Monthly Archives: February 2012


I went to the theatre the other night. The play was in French. Impressed? You shouldn’t be; I don’t speak French.

Luckily there were subtitles projected onto the back of the set. Quite distracting for the French speaking audience I imagine, but possibly great for forgetful actors.

My wife, who does speak French, informed me that not everything was translated; but I still managed to get the drift of the play. Which leads me to this: how much is enough to get the general idea?

I am constantly confused and maybe a little suspicious whenever I get on a Chinese airline. A recent trip had the flight attendant rambling on for a good 3 to 4 minutes in her native tongue. Then the switch to English: “Fasten your seatbelt, have a nice flight”

What were the secret minutes the Chinese got and I didn’t? What was said that was not worth translating? As an avowed conspiracy theorist (man landed on the moon… As if!) I was intrigued. My initial thoughts were parachutes. Did she say: “Comrades, apart from the lifejacket under your seat, or in the armrest if you are in business class, here is where the parachutes are kept… Just don’t tell the western pig-dog in 27E.”

Or was she just cracking jokes?

“Good evening folks, my dog has no nose,”

“­ how does it smell?”


Does this happen at the United Nations? When leaders meet, do the interpreters just give them an abridged version? “Welcome to our humble country Your Esteemed Excellency. My people wonder at your majesty and warmly greet you. Our country is your country” – “Hello there, the toilet is down the hall, first on the left”

Our lives are surrounded by shortcuts. Texting is a major offender  – I got this the other day “t2ul8r” I thought the person was swearing at me. I personally don’t think saving 8 seconds while texting is of much use. What do people do with all this time? I’ll tell you – they make up new shorthand texting signs, or spend the time trying to decipher one that has been sent to them. Apparently: “ |-| ” means “I’m asleep” Now seriously, do I have to spell out the many flaws in that shortcut?

In Hong Kong the ultimate dream is to find a quicker way to drive somewhere. Endless discussions can be had about the best way to drive from Mid-Levels to Central to get there in 2 minutes rather than 2 minutes, 47 seconds. Over the mountain or through the Aberdeen tunnel can occupy a dinner party for a good hour.

Sorry, but I just don’t buy into it all. I still text longhand, I drive through the Aberdeen tunnel in peak hour and I happily attend the theatre where I get just enough of the plot to keep me awake. I don’t need the potential minutes I could save each day by taking shortcuts. What I do need is to find out where those damn parachutes are kept.


Why read this?

Well, who am I and why should you waste the two minutes it will take you to read this blog? 

Firstly, what have you possibly got to do that can’t wait two minutes! C’mon it won’t kill you, promise. Second, you might enjoy it. I will be babbling on about all kinds of things. Good things about life in Hong Kong, things that are bad, and other stuff that is simply incomprehensible. Like girls who wear winter boots that are so hairy they look like they need a haircut, or European men who wear scarves when it’s hot. Incomprehensible. Thirdly, and most importantly, you might just hate it. It will give you something tangible to bitch about in the office. “Hey, Stanley, did you read the drivel from ‘acotob’ this week?” “Yeh Frank, the guy has a screw loose. Who finds splayed lizards in the dry markets remotely interesting?”  Think about the morale boosting potential, not to mention the pressure it might take off the office idiot.

Side note: If you don’t know who the office idiot is, chances are it’s you.

Or maybe you just might get a chuckle at the simple and sometimes idiotic things that go on in the Special Administrative Region, which a busy lifestyle might miss. I’ll do the looking for you; it will simply cost you two minutes, three if you’re being jostled on the MTR. Hong Kong is a special city. Where else in the world can you mix Chinese, Australian’s, New Zealander’s, British, American’s, Canadian’s, French, German’s, Italian’s, Spanish, Filipino’s, Indonesian’s, Indian’s, Nepalese, Pakistani’s, Japanese, Thai’s and whoever else you can think of, into a Rugby 7’s stadium and see exactly zero fights. Admittedly you just might be too drunk to see them, but in my mind, if you don’t see them, they didn’t happen.

 In my former life, I was ensconced in a mind numbingly tedious corporate career. I travelled a lot, partly due to the nature of the business, mostly due to my conviction that if they can’t find you, they can’t fire you. But eventually they found me… I knew I shouldn’t have booked into the Sukhothai; too obvious. So from corporate high-flyer to toiling writer – come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good trade.

 In any event, their loss is your gain, depending on your tolerance for lowbrow bloggists. But give it a go. Don’t sharpen your complaint pencil just yet. And if you actually like it let me know as well. Don’t just leave the positive reinforcement to my immediate family.

Welcome to a chip off the old blog

The world is too serious. a chip off the old blog will not be engaging in comment on the GFC, or any other acronym. Here you will be able to read what being an expat in Asia is all about, well, from my perspective, anyway.

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