongliving.com or call 2776 2772.

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flailing spouse

Running woman

Hot to trot with a teen in pursuit


he Teen Child has been selected to represent her school on a netball tour to Shanghai. I am so proud of her. After all those fraught toddler years of tantrums, refusal to “share nicely”, apologies to other mothers, it seems it is all coming good. My daughter is not hanging around 7/11 with dubious boys and a can of Tsing Tao. She is a sporting star! I am a success as a mother! “That’s fantastic!” I gush as she deposits a small hillock of tour paperwork onto the kitchen counter (hello Chinese visa queue). “I’m so proud of you!” I swoon, attempting to give her a hug. “Well done!” “Yeah, thanks mum,” she grunts, the glimmer of a smile on her lips. “Ooooh, a trip to Shanghai! What fun, let me have the flight details and I’ll reserve my seat,” I trill. The smile becomes a grimace. “No way! You can’t come!” “Really?” How do teenagers do this? They manage to burst your little bubble of pride and happiness every time. “Why not?” “Oh god, it’s a NETBALL tour, mum, with my friends? Not a mother and daughter shopping trip! Just promise you won’t be in the same hotel,” she scowls, flouncing off up the stairs. “Or on the same flight!” Sadly, I resign myself to doing the right thing and letting my big girl do this thing alone. I’ve got to start letting go, she’s not a baby anymore. And no matter, because later that evening an email comes through from a friend in Singapore. Would I like to run the Angkor Wat half marathon this year? Hmm, not really, I think, 21km through the Laotian countryside last year was pretty tough. It took weeks of slogging along Hong Kong’s highways and byways to get me race fit, plus a fairly expensive physio bill for a sprained ankle and a pulled calf muscle. At one point I think my run coach was seriously ruling the day that he took me under his wing. Apparently I went a long-way towards disproving the quote by that American navy SEAL, ‘the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat’. In my case the more I sweated, the more the specialists’ medical bills accumulated on my husband’s desk. I must say the actual run went ok, although on the last lap I was so exhausted I mistook a tray of artistically arranged cocktails advertising

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

A Screwdriver looks very much like a Lucozade when you’ve just run 21 kilometers

a roadside restaurant for the free energy drinks supplied by the race organisers. And I don’t care what the barman said, a Screwdriver looks very much like a Lucozade when you’ve been sweating it out over 21km in 30-odd degrees of heat. But hey, there’s a whole group going on the Angkor Wat trip, with talk in the email of

a new boutique hotel with a spa, massages, shopping… “Go!” says my husband. “You deserve it, you work hard, with the kids, the house” (he waves his hand vaguely towards the scowling Blonde Child hitting the Boy Child over the head with the X-Box remote and the teetering sculpture of ginger jars in the corner) “or whatever it is you do all day,” he adds lamely. “Book it up, boutique hotels, the whole thing.” I suspect his magnanimity has more to do with his football team’s upcoming tour to Vietnam (I bumped into a fellow WAG in Fusion last week) and his subsequent need for a leave pass from family life for a long weekend than his desire for me to spend time with the girls. But whatever the reason, I can go. Four days, free as a bird, no kids, no school pick-up, no husband, lots of cocktails. Actually, a child-free zone for a few days is starting to sound very appealing. “Great!” I type back to the run posse, “I’m in!” The following week I’m perusing the latest stock of trainers in Escapade. Blue? Orange? Actually blue would go rather better with that Lulu Lemon top I got the other week. Gosh, decisions, decisions. And what sort of evening wear will be required? There’s been mention of a new Michelin starred restaurant. Maybe I should leave my accessories at home and have a good shop in the local markets? There’s nothing like a bit of Boho chic, and the Duchess of Cambridge did get away with those craft market earrings in Bhutan the other year... And so I’m in a haze of indecision when the Teen Child bursts through the front door from school later that afternoon. “Oh my god mum!” she cries. “Guess what?” I am frozen to the spot. What has my clever daughter done now? “I’ve only gone and been selected for the school run team going to Angkor Wat this year!” she whoops. “And we’re staying in this amazing new hotel with a spa!” My happy little bubble of peaceful, adultonly cocktails at sunset evaporates into the ether. Oh god, I just hope she’s not on the same flight.

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