Expat Parent March 2020

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the really useful magazine expat-parent.com

March 2020

Beat the boredom blues

Private tutor guide

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Editor’s letter

Hello from the hot desk. Plus three things we love


4 Contributors

Meet this month’s team

ISSUE 070 42

Big day out

15 things to do with your kids when schools are closed


Book club


What’s on

Dates for your diary this March. Plus our Mum About Town


Interview with author Maggie Lee. Plus March reads and podcasts

Rugrat ramblings Diary of an expat baby

12 News

Your monthly local news roundup


Things to know

Lessons from expats who have lived through SARS


Must haves

Outdoor furniture for lounging about


Cover story

Meet Hong Kong’s supermoms

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26 Dining

Chinese herbal tea remedies. Plus dining news


Hong Kong Baby

We compare private maternity packages in Hong Kong


32 Education

Home tutors that come to you. Plus pros and cons of online learning


School visit

Charmaine Ng visits Shrewsbury International School. Plus principal’s office





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ot all superheroes wear capes. Some, you’ll find changing dirty diapers at 2am or trying to write this month’s Editors Letter whilst their six month old enjoys nap time. As a mum myself, I jumped at the opportunity to be guest editor of this month’s Expat Parent magazine because I know first hand how tough it can... Sorry about that, my little one (LO) squawked at me for tapping on the keyboard too loudly. Where were we? Ahh, our super moms. Read about how they do it all on page 18... My apologies. LO decided he was over napping and instead needed me to sing him every Disney song ever written. What was I saying? That’s right, step away from the added pressure of extended holidays and endless sanitising and take five with a cuppa to enjoy this month’s issue. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must begin my afternoon duty as Cuddle Monster. Until next time, Becky.

3 things we love this month...

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

RItuals Green Cardamom Scented Candle

Like many others, we have switched to a combination of working from home and going into the office for meetings in the past few weeks. This gave us the perfect excuse to upgrade our home office set-up with Rituals’ trusty fragrance collection. rituals.com

Lung Ha Wan Country Trail

We took advantage of the extra time off from school to take our kids out to explore Hong Kong’s beautiful backyard. Our favourite trail this month has been Lung Ha Wan (Lobster Bay) in Clearwater Bay. Just look at those views!

about the cover Our cover stars this month are Kajal Naina, Noeleen Armstrong Kish, Dr Alane Kosanovich Cahalane, Yvonne Ang, Michelle Chen, Dr Sonal Hattangdi-Haridas, Tracy Fitzpatrick and Selina Kong (from top left to bottom right). Read about these Hong Kong supermums in our cover story on page 18. The cover is shot by renowned Graham Uden at Whitty Street Tram Depot for Hong Kong Living. 2 expat-parent.com

Contributing Editor Nicole Slater

Editorial Assistant Charmaine Ng

Digital Editor Apple Lee

Design vicky@hongkongliving.com Graphic Designer Vicky Lam

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

Head of Digital Content Isamonia Chui

Partnership Manager Joey Ho

Partnership Manager Elaine Li

Operations edwina@hongkongliving.com


Our favourite casual Thai eatery has opened up a second and bigger location just down the road from our office. Now in their soft launch phase, the restaurant runs from Tuesday to Sunday, 6.30-11pm. Offering delicious Khao Soi and freshly made rotis, this is set to become one of our go-to lunch spots when they are fully opened. facebook.com/samsenhk

Managing Editor Gemma Shaw

Management Trainee Edwina Chan

Publisher 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




the really useful magazine expat-parent.com

March 2020


Beat the boredom

Private tutor

guide Expat Parent is published by Hong blues 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.

Credit: Graham Uden

editor’s message

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Graham Uden

Apple Lee

Marina Watt

British-born photographer Graham Uden shot our cover this month. His incredible portfolio of work has involved being held up by AK-47 toting ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers in Cambodia and squatting metres from Taliban trenches in Afghanistan. Graham currently specialises in corporate and commercial photography as well as reportage in the Asia region. grahamuden.com

Apple Lee is a writer and creator based in Hong Kong. She is the Digital Editor of Hong Kong Living, where she oversees all online content, tinkers with social media and nerds out on web analytics. In her spare time, she likes to practice yoga, go cafĂŠ hopping and create new Spotify playlists.

This month’s Mum About Town is Marina Watt, she has more than a decade of experience in communications. She is currently studying for a doctorate in education and enjoys writing about parenting and education for various publications in Hong Kong.

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

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what’s on

Diary dates

MAR 2-6 & 9-13

Treasure Island Community Adventure Camps Cabin fever? Treasure Island is hosting adventure camps during the school closure period. From $150 per session. treasureislandhk.com

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what’s on



MAR 14

Take the opportunity to enjoy Hong Kong’s great outdoors

Get outside and explore Tai Lam with a range of hiking and trail running courses from 5km to 19km. 8.30am-1.30pm. $300. Tai Tong Shan, Tai Lam. actionasiaevents.com

Head to this colourful festival for Bollywood tunes, dancing and delicious Indian food. 1-6pm. Adults $250, children $150. Whitehead Barbecue, 1950 Whitehead, Ma On Shan. info@dreamsasiaevents.com

World Wildlife Day


Hong Kong Restaurant Week Step outside your foodie comfort zone and enjoy discounts and special menus at Hong Kong’s most popular restaurants and bars. restaurantweek.diningcity.hk


International Women’s Day

Healthy Hike & Run

Holi Fest 2020

MAR 13 - APR 22

Inherit the Dust exhibition by Nick Brandt Wildlife photographer Nick Brandt highlights the dangers caused by the wildlife trade. Free. Blue Lotus Gallery, 28 Pound Lane, Tai Ping Shan, Central. bluelotus-gallery.com

Credit: Charles Lam via Flickr

We can do it! Celebrating women since 1975. #IWD2020 #EachforEqual

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tell me more MAR 14-15

Power Boat Course Promotion Fancy being captain of your own ship? Members and non-members can enjoy discounts on powerboat courses including the two-day powerboat level 2 and safety boat course and one-day jet ski course. Prices vary. Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung. hhyc.org.hk

mum about town

Mental getaway on International Women’s Day

MAR 20

International Day of Happiness

Turn that frown upside down! Spend the day doing what you love, with the ones you love. Bonus - it’s a Friday!

Like many Hong Kongers, I had an intense month trying to keep my loved ones safe from the coronavirus outbreak. With International Women’s Day right around the corner, what better way to celebrate the special occasion than with some muchdeserved me time? Get ready to spend your day immersed in meditations, gong baths, crystal healing and other wellness programmes at Fivelements Habitat. International Women’s Day at Fivelements Habitat: March 8, 7am-8.30pm. $688. Level 13A, Tower One, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay. fiveelements.com

MAR 22

British Mothering Sunday Don’t forget to send a card if your Mum’s over in Blighty!

MAR 26

Affordable Tattoo Art Fair + Exhibition

Feed your nostalgia

WWF Earth Hour 2020

The full collection of renowned Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) Hong Kong Series is on display for the first time at the “HONG KONG the way it was” exhibition. Featuring over 130 stunning black and white photos taken back in the early ‘60s, reminisce and rediscover the vanished old Hong Kong – with its cityscapes, town views and people of the city – through van der Elsken’s eyes.

