Ask any of the businessmen nursing pints in the frenetic party district of Lang Kwai Fong what their priority is when visiting Hong Kong and you’re sure to hear about Sam’s Tailor. Crossing the harbour the next day, to the Kowloon side, take Exit B1 from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station and prepare to be greeted by a barrage of men on street corners trying to poach your custom before you can get to Sam’s. Continue reading
Author Archives: Charles Smith
A (Belated) 春节 Chinese New Year in Hong KongLeave a comment Standard
Loyal readers (so, probably only my mother) I owe you an apology. Why? Because I have failed, quite comprehensively, to do anything out of the ordinary this Chinese New Year (春节 – Chūn Jié), much to my chagrin. I’ve been a boring Hong Kong tourist.
It wasn’t for lack of trying though. Promise. Continue reading
Reading Week Myanmar Trip: Part IILeave a comment Standard
N.B. This post is the follow-up to Part I, covering the second half of our week in Myanmar.
Nearly 5 million people visited Myanmar last year, compared with just 800,000 in 2010. The rise of tourism here has been rapid here and the people are clearly still transitioning to new ways of life. American dollars (which must be crisp, unfolded and unmarked bills if they’re to be accepted!) are flooding the economy – probably for the worst. One of the positive effects of so much foreign money though is the potential for the restoration and preservation of the beautiful sites and sights of Myanmar. ‘Entry fees’ charged at the boundaries to archaeological areas, such as the 12,500 kyat we paid to enter Lake Inle (Inlay) and the surrounding land are one such way this money is being put to good use by the government. Continue reading
How a Year Abroad can make you Happy – Derren Brown and StoicismComment 1 Standard
If you’re not a philosopher, then Derren Brown’s new book, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine, may be a pleasant surprise. It’s an accessible foray into stoicism, an ancient greek philosophy that’s gaining momentum in the modern day amongst philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Returning to Hong Kong this week, one element of stoicism that he touched on seemed particularly poignant in the context of a year abroad: appreciating those things in our lives that we take for granted. I want to explore, briefly, how a year abroad can facilitate such reflexive activity. Continue reading
Myanmar for Reading Week! Study Abroad Trips!Leave a comment Standard
Fuelled by a meal of deep-fried locusts the night we’d arrived, our second day in Myanmar (formerly Burma) was about one thing only: Schwedagon Pagoda. ‘Schweddy,’ as one friend affectionately nicknamed it, is a huge Buddhist temple adorned by 3,000 rubies, 8 tonnes of gold plate and is topped off with a 76 carat diamond at its 100m tip. It is by far the most incredible structure in Yangon, the capital. Continue reading
Funding: British Council’s Scholarship for ExcellenceComment 1 Standard
With the British Government’s ever increasing tuition fees looking set to rise again soon, debt continues to be a problem that every student faces. Extending your degree by studying abroad for a year only adds to that debt. All is not lost, though. If you’re lucky and forward thinking, you can mitigate at least some of the cost. The British Council, in particular, offer a generous scholarship that I have benefited greatly from. Continue reading
Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong – Mooncakes and Bride PoolsLeave a comment Standard
This is by far the busiest that Hong Kong has been so far. Thursday the fifteenth of September saw the arrival of Hong Kong’s annual Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节). Everywhere we walked, people shared Mooncakes and lit Lanterns up and down the packed streets of Causeway Bay. We were surrounded by thousands of people making their way to Victoria Park to see the shows and nearby Incense Dragon Dance. Looking around, we knew that this was going to be one of the highlights of Chinese culture we would see during our time here. Continue reading
On Food. Or, the beginning of an entirely inadequate summary of culinary fun in Hong Kong.Comment 1 Standard
All I had hoped for and more is true: ‘Hong Kong’ can confidently be labelled as synonymous with ‘good food’. The melting pot of cultures, styles and traditions means that you can’t walk more than a hundred metres without passing a veritable melange of international eateries. My claim – that if you want to eat well, you should be here in Hong Kong – is a big one, but I’m confident that I can justify it based on only two weeks of experience and the limitations of a student’s budget. Continue reading
Touchdown: First Impressions of HKU and Hong KongComment 1 Standard
I’m not a subscriber to the notion of fate. Despite this, I have recently noticed some poetic coincidences linking me to Hong Kong. HKU’s Latin motto, ‘Sapientia et Virtus,’ translates rather grandly as ‘Wisdom and Virtue’. My subject, Philosophy, therefore has a serendipitous etymological link to HKU. The Latin roots, Philo (lover of) and Sophia (wisdom), are quite fitting for someone who is studying at an establishment dedicated to wisdom and virtue. Furthermore, the very exploration of virtue began with the philosopher Aristotle’s famous treatises.
Of course, I didn’t choose to study here based on those little bits of trivia, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. Continue reading
Why the Pearl of the Orient? Choosing Hong KongComment 1 Standard
Two weeks to go. Near the end of August, most probably bleary-eyed after the long haul flight, for the first time in my life I’ll set eyes upon the Asian continent. Specifically, I’ll be seeing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China, my home for the next ten months. The jetlag is sure to be intense, but I’m not worried as seeing this skyline will indubitably make up for it in spades: