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the really useful magazine

May 2018

Mothering May Celebrating Hong Kong’s mums and helpers

Chinese character

Facing the future at Han Academy

You’ve been framed

Embracing kids’ art





Editor’s letter


Me & my hobby

Hello from the hot desk

Twinkle toes

4 Contributors


Life & style

Meet the team

You’ve been framed


What’s on

58 Dining

Mother’s Day and other events


Things you should know

65 Travel

Our fabulous funicular

Fun on the Med

14 News


Big Day Out

Cheung Chau day trips


Flailing spouse

From the heart

Happenings this month

18 Giveaways

Be lucky


Debate of the month

Screams about screens


Me & my big idea

Stay young and beautiful


Book review

Books about mums


My Hong Kong

Laura Egloff


Cover story

Helper Appreciation Month


Big Interview

Mothering Hong Kong


School news

Wallabies bounce in


Open day

Han Academy opens its doors

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Tea for two




Scan and visit our website

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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Editorial Editor Carolynne Dear

Managing Editor Gemma Shaw

Media Management Trainee Julianne Dionisio

Media Trainee Nicole Slater

Design Design Manager Cindy Suen

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Graphic Designer Sonia Khatwani

Sales & Marketing


ay ushers in Mother’s Day. Of course these days there are many different types of ‘mother’; long gone is the traditional image of a smiling, aproned female, baking cakes and smiling benevolently over her children. In 2018, mothers can be single, they can be male, they can be in same-sex relationships, they may have no blood link to the children in their care at all, or maybe they are the grandparent. But they all provide the same vital role, that of loving and caring for our young people. In fact a better description for Mother’s Day might be the British moniker of ‘Mothering Sunday’. After all, it is the act of mothering we are celebrating, something which is not necessarily carried out by a ‘mother’ in the traditional sense of the word. In Hong Kong foreign domestic helpers play a huge role in mothering duties, which is why we have made Helper Appreciation Month our cover story. You don’t have to rush out and buy a bigticket gift, something as simple as a handwritten card or a kind gesture will make our vital army of helpers feel appreciated. For more ideas, see page 31. We also caught up with Alia Eyres, head of local charity Mother’s Choice, who has extended mothering support to ensure young pregnant girls and abandoned babies in Hong Kong are given a second chance. Her dedication is humbling and we are proud to be supporting Mother’s Choice at our Summer Charity Lunch this month. It promises to be a fantastic day, so please show your support by booking a ticket at Read more about Alia’s work on page 34. Which just leaves me to wish you a happy Mother’s Day and have a fabulous May! See you next month.

about the cover A big thank you to our cover stars this month, Jack and Lucy Ridley and foreign domestic helper Luna Sayon. All three live in Clearwater Bay. Our cover photographer this month was editor Carolynne Dear.

Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Sales and Marketing Executive Corrie Tang

Sales and Marketing Executive Johnny Wong

Digital Digital Co-ordinator Cora Chan

Accounting Management Trainee Charles Lau

Publisher Tom Hilditch

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

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.

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Kate Farr

Rebecca Simpson

Julianne Dionisio

Kate interviewed creative Maria Wolf of LiveArt this month to find out a bit more about her elaborate kids’ collages. It’s a great way of preserving those careful creations without maxing out your precious storage space. Kate also spoke with an inspirational domestic helper who is rewriting her story as a mountaineer. Kate is a freelance writer at

Bec travelled over to Wong Chuk Hang this month to speak with a brand new school on the Hong Kong block, Han Academy. If you’ve ever wanted to escape the expat bubble and give your kids a bit more of a locally-flavoured childhood, this could be the school for you. Rebecca is a freelance writer and former editor of Mid-levels magazine.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, what better excuse to check out Hong Kong’s afternoon tea scene? Julianne set about her research with gusto, pinning down five of the territory’s best tea and cake providers. From clotted cream to creative cakes, we’ve got the full lowdown on page 58. Julianne works fulltime for Hong Kong Living.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

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what’s on

Diary dates

MAY 27 The Magic Toybox Young jazz dancers will be bringing a toybox to life at Hong Kong Academy this month. 11am & 6pm, Hong Kong Academy Theatre, 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung 7

what’s on UNTIL MAY 5

Mega Ice Hockey’s 5s Get ready for the largest and most competitive ice hockey tournament in Asia. Unit 1, Level 10, MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay,

7.30pm-11pm, Fanling Station, New Territories,


Harry Styles Live On Tour The teen heartthrob is back in Hong Kong to perform his self-titled debut album. 8pm, from $488, Hall 5BC, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai,


Urban Farm and Feast A healthy eating event where local vendors provide workshops, knowledge and amazing food. Hosted by HiveCoFarm, 1pm-6pm, 33-35 Hillier Street, HIllier Building,

Wanted! Young volunteers


Retykle’s Central Pop-up Here you can buy a range of designer clothes, accessories and shoes; some brand new and others pre-loved but as good as new! 10am-7pm. 33 Wellington Road, Central, 3594 6533.

MAY & 12 5

Serve-A-Thon is looking for children to help put together foodpacks and distribute the packs to low-income Hong Kong families. Help is needed packing boxes on May 5, 9am, Kennedy School, Pok Fu Lam; and distributing packs on May 12, 9am, Cheung Sha Wan, and 9.30am, Sha Tin. Volunteers must be aged five years and over, sign up at


Sai Kung markets Handmade crafts, organic fresh produce and lively atmosphere to brighten your Sunday 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung,


The Conscious Collective Find out how to add mindfulness and sustainability to your life through workshops, discussions and further activities. Free, 6.30pm, Lighstage Gallery, 214218 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan,


Wings for Life World Run Charity race for spinal injury research. Sign up online. 6pm-10pm, Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Racecourse, Wong Nai Chung Road,


Tin Hau Festival Head to your Tin Hau temple to witness ceremonies held by ancient clans and communities. Listen to Cantonese opera as they express gratitude to Tin Hau, and exchange fa pau or paper floral tributes, Tin Hau temples across Hong Kong.


Bring out the clowns (and the acrobats) as Cirque du soleil pitches it’s big top on the Harbourfront to perform the stunning Kooza. Tickets from $488, Central Harbourfront Event Space,


May Day Public holiday.


Open Air Cinema Club: Jean De Florette The Hive will be bringing a little bit of Provence to Sai Kung with a showing of this acclaimed French drama at their open air cinema, $100 (members) $120 (visitors), 6.30pm, The Hive, 5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung,


Bats & Fireflies A nighttime adventure consisting of a two hour walk taking you to prime habitats of bats and fireflies. Adults $150, children $110, 8

Open air cinema, May 4

tell me more

mum about town

District race, May 13

MAY 10

Fundraising Dinner Two local athletes are raising money for Hong Kong’s Zubin Foundation and Outward Bound HK by running, swimming and cycling from London to Paris in June. Join this fundraising dinner at Bombay Dreams, Central,

MAY 12

Bookazine Bookfest Family fun day will be filled with entertaining story tellers, arts & crafts activities, meet the authors, a relaxing outdoor library, fun games and lots more. Free, 11am-4pm, 109 Repulse Bay road, Repulse Bay, facebook. com/bookfestbybookazine.

MAY 12

Mother’s Day Workshop Craft workshop for kids to create gifts for Mother’s Day. Six to ten years, $380/child, 9am, 11.30am and 2pm, The Woodland Beachside Pre-School, The Dairy Farm Beach Shopping Mall, 35 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, All proceeds go to

MAY 13

La Parisienne - Cabaret Francaise, until June 17

Speak up Hong Kong Stories will be hosting the Spoken Word Festival this month, a celebration of the English spoken word in Hong Kong. The non-profit story-telling group has organized the two-week event from May 18 to June 2 and it brings together a whole host of local improv, poetry and creative writing groups. There will be live performances in venues all over the city - think poetry, storytelling, comedy, writing and acting. Find out more at

Mothers Day

Ooh la la!

Mum’s the word! See page our our pick of the best gifts for Mum on page 56.

I realise I’m slightly late to the party as this spectacular show has been running since last month, but I’m shipping the family en entiere over to Macau in May to enjoy La Parisienne - Cabaret Francaise. Hosted by The Parisian Theatre at the recently opened Parisian Macau, the show features dance, illusion, acrobatics and comedy, as well as burlesque and can can dance routines. Using state-of-the-art audio visual technology, theatre-goers are whisked around Paris, from the Eiffel Tower, to the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre and Notre Dame and the programme includes stunt performers, illusionists, world champion ice skaters and award-winning can can dancers. We can’t wait! The show runs until June 17, tickets from HK$188, or

MAY 13

AIA Vitality: District race This race uses a mobile app to provide people with more than 80 virtual checkpoints and challenges spread across the city. $500, 7am-3pm, Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central,

MAY 16

American International School Information Session Come along and find out about AIS’ Middle School and High School admissions. 9.30am-10.45am, 125 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, 9

what’s on and bamboo mountains covered in buns, Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau,

MAY 20

Sunday Pop Up at Momentai Join Sai Kungs local vendors for their third Sunday pop up sale. Have a shop and stop for a roast. Momentai, Kiosk 1, Waterfront, Wai Man Rd, Sai Kung, momentaila.

No problem at Momentai, May 20 Nice buns! Cheung Chau Bun Festival, May 19-23

MAY 16-20 Carmen

To kick off their 15th anniversary programme, Hong Kong Opera is hosting a production of George Bizet’s Carmen - a tale of love, lust and revenge. From $150, 1907 Pacific Plaza, 410 Des Voeux Road West,

MAY 18

International Museum Day Museums across Hong Kong will be hosting events and activities around this year’s theme of ‘Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new public’,

MAY 18-20

Stingrays Home Invitational Swim Meet

MAY 18-20

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2018 Over 100 galleries will be exhibiting art-to-buy. The #ForArt’sSake charity event takes place on 6-10pm, May 18, with interactive activities and live art and dance performances. Early bird tickets $120, Pre-fair tickets $150, Friday 12pm-10pm. Saturday and Sunday 11am7pm, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hall 3DE, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai,

MAY 19-23

Cheung Chau Bun Festival It’s that time of year again, head to Cheung Chau to see brightly-clad children on sticks

MAY 20

Sai Kung Island Cruise Discover Sai Kung’s outlying islands on board a traditional wooden sampan. Adults $250, children $210, 2pm-5pm, Sai Kung Public Pier,

MAY 22

Buddha’s Birthday Public holiday. Wish the big fella a happy birthday.

MAY 26

Eat-Pray-Art A three-hour tour around Hong Kong taking in hidden art galleries, authentic food and secret teahouses. $750, 3pm-6pm, Amanda Wei Gallery, 19-27 Wyndham Street, Central,

Over 400 swimmers representing local and overseas swim clubs will compete at this short, fast-paced competition. Free, Friday 4.45pm7pm, Saturday 8.30am-6pm, Sunday 9am1.30pm, HKIS High School Swimming Pool, 1 Redhill Road, Tai Tam,

Affordable Art Fair, May 18-20


BOOK NOW Cricket Experience Day


A great opportunity for children to learn the importance of teamwork and experience one of the traditional sports for which Malvern is renowned. Free Entry, Po Kong Village Road Park,

Children from pre-nursery to Kindergarten three can learn the basics of drama and stage performance concepts and develop performance skills.

JUN 23

Malvern Little Star Summer Camp

$3,900 per week, 1pm-4pm, G09-G12, Coronation Circle, 1 Yau Cheung Road, Yau Ma Tei,

NOV 9-11

Clockenflap 2018

released for this not-to-be-missed music and arts festival which is celebrating it’s 11th edition! Tickets $890-$1,410. Opens Friday November 9 at 5pm. Central Harbourfront.

Yes, November feels so far away, but early-bird tickets have been 11

things to know

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The Peak tram is open every day of the year from 7am to midnight.

The tram covers 1.4km and an elevation of 400m.

The Peak tram carries over four million passengers a year. Avoid the lengthy queues on Garden Road by taking the number 15 Citybus up from Central and the tram back down.

In 1881 Sir Alexander Findlay Smith first put the project of a Peak railway to the Hong Kong governor. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1888.

