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the really useful magazine

January 2018

Travel special Where will you be heading in 2018? File style

Get organised for the year ahead

Game on!

Safari adventures in Botswana





Editor’s letter


School news

Happy New Year!

FIS new campus update

4 Contributors


Open day

Meet the team


What’s on

Community moments in Causeway Bay

Busy times in the 852!


Life & style

Get sorted


Social scene All the pics from our Christmas reader charity lunch


Big day out

Tombolo fun in the New Territories


Things you need to know

58 Travel

Australia day

Beautiful Botswana


Flailing spouse

Tech triumphs

16 News

Happenings this month

20 Giveaways

Be lucky


Debate of the month

All a-board


Me & My Big Idea

All sewn up


Book review

Great reads for adults and kids


My Hong Kong

The yoga teacher




32 Cover story

Hot destinations for 2018


The big interview

From ESF to international photographer

54 56

Scan and visit our website

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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Publisher Tom Hilditch

Editorial Editor Carolynne Dear

Managing Editor Eric Ho

Editorial Assistant Catharina Cheung

Media Trainee Gemma Shaw

Design Design Manager Cindy Suen

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales and Marketing Executive Kiran Hiranandani

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Sales and Marketing Executive Angel Law



appy New Year! 2018 is here and with it the promise of another fun-filled twelve months Hong Kong-side. I have enormously enjoyed putting together our January issue as it’s all about one of my favourite past-times - travel. I had some wonderful chats with tour and hotel experts this month, gleaning all the latest info on what’s hot this summer. And with an inbox now stuffed with drop-dead gorgeous locations across the world, it has also left me with a rather long bucket list to fulfill by January 2019. Time to crack on with the day job... Find out more on page 32. If like me the Christmas festivities have left you feeling a little bit on the overindulged side, check out expert hiker Tara Smyth’s expedition on page 56. Ideal for littlies and even 4WD buggies, it’s a great route for getting out into the countryside and banishing the indoor blues. I am also hoping to seek inspiration from our life and style section and finally get my personal admin organised this year. If nothing else, the inspiring desk tidy ideas on page 50 are a great excuse for a little bit of retail therapy at this chilly time of year. Enjoy!

Digital Co-ordinator Cora Chan

Accounting 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 to our cover photographer this month, Marianne Rogerson, for this show-stopping image of Batu Batu resort in Malaysia. Our cover models are Jaime, Xander and Ella who thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the stunning location and posing for the camera. Rogerson is a travel writer, photographer and blogger, follow her adventures at


HONG KONG 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. 3


Kate Farr

Catharina Cheung

Tara J Smyth

...gets us organised this month with a complete low-down on expat-related paperwork. A regular contributor to Expat Parent, Kate is a freelance writer and mum-oftwo adventurous boys. She is also co-founder of agency Editors Ink with fellow writer Rachel Read. Follow her adventures around the territory @accidental_tt.

...has lived in Singapore, Beijing, London and Nottingham, and recently chose to return to Hong Kong. She is an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminism and LGBTQ issues, and a big lover of animals. You will most likely find her belting out show tunes at karaoke, or in stationery stores scribbling cryptic messages on pen tester pads.

...guides us through a post-Christmas feast hike ideal for families. Tara started hiking in 2011 when she, and three friends, signed up for Oxfam Trailwalker. Not even owning a pair of trainers, she got kitted out and hit the trails. Since then, Tara has covered hundreds and hundreds of kilometres on the trails in Hong Kong, UK, Italy and Nepal.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

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what’s on JAN 7

The Clearwater Bay Chase 2018 Ten kilometre charity run from Clearwater Bay Marina to Clearwater Bay Beach II and back. All enrolment fees will go to Breakthrough Ltd to support its Liberal Studies Project. 8:30am12pm, The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, Clearwater Bay, or for more information.

Diary dates 7

what’s on

Winterfest fireworks on Jan 1



Paintings and sculptures by controversial British artist Damien Hirst. The exhibition showcases Hirst’s work from early-mid 1990’s. Gagosian Gallery, 7/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central,

Pixar invites Hong Kong fans to take an exclusive peek behind the scenes of some of its most popular movies at a special exhibition with the theme “friendship and family”. 106pm weekdays, 10-7pm weekends (closed Tuesdays), $20,

Damien Hirst: Visual Candy and Natural History


Pixar 30 Years of Animation


Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Heritage Museum Woody and Buzz Bob Pauley Toy Story 1995 Marker and pencil on paper ©Disney/Pixar


Held every three years, this event features international poster designs from all over the world. 10-6pm weekdays, 10-7pm weekends (closed Tuesdays), free admission, Hong Kong Heritage Museum,


AIA The Great European Carnival Merging elements of carnival and festival into a giant outdoor event, including rides and roller coasters, game stands for all ages, food stalls, live music and performances, as well as the famous Gandey European Circus staged in a 1,200 seat big top circus tent. 11am-11pm, from $40, Central Harbourfront Event Space,

Hong Kong International Poster Triennial 2017

Glitter, Glitz and Glamour Known as the godfather of Hong Kong movie posters, local illustrator Yuen Tai-yung showcases 24 signature celebrity caricatures including those of Bruce Lee, Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung. Free, Avenue of Stars, Waterfront Podium Garden, TST.


Winterfest fireworks New Year’s Eve fireworks over Victoria Harbour organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and part of the annual Winterfest event. Various locations around the harbour,

what’s on JAN 1

42nd New Year Winter Swimming Lifesaving Championships The 600m race organised by Hong Kong Life Saving Society starts from Middle Bay Beach and finishes at Repulse Bay Jetty. 10:30am,


Dragon & Lion Dance Extravaganza 2018 The parade runs from the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to Canton Road, TST, 11.30am-1pm, followed by the International Dragon and Lion Dance Day Launching Ceremony, 1-2pm, and the Variety Show and Dragon and Lion Dance Workshop from 2-5pm. Free, dragonlion.hks

and a fantastic score. From $445, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Lyric Theatre, Wan Chai,

JAN 6 - FEB 11

JAN 12-FEB 11

Huge demand has resulted in a last minute extension of the season of this awardnominated Andrew Lloyd Weber production until Feb 11. Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show is alight with witty verse, stunning costumes

The five-week festival of theatre for young people returns to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. This year features nine productions including The Gruffalo, Ugly Duckling and Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo,

KidsFest 2018

JAN 13

International Montessori School Open Day Find out if IMS is the right fit for your children and family by touring the campus and speaking to faculty members. 9am-12pm, Phase III, Ma Hang Estate, Stanley, email for enquiries.

JAN 13 Alessandro Pinna John Brannoch

CATS the Musical

Yoga and Mindfulness for Children: A Workshop for Parents Children will learn valuable techniques for dealing with stress and other issues in this hands on workshop taught a registered children’s yoga teacher. Techniques taught will be tailored around specific family needs. 9.30am-12.30pm, $650, Little Gems, Discovery Bay, 9

what’s on JAN 13

Imagine Dragons Evolve World Tour Live in Hong Kong The Grammy-award winning American rockers perform for one night only in Hong Kong to promote their third album, Evolve. 8pm, AsiaWorld-Expo. Tickets range from $388 to $888.

JAN 14

Discovery Bay Market Artists, crafters, designers and bakers offer their wares at the first Handmade Hong Kong Market of 2018. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau.

JAN 17-24

The 9th Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival Cho-Liang Lin returns to direct the week-long music event featuring workshops, concerts and talks from 16 international artists and six local artists. Performances from Anna Polonsky, Cheung Man-yui Kitty and Jerusalem Quartet. Various locations, from $100,

JAN 20

Lantau Base Camp Ladies Race Female runners take in breathtaking views of Chi Ma Wan as they race across Mui Wo to raise money for Hong Kong Cancer Fund. 9am, $360 for the 12km and $400 for the 20km,

JAN 20

Early Years Foundation Stage Experience Day Schools experts Top Schools brings together Sai Kung district kindergartens and preschools for a packed program of educational activities and informative, interactive sessions

for the whole family. Aimed at parents of children aged five and under. Principals and admissions staff will also be on hand to answer parents’ questions and there will be taster sailing sessions courtesy of Hebe Haven Yacht Club. Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Hebe Haven, Sai Kung, tickets from

JAN 21

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon Starting in Nathan Road, TST and finishing in Victoria Park, this 42km international annual event includes a half marathon, a 10km race, a half marathon wheelchair race and a three kilometre wheelchair race. Races start at 6.10am, support the runners on either side of the harbour.

JAN 25- 28

Disney on Ice The show returns to Hong Kong to celebrate Walt Disney’s 100th birthday with “100 Years of Magic”. The programme includes 50 memorable Disney characters and 30 sing-along songs include ‘Let It Go’, ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’. From $300, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai.

JAN 17-31

Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong Held every three years, The Volvo Ocean Race is considered one of the toughest sport competitions in the world covering roughly 40,000 nautical miles and taking around nine months to complete. For the first time in the race’s 43-year history a stopover has been confirmed in Hong Kong. The key Hong Kong race will see the boats compete up and down Victoria Harbour on 27 Jan at 2pm. On 28 Jan at 11am the boats will take part in an exclusive to Hong Kong Round the Island Race. Victoria Harbour,

JAN 28

Gammon China Coast Marathon and Half Marathon 2018 The route starts and ends at High Island Reservoir in Pak Tam Chung. $500 registration fee, deadline for registration is Jan 8, or earlier if quota is filled, or email


BOOK NOW in environmental education. Enrollment quota is already full, to join the waitlist email

FEB 9-11

Longines Masters of Hong Kong Now in its sixth edition, this international high-level competition brings some of the best riders and horses in the world to Hong Kong. The competition visits Hong Kong, after Paris and before New York. Spectator tickets are $250 per session. AsiaWorld-Expo. Tickets available at


Green Power Hike 2018 This large-scale annual hike attracts over 3,000 participants. Organised with the aim to appreciate Hong Kong’s

MARCH 22-25 natural beauty, participants are encouraged to take part in green practices including ‘Take Your Litter Home’, waste separation and recycling. Funds raised will go to Green Power’s works

Taste of Hong Kong presented by Standard Chartered The third edition of this annual event returns with a mouthwatering line-up of Hong Kong’s

best restaurants and chefs, plus one-off food exclusives and interactive attractions. And don’t miss the festival’s first dessertonly menu created by Poem Patisserie. Tickets are available now,, more info from

MAY 2-6

Saint Petersburg Theatre Russian Ballet Swan Lake The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Company visit Hong Kong for the first time with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, often considered the world’s most famous love story. St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Company are sure to put on an impressive show featuring lavish costumes and stunning sets. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Lyric Theatre. Tickets start at $445 from 11

social scene

Lunch fun

Fun and games at Expat Parent’s reader lunch Thanks to everyone who made our Christmas mingle and jingle lunch such a success! We raised heaps of cash for Box of Hope and enjoyed a fun afternoon courtesy of Events for Life and our many sponsors! Here’s a selection of top shots from the day...


social scene 13

things to know


There are currently around 100,000 Australian expats living in Hong Kong.

