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the really useful magazine expat-parent.com

September 2018

Mid-Autumn mooncake madness! ++PLUS++ Your ultimate guide to after-school activities!


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CONTENTs 2

Editor’s letter

Hello from the hot desk

ISSUE 053

4 Contributors Meet the team 7

What’s on

14

Things you should know

September happenings

Tuck in...

16 News

Happenings this month

20

Me and my big idea

Vegan wonderland

22

Book review

Tales of the moon

26

My Hong Kong

Arty party

28

The big interview

How to build an eco-resort

32

Cover story

Dreaming big

38 Schools

A trip Down Under

42 After-school

Hong Kong’s hottest guide

50

Hindes in Hong Kong

This month she’s in the Philippines

52

Health and wellness

Boost your workout

28

16 34

58 Travel

Family fun in Hanoi

64

Flailing spouse

Party time

60

18

14

Scan and visit our website expat-parent.com

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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Editorial editorial@hongkongliving.com Editor Carolynne Dear

Managing Editor Gemma Shaw

Contributing Editor Nicole Slater

Sub-Editor Kay Ross

Design anna@hongkongliving.com Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing talk@hongkongliving.com Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Sales and Marketing Executive Corrie Tang

Sales and Marketing Executive Johnny Wong

Accounting charles@hongkongliving.com Assistant Operations Manager Charles Lau

Publisher

A

nd suddenly we’re immersed in mooncakes and maths homework. How did that happen? One minute I was sunning myself on a junk, the next I seem to be back standing on the rugby sidelines of a Sunday morning. Autumn’s here and it’s back to school, back to sport – and bye bye those luxuriously languorous summer weekends. If you’re on the hunt for extra-curricular activities, we’ve scoured the territory for a heap of handy ideas. From tennis to tutoring, check out our after-school guide on page 42. I was also really excited this month to meet up with Melita Hunter, co-founder of Cambodian eco-resort Song Saa. A veritable Vasco da Gama of the social media era, she boldly set sail with just a flickering google map, and discovered an obscure desert island in desperate need of some TLC. Roll forward ten years and this adventurous Hong Kong mamma now finds herself at the helm a luxury resort and one of South East Asia’s largest marine parks. Find out how she did it on page 28. I hope this issue inspires your own September – happy Mid-Autumn Festival and have a great month!

about the cover

@beyondthehighrise Co-founders of online homewares boutique MINT, Helen Vandeweghe and Amelie Lalos were photographed by Michelle Proctor. Interior designer Vandeweghe opens up her home to us on page 32. michellejproctorphotography.com

Tom Hilditch tom@hongkongliving.com

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong

HONG KONG hongkongliving.com Expat Parent is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Expat Parent cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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contributors

Jennifer S Deayton

Amelia Sewell

Michelle Proctor

Discovered how DNA research can help improve your health and wellness.

Headed over to Kowloon Tong for a tour of the Australian International School.

Shot our stunning cover and cover story this month.

What I’m looking forward to most in September is... getting back to my creative writing that languished over the summer.

What I’m looking forward to most in September is... a trip to Hong Kong Dog Rescue. My husband has finally agreed it’s time for the family to have a hound.

What I’m looking forward to most in September is... settling into our new place on South Lantau and shooting in Japan with Charlotte London.

The most inspirational quote I heard recently is... ”Be brave, be kind and never refuse Champagne.” @bundlesewell

The most inspirational quote I heard recently is... “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” @michellejproctor

The most inspirational quote I heard recently is... “Creation is the rebellion” - I’m not sure who to attribute this to, but it always inspires me. @rockmomhk

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

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what’s on

Diary dates

SEP 29-30

Charity Dinghy Race Hebe Haven Yacht Club will be hosting its annual 24-hour charity race for sailors of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The club will also be throwing a harbour-front carnival with live music, food stalls and kids’ water activity trials - monies raised support the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Impact HK and Sai Kung Stray Friends, hhyc.org.hk expat-parent.com 7


what’s on Australian boarding options. Free. 6-8.30pm, Lan Kwai Fong HK, Wyndham Street, Central. Register at eventbrite.com

SEP 5 - 9

The Amazing Bubbleman Be spellbound – or bubblebound – as Louis Pearl the Bubbleman demonstrates the science, art and beauty of bubbles. Mesmerising and fun for your children (and your inner child). Tickets start at $395. Various times. Drama Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Wan Chai. hkticketing.com

Until Oct 2, CDNIS is accepting applications

UNTIL OCT 2

CDNIS Applications The Canadian International School of Hong Kong is now accepting applications for Pre Reception to Grade 2 for 2019-20 entry. For more information or to arrange a tour of the Aberdeen-based school, see cdnis.edu.hk

through high-quality stalls selling just about anything you can imagine. 11am-8pm. Regal Kowloon Hotel, 71 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. kowloonbazaar.com

SEP 1, 2, 3 & 4

Fashion + Home Pop Up Featuring bags, hats, custom-made shoes, clothing and homewares. Sept 1, 10am-8pm; Sept 2, 11am-6pm; Sept 3, 9am-8pm; Sept 4, 9am-8pm. 33 Wellington Street, Central.

Sep 5-9, bubble fun

SEP 8

SEP 1

ESF Central Applications If you’re registering for K1, Year 1 and Year 7 for 2019-20 entrance, registrations are open from now until Sept 30. For enquiries email admissions@esfcentre.edu.hk or register online at esf.edu.hk/application-form

SEP 1

Millinery Workshop Workshop by Artisan Blossoms, create a fascinator in the shape and colour of your choice. $1,200. 3-6pm. Artisan Blossoms, 2/F, 37 Staunton Street, Central. artisanblossoms.com

Sep 1, shopping at GlamFest

SEP 3 - OCT 7

Women’s Five 5K Run Five-week-long health and fitness programme - with weekend meetups and online resources - that culminates in a five-kilometre run. $800 full programme, $390 run only. Yoga and HIIT classes are held in Tamar Park and Sun Yat Sen Park and running meets are on Bowen Road and in Tai Tam Country Park. womensfive.com

SEP 4

SEP 1

Australian Boarding Schools Help Build the Australian Boarding School Community in Hong Kong

Shop ’til you drop and enjoy the lucky draw, freebies and wine tastings while you browse

A meet-and-greet evening hosted by Student Concierge Services for parents with children boarding in Australia, or those considering

GlamFest Kowloon Bazaar 2018

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Coffee with Jill The founder of Animals Asia, Jill Robinson, will be sharing experiences and stories about moon bear rescue, dogs in schools and animal welfare in China. Free. 2-3pm. Whiskers N Paws, 10/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau. wnp.com.hk

SEP 8-9

Freespace Happening This event has its humble origins in 2015 when a bunch of creatives transformed the open grassy area in West Kowloon into an eclectic artistic zone, with emphasis on the “free” element - this year’s music programme features world-class electro, acoustic, indiefolk and experimental acts. Free. 2pm-9pm (Sat), 2pm-8pm (Sun). Art Park, West Kowloon. westkowloon.hk


what’s on fundraising event to establish a data registry for patients with rare diseases in Hong Kong. The event will include treasure-hunt games and booth games. $300. 10am-4pm. Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art, Central, srdc.org.hk

SEP 17

Kellett Senior School Open Evening Head over to Kowloon Bay to check out Hong Kong’s British International School. The event is hosted by members of the school’s senior leadership team and kicks off with a school tour, followed by a presentation and Q&A session. Free. 7-9pm. 7 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong. kellettschool.com

Mid-Autumn Festival SEP 23 - 25

Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance Marvel at the majestic 64-metre fire dragon dancing its way along the backstreets of Tai Hang. The best vantage point is Wun Sha Street. Starting at 8.15pm. On Sept 24 at 10.45pm there will also be a special performance in Victoria Park. taihangfiredragon.hk

SEP 24 Sep 15-16, leaping around at Hong Kong Cultural Centre

SEP 8 - 9

Lamma Bazaar Browse a unique art market, taste homemade food, try face-painting and more. 10am-6pm. Lamma Art Collective, 1/F, 23 Main Street, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island. lammaartcollective.com

SEP 9

Discovery Bay Sunday Market Shop for indie crafts and unique goods, then head to the D’Deck restaurant to indulge in a sumptuous post-shopping dinner! 11am-6pm. Discovery Bay Plaza. handmadehongkong.com

SEP 12

Embroidery Workshop

Local craftie group Make and Do is hosting its monthly ladies’ night embroidery workshop. Free-flow Prosecco and all materials provided. $495. 7.30-10.30pm. The Winery, 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun. Bookings at make.and.do.hk@gmail.com

SEPT 13

Meet the headmaster of Ampleforth College Headmaster Wulstan Peterburs will be visiting Hong Kong to introduce the co-educational Catholic boarding school located in North Yorkshire, UK. 6.30pm. Anfield School, 1 Lung Pak Street, Tai Wai, Sha Tin, NT. Registration at anfield-hearts@anfield.edu.hk

SEP 15 - 16

Ballet Classics for Children: Carnival of the Animals Woof, meow, roar! Whether your little one is an animal-lover or a ballet fan, they’ll enjoy this interactive and delightful show featuring favourite ballet animals. Tickets start at $200. Sept 15, 5pm; Sept 16, 12pm & 2.30pm. Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. TST. urbitix.com

Mid-Autumn Festival Be captivated by the gorgeous full moon. Try traditional or ice-cream mooncakes, then head to Victoria Park or the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to admire the displays of bright lanterns.

SEP 24

Mid-Autumn Urban Carnival Lantern displays, Fire Dragon Dance, kung fu demonstrations, acrobatics, folk songs and crafts. 8pm-11pm. Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.

SEP 25

The Day Following Mid-Autumn Festival Public holiday

SEP 16

Step Out for Children The Society for the Relief of Disabled Children is hosting this educational charity

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what’s on SEP 22-23

SEP 22

Health and wellness festival IRIS returns for its seventh visit. The weekend festival inspires people to become a better version of themselves through yoga, meditation, music and art. Tickets from $155. Central Harbourfront Event Space. irishkg.com

Find out more about this independent Catholic, international, English-medium school. Two briefings will be held at 2-3.15pm and 3.304.45pm, 1, Lung Pak Street, Tai Wai, Sha Tin, NT. anfield.edu.hk

IRIS: Your Escape

Anfield School Admission Briefing Session

SEP 26

Ladies’ Beauty Night Enjoy a ladies’ night and learn makeup techniques from professional make-up artist and co-founder of Lamma Art Collective Cherie Chung. Wine will be provided, but bring your own cosmetics. 8pm. Lamma Art Collective, 1/F, 23 Main Street, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma. islandartonlamma@gmail.com

SEP 27-30 Hubbub!