Happy Birthda y Peak Tram!


he e t e! Tak rout nic sce


During its three-year construction period, the heavy construction equipment and rails were hauled up the Peak by construction workers with no mechanical support.

The Peak tram was officially opened on May 28 by governor Sir George William des Voeux and it carried 800 passengers on its first day.

Things you need to know

The lower terminus is located on Garden Road and the upper terminus at Victoria Gap. There are four intermediate request stops at Kennedy Road, MacDonnell Road, May Road and Barker Road.

The Peak Tram The world’s steepest funicular railway turns 130 this month


Until 1926 the trams were divided into three classes - First Class for British colonial officials and residents of the Peak; Second Class for British colonial officers and Hong Kong Police Force personnel; Third Class for other people and animals.


In 1941, the engine room was damaged during the Battle of Hong Kong and services did not resume until Christmas Day 1945, at the end of the Japanese occupation.

also an a on c u yo plic a re if you d n k fi ish Pea the squeam the feel riding ut g abo al thin e r 12



Until 1941, the front two seats of the trams were reserved for the governor until two minutes before departure. 13


American Peking bids farewell Popular Wan Chai restaurant American Peking is shutting up shop following a six-month closure for renovations. The restaurant was considered an institution by many in Hong Kong with a menu that featured old school, Beijing-style Chinese food. It was particularly renowned for its Peking duck. The term ‘American’ was added to its moniker during the Vietnam war in an attempt to attract American GIs. The restaurant opened after World War 2 and as Hong Kong changed beyond recognition,

American Peking stuck pretty much to its original menu, providing a reliable nostalgia trip for many long-term Hong Kong expats. “I loved that place, the rudeness of the waiters, the slippy floors, the full-on air con and the non-bringing of food if they thought you’d had too much. It was an institution for our family,” commented one British expat. The infamous neon sign on Lockhart Road was in the process of being removed as Expat Parent went to press.

Summer lovin’ Clothing label Summer has launched an online shopping portal, with free shipping throughout Hong Kong. Summer was launched by Southside mum Mehroo Turel as a fun range of summer tops, shorts, dresses and skirts for mums and daughters. All clothes are made in India using high quality cotton and viscose fabrics. Sizes range from small through to extra-large for adults, with kids lines running from three months to 16 years. Returns are available for up to 14 days after purchase. For online shopping, go to styleatsummer. com. Turel will also be showcasing her latest range at the Hong Kong Living Charity Summer Lunch shopping boutique on May 31. For details and tickets, go to Mehroo Turel will be showcasing her collection at the Hong Kong Living Charity Summer Lunch, May 31



Business support for women Women’s crowdfunding portal Next Chapter has launched Get Ready For Funding, an initiative that aims to help female entrepreneurs in Asia successfully launch a business and secure funding. According to statistics in the US, $94 billion was invested in all-male founder teams in 2016, while just $10 billion went to companies with a female founder. Initiated by Next Chapter founder Nicole Denholder, Get Ready For Funding provides an environment for female founders to better understand the investment process and be prepared to knowledgeably and effectively sit at the table with investors. The course includes 15 hours of workshops covering six topics and responds to female-founder specific needs. Denholder said the pilot programme had enjoyed a phenomenal response and the feedback is being integrated into the second programme which will be running this month. Details at

Space Museum reopens

Following a three-year closure for renovations, Hong Kong’s Space Museum has now reopened. Featuring over 100 new exhibits, updated displays and a refurbished interior, the museum is open 1-9pm (Mon, Wed, Thurs and Fri) and 10am-9pm (weekends and public holidays). For more information, see

Anne English from Bamboo Strategic Advisors leads a Get Ready For Funding class

TST’s Space Museum 15


Jaspas Junks calls time In a shock announcement this month, catering group Castelo Concepts has announced it will be ceasing its Jaspas Junks business as of May 1. Citing rising operational costs and the high levels of expensive maintenance required to keep its ageing fleet of boats running, Castelo cofounders Brian and Wayne Parfitt say they will be concentrating on the group’s chain of restaurants moving forward. “Although we will no longer be chartering the junks, we will offer a variety of catering options via our restaurants for guest to book when they take out their own junk, or book a third party charter option.” The Parfitt brothers originally picked up their fleet of six boats from HSBC at a knockdown $50,000 each during the global financial crisis. At the time, HSBC was cutting back on corporate entertainment and Wayne was keen to set up a commercial junk business having enjoyed days out on his own boat since the early ‘90s. “We used to have these awesome parties and I thought maybe they’d be some traction in renting junks commercially with drinks and a BBQ,” he said.


The resultant Jaspas Junks business achieved legendary status with expats throughout the territory, offering an unbeatable free-flow package with BBQ lunch, homemade pizzas and chocolate cake sailing home and oodles of Seabreezes that could be enjoyed afloat a noodle. “I can’t believe Jaspas junks are no more!” lamented one expat. “Oh my god we’ve had so much fun on those boats over the years. Nobody could beat their food, drink and all-day boating package.” For an extra charge, kids could spend the day zooming around on a banana while the adults got down to the serious business of socialising. “We’d like to give our skippers a special shout out, as well as our staff that has helped us to build this great fun day out on Hong Kong

The party’s over for Jaspas Junks

waterways into such unique memories for so many,” continued the brothers. “For catering, please contact Oolaa, Wagyu, Jaspas Sai Kung, Castelo Catering or High Street Grill.” Alternative junk options in Sai Kung include Hong Kong Yachting, hongkongyachting. com, Island Junks,, and Breakaway Hong Kong, 17

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

Treasure Island

Catch the waves at Treasure Island Surf Camp! For nine weeks, from June 18 to August 17, young surfers will be learning surf skills, ocean safety, joining in other fun activities and making new friends on Pui O Beach, Lantau. Choose from three camps designed to suit different age groups, abilities and interests. Suitable for children ages 5-16 with daily pick up and drop off at Central pier. Learn more about the programmes at We are giving away four places at any Treasure Island Surf Camp, valued at $4,200 each!

Mini Gifts in a Tin

Keep those little fingers busy with cool kids toys from the Mini Gifts in a Tin range. Choose from ‘Mini Mini Mechanic’ to build a mini digger with moveable parts, ‘Mini Racing Cars’ complete with three cars and racing signs or ‘Mini Sock Owl’ to transform a stripy sock into a cheeky owl. All priced at $98, and available from Great for birthday gifts or party bags. We have 15 Mini Gifts in a Tin to giveaway, remember to let us know which Mini Gift you would prefer to win!


ABA Production

The purr-fect family treat - Tabby McTat and Fred the guitar-playing busker’s cat are coming to Hong Kong! No cat can sing like Tabby McTat, Fred the guitarplaying busker’s cat. He loves to sing as people throw coins into Fred’s hat! But one terrible day, the two are separated. Will they ever sing songs together again? From the greatest picture book team in the world comes this delightful rhyming story of music, friendship, loyalty – and cats! Visit for more details. Entry deadline: May 25. We’re giving away a family set of four tickets, worth $1,540 in total, to the show at 11am on June 2.


Get your wardrobe ready for summer! Launched by Hong Kong mum Mehroo Turel, SUMMER is a collection of fashionable smart casuals for women and girls. Each apparel is designed to make you and your little ones feel stylish and comfortable. Perfect for Hong Kong’s fast-approaching hot and humid weather, SUMMER clothes are made of high quality, breathable fabric with dual benefits of comfort and style. Visit for more. We’re happy to give away three $300 vouchers, valued at $900 in total. 19

me & my big idea

Forever young Slow the ageing process with wellness experts Neelam Harjani and Zora Benhamou So what’s the big idea? Inspire Wellness is a six-part series of lectures exploring the effects of lifestyle on our health and what we can do to slow down aging. Experts from some of Hong Kong’s largest institutions in health and wellness will be sharing their research and knowledge in the areas of sleep, stress management, brain health, movement, beauty, nutrition, mental and physical well being. You’ll leave with practical tips to gain control over your health now and prevent aging diseases in the future.

What prompted it? We connected at a Hong Kong meetup; Zora has been studying aging and longevity for the over 20 years and runs a blog for 40+ women called, and I am founder of, a personalized yoga and corporate wellness programme provider. So as we share mutual interests we quickly decided we needed to get our message out there and help people realize their health goals based on all the new information in gene science and the physical manifestation of chronic stress. We decided a good way to spread this information was via some of Hong Kong’s biggest and brightest figures in the fields of health and longevity.

How did you source your speakers? We were grateful to receive lots of support from the local wellness industry. Inspire Yoga has been running in Hong Kong for ten years so we used our personal connections as well as the HackMyAge social media following to generate high quality leads. We then curated our team of speakers so they’d be presenting the most recent scientific research to inspire lifestyle changes. Over the course of the series, they’ll be covering areas including sleep, stress management, nutrition, movement, brain and mental health, and beauty. We’re hoping to empower the audience to reduce tension and slow the aging process.

Is there an information gap in the market with regards ‘older’ women? Definitely. As women approach menopause there’s not much information for coping with 20

Neelam Harjani and Zora Benhamou are hosting a series of workshops

the changes or even understanding what’s going on. Hong Kong ladies could really benefit from a support system focusing on their needs, especially in the fast-paced environment here. It’s so important for women to slow down and understand the changes. With customised yoga and mindfulness programmes you can work out what your body needs and how to create a more sustainable, balanced lifestyle.

Tell us about your own businesses? Zora is from the US and is a certified health coach and expert on ageing. She’s been studying longevity and ageing for the last 27 years, writing, researching, interviewing, practising and investigating scientific studies. She is the author of Eating For Longevity and creator of The Longevity Master Plan, an online guide to looking and feeling younger than your biological age. I am founder of Inspire Yoga, an online platform for over 20 instructors. I am author of Secrets To Live Stress Free and have 20 years

of yoga experience, having spent ten years as an ambassador in the Hong Kong wellness industry. Over the years, I’ve formulated a fivestep system to release chronic tension.

What’s next? Our first talk has completely sold out so we think there is a real interest in and demand for these kinds of discussions. We feel there is huge potential for more talks, covering areas such as sharing with parents how to create work/life balance to achieve their health goals, as well as larger weekend workshops sharing scientific findings and putting tools and techniques into practice for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Inspire Wellness runs until June, the weekly talks are held on Thursdays at 10am-12pm and repeated at 6.30-8.30pm, 43-45 Wyndham Street, Central, tickets $300 on the door or $250 from 21

debate of the month

Screen gazers How young is too young? “My kids are eight and five and both watch TV. But no ipad for the five year old yet.” Frances

“Definitely any age in restaurants. If it keeps them quiet in the highchair so you can get on with your meal, fantastic.” Jo

Screens are so tempting to keep them quiet! But I do try to keep it in check. Sarah “I did really well for eighteen months with no tv at all. And then SARS hit… Let’s just say we were stuck at home a lot.” Janet

Screen time is a tool for when you need it. You’ve gotta be realistic! Grace

No limits! They need it for school. Amy

“We let our kids watch DVDs on weekends from age two. But the less screen time you give them, the more they play.” Orla

“When my first was born I said no screens until five years old; my second knows how to use an i-phone aged two!” Claire

I can’t stand seeing babies and toddlers plugged into iphones in strollers. Jane

I am ...

“When they’re yelping in the buggy and you’re trying to shop, it’s so easy to give them a screen. I have no idea how mums did it before ipad!” Chloe

My eight-year-old has to earn his screen time by reading. Morag

t to Wan ? play

We want to hear from you! Next month: Kids in restaurants - do you or don’t you?

Email your views to

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book review

Out this month Gift ideas for book-loving mamas

The Night Before Mother’s Day

What Not to Give Your Five Forget Mother’s Day How It Works, The Mom on Mother’s Day Enid Blyton Mum

Natasha Wing

Martha Simpson

Dad and the kids whip up a bunch of special treats for the lovely lady in their life. A sweet story and a great way to introduce littlies to the idea behind Mother’s Day.

Don’t give mum a rotting log unless she’s a salamander, or a bunch of flies unless she’s a spider. Top tips for Mother’s Day gift-buying from one little boy.

