Trouble in Hong Kong…

an outsider's perspective of hong kong

it’s so hard to say goodbye

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have you ever had one of those days where you walked around with a sad thought lingering at the back of mind, mind far far away from the physical body and your heart so heavy and yet you somehow know you need to keep it all together?

i had one of those days last thursday. just before i left the house at 7.30, a breaking news flashed across bloomberg announcing the death of steve jobs. when he announced that he could no longer fulfill his duties as ceo, i guess i knew it was anytime soon that we’d be seeing that in the news. but still i was really sad.  till now, i cannot understand the wave of sadness that i felt because steve was not anyone i knew personally.

i felt so silly when i told my boss – steve jobs passed away and i was fighting to hold back my tears. i don’t know steve. i am just one of the many million of beneficiaries of his innovative products. i have a mortal fear of dentist and every time i went to the dentist, i made sure my ipod was powered up with the loudest possible songs. prior to my ipod era, the sound of the drills just drove me crazy.. so thank u steve for that.

there are days i get really bored with the world. i hate the fact that our civility has made us so void of humanity.. everybody tries to do the same thing without questioning the integrity of doing it.. but steve was different. steve jobs was a bright spot in the midst of all the blindness.

the apple store in hk has become somewhat tribute hall for steve. i stood there reading some of the many notes that were written for steve..

many people said – you are an inspiration.

i hope that many people can see that steve did not become an inspiration by trying to be somebody else. i am sure as hell as steve became who he was without asking – do you have a template or a case study to do this?

he was who was because he could not agree with the way things were done.  while many of us including myself find it hard to agree with how things are done but we don’t do anything to turn it around and present a different view to it. we just walk away, shrugging off the thought and accepting it.

steve – you make me want to fight harder for the things that i don’t agree with because if i walk away not doing anything or saying anything or presenting my view – i have failed to make an impact to the world.

for days now, we also have been anticipating farewell to my good friend ruby’s cat – bagel. it happened on the same day.

that anchor in my heart just became heavier. my godson jake had to learn to say goodbye to a friend that has been so much a part of his life..

goodbye bagel – hope towards the end, it wasn’t too hard. you were a good cat.



Written by smalltroubleinhk

October 8, 2011 at 8:28 am


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on an average working day in central at the corner of the street corner from my office on pedder steet, it is not uncommon to find someone holding out a charity box asking for donation. somedays it’s for old people, some days it’s for animals.. all types of causes under the sun.all very deserving causes for any form of help.

when i was five years old, my grandmother took me to the temple with her and there was a beggar outside asleep on the sheltered pavement. i asked my popo for a loan of a dollar as i quietly dropped the dollar into his bowl.

that act of giving made me feel warm and fuzzy and that i did something. it was the quickest adrenaline to make me feel good about myself.

a few days ago, i read this story about paris hilton visiting india. a beggar woman had knocked on the window of her car asking her for charity. she handed her a 100 USD. the beggar lady who had never seen money in USD approached her relative for help. seeing that and recognizing that it was in dollar denomination, the two ensued in a fight resulting the dollar to be torn in two. left aghast, the snazzy ms. hilton said – i could have given the poor lady more money in her currency.

when that song – we are the world came out in the mid 1980s. i thought it was the best thing in the world. collecting money from people who are able to give to those who are less fortunate.

after 20- 30 years of donating money. have we done a good thing or a bad thing?

there is a cleaner lady that sweeps the floor around my neighborhood. i befriended her and gave her household stuff such as old fans, free-tshirts that i didn’t need. after a while, i found her avoiding me. i was really hurt by her action and i asked her friend why she did that. she simply said – there is integrity still for being poor and less fortunate in your eyes. she doesn’t need your charity.

and she was right. by giving money to people whom we think are less fortunate – are we helping them or are we killing their instinct for survival?creating a false sense of dependency on charity. we can’t help someone because you feel sorry for them. this is not empowerment. you empower them by helping them to be self-sustaining and being able to fend for themselves.

that is why when someone hands over a donation box to me these days, i look away because i don’t want to contribute to this paralysis.

and that is the problem with the world. we are hand feeding everybody. people who could be something are not because they think why bother – the government can help, there are shelters for me to get free food. why bother.

i have had a mother who told me – i told my son to quit his job because his job is too demanding. why?  if only more mothers think – my child is like an unpolished diamond, he or she will become better after some good old polishing.maybe this will be a better world.

if only we stop thinking that the way to help someone is by giving them an easy way out. if only…


Written by smalltroubleinhk

October 8, 2011 at 7:13 am

counting my blessing

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bad things happen to remind us the fragility of all the goods things that are happening around us.

it may be hard to see through the dead of a loved one but it serves to remind us to cherish the living.

whenever i am unsatisfied with what i have ( which happens a lot) i think about people who are born in the wrong countries ie. north korea, pakistan, burma or palestine. being born in a shitty place automatically means you have less opportunities to raise above the odds and succeeding

i think about people i thought were going to do well in life who did not make it just because of one life changing incident that happened.

i think a lot about how i am going to exchange my youth and time in this life time with meaningful deeds, accomplishments that i am happy to speak about and all the good people that will come my way who will add value to my life.

i think a lot about filtering out the bad ones and cutting the ties should they continue to shed negativity on my life.

i think a lot about counting my blessings and to do what i can do change the little bits that i don’t like about myself.

this is because i believe when i change something small for something good, the right things will always come along.