Reduce and rethink. Pledge to switch off your lights at 8.30pm. earthhour.wwf.org.hk

HONG KONG the way it was: Until March 31. $100. F11 Foto Museum, 11 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley. f11.com

Find inspiration for your next tattoo and meet local Hong Kong tattoo artists. 7-11pm. Free. L/G, 57-59 Wyndham Street. Facebook: allthatjunkHK

MAR 28

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what’s on

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Women’s Five Participants have the option of running either a 5km or 10km race with a dedicated fiveweek fitness programme leading up to the event begins on March 2. womensfive.com

APR 17

SCAD Interview Day Meet the next generation of talent at SCAD through a lunch and networking reception. From 1pm. SCAD Hong Kong, 292 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. scad.edu/interviewday2020

fitness and stamina. $4,480. Treasure Island, Lantau. treasureislandhk.com

AUG 30

Billie Eilish Where Do We Go? World Tour in Hong Kong The first artist born this millennium to achieve a No. 1 album and single. 8pm. From $698. AsiaWorld-Expo, Airport Expo Boulevard, Chek Lap Kok. livenation.hk

APR 6-10 & 13-17

Easter Watersports and Sailing Camp It’s time to start thinking about Easter Camps! Hebe Haven Yacht Club courses will include race training for beginners, adventure watersports and HKSF levels 1-3. Open to members and non members. Prices vary. Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung. hhyc.org.hk

APR 6-10 & APR 13-17 Spring Adventure Camp

A week-long day and overnight camp for adventurers in the city. Campers must be capable and confident swimmers with good

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Kai Tak MTR opens MTR opened phase one of the Tuen Ma Line on Valentine’s Day with the inaugural train running from the new Kai Tak Station to Wu Kai Sha Station at 5.45am. A simple ceremony on the platform took place where the MTR management team took part in a countdown with hundreds of onlooking passengers. The new line currently runs between Kai Tak, Diamond Hill, Hin Keng and Tai Wai, joining the existing Ma On Shan Line. Phase two of the Tuen Ma Line is expected to open by the end of 2021.

All pooped out Slow season

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced in mid-February that Hong Kong received 3.2 million visitor arrivals in January, a daily average of 100,000, dropping 53% from 200,000 in the first half of 2019. While average daily arrivals recovered to 130,000 with the pre-Chinese New Year rush in January,

Sevens taking a backseat The Hong Kong Sevens is the latest sports event to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This year’s tournament, the 45th edition, will be moved back to October 16 to 18 despite organisers saying that the event was “all systems go” earlier on in the year. The Sevens joins a long list of sporting events that have been cancelled or postponed by either the protests or the virus outbreak, the most notable of which include the Standard Chartered Marathon and the Longines Masters. For updates, keep an eye on hksevens.com 12 expat-parent.com

the outbreak of COVID-19 aggravated the decline once again and visitors plunged to 65,000 a day in late January. Find out more on discoverhongkong.com, where HKTB is providing instant updates on the latest measures to assist visitors.

Hong Kong residents continue to panic despite government assurances that supplies of toilet paper remain unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak. Supermarkets have been unable to restock quickly enough, leading to long queues and shelves stripped bare. Amidst citywide panic-purchasing, three armed robbers stole hundreds of toilet rolls that were being delivered to a supermarket in Mong Kok in mid-February. The robbers, wielding knives, threatened the delivery man and took off with rolls worth more than $1,000. Two arrests were made later.


Children’s clothing brand Bonpoint has recently launched its new Summer 2020 collection, designed by new artistic director Anne-Valérie Hash. The collection takes inspiration from the emotion behind a baby’s first words, first steps and first smiles, presenting a range of fabrics and prints for a full summer wardrobe. Pieces include raincoats made of waterproof Liberty fabrics, pyjamas with a retro cut and even a sophisticated couture line for kids looking to celebrate a special occasion. Shop 329, 10 Chater Road, Central. bonpoint.com

On a break

All cleared Pet owners can be assured that there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can affect dogs or cats, according to two experts in infectious diseases of cats and dogs from the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences at City University, together with veterinary surgeons from the Hong Kong Veterinary Association and the SPCA. Previous experience with SARS suggests that dogs or cats in contact with the new virus will neither become ill nor transmit the virus. However, owners should continue to take normal precautions such as washing hands after handling their pets.

Cathay Pacific’s beloved fanfares, which typically go live on the company’s website every Tuesday morning, have been suspended for an indefinite amount of time. Cathay states that the programme “is taking a short break for network and schedule adjustments”. Stay tuned for any updates on their Facebook page at facebook.com/cathaypacificHK

Credit: Flickr by Riik@mctr

Get summer ready with Bonpoint

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THINGS TO KNOW Don’t let your fear take control

1 We should all stay informed and vigilant during this

sensitive time, but there’s no need to jump straight to panic mode whenever you see a piece of bad news in the media. As a coronavirus patient once offered her wisdom, “Take it seriously, but keep calm.”

Don’t dismiss other people’s

2 concerns about the virus

While we shouldn’t panic, let’s not brush aside other people’s worries so easily. You never know what the others have experienced and how the outbreak has affected them personally. It’s understandable that the public wants to take extra precaution, especially when there are still many things we don’t know about the virus.

Mask city

3 Whether or not you think face masks can

protect you from catching the coronavirus, most Hong Kongers are conscious about wearing one after SARS.

Things you need to know Lessons from SARS Support your local businesses

Toilets are dirty

4 The jury is still out on whether the

new coronavirus can be spread by faeces. But, we all know what happened at Amoy Gardens during the SARS outbreak. Keep your sewage pipes clean and put your toilet lid down before flushing.

5 Small businesses have been hit hard, first

by the Hong Kong protests and now by the coronavirus outbreak. If we have learnt anything from SARS, it’s that these local shops and restaurants need our support to get through tough times like these. Let’s keep our community going strong.

Hong Kong is resilient

6 Even in the most challenging of

times, our incredible city has been able to bounce back. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

Personal hygiene starter pack

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Wash your hands frequently

Bring a travel size hand sanitiser and alcohol wet wipes with you

Wear a face mask if you are sick

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Avoid crowded places

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Rattan slim box $245 from Tree tree.com.hk

Bangkuan graphic hanging basket $495 from Tree tree.com.hk

Tropical Mood con tucanette $14,500 from Singulart singulart.com

Gold finish metal planter with legs $379 from Marks and Spencer marksandspencer.com/hk

Spring has sprung! Bring the outdoors inside with Nicole Slater’s top picks this season Arundo lantern $599 from Indigo Living indigo-living.com The Jamie $900 from Bydeau bydeau.com

FEJKA $399 from IKEA ikea.com.hk

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Leaf-print cosmetic bag $99 from Mango shop.mango.com/hk

Multi leaf embroidered cushion $495 from Tree tree.com.hk

Round rattan tray $507 from Zara Home zarahome.com

Glazed pot with large aloe $429 from Marks and Spencer marksandspencer.com/hk

Puro drawer tower $4,980 from Tequila Kola tequilakola.com

Fluctus vase $499 from Indigo Living indigo-living.com

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The adventures of the supermoms Apple Lee meets the fearless heroines of Hong Kong. Photography by Graham Uden 18 expat-parent.com

Step aside, Spiderman and Batman. There’s a new breed of superheroes in town. Their superpowers? They are experts at multitasking. They are trusty organisers. Most importantly, they keep the whole family afloat while taking charge of their own businesses and careers. Just in time for International Women’s Day, we chat with nine inspiring mums in Hong Kong about juggling and finding balance in their work, family and personal time.


Tracy Fitzpatrick CEO of Indigo Living UAE. A mum of two boys, both born in Hong Kong, Fitzpatrick became a single parent when they were in early primary. Both her boys are now embarking on the next stages of their studies while she has recently remarried, opening up a whole new chapter of her life.


racy Fitzpatrick came to Hong Kong in 1996 – the year before the handover. At the time, she was working for a logistics company and moved abroad for a job opportunity to transfer to an overseas office. The New Zealand native made her mid-life career switch when her friend John McLennan, founder of Indigo Living, introduced her to the home design and furniture business as a consultant. She went on to become the CEO of Indigo Living, overseeing their international operations across Hong Kong, China and the

What is your superpower? My ability to create order out of chaos. This starts in the morning with getting myself sorted either by running in the hills or taking a yoga class. Now that I have moved to Shek O, a swim in the ocean is an additional luxury to wake up to. Once I have a clear head, I feel ready to tackle the day ahead and face any challenges that come my way. What is one thing that you always prioritise doing with your kids? Spending time with my boys has always been a priority. One of my fondest memories we share

is our love for rugby. I remember taking them to rugby training at the crack of dawn every Sunday since they were four. I loved watching them develop their skills and teamwork over the years. And of course the Hong Kong Sevens has always had a special place in our hearts, especially watching our teams Hong Kong and the All Blacks play. What was one thing you wish you had known when you first became a working mum? If I could go back in time when I first started working, I’d tell myself to let go of the mum guilt! While it may look like others have it all down pat, most of us feel we’re not doing enough or could be doing better. So to working mums, single mums and even stay-at-home mums out there, I’d say we are all doing the best we can, there is no singular right way and no one has it down perfect, despite what social media tells you. Let the stress and anxiety go and focus on being present. Do what is right for you and your family because we are all different and just know that you’re doing the best you can – and that’s all that matters.