Based on Enid Blyton’s beloved Famous Five books, this new, tongue-in-cheek series for grown-ups see George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy show Aunt Fanny just how much she means to them.

A Ladybird Book A mum has two very important jobs. One, to look after the children. Two, to do everything else as well. A laugh-out-loud coping-with-the-world mechanism for adults.

Mother lode A treasure trove of mum-themed tales Blogger Gill Sims was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 with her first novel, Why Mummy Drinks. The relatable story follows the exploits of a middle-aged mother, her ‘gadget-twat’ husband and her two ‘precious moppets’, Peter and Jane. But behind the veneer of middle-class sophistication is a mummy-duck frantically paddling to keep up with family life. And when her new-age sisterin-law from hell descends with her brood of six free-range, vegan, gluten-free children for Christmas, all chaos is let loose. As the promotional blurb says, it’s honest, it’s funny and it’s just a little bit sweary. Out this year is the multi-award winning novel from first time writer Gail Honeyman. Perceptive and touching, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is hard not to gobble up in one sitting. It follows the story of Eleanor and the far-reaching effects of her emotionallydamaged relationship with an abusive mother. Honeyman admits the idea 24

for the story was triggered when she read about the epidemic of loneliness in today’s society and that it affected young people as much as the elderly; Eleanor thinks she is perfectly happy with her solitary weekends and her regimented weekdays as an office administrator, but then her past begins to catch up with her and she realises that maybe there is more to life. If you’re guilty of panic in the wine aisle, picking the bottle with the prettiest label or regularly defaulting to a ‘nice Savvy B’, maybe it’s time to extend your wine horizons? The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club by Helen McGinn will help you make the right wine choice for a plethora of social occasions - from kids’ birthday party (after all, fizzy drinks shouldn’t just be for the children), planning a girls’ night in or just matching wine with food. Because life’s too short for bad wine. If you’re looking for a classic, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf espouses the sentiment behind Mother’s Day, centering around Mrs

Ramsay, a kind, warm-hearted, traditional mother who is the foundation stone of the entire Ramsay family. Her sudden death in childbirth rips the family apart. The novel is considered to be the most autobiographical of Woolf’s works, based on her own early experiences and touching on children’s perceptions and desires, as well as exploring the larger themes of adult relationships and changing class-structures during the Great War. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell was first published in a magazine as a serial between 1864 and 1866, and was subsequently adapted for television by the BBC in both 1971 and 1999. The story is of Molly Gibson, the only daughter of a widowed doctor living in a provincial English town in the 1830s. When Molly’s father remarries, her life is thrown off course by the arrival of a ghastly stepmother. But she forms a close bond with her beautiful new step-sister and soon finds herself cajoled into acting as a go-between in Cynthia’s love affairs, risking the ruin of her own reputation.

book review 25

book review

Singapore zing Expat mum-of-two Stephanie Suga Chen is the author of recently published Travails of a Trailing Spouse. She tells Carolynne Dear what prompted her to put pen to paper So what’s it all about? The story begins with Sarah, a lawyer in the US, quitting her job and moving to Singapore with her husband and children. They become part of a close-knit group of expatriates, enjoying alcohol-fuelled evenings together. But when cracks appear in this seemingly perfect world, Sarah and her friends discover how complicated life can be.

How long did it take you to write? The answer usually shocks people! It took me about five weeks - I wrote a chapter a night. I think I just had it all pent up inside me, ready to flow out. Editing, well, that’s a whole other story - I think that took five months.

Have you always been a writer, or is this a shift from a previous career? It was a complete shift; I left my career in finance when we decided to move to Singapore in 2012. Although one of my goals had been to possibly find a new career for myself, I admit it took longer than I had expected. I spent about four years floundering quite a bit - lots of yoga, lunches and volunteering until I discovered writing.

How was the writing process? I wrote everywhere - at home, on the MRT, at school waiting for the kids. And I used many different media - laptop, phone, scribbles on a scrap of paper.

How much of the story is autobiographical? This is everyone’s favourite question. It did start


as a memoir, but I found it a lot more fun to fictionalize it. So if you’re wondering, the juicier bits are probably made up. Although I’ve heard many readers say “I know that exact person!”

Why do you think expats often struggle despite their comfortable lifestyles? Although the novel centres around expat life, the problems that the characters face are not necessarily unique to trailing spouses. I think the journey of self-discovery applies to anyone at a crossroads in life; it just happens to have a more exotic setting - similar to Eat, Pray, Love.

What would you say are the best and the worst bits of being an expat? For me, I would say the best is having my children experience diversity on a daily basis. The worst is definitely being away from family and friends, although that can sometimes be a good thing, too - being shielded from the stressful, Christmas holiday period is one example that springs to mind.

Any downsides to life in Singapore? The unyielding heat takes quite a bit of getting used to.

What would be your advice to expats moving to Singapore? Three things: 1) The fight against mold is real, 2) Enjoy every moment, 3) Read my book!

Do you have any plans for a follow-up novel? I have several projects in the pipeline, and I’ve already collected dozens of stories for a

Stephanie Suga Chen with her first novel

possible sequel. If you’ve got any of those ‘too crazy to be true’ expat stories, please do send them my way! Travails of a Trailing Spouse by Stephanie Suga Chen is published by Straits Times Press and is available internationally from 27


My Hong Kong the creative Local designer Laura Egloff is founder of international children’s label, Velveteen. This year she opened her first store I launched Velveteen five years ago and it’s been an extraordinary series of ups and downs. I moved to Hong Kong in early 2006 but had been travelling here for work on a monthly basis for several years. My role was based in London and I planned to return there after my six-month secondment. But I met my husband within a few months of being here. Twelve years ago we had a small apartment on Prince’s Terrace in Midlevels. It was a lively neighbourhood and we could walk everywhere. But since the children have come along, we’ve gradually moved further afield to meet our growing space requirements. Sadly, our lovely old building is slated to be torn down next year so it’s time to start thinking about another move. To be honest I find this quite exciting - I love a good excuse to re-decorate. The Velveteen brand began online, offering girls’ sizes from six months to four years, and soon evolved to include a larger size range and a small offering for boys. With the launch of the Lee Gardens store we’re finally able to give our boys’ collection the space it deserves. We’re thrilled to be launching a standalone collection for boys up to 12 years this autumn. Launching the store was a really exciting step. We worked past midnight in the week before the opening and sat of the floor in the dark mall watching the boarding come down the night before the doors opened. It was a special moment I will never forget. Opening a store was a way for me to interact with our customers face-to-face. Online is certainly convenient but it lacks the personal touch which I see as essential to Velveteen’s DNA. When I first began planning the store, I wanted it to bring to life our dedication to the


Laura Egloff’s creations have been snapped up by celebrities in the US

experience of childhood and provide a creative destination for kids to explore. We’ve built a child-sized experiential workshop and lounge area and we are planning a series of workshops. We have an interactive ‘selfie’ wall and have installed cutting-edge natural light technology to represent a sunny Californian afternoon.

I think the secret to success in business is hard work, perseverance and the willingness to forego shortcuts in the interest of longevity. We have worked hard to select fabrics and suppliers based on quality and sustainability. We are also dedicated to ‘doing well by doing good’. We work only with suppliers


dokiWatch S is world’s most advanced smartwatch for kids


ong Kong company Doki Technologies has announced the launch of dokiWatch S, an updated version of dokiWatch and the most advanced smartwatch for kids aged 6-12 years old. First released in 2016, dokiWatch is a wrist worn wearable phone which allows parents to track their children via a GPS locator. It allows families to stay connected without giving children too much access, as with a smartphone. The S model is the first to feature video calling capabilities, emergency SOS function as well as a scheduler and dual band support with 3G connectivity to allow more coverage. The scheduler allows parents to set reminders and kids can learn to take responsibilities by completing tasks on time. The innovative piece of technology includes a fitness tracker and even a digital friend called the dokiPet.

whose values align with our own and we actively grow our partnerships with the women who produce Velveteen pieces in ways that will have real, positive impact on their lives and the lives of their children.

of the weather and the lack of creative things to do as a family when the rain forces us indoors. After a long week of work, a grey weekend can make me stir crazy. I work long days, checking emails from the US and Europe before the kids leave for school and making a final call with the sales team at 10pm. I try to leave the office by 7.30pm and like to slow things down after work by reading to the kids each night. We’re working our way through the complete works of Roald Dahl at the moment. Other than that, yoga and indoor cycling have always been the key to my sanity.

My own son and daughter, Gabriel and Alessandra, share the same birthday. I put this down to their being half Swiss and therefore very mindful of punctuality. They are five and seven years old. Hong Kong certainly feels most like home for us all but I enjoy being able to spend chunks of time with family in Switzerland and in the US. And we’re lucky to have such amazing travel on our doorstep in Asia.

We’re a very pool and beach oriented family so Shek O has become a favourite destination for weekend family barbecues. The kids also like to collect shells at South Bay while my husband and I drink cocktails at sunset.

Living in such a transient city has brought the most wonderful and far-flung people into my life. I am truly humbled by the number of impressive and wonderful people we are lucky to call friends because of Hong Kong. Things that drive me nuts about the city? I guess we all have a love/hate relationship with aspects of Hong Kong, but we just have to get on with our day and learn to work within the system. I do struggle with the unpredictability

The accompanying app, Doki App allows parents to set zones and be alerted if children wander off. After undergoing significant updates it will feature a revamped user interface for more intuitive usage and a sleek design layout. Parents will be able to communicate, track, and modify settings of their child’s dokiWatch with even more ease. DokiWatch S is currently available for purchase, shipping globally to over 30 countries. The retail price for dokiWatch S is $1,398 and can be purchased through Doki’s online store at

“ Our collections bring to life our vision of a sunny California childhood,” says Egloff

We have big plans for the continued growth of Velveteen and we’re really excited about the expanded boys’ collection for SS19. We also have a great event planned for September in Hong Kong to launch the AW18 collection. 29


May is Helper Appreciation Month. Show your support


elper Appreciation Month is in initiative originally set up by residents of Discovery Bay. It invites schools, organisations and individuals to do something in May to show their appreciation of domestic helpers. It was established in May as this month already had recognised holidays celebrating family and workers. Gestures of thanks could include buying a small gift for your domestic helper, giving her an additional day off, or maybe offering vouchers for a movie or a restaurant. Or a simple handwritten card expressing your thanks. For more ideas or if you or your school would like to get involved, see and


Exhibition launch The Hive Spring is hosting Beyond Myself, an exhibition of visual images produced by Filipino migrants in London and Hong Kong at arts-based workshops. Led by the Curating Development programme at Goldsmiths University, London, the workshops were organised in conjunction with Hong Kongbased project partners, Enrich HK. Beyond Myself explores the sacrifices of Filipino workers through language, images and objects and identifies the major obstacles they face in converting their efforts into economic benefits for themselves and their families. Until May 14, 9am-7pm (Mon-Fri), The Hive Spring, 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen.

The Helper Documentary screening If you’re a parent with a domestic helper in your employ, you need to see The Helper, a locally produced movie following the real-life stories of Hong Kong’s helper community. The feature-length documentary is the brainchild of British film director Joanna Bowers, herself an expat mother living in

Hong Kong. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, but ultimately The Helper will give you an insight into the lives of this largely ignored immigrant group of workers. Bowers said the idea for the movie came about after wandering through Central on a Sunday when she first moved here from LA. She was intrigued to find out more about the 300,000+ domestic helper population that makes such a significant contribution to life here, yet doesn’t seem to be fully integrated into society.