Written by smalltroubleinhk

September 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

wake me up when september ends

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lately i have a few lady friends confessing to me that they did not marry the man of their dreams. they said they should have married this boyfriend or that boyfriend and that they should not have married their husbands.

to be honest, i  find this statement dribbled with utter stupidity because  i know for a fact that it is so much easier to maintain a relationship with a boyfriend rather than a husband. once you marry someone, you are compounded with so many issues you never have to deal with when you are dating them. his family becomes your family and you now have to play out the expectation they have of you. then you have kids – what you were earning before is not going to be enough unless you triple it by the time they go to school. life makes its demands of you at every stage of a marriage.

during my father’s funeral, i was reunited with my aunty whom i haven’t seen in 20 years. i asked her how her husband was and this is her story..

she hates her husband. when he was young, he sat around a lot to talk about politics while she worked like crazy. now that they are old, he had a stroke and is left paralyzed – she has to take care of him.

she said jokingly – if only euthanasia was legal.

in the context of humanity – it is a very cruel thing to have said that but if i were her i think i would feel the same. i would feel angry, cheated and deep down i think we know what kind of life we deserve to have.. that’s why i feel very sad for people who are married to people who not only didn’t improve their lives but are total liabilities.

at the end of the day, in any relationship, it is up to us to want to be the best version of ourselves so that this journey of life doesn’t become a dread and a total waste of life.

Written by smalltroubleinhk

September 17, 2011 at 9:31 am

overheard 2

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watched overheard 2 last night. it wasn’t my movie of choice because although i enjoyed the first movie, i couldn’t understand why they named this one after the first one when all the cast in the first had died. i was told that the second movie is an entirely new plot, new story and the characters have been reshuffled around but still i was skeptical.

man, i was so wrong!!

overheard 2 is one of the best hong kong movies i have watched in recent years. way better than the first one. i like it for all the right reasons. all the villians were the big-time bad boys in hong kong cinema which i haven’t seen in so long and i actually thought by now some of them would be dead by now. the story line is really tight and right from the start, i couldn’t wait to get more out of the movie. i was like – oh my god, what is next? why is he doing that?

you know when they say we get better with age – we really do. a few years ago, i remember thinking louis koo is such a crap actor but his performance in overheard 2 is absolutely mind blowing. but i love daniel wu’s character the most and daniel has never looked better in recent years. he is still one of the hottest chinese actors in hong kong cinema and he has gotten better and better with each movie.

if you think hong kong movies aren’t worth going back to the cinemas for, overheard 2 will change your mind all over again about hong kong. definitely a great mid-autumn festival treat with so much eye candy and heart pumping action.

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September 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

a village of 400 families

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we went to a very strange place while we were at xiamen. located three hours by car from xiamen city, we booked a day trip to this hakka village that lies in the fujian province. known as tulou, this hakka village is like a version of a village laid out in the form of the colosseum in rome. the only difference is that people actually live in them. we went to the biggest tulou in the village.

the 700 year old structure is a three storey circular complex that houses more than 400 rooms where families live together. as the hakka people are considered a minority ethnic group, i suppose like all minorities everywhere, they like to huddle together in unity.

as the village is situated on the highlands, i think that the main economy comes from growing tea leaves because at the ground level of the complex, you are invited to sample various types of tea. i initially thought that going to a place like that, the locals will definitely try to hard sell their wares to us because they are pretty chilled. so the atmosphere is quite nice.

seeing families live together in such close proximity makes me think of how alienated we are nowadays. it wasn’t too long ago when we had more of a communal sense, i suppose. if only we have more of that now, maybe people would be happier. it seems to me, people now are often eager to have a family but they don’t think about ways of raising the family. some leave it to domestic helpers, others have nannies – paid help, everything can now be exchanged with money. this has become a value that we instill in our children.

sad isn’t it..

back then, it takes a village to raise a child..

Written by smalltroubleinhk

September 13, 2011 at 8:10 am

xiamen, gulangyu

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i love going to new places and seeing the world. there is nothing quite like seeing the concept of the everyday from another person’s perspective of how everyday is like

whenever there is a holiday in hong kong, people just love to travel. maybe because hong kong is quite centralized most other asian cities just a couple of hours away, that kinda leads to the convenient of traveling.

after working hardcore hours – 12 hours a day for the last 6 months, i threw in the towel for a few days of relaxation. if there was one thing that i would like to do this year – it’s really to see more of china. there is so much to see in china. so much history so many different places and faces.

we headed out to xiamen for a few days of ” doing nothing…

upon arrival, we stayed a day on a little island next to xiamen city. gulangyu reminds me a lot of lamma island. i was really surprised with the large number of colonial -style mansions scattered all over the island. probing the local residents had later revealed that the mansions were built by rich overseas chinese from nanyang ( singapore and malaysia) after they made their fortunes abroad. apparently as well, the xiamen university was funded by a rich overseas chinese who went to singapore. interesting.

anyways, gulangyu must have been one of the most artistic little island enclave i have seen. called the paradise garden of china, one is able to see how art is part of everyday living. the gardens are beautifully landscaped and every bit of space they have, they use it to plant things. at the b&b where we stayed, there was a garden at the back where it is used as an open air art studio and students go there with easels and paint brushes, drawing whatever inspires them.

i really like the old colonial mansions and the coffee places. don’t bother trying the cakes because they are still not up to par but every single coffee place try their hardest to carve out a unique identity of their own.

sending postcards and writing to one another seems also be a unique fabric in the culture of gulangyu. we saw many people regardless of age buying loads of postcards and sending them out. i didn’t hesitate sending my family one too.

i think you will like xulangyu. compared to a lot of places in china, xiamen is spotlessly clean. i hardly see blue skies in china but for four days, i saw nothing but blue skies with an occasional passing of the summer’s shower.

Written by smalltroubleinhk

September 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

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