Michelle Chen Founder of RARE SkinFuel


ichelle Chen launched Australianmade natural skincare brand RARE SkinFuel in 2018. Her line offers small batch skincare products made with organic ingredients that are cold-pressed for maximum potency. Chen is a lifelong beauty junkie who started using skincare products when she was 13 years old. Now at 37, she is more confident than ever going make-up free and is inspired to help other women gain confidence as they age. Born in Taiwan and raised in the US, Chen moved to Hong Kong in 2011 and lives with her husband Danny, five-year-old daughter Danica and their furry child Dan Dan. What does your skincare routine consist of? I swear by the six holy grail products from my “Daily Ritual” set. I start by cleansing my face to remove any impurities. I refresh my skin with a light toning mist and apply serum to my eyes, lips and all over my face and neck. I use the eye and lip contouring cream and the anti-aging face cream for

hydration that lasts up to 72 hours. In addition to my daily morning and night routine, I alternate between using the Detoxifying Australian Clay Mask and Restoring Australian Clay Mask to give my skin some extra love. How do you build up your selfconfidence? Like many women, I used to be concerned about aging, but now I see age only as a number. I believe that having a good skincare routine can help boost your confidence. It helps your skin to maintain its natural glow, so you can feel good about revealing your bare skin instead of covering it up with make-up.

Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their businesses? Trust your instincts! Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, it’s easy to get distracted by negative comments about your business ideas. By staying centered and focused, you would be able to overcome the obstacles on your way towards your goal. expat-parent.com 19


Dr Alane Kosanovich Cahalane

CEO and co-founder of Veterinary Specialty Hospital of Hong Kong more. They have a daughter who is 11 and a son who is nine.


hen Dr Alane moved to Hong Kong in 2011, she was the first and only specialist in small animal surgery to live and work in Hong Kong, a city with almost half a million pets. In the US where she was from, a city with a similar pet population has dozens of veterinary specialists across multiple disciplines. Cahalane saw the opportunity to introduce and develop specialised medicine within the pet community in Hong Kong. In 2014, she co-founded VSH with her husband Andrew to offer specialised veterinary care in surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology and

What inspired you to start your business? When I first came to Hong Kong, specialised medical care hardly existed for pets. There were lots of veterinary clinics that provided a high level of care and had great equipment, but I knew that what specialists do could only complement and help to elevate the pet care that already existed here. Pet medicine is similar to human medicine. If you needed a major surgery, or had a complicated illness, you’d want to have the option of seeing a specialist for your illness or surgery, right? Well, now pets in Hong Kong can seek the same level of specialty care as humans. With a true specialty and 24-hour emergency centre in VSH, I’m excited to elevate the veterinary profession in Hong Kong and beyond through expertise, science-based medicine, open communication, honesty and trust.

Any advice to someone who is thinking of getting a pet? Find a family veterinarian who you truly trust and build your relationship with them. You will need them for the lifetime of your pet to provide proactive, prophylactic healthcare – but don’t be afraid to ask for referral to a specialist if your pet is ill. Know where to find a quality 24-hour emergency care, like VSH provides. No one wants their pet to get sick, but every pet owner should know what resources they have, just in case! What is one thing you always prioritise doing with your kids? Bedtime and wake-up time. I still snuggle them to sleep, sometimes with a book or an episode of Modern Family, sometimes to the slight detriment of their sleep time when I’ve had a late day at work, but it’s worth it, I think. And I still snuggle them awake in the morning. Even though I miss out on things as a full-time-andthen-some working mum, I bet they’ll remember all the snuggles!

Noeleen Armstrong Kish Founder of Noeleen Millinery


rish milliner Noeleen Armstrong Kish first started making hats in 2004 when she was living in Western Australia. She often wore her own designs to horse racing events and received many high praises for them. When she moved to the US in 2009, she started taking hat-making courses and her passion for design grew from there. She founded her own millinery brand in Hong Kong in 2014 and later opened a studio and showroom in Kowloon Bay, where she makes bespoke and ready-to-wear hats for all occasions. Her plans for 2020 involve hosting more workshops. Armstrong Kish met her husband Andy in Hong Kong during the Dragon Boat Festival. They now live with 10-year-old twins, Patrick and Maggie, and a rescue dog Chieftain. What is your best-selling hat? My local clientele prefers small to mediumsize headpieces and the silk beret style has been very popular as of late. Expats on the other hand usually go for crown and brim hats like fedoras, sailor, bowler and trilby 20 expat-parent.com

hats. Everyone loves custom-made pieces that are one-of-a-kind! What are your superpowers and kryptonite? I thought it might be better to ask the kiddos that question! According to them my superpowers are: I have eyes in the back of my head and apparently I can also read minds. These superpowers are essential for all mums and seem to be built in. As for my kryptonite, my daughter says it’s brushing her thick curly red hair and my son says I’m too over cautious. I’d say it’s time management; trying to fit everything in while striving for balance. Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their business?

When you start a small business, you need to be able to wear different hats at different times. You have to be adaptable and be able to switch from one task to another quickly. Whether it is designing, meeting customers, handling logistics, ordering materials, doing finance, marketing, setting up a website, going on photoshoots, the list goes on. When you don’t have staff in all of these areas, you need to be hands-on.

R VE Y O R C TO S expat-parent.com 21


Yvonne Ang Founder of Scarlette & Pam son Caden and three rescued dogs (Scarlette, Pam and Dudley) in Hong Kong.


vonne Ang is the chairperson of a Chinese confectionery manufacturer. In her spare time, she volunteers at LAP (Lifelong Animal Protection Charity) to help rehome rescued dogs. A passionate animal welfare advocate, Ang founded Scarlette & Pam, an organic dog food brand, in 2019 to offer a healthy alternative to mass-produced processed dog food. For every product sold, Ang donates a portion of her proceeds to support animal rights groups. She lives with her husband Jerry, daughter Nastassja,

Where did the idea of your business come from? Scarlette and Pam are the names of my first two rescued dogs. I took Scarlette home after her mother passed away in a car accident; and I met Pam through LAP – she is the first puppy that the charity has rehomed. Both of them were quite frail when I first started caring for them. They were also picky eaters who refused to have store-bought food. To get them to have healthier eating habits, I started making my own food at home for them. I have always liked cooking, so I enjoyed learning about dog’s diet and experimenting with different recipes. When I shared some of my homemade treats with my friends, they all

came back with incredible feedback and I was inspired to share my recipes with even more people – that’s how Scarlette and Pam came about. Can you share some tips for raising kids with pets at home? The key is to start with proper pet training – and I don’t just mean training for the pets. Your children have to learn how to behave properly around the pets and vice versa. It may take some time for everyone to know how to get along with each other, but it is worth it in the end. There are so many benefits of getting a pet for the family. Your kids can build up self-esteem by taking responsibilities of looking after a pet. These furry friends also give us unconditional love and can help your kids develop compassion, empathy and nurturing skills. Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their businesses? Follow your passion, know your limits and ask for support when you need it.

Selina Kong


Founder of The Big Things

orn and raised in Hong Kong, Selina Kong opened The Big Things in 2019. Located at The Mills, The Big Things is a nature-themed indoor children’s playground, restaurant and cooking studio. Passionate about sustainability and the environment, Kong has designed the venue with eco-consciousness in mind. She furnished the play area with recyclable materials and created a healthy menu that features vegetables sourced directly from the onsite rooftop garden. Her latest endeavour is the launch of MasterChef Academy, a culinary programme at The Big Things Kitchen. Kong lives with her husband and two daughters Scarlett and Kayla, ages five and two. What is your superpower? I always manage to stay level-headed even during stressful times. Problem solving is a significant part of running any business. Knowing that each day brings with it a new set of challenges and opportunities, I choose to accept and embrace these changes instead of running away from them. While sometimes I am able to foresee and prepare 22 expat-parent.com

for a rainy day, other times I have to work out an unpredicted problem on the spot. No matter what the challenge is, I try my best to keep my calm and come up with different ways to fix the problem. How do you want to make a difference in the world? I try my best to make a positive impact in my local community. Child development through play is very important to me, that’s why I opened The Big Things to provide a safe space for children in Hong Kong to engage in play-based learning. The environment is also something I care about and I strive to be eco-conscious in both my personal and business choices. Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their businesses? The three most important things of starting a

new business are to innovate, have resilience and focus on executing your idea. The biggest challenge you will face is finding balance between having time for your business, your family and yourself. My advice is to try not to put too much pressure on yourself and understand that you will have to learn to prioritise different areas of your life at different times.


Dr Sonal Hattangdi-Haridas Founder and director of Maya Health Institute while she was in fulltime private practice and raising a child in primary school. She left her dual-city practice in India and moved to Hong Kong with her husband in 2006. She lives with her husband, 14-yearold son and her parents.


r Sonal Hattangdi-Haridas is a multiaward winning medical researcher and practitioner with 22 years of clinical experience in homeopathic treatments and nutritional medicine. She is a registered doctor of homeopathic medicine and has a Masters in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She completed her masters degree

Has homeopathy made a difference to you and your family? Growing up, I was given homeopathic remedies for any illness I had. As a result, I rarely took chemical medications and antibiotic courses. Now whenever my son is feeling unwell, I give him nutritional medicine. We’ve only had to take him to see the doctor four to six times in all the years since he was born.

Can you share some tips for keeping your family healthy? Having healthy homemade food, getting enough sleep, exercising and not forgetting to have a good laugh together now and then! We also have annual body check-ups and take appropriate supplements as suited to our own age and gender. I give my family homeopathic remedies at the first sign of illness, which helps, so we rarely have to go to the doctors. Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their businesses? Plan ahead to manage your time effectively, but don’t expect your plans to be perfect. There will always be unexpected things that need to be done, whether it’s having to work from home or to go on school visits, so you have to be flexible with your time. Being a mom and a business owner is a constant juggling act and the support of family, good friends and the acceptance from your child goes a long way.

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Kajal Naina Founder of Kajal Naina she settled in Hong Kong with her husband and three daughters Rina, Riya and Yana.


ajal Naina started her fine jewellery business as an outlet for her creative passion. After being a dentist for 10 years, she decided to quit her job and follow her lifelong dream of becoming an artist. She went on to pursue a number of professional qualifications in jewellery design, pearl grading and metal smiting before launching her namesake brand in 2017. A true globe trotter, Naina was born and raised in Nepal and has lived in India, Singapore and Japan. She met her husband in 2008 and it was love at first sight. They got engaged after a month of meeting each other and were married in less than three months from their first date. In 2017,

What is the biggest challenge of starting your own business? Having worked in a more conventional occupation as a dentist for 10 years, getting into fine jewellery was quite a big change for me. I have always been an artist at heart, so I transitioned smoothly as a designer; but I knew nothing about running a business and had to learn everything from scratch. That being said, the steep learning curve I took on has actually made my whole journey far more exciting. I’ve discovered an entrepreneurial side of myself and am constantly learning something new every day. How do you make time for bonding with your kids? At least once a day I block out time just to be with my children, either to help with their homework, listen to their piano practice or to get them to show me their newest dance

moves! Sometimes instead of going to the gym, working out at home can be a great way for all of us to spend time together. I always try to make exercising fun and like play. This way I can encourage my kids to develop an active and healthy lifestyle. We also love going on family hikes and we talk throughout. They love to take this time to tell me about their days, their friends and what they learnt at school. On Sundays, the kids have started helping out in the kitchen where we have a great time cooking and cleaning together. Can you give one piece of advice to other mums who are starting their business? The most important thing is to create an environment for success, which also means asking for and receiving help where needed. As a mum in business, sometimes we feel like we can do everything alone, but that often leads to burnout. I struggled with taking on too much when I first started, but as my business started growing and I started building a team around myself and delegating the work out, things began to slowly fall into place.

Andrea Fessler


Founder and executive director of Premiere Performances of Hong Kong

former corporate lawyer and Harvard Law School graduate, Andrea Fessler swapped her legal career for an opportunity to start Premiere Performances of Hong Kong in 2007. PPHK is a non-profit enterprise that organises solo recitals and chamber music concerts to promote classical music in the city. It also hosts the annual Beares Premiere Music Festival and an extensive community outreach and in-school education programme. Fessler moved to Hong Kong in 2004 and she lives in Hong Kong with her husband Davide and three daughters Alma, Stella and Daria. What is your superpower? I am a connector. I love bringing people together both professionally for interesting collaborations and socially for great parties and dinners. At PPHK, we reach around 30,000 people every year; almost 60 percent of whom are students who would otherwise not have access to the inspiration of a live music performance.

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What inspired you to start organising music concerts in Hong Kong? I have always been an avid consumer of culture, having lived in great cities like New York, London and Tokyo. When I first moved to Hong Kong, classical music was the one area of the cultural scene that I found lacking. At the time, I happened to attend a few concerts and they reminded me of an organisation from my childhood that held classical music recitals and chamber music concerts – and I thought that Hong Kong could really use an organisation like that. Music can be an incredible creative outlet for those who play and an intense emotional release for those who listen. The problem in Hong Kong is that even though thousands of kids are learning musical instruments, there is very little joy or love of music being taught. We are trying to change that by inspiring kids through our interactive and engaging in-

school concerts – and it is working. After our concerts, 75 percent of kids who already play a musical instrument want to practice more and 70% percent who don’t play an instrument want to learn. What is one thing you always prioritise doing with your kids? I absolutely love reading to my kids! I try to read to them before bed whenever I can or on the weekends. I read all seven Harry Potter books out loud to my middle daughter when our mommy-daughter book club fell apart.

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Tea-rific tonics

Charmaine Ng stays healthy with traditional Chinese herbal tea


hinese herbal tea (liang cha) is a popular choice for Hong Kongers looking for a quick immunity system booster. Traditional and modern tea shops can be found across the city, usually offering a range of drinks that are available for takeaway. Here’s where to get them.

Sam Bat Mai Kudzu Sam Bat Mai Kudzu is arguably the most 26 expat-parent.com

well-known standalone herbal tea store in Hong Kong. Customers can order their famous rorippa indica tea to drink instore in a bowl or to take away in a bottle. 226 Johnston Road, Wan Chai

Yip Heung Lau (


With two branches in Wan Chai, one just across the road from MTR Wan Chai Station, Yip Heung Lau is a popular go-to for customers to grab a drink while passing

by. They serve rorippa indica tea and monk fruit tea. 104 Johnston Road, Wan Chai

Kung Yuen Tong (


Unlike the other herbal tea stores in this list, Kung Yuen Tong serves not only drinks but also a variety of street snacks like fish balls and siu mai. The store offers a wide variety of Chinese teas including 24 herbs, five flower tea, monk fruit tea, common selfheal herb, canton abrus herb and more.


into a citywide chain with a focus on healthy food and drinks. You can usually find stores inside MTR stations. Shop No. HOK 58, MTR Hong Kong Station, Central. hungfooktong.com

Know your teas

CheckCheckCin Founded by registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner Cinci Leung, CheckCheckCin has six branches across Hong Kong. The store is a favourite for the younger generation with their cute packaging and Insta-worthy drinks. They offer a range of rice water that can help improve digestion as well as various herbal drinks. Try the roselle tea or Chinese hawthorn if you’re looking to slim down or the calming dragon fruit pearl rose tea to help combat stress and anxiety. G/F, Kai Fung Building, 4-6 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan. checkcheckcin.com

Shop A, 188-192 Johnston Road, Wan Chai

Good Spring Company ( ) Originally founded in Guangzhou’s Panyu district, Good Spring Company is a popular Chinese medicine shop in Central with a large range of Chinese herbal teas for customers to drink on the go. Selections include hot or cold 24 herbs tea, sweet flower tea and American ginseng tea. 8 Cochrane Street, Central

Rorippa indica tea is known for its detoxifying properties in the liver and bones, making it the perfect summer drink. It is also said to clear internal heat.

Hung Fook Tong If you live in Hong Kong, chances are you’ve passed by a branch of Hung Fook Tong. The company was founded in 1986 as a traditional herbal tea shop and has grown expat-parent.com 27

dining NEWS

Dining news Hong Kong’s female icons cook for charity Vicky Lau of one Michelin-starred TATE Dining Room is celebrating International Women’s Day with a charity collaboration dinner featuring seven female guest chefs. The chef owner has invited seven inspiring women in Hong Kong to cook alongside her, each presenting a dish that is nostalgic to them. Participating guest chefs include Margaret Chung (ex-TV personality and

A matcha made in heaven

Cinnabon rolls into town If you haven’t already heard, Cinnabon rolled into town last month. The world-famous US bakery chain (with presence in over 40 countries) is bringing its warm, gooey and totally amazing treats to West Kowloon. Head over to Olympian City 2 to pick up a Classic Cinnamon Roll, Chocobun or Caramel Pecanbon. Shop G06, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, West Kowloon. cinnabon.com

A new speakeasy opens in Central The Diplomat, the first speakeasy pub concept created by award-winning mixologist John Nugent, is now open at Central’s H Code. This whimsical, vintage-inspired bar is the perfect watering hole for travellers and cocktail enthusiasts in Hong Kong. The

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celebrity yoga teacher), Yenn Wong (founder of JIA Group) and Sarah Heller MW (Asia’s youngest Master of Wine) among others. This will be a night dedicated to the works of women and all the proceeds will be donated to Margaret Chung’s BEYOND Foundation. Starting from $1,780. 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. tate.com.hk

beverage menu is a nod to the experiences of influential figures in history and is paired with a rich selection of snacks and hot bites to complete your night. LG/F, High Block, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central. diplomat.hk

Hong Kong’s homegrown matcha brand is taking over The Upper House from now until the end of March. Founded in 2019, Matchali translates matcha culture for a contemporary audience in Hong Kong, highlighting its versatility and broad range of health benefits. Sourcing the green stuff directly from Kyoto’s Uji, guests can have a taste of Matchali’s Instagram-worthy handwhisked drinks at their limited-time pop-up. 6/F, The Upper House, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. matchali.com

Move over Red Lobster Brought to you by the team behind neighbourhood favourites Flying Pig Bistro and El Macho, Lobster Shack is a newly opened seafood spot that serves all your classic coastal comfort fare in a warm and inviting set-up. You can get a whole lobster for under $300 and half a dozen oysters for less than $200. By working directly with a family-owned seafood supplier in Canada, the restaurant is able to offer great bang for your buck. Plus the laid back, easy-going vibe makes this a great place for catch-ups! 6-8 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun. facebook.com/lobstershackhk

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hk baby

Premium delivery Rik Glauert compares private hospital maternity packages in Hong Kong


ith some of the best health facilities in the region, Hong Kong has a wealth of options to bring your little one into the world. What’s more, the city’s private hospitals have a range of maternity packages to suit your needs and budget. Maternity package prices listed below come with a word of warning. These prices do not include doctor’s fees nor necessarily all tests and medicines. With these extra fees included, the cost of giving birth at the places below can increase at least two-fold.

Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong Gleneagles is committed to fostering a close bond between you and your child from the moment you give birth. The hospital allows 30 expat-parent.com

your baby to be next to you, or with you, 24 hours a day as skin-to-skin contact builds bonds between newborns and parents. Maternity packages range from a vaginal delivery (three days, two nights) in a twobedded room for $20,000 to a Caesarean section package in a suite for $68,500. 1 Nam Fung Path, Wong Chuk Hang. gleneagles.hk

Matilda International Hospital This century-old hospital lets you experience some of Hong Kong’s colonial grandeur even while giving birth. The best rooms boast balconies overlooking the harbour. In terms of luxury, Matilda has thought of everything. They offer a variety of pain relief methods from walking epidurals to water baths. There are also birth balls and warm pads on offer.

Matilda also guarantees one midwife to each birthing mother. Prices range from $21,500 for a two-night vaginal birth in a shared room

hk baby to $85,500 for a five-night Caesarean section package in a private room. 41 Mount Kellett Road, The Peak. matilda.org

Hong Kong Adventist Hospital This is a popular option for giving birth in Hong Kong which requires a deposit months in advance of the due date. Maternity packages ranging from $19,000 to $71,000 include pretty much everything you could think of such as initial vaccinations for your child and letting your birthing partner cut the umbilical cord. What’s more, the hospital throws in a complimentary photo album of your newborn and a birth certificate that includes your baby’s footprints. 40 Stubbs Road, Happy Valley. hkah.org.hk

Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital The Sanatorium’s maternity packages are inclusive of basic medicines such as entonox (gas and air), as well as vitamins and vaccinations for your baby. Like a few of the other private hospitals, the Sanatorium also includes a Baby Security System to offer peace of mind while at the hospital. Prices range from $22,300 to $55,200. 2 Village Road, Happy Valley. hksh-hospital.com

Canossa Hospital Canossa’s deluxe suites with large windows affording views of Hong Kong’s MidLevels make it a particularly popular luxury choice. The hospital also boasts an army of consultant obstetricians, physiotherapists and dieticians to cater to every part of the birth. Packages range from $20,600 for a normal birth in a six-bed room to nearly $100,000 for the four-night Caesarean package in a Deluxe Suite. 1 Old Peak Road, Mid-Levels. canossahospital.org.hk

packages that start from $20,800 in a shared room. A four-night Caesarean birth package could set you back as much as $55,000. 222 Waterloo Road, Kowloon. hkbh.org.hk

Union Hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital

Maternity packages here include initial vaccinations, newborn hearing screenings and routine cord blood screenings. Union’s packages start at $22,000 for a vaginal birth in a shared room. But, this package includes three nights stay as opposed to just the two nights at most other hospitals. A c-section in a private room will cost more than $45,000. 18 Fu Kin Street, Tai Wai, Sha Tin. union.org

St Paul’s offers some of the most reasonable packages in the city with a two-night vaginal

birth for $18,000. They are also known for their bedside entertainment system. A Cesarean birth costs about $50,000. 2 Eastern Hospital Road, Causeway Bay. stpaul.org.hk

Did you know... The birth of a child should be registered within six weeks at one of nine birth registries, according to the district in which your baby was born. To get registered, you will need to bring: • the HKID or valid travel document of the baby’s mother

Hong Kong Baptist Hospital

• proof of the baby’s date of birth

Baptist’s maternity packages are also pretty comprehensive with analgesic injections and vacuum or forcep births included in the price. They also offer three nights for vaginal birth

• and the name of the hospital in which the baby was born

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Tutors on call

The best home tutors to keep your kids learning while schools are closed. By Rik Glauert ITS Education Asia ITS is ready to dispatch a tutor to your home to help with any academic subject or level of

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study. From primary school homework to adult learning, the tuition centre is happy to adjust to your schedule and preference for lesson content

and formats. 4/F, BOC Group Life Assurance Tower, 134-136 Des Voeux Road, Central. itseducation.asia


British Tutors

Elite Kids

As the name suggests these teaching professionals hailing from the UK, focus on the study of English language and literature, from phonics to Shakespeare. They also cover a range of other subjects, delivered in that charming British accent. 1025, 10/F Central Building, 1-3 Pedder Street, Central. britishtutors.com

Elite Kids believes finding the right tutor is key to developing your child’s English language skills. What’s more, the tuition centre has developed their own programs and practice books to not only teach your children, but also inspire them. elite-kids-hk.com

Arch Education

Bespoke Tuition This international tuition company promises to be more than an introductory service to its army of British tutors. Bespoke Tuition fosters long-term relationships between families and tutors to help your kids achieve their academic goals and also become confident, motivated and independent thinkers. For more information, call 6219 4047 or email emma@bespoketuition.com. bespoketuition.com