Hong Kong has one of the highest densities of foreign domestic workers in the world. Following a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, Bowers raised enough money to begin the project which culminated in a 110 minute-long documentary. Grittier stories include that of Nurul Hidayah, a young Indonesian helper who is accused of theft by her employer. She is later found not-guilty, but the event triggers a tragic downward spiral of events from which she can find no escape. When helpers are fired from their employment, within two weeks they lose all official status in Hong Kong. Hidayah soon finds herself alone, pregnant and living on a beach on the Gold Coast. Eventually discovered by an employee of local charity PathFinders, Hidayah is offered a place to stay and recourse to healthcare and legal aid, but after giving birth in a public hospital finds herself back in court fighting a $100,000 hospital bill for using hospital facilities as a non-official resident. And interwoven throughout these tales is the story of the Unsung Heroes, a choir from


Reasons to be thankful

Fast facts • Five per cent of Hong Kong’s population are foreign domestic workers, most of them female. They make up 10% of the working population. • According to 2017 statistics, 48% are from the Philippines, 49% from Indonesia and 1.3% from Thailand. • In 2016, Justice Centre reported that one domestic worker in six in Hong Kong were deemed to have been forced into labour. • Hong Kong has one of the highest densities of foreign domestic workers in the world, with on average one domestic helper for every eight households. • Since 2003, all foreign domestic helpers are required by law to live-in. This rule was enacted to ‘protect the local workforce’. • Domestic helpers rights include to be provided with suitable living accommodation with reasonable privacy; one rest-day - a continuous period of no less than 24-hours - every week; 12 days of statutory holiday each year; seven to 14 days of paid annual leave (depending on length of service). • Foreign domestic helpers began arriving in Hong Kong in 1969. Between 2001 and 2017 the foreign domestic helper population almost doubled from 200,000 to 350,000.

the domestic worker community, and their challenging journey to perform on the main stage of Clockenflap. These are by no means the ‘worst’ stories in Hong Kong - charities such as PathFinders have cases on their books that would make your hair curl. But the film adequately demonstrates that these ladies who run our errands and clean our houses, scrub our floors and polish our windows, do our shopping, make our beds, and often put our children to bed at night, are real people too. And their voices need to be heard, (Carolynne Dear). There will be a screening of The Helper Documentary and panel discussion, 7.3010pm, May 2, The Hive Spring, 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, $55,, 31


From mops to mountains Foreign domestic worker Liza Avelino tells Kate Farr how she has re-written her Hong Kong story


ust like many thousands of Filipina women who travel from their hometowns to Hong Kong hoping to earn a living, Liza Avelino arrived in Discovery Bay in 2006 to begin work as a helper for an expat family. But a career as a cook and a cleaner as one of the territory’s 350,000 foreign domestic workers took an unexpected turn for Avelino. She is today a committed sportswoman, using her free time to scale barriers – both mental and physical – and change the perception of Hong Kong’s helpers for good. Born in Davao City in the southern Philippines, Avelino was not always a fitness fan.


Liza Avelino has completed Oxfam Trailwalker twice, plus scaled a multitude of mountains

Standing on a mountain gives me a great sense of achievement and of freedom “Maybe being sporty was something that had been in me all along, but I didn’t discover that part of me until I came to Hong Kong,” she says. It wasn’t until 2006 when she began hiking for the first time that she fell in love with the great outdoors.

“The safe, well-tended trails and spectacular views of Hong Kong’s landscapes got me hooked,” she says. “And ever since then, I’ve spent all my days off hiking the country parks.” Those initial few expeditions quickly transformed Avelino into an avid hiker, giving her the confidence to take part in the punishing 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in both 2010 and 2011. Encouraged by her increasing fitness and confidence, she branched out into overseas mountain climbing, scaling the renowned Philippine peaks Mount Pulag, Mount GuitingGuiting and Mount Kanlaon, before tackling Mount Yarigatake in Japan, Malaysia’s Mount


Kinabalu and Mount Hallasan in South Korea – all impressive enough achievements in their own right, but Avelino had even bigger goals to tick off her bucket list. In 2015, after months of intensive training that included long hikes and heaving a 10kg backpack up 21 floors of her apartment building after work at night, Liza completed the dream ascent for any committed climber, summiting Everest Base Camp, widely regarded as one of the world’s most challenging climbs. And in 2016, Avelino returned to Everest’s icy peaks, this time reaching Island Peak’s Crampon Point – the first domestic worker ever to have achieved such a feat. Just one year later, Avelino once again donned her backpack and boots, this time taking on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Known as “The Roof Of Africa”, Kilimanjaro is a famously challenging climb, however this time Liza was spurred on by a new motivation; raising funds for local Hong Kong charity HELP For Domestic Workers. I ask Avelino what it is about these phenomenal challenges that appeal to her. “Climbing mountains and standing at the summit gives me immense satisfaction, and a great sense of freedom and achievement,” she explains. “I literally feel so close to heaven. Setting up personal challenges also keeps me motivated, especially when I see the positive impact my achievements are having on others.” And she intends to continue spreading that positive impact. She’s currently preparing for a climb in Sichuan in central China in July, which she will be using to help raise funds for Splash Foundation, a non-profit charity organisation that offers a free swimming programme for domestic workers in Hong Kong. This commitment to personal achievement while helping others hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year, The Helper Documentary made waves, following the lives of a number of women working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Avelino was one of the women that director Joanna Bowers reached out to for the film. “I was hesitant at first, as I’m a private person,” Avelino admits. “However, the thought that I could inspire just one or two other people was worth opening up my story to the world.” She believes that the documentary was a helpful opportunity to build bridges between the different communities in Hong Kong. “It was a great film that everyone must watch to get a glimpse of the real lives of domestic workers in Hong Kong, and also to get a better understanding of who we are, our challenges, our aspirations and dreams. It shows the viewer that we too, are human beings who deserve appreciation for a job well done, fair treatment and respect.” Avelino was also invited by one of the organisers of TEDxTinHauWomen to share her inspiring story on stage last year, giving a presentation to a packed auditorium. “I was very nervous and excited at the same time. It was my first time speaking in public. I took it as another big challenge, another mountain to climb.” She says she prepared for her speech in much the same way as she did for her climbing adventures. “The preparation took me ten weeks, and through the help and support of my coach and buddy, I made it onto the stage, speaking in front of 500 people without going blank! It was an experience of a lifetime, and I was so proud of myself for being so brave.” This experience has led to other speaking engagements, including at the Asia Women’s Network Leadership Summit, and has opened the door to even more personal challenges. “My long-term plan is to become a motivational speaker, and continue climbing big mountains, while helping to raise funds for charities that support the well-being of domestic workers in Hong Kong.” And with her trademark grit and determination, there’s little doubt that Liza Avelino will continue to scale every mountain in her way. 33

THE big interview

Family values Mother’s Choice has been helping vulnerable teens and their babies for over 30 years. Carolynne Dear met with chief exec Alia Eyres


t takes passion and it takes great heart to successfully lead a charity and Alia Eyres, who heads up local non-government organisation Mother’s Choice, has these character attributes in bucketloads. The organisation celebrated its pearl anniversary last year, an impressive thirty year history of helping one of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable sectors of society - abandoned babies and pregnant teens. Last year alone, the charity provided 150 young children and babies with temporary care and 58 were placed with permanent families; its outreach programme offered over 10,000 young people with sexuality education workshops. It’s a multi-faceted approach to an issue that requires an holistic solution. “Our mission is to join hands with the community, to give hope and to change the life stories of these young girls and their babies. And to do that we need to address the whole problem, from sex education in schools, through to support for the pregnant girls and aftercare for the babies, whether they are to be adopted or kept by the mother,” Eyres explains as we sit down for coffee at the charity’s baby care centre on Bowen Road. The impressive colonial building was loaned to the charity by the government in 1990. Built in 1914, it was occupied by the Royal Navy after World War 2 and in 1979 was handed to the government. Mother’s Choice took over the space on the premise that it would take care of the, by then, decrepit building. The building now houses up to 44 babies and young children waiting for permanent families either through adoption or reunion with their birth families. Just up the road is another building belonging to the charity that offers a safe space for vulnerable pregnant teenagers. “These young women need care, support, a safe space and the ability to choose their own path,” explains Eyres. The Mother’s Choice story began following a news report in 1986 in the South China Morning Post detailing how pregnant girls as young as 13 were crossing the border into China for cheap, no-questions-asked abortions. It was estimated in the report that as many as 100 girls a day from Hong Kong


Alia Eyres now heads up the charity her parents founded in the 1980s

were seeking such services, paying $700 for a fetus as progressed as nine months to be terminated. The report was seen by Eyres’ parents as well as by friends who at the time were providing services to help Vietnamese refugees. “They were shocked,” says Eyres, who was just a child at the time. “But instead of shrugging and saying ‘what can we do?’, they seriously asked ‘what can we do?’ and ended

up launching Mother’s Choice, so-called because they wanted these vulnerable young girls to have a choice.” Co-founder Helen Stephens was particularly touched by the girls’ plight as her own sister had faced a crisis pregnancy ten years previously. “Our whole family kept it a secret,” she said. “She was sent away and gave birth to a healthy baby girl whom she never held… She was never able to recover from the trauma, from sudden loss

THE big interview Eyres herself was born and brought up in Hong Kong, attending Bradbury and South Island Schools before moving to the US for her tertiary education. Her mother is American, her father Indian, and rather romantically they met on Star Ferry. She returned to Hong Kong fourteen years later as a corporate lawyer and never dreamed she would end up heading up the charity her parents had founded. But with the support of the board, she took over as chief executive officer in 2012. The project Eyres is currently most proud of is a community-based foster care programme called Project Bridge that she launched four years ago. As she animatedly explains, a care home is no place for a baby. Children thrive best when nurtured in a loving, family environment.

Girls as young as thirteen were crossing the border for cheap, no-questions-asked abortions in China.

The charity provides valuable foster care for Hong Kong babies

of innocence, from a total loss of former self. I knew that girls in Hong Kong faced the same scrutiny and judgement, and I felt led to support them.” The four co-founders didn’t really know what to do next, but Eyres’ father (who was a former journalist) decided they should hold a press conference to publicise things. “A local hospital immediately called to place a pregnant young girl with them and twenty four hours later the first ‘Mother’s Choice baby’ was born,” says Eyres. Over the next 30 years, the charity would care for over 2,000 babies and serve more than 53,000 pregnant girls with counselling, parental support and adoption. “In 30 years, the biggest miracle that we have seen at Mother’s Choice is the change in attitude of our community,” says Eyres’ father,

Ranjan Marwah. “At the start, many people asked why I wanted to help those ‘naughty girls’. Some of those same people are now our biggest supporters and they value the young women and children so differently. That gives me great hope for Hong Kong.” At the time of the charity’s inception, Eyres’ father was in the throes of setting up a new business and her mother was taking care of their large, young family (Eyres is the oldest of seven children). But nevertheless they threw themselves into the charity. “And that’s the point,” says Eyres. “There is never a right time, we constantly say ‘oh, I’ll step up when I’ve got more money, or when the kids are older, or when I’ve got a better job’, but there really is no time like the present. If you want to volunteer, now is as good a time as any.”

