Recently in Hong Kong Category

Je viens de changer le plan de données illimité de mon téléphone pour me permettre de faire du tethering et ainsi m'alimenter en Internet chez nous. Du coup, on m'a donné le Access Point (APN) du broadband résidentiel qui s'appelle juste "Internet". Et ça me coûte que HK$50 (CA$6.50) de plus par mois, et un beau total de HK$300 (CA$40) par mois.

Donc, à part que je puisse maintenant faire du tethering avec mon cell (j'aurais pu aussi avant, mais ça aurait contrevenu à mon entente), le nouvel APN me donne constamment de plus grandes vitesses de transfert de données et me permet maintenant aussi de streamer de l'audio à travers le réseau mobile.

Google Nexus One

Armé de mon Nexus One (que je vais reviewer la semaine prochaine), je peux donc me promener dans la rue à Hong Kong et écouter les streams de Radio-Canada (et de CBC, de Bande à part, etc., par extension) comme si j'étais à Montréal! Le seul hic: c'est à travers le réseau 3G, alors ça va drainer de la batterie.

Screenshot-Icecast Streaming Media Server - Mozilla Firefox

En fouillant dans les fichiers Javascript de BAP, j'ai trouvé que le serveur des publishing points chez Abacast servait aussi une page index: C'est aussi peut-être un alias/serveur géo-spécifique de que j'ai trouvé dans les ASX de R-C.

CBC et Radio-Canada sont de leurs partenaires et la liste de la page mentionnée ci-dessus comprend donc pas mal tous les mount points de ses feeds audio, servis pour appareils mobiles, applications Web, etc.

Comme c'est public, on peut pointer à ces addresses directement sur son browser mobile, et si la connection est assez rapide (devrait être HSDPA, à 3Mo/s), on peut les écouter comme de la radio à travers les ondes. On va sur la page, on copie le lien M3U, et on enlève le ".m3u" de l'adresse (ou on ouvre le fichier m3u dans un éditeur de texte).

Des streams taggés "128" (comme ceux de BAP) sont en fait du 192kbps. Ça tire un peu beaucoup avec ma connection sur l'île chez moi, mais quand ça marche, ça sonne mieux que la radio FM. Y'a d'autres streams comme les radio musicales qui sont aussi à haut débit. Le talk radio est à 64.

Autre goody: la page nous montre le nombre d'auditeurs présentement connectés. (Bon, ça serait p-ê une bonne idée que qqu dise à Abacast d'arrêter de laisser cette page publique?)

Android Dev Phone 2 cover
Android Dev Phone 2 cover. The AD2 is also known as the Google Ion, a software remix of the HTC Magic. Was handed out to Google I/O 2009 attendees and made available to other developers in November 2009.

When Google's new "superphone" Nexus One was released yesterday, it was made available for online orders shipping to four places in the world: the US, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In Canada, I was paying CA$40/mo for high-speed (7mbps) Internet over fixed-line, on top of a mobile phone service (no data) that costs me CA$35/mo.

Hong Kong is a city where you can get pay-as-you-go SIM cards for your GSM phone with a company like China Mobile HK for just HK$100 (CA$13.50) and get charge HK$0.10 (just above one cent) per local minute, and HK$0.25 (about three Canadian cents) per minute for Overseas calls to places like Canada, the US and the UK. If you sign up for a monthly postpaid plan (need a HK ID, or pay a ~HK$3000 deposit), you can get ridiculously cheap plans. My family and friends here constantly tell me about plans going for HK$50-100/mo. (CA$6-15), giving them access to stuff like 1000 minutes, up to a practically unlimited amount of minutes to call to Canada.

But one of the reason -- I think -- making Hong Kong such an appealing market for Google to roll out its version of the future (in the cloud) is also the cheap price of mobile broadband.

Android Dev Phone 2 (aka Google Ion & HTC Magic)
Android Dev Phone 2 with a SIM card from Bell (Canada).

Back in Canada, all major phone companies offer mobile Internet, but always with some sort of limitation on the bandwidth. Bell released its new HSPA+ network in Fall 2009, with potential speeds up to 21mbps (that's 3 times as fast as the typical high-speed Internet by fixed phone line), but typical speeds going much lower, probably running at 3-7mbps (just speculating). The price? A regular 500Mb data plan for iPhone goes for CA$50. That's not a lot of data, if you consider that each video watched on YouTube can be 5-10Mb. Other Bell data plans range from CA$60-100 for bandwidths of 1-3Gb.

Now in Hong Kong, I am also a personal consumer (I don't get any phone, let alone phone plan from any company that would employ me), and recently switched from a prepaid plan with China Mobile HK (the lowest of the low in HK, but a v. good short term prepaid option) to a postpaid data plan with SmarTone-Vodafone, probably the company with the next to the best (CSL/Telstra) mobile network coverage and quality in Hong Kong. Now this plan sets me back HK$250 (all fees included) and gives me unlimited data (and an insane to Canadians, but expected by Hongkongers, amount of minutes) at typical speeds of around 2-3mbps.

