Sunday, January 31, 2010

Proof-reader needed

Oh, dear...

And adding the little arrow makes it somehow all right...?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another praise point

One of our cars has finally sold!

Yes, the Calais has a new owner thanks to the hard work of Craig and Kirsten Matchett.

That just leaves the blue Berlina which is still for sale in Perth. It is listed on Gumtree if you know anyone who is looking to buy a great secondhand car.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Capsule toys

When you are at the supermarket cash register do your kids beg for a coin to put in the nearby capsule machine that dispenses little toys? Well, picture entire aisles of these capsule machines...that's what we've got in Hong Kong.

Andy and Carla, be very afraid...

Gashapons, as they are known in Japan and other Asian countries, have become a cult phenomenon. Each toy is only around 10cm tall and cost around $2 AUD each.  These little plastic figures usually come in a series for buyers to collect, but as the capsule machines dispense the miniature toys randomly, collecting a whole series can be a frustrating challenge. The gashapons range from famous cartoons, manga, anime, or video game-related characters (Gundam, Astro Boy, Pokemon, Disney, Mario Bros, Bleach, Dragonball, Naruto, etc) to eduacational or bizarre items (human anatomy models, intricately detailed beetles, shoes for Barbie dolls, etc).

Thankfully, our children have not yet gotten caught up in the collectible capsule craze. Tirzah, however, is quite entertained by turning the crank handles on all the machines she sees at the shops. Once a well-meaning stranger even put a coin in for her to get a toy. Sadly, Tirzah's gashapon has since been misplaced somewhere in our apartment. I expect it's lost forever. Here's hoping it's not one of the extremely rare and valuable one-of-a-kind designs!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't you just LOVE a bargain?

This week Jemilla and Keegan received the first instalment of their payment for doing carol singing at Christmas time. They each received $600 HKD which is about $85 AUD. They are extremely excited about being so flush with money. We have had a few discussions about the benefits of saving money, how much they might put in the church offering bag, and the advantage of buying toys over confectionery. 

Keegan's first purchase was a baseball player for about $7 AUD. Remember I wrote about finding a great set of plastic figurines at a local shop in Tai Po? Today Jemilla bought a Disney Princess Mulan doll and horse from the same place.


We saw the same toy in a nearby department store for $37 AUD, but Jemilla only paid $8 AUD. The reason for the price reduction was that the box was damaged on one side.


This little playground is one of our favourite places to visit after school pick-up in the afternoons. Jemilla likes the monkey bars, Keegan always asks me to play noughts and crosses, and Tirzah is happiest on the slide. I like the way the old people are wheeled from a nearby retirement home to this park where they can see the children laughing and playing.

Hong Kong residents are extremely modest, in both their clothing and customs. This lady at the park is the only woman I have ever seen breastfeeding in public. I suspect it is usually frowned upon and considered offensive in Chinese culture. It made me thankful that I had my three children in Australia which is much more open-minded to the rights of babies to be fed whenever and wherever they happen to be hungry. My sister Lauren wrote some interesting posts on the topic here and here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Have you ever seen...? (one)

...a security camera with a windscreen wiper?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Australia Day

In 2009 the Hong Kong Australian Chamber of Commerce hired former Noiseworks and INXS rocker Jon Stevens to perform the Australian Anthem at their Australia Day luncheon.

Why am I telling you this, you ask. Well, this year the singer for the Australian Anthem at the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong was...

are you ready for it?

Jemilla Harvey!

It's true! Craig's boss, Gail Maidment is very well-known in Hong Kong and she recommended that Jemilla perform the anthem after her fantastic rendition of Aussie Jingle Bells at the Australian Consulate Christmas party. Now, as Jemilla's parents we naturally think that she's absolutely wonderful in every way. However, just between you and me, sometimes she does sing a bit off-key. (Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....don't tell her!) Despite that, she has been given opportunities to perform publicly that she would likely never have experienced in Australia. As a result, she is overcoming stage nerves and shouldering new responsibilities. And today those responsibilities included singing for none other than Peter Costello.

This was the event:


Tuesday 26 January 2010
Proudly sponsored by:

AustCham and National Australia Bank Hong Kong are proud to announce former Treasurer, The Hon. Peter Costello, will be joining us at the 2010 AustCham NAB Australia Day Lunch.
As the longest serving Treasurer in Australia’s history, Mr Costello brought down twelve consecutive Federal Budgets, including ten surpluses, before leaving politics in 2009 – with his sense of humour intact.
In one of his first major speeches since departing politics, Mr Costello will lift the lid on aspects of his public career, including that Macarena dance. All delivered in the style which made him widely regarded as one of Question Time’s most witty speakers.
On a day to celebrate all things Australian, Peter Costello reveals his recent preference for a VB and sing-a-long to Meatloaf, over media scrums and political leadership battles.

The Hon. Peter Costello was first elected a Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Higgins in 1990 and has been a Member of seven Australian Parliaments. He was elected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia in May 1994 and served in that post to November 2007. Peter resigned from the Parliament on 19 October 2009.
Peter was one of the 24-member committee of the International Monetary Fund, a Governor of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for approximately 10 years. Peter is currently on an Independent Advisory Board to the World Bank and he is a Partner and Managing Director at BKK Partners.
He has written a best selling memoir published in 2008 by Melbourne University Press.
Tuesday 26 January 2010
Cocktails 12.00pm, Lunch 12.30pm, Close 2.30pm
Ballroom, 5/F, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong
Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Central

So January 26, 2010, has been very different to previous Australia Days we've experienced. This Australia Day we're not wearing our singlets, shorts and thongs.  (The weather in Hong Kong is still a tad chilly.) Nor is there a huge fireworks display to enjoy while we munch on lamingtons and Tim Tams with the smell of chops and sausages sizzling on the barbecue wafting through the air.

But watching our daughter demonstrate her God-given ability to sing in front of a room full of 300 international big-wigs...well, that's pretty cool too.

We've had a great Australia Day.

Hope you have too.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Today the children had a day off from school, so we took the train to Hung Hom to explore somewhere new. We ended up riding the MTR East Rail Line from end to end and took photos of the gorgeous murals at each station on the way. You'll notice that the art features different flowers and buildings in a different colour for each stop. What you can't tell from the photos is that these murals stretch the length of the platform...they're huge! I used to think the new Perth train stations were nice, but these HK ones are such a visual delight. I think all the locals are desensitised though; I received many a strange look from passers-by who were craning their necks to figure out what the white woman could possibly be photographing at their humdrum train station.

Hung Hom

Mong Kok East

Kowloon Tong

Tai Wai

Sha Tin


 Fo Tan


Tai Po Market

Tai Wo


Sheung Shui

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our cheeky winter elf

Kowloon Park

Today was my first week back at Sha Tin Church after several weeks away. A fortnight ago I cherished being back at Woodvale Baptist Church for their Sunday services. And last week we attended church at Evangelical Community Church with our friends the Sweeneys. ECC is another international English-speaking church that meets at the YMCA building in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district.

I enjoyed the service thoroughly, especially the absence of the formal liturgies that are common practice at Sha Tin. However, as ECC is no closer to our home it is unlikely that we would switch loyalties.

Following the service we shared lunch with the Sweeney family at a nearby Shakey's Pizza restaurant. Then they showed us one of their favourite children's playgrounds at Kowloon Park. It has many beautiful flowers and trees, plus a variety of rare birds. The park seemed to be extremely popular with tourists and locals, undoubtedly because of its many scenic spots and the following attractions:

* Mini-Soccer Pitch
* Fitness Trail
* Children's Playground
* Discovery Playground
* Maze Garden
* Sculpture Walk and Sculpture Garden
* Colour Garden
* Chinese Garden
* Roof Gardens
* Piazza
* Loggia
* Viewing Cone
* Conservation Corner
* Bird Lake
* Aviary
* Kowloon Park Swimming Pool
* Kowloon Park Sports Centre

We didn't get to see much of the park last week because we were pressed for time, mostly just the playground and a koi exhibition. We will definitely have to return when we have more time to explore. Craig took the following photos during our brief visit.

Kowloon Park is known as the "Green Lung" of the city centre. We found it to be  a welcome haven in this bustling community.