“Sometimes we wait to place the baby back with its natural mother, but she often needs time to stabilise her situation. Or the baby is to be placed with an adoptive family, but it takes a minimum of six months for the paperwork to be processed. Project Bridge aims to provide that vital stepping stone between care home and forever home. Volunteers need to have been in Hong Kong for one year with plans to stay for two more, and be living in a clean and safe space to look after a child for up to a year.” Mum-of-one Jasmin Blunck had sevenweek-old baby ‘W’ placed in her care for seven weeks before he was moved on to a permanent home. “We loved being able to make a difference to his life,” she said. “You don’t need to be the perfect parent or have a massive house to be able to do this; anyone can. And what a Project Bridge family offers is so much better than the alternative.” Project Bridge is currently desperate for volunteers and Eyres is quick to reassure that all Bridge families receive appropriate training and plenty of full-time support. They are also cleverly paired with a ‘buddy family’ who can step in when Bridge families need a bit of extra support. 35

THE big interview The Bowen Road baby care home itself is light and bright, the rooms filled with smiling babies and toys and the walls busy with colourful photos, pictures and schedules. Mother’s Choice goes the extra mile to ensure each child is cared for as an individual rather than a number in a cot. There are excursions three times a week, carers put together a portfolio for each child (“it’s important that this stage of the child’s life is properly recorded, it all contributes to a proper sense of self later on,” says Eyres), the toddlers each have their own wardrobe of little clothes to choose from and a friend of the charity stitches colourful bed quilts for the children. There are also facilities for a small number of special needs children, with trained staff able to meet speech therapy and occupational health requirements. In a word, children that might be written off elsewhere are offered a chance to thrive. But how does Eyres keep so positive when surrounded daily with stories of abandoned babies, abused young girls and general despair, I wonder? “Because for every desperate story, there is a case with a positive outcome. I’ve


been told over the years that babies wouldn’t survive, that they’d amount to nothing. And time after time we’ve proved the naysayers wrong.” She points to a photo of a severely disfigured young toddler on the wall. “We were told this little thing had no hope, that she’d amount to nothing with that kind of disability. And then a couple came here to volunteer, fell in love with her, adopted her, put her through numerous reconstructive surgeries and she went on to graduate from Harvard and now has a successful career in the US,” Eyres smiles proudly. “And in 30 years we have come full circle. Some of our babies now volunteer with us. They say it takes a village to raise a child, at Mother’s Choice we see the miracles that can happen every day if the community opens up its heart. I am full of hope.” Expat Parent will be supporting Mother’s Choice at the Hong Kong Living Charity Summer Lunch, If you would like more information about Project Bridge, or about volunteering opportunities with Mother’s Choice, see

Each child receives individual care

THE big interview 37


schools PROBLEM SOLVING MADE FUN Hong Kong-based STEMex Learning Centre has launched practical classes for kids aged four to 14, covering the increasingly popular science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-based curriculum. For more information about the classes, contact

School news 39


AIS knock-about with Wallabies

Australian rugby legends including exWallabies players Wendell Sailor and Stephen Hoiles took to the field at the Australian International School last month. The players were in town as part of the GFI Hong Kong Football Club 10s and Rugby Sevens tournaments. The event was organised by Kerry Hotel Hong Kong and sponsored by St James’ Place Wealth Management,

Woodland joins global schools group Woodland Group of Preschools has announced it will be joining the global Cognita Schools Group this month. Woodland this year celebrated 40 years in the territory; it has been providing an international-style pre-school education for children aged six months to six years since its foundation in 1977. Cognita was established in the UK in 2006 and now operates 68 schools in eight countries across Asia, Europe, the UK and South America. It entered Hong Kong last year with the opening of Stamford American School in Ho Man Tin. Woodland will continue to operate under the Woodland brand and the management team will remain as it has for the past 15 years. It officially joins Cognita on May 2, 40

Media moguls

Media success for OWN Academy in Singapore

Hong Kong’s OWN Academy flew seven students to Singapore last month to participate in a three-day media internship with Cartoon Network. This is the first time the network has partnered with an education company in this way and the

students’ work is soon to be featured on the Cartoon Network media channels. OWN will be helping produce more content for the network via its Saturday media classes, for details see 41

Sponsored feature Sponsored Column

Fast Pass Access to Hong Kong International Schools by Anne Murphy, Education Consultant at ITS Education Asia In Hong Kong, it is common for children to start school as young as two years old and some infants attend playgroup at just 8 months. Why? The logic is that the sooner your child begins his or her educational pathway, the easier it is to gain access to his or her preferred schooling choice. Applications for some schools including Discovery Bay International, Kellett School, German Swiss, French International School and playgroups including ITT, Artplus, Pebbles and Victoria Playgroup are accepted as soon as your child is issued a birth certificate. Check your preferred school’s application period - for some schools applications can be submitted one to two years ahead of the deadline. Applications submitted after the

deadline, or less than a year in advance are usually considered late. It is worth checking out the application process of some popular kindergartens, more information is available on individual kindergarten websites. For example see the application processes of some popular schools as below:

5 or 6 respectively. If you haven’t yet had your child assessed at any schools in Hong Kong and you are not sure how they will be assessed or even how they will cope, please contact us for further information on our interview preparation classes: interview.php.

Victoria Educational Organisation: victoria.

ITS Education Asia provides an education consulting service that works with families and employers to find the right schools for individual children in Hong Kong, from nursery to secondary schools. ITS also offers research, policy and advisory services for corporations. For more details, contact 3188 3940, or visit

Learning Habitat Kindergarten and Bilingual Nursery: php?id=18 Tips Aim to apply as soon as you can, as early as when your child is a few months old. For older children, apply when your child is 4 years old to enter school when he or she is

French top at Brit storytelling comp Primary students from French International School and True Light Middle School were named champions at the first British Council English Master Junior 2018 competition. The event included creative writing, poetryreading and storytelling and was held at Megabox in Kowloon Bay last month. The competition was organised by the British

Council and the Posties section of The South China Morning Post to encourage enthusiasm for English learning. More than 900 students from 78 primary schools took part and students were evaluated on their English skills as well as their ability for critical thinking, creativity and teamwork,

Mind games at Harbour School Ap Lei Chau-based The Harbour School (THS) will be representing Hong Kong in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. The event takes place later this month at Iowa State University in the US. THS students, aged from grade four to grade seven, won the regional tournament in March to earn a place in the world finals. They were challenged with using creative ways to solve problems and to think outside the box. The competition emphasises science, technology, engineering, maths, history and art. They were pitted against 50 other teams competing at the all-day. At the world finals they will come up against approximately 900 teams.

In brief… ...admissions and coaching consultancy Apply Ivy is stepping into the summer camp arena with Think Tank and Writers Workshop for children aged 12-16. For more details, see French International School students at the British Council English Master Junior 2018

42 43


Purple patch for Nepalese pre-schools

Louise Duncan at work in a Nepalese classroom

Preschool educator Louise Duncan travelled to rural Nepal to find out how her school’s charity efforts are being put to use


any preschool mums in Hong Kong will be familiar with Purple Cake Day. A charity day held every April, it involves kids coming to school dressed in purple and contributing purplethemed bakes and cakes. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a huge fundraiser for registered New Zealand-based charity First Steps Himalaya (FSH), which works in rural Himalaya to improve education options for underprivileged preschool and primary children. This year, former Sai Kung International Preschool (SKIP) teaching principal Louise Duncan took her support for the charity one step further. She travelled out to rural Nepal to lend a hand and to find out how the money is


being used. Along for the ride was first aider Virginia Newhouse who was hoping to pass on her medical expertise. SKIP has been contributing to Purple Cake Day since 2015 when FSH founding director Fionna Heiton reached out to the school, and Duncan had always promised that one day she would travel over to help out personally with teacher training. This year a second-hand sale held by the preschool had raised even more cash for the charity. The pair flew to Kathmandu and were then driven out to Sangachok, a rural village in central Nepal. The area was severely affected by the 2015 earthquake when the natural spring supplying the town was destroyed.

The town has a school but, as with the majority of educational institutions in rural Nepal, the teachers are untrained, resources are non-existent or in poor condition, and the schools themselves dilapidated and dirty.

First aider Virginia Newhouse with students

schools “We were hosted by the headmaster, who was very hospitable, but conditions were basic. There was limited running water - I think we had one shower while we were there and the school itself was very run down. The electricity was on and off and totally unreliable. It was sad to see the lack of resources.” FSH aims to re-train the teachers and provide better educational equipment. Children regularly travel an hour or more on foot to the schools which are few and far between and the charity also hopes to build more school buildings so these distances are reduced. Just before the 2015 earthquake, FSH had constructed an ‘earthbag’ education and training centre to educate large numbers of local teachers in early years education methods. The buildings are made of bags filled with earth that are wrapped in wire and used as blocks. They are then plastered over and a corrugated iron roof added. This initial building survived the tremors and the charity has since built numerous earthbag classrooms across the country. Through teacher training and improved resources, FSH is hoping to bring about change for thousands of Nepalese children. Duncan and Newhouse were hoping to make a difference to the desperately underresourced Sangachok school had brought over 60kg of toys and first aid equipment with them, generously donated from the local community back in Hong Kong. “It was heartbreaking to see these kids turning up to school and then having absolutely nothing to play with,” said Duncan. “And even the very limited bits and pieces they did have, they didn’t know how to use. We showed one teacher how to put a domino set to use. At break time we dug out the beanbags we’d brought and invented some races in the school yard. Simple games like ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’ soon had the whole school involved and smiling.” Teaching methods also left a lot to be desired, the pair soon discovered. “The teacher in charge was only about 17 years old and had no training. The children were taught by rote and asked to stand up one by one to repeat their numbers. Of course this

Help the cause Hong Kong preschools Woodland Group of Preschools, SKIP, City Kids, Tsing Yi and Carmel regularly participate in Purple Cake Day. If your preschool or school would like to get involved, contact

took forever and left the remainder of the overcrowded class bored and messing around at the back of the room.” Duncan was able to share her teaching tips and advice, as well as passing on simple games and songs to play with the children. Newhouse was surprised by the popularity of her basic first aid course. The nearest hospital to Sangachok is 25 miles away and medical supplies in the village are limited, to say the least. “When the children fall over, they don’t cry,” Newhouse noted. “After all, who’s going to help them and with what?” Newhouse ran her full-day first aid class in the school and over 20 participants turned up. A seasoned first aid trainer, she previously worked for Outward Bound Sai Kung as safety coordinator and jumped at the chance to join Duncan in Nepal. “Of course I had to adapt my teaching to meet the community situation,” she said. “The hospitals here are few and far between and the road conditions are terrible, so dialling 999 in an emergency isn’t an option. I also needed to be culturally sensitive; the

Duncan helped train local teachers to engage young students

women were on one side of the room, the men on the other. I went through basic things such as bandaging and splinting, and they were enthusiastic to learn.” “The whole trip was utterly humbling,” said Duncan. “They had so very little.” “But it was also incredibly rewarding,” added Newhouse. “The children were an absolute delight and so happy with what little they had.” FSH also runs a range of Himalayan tours in Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet to benefit FSH, contact 45


Reaping the rewards of a Hong Kong childhood Rebecca Simpson discovers Chinese immersion and scholarship opportunities for expat families at Han Academy in Aberdeen




ou may have heard Hong Kong referred to as ‘Asia lite’ on the expat scene. Compared with postings in other parts of the world, the territory is a walk in the park that can quite easily become a home away from home. With the right expat package and a gregarious outlook, expats from all over the globe can find Hong Kong neighbourhoods and schools where they feel comfortable to set down often permanent roots. Many expat children are educated in their mother tongue, parents find friends with shared experiences, and families discover a selection of restaurants and grocery stores with enough edible comforts from home to placate bouts of home-sickness. But is expat life really about being comfortable? Didn’t we all leave to find adventure and push ourselves a little further than we could have managed in our home countries? And that’s what I reminded myself about as I spoke to Han Academy principal, Shirley Su. Su is the founder of Han Academy, a predominantly Chinese Mandarin language environment that teaches in both Chinese Mandarin and English. The Academy is a through-train school (it runs from primary through secondary) that has opened for the 2018-2019 school year. At the time of going to press, it had just 57 enrolled students ranging from Year 1 to Year 11 in the British system (or Prac to Grade 10 for those coming from the US system). The school offers the Cambridge Curriculum, with high school graduates working towards either A-Levels or an International Baccalaureate Diploma (the school is working on its IB accreditation), supplemented by additional content from mainland Chinese textbooks. This unique curriculum mix is taught via a bilingual experience, and for now the student body enjoys a dominant proportion of native Chinese speakers. This means the school offers non-Chinese students a distinct Mandarin immersion experience. At first glance, the school may seem less relevant to those families who are working towards a placement at expat international school stalwarts. But if you’re looking to provide your children with a Chinese immersion education, Han is definitely an option. And Su assures me that Han Academy offers support for non-native speakers. “Currently our students have Chinese as their native language, but we have teachers who have experience and specialise in teaching Chinese as a second language, or as Chinese as a foreign language. This means that if students come to our school with zero Chinese background, we can still offer them instruction,” she says. 47

schools If you’re a parent reading this story with zero Chinese language in your life and are questioning the possibility of academic success at this school, Su is adamant that immersion is possible at any age. ”There is not cut off age in our school (for Chinese as a foreign language students). They can come in year one or they can come in year 10. In year 10 we can offer beginners Chinese languages. Most of the lessons are taught in English but for Chinese we can offer them to start as a beginner. Even if you arrive in the IB Diploma years, students can study Chinese for those two years and end up with a basic background and understanding of Chinese. “But of course if you want our children to attain a native or near-native level in terms of speaking and listening in Chinese, then I obviously the earlier the better.” So, what’s the experience like at Han Academy for learners? Han Academy students have an extended school day compared to other international schools. The day starts at 8am and classes finish 4.30pm. The extra hour at the end of the day is taken up with a compulsory Extra Curricular Activity (ECA) session. This session is chosen by students


Get set, go!

and the school offers a range of activities from time in the maker studio to cultural activities like paper cutting. Students requiring additional academic support are able to use this time for assistance with homework or extra tuition. Some students may require that additional support because the Han Academy curriculum is bilingual and bolstered by mainland Chinese content, specifically in maths and some STEM subjects. “In maths, from year one to year 11 we use Cambridge lessons and materials, but with most of the Chinese students, their maths level is quite advanced, so we use the Chinese

materials as a supplement,” explains Su. Homework is compulsory from the second half of year one. As I walked around the school, I notice some class agreements included a demerit system for incomplete homework. From Primary, there are also daily structured exercises for English and Chinese. For details of the their homework guidelines, head to the school’s website where the it has been transparent in publishing expectations. From a cultural point of view, teaching includes Chinese arts and hands-on experiences in mainland China for students

schools from year one, including creative arts experiences and the opportunity to give back to the community. The teaching staff includes a professor, two doctors, a gold medal winning Maths Olympian, and a physical Olympian who competed in the Beijing Olympics. “We have 32 teachers and 57 students, so that’s a very good teacher-student ratio,” says Su. “It means every student is taken care of. We notice their emotions, their behaviour, any problems in a very short time. Each class has a maximum of nine students and a minimum of three. “We have a head of pastoral care who is dedicated to the wellbeing of students. We also have a full school assembly each week where we talk about wellbeing, good behaviour and expectations of the students.” Students are also encouraged to book appointments with their homeroom teacher or the head of pastoral if they encounter problems. Parents are also kept in the loop with a WeChat group that includes parents and significant teachers. “We offer close parental and school communication,” says Su. “For each academic year we have eight

coffee mornings and every four weeks we hold a parent session where we discuss what’s been happening and what’s coming next on the curriculum. Parents are very much kept in the loop as to how their children are getting on. Parent are also kept up to ate on academic progress each week with a weekly bulletin.” Han Academy does not have a playground, but it does have a PE hall and an assembly hall, so there are places for the students to socialise and exercise on campus. Students are also taken for swimming at a facility a quick five minute stroll away in Aberdeen. Another consideration for expat parents is that, right now, while one of the languages of instruction in the classroom is English, the playground language is Chinese. However, students can speak English and Su assures our readers that new students will be supported in their transition. Currently, the school has places to offer and the resources required to make the leap into a new language of instruction. For expat parents looking to reap the benefits of raising their children in a Chinese territory, Han is certainly food for thought. It’s also worth noting that the school is

openly seeking more diversity in the student body. “We don’t want to label ourselves as a Chinese school and we are purposefully striving for diversity,” says Su. “If there are foreign students, it’s very likely we can offer a part or full scholarship to that candidate, depending on the student. A scholarship can be offered once our entrance assessment has been passed.” The entrance assessment consists of a face-to-face interview plus written tests that cover maths, English, and science. The current price for the school’s Capital Bond is HK$3M. With diversity an important strategic growth area for the school, now would be the time for interested international parents to contact the school for consideration.

Join the Han Academy Open Day Head to Han Academy in Aberdeen on Saturday May 26th to explore opportunities at the school, with a bouncy castle, open class, STEAM project display, mathS challenge, Chinese poems, a drama play, face painting/nail polish, balloon twisting and more. 49

me & my hobby

Smooth moves Local student Christiana de Blank will be joining the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London this autumn What age did you start dancing? I started ballet seriously at the age of ten at the Hong Kong Youth Ballet Academy.

What’s the next step? What do you enjoy about ballet? I love the elegant movements and the beautiful classical music.

How do you balance school studies with ballet?

Do you have a favourite ballet?

To make my schedule more flexible for my dance training, I now am doing homeschooling. I have been homeschooled for about one year now. I usually have three to four hours of study in the morning and I dance from the afternoon until evening.

I have performed lead roles in my school performances such as Nikiya in La Bayadere and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. My favourite ballet of all time is Sleeping Beauty, it really is magical no matter how many times I watch it.

How many hours do you train a day?

Do you follow a special diet?

I train approximately four hours each day six times a week.

Personally I am a health nut. I usually stick to a gluten and dairy-free diet. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I also sometimes have high protein meals to build muscle. I like to take a banana wherever I go because it is a quick source of energy before dancing and it also contains a lot of potassium.

What’s the toughest thing about ballet? The toughest thing about ballet for myself is probably taking a break and going on vacation. It can be hard to relax. 50

I will be attending The Royal Ballet School from this autumn and I’ll see where my dance career takes me in the next few years.

What’s your ultimate goal? To become a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet in the Royal Opera House.

Who are your ballet heros? Sarah Lamb, Marianela Nunez, and Svetlana Zakharova

Do you have any advice for young people hoping to get into ballet? If there were a recipe of things that would make a good ballerina, it would consist of a love of ballet, determination, commitment, confidence and hard work. Talent of course is a bonus but hard work can beat talent. 51

life & style

Art attack Every doodle is a masterpiece-in-waiting, says Maria Wolf of kids’ art company LivArt. By Kate Farr


ominican Republic-born Maria Wolf has always been drawn to the creative side of life. “Although I graduated as an industrial engineer, I found my calling in the creative field,” she explains. “I worked closely with children’s clothing designers and that inspired me to create my own products. From very early in my career, I had a vision to create products where I could involve children in the development process - I wanted my products to have an emotional connection with my customers.”

It’s so cool to be able to say ‘my child designed this!

After moving to Hong Kong from India in 2012, Wolf chanced upon the ideal outlet for her vision. “My daughter Liv absolutely loves art, but I had all these precious artworks with no space to keep them all. Having to pick and choose what to keep and what to throw out broke my heart. I wanted to find a way, not only to be able to keep them all, but also to display them so she could be proud of her work.” Wolf hit upon the idea of creating a ‘collage’ - or ‘masterpiece’ - of her daughter’s work, sending copies to families overseas. “Living abroad has made it difficult for Liv’s grandparents to be a part of her daily life; 52

“It broke my heart to throw away my daughter’s precious artwork,” says LivArt founder Maria Wolf

having her work on a wall in their home made them feel closer to her.” Sharing the ‘masterpiece’ collage idea with friends, Wolf was soon inundated with requests from parents struggling with space issues in Hong Kong apartments, and so LivArt was born. Drawing on her textile and design background, Wolf has since expanded the range to include wearable art pieces such as scarves, dresses and tees, as well as cushion covers, although she admits the company’s

main drawcard remains the ‘Masterpiece’, a collective design artwork base of up to 30 drawings, sketches and paintings. Meanwhile, her Wear Your Artwork range uses just one drawing or painting that transfers onto different products for adults and kids. “When people ask who designed the fancy scarf or tee-shirt, it’s so cool to be able to say ‘my child designed it!’ Customised pieces are the best - they makes you unique.” And of course the whole range has been created mindfully with minimal environmental impact. “I believe in continually investing in product and material innovation,” she

says. “At LivArt we support sustainability - we aim to produce our pieces without being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources.” Wolf has worked hard to ensure the process is as straightforward as possible. “Of course it all starts with the kids,” she explains. “We receive their creations via our website which provides detailed instructions. You simply scan and upload the artwork and place the order.” She’s happy to meet in person to help with more complex or non-standard requests. Of course every entrepreneur encounters challenges and Wolf’s vision had not been without its setbacks. “My biggest challenge was finding a high quality supplier who was willing to produce single pieces. Most companies in Asia will only work with high-volume orders. Eventually we found a company.” Wolf works closely with a design team, particularly when combining artwork to create the ‘Masterpiece’, but she is keen to stress that grown ups make up just a small piece of the LivArt puzzle. “Of course the main artists are the kids,” she says. So why does Wolf feel that good old-fashioned arts and crafts remain so popular in our digital world? “I believe that stimulating a child’s creativity supports their intellectual and emotional development, as well as their fine motor skills. We have had a lot of feedback from parents telling us that their child developed a keener interest in art after seeing their work on a ‘Masterpiece’ or as a ‘Wear your Artwork’ product. Creating and customising artwork really builds selfconfidence.” And not only are the artists proud, but of course the parents are too. “Many of our clients become quite emotional on seeing the final piece,” she says. “Parents play a vital role in providing their kids with the opportunity to create. Creativity and innovative thinking are important tools that happy kids will need throughout their lives.” For more information, see

Wolf’s daughter Liv with her ‘masterpiece’ 53

life & style

Beat the heat Hong Kong’s summer humidity can be a disaster for your ‘do. Glow Salon’s Sioban Guilfoyle explains how to put the flair back into your hair

Glow Salon’s Sioban Guilfoyle has a heap of tricks up her sleeves for smoothing hair

Goldwell Kerasilk Control From frustrated to fabulous, the Goldwell Kerasilk Control treatment provides a great solution for long-lasting transformation of unmanageable and frizzy hair. Process: KeraShape Technology interacts with the hair’s structure. During the Keratin treatment, glyoxylic acid, keratin and colour caring silk penetrate into the hair to create new keratin bonds to reshape hair structure. Keratin protein saturates the hair and when heat is applied, it smooths the cuticle so the hair appears glossy, shiny and healthy. Results: Restored strength, nourishment, smooth texture and shine with a slightly straighter, flatter appearance. Occasionally colour-treated clients may notice a slight lifting of colour, causing a slight yellowing of blonde highlights. An experienced stylist will know how to minimize this effect. 54

Lasts for: Four to six weeks. Suitability: As a formaldehyde-free product is applied to the hair not the scalp, this is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mums (but it’s always recommended clients check with their GP prior to having any smoothing treatments).

bhave XT Unlike straightening treatments, bhave tames hair instead of restructuring it, leaving the appearance glossy and healthy with more natural movement. Process: bhave uses raw rather than heattreated keratin. The bioactive protein is gently extracted from New Zealand’s sheep’s wool, keeping the critical amino acids and proteins as intact as possible. The keratin penetrates the hair shaft and is able to bind to severely damaged hair supporting the internal structure and restoring strength, elasticity and shine to

damaged hair. Results: Curls will be softened, waves will be smoothed and hair will be easier to manage. Depending on hair types, some may achieve a ‘wash-and-go’ success, but others may still need a little heat to achieve a totally tamed result. Hair cannot be washed or tied back for 48 hours after the treatment and any colour might be lifted slightly. Lasts for: Up to five months. Suitability: The treatment is formaldehyde-free, not tested on animals, free from parabens, sulphates and sodium chloride and contains only certified organic ingredients. It’s effective on all hair types, especially on hair that has been chemically damaged.

Ybera Discovery A Brazilian keratin treatment based on stem cells from the Uttwiler Spatlauber apple - a rare

life & style species of Swiss apple with highly regenerative powers. The treatment recovers damaged hair from the very first application and transforms tresses into perfectly straightened hair. Process: The treatment acts directly on the hair shaft’s hydrogen bonds - the easily damaged element that gives hair its flexibility - to restructure, repair and moisturise damaged hair. Results: Effective for repairing hair and reducing frizz. Lasts for: Up to three months. Suitabilitiy: It’s a completely natural formula so suitable for all hair types.