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove.


The Australian gold rushes of the 1950s were the first interaction between Australian and southern Chinese as Hong Kong became the point of departure for the Chinese emigrants.

By State Library of Queensland, Australia via Wikimedia Commons


Bernhard Otto Holterman with 630lb gold from Hill End

also mar the cut est supi a ther ls live e...

By American & Australasian Photographic Company via Wikimedia Commons

ney Syd ve Co


In the 1880s, Australia’s first shipment of cattle arrived in Hong Kong.

Things you need to know Australia Day Jan 26 is Australia Day - here’s a potted history of Aussies Hong Kong-side


In 1995 the Australian International School Hong Kong was established to serve the demands of the antipodean population. It was built on the site of British army school, St George.


Michael Hutchence was probably Australia’s most famous Hong Kong resident. He moved to the territory aged three, attended King George V school until he was a teen and returned in the late 1980s, renting a flat in Tai Tam.



If you fancy celebrating with the Aussies, check out the Australian Association at


If you want to celebrate on January 26, throw some lamb on the barbecue (admittedly it’s not the greatest time of year for al fresco dining in the northern hemisphere) and celebrate all that is great about the sunburnt country - democracy, lifestyle and a ‘fair go’ attitude. 15


Ice is nice Harbin in northern China has been transformed into a winter wonderland for its annual Ice and Snow World display and the International Snow Sculpture Expo. Highlights include an all-ice cartoon world, an ice show and a Siberian Tiger Park. Joining the frozen fun, Shangri-La Harbin and Songbei Shangri-La Harbin have teamed up to create a display of ice architecture by local craftsmen. Included is an Ice Palace restaurant at both hotels serving hot pot in indoor temperatures of -10 degrees celsius. A 12-seat Ice Lounge features all-ice furniture and will be serving up hot and cold drinks daily. The hotels are offering an Absolute Ice special until February 28 - prices start from RMB3,199 and include two nights’ stay for two people, daily buffet breakfast, a RMB400 dining voucher, a shuttle bus between the hotels and Harbin’s icy attractions and a winter ‘care’ kit,

Medical care ramped up on Southside

Disney set for expansion Disneyland Hong Kong has announced a six-year expansion programme starting this month. It will include a new attraction-a-year for the next six years. The first to open will be a Moana-themed entertainment venue in Adventureland later this year. Samuel Lau, executive vice president and managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland resort, said there will be further first-of-a-kind attractions based on Marvel and Frozen. The Marvel Iron Man Experience is the park’s most popular attraction, so in plans for continued growth as Asia’s Marvel epicentre, there will be a dedicated Marvel area featuring Ant-Man, The Wasp and SHIELD. Beginning from this month, the park’s 16

iconic castle will be completely reimagined to pay tribute to all of the Disney princesses. It currently only features Sleeping Beauty. Once the castle is complete, the venue will showcase new daytime and nighttime entertainment. Due to the renovation work, the Disney In The Stars firework display will finish for the time being on January 1.

Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital now offer their outpatient and emergency services 24 hours a day. Prior to December 2017, these services ceased daily at 11pm. The Outpatient and Emergency Department provides swift medical attention to critical and life threatening emergencies as well as treatment for urgent medical problems. Gleneagles’ team of in-house surgeons and medical specialists can provide care in areas including cardiology, neurology, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, ophthalmology, and general surgery. Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital is at 1 Nam Fung Path, Wong Chuk Hang,


Bump bunnies Central-based gym H-Kore will be running a pre- and post-natal workshop on January 25, 10am-12pm. The session will be led by H-Kore in partnership with sports physio specialists Joint Dynamics. Topics covered will include supporting your body’s needs to prepare for pregnancy, prenatal changes and what to expect, how to aid delivery and promote post-natal recovery and appropriate exercises and modifications. For more details contact Larissa at

Ocean Park fees increase Artist Christy Chow with her winning piece at last month’s Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize

Hong Kong Human Rights art prize announced Local artist Christy Chow has won the fourth annual Hong Kong Human Rights Prize for her piece, De-Stitching. Shortlisted with 25 other pieces of work, Chow’s submission is part of the artist’s Laborland series highlighting sweatshop labour. The artist took a shirt that was sewn together by a sweatshop worker in Bangladesh in less than 15 minutes and deconstructed it by removing 3,745 stitches carefully and counting every stitch in Cantonese

over 4.5 hours. The idea is to pay tribute to the labour of the anonymous sweatshop worker, questioning the value of labour in the world of capitalism, and asking if the value of labour can only be measured monetarily. Chow was presented with a trophy and $35,000 at a ceremony held at Blindspot Gallery in Wong Chuk Hang last month. To support the non-profit work of award sponsors Justice Centre Hong Kong, see

Mingle and jingle gets party started We would like to extend our most heartfelt thank you to our guests, sponsors, and everyone else who supported Expat Parent magazine’s first ever charity ‘Mingle and Jingle’ lunch on November 30. The event was a resounding success, with over 80 awesome guests gracing us with their presence. From the raffle sales, the auctions, and your generous donations, we have generated over $18,000 to be donated to our charity of choice, Box of Hope. Give yourselves a pat on the back for contributing to a great cause while having a great time. 18

A special mention goes out to Mindy and Jude from Events For Life who so spectacularly put this lunch together and gave it tons of fun vibes. Thank you also to Nicholas, Nikki, and the team at Mr Wolf who carried the lunch through without a hitch. We’d love to see the photos you took, so please share them with us on social media using the hashtag #epminglejingle. Thank you once again for your incredible support and generosity, and see you again at our next event. Check it out on pages 12-13…

Ocean Park has announced a nine per cent admission fee increase this year. Leo Kung Lin-cheng, Chairman of Ocean Park, explained that the new pricing scheme has been implemented to maintain the Southside attraction’s competitiveness and to ‘keep the Park’s finances sustainable’. According to Ocean Park’s financial results for the 2016/17 fiscal year ending 30 June 2017, the Park has generated a slight increase in revenue of $1,619.8 million, while narrowing its deficit to HK$234.4 million despite a marginal dip in Park attendance to 5.8 million. Capitalising on the extension of the MTR to its doorstep, Ocean Park launched the Lakeside Chill al fresco dining area in January 2017 and inaugurated the evening entertainment event Chill Out @ The South last March. The Park also has several new attractions in the pipeline, including two luxury hotels and an all-weather water theme park. The first hotel is expected to be completed by mid 2018 and the water park in 2019. Daytime admission tickets for adults and children will be increased from February 28 to HK$480 and HK$240 respectively, while prices for SmartFun annual passes will remain unchanged. Ocean Park is also extending its birthday discount for residents. From this year HKID holders can purchase up to four Ocean Park tickets at a 15% discount off the published rates during their birthday month while they also enjoy complimentary admission on their birthday, 19

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

$1,500 city’super voucher

TakeOut Comedy

Aphrodite Freelance Hair and Makeup

party - Jacquiline has got you covered. For more information, visit aphroditehairandmakeup We have a $1,200 gift voucher to give away. The voucher can be redeemed at the Peninsula Salon in Sai Kung and can be used for a haircut, blowdry, 1/2 head highlights or root touch-up.

Rubison Marketing Solutions is an independent agency that aims to provide integrated marketing solutions to a variety of clients. From branding, media strategies and events to public relations, digital Marketing and more, Rubison is the go-to company to help you reach your target audience. Courtesy of Rubison, we have one city’super voucher to giveaway, valued at $1,500.

Founded by Jacquiline Hamilton, full-time mom and seasoned hairdresser, Aphrodite Freelance Hair and Makeup provides on-demand makeup and hair services. Whether you’re looking to get a new haircut or getting your glam on for a big


Time to laugh out loud! TakeOut Comedy, a long-time Soho establishment, is the first full-time comedy club in Asia. The club has shows lined up every week featuring international acts and local talents. They are also the force behind the annual Hong Kong International Comedy Festival, which will be returning for the 12th time in 2018. Visit for more. We’re giving away a pair of TakeOut Comedy gift certificates, worth $1,200 in total.

Xtreme Lashes HK

As the saying goes, eyes are the window to the soul. So, why not keep your peepers picture perfect, with a treatment that frames them beautifully? Xtreme Lashes have mastered the art of eyelash extensions. Offering a range of looks, from va-va-voom to something more chic and subtle, the lashes are safe, hygienic and comfortable to wear—and applied individually by certified stylists. Lasting between six to eight weeks, they’re sure to be your new favourite accessory. We are giving away four eyelash extension passes, valued at $2,388. 21

debate of the month

Brain drain

Boarding school for all, or is it an outdated colonial notion these days? Boarding allows children to maintain a group of friends, unlike in Hong Kong where it’s more transient. Alexandra “I get why people did it years ago, but there’s so much choice now that I’d say yes, it’s an outdated colonial notion.” Kate

“If everyone stayed put, we wouldn’t have this exodus of sporting and academic talent each year, which encourages even more kids to leave. It’s a vicious circle.” Jo “We tried to sell them the boarding school dream, but they resisted. So we’re stuck paying rent on a four-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. We can’t say we didn’t try!” Mike

“My daughter is planning on doing weekly boarding for her A levels in Hong Kong. I like the idea that it prepares her for university - I don’t think I’d like her first experience of being away from home to be when I’m thousands of miles away.” Sarah

My youngest started when she was 11 - the first year away was a nightmare. Joanna

“With so many international and big name schools in Hong Kong these days, I really don’t see the advantage in seeking an education overseas.” Pia

I was sent to boarding school for sixth form and I hated it! Zoe

Our daughter asked to go in Year 10. Although boarding came with its own set of problems, she is now 22 and doesn’t regret the choice. Debra

We want to hear from you! Next month: Lai See or not to Lai See - will you be doling out little red packets for Chinese New Year?

Email your views to

22 23

me & my big idea

All sewn up

An environmental initiative hopes to rid Hong Kong of plastic bags. Stitch Up founder Kathryn Davies tells Expat Parent how What’s the big idea? My big idea is to kill two birds with one stone - upcycle unwanted fabrics such as scraps from the textile or hotel industry to stop them going to landfill; and to create reusable, cloth bags that are a cheap alternative to plastic shopping bags. A further goal is to offer employment to those in need, particularly women.

How did it come about? I was working on a PhD at Hong Kong University (HKU) until quite recently, but I was frustrated with the disconnect between lofty research and down-to-earth problems. Since being in Hong Kong, I’ve been mesmerized by the stunning natural environment that we have, but through participating in beach cleanups I have been heartbroken to see the senseless, even selfish, damage that we are causing. So, I decided to focus my time on doing something practical that would address the very real problem of plastic bag pollution. I thought putting together my skills with sewing would be the most realistic thing I could do.

So how does it work? I want to create new systems of consumption and shopping so that there are reusable bags in place of plastic ones. The idea might involve rethinking how we can conveniently get reusable bags to where people need them - such as the supermarket or bakery - and how we could create a system for returning them. We’re very much in the planning stages at the moment.

How long has the idea taken to evolve? It’s been brewing in my mind for a couple of years - as a PhD student you do a lot of procrastinating - but it was last September that we started to set the ball rolling by collecting fabric and sewing our first bags. We have just completed our first semester working with HKU social venture 24

Kathryn Davies with her hand-sewn upcycled shopping bags

management students and we are still considering how best to move the idea forward. In the near future we hope to reach out to businesses who could distribute the bags, either as packaging for their products or directly into supermarkets.

How can readers get involved? I hope one day all Hong Kongers will have a convenient reusable bag option available to them as an alternative to plastic bags. We may not be able to accomplish this easily in Hong Kong, so we may have to start by distributing the cloth bags to other countries where laws and habits are already favourable to less plastic consumption. I would encourage everyone to always carry a reusable bag with them - with each

small change a difference is made. And I’ve discovered myself that it’s really not that inconvenient to live without disposable packaging. I’m also hoping to start up volunteer workshops, so people can come and help us sort and cut up the fabric to send to the ladies who sew for us. I’d love for Expat Parent readers to like us on Facebook and follow us when we advertise sales at local markets. Please do drop us a line and order some bags - our first prototypes! We hope to formally launch mid-year and have a website up and running by the end of this month, so stay tuned. Follow Davies and her team at 25

book review

Out this month Still Me Before You

The English Wife

The Music Shop

Just Between Us

Jojo Moyes

Lauren Willig

Rachel Joyce

Rebecca Drake

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident she can embrace this new adventure and keep her long-distance relationship with Ambulance Sam alive. Determined to get the most out of the city, she throws herself into her new job working for the super-rich Gopnik family. She’s soon hobnobbing with New York’s high society and meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life. He is the scion of an old moneyed family and she grew up in a manor house in England. Following a whirlwind romance and the birth of beautiful twins, he recreates her family home on the banks of the Hudson. So far, so good. But three years later, on the evening of their Twelfth Night Ball, Bayard is found dead and Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned.

In 1988 on a dead-end street stands a music shop. It’s small, brightly lit and jam-packed with records of every kind. Frank, the owner, has a way of connecting with his customers and finding just the right piece of music for each of them. Then one day, in steps Ilse Brauchmann who asks Frank to teach her about music. And so begins the story of a journey of two quirky characters trying to overcome their emotional baggage through the healing power of music and love.

A heart-stopping novel of suspense when four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime. Alison, Julie, Sarah and Heather have steady jobs, beautiful homes and healthy kids. But each has a dirty secret hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives. Things start to unravel when Alison spots a bruise on Heather’s wrist. As mysterious injuries mount, Heather can no longer deny the marital abuse but refuses to leave her husband.

Tomes for tots What’s new for little bookworms this month

When I Grow Up Tim Minchin Inspired by Minchin’s hit song When I Grow Up from Matilda the Musical, this fun book takes a humorous look at adult life from a child’s perspective. Surely grown-ups must eat sweets every day, climb the biggest trees, and watch cartoons til their eyes go square? But do they really?


Dog Man and Cat Kid

What Do You Do With A Chance?

ET - The ExtraTerrestrial

Dav Pilkey

Kobi Yamada

Kim Smith

The creator of Captain Underpants is back with popular canine character, Dog Man. This time he has a furry sidekick in Cat Kid, and together they have a mystery to sniff out. When a new kitty sitter and a glamorous movie star go missing, it’s up to Dog Man and Cat Kid to save the day. Will it all work out, or will the world’s most evil cat Petey send them barking up the wrong tree?

A child is visited by his first chance and, unsure about it, lets it go. When a new chance arrives, this time he reaches out for it, but misses and falls. And so he begins to ignore each new chance, even though he really wants to take them. Eventually he works out that when you are brave and say yes to new experiences, amazing things can happen.

A fun and colourful story based on the hugely popular 1982 film, with retro-style illustration by illustrator Kim Smith. ET is stranded on earth and takes refuge with Elliott, a lonely young boy needing a friend. As Elliott and his siblings help ET phone home and return to his spaceship against all the odds, they learn important lessons about courage, friendship and imagination.

Harry Potter - A Journey Through A History of Magic JK Rowling A romp through the history of magic, from alchemy to unicorns, ancient witchcraft to Harry’s Hogwarts, packed with unseen sketches and manuscript pages from JK Rowling and wonderful artefacts magically released from the archives at the British Library. Find out about herbology, defence against the dark arts, astronomy, divination and more. 27

book review How did you find the writing process? I enjoyed it very much. I was exercising my freedom to its full extent to create my own world with just a pen and a brush. It was particularly fulfilling as I was the one to write as well as the one doing the illustrating. It’s a wonderful thing being able to reclaim the freedom we grown-ups have lost, and to put it to good use to inspire the next generation.

What were your own childhood favourites?

It’s an elf’s life Mum-of-two Libby Lam tells Expat Parent how she switched from corporate life to writing So what’s your new book about? Crispy Children tells the story of a starving elf named De who was propelled to commit evil acts in exchange for food. As a socialpsychology major, I was fascinated by the Lucifer Effect book authored by psychologist Philip Zimbardo. As a children’s book lover, I was driven to explore his theory on why ‘good men turn bad’ in a children’s book context. In Crispy Children I wanted to engage young readers in De’s struggle of being caught between harming and helping others. After finishing the manuscripts, I took a trip to Yunnan in western China to research the colourful scenery, decor and costumes there. The place was my key reference for creating my own fantasy world for my characters to live in. It made the visuals more appealing and believable and helped amplify the power of my story.

How hard was the switch from corporate life to writing? I was very determined to succeed as a children’s book writer and illustrator. During 28

the last week in my old job, I had already begun a drawing course with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I continued to fill my new life with more drawing and story writing classes at SCAD, which I found really useful in meeting my new goal. I was also able to devote a big new chunk of time to my daughters who are the source of my inspiration. Keeping busy with a new purpose made the transition smooth and easy.

Why write a children’s book rather than adult fiction? My daughters are my inspiration. After they were born, I began to delve into the world of children’s literature and fell in love with the beautiful illustrations that go with them. I used storytelling as a way of communicating with my daughters. While there are thousands of children’s books out there serving different purposes, I have new ideas that have that have yet to be covered so I thought to myself, why not create my own books?

My aunt gifted me a Reader’s Digest children’s book-set when I was eight. It held a special place in my heart as it was my very first set of non-hand-me-down English books. Back then, my aunt was the only one in my extended family who could read English. I enjoyed every moment when she read them to me and I asked her as many questions as I could to be able to understand the stories. One of my favourites was Hey Diddle Diddle - A First Book of Nursery Rhymes. It was illustrated by a children’s book guru called Anne Grahame Johnstone. I used to spend a lot of time studying every detail of her illustrations and could remember them by heart. I kept the book in such good condition I was able to pass it down to my own daughters, and they love it too. Crispy Children is available in Hong Kong from booksellers Eslite (Hysan Place and Harbour City), Metrobooks (Elements), Commercial Press (, Joint Publishing ( and Popular (Megabox). 29


My Hong Kong the yoga teacher From bubbly tv presenter and buzzing events organiser, it’s been a winding road to yogic bliss for Mindy Tagliente 30

PEOPLE When I was at university in England in the early ‘90s, I used to come to Hong Kong to visit family, look after my cousins and work in the bars. This was during the long summer holidays and I needed to bump up my finances for study. I totally loved the fast pace and buzz of the city. So much so that after I graduated I made the decision that this was the perfect place to start my career in television. I moved on April 17 1997 - I remember it clearly. There have since been many highs and many lows - but luckily mainly highs. One of my biggest career highlights was presenting and producing a children’s show on ATV. I was pretty much given free reign and I tried to empower children by raising awareness about various, cultural, social and environmental issues. The lowest point was when my programme was axed. It was decided that there would be no more English-speaking productions filmed in Hong Kong. That was a turning point in my career.

Mindy Tagliente teaches at overseas retreats and leads private classes all over Hong Kong

I love everything about yoga - it keeps me young and it grounds me

I headed a start-up company in 2000 that focused on empowering young people through on and off-line market research, entertainment and online television. It was a great project but a little bit forward thinking. Not many people believed us when we said in a few years everything would be accessible from their phones! Sometimes timing is everything. So I decided to take a step back from the corporate world and start a family. These days I’m a yoga instructor living in Sai Kung with my husband and three children. Yoga and wellness have always been a big part of my life so I thought it would be a good thing for me to pursue. I thought teaching yoga would allow me a degree of fIexibility (both literally and figuratively!) whilst concentrating on starting

a family. So in 2004 I ended up founding Yoga For Life, the first organisation in Hong Kong to offer private yoga classes at home. I then went on to co-found Events for Life with a good friend - we organise all kinds of things, including wellness retreats.

a month I hold half-day retreats at Five Elements at the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy in Sai Kung. These retreats include yoga, wellness treatments and the best plant-based lunches in Hong Kong at the Academy’s vegan restaurant.

I love everything about yoga. It keeps me young, grounds me after 20 years of practising and it’s become a huge part of my life. The physical aspects, like that allround sense of well-being that you feel after every class, is just one reason why I would recommend yoga to anyone of any age. For me, it creates space in my body and space in my life, which allows me to see situations more objectively. It allows me to respond to events instead of react to them - well, most of the time. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to bring your mind and your emotions into a physical practice. Over time, you find you get better at aligning them and you finally manage to arrive at that place you never thought was possible - a handstand for instance. It’s an incredible feeling.

Life is hectic, but in my spare time I like nothing better than hanging with my family in my pyjamas watching a good movie. If I’m out and about, I love heading over to Sham Shui Po to source new ideas for our events business. And I love my home in Sai Kung for its hikes, countryside and laid back nature - a rare thing in Hong Kong.

I teach classes all over Hong Kong. Although private classes are the majority of my work, I do hold a couple of group sessions in Tseung Kwan O and once

My favourite spot in Hong Kong? The view from the Peak at night - it still sends shivers down my spine after 20 years. I have no resolutions this year. I gave them up a couple of years ago after realising I was just putting more pressure on myself to achieve goals that were often unrealistic. Ironically once I stopped making them, they started happening. Contact Yoga For Life at or WhatsApp 9748 4567. 31


Postcard perfection Make 2018 your best holiday year yet. Carolynne Dear finds out where the travel experts will be hanging their beach towels this summer


R VE Y O R C TO S Amanwella Resort, Sri Lanka 33



ith Christmas firmly behind us, it’s time to dig out the guide books and start looking ahead to summer. Of course residing in Hong Kong and thus reasonably central to most destinations, the exciting prospect of family adventures overseas often turns into an overwhelming wish list of potential destinations. Most of Europe is a straight forward overnight flight away, and then there’s Scandinavia, or the rest of Asia. And with the kids off school for a hefty portion of the summer, it’s the perfect time of year to get a long-haul into the bag with a trip to the Americas. So where to start looking first? For some, the lure of ‘home’ will outweigh many other considerations. But what if you want a ‘proper’ holiday once the relatives have been visited and old friends caught up with? Of course travel with children throws up its own set of challenges. Most of us want to see or to do something a bit different on


Sri Lanka scenes

holiday, but how do you marry that with the demands of smaller globetrotters? Lucy Jackson, co-founder of luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel, is a mother herself and well versed in the needs of families. “People like to get off the beaten track, but with littlies in tow it’s important to be practical as well,” she says. “Is there a decent chemist or doctor within reasonable reach, for example?” Lightfoot is a luxury tour operator with offices in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong (and one more about to open in Sydney), specialising in tailored holidays to countries all over the world. A staff of forty works across the offices and are sub-divided into teams of experts. These specialists visit ‘their’ area at least twice a year to keep up to date with new openings and developments and there are also teams of people ‘on the ground’ that Lightfoot works with. From being able to recommend the hottest chef in town, to just being aware of nitty gritty infrastructure information, it’s these sorts of detail that can ‘lift’ a holiday from fun to fabulous. “One example is the new expressway between holiday hotspot Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka and the capital city Colombo,” says Jackson. “It’s nuts and bolts detail, but it knocks an hour off the 120km journey time and makes things much more comfortable. It’s this sort of information that makes a whole host of resorts much more ‘do-able’.” Of course Lightfoot team members are on-hand to make recommendations for the more exciting side of travel and basically

‘pimp up’ your holiday. “We recently hosted a family 70th birthday party in Sri Lanka,” explains Jackson. “We were asked to recommend a restaurant, but I knew of a fantastic local chef who could be brought in to create a memorable dinner. We decorated canopies with flowers by the rice paddies and it was a very special evening.” According to Jackson, multi-generational travel is becoming increasingly popular,

The lighthouse at Galle 35


Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort

particularly in expat territory like Hong Kong. “Families often request best ‘meet-up’ destinations. I would say if you’re hooking up with European-based family, Sri Lanka is a great option. It’s pretty much halfway, the villas are gorgeous - think Bawa-style charm, lots of space, large rooms and of course they are fully serviced. With small children in tow, villas are always preferable to hotels. When you’re up at sunrise with tiny tots, you don’t want to be told the hotel breakfast doesn’t open until 8am. With a villa holiday, you can completely tailor your holiday to match your needs.” If you’re Europe-bound, Italy is still on many wish lists, with a bit of everything for everyone. Croatia is enjoying a lot of interest, as is Montenegro. “I do think people are trying to find something a bit different in Europe and Montenegro ticks that box,” says Jackson. “And of course interest has risen since Aman Resorts opened on the Adriatic.”

Tour agent Flight Centre ( hk) agrees. “If you want to get off the beaten path and visit a destination before it’s overrun with tour groups, Montenegro certainly fits the bill,” said a company spokesperson. “With pink sand beaches, soaring mountains and lush forests, there are plenty of breath-taking natural sites to take in, juxtaposed with a treasure trove of medieval architecture.” The

Multi-generational travel is becoming increasingly popular

Hawaii’s stunning coastline


tour company recommends trying the Aman Sveti Stefan for a Balkan seaside getaway, or taking a sailboat along the Adriatic coast. “The ancient town of Budva is an interesting stopping off point.” Portugal is also enjoying a bit of a resurgence - it’s affordable, there are lots of boutique hotels opening at the moment and it’s a great family destination. “Often overlooked, Portugal is currently perceived as ‘safer’ than other European destinations due to recent terrorist events,” said Mark Thomson, a director at Minor Hotels which is owner of the Anantara resort group ( “It’s loaded with culture and also has some great coastline and beaches.” The group has recently acquired a property on the Algarve, its first step into Portugal. The Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort overlooks the Victoria golf course and boasts 280 rooms and suites, five swimming pools - including a children’s pool and Palms outdoor pool, both of which are heated from October to May - kids and teens clubs, family activities, babysitting, and is just a few minutes drive to the beach, bars and restaurants of Vilamoura. Hawaii is also rising in the popularity stakes, especially with more flights opening up the Pacific islands to Hong Kongers. Scoot is planning a flight to Honolulu by the end of

R VE Y O R C TO S Sunny days in Oman

this year. With beaches, shopping and heaps of activities, it’s a destination that suits all ages and budgets. “Catch a helicopter flight to Haleakala National Park, Haleakala Crater and Hana Rainforest Preserve, the largest rainforest in the United States,” says Jackson. And what of the ‘shoulder season’, in March and April and again in October when most school half-term holidays pop up but

there’s not so much time to travel long-haul? “Oman is bucking the mass tourism trend and offers a ‘rarefied’ experience due to the relatively few travellers who visit,” says Jackson. “It’s a decent mid-haul destination and has got that exploratory feel - going out in dune buggies and so forth. But you can also pair it with a beach holiday around Muscat or Six Senses Zighy Bay on the Gulf

of Oman - on arrival you’re taken up the mountain and invited to paraglide into the reception area - and with a heap of other activities it’s great for teens looking for a bit of adventure. March and April is also a good time of year weather-wise for the Middle East, mid-summer is too hot. “Take an eight-day tour from Muscat, discover the Harjar Mountains and take a 4WD tour under the craggy peaks of Jebel Akhdar, stop at picturesque fishing village Sur which is famous for its traditional Dhow boat building, and finally enjoy a luxury safari-style tent and candlelit dinner,” says Jackson. Anantara resorts recently opened Al Baleed Resort Salalah along the south coast of Dhofar. The hotel includes kids and teens clubs and is minutes away from UNESCO World Heritage Site Al Baleed Archaeological Park with grand mosque ruins and the Museum of Frankincense. The resort offers a 250 metre beach, outdoor infinity pool, spa, sports courts, watersports, dive centre, cocktail classes and Thai and Arabian cooking workshops. “Personally, I like Vietnam and Cambodia for those in-between holidays,” admits Jackson. “My picks would be the Four Seasons Nam Hai and The Victoria in Hoi An. 37

C ST OV O ER RY In Siem Reap the Belmond is lovely and I have heard good things about Phum Baitang Hotel, which is a sort of ‘green village’ made up of Cambodian architect-designed villas and was of course where Angelina Jolie stayed during the filming of First They Killed My Father. Siem Reap is great for families, we can set up picnics amongst the temples, bike tours, boat trips on the lake - it’s very affordable and you can do it in just four days or so.” And for Jackson herself? An extended family holiday in Noosa is on the cards for Chinese New Year, then she’s hoping for a trip to either Sri Lanka (“my favourite Asian destination”) or Sira Beach House in northern Lombok - overlooking the Gili Islands and a watersports lover’s paradise.

People are looking for something different in Europe and Montenegro ticks that box “The only issue with Lombok is the non-direct flight, but just take that extra leg and you will get so much more out of your holiday. As a company we pride ourselves on making these transfers as seamless as possible so clients are ushered from one flight to another without complications. We check that car seats and baby seats are in situ and everything has been thought through. “Lombok is great, it’s super safe and a bit of an antidote to bustling Bali. There’s golf,

Hanging around in Dedon, Philippines

Oman Musat Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque


diving and you can cycle around the villages. To be honest, we don’t recommend guests stay overnight on the Gilis anymore as they’re getting a bit of a party reputation, but Sira Beach House is gorgeous. And the locals are so friendly, you go out to a restaurant in Lombok and the staff will literally take my baby boy out of my arms and start cooing over him.” Another family favourite for Jackson is Dedon Island Resort in the Philippines. Again, it’s an add-on flight - you fly to Cebu and then on to Siargau - but worth the extra effort. The tear-drop shaped island is reef-fringed and the resort all-inclusive. For more information or to ‘pimp up’ your own holiday, contact 39


Cathay now flies direct to Copenhagen

What’s new for 2018? Bali - next month sees the opening of COMO Uma Canggu, a 53-bedroom resort on the south coast. Boasting a further 66 one-, twoand three-bed apartments and 12 penthouses with private pools, the resort is sure to prove a popular addition to the holiday island. It will also offer an in-house surf school and a beach club,

Laos and Cambodia - fancy getting back to nature but don’t want to rough it? Luxury tented accommodation will be hitting Luang Prabang in Laos and southern Cambodia this year. Rosewood Luang Prabang is a top notch tent and villa encampment located in a forest setting by a meandering river and waterfall. The five 100sqm tents feature Laotian and French colonial furnishings, private dining areas, wrap-around decks and a spa, Shinta Mani Wild straddles Bokor and Kirirom National Parks in Cambodia with 16 sophisticated tents along a 1.5km stretch of riverbank. Opening mid-year, enjoy wildlife excursions and private boat expeditions, Montenegro - Europe’s current ‘hot spot’ sees the opening of five-star The Chedi in Lustica Bay this year. With views over the 40

Adriatic, this new development comprises 110 rooms, two restaurants, a bar, outdoor pool, heated indoor pool, spa and fitness area,

Chile - the South American destination is top of many bucket lists this year, so the capital city is no doubt happy to welcome the arrival of the five-star Mandarin Hotel Santiago. The hotel is located in the popular Las Condes district and boasts 310 rooms, 23 suites with views over the city and the Andes, a large outdoor pool and five restaurants,

Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain in Chengdu, China is located at the gateway of the picturesque Qing Cheng Mountains. Fun family activities include panda tours, movie afternoons, river rafting, tennis, cycling, tai chi and yoga classes, an indoor pool, night-time photography tours, Sichuan cooking classes and historical tours to nearby ancient towns and heritage sites. For further details about either property, contact Flight Centre,

Family fun Family friendly-hotel openings this year include Six Senses Fiji, Malolo Island and Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, China. Six Senses Fiji will be offering villa accommodation, each with their own private plunge pools positioned on the western side of the island. The property will also have two gourmet restaurants, an outdoor pizzeria, three bars, a gourmet food market and walk-in wine cellar and tasting room. A customised wellness and spa experience as well as treetop yoga, a state-of-the-art fitness gym, tennis club, a kid’s recreation club, water sports and two full-service marinas for yacht mooring and chartering completes the picture.

Six Senses Fiji

Flight news From this year, Cathay Pacific will be flying direct from Hong Kong to Dublin, Copenhagen and Brussels. Bookings are currently available through 41

THE big interview


THE big interview

In the frame Photographer Sammy J Freeman tells Carolynne Dear how a third culture childhood inspired her art


he sun is shining and photographer Sammy J Freeman is in an ebullient mood as we sit down in Sai Kung’s square for lattes. Her first exhibition, Jade Jungle, Crimson Tide, has gone down a storm and having now completed her tertiary studies in photography at New York’s School of Visual Arts, she’s eagerly looking forward to a move to Sydney in the spring. It’s fair to say she’s come a long way since her ESF school days in Hong Kong. From England, to Indonesia, to Hong Kong, back to England, on to New York and now (hopefully) Sydney, Freeman admits home for a lot of her life has probably been the back of a ‘plane. Born in the north of England, Freeman spent her early years in Jakarta, moving from the UK aged four. “I can remember little bits like going to school and the traffic was so bad it used to take the school bus two hours to get in (Freeman attended the British International School). “And then the Bali bombings happened in 2002 and there were bomb threats in Jakarta and I think the school was threatened, so they stopped the school bus and we had to travel by private car. Every student had to have a ‘go bag’ that was placed at the entrance to the school in case we had to evacuate suddenly. A couple of times I think the school had to shut. Security was pretty tight.” Despite this, she has fond memories of life in the Indonesian capital and was sad to leave her friends behind when the family moved to Hong Kong four years later. “I think I’ve moved house around 12 times,” she smiles. “But in Hong Kong we have always been based in Sai Kung or Clearwater Bay.” Freeman enjoyed a happy time at Clearwater Bay primary school, nurturing an early love for art and drama. “I really enjoyed my primary school,” she enthuses. “I used to play guitar and do drama club over the road at Shaw studios. I loved things like colouring by numbers - we travelled a lot, as I guess expats do, and my mum used to print all these colouring sheets for me when we flew anywhere. I used to spend hours researching which sheets I was going to fill in on each trip.” After completing Year 6, she then moved on to secondary life at ESF King George V School in Ho Man Tin. Along with her favourite subjects of

drama and art, Freeman was also a keen sports player, but aged 14 had to undergo corrective surgery to treat a scoliosis diagnosis. The surgery was successful but she now has rods in her spine which has meant having to give up her beloved rugby. “I think it was about this time that I started getting interested in photography,” she says. Midway through her secondary school education it was still a couple of years too early for iphones to be as prevalent as they are today, and Freeman’s parents bought her a small camera to play with. “I remember a friend wanted to be a photographer so I sort of her copied her. I knew I wanted to do something art-based but I wasn’t really sure what. There was a lot of negativity around photography as a career. When I was taking my A-level options it was viewed as the ‘doss’ subject, the ‘easy ‘A’.”

As a teenager in Hong Kong, you have this wonderful freedom there are no rules Although she very much enjoyed life at King George V, in Year 11 her parents took the decision to send her to board at British school Millfield in the UK’s rural South West in order that she could study for A-levels. A double-edged sword, Freeman admits that while she appreciated the opportunity that A-levels offer to be able to focus on the subjects she enjoyed - she took art, photography, media and drama - she didn’t enjoy the way of life that came with it. “The thing is with Hong Kong, as a teenager you have this wonderful freedom. The public transport is great and it’s so safe I was able to really get out and about and hang around with my friends and go to the movies and whatever. There were no rules. And then suddenly I was in this school where the internet was switched off at 10pm and we were kind of locked in, which was frustrating. And the dark nights and the cold

weather - I really didn’t get on with it. And of course all my friends were back in Hong Kong. But then I don’t think I’d have got on very well with IB, either,” she admits. Having honed her photographic skills and got to grips with the technical side of operating a camera, she was offered a place to continue her studies in New York. Living the dream, she now travels the world indulging her two passions for photography and for surfing. “As more technology comes on board, the more exciting photography becomes,” she says. In June she bought a drone and started experimenting with aerial photography, which has become a favoured style. “It was scary at first and then I went to Iceland on a workshop and they were big drone photographers, so they took me under their wing and suddenly I was flying this thing up to seven kilometres away. The remote connects to an app your phone which is how you control the pictures.” Which is all very exciting, but what of the more traditional photographic techniques? I wonder. “I did learn how to use a dark room in the UK and I experimented with black and white. If there’s no colour expectation it really changes the way you take the picture - you’re not thinking about the colours any more, you’re thinking about the shapes and the shadows. I continued with darkroom classes in New York but now I’ve moved more towards colour.” A keen wakeboarder, surfer and sailor she says she feels happiest when there’s water involved in her work. “It brings me a good feeling,” she says. Now her Hong Kong exhibition has wound up, Freeman’s off to pastures new in Sydney to continue with her surf photography. “The surfing in Hong Kong is not really good enough and that’s what I want to concentrate on. My other option was England, but it’s so cold and I’m not a big fan of cooler weather. I would love to freelance for a big publication, Surfer Magazine or National Geographic. And I’m also hoping to intern for a gallery in Bondi when I get to Sydney.” Freeman’s work can be viewed at 43

THE big interview A picture is worth a thousand words, we gave Freeman just one hundred...

Arctic Fox I was hiking with a photography group in Iceland in the summer in 24-hour daylight. We started at midnight and hiked up this huge mountain. The guides couldn’t find any foxes to photograph, so we carried on to the summit and started setting up our drones to take some aerial shots. And then this little guy just popped up his head and everyone was fumbling around and I just happened to have the right lens and the right setting at the right time, so I shot it. Well you know, shot it with a camera - that sounds bad! It’s my favourite piece of work.


Turtle Island

This is a picture of a really good friend from Millfield School that I took with a drone over Single Fin beach in Uluwatu. My friend had flown over to Hong Kong to see me and then we flew down to Bali. She’s a blogger and a vlogger and is pretty comfortable in front of the camera, so we got her in the water. We’d been doing a bit of surf photography earlier that day but I had this image in my mind. It was lowtide and the water was so clear, which is something you don’t get in Hong Kong. We were both pretty happy with it.

This is probably my favourite ‘Hong Kong’ picture. It’s a drone photograph of a place called Turtle Island just outside of Sai Kung. I’d been driving past this spot for days and knew I wanted to shoot it. I also wanted to catch it at low tide. I didn’t know how it would turn out but I knew it would be cool. So one morning I woke up at 6am, took the bus down and just shot it. It only took me ten minutes but I knew I’d done it. And then I rushed off to meet a friend. But I was so happy for the whole day.

44 45


School news

New Territories opening for FIS

Dignitaries and artist Almond Chu (in scarf) unveil Mother of Water

The French International School Victor Segalen (FIS) welcomed media to the unveiling of its brand new campus in Tseung Kwan O, New Territories, last month. Currently ahead of schedule, the construction project is due for completion in late August. This is the fifth campus for the school, which has four other venues in Happy Valley, Jardine’s Lookout, Chai Wan and Hung Hom. There are currently 2,600 students that attend FIS in Hong Kong, from Reception/Moyenne Section to Year 13/Terminale. The Tseung Kwan O based ecocampus will eventually welcome students from reception through to college (junior secondary), offering both French and International (English-speaking) streams.