Shakespeare4All presents its Hubbub! show, an interactive experience especially for children aged six months to three years. Tickets from $260. Various times (daytime only). Artistree, 1/F, Cambridge House, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay. s4a.org.hk/en/

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SEP 29

Anfield Early Years Briefing Session Find out more about this independent catholic, international, English-medium school. 10am12pm, Hong Kong Science Museum, Tsim Tsa Tsui. anfield.edu.hk

SEP 29

Mama Market Shop ‘til you drop at this indoor pop-up, hosted by 852 Mamas and sponsored by Nanny & Me. Free “Kids Corner”. 10am-4pm, Ryder Diamonds, 9/F, Kimley Commercial Building, 142-146 Queen’s Road Central, Central. 852mamas.com

SEP 30

Connecting our Community in Hong Kong Dr. Briony Scott, principal of Wenona Girls School in Sydney, visits Hong Kong to talk about about raising strong girls. 10am-2pm. Free - register online by September 14. Frites, The Wellington, 1/F 198 Wellington Street, Central. rsvp.wenona.nsw.edu.au


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what’s on

Art with heart The Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize is back. Director, photographer and former winner Katie Vajda explains how to enter The Hong Kong Human Rights Art Prize (HKHRAP) is now in its fifth year. It’s open to all Hong Kong-born or based artists who are aged 16 or over and who enter work around the theme of human rights. The event is also an important annual fundraiser for the Justice Centre. We accept all mediums, there is no fee to enter and there are no size restrictions. The judging is conducted blind and therefore without bias. We receive entries across the spectrum of practitioners from emerging to established artists. The judges will be looking for an artist’s ability to translate the theme into a fine art context. And also their ability to articulate their stories through their chosen medium. Last year saw a record-breaking number of entries and an incredible shortlist, with artists exhibiting work across painting, photography, video, installation and sculpture. Entries are judged by a panel of noted experts from Hong Kong’s art community. They include Claire Hsu, co-founder & executive director of Asia Art Archive, and Kacey Wong, a prominent Hong Kong- based artist. Hsu and Wong have both been advisors to the prize since its inception in 2013. To be honest I don’t envy them; judging this competition is always a difficult task! The winning artist this year will receive a cash prize of $35,000 and a trophy created this year by leading Hong Kong artist Jaffa Lam. Two runners-up will also receive cash prizes and a directors’ choice award will also be given on the night. My own path first crossed with the Justice Centre HK when I entered the HKHRAP in 2014. I had been working with my friend Eva Sultiana who is a domestic helper and together we made a series called “Can you see me yet?”. My lecturer Dr. Edwin Lai encouraged me to enter and the series went on to win the prize. I stayed in contact with the Justice 12 expat-parent.com

Former Human Rights Arts Prize winner Katie Vajda

Centre, becoming more aware of the work they do around supporting and protecting the rights of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable sectors of society. In 2017 co-director Peter Augustus and I stepped up to help run the arts prize when resourcing it became difficult. And my career as a photographer began accidentally. I came to Hong Kong in 2009 from Sydney, where my husband and I were working in the media industry. It was a relatively quiet start as I arrived pregnant and with a one year old bubba on my hip. I had loved art all my life and dabbled in many mediums in a very self-taught kind of way, so I decided to go back to university to study Fine Art. Hong Kong Art School (HKAS) has a degree qualification in collaboration with RMIT University in Australia, which offered me a wonderful cross section into the arts and blended my two geographical worlds. When I went in front of the HKAS panel interview I first applied for sculpture, but

the course had been cancelled that year and so I had to pick another major. I opted for photography. It turned out to be the perfect medium of expression for me. Having spent many years working with newspapers and magazines, photography was a language where I could draw from my experience and reference it in my work. I never imagined the level of politics and social theory at play in visual culture and photography, but continue to be inspired by this field and the journey of working in the arts and being an image maker. If you would like to participate in this year’s HKHRAP we would love to hear from you. Entries are open now until October 5. The prize ceremony will be held at The Hive Spring, 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road on December 8. For more information email Justice Centre HK at info@justicecentre.org.hk or see justicecentre.org.hk/artsprize


BOOK NOW OCT 6 - 7

Shakespeare4All Gala Performance Child performers with an interest in theatre, regardless of their status, race or ability, will be performing The Tempest at Shakespeare4All’s annual Gala. Tickets from $130. Auditorium, Tuen Mun Town Hall. s4a.org.hk

NOV 9 - 11

NOV 15

Grab your tickets to Hong Kong’s biggest music and arts festival in November. The three-day festival will feature big names, including The Vaccines and Peking Duk. Tickets from $820. Central Harbourfront Event Space. Clockenflap.com

A talk for new parents who are finding it difficult to move beyond just trying to stay afloat, are feeling stuck and need additional suggestions, or are doing well but want to proactively address potential challenges. Speaker Dr Erica Liu Wollin is a

Clockenflap

Surviving & Thriving registered clinical psychologist (HK) and a licensed psychologist (US), and specialises in trauma therapy for adults, adolescents, children, couples and families. 7-9pm. HKSKH Ming Hua College, Glenealy, Central. afhk.org.hk

OCT 26 - 28, NOV 3 - 4 Giselle

One of the most beautiful ballets in history, the transcendental and romantic Giselle is not to be missed. The new staging and stunning set add freshness to this timeless classic. Tickets start at $140. 7.30pm every day except Oct 28; 2.30pm every day except Oct 26. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. urbitix.com

Giselle (left) and Clockenflap are coming to town

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om mooncakes fr y nc e g e R Hyatt

things to know

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Hyatt Regency Try refreshing mini ginger-pomelo mooncake inspired by Sha Tin pomelos and a mini Chinese-wine chocolate mooncake inspired by the famous ice cream of Sha Tin. $298 for a box of six mini mooncakes, hyatt.com

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Our verdict: The traditional mooncake style is kept while the flavours have been modernised, creating a beautiful delicate and delicious snack, the perfect size for munching.

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Mrs. Fields Three different sweet mousse fillings: walnut, coffee and chocolate, each covered with a thick chocolate casing. $80 per mooncake. Available in most MTR stations. mrsfields.com.hk Our verdict: Delicious, but you won't be able to munch a whole one due to the richness of the chocolate. Perfect for sharing.

VIVE Cake Boutique VIVE Cake Boutique are offering a Shortcrust Custard Mooncake with a cookie crust-like puff pastry and slight coconut scent. Like many of the treats on offer, the mooncakes are simple and delicate with a creamy, smooth custard filling. $298 for a box of four. Shop 3, 1/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central Our verdict: The pastry was delicious. Coconut and custard are a great combination, but a little on the simple side.

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The Cakery A selection of gluten-free, dairy-free and low-calorie mooncakes using natural and nutrient-dense ingredients such as red dates, nuts and seeds. $428 for a box of six mooncakes, thecakery.com Our verdict: The flavours a rich and savory with a traditional look, but far less calories!

Things you need to know Mooncakes Custom says we should be tucking into these little pastries on Sept 24 & 25

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Haagen-Dazs For something a little more chill, HaagenDazs is offering 12 ice-cream mooncake collections, with classic flavours such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Sets start from $278 for early birds. Available at all Haagen-Dazs stores. eshop. haagendazs-gifting.hk/mooncake Our verdict: Refreshing and delicious. You can never go wrong with ice cream, especially in Hong Kong’s heat.

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The Intercontinental Grand Stanford Try a Kavalan Whisky Chocolate Mooncake in a variety of three single malt whisky flavours: Kavalan Classic, Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon and Kavalan Solist Amontillado. $468 per box of three mooncakes. The Intercontinental Grand Stanford. ihg.com/intercontinental Our verdict: A real decadent treat, the chocolate is enhanced by the whiskey, creating a rich, warm flavour.

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Starbucks Try a duo of mooncakes including the Creamy Custard Mooncake and a Vanilla Custard Mooncake, inspired by the Starbucks Vanilla Latte. $288 for a set of six mooncakes and an LED light. Available at all Starbucks except the airport, Asia-WorldExpo and Ngong Ping. starbucks.com.hk Our verdict: Great with a cup of coffee or tea, but these mooncakes were a little on the plain side.


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news

All lit up

Photo courtesy Wayne Wong from Evoke Kids

Chinadoll Kids has launched a new collection of Chinese-inspired kids clothing, just in time for Mid-Autumn Festival. Incorporating soft pastels, silvers and golds, the pieces include qipao-style dresses and pretty jackets to keep little China dolls warm as the autumn season blows in. Prices start at $880 and are available from Mirth Home in Wong Chuk Hang, Partytime in Princes Building and Times Square and HK Design Gallery at Hong Kong International Airport, chinadollkidshk@gmail.com

Schools fair for expats Expat Parent is proud to be hosting its inaugural International Schools Fair next month. Whether you’re struggling to figure out Hong Kong’s education system, fine-tuning your applications list, or just want a chat with an expert, the Expat Parent International Schools Fair offers a onestop-shop for all school info. We’ll be hosting a number of Hong Kong’s international schools, plus there’ll be advice from educational professionals including Expat Parent’s education editor Amelia Sewell, free workshops and a heap of entertainment for the kids. And don’t forget your free goodie bag! It promises to be a fun - and hugely informative - day out for the whole family. So add it to your iCal and drop in on Saturday October 20, 10am-3pm, The Annex, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road, Central. Email editorial@hongkongliving.com for more info. 16 expat-parent.com

AISHK will be joining the Expat Parent International Schools Fair in October


news

A fine cup of Jo

Run for the hills Registration is open for the fourth annual Hard as Nayls charity trail run. Billed as Clearwater Bay’s “toughest” running event, this year there will be four or eight-kilometre family run options and 16 or 50km individual events. The event takes place each year in memory of local runner and Hong Kong policeman Andy Naylor, as well as raising money for charity Sai Kung Stray Friends. The family runs take place on Saturday September 29 and will be followed up with a fun BBQ and after-race party with music, entertainment and food. On Sunday it’s time for the serious runners to get going through some of Hong Kong’s most spectacular countryside. In keeping with its green credentials, the event will not be handing out goodie bags – race tee-shirts will only be available for purchase and filtered water (no plastic bottles) will be supplied to runner., hardasnayls.org

The Coffee Academics pop-up coffee bar in IFC runs for six months

Coffee purveyor and roaster The Coffee Academics has launched a custom blending bar in IFC mall. The six-month pop-up enables coffee-lovers to customise their blend, from beans through to packaging. The Coffee Academics currently has nine stores in Hong Kong and, according to founder Jennifer Liu, aims to “re-define the coffee-house experience by making exceptional coffee accessible, simple to understand and appreciated.” The Coffee Academics ROASTERY bar

will assist customers by setting up a digital profile according to preferred coffee origin, taste and scent, as well as packaging. Bean types include corporate social responsibility bean origins and other premium and rare single-origin beans. Many of the beans sourced by The Coffee Academics come directly from charity farms that guarantee compliance with ecological, social and economic standards. The ROASTERY pop-up bar can be found at LA5, 3/F, IFC Shopping Mall.

Beef up your mealtimes Grocery importer De La Valley is introducing South American premium beef and fine wines into Hong Kong. Sourced by De La Valley from farms in Argentina and Uruguay, the grass-fed beef is vacuum-packed at origin, air-chilled in cold storage and delivered right to your door. According to De La Valley, air-chilling prolongs the life of the meat and keeps it tender. Exclusive cuts include Uruguayan Wagyu beef and Argentinian Angus beef. Hong Kong customers can buy their meat and wine from the website with 24-hour delivery to their doorstep. delavalley.com Prime cuts from South America now available in Hong Kong

Knock me Sideways

Sideways Driving Club, a racing-car simulator and sports bar, has opened a new location at Peel Street in SoHo. To celebrate the launch, Sideways is partnering with local charity HandsOn Hong Kong in a 24-Hour Charity Race next month. Fifteen teams of drivers will compete throughout the night to raise funds for HandsOn’s community programmes, including skills workshops for abused domestic workers, distributing necessities for the homeless and recreational activities for children with disabilities. Professional racingcar drivers will head up each team, with loads of tips and tricks for completing the course. Sideways Driving Club is now located at 1/F, 65-65A Peel Street, SoHo, and the charity race takes place over the weekend of October 6-7. For more information about entering a team, see sideways-driving-club. com expat-parent.com 17


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

Dulce De Leche Mooncakes

Up for grabs: A box of Dulce De Leche Mooncakes for two lucky winners From: Gaucho, Hong Kong’s premier Argentinian steakhouse, celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival by taking one of its most popular desserts, the Dulce de Leche cheesecake, and adding a mooncake twist. gauchorestaurants.com

“Hubbub!” Tickets Up for grabs: 1 pair of tickets (1 adult & 1 child) for Theatre for the Very Young Hubbub!

From: Shakespeare4All, a registered charity founded in 2003 with the purpose of building fluency and confidence in English through performing Shakespearean plays, and inspiring young people to aspire to be excellent. The tickets are for the 3.15pm show on September 27 Shakespeare4All will also hold their annual Gala on October 6-7. s4a.org.hk

Skin Care Formula Gift Set Worth $2,156 Up for grabs: A skin care gift set, including HA+B5 water-based Masks, Travel Size Squalane’s, Rise & Set moisturisers and sunblock.

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From: The Skin Need Natural Condition System is a reputable line of professional formulas known for its excellence in quality, with distribution centres worldwide offering Skin Need services in clinics, spas and beauty centres. skinneed.com


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me & my big idea

Green dreams Foodie Bhawna Shetty shakes up the party table So what’s the big idea? The Green Platters is a meat-free grazing alternative to traditional party catering. We create delicious vegan and vegetarian grazing tables and sharing platters using local, artisanal foods wherever possible. We are also Hong Kong’s first grazing company to provide eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging and I’m very proud to say our business is 95% plasticfree. And a percentage of our profits is also divided between a charity in Hong Kong and another in India.

