Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Every night, I have the same dream...

My Chinese teacher's optimism knows no bounds. Earlier this year, she instructed me to write a story. It's amazing what one can do with only 500 Chinese characters.

You can read the first installment (by Sasha, my teacher) here and the second installment (by me) here. If you can read Chinese, that is. Well, if you, like me, are at least a quarter of the way to basic literacy.

To be continued...

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Friday, 24 June 2011


 More specifically: faded 綠色雨傘 ...



Prefer a whiter shade of pale?

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Li Ka Shing and the Mystery of the Typhoon Force Field

Tropical storm Haima, despite producing a Typhoon 3 signal and a manic whistling sound from my kitchen extractor fan, has veered off to the left and is heading in the general direction of Hainan Island, according to the Hong Kong Observatory's tropical cyclone tracking tool. 

Of course, a tropical storm or worse is not exactly desirable weather, but once the T3 signal is hoisted, most office workers keep a hopeful eye on the weather updates in case it turns to a T8 at which point everyone gets an afternoon (or morning) off, as I explained here.

This explains why my colleagues were moaning that 'there never seems to be a Typhoon 8 these days', and proceeded to enlighten me on a popular theory: the Li Ka Shing Force Field. 

It is clearly not in Mr Li's (or any other business tycoon's) interests for his employees to get days off due to inclement meteorological circumstances, therefore, the Most Powerful Man in Asia would be using his phenomenal influence to divert the course of regional weather systems away from his own installations, and, concomitantly, away from every hopeful Office Lady in HK.

My colleague developed the theory further. Allegedly, Li's industries guzzle a disproportionate amount of energy, and the reason for this is the fact that some of them are, in fact, force-field emitting devices in disguise which need tremendous amounts of power to operate. Perhaps this ordinary-looking satellite station at Cape d'Aguilar is just that:

It might explain Haima's determination not to pay us a visit.

Update on 29/7/11: A complete and authoritative guide to the subject here.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Ladies and gentlemen's timewarps. Walk out looking 30-60 years ago.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Saturday, 18 June 2011

King of the castle

Are you a property developer seeking inspiration to market your next rip-off? Then why not consider adding a touch of majesty to the address? If building names are anything to go by, playing at kings and queens seems to appeal to HK buyers, from paupers to princes.

一. For sovereigns who are just stepping on to the regal property ladder, this property on the aptly named King's Road in North Point is a good starting option from which to overlook your humble kingdom.

二. Once you have established your majestic reputation, you could consider investing in this stately domain in Tai Po where you'll be sure to lead a fairytale life.

三. For the crafty monarch who manages to tax his/her subjects to within an inch of their lives, this development by Chinachem at Kai Tak is clearly the way to say I'm royal and rich.

四. Then again, why beat about the bush, your Majesty? Your address says it all.

 Read more:

Wondering what Chinachem is?

Swanky addresses aren't just for individuals...

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Monday, 13 June 2011

Whitish whites

Ways to make your chef's whites less so:

一. Sit in the fireplace (but remember to take your boots off):

二. Sit in prime poodle scent-marking territory:

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Whitish goods

雪櫃 = syut gwai: snow cupboard

A 'fridgerator for every budget:

Value option: lots of takers.

900 honkies, energy efficiency a mystery.

Priceless. Homeless.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Friday, 10 June 2011

Gathering clouds

The first typhoon warning of the year today prompted me to post some appropriate 'ímpending storm' photos taken a while ago. In truth, today's weather was fine and very hot, with no sign of tropical storm Sarika approaching other than an incredible level of stickiness.

In case you were wondering, all the East Asian countries and, for some reason, the US, get to contribute to the list of names for typhoons  and these are used on a rotating basis. The name Sarika was put forward by Cambodia and refers to a songbird, apparently.

Another interesting factoid is that if a storm causes extensive loss of life or material damage in the past year, its name can be withdrawn from the list (serves it right) and replaced with a new one. In May, three new names were picked.

Let's hope no new names need to be chosen next year.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Birdsize bites

What Hong Kong (logically) lacks in British Birds Begining with B (blue-tits, blackbirds) it makes up for with an abundance of its own local B-variety, the bright-as-a-button bulbul.

Here are two members of the bulbul family having breakfast:

Red-whiskered Bulbul: berries

Chinese Bulbul: beakful of bugs

The bulbul's name, like many birds', is onomatopoeic. Song of the bulbul selon The Birds of Hong Kong and South China: 'bulbi-bulbit, bulbi-bulbit!'

Thank you Patrick for the Red-whiskered Bulbul picture.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Monday, 6 June 2011

Omnibus omniscience

Public transport staff huts are no less worthy of their Chinese god than your local cha chaan teng. These bus-stop shrines are tended to with varying levels of devotion:

Spick and span in Shau Kei Wan

Decluttering operation needed in Ap Lei Chau

Also see: a most curious shrine painting and a celebrity among local deities.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Nun other

I like Hong Kong's Catholic nuns! They're not like those strict, starched, wimple-wielding types you get in Europe.
These good Sisters seem much more down to earth. They wear prim white school-uniform type frocks, and even do everyday chores:

Shopping at the wet market...

Taking the kid to school...

I haven't seen one walking the dogs yet though.

All content © 2011 Emilie Pavey

Saturday, 4 June 2011

On the court

籃球 = laam kauh: basketball

These boys aren't playing this hugely popular HK sport for leisure.
Guess the situation:

Friday, 3 June 2011

Rooftop refuge

'Illegal structures' popped up in the news this week again. Hardly any building seems free of the offending shacks, with everyone from Yuen Long villagers to the Chief Executive under suspicion of having constructed one. In fact, on the roofs of many older buildings in the city, little of the original rooftop remains, these small, corrugated iron microcosms having completely eaten them up.

Seen from my workplace:

Seen from my living room:

For a stunning visual exploration of this Hong Kong phenomenon, I cannot recommend the excellent book Portraits from Above by Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham more strongly.

Update on 4/6: also see this post by Christopher DeWolf for more angles on the issue.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

L'image et la plume

A break from the norm tonight to announce the completion of the May issue of Pen and Image, brainchild of photographer Hannah Ross and the only magazine that always comes out a month late...

Four contributors, four time zones, and a random word every 24 hours: an exercise in comparative urbanism.

Guest contributor/city for the month of May: Land of No Cheese, Hong Kong!

Click a look:

Or go and see what's happening this month on Pen & Image.