Brazilian Blowout The ‘original’ smoothing treatment has had many incarnations - it has now been reformulated into a safer product with no formaldehyde, but still achieves smoothing and straightening. Process: Through the use of breakthrough bonding technologies, these customizable smoothing treatments actually improve the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle. Results: This treatment gives the most

Japanese Straightening

Curls will be softened, waves will be smoothed and hair easier to manage.

dramatic results and boasts a loyal following of advocates. It’s customizable to retain curl without the frizz, or achieve the smoothest result possible. Customers leave the salon after two hours with smooth, frizz-free hair that can be washed or tied up immediately. Lasts for: Up to four months. Suitability: Not suitable for heavily damaged or very fine hair. It’s generally recommended for people who struggle to manage normal-tothick hair. Customers should ensure they are getting the authentic product - there are many counterfeit copycats on the market that are markedly cheaper.

Also known as Ionic Straightening or Thermal Reconditioning, this permanent treatment straightens the hair for poker straight locks. Process: Similar to a perm, the treatment involves a chemical solution being applied to the hair that breaks down the bonds that support the hair’s curls, or waves. This process can take up to seven hours in the salon. Results: The effect is poker straight hair from root to tip. For best results, hair should be kept dry and not tied back for at least 48 hours afterwards. For particularly curly hair, regrowth will need to be ironed out with repeat straightening - the challenge is to ensure there is no visible overlap between the first and subsequent treatments. Lasts for: This is a permanent treatment. Suitability: Recommended for people with very curly hair. The downside is that hair damaged from the chemicals used may not take colour at all. Hair can also become dry and thirsty and may take on a dull appearance. Glow Salon is offering free consultations, call 2525 5198, 9/F, Parker House, 72 Queen’s Road Central, 55

life & style Teal Bird by Belinda Bath From $4,500

Triomphe Silver Bicolour Mesh Watch $1,090 online from CLUSE Porcelain Candles $335 from Kikki.K

Mamma mia

Gratitude Journal $260 from Kikki.K

Gorgeous gifts for marvellous mothers

How to be Human by Ruby Wax $167.26 from Bookazine

Food, Health and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey $320 from Bookazine


Macaron gift box $380 from La Maison du Chocolat

Organic Modernism Vase $500-$1,170 from Organic Modernism Lvl 8, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau

Organic Modernism Room Diffuser $550 from Organic Modernism Lvl 8, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau

life & style Silver Metallic Flat Ballerina shoes $270 from Simply Shoes

Natural Deodorant pot $108 from Zeroyet100

Gluten-Free Lychee Rose Raspberry Chiffon Cake $630 from The Cakery at Lee Garden Two

Terracota Vases $75 from TREE

Flower Jamming Gift Voucher $550 from HKAFA, 2388 2979

The Fiona $800 from Bydeau

Gold Discovery Chocolate Gift Box $525 from Godiva 57




Sweet treats Pinkies out for Mother’s Day. By Julianne Dionisio

The Intercontinental The Intercontinental offers a beautiful afternoon tea paired with a complementing skincare brand. Throughout May and June enjoy “Rosy Love” afternoon tea - inspired by SABON. Tea and beauty products - who’s Mum wouldn’t love this combination? Enjoy savoury and sweet treats including Gin Fizz gravlax salmon on buckwheat pancakes and pink rose petal cream and raspberry Napoleon. $468 for one and $668 for two, they are big enough to share if you order an extra tea or champagne. Weekdays 2:30–6:00pm and weekends 1:30–6:00pm. Lobby Lounge, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2313 2323, Mum will love: The stunning views of Hong Kong’s skyline and the free samples of beauty and bath products to take home.

Saigon special The marble-clad lobby of The Langham hotel feels worlds away from the hectic Tsim Sha Tsui streets outside. Settle into a cushy sofa in the opulent Palm Court Lobby Lounge and prepare to be spoiled with classic Wedgwood china, creative presentations and plenty of Perrier-Jouë Rose champagne. A special Sweet Blossom Afternoon Tea in partnership with luxury fragrance brand Cochine Saigon is this month’s special as the scents and tastes of Saigon are transformed into bite-sized afternoon tea pastries. Indulge with Vietnamese Cassava coconut, canelé (small French pastries) with hints of orange blossom and coated in pink chocolate, and savoury mini “Bánh Mì” brioches drizzled with lime juice and Thai basil. Every afternoon tea-for-two from Friday to Sunday will receive an Cochine gift set. $348 for one; $348 for one; $598 for two; additional for Perrier-Jouet rose Champagne. Available 3pm-5.30pm daily until May 13,

Expat Parent’s Nicole Slater treats mum Julie to afternoon tea at the Intercontinental

Tea at the Langham 59

dining dining 2375 1133, Mum will love: The elegant Wedgwood table settings elevate this experience to another level, while live entertainment enhances regal moods with harp, piano and vocal performances.

Mid-levels moment The brand new Murray Hotel on Cotton Tree Drive is now welcoming afternoon tea diners to its Garden Lounge. Conveniently located next to Hong Kong Park for a postprandial wander, the hotel’s Signature Afternoon Tea menu groans with sweet treats and fancy savouries. The smoked salmon and caper, organic egg and cress, chicken and honey mustard and cucumber and yoghurt sandwich fillings are delightfully presented between a colourful array of breads. The fresh raisin and plain scones are bought temptingly warm to your table, with a selection of jams and of course plenty of clotted cream. The cake stand is filled with treats including sweet blueberry and mascarpone creme vernis, raspberry and valrhona cake, blackcurrant and quince tart and citron tea cake. Wash it all down with Illy coffee or a selection of Jing teas. Every weekday, 2-6pm, $295/person, Mum will love: The gorgeous floor-to-ceiling glass looking across to St John’s cathedral.

The Garden Lounge at The Murray

Old world charm There’s no better place in Hong Kong to sip afternoon tea in your best frock than the Lobby of The Peninsula. From the soaring ceilings to the classical music, the white-gloved service and the silver teapots, everything oozes old-world British elegance. Sticking to tradition, the tea set includes three tiers of finger sandwiches, homemade pastries, and buttery scones – complete with homemade jams and clotted cream. The tea Suited and booted at The Peninsula


is fantastic too, with a choice of Peninsulabranded loose-leaf brews, such as Rose and Ti Guan Yin (a type of oolong tea). Afternoon tea in The Lobby costs $388 per person; $688 for two; $220 for a glass of Deutz Peninsula Brut Champagne. Available daily from 2-6pm on first-come, first-served basis, 2920 2888, Mum will love: The excellent service! She’ll feel like British royalty all afternoon. 61

dining Honey mummy For a truly memorable afternoon tea experience, the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin offers a three-tier affair that promises to make your mum feel like a queen. Assorted sandwiches, mini quiches and raspberry panna cotta are just three of the delicious items included in the set. And don’t miss the hotel’s famous Sha Tin honey cake, made using natural local honey from Sha Tin. You can choose to dine inside the cozy lounge or outside on the terrace. The set is offered on weekdays 2.30-5pm and costs $218 per person or $368 for two, 3723 1234,

Tea for two at the Hyatt Regency


Dining Mum will love: Views from the terrace stretching to the green Kau To Shan Mountains in the distance.

Fern), might prescribe a G&T instead. $498 for two, includes coffee or tea. Add $50 to upgrade to a gin and tonic. Available Tuesday to Sunday, starting at 2pm,

2111 9449, Mum will love: The underground setting will make gin-loving mums feel totally on the pulse.

Gin wonderland Hidden in the basement of Landmark mall, Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour has an exclusive feel about it, thanks in part to it’s speakeasystyle entrance. Once inside, it’s an apothecary-inspired wonderland, complete with botanical wallpaper and a spattering of scientific instruments. The servers even wear lab coats in keeping with the theme. The bar made it onto Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2017, and it’s no surprise: there are 250 gins on the menu, as well as cocktails such as the Blind Tiger Gin and Tonic and the “Doctor’s Prescription” mystery drink. But let’s not get distracted, this time, we’re here for the afternoon tea. From Tuesday to Sunday, the bar serves up a Mad Hatterinspired affair featuring delicacies such as the Tick-Tock Roll Lobster on fried bread, the Queen of Tarts matcha green tea tarts, and the Cheshire carrot cake. Tea or coffee is included, but the doctor (or, at least, Dr

Delectable delights at Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour 63



Travel news

NICE ICE Jumerirah Vittaveli has opened Ice Ice Maybe, the Maldives’ first ice rink. The eco-friendly rink uses a Swiss engineered synthetic product known as ‘glice’ that doesn’t need to be kept cold and so eliminates the need for water or electricity. The rink was opened earlier this spring by former figure skater and four-times Russian Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko and his son Aleksandr, 65


Blissed out in Bali Hong Kong-based events organiser Events for Life is running a five-day retreat in Seminyak, Bali, later this month. Organised and led by yogi Mindy Tagliente of Yoga for Life, the retreat includes yoga, meditation, neuro-linguistic programming and bootcamp sessions. And when you’re done recharging your mind and strengthening your body, there’s also the opportunity for massages, sunset cocktails and shopping. The event is fully catered with ‘healthy’ meals and poolside barbecues to power up. The event runs from May 27-31, email for details. Hong Kong’s Mindy Tagliente will be leading a Balinese yoga retreat this month

The Anantara Desaru Coast Resort opens early next year

Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional party is planning three brand new theme parks in the southern state of Johor worth almost RM$8 billion. At the launch of the party’s manifesto ahead of general elections in Malaysia later this month, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who is chairman of what is the country’s largest political party, said he wanted the state to be “the new economic powerhouse in the region”. Johor, which sits at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula adjacent to the Straits 66

of Johor connecting it to Singapore, is known as the ‘Southern Tiger’. “We do not want to be a backyard to Singapore, we must catch up with the lion,” said Mohamed Khaled. The party has revealed plans that include a ‘tourism retreat’ near Desaru Beach in the west of the state worth RM$4.5 billion, a new science fiction park close to Legoland and it is already committed to building an ecoentertainment park in Kota Tinggi to the north worth RM$2.7 billion.

© OpenStreetMap contributors

Big plans for Malaysia’s south coast

Meanwhile luxury resort group Anantara is planning to open the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort and Villas in early 2019 on Johor’s Desaru coast. A 3,900 acre sanctuary along 17km of pristine beachfront, the resort will include two pools, a spa and kids club. 67


Boracay shuts up shop The Filipino holiday destination of Boracay will be closed to tourists for up to six months this year as the government attempts to clean up the resort. Just two years ago the once-idyllic 1,000 hectare resort was voted the world’s ‘best’ island, but mounting refuse and sewerage problems have prompted president Rodrigo Duterte to call time on the popular holiday hotspot. The island was officially closed to tourists on April 27. The island’s resident population will be able to stay but the closure is estimated to affect thousands of tourists. Around two million overseas guests visit the island each year. In February Duterte described the destination as a “cesspool”, accusing the island’s tourist industry of dumping sewage directly into the sea. The government announced that around 300 local businesses faced ‘evaluation’ for sanitary offences.