How did you come up with the idea? In the lead-up to my daughter’s birthday party last year I was trying to come up with ways to entertain guests other than traditional catering. I wanted to make sure everyone’s dietary restrictions were taken care of. I’m a trained baker and event stylist and I’ve been aware of the growing trend for grazing tables, so I thought it would be a neat idea to be able to create a meat-free, environmentally sustainable alternative to the traditional buffet table.

How tough was it getting the business up-and-running? I’m really thankful for the lovely network of people in Hong Kong. Everyone I came into contact with was so open to meeting up, answering my questions and referring me on to others. This made things so much smoother.

Where do you source your ingredients? I place huge emphasis on sourcing organic, healthy produce that has been sustainably and locally produced. We work with some great Hong Kong-based vendors to source greatquality seasonal produce.

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Bhawna Shetty creates delicious vegan grazing tables

Do you have a favourite platter or grazing table? I love them all! I’m lucky because I have the opportunity to go and meet my customers and help them create a stunning, customised table to wow their guests. We’ve also now introduced platters and boxes for gifting and entertaining on-the-go. I must admit I’m really liking our pallet picnic grazing table and also

the large areca-leaf platter – it has five artisanal cheeses and gourmet savouries and has become my go-to plate!

What are The Green Platters ecocredentials? Being “green” is one of our core values. We use bio-degradable and compostable packaging options. Our areca leaf platters are put together using fallen palm leaves that are 100% chemical-free. And we are also committed to using minimal plastic – we’re the first Hong Kong-based grazing company to offer eco-friendly packaging.

Email: hello@thegreenplatters.com, Instagram: @thegreenplatters and Facebook: @thegreenplatters


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book review

Out this month Show home Jazz up your coffee table with a hardback

My September

Editor Carolynne Dear reveals what she’s into this month What I’m reading

Humans of New York Stories

In the Company of Women

Brandon Stanton

Grace Bonney

This is the third book in the collection, based on a series of interviews that began as a humble blog. Humans of New York quickly became a global phenomenon, featuring oneon-one interviews with non-famous, everyday individuals on the street. Everyone has a story – as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.

Blogger Grace Bonney profiles over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs from a variety of racial, age and industry backgrounds. She takes a look into their routines and workspaces and discovers what drives them and what they’ve learnt from their work. The books aims to offer advice and inspiration.

I’m halfway through Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey. A brilliant young talent, Healey is actually the goddaughter of one of the first editors I worked under back in London, back in the day, so I was sort of guilt-tripped (in the nicest possible way) into buying her first novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, a couple of years ago. But it was fantastic and really stayed with me.

What I’m listening to I’ve just discovered British musician Tom Misch. My kids will groan at this description, but he’s pretty groovy! His 2018 album Geography is top of my playlist this month.

What I’m plugging into

The LEGO Architect Tom Alphin Stunning images of structures from around the world that reveal a handful of modern building styles. The images are then translated into miniature Lego structures, which is a fun and clever way to introduce architecture to kids. Twelve of the structures come with instructions on how they can be recreated at home. Available from bookdepository.com 22 expat-parent.com

Kate Spade New York: All in Good Taste Kate Spade Perfect for the modern hostess, this pretty pink page-turner includes etiquette tips and food-prep ideas that will have you top of the po,ps at your next posh bash. Everything is carefully explained in the brand’s signature cheeky prose – there are also diagrams if you’re feeling challenged. Kate Spade you are missed.

I’m loving the Happy Place series of podcasts. Each edition features an indepth interview with a celebrity about how they manage their mental health. The highlight so far has been a thoughtprovoking chat with actor, writer and activist Stephen Fry.

What’s in my diary A couple of junks (Jaspas is back!), my gorgeous niece Willow’s third birthday, a girls’ weekend in Vietnam and a family trip to Bali – we’re staying at The Seminyak, which I’m really looking forward to.


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book review

Moon tales Children’s author Christina Matula brings to life the legend of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Carolynne Dear finds out what inspired her My mother is from Taiwan but I grew up in Canada, so my knowledge of Chinese festivals was fairly limited as a child. My mother was always keen for me to understand more about my heritage, but living in Ottawa it all felt very far removed from my day-to-day life. We would always celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, but to be honest at the time it meant little more than eating the delicious mooncakes that mom would bring home from Chinatown in the fall. When I moved to Hong Kong, my children were introduced to the festival and the legend of Chang’e and Hou Yi at school. I was fascinated by the story and looked everywhere for a picture book. But there was nothing to be found, so, on a whim, I decided to write one myself. Initially I wrote it for my own family, but as it developed it became something I thought I could share and might spark an interest in Chinese culture amongst other children. The legend of Mid-Autumn Festival is always about two lead characters Chang’e and Hou Yi. But how they are portrayed differs. Sometimes Hou Yi is mean and greedy, so Chang’e steals the potion to keep it from him. But in other versions Chang’e is greedy and wants the potion’s power for himself. I thought

The Shadow in the Moon Christina Matula

Two sisters and their grandmother celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival at home with whole family. Their favourite part? Mooncakes, of course — along with Ah-ma’s story of the ancient legend of Hou Yi, a brave young archer, and his wife, Chang’e. A long, long time ago, Hou Yi rescued the earth from the heat of ten suns. The Immortals rewarded him with a magic potion that could let him live in the sky with them forever. But when a thief tries to steal the potion, Chang’e must protect it.

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The Shadow in the Moon is available this month

it was important to write a version where Chang’e was just as heroic as Hou Yi. The book took two years from initial idea to the final printed edition. It was picked up by American publisher Charlesbridge and has

How can she keep the precious potion safe from the thief’s evil intentions? The sisters are mesmerised by Ah-ma’s retelling and the fact that the very mooncakes they enjoy each holiday are a symbol of this legend’s bravest soul. Available from Bookazine and amazon.com Bookazine will be hosting a story telling and book-signing event with Christina Matula, 4-5pm, September 1, Bookazine Discovery Bay, Shop 104B, 1/F, Block A, DB Main Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau. enquiries@bookazine.com.hk

been slightly updated with a new cover and illustrations of the family and their celebrations. It’s been quite a journey and I am so proud of the response the book has received. The illustrator, Pearl Law, was recommended to me by a friend. She’s a tremendously talented Hong Kong illustrator (now based in London) and I am eternally grateful for that early matchmaking. Pearl’s stunning artwork has captured the spirit of the story and really brought it to life. For this year’s festival I will be in North America doing some author events, so I’ll get to spend the holiday with my parents in Ottawa. I imagine our celebrations will look pretty similar to the illustrations in the book. Red-bean mooncakes are my favourite, and I also love the snow-skin mooncakes, which are like mooncake shaped mochi. I’ve got more projects in the pipeline. I have a few little-known Chinese legends that I’m polishing off. It would be wonderful if The Shadow in the Moon sparked a series.


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PEOPLE

My Hong Kong - the artist Artist Helen Bronte Boyd tells Carolynne Dear she’s ready for a new challenge after 16 creative years in Sai Kung We moved to Hong Kong in 2002 as a family of five. It was just before the SARS outbreak. We were drawn to the Sai Kung area for its space, better air quality and sense of community. We lived in Clearwater Bay for six years, then made several moves around Sai Kung Town and this month we’re moving to Hong Kong Island for the first time. Now we’re empty-nesters, we want to try something different. It will be interesting to see how things compare living in the “big town”. I think most artists say they were always artists. My earliest memories are of creative pursuits; I studied art in school, checked out art school for university – and then applied for nursing. I didn’t feel I could pursue art as a serious career option, but I always kept something arty happening around me. So I didn’t officially study creatively until my youngest started school. I think as a mature student and a mother you have more focus as your time is precious. I arrived in Hong Kong newly graduated and held my first solo exhibition in a SoHo gallery one year later. I partnered in that space and then started running art classes, workshops, talks and exhibitions for other artists. I made a lot of mistakes on the business side, but pushed on regardless. A couple of years ago I moved my studio to Sai Kung and founded my own business, H Studio Gallery, with the aim of bringing more art to Sai Kung. It’s been hard work, but the reward has been seeing the local community embrace the studio. It has blossomed with exhibitions by emerging and established artists, weekly art classes, regular “Stitch and Bitch” sessions, artist demonstrations and talks. Working so closely with other artists makes for great friendships. There’s a lot of trust and faith involved on both sides. In 2017 I embarked on a year-long project where I created heARTs to generate positivity and kindness. People messaged me to send a “heART” either to themselves 26 expat-parent.com

Helen Boyd runs regular workshops for children

or to a friend or family member. The heARTs ended up in the hands of 300 people in over 40 countries. I was contemplating an exhibition when the project came to an end last April, when I was approached by my good friend Natasha Low-Kefford with the idea of running a fundraiser for the ‘house with heart’ home for girls in Nepal. Together, we rallied the Sai Kung community and over 50 artists and 20 businesses stepped forward to offer time, money and products for #heARTwalksaikung. It was an amazing event that included exhibitions at H Studio Gallery, The Hive coworking space and local restaurant Momentai. Ten local businesses agreed to us hanging

over 600 paper hearts – many created by local school children – at their venues. It just goes to show that people do care and that love and kindness does matter.


PEOPLE Moving forward, I’m going to be concentrating on my own work practices for a while. H Studio Gallery closed last month due to the move. This month I will be doing an artist talk and demo at local artist Rachel Smith’s Senselessart Studio Gallery in Prince Edward. Next March I’m taking part in a group exhibition at the VA, which is hosted by the up-and-coming Kambal Gallery, so I’ll be working solidly towards that over the next six months. I’ve recently taken the plunge into the world of podcasting, interviewing fellow artists from all over Hong Kong. You can tune in at “In Da Studio with HBBoyd” on Anchor. It’s sad moving on from my space in Sai Kung, but I’m ready for the new challenges. Working six or seven days a week doesn’t provide much opportunity for downtime. Even when I relax I still love to paint, draw and create. Being creative focuses the mind and can be as beneficial mentally as meditation. I also enjoy catching a movie with my husband and we love to travel and discover new cafés, restaurants and museums. But I’m just as happy with

my own company, wandering Hong Kong sketching and photographing. Sai Kung has an amazing assortment of small businesses that are so worth supporting. I love eating at Cena, Momentai and The Conservatory. Blacksmith in the old town does an amazing Rooibos cappuccino and Moni Stand coffee and record store, also in the old town, rocks a great collection of vinyl. On gallery opening nights, I call on catering company For the Love of Good Food, while Moj and her staff at Tala’s take care of my hair. I’ve always popped into Central at least once a week. I love training at Joint Dynamics and grabbing Vietnamese afterwards at BEP on Wellington Street. I like a stroll along Hollywood Road to check out the galleries and PMQ is one of my favourite places to take visitors. A fossick in Cat Street markets for old trinkets always goes down well, too. I’m really looking forward to exploring the Island more. helenbronteboyd.com Boyd’s vibrant artwork

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THE big interview

Treasure island Hong Kong-based expats Melita and Rory Hunter have transformed an obscure Cambodian island into an award-winning eco-resort. Carolynne Dear finds out how they did it

I

t’s a steaming-hot day when I arrive at Wong Chuk Hang’s trendy Loft café, which is perhaps quite apt given I’m here for an interview about a tropical island in the remote Cambodian Koh Rong Archipelago. I’m meeting Melita Hunter, a freelance organic stylist from Sydney who, along with her advertising designer husband Rory, ended up in possession of Song Saa, a couple of dreamy desert islands in the Gulf of Thailand, which are today a thriving, luxury eco-resort. Their story is one of chance and of grabbing every opportunity that came their way. Back in the early 2000s, Hunter was enjoying a successful career in Sydney, styling her way around prominent Sydney catwalk 28 expat-parent.com

shows, exhibitions and fashion shoots, and loving every minute of it. Struck by the “incredible stuff” coming out of New Zealand – this was the era of blockbusters Narnia and Lord of the Rings, all shot on location there – she decided that working on film sets in the Land of the Long White Cloud would be a great experience for a couple of years. And so it was that she met her future husband and fellow-Australian Rory, who was working in NZ for Saatchi and Saatchi. And then, just as they were settling into Auckland life, Rory was invited to transfer to New York. “I just thought ‘wow’, what an opportunity,” says Hunter, who figured she could use the move to formalise her design

training with some study, while soaking up the creativity that life in the Big Apple had to offer. And then, completely out of the blue, just as they were packing up for the big move, Rory received an offer from a design agency in Phnom Penh. “It was so random,” laughs Hunter. “We were like, Cambodia? No way, we’re off to New York!” Intrigued, the couple had a look online. “And there was nothing. It was 2005 so the internet wasn’t quite what it is today, but even so, apart from the war and the Khmer Rouge, there was absolutely no information about Cambodia whatsoever. Nothing remotely helpful.”


THE big interview

Song Saa co-founder Melita Hunter

The resort is located in the Koh Rong archipelago

Sunny mornings on Song Saa

I express surprise that they didn’t take the more straightforward route offered to them and just jump on a flight bound for JFK, but Hunter admits the lack of information made them determined to conquer this mysterious South East Asian country. And so Rory accepted the job. “We packed our bags and thought hey, we’ll give it a go for a year,” she says. But on arrival it was love at first sight. “It was so raw. It was like stepping back several decades – there were no ATMs, no traffic lights, no paved roads in fact. We bought an old army jeep and a couple of dirt bikes and had an amazing time.” But times were changing, and Hunter admits that within six months of their arrival the

motorbikes were looking a bit newer and cars had started appearing. “The transformation was amazing to see,” she says. “Because of the war, 70% of the population was under 30. So you had this incredible youth that just wanted to catch up with the rest of Asia. The energy was palpable – people wanted to study, they wanted the country to move on. When we arrived, unmarried girls weren’t allowed out on their own, but within a couple of years, you’d see them perched happily on the back of guys’ mopeds. It all changed so fast.” By the end of the first year, the couple decided they loved the place so much they wanted to stay. Hunter was busy with a number of landscape-gardening contracts and

Rory was consumed with the design agency, but one evening they got chatting with a friend and his fisherman father who had just got back from a trip from some islands off the coast. “He regaled us with tales of untouched beaches, virgin rainforest and coral reefs. We were like, ‘Seriously?’ We’d done a bit of diving and surfaced pretty much in tears each time, such was the destructive effect of years of dynamite fishing. There was nothing to see down there. The islands didn’t seem to be marked on any maps either, and with touristheavy Vietnam and Thailand on either side, it seemed unlikely they had been missed. So we were a bit sceptical, but decided to check them out. We hired a boat driver – who thought we were nuts – and putt-putted for about five hours until we finally came across the Koh Rong Archipelago. “It was such an adventure. We slept on beaches, went fishing and met the five little communities living out there.” But behind the picturesque scenes life wasn’t quite as rosy. “Everyone was new to the islands, because during the war the Khmer Rouge had driven the villagers back to the mainland. This meant that sustainable fishing practices hadn’t been passed down to the next generation. Overfishing meant it was becoming harder and harder for the fishermen to feed their families, which in turn meant the rainforests were being cleared to create land for crops and animal grazing. And the coral was clogged from the 50-odd fishing boats that used to park all day and empty their bilge tanks. Consequently, the eco-system was a mess, many locals wanted to move back to the mainland – and we were offered the opportunity to buy Song Saa.” expat-parent.com 29


THE big interview

Guests can enjoy ocean and over-water villas

A quick trip back to the mainland ensued so lawyers could draw up the paperwork, and with a paper bag full of cash, the Hunters took possession of the pair of islands. What they have achieved since then is nothing short of miraculous. “We knew we had to change things, but we also wanted to be good neighbours,” says Hunter. “We started by picking up rubbish and invited the villagers to join us. At that stage we weren’t planning on building a resort; we just wanted a nicer island. We put out a call to the wider island community and offered to pay people to help, which meant we had around 60 locals a day turning up. All the trash was bagged up and sent to the mainland. Not afraid of yet another challenge, it was at this point that the couple offered to install a marine protection zone to give the fish a chance to reproduce properly. The couple were now dashing down the country every weekend, overland from Phonh Penh to the coast and then the boat-ride out to Song Saa. “I know,” laughs Hunter. “From our regular day jobs during the week suddenly we were marine advisors and environmentalists on the weekend,” laughs Hunter. “It was a steep learning curve.” The islanders were overwhelmingly in favour of the zone and amazingly, within just 18 months, fish stocks were back. “We were ecstatic,” says Hunter. “It had 30 expat-parent.com

worked and in such a short space of time. We brought in a research photographer to conduct an underwater survey and set up a database. This was the beginning of what turned out to be one of the biggest marine parks in South East Asia.” Slowly, the island was blooming again. Trees were blossoming, the birds were back and the white sand had returned. A solid waste system was installed and Song Saa became one of the cleanest communities in Cambodia. In 2005, the Hunters decided to create the Song Saa Foundation. Until this point, they had been privately funding the clean-up. The government agreed to re-write the land law so they could be granted a 99-year lease over the two islands in order to introduce some tourism. “This was probably the most stressful period of our lives,” says Hunter. “But we pioneered that land law and decided we wanted to go for a high-end, low-room-count resort.” Hunter designed everything, from the buildings to the rugs on the floor. The couple also reached out to conservation experts at James Cook University in Australia to advise on construction without harming the marine life. It might be eco-conscious, but the resort is also high-spec. All 24 one- and two-bedroom villas have an indoor and outdoor bathroom and private infinity pool. They are stunningly perched in the jungle, by the ocean or over the water. Top chefs and hoteliers have been brought in from around the world and the

So far, the resort has…

EC CREDO I TS

• Completed 214 survey dives • Counted 15,771 fish • Designated 200sq.m. as marine reserve • Launched 58 Boat of Hope missions helping 1,800 children • Distributed 6,000 school stationery packs • Installed 192 water filters • Protected 10,000 hectares of mangrove forest • Planted 1,700 mangroves


THE big interview kitchens are supplied by the organic garden (most meals are included in the price of your stay). The resort has recently appointed executive chef Jeremy Simeon who brings with him 25 years of professional experience plus a wealth of expertise in macrobiotic cooking. He is planning an infusion of Asian inspired dishes incorporating the island’s local produce. “I love foraging for edible plants and furthering my understanding of Khmer herbs and plants that are beneficial to our health,” he explains. “I plan to use as many plants as I can find from the island and its surroundings.” And if you fancy moving from your pool, there are hiking and nature trails, kayak expeditions, snorkelling tours, inter-island excursions and ocean nature safaris, which are all complimentary. Children are welcomed. “Along with the resort construction, we also accelerated the conservation side,” says Hunter. “We brought in marine biologists, set up an education programme teaching the local children to snorkel and to love the water, and introduced an annual mission with doctors from the US coming over to treat the villagers. And our Boat of Hope runs a clinic to the local islands every month.”

The resort welcomes children

The couple has since relocated to Hong Kong for family reasons, but are still very much hands-on at Song Saa. They are immensely – and justifiably – proud of what they have achieved.

“It’s been a labour of love with huge amounts of heartache along the way,” admits Hunter. “But we are so incredibly determined to make it work.” songsaa.com

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C ST OV O ER RY

Minted How two mums turned a hobby into a flourishing homewares business. By Carolynne Dear. Photography by Michelle Proctor

Helen Vandeweghe (left) and Amelie Lalos (right) founded MINT homewares last year

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R VE Y O R C TO S

W

Chinese charm – Vandeweghe has decorated her children’s room with pieces from Zhuhai

hen Helen Vandeweghe arrived in Hong Kong four years ago, it was with reluctance. The interiors designer and mum-of-two had just settled back into English life after a long stint in France, so was not overwhelmed when her (French) husband came home from work with the news that he needed to be within commuting distance of Shenzhen. With two school-age children in tow, she plumped for Hong Kong’s New Territories as home turf, and so began the long search for a house. “I looked and I looked and I couldn’t find anything that I liked,” she says. “And

then Catherine from The Property Shop in Clearwater Bay called and said they had something they thought would be suitable. And thank goodness I loved it because by that stage I was both disillusioned and exhausted!” Her modern, village house-style home on the outskirts of Sai Kung ticked all the boxes, including a fully fitted open-plan kitchen, welldecorated bathrooms, white walls and plenty of storage. With a family and a container-load of furniture on the way, Vandeweghe had prioritised cupboard space as key to clinching the deal. An interiors consultant by trade, she describes her personal style as “thrifty”.

“I like to use what I already have,” she says, although her stash of UK furniture has now settled into more of an eclectic mix of pieces. For example, since moving in she has re-dyed the sofa covers and added handmade cushions using material from Sham Shui Po. “Not all of my English countrystyle accessories worked in Hong Kong,” she says wryly. The original family dining table is still going strong; it was sourced in France and the chairs are old church pew seats from England. The stunning cowhide rug in the lounge room came from South Africa via a family that used to live in Clearwater Bay. She travelled to Zhuhai for custom-made Chinese wardrobes for the children’s rooms. So having moved in, settled and enrolled daughter Chloe and son Lucas at the brandnew Nord Anglia International School in nearby Lam Tin, it was then that she met neighbour and fellow Nord Anglia school mum, Amelie Lalos, who had also recently arrived in the territory. “We clicked immediately,” says Vandeweghe. “Amelie is French but married to an Englishman and was living in England, which is the exact reverse of me. She also has a boy and a girl, Cleo and Lucas, who are also at Nord Anglia and, like me, she speaks fluent French and English. The comparisons were quite spooky!”

MINT’s dim sum baskets have proved popular

expat-parent.com 33


C ST OV O ER RY

“Light and bright” is the order of the day in Vandeweghe’s daughter’s room

Not only that, Lalos is also an enthusiastic creative. Her mother was a keen sewer, a hobby that Lalos enjoys herself, hand-making much of her children’s wardrobes. By mid-2017, with everyone feeling more settled (“Of course I love it here now,” says Vandeweghe), the pair thought maybe they could pool their talents and do something creative together. After arriving in Hong Kong, Vandeweghe had taken an interiors course online to back up her background in design. She has a degree in Management and Marketing of Textiles and after completing a graduate training programme with British fashion house Jaeger, spent the ensuing years in the retail side of the textiles business. After getting married, she moved to France, where she had a caree -break to build and design the family home. Today she works part-time with Hong Kong interiors consultancy, The Home Stylist. “We thought that there might be some mileage in creating something handmade that was uniquely Hong Kong,” explains Vandeweghe. “The whole project began with me spray-painting a couple of Chinese letterboxes for the kids’ bedrooms. They turned out really well and we thought maybe we could sell them. It was June and we thought they might make nice leaving presents.” 34 expat-parent.com

Extremely nervously, the pair uploaded some images onto the local Facebook marketplace page – and within hours received orders for over 80 letterboxes. “Then we panicked because we didn’t have any more boxes,” says Lalos. So the pair rushed back to the shop in Sai Kung, “but he had to scramble too and ended up selling us a different model that wasn’t very good quality. So we ended up sourcing them from a hardware store on Shanghai Street.” This store has remained the ladies’ regular supplier. The pair then moved onto dim sum baskets, which they beautifully hand-paint and customise. These were also quickly snapped up online. As things seemed to be going well, the pair decided to formalise the business somewhat. “The name ‘MINT’ stands for ‘Made in New Territories’ and was a light bulb moment for me on the school run,” laughs Lalos. “It also happens to be Helen’s favourite colour for kitchen gadgets. “It’s a bit of a local joke – friends refer to anything green as ‘Helen-kitchen-green’.” By now it was the lead-up to Christmas and Vandeweghe was experimenting with bamboo and driftwood hanging Advent calendars. The stunning pieces have 24 hand-

MINT’s first collection of colourful Chinese letter boxes sold out within hours

Vandeweghe sourced her dining chairs from an old English church

sewn pouches to fill with a gift or chocolate for each day of Advent and - unsurprisingly - were also a hit. Hand-woven rope baskets personalised with an embroidered name were up next, which Lalos painstakingly hand-stitches. “Yes, I really do enjoy it!” she assures me. All items are made to order, mainly due to lack of storage. “It would be annoying if things got crushed or creased, too,” points out Vandeweghe. “It’s a bit of a juggle,” says Lalos. “But we love what we do and can’t wait to start building the brand again this autumn. Look out for us at the Christmas fairs!” facebook.com/MINTHongKong


expat-parent.com 35


schools

School daze Expat Parent’s education editor Amelia Sewell shares her own school memories, and offers advice to Hong Kong parents Where did you go to school? I am half-English and half-Australian but grew up entirely in the UK. So my first school was a tiny and completely charming little pre-prep called Hawthorne House in Norfolk. It had just three teachers, all of whom I believed at the time to be aged about 90, but I later discovered they were only in their 40s. I then went to a prep school called Beeston Hall between the ages of seven and 13. Beeston gave me six wonderful years of Enid Blytonstyle schooling: tree climbing, tuck shops, dormitories and hockey matches. At 13 I moved to Gordonstoun in Scotland, where I perfected the art of not getting caught.

Did you enjoy your school years? I truly loved school. I was lucky that my parents put a lot of time and effort into choosing schools that would really suit my brother and me, and I had a ball.

If you could change one thing about your school years, what would it be? Appreciate how long the school holidays are! Starting my first job was quite a shock when I realised that an eight-week summer holiday was not a courtesy extended to adults.

What comment do you remember from your school reports? The majority of them seemed to be along the lines of “We can’t fault her enthusiasm but it would be lovely if Amelia could give the others in the class the chance to contribute as well.” Another report noted a strong character resemblance between me and Margaret Thatcher, which I chose to believe was intended as a compliment.

What was the best thing you learnt at school? My school motto was “Plus Est En Vous”, which the French would be able to tell you means “More is in you.” I think about it often now and realise how applicable it is to almost everything.

What are the benefits of an international education in Hong Kong? An education in a city like Hong Kong gives 36 expat-parent.com

the opportunity to broaden a child’s cultural knowledge (and hopefully, compassion). In more closed communities with limited diversity, you might have one or two children in a class who speak a different language, follow a different religion or abide by different customs, but in Hong Kong that number is much higher. I think the benefit of that is that it dissolves some of the “them vs. us/majority vs. minority” idea and instead encourages children to realise from a very early age that the world is full of people who are different to them and that this should be embraced.

What features should parents look for in a good Hong Kong school? In Hong Kong particularly, I think it’s crucial to ask questions about the staff. Does the school have lots of transient teachers who only stay a year or two before relocating to a new country? Does the school make an effort to retain its staff? Are the teachers up to date on their specific curriculum? Wanderlust is a magical thing, but not if it’s to the detriment of the students that the teachers are being employed to educate.

How do Hong Kong schools cater to children with extra learning needs? Sadly, this area needs some work. Off the top of my head, I can name on just one hand the schools in Hong Kong that actively welcome children with SEN (Special Educational Needs). Many children with some level of SEN can easily be part of a mainstream class if they’re given a little additional support – my brother was one of them, and so was my husband. But too often in Hong Kong, schools seem to take the easy route and only offer places to children who do not require extra assistance, which just isn’t good enough. To borrow a well-used school-report phrase, “Must try harder.”

Why should parents attend school fairs? It’s an unavoidable fact that when parents are selecting a school, they need to gather lots of information and ask a plethora of questions so they can make an informed decision about which school might be right for their child.

An education in a city like Hong Kong encourages children to realise the world is full of different people

Attending a school fair [where many different schools have a booth] helps to shorten this process as it gives parents access to a large amount of information, all in one place. I recommend that parents arrive with a list of questions and take plenty of notes. Amelia Sewell will host the Hong Kong Living Annual Schools Fair on October 20 at The Annex, 173 Des Voeux Road Central, Central. Tickets are $60 at the door, or scan the QR code to register for a free ticket.

scatner tonow! regis


expat-parent.com 37


schools

AISHK students gather on the school’s green roof

I

n a recent interview with his primary school students, Mark Hemphill, the new head at the Australian International School Hong Kong, told his interrogating audience that from the moment he walked into AISHK, it felt like home. For anyone who has ever stepped foot on Australian soil, it is not difficult to understand why. From the bold green-and-gold uniform and the relaxed friendliness of both staff and pupils, to the sun-safe headgear resembling the Australian army’s famous slouch hat and the impromptu sports games taking place on every spare square of turf, there is something very Australian about this corner of Kowloon Tong. The school has been in its current location since 2001. Despite an unsuccessful bid for a Kowloon Bay site that Kellett school eventually won, Hemphill makes it clear that there is no ongoing search for an alternative campus.

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“Geographically we couldn’t be in a better spot. We’re perfectly placed to serve the vast majority of Hong Kong.” It is hard to argue with that: the school is just one minute’s walk from Kowloon Tong MTR and the traffic in the area is good enough that the authorities have not had to impose bus-only drop offs. As such, the student demographic is fairly evenly spread, with roughly one third travelling from Kowloon, one third from the New Territories and one third from Hong Kong Island. In a city where travel time plays a significant part in school selection, AISHK is certainly accessible for the vast majority of families. Despite the overall Australian feel of the school, it would also be wrong to assume that the school caters only to families from Down Under. While the majority of the students are Australians or New Zealanders, another 22 nationalities are represented at AISHK. Maybe

the families are seeking a Southern Hemisphere calendar, or maybe they’re seeking academic excellence – last year, AISHK had the highest IB average in HK, an admirable claim to fame that many parents might not be aware of. Indeed, the curriculum allows secondary students to select between the IB and the New South Wales exam system, the HSC. Currently the split is fairly evenly 50:50 on the number of students taking each option. For non-Australian parents who are not sure that the IB suits their child, Hemphill points out that the HSC should be seen as a real, global option for HK students, even those without an Australian background. “The HSC is highly transferable and is recognised around the world. By choosing it, a student is not limited purely to Australian universities.” One of last year’s scholars is a case in point: after studying for the HSC, he applied to universities in Canada and received three


schools offers. In fact, the recent list of university destinations shows that AISHK students have gone on to study in such diverse countries as the US, Switzerland, Denmark and Singapore, amongst many others. Another student from the class of 2017 received offers from HKU, Sydney and Cambridge. He eventually settled on Cambridge, where he is now reading Law. Of AISHK’s offering, Hemphill says: “We offer continuity and we offer choice; continuity for those who are seeking an Australian education outside the country and choice for those who would like options on secondary examinations and the opportunity to apply to universities globally.”

Last year AISHK had the highest IB average in Hong Kong

Perhaps some of the school’s academic success can be attributed to its class sizes, which in the secondary school can be as small as four students in a class, allowing the students to get a crucial level of teacher attention at an important time. Like any international school in Hong Kong, numbers are higher in the primary school and slightly lower in secondary as families gradually drift home or children head to boarding school. At AISHK, this

Having fun on the school field

only serves to benefit those who remain, giving an exceptional staff-to-student ratio. There are undoubtedly some fun and interesting perks to being the only Australian school in Hong Kong: the association of nationality means that the school regularly hosts visiting dignitaries and big sporting names. At the end of 2017, the school welcomed the current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. They also host the Australian rugby team during the Sevens tournament each year. So even if politics is not enough to get youngsters sprinting to school each morning, a sporting hero is pretty certain to do it. Speaking of sporting heroes, something would feel distinctly wrong if anything labelled Australian were not also irritatingly good at sport. So you can rest easy – AISHK is as

Principal Mark Hemphill with students

talented as it is victorious. Most schools, when asked to name their dominant sports, give a list of about three, but at AISHK, that figure is at least doubled. Netball, rugby, basketball, volleyball, swimming – the list goes on, as does the list of countries where the teams go on tour. The school has to have one of the most spectacularly placed swimming pools in Hong Kong. Sitting under a dome at the very top of the building, the pool has a huge arched window that gives views right over the city. This celebration of swimming, in such a prime spot on campus, tells us a lot about the school’s approach to sport in general: it is very much at the heart of school life on a day-to-day basis, not an afterthought, as can often be the case in Hong Kong schools. As my recent visit was drawing to a close, a wander around the school with Mark Hemphill gave a perfect snapshot into what it is to be a part of AISHK. It was the primary school’s lunch break and the first thing that stood out was that everyone was outside on the sports pitch; this is not a place where you sit still when there is running around to be done. At least a dozen makeshift ball games were going on, involving both boys and girls; one little chap was helping his friend who had hurt his hand. Hemphill addressed them both by name – not an easy feat in a school of over 1,000 and a principal who arrived only in January – before another group of six-year-olds rushed past, each looking up to say hello, earnestly informing Hemphill of something vital that they thought he might like to know and then rushing off again. As with anywhere in Australia, at AISHK there is a genuine feeling of warm informality for which the nation is famous, and which is precisely the kind of atmosphere in which children flourish. expat-parent.com 39


schools

Principal’s office Australian International School principal Mark Hemphill takes the hot seat

Early-years students enjoying time out with principal Mark Hemphill in the school’s Aboriginal garden

What was the last book you read? A History of Loneliness by John Boyne.

Where do you do when you are off duty? I love to hit the running trails on the island and to explore all of the different paths with their spectacular views.

Which are your favourite spots in Hong Kong? Lately I have been enjoying exploring all the different beaches in Hong Kong. I particularly enjoy Chung Hom Kok beach and Shek O beach.

What kind of student were you? I loved school and I like to think I was a very well-behaved student. I really enjoyed studying History and PE.

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Tell us a memorable moment from this school year

What corner of the HK education market does AISHK cover?

I have loved events that have involved the whole school having fun together. We’ve just had a Jump Jam for all students from Prep to Year 12, along with all staff. Led by the Year 10 students, the whole school participated in some dance moves to music, and everyone had so much fun. I love seeing staff and students laughing and enjoying themselves.

We are the only Australian school in Hong Kong and the only school in Hong Kong to operate on the Southern Hemisphere calendar. Although an international school with 22 different nationalities represented, we are uniquely Australian and international. We offer the best of both worlds.

What is in the pipeline for AISHK? What is AISHK’s greatest strength? We have an incredibly strong sense of community at AISHK. There is no doubt that we are an Australian community, and we see ourselves as a small piece of Australia in Hong Kong. As soon as you arrive, you feel that you belong to this great school.

We continually strive to be the very best school we can possibly be. Our academic results are outstanding, among the very best in Hong Kong and in Australia, but for us our emphasis is on balance. Continuing to improve the wellbeing of our students is at the core of all we do. If our students are happy and leading balanced lives, then they are more likely to achieve their potential in all areas.


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schools

School’s out Get stuck into Hong Kong’s best extra-curricular activities. By Gemma Shaw and Nicole Slater Academic Aegis Advisors Aegis Advisors has been helping Hong Kong kids with everything academic for more than 10 years. Services range from helping primaryschool pupils grasp the basics to assisting young adults make the grade to get into British or American universities. aegis-advisors.com

Alpha Academy Alpha Academy has been serving Hong Kong’s community with a team of dedicated, professional tutors since 2002, and has acquired a reputation for excellence in education. The team are experienced in teaching IB, I/GCSE, HKDSE, A-Levels, SSAT, SAT and ACT. alphaacademy.edu.hk

Ampla Education With an experienced team comprising Oxbridge, Yale and Imperial graduates, Ampla Education offers tuition for a vast range of exams, including GCSEs, A-Levels, IB and Pre-U, as well as bespoke programmes for tests such as IELTS and SATs. Admissions preparation courses are also available. ampla-edu.com

Annie Mandarin Center Founded by professional Mandarin teacher Miss Annie Liang, Annie Mandarin Center offers one-on-one classes with qualified Mandarin teachers. The tuition classes can also be tailored to complement school lessons and exam preparation. anniemandarin.com

Apply Ivy Since 2006, Apply Ivy has specialised in helping students gain a spot in prestigious American boarding schools, colleges and universities. The consultants have years of experience and have established strong relationships with admissions officers to ensure students are matched with the best school to suit their needs. applyivy.com

Blueinno Technology Limited Founded by Monica Leung, an engineer, teacher, mother and entrepreneur, Blueinno 42 expat-parent.com

Technology Limited is an education service that aims to promote invention and innovation. Their technology development programme uses state-of-the-art “STEAM and robotics” to inspire students to be creative in tomorrow’s innovation economy through the skillsets of electronics, coding, robotics, and design-thinking methodology. blueinnotechnology.com

Brandon Learning Centre

Elephant Community Press Publication is now an attainable dream for children, thanks to Elephant Community Press. In project-based workshops held throughout the year, children aged four and above are guided through every stage of writing. Completed works are published online or in print for parents, peers and the larger community to enjoy. elephantcommunitypress.com