Arch Education is focused on getting your child into the best schools and universities in the world. It covers academic tutoring, exam skills and preparing applications. What’s more, the company boasts an impressive 94% success rate in getting their tutees into Ivy League schools and the top 20 colleges in the US. 2/F & 4/F Wilson House, 19-27 Wyndham Street, Central. arch-education.com

Hong Kong Institute of Languages Brush up your kids’ linguistic skills with a tutor from the Hong Kong Institute of Languages. The school boasts native-language professional tutors offering sessions in English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese. 6/F, Wellington Plaza, 56-58 Wellington Street, Central. hklanguages.com

TUTOROO This international online service is a marketplace of qualified tutors from across the world which makes it particularly great for learning languages. The site is burgeoning in popularity in Hong Kong as it allows you to search based on your child’s level and interest, location and most convenient time slots. tutoroo.co

My Private Tutor Founded in 2015, this tutoring marketplace has helped more than 50,000 students find a face-to-face or online tutor based on their individual learning needs. They work with tutors that are knowledgeable across a wide range of subjects from mathematics and accounting to English, French and more. myprivatetutor.hk

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Learning online Jenny McGowan gives the ins and outs of online tutoring


eside finding private home tutors, online learning is another popular option for students to keep up with their study progress during school closure. Below are some things that parents should think about when considering an online education for their children.

being misplaced. The platform can also be used in-between lessons in order to share homework or for revision purposes.

Questions parents should be asking

The cons

The pros

The primary concern I hear from parents is that their child will struggle with the technology and navigating the online platform, which parents worry will distract from the learning during the tutorial. However, today’s school children have grown up surrounded by technology and usually pick up the skills needed very quickly. Experienced online tutors will be able to familiarise students with the software and adjust their lessons taking any difficulties into account. For younger children who either find typing difficult or find that it slows down the lessons, they can continue to handwrite on paper and simply hold it up to the camera for the tutor to read.

When choosing an online tutor the same rules apply as if you were hiring a face-to-face tutor. You definitely should not be compromising on the quality of the tutor, if anything you should have higher expectations as you have greater choice. As you are unlikely to meet them in person, it is important you ask the right questions before committing to tutorials.

The right experience The major advantage with this method of teaching is being able to find a tutor that has the experience, training and track record you require, but who might not be available locally. This is pertinent in Hong Kong if your child is following an international curriculum at school or is preparing for UK/US admissions tests for school or university. You do not need to be limited by the face-to-face options where you live and instead you can source a highly suitable tutor who fits your requirements. Arguably, the individual tutor who works with your child is more important than whether the lesson is face-to-face or online.

Time zones The time difference can play to the student’s advantage too; evening in Hong Kong is morning in the UK and US, a time when tutors are more likely to be available while students in their own countries are at school. Additionally, tutorials can usually continue regardless of the student or tutor’s location during the holidays, allowing for a long-term relationship to be formed.

The comfort of home Many students prefer to have tutorials in their own home environment, saving the time and hassle of travelling between lessons. Once the lesson has finished they are already home and can complete any follow up work or have dinner without losing any time to travel.

Keeping track Another benefit is that many online platforms allow for effective information transfer and act as an online record of what has been covered, reducing the need for paper notes that are prone to 34 expat-parent.com


Human interaction Another concern about online tutoring is whether the relationship between tutor and student will be as strong. By distance, of course the relationship is more abstract, however this can have a positive effect on students who may feel intimidated to ask what they worry are ‘silly’ questions in person. Having been an online tutor for many years, I found I knew my online students as well, if not better, than my face-to-face ones. For students who might struggle to engage, good online tutors will have techniques up their sleeves including sharing their screens and using videos or online quizzes to retain the attention of students.

Wifi woes Technology issues might be another concern and yes, there is always the chance that the Wi-Fi misbehaves and this cannot be avoided. However, again a good online tutor will have a protocol for this and will have made it clear before lessons started what happens in these events. On one occasion when there was a power cut, I used my mobile data to teach an online lesson! Ultimately these issues are out of anyone’s control but as technology improves they should decrease.

As a parent, these are some questions to put to the tutoring agency: • How was this tutor selected or screened? • Have you met them in person? • Have their qualifications been checked? And these are some questions for the tutor • What is your online experience? Have you had any relevant online training? • What is your plan over the weeks and months ahead? Will you be available throughout? • How will you be monitoring my child’s progress? How will you be reporting this? • Can I see a copy of your criminal conviction certificate? Jenny McGowan is Director of Keystone Tutors, Asia in Hong Kong. She has a PhD in Education and an MSc in Child Development and Education, both from the University of Oxford. Keystone Tutors recruits all of their tutors in person in the UK, while their online students are based in over 50 countries around the world.


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Shrewsbury International School Charmaine Ng visits the international preschool and primary school in Tseung Kwan O


ounded by Royal Charter in 1552, Shrewsbury School is one of Britain’s most outstanding schools, with a tradition of academic excellence and a 500-year heritage. The leading independent school eventually 36 expat-parent.com

extended its reach to Hong Kong with a purpose-built campus in Tseung Kwan O catering specifically for preschool and primary school children. Today, Shrewsbury International School is one of the most reputed primary-specialist schools in the

region. On a cold weekday in mid-February, just a week after the Education Bureau announced a mandatory extended break for all students in the city, I made my way over to the school for a visit that left me speechlessly impressed.


Teachers then cater to each child depending on their level of language proficiency and whether they have greater confidence with the Cantonese dialect rather than the Mandarin dialect. Something I noticed that also sets Shrewsbury apart from other schools is its emphasis on music and performing arts. The programme at the school includes weekly vocal sessions and students are encouraged to learn a range of instruments such as the recorder and ukulele. I had the opportunity to explore the campus’ two music rooms and six peripatetic rooms, as well as the 470seat Auditorium and 100-seat Recital Hall, both hosting concert grade grand pianos. It is evident that Shrewsbury encourages the importance of music and performance throughout the school.

Well-rounded education Shrewsbury International School follows the highly respected English National Curriculum, adapted and enriched for the local context and developed to meet the needs of a multilingual student body in Hong Kong. Year groups are sorted into Key Stages, each with a defined curriculum, with regular assessment allowing teaching staff to monitor each child’s academic progress. The majority of lessons are taught by a class teacher through a thematic based framework, whilst Chinese Language, Music and Physical Education are taught by specialist teaching staff. Just 30 minutes from Central, Shrewsbury stresses the importance of and has a strong commitment to Chinese language learning with a three-tier integrated programme.

Extensive co-curricular programmes For Shrewsbury students, learning doesn’t end when the bell rings. The school offers a range of extracurricular activities for primary students who are looking to explore interests and develop skills beyond the classroom. The core categories (Academic, Art and Sport) mean that many activities remain consistent from term to term and year to year. These include book club, chess and coding; choir, dance and drama; and football, swimming and athletics.

State-of-the-art facilities Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Shrewsbury International School is its purpose-built campus that has been designed with young children in mind. The school supports more than 900 students in classes

of about 20, with state-of-the-art facilities to enhance their learning. Classrooms at the school are built to engage students, featuring interactive whiteboards, cloud-based storage system and speedy internet connection. One of my favourite areas was the naturally- and brightly-lit library, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and comfortable sofas for reading from. It currently holds an impressive 7,000 books of both English and Chinese titles with more being added regularly. Other highlights of the campus include a concert hall, separate art and design studios, an aquatic centre with a 25-metre indoor heated swimming pool and a gymnastics centre equipped to professional standards, allowing children opportunities to discover new passions outside of traditional academic fields.

Further education with Shrewsbury Shrewsbury International School boasts a unique college-style transition programme that begins in Year 4, inspired by the practice of college counselling at Shrewsbury School in the UK. Students and their families are given individual support with planning their educational journey. The academic team has detailed knowledge of secondary schools within Hong Kong and around the world to help parents make an informed decision. If a student has a flair for performing arts, for example, he or she can then pick a school which offers a strong arts programme, rather than one that is academically-focused. Whilst most students move on to schools in the city, some families choose to pursue the supported path through to Shrewsbury School, Shropshire. shrewsbury.edu.hk

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schools PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE Meet Ben Keeling, principal of Shrewsbury International School Can you tell us about your career? What brought you to Hong Kong? I grew up in west London and spent my childhood there. My first foray into the field of international education was teaching in a British school in Jakarta, Indonesia. Then, seven years ago, an opportunity at Kellett School in Hong Kong came up, which I took. My wife was also born in Hong Kong, so when we moved to the city, it was like a homecoming for her.

What attracted you to Shrewsbury International School? Unlike many other schools in the city, Shrewsbury is wholeheartedly dedicated to primary education. The opportunity to lead through preoperation into the foundation of a bourgeoisie school community, alongside such an established and prestigious team, was just too good to resist.

What sets Shrewsbury apart from other international schools in Hong Kong? Our focus on primary education allows us to deliver a uniquely supportive environment centred around the needs of young children. Shrewsbury students have access to the best provision available and then enjoy an opportunity

to consciously select a secondary school that will allow them to thrive. If a child exhibits a flair for the performing arts then it is important that he or she is supported in exploring it fully.

What is the school’s relationship with Shrewsbury School in the UK? The strong connection between Shrewsbury in Hong Kong and our extended host school in Shropshire was a critical attraction for me personally. The school team benefits enormously from the expertise available and the pathway for students can be directly supported.

How does Shrewsbury International School set up students for life after primary education? Through the secondary school selection programme available here, Shrewsbury parents are encouraged to explore, on a very individual level, the options available and the best possible pathway for their child. In some cases this leads on to placement at an independent boarding school, in others a continuation of their international schooling here in Hong Kong. All families are guided by a highly knowledgeable team and have my support wherever required.

How is Shrewsbury

International School coping with the suspensions? While school suspension continues, it’s business as usual at Shrewsbury. At this moment, classes are taking place through our online platform. Our teachers – most of whom are actually on campus, not by force but by choice – are exceptionally talented. They share videos and work files, provide individual feedback and have recently hosted individual conferences with parents. I’ve always maintained that we are best defined by how we tackle challenging circumstances.

What’s your favourite part about what you do? As a principal working in primary education, I would say I really enjoy the engagement I get with both students and their parents. I feel honoured that parents have decided to trust us with their children. My favourite part of the day is always lunchtime taken with students at tables in the dining hall. I love their company, children are deeply insightful and can read a room so well!

What do you like to do in your spare time? When I’m not at school or thinking about school, I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and son. We live in Sai Kung and are often found grazing on coffee and mooching from swings. Teaching in progress

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Should parents pay when schools are closed? The two sides pitch in





Headmaster of Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong

Father of a four-year-old and a two-year-old

We believe that it is our role and responsibility to continue to offer an outstanding education to our students at such a difficult time for Hong Kong. We are holding interactive online lessons through our specially constructed Wycombe Abbey School iLearning Platform, where teachers and students can communicate, share assignments and receive immediate feedback on their completed work electronically. It takes an enormous amount of time, hard-work, effort and resources for our school and its staff to facilitate these online learning classes, just as a normal teaching week does. The school and its employees are working normal hours each week and are all busily engaged in providing our pupils with the optimum learning experience we can during this period of school closure. We have been sending regular emails to our parents with updates of the current situation and school arrangements. Parents are also in close communication with their children’s class teacher through the iLearning Platform. As our teaching output continues to operate at full-stretch in this situation, tuition fees are payable as normal. However, school bus, catering and ECA fees have all either been waived or credited during the time our students are at home.

My son started kindergarten at the beginning of January. After three weeks, schools closed so he’s missed more term than he’s attended. It’s very unsettling for him, he keeps asking when he will be going back and I can’t answer that. My daughter is in her final year at kindergarten. The school regularly sends homework for parents to do with their children but this isn’t a well-thought-out solution. Both my wife and I work full time so it’s impossible for us to find the time. By the time we get home it’s a bath and bed for the children. The schools are not to blame for what has happened but I have to make the point that in no other industry would you continue to pay for a service that is not being provided as stated. You wouldn’t pay at a restaurant if they failed to provide you with food. I understand this is a difficult situation and there is no fix-all solution but in my opinion, the problem has been dumped on the parents. Our children’s education is suffering and on top of that, parents are out of pocket. Perhaps the government should assist in subsidising the fees since we have no idea how much longer this will go on for.

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big day out

Beat the boredom blues

Rik Glauert suggests 15 mood-boosting activities for when schools are closed



A night away from everything might be just what you and the little ones need. Classic camping sites like those in country parks are great if you’ve got the gear already. If not, air-conditioned star-gazing domes (yes, glamping) on Cheung Chau might be more your thing. Sai Yuen, Cheung Chau. saiyuen.com


Go to the park

Get some fresh air and head to one of Hong Kong’s wonderful public parks. Pack a frisbee, a bat and ball, even

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a picnic, to make a day of it. Our favourites are Victoria Park (plenty of football pitches), Hong Kong Park (massive play area) and Caine Road (popular with all those Mid-level mummy types).

big day out Kong’s premier attraction. The Peak Circle Walk is perfect for families as the gentle 3.5 kilometre trail is flat and bike-friendly.


Dolphin watching

This activity is fun, outdoorsy and educational. A dolphin watching tour leaving from Tai O on Lantau Island lasts five hours and includes a presentation, information sheets and light refreshments. hkdolphinwatch.com



Hong Kong’s eight UNESCO Global Geopark locations are full of wonderful rock formations sure to spark the interests of your budding geologist. Our favourites are around Sai Kung. Sharp Island, best visited at low tide, is just a short sampan ride from the Sai Kung Pier.


Get baking

Now is the time to put that oven to work. Perfect your recipes for scones, cakes, muffins, croissants, buns and breads with an extra pair of hands to help. Grab a stool so your little one can reach the kitchen counter and be prepared for flour to go everywhere.


Arts and crafts

There is an endless amount of arts and crafts projects to do at home. From sand art to weaving friendship bracelets, there’s no end to fun, creative indoor activities. Check out @5.min.crafts and @artbarblog on Instagram for some inspiration.


Movie night at home

If you haven’t yet got round to getting a Netflix

account, now is the time. Choose a flick, whether it is a family favourite or a new blockbuster and gather the family on the sofa. Create a sense of occasion by making popcorn and turning off all the lights.


Stroll around The Peak Make the most of the light traffic and lack of tourists with a visit to Hong



Hong Kong has plenty of open spaces far from the crowds to blow off some pent up steam on a bicycle. Flat waterfront trails near Ma On Shan are family friendly. Meanwhile, the 20-kilometre Yuen Nam Kam Circuit near Yuen Long, or an even longer track from Sha Tin Science Park through Tai Po to Plover Cove, are more challenging options. expat-parent.com 43

Credit: Eddie Yip via Flickr

big day out



Island hopping

If you can brave the close confines of the Hong Kong ferry service, the open beaches and trails of the outlying islands will make for a great day trip with your little ones. Try cycling around Cheung Chau or hike Lamma Island and explore its 6,000-year fishing history.


Likewise, some sports centers and camps are also still open during these weeks. Minisport, ProActiv Sports, Rugbytots, and CrossFit Asphodel were all open when we last checked.

Self-defence courses

Encourage your kids to burn off some of that cooped up energy. Create mini assault courses in your largest room with objects to jump over, things to duck under or step in and around. Remember to stay away from the kitchen and pad sharp corners with pillows and cushions prior to the activity.

home with your budding scientist. Popular options include making slime, playing around a balloon and static electricity and making crystals.


Art classes

A number of kid-friendly play groups and art classes are still open. Things may change, so it’s worth checking before heading out. But at the time of publishing, Rhythm and Rhyme, Messy Jam and Busy Hands Playgroup are still open.

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Sports classes

Home science projects

There is a host of science experiments and spectacles you can do at

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Spontaneous vacation

You might find the best option is to leave the city altogether. Make the most of cheap plane tickets and fly to your dream destination for some time away from all the stresses and strains of Hong Kong.