Boracay is cleaning up its act

“An iron fist is needed to bring it back to its previous condition,” commented environment undersecretary Jonas Leones. The closure involves the suspension of

airline and ferry services, with police stationed along beaches. The island is home to more than 500 hotels and employs around 17,000 workers. 69



Dog days


Spain’s Balearic islands are hard to beat for Mediterranean charm. Carolynne Dear touched down in Mallorca


t’s a tough gig picking a Mediterranean holiday destination. From Lisbon to Lesbos, most European summer hotspots seem to tick the ‘aquamarine sea, sandy beaches, and delicious food’ boxes. So where to head? We ended up plumping for Mallorca because a) once upon a time I could speak Spanish and I quite fancied giving it a go again; and b) the photos online looked great. We didn’t pick it based on previous experience - both myself and my husband had used the Spanish island to party hard during the mid-1990s, not an experience I particularly wanted to repeat and I certainly didn’t want to give our teen daughters any ideas. Word to the wise, avoid Magaluf and Mallorca’s south west coast unless you want to max out on English fry-ups and all-night discos. Overwhelmed by accommodation websites, we opted for a villa in the tiny town of Portocolom nestled along the island’s east coast on the advice of my French sister-inlaw, who views Mallorca as a second home. And we were not disappointed. One qualm I did have about visiting the popular Balearics were the crowds. To be honest it was pretty busy back in the ‘90s and with visiting cruise ships these days not making things any easier, I was worried we’d be shunted off the sand. As it turned out, whilst it was bustling, it was also enjoyable. There were a couple of moments when the crowds got a bit summer-in-Shek O-on-a-Sunday, but mostly it was ok. And Portocolom was a jewel - more locals than tourists and absolutely charming. We’d used the break to catch up with UK-based family, all of us comfortably accommodated in villas walking distance apart, and we quickly fell into a relaxed ‘beach, back to the villa for a BBQ lunch, afternoon by the pool, local restaurant for dinner’ kind of routine. The local beaches were just a stroll from our cliff-top villa along shady lanes, with two handy beach bars serving up a fine line in fresh fish, salads and sangria. Lazy, local days

The harbour at Portocolom

were punctuated with trips to nearby markets and beaches further afield, but to be honest, Portocolom with its protected harbour, little sandy coves and amazing swimming opportunities, suited us all just fine. Worth the trip was a drive up to Inca in the north for its famous market. We took the teens but left the littlies with their grandparents and enjoyed a fun morning browsing the stalls (think fabrics, hand-woven baskets, shoes, bags and local foods - the breads and cakes were amazing). A good tip would be to arrive early - parking was scarce by midday and the market stalls shut in the early afternoon. The drive across the island was picturesque and we stopped in Sineu, the ancient geographical heart of the island, for refreshments on the way home. We also journeyed up to Mallorca’s mountainous northwest after a chance remark on Facebook unearthed a close university friend of my husband’s holidaying in the hill village of Soller. Stunningly pretty, Soller

The sun sets over Soller 71


Holiday ding dings in the Mallorcan mountains


charmed us all as we enjoyed catch up beers (and giant ice cream sundaes for the kids) in the town square and then jumped on the tram down to the attractive port. Here we tucked into an evening meal and more drinks in one of the many restaurants lining the harbour as a fiery red sun set over the ocean. Memories are made of this. A slight low point was a trip to the white sands of Sa Rapita on the island’s south coast. “It’s a stunning beach!” my sister-in-law had raved. “You must go!” Backed up by online reports claiming it to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Mallorca, we drove for an hour, sat for an hour in a traffic jam as we slowly wound our way along the single lane track to the beach car park, and then hit the beach just as a local mistral blew in. Sand whipping our ankles, we quickly retreated back to the car and an equally painful traffic jam attempting to exit Sa Rapita across the flat wetlands of Ses Salines. More successful was a local boat trip exploring the calas, or coves, that punctuate the turquoise waters of the east coast. This is quintessential Mediterranean territory - white sandy beaches, aquamarine waters and shimmering mega-yachts bobbing in the bays. The highlight of the day for the kids was anchoring back in Portocolom and a giant inflatable slide being unfurled into the sparkling sea. It knocked our Hong Kong junk experiences for six. On our last day we had promised the teens a shopping trip and headed into Palma, the island’s capital. This impressive ancient city dates from Roman times and the shopping district is located along the old, cobbled streets and quiet squares of its historic heart, making for a much more attractive shopping experience than Asia’s sterile malls. We had a quick look at the city’s famous Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, which dominates the town, and then browsed. Temperatures were hitting the forties by mid-afternoon so we were happy to retreat back to the villa and a quiet dinner by the pool. The holiday had met everyone’s expectations and we returned home refreshed and ready for a new term in Hong Kong. And not only that, to my astonishment (and delight), my ropey Spanish had seemed to pass muster, as well.

The markets at Inca 73

big day out

Treasure island

Cheung Chau’s Inta-friendly fishing harbour

Local hiker Tara Smyth finds out what the ‘pirate’ island of Cheung Chau has to offer


ead on for a truly, supersized BIG day out! You absolutely can’t do everything in one day on this vibrant, buzzing, fascinating and colourful island and by the time you board the ferry to leave Cheung Chau you’ll be planning your trip back. Be it walking, shopping, lying on the beach, drinking coffee, visiting temples, sampling new cuisines, swimming, playing tennis, roller skating, running around a track, painting, picnicking, photographing, architecture or just taking the little ones to the playground, this island has something for everyone.


Cheung Chau is a long dumbbell shaped island, made up of two headlands with a narrow strip in the middle, its name translates from Cantonese to mean “Long Island”. Along the narrow strip is where most of the bustling nature of Cheung Chau

Discover the island’s pirate caves 75

big day out life takes place. As you disembark the ferry on the western side of the strip, you are immediately immersed into chaos. Drying fish, gambling grannies, locals on bicycles, handicraft stalls, dogs, fishermen, restaurant owners and tourists are all vying for space on this tiny piece of land. Do not be put off by this, embrace all things Hong Kong and soak it up! Ignore the MacDonalds directly in front of you when you first arrive – there are a plethora of finer dining options on offer. With so much to do, it is very hard to portray in one article how your day should go. However, for virgins to this island, I suggest you do the following. After that, it is up to you, you are at the mercy of your own abilities, interests and the amount of time you have. On leaving the ferry terminal turn right, head South towards the end of the narrow strip. The path will continue along the waterfront (with the sea on your right) for a further 1.5km. Once you reach the end you should take the steps on your left, where you see the signpost for Cheung Po Tsai Cave. Continue up this attractive path, following the signs towards the cave the whole way. You will pass a gorgeous temple with enviable views across the water. It is worth taking a moment here. Continue on until you reach Cheung Po Tsai cave. Actually we did not find the cave to be overly impressive in itself, but the short walk down to it, past the fantastic rock formations was worth the 50 metre detour. Back to the path and take the steps down to the “balancing rock”. The steps pass through some rocks and at first glance look impassable, but they are not. There is a sign telling you there is no access, across the bay, to the balancing rock, but if the tide is out and with a little bit of an adventurous spirit, you can actually cross over to the other side of the bay using the steel chains and some careful footing. This really is doable – do not be put off. If, however, you decide it is not for you, head back to the main path and continue that way. Presuming you have made the clamber over to the other side of the bay, pass the impressive balancing rock on your right and continue along the path until you reach Pak Tso Wan beach. Turn left here and continue for a short distance, you will reach the main ‘street’ once again – named Peak Road West. At this junction, turn right and 76

Balancing act at the Balancing Rock

you will pass a picturesque cemetery. After this, you need to continue along Peak Road West and eventually you will head back into the busy populated part of this headland. Try to stay ‘right’ and you will arrive at Afternoon Beach. Impossible for me to tell you how to do this, I seem to take a different route through the narrow little streets every time I do it. This area is reminiscent of being in Europe with steep, narrow alleyways, gated villas and interesting architecture reminding us that Hong Kong was once colonised. Take this opportunity to relax back with a beer or hire some windsurf at Afternoon Beach. That done, head over to the main beach, past the dominating Warwick Hotel, this beach provides a great opportunity to swim or sunbathe. If you don’t fancy either of those activities, head into the main throng of the central strip once again and just explore! Here you will find artisan coffee shops, varied eateries, quaint handicraft shops, shrines, temples and places of worship, as well as a couple of art jam establishments. This area is a feast for the eyes and you will be blown away by the variety of places of interest. Head to the northernmost part of the central strip and find the pièce de résistance, Yuk Hui (Pak Tai) temple. Take the time to go inside and explore, the unique wall murals and exquisite doors

Fish drying in the sun

are worth getting the camera out for. The temple staff are super friendly and allowed me to snap away. By now you’ll be in need of a break – time to hit the waterfront and choose a restaurant of your pleasing. Order your food, order a beer, and get the diary out. You’ll be itching to come back – did you notice, we haven’t even made a start on the northern headland! Tara Smyth runs photography company Nitty Gritty Images. For details, visit


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marketplace 77



To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.


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flailing spouse

From the heart While elephants may never forget, husbands often do, discovers our mum


ay means Mother’s Day. It means lots of gooey gluey homemade cards, maybe a bunch of flowers and lunch somewhere nice to celebrate all the wonderful things I do for the family. It does not mean locked bedroom doors (the Teen Child, the Tween Child and the Blonde Child) and a comotose Boy Child on the beanbag clutching an X-Box remote. “Good morning!” I trill as I trip over an abandoned hot chocolate mug lying in the middle of the beige lounge room rug (who drinks hot chocolate in May, I mean seriously?). There is silence, punctuated only by a groan from the Boy Child as his latest mission fails. I clatter about in the kitchen for a bit, optimistically dragging out the big flower vase from the back of a cupboard and then scrambling fruitlessly for wet wipes to mop up the rapidly dilating chocolate stain. “I said you shouldn’t buy cream carpets,” grunts my husband, sliding a mug under the Nespresso machine. “Oh look! The posh flower vase!” I cry triumphantly, placing it onto the kitchen workbench. “Now, what on earth shall I fill it with?” My husband shoots me a withering sort of look and shuffles into the lounge room with his coffee. Hmm, I ponder. They’re obviously waiting to surprise me later in the day. I return to bed just in case they were hoping to catch me unawares with tea and toast and a boiled egg. The house settles back into silence as I pull out a book. I sip my tea and read a page. Nothing, not a sound. I read another page and then decide to watch an episode of Suits on my ipad. Silence. Quarter of an hour later my husband peers around the bedroom door. “Are you not getting up today?” he grins. “I’m waiting for my Mother’s Day surprise,” I retort. The grin fades, in fact he starts to turn decidedly grey. “Mother’s Day? I thought we celebrated the English one two months ago?” “No,” I reply patiently. “We didn’t celebrate British Mothering Sunday in March because you said you couldn’t find any 80

Our columnist is a long suffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third culture children. She lives in Hong Kong. greetings cards. So we agreed to celebrate the Hong Kong one in May.” “Did we?” he’s still looking slightly grey. “What about the Aussie one,” he suddenly rallies. “Why don’t we wait and celebrate that one?” “Today is also the Aussie one,” I reply. He disappears back downstairs and I can hear a low but frenzied discussion with the kids in the kitchen. Suddenly the Boy Child yelps “Oh yes!” and I hear him thundering back upstairs. There are a couple of crashes in his bedroom and he races into my room dragging his school bag behind him which he proceeds to upend onto the bed. A battered Smiggle pencil case, some pencil shavings, a couple of forgotten party invites and a crushed card with some sort of yellow flower stuck to it tumble out. He retrieves the card and triumphantly hands it to me. “For you, mum!” It’s glued together but I manage to prise it open. ‘To Mummy, I love you! From Chloe.’

“Who’s Chloe?” I ponder. “What?” he grabs the card back off me. “Oh, she sits next to me in Integrated. Maybe she’s got my card? Oh well!” He hands the card back and skips back downstairs. Great, so out of four children I have one gooey gluey homemade card from a child that doesn’t even belong to me. Back in another lifetime when the children were very small and we used to live in Australia, we mums decided at preschool pick-up one afternoon that we might prefer something other than gooey gluey homemade stuff. To be fair we were very tired, hardworking mummies of tiny children, existing from day to day with very little external help. One mother actually burst into tears (to be fair she had three-year-old twins and was married to a pilot). “No more homemade gluey things! I want sparkly, shiny expensive things in little green boxes!” she sobbed. “Or just an afternoon by myself in Westfield!” As I said, they were desperate times. Ten minutes later I hear the Volvo purring its way out of the driveway. Could a sparkly, shiny expensive thing be coming my way? Twenty minutes later still and the kids burst back through the front door. “Happy Mothers Day!” they cry, handing me a plate of squashed croissants and a cold takeaway coffee. “This is for you!” cries the Tween Child, handing me a Watson’s bag. Inside is a tube of apricot exfoliating scrub. “Oh, thanks,” I say. “You said you loved it!” replies the Tween Child. Did I? I vaguely recall mentioning once that it was a reasonably good product for my skin type. But I also remember mentioning on countless occasions that French champagne and diamonds were also really great products. Oh well. No sparkly, shiny things for me this year. But the point is, I think to myself, is that the children are all here, sitting on my bed and saying that while they may have inherited their father’s inability to recall important dates, they do care enough to spend their Sunday morning trying to sort it out. It’s their way, in a gooey gluey fashion, of saying they really do care. And I guess that’s what counts. 1


Expat Parent May 2018  
Expat Parent May 2018