Now, bear in mind that in this market, HK$50 monthly plans are the norm for the masses. But with a comparable cost of living to Canada (3/4 of Canada in daily expenses), this means that with tethering (using your phone as a modem for your computer) for an extra HK$50, for a total of HK$300 (or CA$40), people in Hong Kong can drop their fixed Internet line altogether, and like to paraphrase Google, merge their phone with the Web for ridiculous prices for North American wallets.

Unlimited high-speed data plans are sold by 3 or 4 companies in Hong Kong, with prices varying around HK$250/mo, the price at SmarTone-Vodafone with a 18-month contract. The selling point, at least for me, was that you can break your contract at any point for just a HK$500 (CA$66) fee.

Is that the sign that mobile phone contracts are starting to become a thing of the past? The plan is again very poorly advertised by SmarTone, because subsidized phones are still the way. This HK$250 monthly contract is only available if you bring your own unlocked smartphone, very common in Hong Kong... and now available directly from Google at US$530, or US$580 (HK$4500) when counting an AC adapter and international shipping to Hong Kong.

If your needs don't justify such expenses, Hong Kong is probably one of the easiest places in the world to find second-hand phones of reliable quality (this is not the jungle of Mainland China). One of my friends went to Mong Kok and bought a "used" HTC Tattoo (came out just in October 2009), HTC's budget-range smartphone that is running Android 1.6 for only HK$1000-something (around CA$200 if I remember correctly).

250/mo becomes 3000/yr (CA$400), for all your Internet needs. When I'm going to read these numbers in 5 years, I'm probably going to be as amazed as what a regular laptop or desktop computer used to cost 5 years ago...


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Let's go back to 2005, on my second stay in HK, and the longest (for about four months)...

When I miss home, I go to City Super. One time, I went home with three pieces of swordfish to cook for my "adoptive" family, which set me back for around 120HKD (20CAD). The time before, I craved for food we didn't even have at home, the U-shaped French saucisse sèche (80HKD/12CAD) (and with it, a freshly baked baguette (15-20HKD/2-3CAD)). Which is fine, because the saucisse lasted for a whole month (which never happens at home), and the baguette almost as good as the one we get in Canada.

Now, I've done it again. Tonight, went crazy at City'Super, and got myself a French saucisson (HKD$90), a baguette (HKD$20) and olive oil (HKD$80 for 250mL - Australian, no less). [The exchange rate is roughly HKD$7.5 for each Canadian dollar). I also got a small stick of Danish butter (200g) for around HKD$35, which makes it twice as expensive as it would in Canada...

In photos:

Saucisson français (à HK)

Australian olive oil

Lurpak Danish Butter

These are the things you can get in a truly international city (or in a city that can sustain a fancy place such as city'super). Mind you, I'm going back to forced-vegetarian menu of noodles with Chinese veggies or plain rice with soy sauce for the rest of the week...

I also got pasta. So yes, no-meat, no-cheese (but yes-olive oil) garlic linguine, here I come...

And in the weird packaging ploys category, low-sodium sea salt:

Low-sodium sea salt, lol

I'm nursing an upstart cold w/o coughing and made chicken congee. I spent the last hour since coming home from my RCV meeting looking at the music videos related to the "Donald Tsang, Please Die" phenomenon, a song written by one of my fave bands in the world, Hong Kong's My Little Airport. A few weeks ago, Tsang, the Special Administrative Region's Chief Executive, declared that he represented Hong Kong people when saying that 6/4 happened a long time ago and that Chinese people moved on.

Three days ago, they wrote a follow-up.

We discovered other music videos made by artists related to this one. Kind of like the music scene in Montreal / Quebec, it seems like everyone just know, collaborate and sleep with each other. One of these discoveries is the Forever Tarkovsky Club, which I think is made up of the two guys in duos MLA and Pixeltoy.

This is the promo video of their "semi-nude Christmas party" that never happened because police told them it was forbidden to hold public functions in private premises.

永遠懷念塔可夫斯基 - 聖誕半裸派對 from Gregor Samsa on Vimeo.

Wuzzah, Hong Kong.

(And if you want to hire me, here's my CV.)

Through the Gate from Christopher DeWolf on Vimeo.

I've known Chris mostly for his pictures and written press pieces in Montreal, but now here's what's his first video documentary that he made as a HKU student.

It's about the Jamia Mosque in Mid-Levels, Hong Kong. If you take the Mid-Levels escalator, one of the more peculiar "touristic" attractions of Hong Kong Island, the Mosque can't possibly be missed. In fact, on my first visit to Hong Kong, I had a pic of this said Mosque, taken on my "tour" of the Escalator-To-Almost-Nowhere:

Hong Kong 2002

Hong Kong is in fact a more "diverse" society than any other in East Asia, as could be seen in movies like Chungking Express.