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


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book CLUB

Unlock your dreams Apple Lee meets Maggie Lee, professional life coach and the author of children’s book The Key Is You thought I might as well make an app to go along with it. I hand drew the whole app and worked on it with some friends. All in all, it took us three weeks to publish the app.

How do you overcome the fear of failure? I believe that confidence is having the willingness to feel comfortable with the emotions of being rejected, looking stupid and “failing” completely. If we are okay with all these things, there won’t be such a thing as failing – it’s just us trying.

Can you share some tips for encouraging kids to read more? I make up stories on the spot with my kids each night. They come up with their own fictional characters and we all take part in improvising the stories. They also love redrawing storybooks.

As a mum of three, how do you balance your personal, family and work life?

Tell us a bit about yourself

from the book?

I grew up in Orlando, Florida and moved to Hong Kong 10 years ago looking for a new adventure and I’ve never looked back! I am now a certified life coach specialising in productivity and online business mentoring. I also happen to be a professional songwriter for local pop artists in town.

The key to every battle in life is in your hands. The key really is you.

What is your book about? The Key Is You is an inspirational children’s book. It lets the world know that anyone can be the hero of their own story. The main character Gem is an ordinary little girl who took the courage to believe in herself. Because of her step in faith, she turns out to be the hero that saves the day.

What message would you like readers to take away 46 expat-parent.com

Where did your inspiration come from? The entire story was based on a dream I had when I was pregnant with my first baby. When I had the dream, everything happened in cartoon form, so I started drawing it out. The dream also came with a melody, and as a songwriter, I just had to record the music and release that as well!

What was your favourite part of this project? My absolute favourite part of this whole project was producing an eight-bit theme song for the mobile game app. Since I was already publishing a book and releasing a song, I

As a professional life coach, I get asked this question all the time! I coach entrepreneurial mums from all over the world to help them achieve a hyper-productive, high performance life. If you want to get lots of things done, I believe this can happen by having a combination of productivity, creativity, supportive relationships and lots of self care. The Key Is You is priced at $120 and available at book shops across Hong Kong. The app is available for download on iTunes.

book club

Books & podcasts BOOKS

This is Pregnant by Marie Leopard Meet Marie, the Parisian girl next door. She has just been diagnosed with PCOS, a condition implying her ovaries are crazy lazy. One hormonal pill at a time, Marie travels through herwild journey into motherhood with her German husband, Wolf. Based on their true story, every day is filled with laughter, tension, and most importantly, hope from Hong Kong. Can she ever really juggle it all: work, love, and a baby? Grab this fivestars romantic comedy for $120 on amazon.com to find out!

A Picture Book About Coronavirus Prevention by Marina Watt Amidst the chaos of coronavirus, the little ones can feel a little lost, especially since it can be difficult to understand why they are missing out on classes and stocking up on masks. Marina Watt’s A Picture Book About Coronavirus Prevention is an awesome illustrated book answering the general questions regarding the symptoms, prevention and calling out the reader as a “brave virus fighter”, inducing feelings of hope and positivity for Hong Kong. E-book available on cutt.ly/brianstorm

Lost in Hong Kong by Matthew Cooper Former medical writer Matthew Cooper has shifted gears directing his creative anecdotes of Hong Kong and Singapore at little ones. His inspiring stories are illustrated in colourful pastels to capture young imaginations. Lost in Hong Kong follows a young boy, Tim Chan, as he discovers the paths of the city in search of his naughty dog. This book explores Hong Kong’s transport system while touching upon the kindness of strangers. Available for $120 at Bookazine stores.

PODCASTS Fool Me Twice

Hong Kong Confidential

Eat Drink Asia

Lamma resident Jules Hannaford released her true crime podcast Fool Me Twice in October last year. The thrilling crime podcast follows the true story of Jules Hannaford, who was catfished, scammed and assaulted in an online dating romance scam. In less than three and half months, the series has hit 100,000 downloads. Subscribe to Fool Me Twice on Apple Podcasts or at foolmetwicepod.com

Bringing unheard stories of Hong Kong, Jules Hannaford’s Hong Kong Confidential leaves the listeners entertained and inspired. The podcast invites guests from all walks of life to share their wisdom and stories, from the gut-brain connection by a psychologist to overcoming self-loathe by abuse survivors, covering a series of stories catering to different listeners. Running for three years now, the series has gained in popularity with over 100 episodes to date and it’s still going strong. Listen online at hongkongconfidential.net

Brought to you by South China Morning Post, Bernice Chan and Alkira Reinfrank explore food and culture in Hong Kong and greater Asia. This podcast takes you further than just restaurant menus as you uncover the origins of certain Asian cuisines and dishes that are now popular worldwide. If you are a foodie and love learning about different cultures, listen to this podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. scmp.com

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Rugrat Ramblings

Not All Viruses Are Created Equal How a six-month old is navigating LDC (Life During Coronavirus)


here’s something in the air of late. Something different. I’m not talking about the flying lambs in waistcoats that circle ‘round and ‘round above my crib - they’re hilarious by the way. Where do they think they’re going and are they actually ever going to get there? Not at that pace and not if they refuse to change direction at some point. They’re truly a laugh a minute. But I digress. No, I’m talking about this Coronavirus that was not even really a thing when I arrived via a bolt of lightning six months ago. Now suddenly, it’s like, a big deal. A huge deal. And people have started acting really, really... strange. Firstly, the face area. Human mouths to be precise. Where they at? It appears to me that many - not all - but many mouths have now been replaced by another kind of mouth. One that can’t open or close or eat or make kissy faces at me at the bus stop. You can’t tell if these new but not at all improved mouths are happy or sad or tired. In the supermarkets now, all I see from prime position in my carrier are queues and queues of expressionless faces. I miss grinning mouths and crooked teeth. I miss the lady at the café sneakily poking her tongue out at me while mummy faces the other way. Since these new mouths arrived, people don’t seem as cheerful anymore and it hurts my heart, just a little bit. Secondly there’s this new thing happening with hands. Now, I love mine. I could look at them all day long so I sort of understand the fascination. Hands and fingers are equally brilliant. But this is different. These days they must always be clean. Clean, clean, clean. Wash for at least twenty seconds and then rub them together with a dollop of magic lotion. After the MTR, after the supermarket, after I’m caught in the act rubbing my chubby little hands all over the bus railings. I’m sorry, but why would they 48 expat-parent.com

Thoughts and perceptions from the mind of an expat baby make them bright yellow and then expect small people like me not to reach out and grab at them? Ludicrous. Next, it’s the panic. In the supermarkets to be specific. “In and out” my mum and dad used to say. We would grab what we needed and not be in there for too long. These days it’s a whole different game. We

have to get there early, right about the time when I would usually be rolling around on the floor with my toys, so that we can make sure we stock up on toilet paper for them and baby wipes for me. Sometimes, we miss out and mummy worries that we won’t have enough wipes to keep me fresh and clean. I have spoken about the energy around me before and how magically, feelings can get passed on to me without me knowing why. It’s hard to explain because it’s just a feeling, but when mummy and daddy worry – I worry too. Then lastly, the home lockdown. I used to get to go out on boats and trains and buses and just stare out the window at so many new and exciting things. But we don’t really get to do that anymore. Sometimes when I am at home I make a really loud squawking noise – it’s all I can do to tell them that I want to go out but they just don’t seem to understand. Or maybe they do understand, but it’s the virus that’s keeping us locked away. Mummy and daddy always say that they are thankful for me because no matter what happens I keep their spirits up and make them smile when they are worried or down. I can see that, because at home they wear their normal mouths and they smile a lot when I’m around. They smile when I wake up, when I roll from back to front and front to back, when I look confused, when I jump in the bouncer, even when I accidentally bottom burp really loud. I tell you what, these people are very easily entertained. But what they don’t realise is that they do the same for me. When they clean my hands after a bus trip, when they buy my baby wipes and even when they keep me inside so that I am safe. I haven’t been on this planet long, but what I make of this is if we help each other out and keep each other’s spirits up in this world, we can get through anything. In my opinion, there is one virus worth catching right now - a crazy little thing called love and if you’re lucky you’ll catch it too.

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