With exterior walls completed, the construction team is now concentrating on the internal fit-out, with glazing scheduled to go into place over the Christmas holidays. The layout includes separate buildings for college and primary pupils, a large library, indoor pool, music room and ampitheatre-style auditorium. The school is a five-minute walk from Tseung Kwan O MTR (Tseung Kwan O line) and around seven minutes from Tiu Keng Leng station (Tseung Kwan O and Kwun Tong lines). A school bus schedule will also be in place when the school opens for the 2018/19 school year. The campus launch also included the unveiling of an enormous piece of artwork that will hang across the eastern facade of the school. It was conceived by local artist

Almond Chu. Entitled Mother of Water, the 10m x 20m piece has been created to convey “a message of optimism and love of life,” explained the artist. “This project was conceived to highlight the relationship between France and Hong Kong; a bridge between two cultures,” said Eric Berti, consul general of France in Hong Kong and Macau, at the unveiling of the artwork. “A French school which is part of the Hong Kong community displaying the work of a celebrated Hong Kong artist for a wider public of all nationalities to appreciate and enjoy.” The project was supported by local art collectors and philanthropists Mr and Mrs Robert Miller, who selected Chu’s work from four pieces by different artists. The piece will eventually be replicated onto limited edition ‘eco-chic’ bags, available to pre-order as auction lots at the FIS gala in March. FIS was established in 1963 as one of the first international schools in Hong Kong. It offers two streams, French and International, preparing students for certification in French Baccalaureate or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. For more information about FIS, contact

The new campus in Tseung Kwan O looks out over the mountains of Clearwater Bay


ESF marks 50th with book release English Schools Foundation (ESF) celebrates its half centenary this year and has published a commemorative book to mark the occasion. ESF The First 50 Years chronicles the ESF story highlighting key successes from over the years as well as celebrating the successes of students, staff and alumni. The books traces the changes in curriculum and new teaching methods and tells the story of how ESF has evolved since its foundation in 1957 with just two schools, Beacon Hill and Bradbury. Past students share their school stories and how ESF has shaped their lives. Prominent alumni include Christine Loh, former under secretary for the environment, philanthropist Cathy Lee, Clockenflap co-

Island School move

founder Justin Sweeting and 2016 Olympic swimmer Geoffrey Cheah. All attended various ESF schools. “We are immensely proud of our students, who graduate as independent, well-rounded individuals, confident to take their places in leading roles in Hong Kong and the wider world,” said ESF chief executive officer Belinda Greer. The book is available for sale at esf.

ESF Island School re-opens across two campuses in the New Territories this month, after its Borrett Road location in Mid-levels was closed for redevelopment in early December. Island School first opened in 1967, making it one of the oldest ESF schools. But an assessment of the building in 2011 showed that major redevelopment was needed. Plans for the brand new building include a performing arts centre, an indoor swimming pool, a sports hall, basketball courts, laboratories, sky gardens and a central café. While the Mid-levels site is being redeveloped, the Education Bureau has offered Island School two temporary school sites in Sha Tin. Students will be welcomed to these campuses on January 10 following the Christmas break. Both are within walking distance of MTR stations. The Borrett Road campus is due for completion by August 2021. 47


New horizons

Circle time at HKCA Po Leung Kuk

Rebecca Simpson heads to Causeway Bay to find out how HKCA Po Leung Kuk primary is marrying an international education with a local outlook


remember when I first dipped my toe into the abyss of information about school choices in Hong Kong. It was right after a slightly panic-inducing conversation with my new mum friends who, in all honesty, knew a lot more about this parenting gig than I did. They were organised and had read books by Annabel Karmel, and brought breast pumps before their babies arrived, and those babies had routines, and the mums remembered their lip gloss and keys all the time. So I knew I should pay attention when they started to talk about schools. Education is important. Significantly more important than breast pumps or keys or even lipstick. I knew I


needed to get this part right. Down the rabbit hole I went. I googled “Hong Kong School Options” and life, quite frankly, hasn’t been the same since. Innocence lost. Like most new (to Hong Kong) parents, I drowned in information about the various curriculums on offer, debentures, and tried to understand more about the local Hong Kong school system. At times I felt like I needed a formal qualification to make the right choice. One consideration set that seemed to be missing was an international curriculum in a Hong Kong setting. There was either the local system or an “international” school. This apparent dichotomy presented a tough choice.

For a lot of expats, living in Hong Kong feels like a once-in-lifetime cultural opportunity and many of us want to capitalise on that opportunity for our children. However, the local system is a challenge some parents are unwilling to expose their families to. Stricter teaching methods and significant homework loads are practical considerations parent often choose not to engage with. Many do, and see great success, but for others it’s too much to take on. Every family is different. So I asked myself, where are all the hybrid schools with an international, progressive curriculum like the IB, but executed in a way


Founding principal David Priest gets things shipshape

an expat family can be part of their local community, instead of being schooled primarily with other expats? What I think I was looking for was an international curriculum delivered with a Hong Kong experience. So I was happily surprised (albeit with a pang of jealousy now my kids are settled into schools) when I visited HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School and uncovered just that – an IB school run by a Hong Kong organisation for Hong Kong and expat families. Bingo! And here’s the best bit – there’s no capital levy, no debenture, and fees are competitive. Po Leung Kuk is a charity organisation that was established 120 years ago with a mission to take care of women and children who had been thrown out of society. Today, the organisation is still running care centers and orphanages here in Hong Kong but it’s also an organisation strongly associated with education in the city, with 113 registered schools and more than 50,000 students within its network. This is a local organisation with Hong Kong roots that go wide and deep. While HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School is the first of its schools to offer the PYP (IB

And here’s the best bit – there’s no capital levy, no debenture, and fees are competitive

primary years program), this international approach is not an entirely new concept within the network. Po Leung Kuk’s Choi Kai Yau School already offers senior students the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program in the final two years of school. HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School’s international offering is definitely a new proposition for the network, but not without some grounding. HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School will offer the International Baccalaureate

(IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) which is an English language, inquiry-led framework for children three-12 years old. Parents researching online will see the school is yet to be accredited as an IB school. It’s important to clarify that children are currently being taught the PYP program, by PYP-experienced teachers, but as a brand new school this formal accreditation has not yet been awarded. Founding principal David Priest is clear that recruitment for the school’s teaching body has purposefully involved hiring teachers with PYP experience. “This means we can authentically operate using the PYP framework” he says. He is passionate about building an international community. “As an international school, you should have an international faculty. If the majority of the teachers are from one country than that country’s ethos and educational pedagogy tends to dominate.” The experience for students is multicultural, with a Hong Kong skew. According to Priest, the playground language is mostly English, but he also hears Cantonese and Mandarin – reflecting the student mix. 49

schools “It’s typical, in an international mix of children, that the language they are being taught in the classroom tends to come out into the playground, quite naturally (English is the language of instruction at the school). Of course, there are times when they’ll switch to Chinese. I support that because a lot of research has shown it’s very important for children to have a first language, to learn a second language. Conceptually their mother tongue is their strongest language and we need to support and respect that.” What will make this school most appealing for some parents is its ability to offer families the chance to be part of a predominantly Hong Kong community, not a predominantly expat community. Upon opening, the school has attracted local families with international experience, rather than international families having a Hong Kong experience. For parents who enjoy Hong Kong historical trivia, you’ll be interested to know the school’s campus was originally built in the 1950s as the Building Contractors’ Association Primary School and Kindy. It was built during Hong Kong’s construction boom to educate the children of Hong Kong’s many construction workers and the union ran the school for 50 years or so. In 2017, the campus has been given a new lease of life by Po Leung Kuk’s latest venture, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School. I visited the school late last year when construction on part of the campus was still underway. Priest was hopeful construction would be completed around May 2018. Using my imagination, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School looks like it will offer a lovely learning environment, nestled into a green space a short walk from Causeway Bay. It’s not a large or spacious campus but it does offer an outdoor space to play sport and run amok during recess and lunch. It also has a lofty new hall for communal gatherings and rainy day sport that’s just perfect for Hong Kong summers. The classrooms are bright, airy and were full of giggles during our tour. It’s a happy campus that offers a great space for little learners. Right now the school offers Grade 1, 2, and 3. For 2018-2019 the school will have Grades 1 to 4 and in 2019 there will be a Grade 5 class. There are even plans for a kindergarten. Parents can head to their website to see how these grades/classes correspond to other international schools. For parents with older children you’ll immediately ask, what about the remaining years of high school? “That’s something a lot of parents are already concerned about. We 50

Priest with students at the Causeway Bay campus

only go to P5, which is Year 6 (in other school systems). We’ve made it very clear to Hong Kong parents that it’s almost impossible to transition back into the local system because P6 is heavily focused on the examination to get into secondary schools in Hong Kong.

Many international schools are very British in their ethos - ours is much more of a community school “Transitioning to other international schools will be the main option. And so, that’s something that we have already started to make inroads into, trying to find schools that are possible connections. Fortunately there are more spaces available in secondary schools, within the international school system. We are looking at other schools on Hong Kong Island and on the other side of the harbour that share a similar inquiry-based approach.” “There are plenty of opportunities with really nice secondary schools – that’s not going to be an issue at all. Parents panic, they do,” says Ruth Benny, head girl at Top Schools and an expert in school placements in Hong Kong. Benny believes the idea of a stand-alone primary school is increasingly gaining traction in Hong Kong and children at these primary schools tend to transition well.

When asked what makes his school an appealing choice for expat parents, Mr Priest responds, “We have space! And the location here on Hong Kong Island, it’s a short walk from Causeway Bay. The children don’t have to spend lots of time on school buses and they can use public transportation to get to school. It’s also a great residential area. “Many other international schools are very British in their ethos. Our school is much more of a local community school.” For families coming from overseas who want more of a Hong Kong experience with the IB curriculum, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School is worth checking out.

School Report

Established: August 2017 Number of students: 94 Class size: Currently 14-22, but maximum is 30 Curriculum: PYP Fees 2017/2018: HK$89,800 Non refundable capital levy: None Address: 62 Tin Hau Temple Road, Hong Kong Tel: 2807 1770 51

life & style

File it right If you do nothing else this year, make sure your family admin is in order, says Kate Farr


s any parent knows, managing the family affairs can be a logistical nightmare that even the most experienced COO would find challenging. And when you’re living overseas things can become doubly complicated.