Founded in 2006 by Dr. Jessica Ogilvy-Stuart, Brandon Learning Centre in Causeway Bay specialises in getting children ready to sit exams for British boarding and day schools. The centre also offers online learning support in various subjects, university preparation, public-speaking courses and a bespoke consultancy service for students applying to UK schools. One-on-one or very small group classes. brandoncentre.com

Campfire Campfire Campus’s co-learning space offers play-based creative classes to help children’s development at a young age. With its education partners, including Koding Kingdom and Avendale, Campfire empowers children to share their ideas and gain important knowledge and skills. campfire.work/co-learning

ESF Language The goal of the ESF Language & Learning Centre is to approach each child as an individual with their own talents and needs. Through play and inquiry-based learning, young children are


schools primary to adults. Students will learn in a fulling French speaking environment and will benefit from optimal interaction, personalised support and speaking incentives from qualified and experienced native French teachers. frenchlessons.hk

Pasona Education Founded in 1984, Pasona Education is a professional training institute in Causeway Bay that offers Japanese, English, Mandarin and Cantonese tuition to both children and adults. Classes are taught by trained native speakers and are open to all levels of learners for both general and business use. Students can enrol in private tuition courses as well as group classes. pasona.edu.hk able to grasp the foundations of developing a range of new skills. esflanguagecentre.org.hk

HK Education Tutoring Services (HKETS)

solid foundation of the French language before progressing to the next level. interactivefrench.hk

ITS Education Asia

Established in 2003, HKETS offer support in various subjects. One-on-one private tuition or small-group options are available, with hourly rates starting from $650 for individuals and $360 for groups. Many tutors hold post-graduate certifications in their specialist subjects. Lessons are held at the ETS Education Centre in Central, via Skype or at the student’s chosen venue. hkets.net

ITS Education Asia provides educational support for children and adults across a range of subjects as well as exam preparation services for SATs, iGCSEs, A-levels, IBs, HKDSEs and more. It also offers university admissions advice and an education consulting service that works with families and employers to find the right schools for children. Locations in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. itseducation.asia

HK Kidz

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions

Since 1985, the HK Kidz has been at the forefront of teaching foreign languages across Hong Kong. Whether your child wants to improve a second language or prepare for language examinations, the institute has a range of courses. They offer private tuition, semi-private tuition and small-group classes, with programmes running one or two classes per week. hkkidz.com

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions is an international provider of educational services, including a comprehensive range of programmes, from language tuition to exam and admissions preparation. Personal tuition classes can be booked in 10-hour packages, and additional hours can be purchased after that. kaplan.com.hk/ktpa

i-Learner Education Centre

Mulberry House offers fully immersive Mandarin teaching method for students from eight months to eight years old through their trademarked MandarinSmart curriculum. Mandarin is used as the sole language of instruction to develop thinking, writing, reading and speaking fluency. Trial classes $300; regular classes start at $380. Its campuses are in Central and Wong Chuk Hang. mulberryhouseasia.com

I-Learner Education Centre fosters a teaching environment where students are encouraged to become more confident in their own ability. Their core belief is that every child possesses innate curiosity and creativity, and at i-Learner this natural enthusiasm is transformed into a love for learning. Students from kindergarten to secondary level are welcome. Based in Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui. i-learner.edu.hk

Interactive French A learning center in Hong Kong that offers a range of private, semi-private and group French language tuition for students of all ages. Their unique and simple curriculum ensures that all students develop a

Mulberry House

Les Club Des Cinq Le Club des cinq is a French school for all ages from

PGEM For support outside the classroom, PGEM offers online tuition and academic support in a range of subjects, essay help and test preparation. It also covers many secondary-school qualifications, including IB and IGCSE. Lessons are conducted in one-on-one sessions using interactive video calling, live chat and whiteboard facilities. teachers-to-go.com

PowerBrain Rx Ltd Established in 2012, PowerBrain Rx is the only cognitive brain-training centre in Hong Kong. Courses are suitable for everyone from three-year-olds to seniors, as well as career professionals and individuals with attention challenges. The Core Programme is the most popular choice, while those with limited time can try the Intensive Brain Booster course. Four centres, including in Central and Aberdeen. powerbrainrx.com

Sai Kung Tutors (based at The Hive Sai Kung) Sai Kung Tutors teaches subjects on a one-toone basis, including maths, English and science for both primary and secondary students. The lessons can be taught at home, at the learning centre or at The Hive Sai Kung, a modern co-working space, to give your child the best environment for learning. saikungtutors.com

Southside Mandarin As well as offering straightforward Mandarin lessons, this learning centre has playgroups and immersion expat-parent.com 43


schools programmes for children aged six months to 12 years. All classes are taught by professionally qualified native speakers with experience in early-childhood and primary education. southsidemandarin.com

Sylvan Learning Center By using a diagnostic assessment, Sylvan Learning Center is able to establish a child’s strengths and weaknesses and design a tailormade programme. They offer tuition in a range of subjects, including Maths, Science, Mandarin and English, and school entrance exam preparation for children aged 5-18. sylvan.edu.hk

Tute.HK Tute.HK uses British undergraduates from top UK universities to lead online tutorials. Students can opt for group or one-on-one sessions in almost any discipline or area. All sessions are recorded, so students are able to re-play sessions and parents are able to track their children’s progress. The study areas covered also include the International UK Entrance Test, IGCSEs, A-levels and IB. learn.tute.com

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Tutor Partner Tutor Partner tailors lessons to students’ individual learning needs. IB and GCSE subjects from Year 1 to Year 13 are covered, and support is offered for MYP Projects and IB Extended Essays, UK Common Entrance

exams, SATs and A-Levels. Students can choose to have the lessons at the tutor’s home or at their own home. tutorpartners@aol.com


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schools unique focus on performance readiness and individual correction, allowing every student to shine with elegance. russianballetschool-hk.com

Twinkle Dance Twinkle Dance offers ballet, jazz and contemporary dance classes for children aged 18 months and above. The classes seek to engage kids by using fun visual themes that they can connect with. All the teachers have professional training and qualifications. Branches are located in Central, Causeway Bay and Wong Chuk Hang. twinkledance.com

Skydance Avenue

Creative

Visual & performing arts

Anastassia’s Art House

Faust

Learn to draw, paint and sculpt with the crème de la crème at Anastassia’s Art House, an award-winning Russian art academy with locations in Sai Kung, Repulse Bay, Happy Valley, Clearwater Bay, Pacific Palisades and HKUST. Qualified specialists are flown in from around the world, promoting globalised and multicultural artistic training. arthouse-hk.com

Established in 1999, Faust runs drama and creative writing workshops for children aged from three to 18 at various venues. It introduces children to the world of theatre and creativity through fun, lively sessions, developing performance skills, theatre knowledge, teamwork, individual expression and confidence. Faust also organises productions at Hong Kong theatres throughout the year. faustworld.com.hk

Complete Deelite Founded by Jacinta Yu, who is an experienced cake decorator and the international representative of the International Cake Exploration Society USA, Complete Deelite offers a range of hands-on workshops for people of all ages. From Creative Cake Jams to Master Artists’ Classes, their classes are perfect for the aspiring cake artist. completedeelite.com

YWCA Be your own master chef! The YWCA’s parent/ child cooking and baking class is not only a great chance for family bonding, it also teaches children the value of nutrition and the culinary arts, which is vital to their all-round development. As they explore different foods and preparation techniques, they will learn to be more independent and creative. clle.ywca.org.hk 46 expat-parent.com

Southern School of Dance Dance the day away at the Southern School of Dance! Children will love the ballet, tap, and modern dance lessons, and shine in their annual performances. Don’t feel left out, Mums – you can enroll in the ladies’ Ballet Fitness Classes to shape up into your healthiest and most elegant selves. southernschoolofdance.com.hk

STAGE RIGHT! Enriching young people’s knowledge about theatre since 2011, STAGE RIGHT! runs workshops that allow children of all ages to explore their acting and performance skills and also investigate real-world issues in a safe and controlled environment. stagerighthk.com

Mindful Wing Chun The masters at Mindful Wing Chun teach mindfulness, relaxation and balance as a way of life through practising the Wing Chun style of martial art in a safe manner. The school derives from the lineage of Master Chu Shong Tin, a pupil of Ip Man. Students of all abilities are supported on their journey of discovering self-awareness. mindfulwingchun.com.hk

Skydance Avenue offers a dynamic selection of dance programmes for different age groups, including Creative Movement for Toddlers, Hip Hop, Cheernastics (a fusion of cheerleading and gymnastic skills), Dancehall Teens and Jazz Funk. Class locations are dotted around Hong Kong, with one in Mid-levels. skydanceavenuehk.com

Red Shoe Dance Company Red Shoe Dance runs ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and hip hop classes. The school offers RAD ballet and ADAPT jazz examinations as well as performance opportunities, competitions and overseas training camps. Little ones can begin at three years old, and there are also pre-professional intensive training programmes for older students interested in a career in dance. redshoedance.com

Russian Ballet School The first ballet school in Hong Kong to follow the disciplined-yet-vibrant Vaganova system, the Russian Ballet School takes from the rich history of Russian ballet and teaches with a


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schools Sport Asia-Pacific Soccer School Asia-Pacific Soccer School runs football classes throughout Hong Kong, offering Kinder Kick programmes for the under-fours, and moving up to all-level training for kids aged five to 15+, as well as girls-only training sessions. There are also selective squad programmes for talented players, providing them with the opportunity to play in the HK Junior Football League and the HK Football Association Henderson League. apsoccer.hk

Discovery Bay Pirates Offering a range of sports, including rugby, netball and dragon boating, the Discovery Bay Pirates club gives residents of the area a local option for sport. dbpirates.com

ESF Sharks

fitness and physical literacy. With easy-toaccess entry levels and a safe, encouraging environment, GymDanny’s classes are fun and enjoyable for children at all ability levels. gymdanny.org

Harry Wright International Swim School Thee Harry Wright International Swim School offers lessons for all stages of swimming ability, from infant swim classes to competitive swim training. harrywright.com.hk

Hebe Haven Yacht Club The Hebe Haven Yacht Club has been providing boating and yachting facilities in the picturesque bay of Pak Sha Wan in Sai Kung since 1963. As well as having an extensive school sailing programme, it also offers courses for children through its “Development Fund for Youth Sailing” programme at the Sail Training Center. hhyc.org.hk

ESF Sports is a specialised youth sports coaching organisation with experienced and qualified coaches. Its swimming lessons are fun, exciting and safe, building up children to become confident and agile swimmers with key aquatic skills. There are courses for people at all age and experience levels, and even a water polo course for your sporty little ones. esf.org.hk/sports/our-sports/swimming/ overview.html

HK Rugby Union Most clubs run minis training sessions on Sunday mornings and go head-tohead against other teams in their age group at monthly tournaments. The season runs from late August to the beginning of April, typically culminating with the HK Rugby Sevens, at which these budding rugby stars play showcase games at the HK Stadium and take part in a March Past lap of honour. Local clubs include Sai Kung Stingrays and HKU Sandy Bay. hkrugby.com

Valley Fort Rugby Football Club Valley Fort Rugby Football Club has a range of teams for budding rugby players as well as a senior squad for professional games. valleyfort.com/

Sai Kung Stingrays Founded in 2006, Sai Kung Stingrays is a friendly, family-oriented rugby club offering teams for boys and girls aged 4-19. saikungstingrays.com

USRC Tigers

ESF Sport The role of sport in the development of young children cannot be underestimated. ESF Sport offers a range of fun and challenging programmes, including football and gymnastics, designed to foster a love of sport that will last a lifetime. esf.org.hk/sports

Rugby clubs to try

Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association The Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association, founded over 50 years ago, is the only local organisation that covers all swimming, diving, water polo, synchronised swimming, open-water swimming and masters competitions and activities. The association’s dedicated coaches and countless awardwinning alumni are proof of the high quality of its work. hkasa.org.hk

Formed in 1988, USRC Tigers is one of Hong Kong’s top rugby teams, offering training for players of all ages, including Mini Rugby and premiership teams for both boys and girls. Training days are Sunday and Thursday for most teams. usrctigers.com

Hong Kong Cricket Club Although well known for its cricket team, the HKCC also has many other sports teams, including a netball team and a golf team. hkcc.org

Gym Danny GymDanny teaches gymnastic, fine-motor, and balancing skills to all children starting from just one year old. They aim to teach basic gymnastic skills and improve children’s 48 expat-parent.com

Hong Kong Football Club The HKFC prides itself on offering a huge variety of sporting activities and events – the internationally famous Hong Kong International Rugby Sevens tournament began its life at the club. hkfc.com.hk/sports

Hong Kong Island Stingrays Swim Club Hong Kong Island Stingrays Swim Club embraces all levels of swimmers. It aims to provide every swimmer with the best possible training environment and resources, allowing them to fulfill their potential as both an athlete and a person. The club is consistently ranked as one of the region’s top competitive swim teams. teamunify.com


schools Kowloon Cricket Club It’s not just about cricket! Offering a unique range of sports, including lawn bowls and badminton, the KCC has something for everyone. kcc.org.hk/sports

Minisport HK Minisport HK is an enthusiastic group of sports educators who teach multiple sports to children aged 1.5 to nine through schools, clubs and private residences around Hong Kong. Minisport coaches over 400 children per week and offers holiday sport camps and children’s parties. sportsclassesforkidshk.com

Outward Bound The premier provider of experience-based outdoor learning and leadership programs, Outward Bound organises a variety of challenging and exciting outdoor camps for children and youth, where they’ll learn to be more independent and resilient, and become confident in their own boundless potential. outwardbound.org.hk

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Middle Island The RHKYC at Middle Island provides sail training for people of all ages. After the summer break they offer beginners’ training on the weekends and practice sessions for advanced trainers. sailtrain@rhkyc.org.hk

Scout Association Of Hong Kong Hong Kong’s leading voluntary organisation for young people, the Scout Association of Hong Kong provides training programmes that challenge their participants both physically and mentally. Scout training allows children and teens to serve their community, develop a sense of responsibility to society and realise their full potential. scout.org.hk

Stanley Ho Sports Centre The Hong Kong University’s Stanley Ho Sports Centre has a wide range of sports facilities and activities for kids at all skill levels. cse.hku.hk

Treasure Island Get your kids out and about! Treasure Island offers children a transformative and rewarding outdoor experience through a series of adventure, community and environmental

programmes. With various safe but exciting surf and adventure camps, your children can explore their passion for life and the great outdoors. treasureislandhk.com

expat-parent.com 49


HEALTH & wellness

Hindes in Hong Kong This month our health and wellness editor takes a break

D

espite Hong Kong’s glossy bubble of prosperity, not all of us can afford five-star luxury travel every school holiday. When you’re forking out for a family, it’s easy to blow the budget. So this year our family decided it was time to head down to one of the best and most affordable family resorts in the Philippines – Sunset Bay. It also happens to be part of our family history, as my husband’s father Pete Hindes (otherwise known as “Spider”) was instrumental in making the resort what it has become today. We hadn’t been back as a family since his passing in 2010 and this trip became an opportunity for the kids to connect with the spirit of their Grandad Spider. Spider used to be head of art at ESF King George V School and impacted many students, teachers and parents. We still get regular messages from those who were moved by him. I remember when I first started to date my husband and visited Spider in school, he still had the rope artwork that my older sister had created hanging on the walls across his studio. His passion and artistic flair are reflected in what he brought to his “little piece of paradise” indeed Sunset Bay has continued to be exactly that, a slice of paradise going from strength to strength under the care of the staff and owners. Dotted around the resort are his art pieces - as well as some that have been recreated to look like his - and a collection of those he loved from the local area. You can sense a little bit of who he was whilst relaxing in the resort, which meant my husband and I could get the kids up close and personal with the spirit of their Grandad Spider. Sunset Bay overlooks the South China Sea on a coral reef and is perfect for snorkeling and boat rides. The resort strongly suggests booking through their system as they will make sure you have a governmentregulated boat for your safety. The reef extends about 50m from the beach and is gorgeous for all experience levels. The pool was built by Grandad Spider so it was quite special to have our kids enjoy their daily splashes there. It has a waterfall and faces west to make the most of the sunset. We loved the pool, but if he were there, Grandad Spider would tell you there is a much bigger and better pool just off the beach! 50 expat-parent.com

Ifat Hindes enjoying time out in the Philippines with her family

For adults, there’s a casino and also a golf course just a few minutes’ drive away. The resort is also situated near popular surfing destination San Juan and the town of Baguio - referred to locally as the “Summer Capital” because of its cooler climate - is an hour’s drive away. This was a fun family day out; Baguio is 1,540m above sea level and there are some interesting stop-offs at wooden craft shops along the way. Nearby Luna Beach is one of the most amazing sites I have ever visited and is a fascinating geological treasure. The beach is made up entirely of pebbles, with groups of people sorting them into sizes to be shipped off around the world. The kids had a great time here. During our stay, the staff at the resort asked if they could use my knowledge to

Hanging

out wit h Dad!

help craft some “healthier” menu options for guests. I ended up in the kitchen for a couple of hours daily, training the lovely chef Daniel to create veggie burgers and vegan soups and desserts, and teaching the bar staff how to brew their own cold-brew coffee. We also hosted healthy cooking classes for the kids at the resort.

Pass notes • Best times to visit are from October to April. We arrived towards the end of rainy season which suited our young family temperatures averaged a comfortable 26 degrees each day. • Pack light - you won’t need anything more complicated than flip flops, shorts and a


HEALTH & wellness Cold-brew drink • One cup crushed ice • Filtered water • Cold-brew concentrate • Non-dairy milk of choice

Healthy lunches

Here comes trouble...

sundress. We also brought board games and beach toys for the kids. • We flew Cebu Pacific Hong Kong to Clark - just over an hour - and the resort is a twoand-a-half hour drive from Clark airport. It’s cheaper if you book flights in person at the TST offices rather than online - we paid just under $900/person, which meant we could afford to take our helper, too. Rooms at the resort are basic but comfortable and include cable TV, air conditioning, ensuite, WiFi and a mini fridge, and cost from $330/night. sunsetbayphilippines.com

The beach is cal ing

Smoothie time

Ifat’s Sunset Bay cold-brew coffee This is a healthier way to drink coffee - it’s smooth, so easy to do, filled with antioxidants and much less acidic and bitter than normal coffee. Cold brew concentrate • One cup concentrate coffee beans • Four cups filtered water Combine the coffee and the water in a container for 12-24 hours. Strain the liquid - I do this with cheesecloth but coffee filters also work; you must filter a couple of times and it is a slow process.

Place the crushed ice in a large glass (we normally use a pint glass). Pour the desired amount of cold-brew concentrate over the ice. Add filtered water according to the strength you prefer. I then used hazelnut milk to top it off. For an extra health punch, I add one drop of peppermint essential oil (I use doTERRA but there are many food-grade alternatives available). Peppermint oil gives the drink a refreshing kick and is also believed to help with sensitive stomachs. Ifat Kafry Hindes is a Hong Kong mum and awardwinning wellness entrepreneur. Follow her adventures @ifathindes

expat-parent.com 51


HEALTH & wellness

Gene-ius workouts Can DNA testing really improve our health? asks Jennifer S Deayton

How well do you know your body?” is not the most common cocktail-party question on the circuit. A tad invasive perhaps, a little too close for comfort, a come-on that feels... off. But in a way, we answer this very question almost every day. We know, for example, if we’re morning glories or night owls. Lightweights or kegtapping heavyweights. We can tell people, should they ask, if we prefer short bursts to long distances. Carbs to protein. If a Saturday run-around still hurts on a Tuesday. And if a glass of cow’s milk is the stuff of our digestive nightmares. We’ve come to recognise these physiological nuances over time, with lots of practice and trial-and-error, and though we might not get everything correct and we often ignore the obvious (sugar crash, anyone?), it’s not a stretch to say most of us have a fairly good idea of where we stand, or sit or jog. 52 expat-parent.com

Just how effective is your regular workout really?

While personalised data may be the short-cut to knowledge, it is not a short-cut to results

However, in the age of big data, our self-knowledge can now be supplemented with hard biological info. The overall concept has been called “everyday genetics”. Direct-to-consumer DNA testing goes beyond ancestry or paternity to help you refine aspects of your life, from skin care to

nutrition and fitness to even stress responses and social and learning skills. One of the leaders in the brave new world of bespoke health and wellness is Absolute Wellness, a UK-based company that’s been operating in Asia for about two years. With one swab and a fairly reasonable fee, Absolute Wellness offers results to “maximize the future of your health”. Alex Poole, the company’s director of education, says that their testing reports on 45 genes directly related to fitness and nutrition. The personal fitness data reveals whether you’re a power or endurance responder, how well you recover from workouts, and if you’re prone to injury. On the nutrition side, the test gauges such things as food sensitivities – carbs, lactose, caffeine, alcohol, salt – and identifies vitamin and mineral needs. The emphasis, Poole explains, is on


HEALTH & wellness “controllable risk factors”. The company has created its own code of ethics and does not test for genetic markers, cancer-related for example, that are beyond an individual’s influence. It also limits testing to those 18 years of age and older. “The most important thing to stress is that DNA testing is not a talent-identification tool,” Poole explains. “So, we cannot test your genes and say, ‘Oh, you’d be a great 10,000-metre Olympic runner, we should train you for that. There are too many other things that go in to being an elite athlete than just the genes that we test.” By some estimates, a person’s overall health comes down to a roughly 30-70 mix of genetics and lifestyle. While genetic testing can reveal myriad useful details, the results still have to be put in to practice. For those already committed to healthy routines – the weekend marathoner or professional athlete – Absolute Wellness is an effective tool in their gym bag. Jonathan is a former stockbroker and semi-professional rugby player who now works in the health and wellness industry in Hong Kong. He explained that he already had clear fitness and nutrition goals before he took the Absolute Wellness test several months ago. The results, presented in a thorough and colourful infographic, helped him tweak his workouts and diet. He learned that he was in the normal range for most food sensitivities, but needed to supplement his meals with extra Omega-3 and antioxidants. He fine-tuned his gym sets too, and the results were definitive: increased muscle mass and a reduction in weight that brought Jonathan close to his professional playing days. “It’s not a test of how fit you are,” he says, “but a look at what’s ‘set’ in your body. Not where you are, but where you could be.”

Fitness profiling can direct you towards a more appropriate diet type

Like Jonathan, husband and wife Kristian and Sabine are both serious weekend athletes. They’re also both engineers and decided together to take the genetic test even though, after many years of sport and outdoor activities, they felt fairly knowledgeable about what their bodies were predisposed to. The DNA results, however, were far more illuminating - and motivating - than they expected. Kristian’s test showed a significant endurance response and ability to recover. He was inspired to train for the King of the Hills series, where in the first race, he placed second in his age group. Kristian explained that, in addition to fitness profiling, the genetic test results direct you towards a diet type, such as low carb, low fat or Mediterranean. “I decided to wholeheartedly embrace my recommended diet – Mediterranean – and the fitness plan to see what would happen. I was rigid but

not extreme and ended up losing seven kilos over a period of about three months. I felt better than I had for many, many years. It was fascinating to see the results.” However, Kristian cautions that although the genome results and personal infographic encourage you to tailor your nutrition and training, Absolute Wellness’s overall profiles and recommendations are based on a database of people who’ve also gone through the test. In engineering terms, Kristian explained, it’s a “curve-fitting exercise” and is reliant on the sample size of the company’s original study, which matches type of performance (explosive power and aerobic fitness) to the specific genotypes of athletes selected for the study group. Thus, while DNA testing can identify what you’re predisposed to, it can’t say exactly: this is the person you are. As a personal trainer and former professional rugby player, Poole has made a career from sport and fitness. He’s well acquainted with regular goal-setting and performance reviews, always looking for the most effective pathway to better results. His goal for Absolute Wellness, he says, “is to maximise a person’s return on time invested.” To take some of the speculation – “guess and hope” in Poole’s words – out of exercising and eating well. The world of consumer DNA testing offers us the means to make informed decisions – to know our bodies better. Unfortunately for us amateurs, while personalised data might be a short-cut to knowledge, it’s not a short-cut to results. The outcome is up to you.

DNA testing is not a measure of how fit you are

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travel

Travel news

CLEAN LIVING Dominica in the East Caribbean is aiming to become the world’s first “climate-resilient nation”, with an islandwide ban on all plastic and styrofoam single-use food containers by January 2019. Nicknamed the “Nature Island”, Dominica is hoping to preserve its natural assets and thus protect its valuable tourism industry. Its warm waters are one of the world’s most populous habitats for migrating sperm whales. dominica.dm

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travel

Hot nights on the harbourfront Hong Kong’s latest hotel, Hotel Vic, is now open for business in the city’s North Point district. With absolute waterfront views over Victoria Harbour and Kowloon Bay, Cruise bar and restaurant looks set to be a popular hot spot for sundowners. Further facilities include a pool and gym (guests only) and the family-friendly

Farmhouse restaurant which is now serving up casual weekend brunches. The first phase of the hotel’s launch will complete in November, when the adjacent hotel shopping mall opens offering yet more harbourfront food and beverage venues. Phase two will see the completion of the mall at the end of 2019. hotelvic.com

Nature class The Alila Anji hotel resort in Eastern China is offering art and craft workshops for kids until the end of this month. The hotel’s artist-in-residence, Arlyna, is a designer, artist, crafter and mum and has put together a number of workshops suitable for children aged three to five years accompanied by an adult, as well as classes for six-to-ten-year-olds and teens and adults. The hotel sits amongst 60,000 hectares of bamboo groves and tea plantations on a hillside overlooking a lake, and as such the classes have been inspired by nature. Activities include sunprints, leaf printing and collage, as well as the more urbaninspired sidewalk painting. There are also watercolour painting and mixed-media collage classes and inspiration for crafting art journals. 56 expat-parent.com

The hotel overlooks a lake, providing artistic inspiration

A travel journal workshop will demonstrate how personal photography taken around the resort can be incorporated into a handmade holiday journal. The artist-in-residence workshops run on selected weekends until September 23. Guests can join any of these “à la carte”

workshops at CNY198 per class per adult or per child, or take advantage of a creative getaway package that includes a two-night stay for two adults and up to two children under 12 years old plus a workshop, priced from CNY3,920, alilahotels.com


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travel

Hanoi high Kate Farr and family discover the Vietnamese capital’s historical side

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ramped, dimly lit and with a pervasive smell of damp that lingers in the nostrils long after you exited. Huddled alongside ten other guests in the secret wartime bunker that lies beneath the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, I can’t help but be struck by the stark contrast between our present location and hotel’s extremely convivial Bamboo Bar, right above our heads. In fact, the entire hotel exudes splendid colonial charm, low-key luxury and plenty of thoughtful touches – like the “Path of History” tour that we are experiencing. Led by a local historian, the daily 50-minute tour explores the hotel’s significance 58 expat-parent.com

as a place of shelter, a journalistic hub and even as a temporary home to a number of countries’ embassies throughout the Vietnam War (known locally as the “American War”), and is suitable for visitors of all ages. Also a hit with the younger crowd is the hotel’s pool, which sits within a lush tropical courtyard garden that brings welcome shade during the hottest times of the day. The mercury regularly nudges 38 degrees during the course of our visit, and so a cool dip, followed by a cheeky ice cream or two, are just about the only things that really hit the spot. The hotel was opened in 1901, and it has since been extended, although the newer

wing’s design blends seamlessly with the original building, creating a serene oasis of old colonial charm that is surprisingly familyfriendly. Named for its proximity to the neighbouring Hanoi Opera House, our room is situated in the newer Opera Wing, which seems popular with families, and is decorated in a slightly more contemporary style when compared to rooms in the historic Metropole Wing. As we are visiting during Vietnam’s fierce summer months, we decide to steer well clear of the “mad dogs and Englishmen” cliché, and instead avoid the majority of the mid-day sun with regular afternoon naps. At 520 spare feet,


travel a decadent chocolate fountain – the dream of sweet-toothed visitors of all ages. The hotel’s location in the heart of Hanoi’s historic French Quarter, and on the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake, makes it the perfect spot to enjoy a late afternoon stroll. Recently, the city council began closing off many of the area’s busiest roads at weekends, transforming large swathes of the hotel’s surrounding streets into wide pedestrian promenades in which families gather to walk, run, scoot, cycle and even drive small motorised ride-on cars that are available to rent at low cost on every corner. There’s also a night market, offering arts and crafts activities and selling books, comics, small toys and snacks – so ensure the pocket money is topped up before hitting the streets! After the extravagant high of the chocolate afternoon tea, it was nice to grab something more down-to-earth for dinner, and Hanoi has no shortage of kid-friendly street eats. Banh mi is a classic sandwich that combines the best of Vietnamese and French ingredients in one delicious snack – a freshly-baked baguette is filled with grilled meat, shredded carrot, cucumber, daikon and cucumber. Another dish that’s easy to find all over the city is pho, a clear noodle soup made with beef or chicken, herbs and rice noodles. A lighter dinner meant everyone was hungry for the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi’s legendary breakfast buffet the following morning (available at both Le Beaulieu and Spices Garden restaurants). We feasted on a full English, slurped on noodle soups, munched on the freshest fruit and stacked pancakes to our hearts’ content. We were going to follow this up by hitting the streets – but hey, the loungers were beckoning, so we opted for another day of easy-going colonial charm. sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi.com

Hanoi’s bustling city centre

our Grand Premium Room is just the right size for those travelling as a family, with a cloudsoft king bed for parents to stretch out on, a walk-in wardrobe space, and plenty of room to spare for an extra rollaway, too. All rooms feature high-speed WiFi, as well as luxury toiletries by either Lanvin or Hermes. Speaking of which, another big hit for us is the huge open-plan bathroom, with walk-in rain shower and a deep French tub that is perfect for wallowing with a glass of wine and a book (or more realistically, splashing your brother with a toy submarine and a duck). And for families who prefer a little more space to spread out in, the Magnifique Family offer includes 50% off

a second room, late checkout, complimentary breakfast for kids and a “Le Petit Prince”themed welcome gift. After enforcing a long and lazy nap all round, what could be a quicker route to parental gold stars than an indulgent afternoon tea? Straight from the pages of a novel by Graham Greene (another former resident of the Metropole), Le Club is the hotel’s airy lounge bar, standing on the site of the former Metropole Hall, which screened the first-ever film shown in Indo-China, way back in 1916. Now a central meeting place for guests, Le Club’s daily Chocolate Library afternoon tea buffet is a riot of eclairs, pastries, pralines and

The elegant Sofitel Metropole Hanoi

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travel

Hanoi with kids Hanoi’s stunning Ngoc Son Temple

Thang Long Water Puppets

Hoa Lo Prison

A traditional attraction that kids will adore, this captivating show operates year-round, featuring charming handcrafted puppets that interact, sing, dance and weave their way through traditional Vietnamese folk tales in the most engaging way. VND100,000 per adult and VND60,000 per child. 57B Dinh Tien Street, Hoan District, Hanoi. thanglongwaterpuppet.org

A fascinating look into Hanoi’s dark past, Hoa Lo Prison was founded by the French to house political prisoners. Used in the Vietnam War to house American POWs, it was known as “The Hanoi Hilton”. Notable former inmates include US senator John McCain. An insightful museum now occupies the gatehouse of the prison site and is well worth a visit. VND30,000 per adult and VND15,000 per child. 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. hoalo.vn

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology A little way out of the city centre, this museum - one of Hanoi’s best – offers a fascinating introduction to Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups, with plenty of colourful, elaborate, hands-on exhibits that smaller visitors will enjoy exploring. VND40,000 per person, undersixes free of charge. vme.org.vn

Hanoi Cyclo Tours See Hanoi from its best vantage point: the seat of a cyclo. This bike 60 expat-parent.com

Hoa Lo Prison

taxi is a Hanoi fixture and it’s easy to pick one up around Hoan Kiem Lake for a quick ride around the area. For a more in-depth experience, opt for a guided cyclo tour of the French Quarter, a street-food tasting or an unforgettable ride to the water puppet show. Costs vary according to tour. hanoicyclotours.com

Ngoc Son Temple Right in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake is this small and charming temple, accessible from the footpath by a striking red wooden bridge. Built in the classical Vietnamese style, the temple offers a peaceful respite from the bustling streets outside, and is the perfect vantage point to catch sight of the lake’s now-endangered turtle population. VND30,000 per person, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.


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flailing spouse

Party pooper “Don’t do this at home” is the advice from our exhausted mum

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ore birthday-party angst this month. I was all ready to bundle the Tween Child off to Ryze for a couple of hours with a preordered cake, but it seems the birthday girl has other ideas. “What I’d really like,” she muses over breakfast, “Is one of those parties at home where the mum makes all the food and we play those party games like when I was little.” Her wish-list includes pass-the-parcel, musical chairs, musical bumps and a homemade tea and birthday cake. Which on the face of it sounds lovely, but in reality is a LOT of mum-hours. Not to mention 15 or so tweens screaming their way around the house on a Saturday afternoon. “Really?” I ask. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like an afternoon at the super-park? Or Laser Quest at the club?” “Are you mad?” interjects my husband. “She’s saving us a fortune! Sure, let’s have it at home, what a marvellous idea!” The Tween Child beams. I groan inwardly. Children’s parties, I’ve learnt from years of experience, always cost a fortune whatever you do – so you’re better off just chucking some cash at a nice play-place or a lovely entertainer from the get-go and outsourcing the whole shebang. “We’ll all be on board to help,” reassures my husband. The next day, just as I’m writing a humongous party “to-do” list, he calls me from work. “You know that contract I’ve been working on?” I actually have no idea what he’s talking about, but I manage to murmur something supportive yet noncommittal. “It’s come through! Anyway, it means I’m going to have to pop down to Vietnam to tee it all up with the client.” Which 99% of the time would be marvellous – there’s nothing nicer than a husband-free house for a few nights so that once the kids are in bed I can laze around watching Love Island in my pyjamas eating packets of crisps. But not this time. The dates, of course, fall right over the party day. “Oh my god!” I whimper. “I can’t do this alone!” 64 expat-parent.com

Our columnist is a longsuffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third-culture children. She lives in Hong Kong. “Don’t be ridiculous,” comes the impatient response. “Just chuck them in the pool and throw some Cheezels in a bowl. What could be simpler?” And he rings off. Of course the day is nowhere near as straightforward as that. Several supermarket trips later and I have assembled enough food and drink to sustain a small army and all the games are ready and in place. I’ve also spent my entire Friday evening creating a “hedgehog” birthday cake, which I’m actually quite proud of. I’m just Instagramming the life out of it when the doorbell rings. And within minutes an entire class of Tweens has stampeded through my house and out to the pool. My helper is left cowering in their wake, so I assign her to Operation Party Tea from the safety of the kitchen. Meanwhile, I plunge outside to find 20odd kids noisily hurling themselves around in our really quite small pool. My cautious

warnings not to hang off the precarious back fence or try to dive in from the top of nextdoor’s seven-foot partition wall go unheard and unheeded. “Mum! Mum!” cries the Tween Child. “Mimi’s bought me a killer-whale inflatable! Please blow it up!” “Yes, please blow it up!” wheedles the rest of the class. Oh good god, they have to be kidding, this thing is practically life-size. But gamely I start blowing, until I think I’m going to pass out or require a lung transplant. Finally it’s done and I turn to hand it to the Tween Child - just as the entire pool empties and they all charge back into the lounge room. “Food!” somebody screams, and then all hell breaks loose as pizza, chicken nuggets, mini-sausages, iced cupcakes and copious amounts of crisps are crammed into mouths. There’s ketchup on the couch, ice cream on the rug but most disconcertingly of all, they seem to think my lovingly-created hedgehog cake is a porcupine. “It’s not a porcupine!” I mumble. “Oh yeah, sorry, it’s an echidna!” yells killer-whale-Mimi. Inside, my soul dies just a little bit. My house is a wreck, my helper has locked herself in the bathroom and we have yet to play the party games. Several exhausting hours later and I finally collapse into bed, wondering whether my reward really will be in heaven. But it transpires that my reward is actually on social media. The next day, several parents have uploaded photos of their sticky children clutching gooey party bags and labelled them “Amazing party” and “Wow, what a fantastic mum going to all this trouble!” Anyway, there are enough “hero mum” type comments to convince my husband I am worth surprising with a night at the Island Shangri-La on his return to say well done. But despite this rather unexpected yet lovely outcome, common sense prevails. “About my party,” begins the Boy Child over breakfast on Monday morning. “Oh!” I rejoinder brightly. “Don’t waste a second thought on it, darling! Ryze is already booked and paid for!”


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