Where there’s a will According to Åsa Wilkins, director of Phoenix Wills, one of the most important provisions that any parent can make for their children is to write a will. “A will is a legal document in which you can dispose of your assets and appoint guardians for your children in the event of your death.” While this may sound simple enough, ensuring that your finances are in good order after your death is something that is especially important for expats. “A good will is drafted to last a lifetime, however circumstances change, so it is a good 52

idea to re-read your will once every few years, just to check that everything is still as you want it,” Wilkins says, adding, “If you have recently set up your will back home, and are still happy with all the provisions, then there should be no need to re-write it. However, it is recommended that you have separate wills in place for each country in which you have significant assets, and as a minimum, one for your country of residence and one for your country of origin.” Country-specific wills are especially advantageous for serial expats, who may have more complex assets to account for. “Whereas you can have one will covering all worldwide assets, [it] can only be applied in one country at a time. This means that it could be an awfully long time before everything is settled – the longest I have heard of was 23 years for a gentleman with one will covering seven countries.”

And while it may seem complicated and expensive to set up a will for every country that you have ties to, it’s good to take a step back and remember why this level of planning is so important. “It could save the loved ones you leave behind a lot of time, as well as money in increased court and legal fees.”

Exercise in trust Eddie Look, Partner at Tanner De Witt Solicitors and law firm, agrees that a little advance planning now can be of significant benefit later on. “A trust is an arrangement whereby one person (the settlor) settles or gives his own real and personal property in part or in full to one or more other persons (trustees) for them to hold such property for the benefit of specified persons (beneficiaries).” So why should families consider setting up a trust? “Trusts are often used as estate

life & style medical, and other on-going expenses – cannot be provided for specifically, and therefore the discretion of the trustee is necessary.” As the role of a trustee is both involved and on-going, the importance of selecting the right person for the job shouldn’t be underestimated. “Who you choose as trustee and communicating to the trustee your wishes would be of great importance.”

A safe pair of hands

planning tools, as trusts can continue to operate after death. The terms of the trust can set out how, and by whom, your children and other beneficiaries are provided for in the event of your mental incapacity or death.” He adds, “By placing your assets in a trust, you can distribute the assets to your children over time, or upon them reaching a certain age, depending on your intentions and wishes.” When it comes to setting up the right trust for you, Look suggests chatting to the professionals to ensure that you’ve ticked all the right boxes for your individual needs. “Discretionary trusts can be used to give trustees power to decide how, when, and under what circumstances assets are to be distributed to, or applied for the beneficiaries’ benefit. “This can be useful in cases where parents pass away leaving behind minor children, the exact needs of whom – such as education,

Another necessary consideration for families is the appointment of guardians who can care for children in the event of both parents’ death. Wilkins explains exactly why this simple piece of admin is so important; “If a guardian has not been appointed, and something happens to both parents, then the child would become a ‘ward of state’. It would then be up to the courts in the country in which the child physically is when the parents pass to decide who should look after them until they reach the age of majority.” This can take many months, during which time any children would be placed into a care home while awaiting the court’s decision. Expat life adds a layer of complexity to this process, as families may not have close friends and relatives immediately to hand. “There may be delays before children can be collected by the guardian. Expats must therefore also appoint temporary guardians in their country of residence, who can be legally responsible for the children until the permanent guardian can take over,” says Wilkins. Of course, the final decision on who to appoint as permanent guardian is a complex one that deserves careful consideration. “Most people appoint family members, but sometimes friends can be a better choice,” Wilkins says, adding, “Consider that grandparents may not always be the best long-term choice.” She advises the appointment of back-up guardians in the eventuality that grandparents feel unable to take on this most vital of roles in the long run.

Help the helper Another oft-overlooked piece of domestic administration comes in our responsibility to our helpers. Julie Delignon, Country Manager for HelperChoice, an ethical platform for domestic helper recruitment, explains that, in accordance with the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, “All employers are legally obliged to take out employee’s compensation insurance, including for domestic workers.” This obligation extends to the mandatory coverage of medical expenses, compensation for loss of earning capacity, and compensation for deaths and funerals, meaning that a good insurance policy is vital to protect both employer and helper alike.

Appy families For a quick and simple solution to all that life admin, here are four fantastic family apps that make it simple to keep tabs on the go. Cozi Family Organizer Keep track of the entire family’s activities and appointments with this easy-to-use shared access planner. Cozi creates chores, shopping lists and even saves recipe ingredients in real time (meaning no more excuses!). Available for iOS and Android Chore Monster Motivate your reluctant bed-makers, disgruntled bin-emptiers and argumentative toy-tidiers with this superfun app that “gamifies” their chores, enabling kids to earn points that can be traded for rewards of your choice. They’ll be fighting over whose turn it is to wash up before you know it. Available for iOS and Android Kidganizer Take the stress out of co-parenting with this app that’s especially designed for separated parents. Arrange access schedules, keep tabs of expenses and set alerts for events and appointments. You can also invite other family members, effectively keeping everyone in the loop. Available for iOS

Delignon explains that, when it comes to domestic helper insurance, not all policies are created equal. “The most basic insurance will cover the helper only for working days, but the employer still needs to cover their helper’s costs on a rest day, so look for policies that include this. Some will also provide coverage when the employer is not required to bear the costs – for instance when the helper is outside Hong Kong – or for non-urgent dental payments.” Her advice is to shop around until you find the policy that best fits your, and your helper’s needs. And for any employers tempted to take their chances without an insurance policy, it’s worth noting that, not only are employers required to bear the full costs of any medical treatment as it arises, but also that being uninsured is considered an offence, attracting a maximum fine of HK$100,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment. So if it’s been a while since you checked your policy, it’s probably a good idea to ensure that it’s still fit for purpose. 53

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big day out

Sharp Island Tara Smyth hikes her way into the new year

Tara Smyth and dogs on Sharp Island


appy New Year! The festive season is over and if you’re suffering from over-indulgence, start the year as you mean to go on with a great hike. It’s time to escape the city and hit some trails. This walk is perfect for small children and the dog. I would even go so far to say that, if you have a hunk of a hubby, he could probably manage the baby buggy on this trail provided it has all-terrain wheels. This Big Day Out starts at Sai Kung waterfront. Here, sampan and kaito companies vie for your business, offering trips to the many outlying islands. We used “Kitty’s” service to Sharp Island, but there are others. Prices are roughly $30-$40 per person for a round trip. Kaitos and sampans run regularly from 9am to 6pm—I imagine the frequency depends upon high season versus low season and weekdays versus weekends.

Foxy on Kitty’s dog-friendly boat


Once aboard, the journey takes about 10-15 minutes. You will first arrive at Kiu Tsui Beach pier where you should disembark. If you are lucky enough to catch the low tide you will be able to see the ‘tombolo’ which connects Sharp Island to the nearby Kiu Tau islet. A tombolo is a naturally-formed sand and pebble “bridge” that links two land masses, due to the waves coming and going over time. It’s absolutely worth walking across the tombolo (even if the tide is starting to come in and you have to get your feet a little wet, like we did!) as the rock formations are fascinating. Pebbles of rich varying colours catch the eye as the clear waters wash over them. You will also see the aptly nick-named “pineapple bun” boulders that are in fact a result of volcanic activity some 140 million years ago. Once across the other side you can follow the short path to the hilltop lookout and look back over Sharp Island. We did not do this, however, as the tide was coming in and we did not wish to become stranded. Do be careful! After exploring the tombolo (and the islet of Kiu Tau if the tide allows), return to the beach from which you came and head right. Here you will see a concrete path leading to some steps heading up into the jungle. The

steps go on for a while, but are not too bad. Take snacks to help the little ones along and hopefully hunky hubby with the all-terrain buggy won’t lose the will to live too quickly. Eventually, the steps will give way to a dirt path with interesting flora on either side. Look over the top of the ferns and grasses and you’ll start to see the sweeping views of Sai Kung to your right and the golf course on Kau Sai Chau to your left. Continue along for a further 750 metres before reaching the high point. There is a small pagoda here where you can rest, take

The pineapple bun volcanic rocks

big day out

On the Tombolo reaching the Islet, with the tide coming in

At Hap Mun Bay

in the views and look down on the crystal clear waters of Hap Mun Bay, before commencing the final descent to sea level. As you approach Hap Mun Bay you will see a plethora of BBQ pits set in a grassy area. It’s almost characteristic of a campsite in the South of France, and you may wish to stop here and tuck into your picnic. There are toilets just up to the left of these BBQ pits, but note there is no running water in the vicinity. Instead, head to the beach on your right and you will be rewarded with clean facilities both for relieving oneself and washing one’s hands. Now it’s time to enjoy the pristine beach that is Hap Mun Bay. Kick off your shoes—

Kitty’s boat

even in December—and enjoy the fine white sand between your toes. Clamber amongst the volcanic rocks and maybe even take a dip. Should you choose to visit in the summer, lifeguards will be on duty and a refreshment kiosk will be open. During the winter the beach is quiet and no lifeguards are present, but there were some cheerful lap sap ladies on hand keeping the beach and BBQ pits pristine. Once you are done with the beach you have two choices. Either retrace your steps all the way back to Kiu Tsui or head to the pier on Hap Mun Bay itself and await a sampan or kaito to pick you up and take you back to Sai Kung. This is a perfect day out and once back in Sai Kung, hunky hubby can reward himself with an ice cold beer, the kids can run amok in Sai Kung square and mum can deliberate over whether to go for the Chardy or the Sav Blanc. Tara Smyth runs photography company Nitty Gritty Images. For details, visit 57


Home on the range Mum-of-two Jacquiline Hamilton went back to her roots in beautiful Botswana


t the end of last year, we decided to pack our bags and show our fourteen-month-old twins, Braedon and Lachlan, their African heritage. The boys were born in Hong Kong in May 2016 and so none of my extended family had met them. This was the perfect opportunity for me to return to me roots, show my boys where I come from, and where I met their Scottish dad. It was three years since I was last ‘home’, so I was pretty keen for a trip back. I couldn’t wait to be tucking into a plate of local food, the Setswana language to swirling around my ears as the never-ending greeting sessions took place around me (seriously, it can take up to ten minutes of a good hearty ‘hello’ in Botswana before the conversation even starts). 58

Botswana has a population of 2.25 million people and is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Neighbours include South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This beautiful country is covered by the semi-arid Kalahari desert in the south and the Okavango delta - a vast inland river - in the north. During the seasonal floods between May and July, the delta is rich with wildlife. It becomes a lush green haven and is home to vast numbers of elephant, rhino, giraffe, impala and big cats. For a three-week holiday, we planned for one week in Gaborone, the capital, where most of my family and friends live. Gaborone is the heart of Botswana, with great vibes, restaurants and activities for both parents and kids.

We also booked a second week in the tourist capital of Maun in the north of Botswana for a safari and boat rides on the Thamalakane River - the Thamalakane has no well defined beginning and no clear end as it runs into the Delta. And we spent the last week in Pilanesberg visiting Sun City and the Pilanesberg National game reserve.

Gaborone After an overnight pit-stop in Pretoria to recuperate after the 12-hour flight - no easy task with twin toddlers! - we left South Africa mid-morning and drove the four-hour journey to the Ramotswa Immigration border post. From there it was another two hours to the capital.


The moment my parents met the boys was emotional. They had been in Hong Kong when they were born, but because they were premature they had to spend ten weeks in hospital, covered in tubes and could not be touched. We had to get special permission just for them to be allowed into NICU to see them. So to see the boys all grown up and healthy was pretty tear-jerking and quite overwhelming. We spent our time in Gaborone filling up on the delicious local food and enjoying Botswana Independence Day on September 30. We celebrated by visiting the Lion Park and tucking into a ‘bring-and-Braai’. Botswanans like their meat - food is not food in this country unless meat is involved - and we brought a cooler box filled to the brim. The park is great for families,

it has a waterpark and amusement park as well as a lion viewing area ( Another fun day out was the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. This is a non-profit game reserve and home to a variety of indigenous African game, bird and reptile species, some of which are threatened with extinction. The park has a herd of beautiful southern white rhino which it is trying to breed to re-build the national herd. It hosts disadvantaged children from around the country to teach kids from a young age about the conservation of their wildlife. A great day was topped off with an evening game drive. We bumped our way along a dirt road in an open-top 4WD in search of wildlife, and we weren’t disappointed. We viewed white rhino, cheetah, mountain

reedbuck, giraffes, zebra, red hartebeest, sable, gemsbok, elephant, kudu, impala, spotted hyena, leopard and waterbuck… Even the sunset was a highlight - the vivid red, orange and yellow dancing behind the trees, silhouetting the winding necks of giraffe reaching for leaves (

Maun Far too quickly we were already into our second week. We drove a long, flat, straight 1,000 km road for nine hours from Gaborone to Maun. I know, we’re both brave and crazy to travel this kind of distance with two 14-monthold babies, but we were compensated with amazing views of elephants, zebras and white rhinos crossing the road. We had to stop the 59


The sun sets over the bush

car to let them pass like pedestrians, which was pretty awe-inspiring. We arrived at Kamaga Safari Lodge that evening and headed straight back out to one our favourite restaurants, The Old Bridge Backpackers Lodge. It’s Prince Harry’s favourite hideaway too, we’ve seen him playing pool a few times with the locals. With the boys running around barefoot, the African sand between my toes, a pint of local beer and a plate of wholesome food that you eat with your fingers, I was an African girl back in her element. The next day we took a boat trip on the Thamalakane river. This was Botswana in all her graceful glory. The boys squealed with delight as we cruised along, an abundance of bird life chasing our boat. Next on the list was a scenic flight over the delta with Mack Air Safaris. I had forgotten how beautiful the delta is from above, an endless river weaving its way like a snake through the

grasslands. We spotted zebras and elephants, wildebeest and giraffes. The six-seater Cessna plane made for a bumpy flight, so we were glad we hadn’t eaten before boarding. After a sad farewell, we hit the road back to South Africa. We rented a lovely self catering villa at Kingdom Resort which is just a five minute drive to Sun City. Sun City is a huge venue and I would advise making bookings before you arrive - a lot of activities were fully booked when we were there. Entertainment includes hot air balloon tours, safaris, drift trikes, 4WD quad circuits and for the kids, an afternoon at the Wonderland of Water. We had afternoon tea at the stunning Palace Of The Lost City, a five-star hotel. We definitely stood out as Hong Kongers here, taking pictures of the cakes and rearranging the tea stand for the best shot. It had been an amazing trip and we will definitely be back.

What to do… in Gaborone Sanitas plant nursery and cafe, Botswana’s oldest nursery and tea garden close to the Gaborone Dam. There is a cafe and playpark for children, If you’re into hiking, check out the Kgale Hills. For a bit of culture, find out about Botswana’s presidents at the Three Dikgosi Monument, or check out the Botswana National Museum for arts and culture.

What to do… in Maun Safari destinations Mac Air Safari Kamanga Lodge and safaris Maun Lodge Old bridge backpackers

What to eat Phalestshe (maize polenta) Seswaa (slow-cooked beef, pounded into shreds) and Morogo (local type of spinach) Dikgobe (traditional samp and beans with beef stew) Magwinya and Serobe (fat cakes and beef tripe).

Best times to visit Winter (May to November) for safaris as water is scarce and you will see more concentrated numbers of animals at the man-made water holes. Wet season safaris are cheaper but with no guarantee of sightings. Winter temperatures hover around 30 in the day with cooler nights, and in the summer expect between 32 and 40 degree days.

How to book We flew Cathay Pacific to South Africa and hired a rental car from Europcar to drive to Botswana. My husband and sons travelled on British passports and didn’t need visas for South Africa or Botswana. Contact or for details. Twins Braedon and Lachlan play in the Thamalakane river

60 61




To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.


To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.

GET LISTED! 2776 2772 63

flailing spouse

Lines of communication

The challenge of tech-ed up grandparents


t was worse than expected. Getting Granny online. It was my one New Year resolution while we were ‘home’ over Christmas - ensuring that communication between my tech-obsessed children and my landline-loving parents is improved this year. The project began cheerily enough with my father-in-law requesting my husband help him purchase an iPad - he admits he feels a bit bamboozled in an Apple store, and to be fair, I completely understand. So off they trundle to the local mall, enjoying a father-son bonding lunch in the pub and returning home with a nice new iPad in a smart new cover. So far so good. Two weeks later when we’re back in Hong Kong, a letter arrives in the post from my motherin-law. That’s right, a lovely old-fashioned, hand-written note in a creamy Basildon Bond envelope. To tell us that they’ve changed their email and to inform us - in capitals - of the new address. It was more than a facepalm moment. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my husband. But at least we are still communicating, which is more than can be said of relations with my own parents. So by Christmas Eve my mother had got wind of the fact that the whole of the rest of the family was talking via a special WhatsApp ‘Christmas in Blighty!’ chat and wanted in on the action. “But you don’t have WhatsApp,” I point out, casting my eyes across her home screen. “Don’t I?” she asks, peering at the phone from over her glasses. “Doesn’t she?” exclaims the Tween Child, grabbing the phone from me. “Seriously?” “No, you don’t,” I say firmly. “While I’m here, Mum, why don’t I set it up for you?” “Ok,” she agrees warily. “If you’re sure. Usually your father does this sort of thing.” I sigh and raise my eyebrows to heaven, and then raise them even further when I can’t find the Appstore. “Oh my god, you have no Appstore!” I exclaim. “What?” shrieks the Tween, trying to wrestle the phone off me again. I grab it back and turn to my husband for help. “It’s a 4,” he informs us. “And it hasn’t been updated - ever, by the looks of it. You’ll have to re-install apps in Settings, but you’ll need the password to do that.”


Our columnist is a long suffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third culture children. She lives in Hong Kong. My mother looks at us blankly. The Tween Child is convulsed with laughter. Granny’s phone might as well be as ancient as the Terracotta Warriors she was studying last term. Or as ancient as Grandpa who, rumour has it amongst the grandchildren, was born before the radio was invented. “Is there any chance you could buy yourself a more up-to-date handset, Mum?” I ask. “I don’t know,” she says. “This really is an excellent phone, the calendar is second-tonone, and it’s lasted and lasted!” I begin to explain that every phone has iCal and that longevity really isn’t something to get excited about when Apple brings out a new handset every ten minutes. She’s right, though, and Apple is wrong, stuff should last long-term. My arguments fall on deaf ears. “I really don’t want to spend any more on a phone. I don’t want to turn into one of those

people that are addicted,” she adds. In the end, we manage to wrestle her out of the house and into the Apple store the day after Boxing Day and return home triumphant with a 7+. “Ok,” I say, sitting down at the kitchen table. “Which Apps do you want?” An hour later and she’s rejected pretty much everything I’ve thrown at her. Why would you want to use google maps when you’ve got a perfectly serviceable road atlas (“if it’s like that silly sat nav thing I don’t want it,” she says firmly. “It took Margaret and Bill all the way through the town centre in the rush hour last month: any fool knows you need to take the bypass after 4pm”). Why would you want to download newspapers and magazines when you can pop up to the paper shop? Why would you want to download an album when you’ve got several cupboards full of original vinyl? Why would you want to use Facetime at all (“don’t be silly darling, I don’t want to look at you when I’m on the phone to you”). But bizarrely the Teen Child seems to be having better luck. By some random quirk of personality, it turns out my mother is quite partial to the odd blog. And Instagram, once she discovered you could follow @kensingtonroyal, @homesandgardensuk and @countrylifemagazine. In fact the latest is she will be making a ‘Stop The Press!’ guest appearance on the Teen Child’s beauty vlog. “It’s epic mum, she doesn’t use ANY cleanser, just soap, and she never highlights or uses conditioner!” This is headline news for the Teen Child’s posse back in Hong Kong, which has more pots of cream and palettes of colour between them than the Lane Crawford beauty counter. Anyway, vlogging aside, we’ve settled on WhatsApp as an ongoing means of communication. My next challenge is to marry that piece of technology with the current eight-hour time difference between London and Hong Kong. I really do not need to know at 2am which florist Meghan Markle might be using at her wedding. Or that petunias are making a comeback this summer. But I guess at the end of the day, it’s good to be in touch (just not in the middle of the night). 65


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Expat Parent Jan 2018  

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