Rooftop poker in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

I am back in Hong Kong, after a week in Taiwan. Yesterday night, at my grandparents' rented flat, I saw over the window, a bunch of foreigners playing poker on the rooftop of another lower building adjacent to ours, but on Morrisson Hill Rd. I listened more closely, and, while not able to make out what they were saying, am pretty sure that they were speaking French!

It was a Thursday night of a not-long weekend, so we assume that they are tourists, or business travelers on a day off. They were blasting noisy party music too, and if you look closely at the pic, the guy with a white shirt on the right has a full house (not really, though).

We Wish You An Indie X'mas

Chinese indie really has me... This is apparently a whole sampler ( put together by Hong Kong-based Harbour Records for last Christmas.

Update 2008-09-01: The link and playlist can no longer be found on Harbour Records' site, but the file is still there, and here is the playlist in Traditional Chinese:

01. A Company - Ferry, Bus and the Lorry
02. 22cats - waiting (demo)
03. the marshmallow kisses - a-la-pa-ti's demo
04. The Lee's - Wall of sound (War is over)
05. The Yours - Fat Is Selfish
06. my little airport -悲傷的採購(digilick remix)
07. mankitako -紀念冊
09. The Fragile - The First Day I Believe There Is An Angel
10. too long without sex -聖誕半裸派對
11. false alarm - so come home (too long without sex part 2)
12. Superday -限量之一枚
13. Relax pose (aka Lawwaiyip) -沒有目的的旅程
14. Alok - We Still Miss The Future (HK Version)
15. Hard Candy - Please lie to me, I don't mind
17. Butterwings - Although We Know
19. Elf Fatima - Party In A Cave
20. Wilson Tsang - Whale Song: Departure

Asia 2002 pictures

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Tokyo 2002

Because it's the Holidays, one has the tendency to do stuff that he might not be doing during the rest of the year. In previous years, I've done such things as play video games 24/7, or install Linux for the first time while skipping a family dinner. This year is no different, and I've been passing my old 2002 pictures of my first trip to Asia, specifically Hong Kong, Tokyo, the Shanghai region and Beijing (pics not up yet). I've been playing with levels in photo editor software, which is Gimp, in my case, and it has been doing marvels to make my pictures more colourful.

My Little Airport, PixelToy, 草地音樂同學會, and 開始!

  • My Little Airport - We Can't Stop Smoking In The Vicious And Blue Summer (Better than the second album "I was too nervous")
  • PixelToy - O...Oh (The only one I listened to in full so far, and very energetic, as expected from them, with even more guitars and beat than the first album)
  • Start ! (Sampler released in 2005, by Silent Agreement, a Taiwan-based indie label)
  • Grassland Music (2007 sampler, also from Silent Agreement - it is a low-low $6US on Yesasia!)

Hong Kong indie label People Mountain People Sea (人山人海) now has a Youtube channel. Here are their most recent music videos.

At17 - 同聲同氣 (same sound same air)
Song title sounds like a Chinese expression/saying, but I am limited. At17 (Eman Lam & Ellen Joyce Loo) is a pop duo, signed as the first band on Anthony Wong's (not that Anthony Wong) Hong Kong-based label. Their sound is definitely refreshing, and I can definitely see them as a not-so-mainstream counterpart to the Twins (they even did collabs with them, for the crossover universe factor). Google made Smurfmatic their #1 fan (or at least top 10) in the English-speaking world. So. Yes. They are cool, they are hip, and they are not afraid to cover Creep at Hong Kong 演唱會s (concerts extraordinaires).

PixelToy - 寫一首詩 (write a poem)
PixelToy (Shan Ho & Candy Wu) is the second band signed by People Mountain People Sea. I am listening to their first album right now (their second is in the mail), as we speak. As their name suggest, they are electropop, bordering on the cute. Sometimes they are experimental (Good Morning - basically the female vocalist, Candy, singing as she wakes up, gets ready in the morning), some other times they sound like britpop bands (Winnie - reminds me of Saint Etienne) or video games (什麼節快樂). Just like at17, they were part of the soundtrack directed by Anthony Wong for the 2007 movie 明明 (ming ming), otherwise a stylish music video.

See other post. Please excuse the mad screaming.

at17 at the Montreal Club Soda

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at17 in Montreal

Okay, rendons à César ce qui appartient à César: this was the first time that I attended a singing contest, and it was a very remarkable event. So, yes, a singing contest for Chinese folks in Montreal. It's very interesting that the language of choice is still Cantonese (both hosts spoke Cantonese all the time, except when the contestants were Mandarin-speakers), but that half or more than half of the songs sung were in Mandarin. Shows how meaningful the "old" Cantonese establishment (and how the new force of "pan-China" is changing things). Overall very pleased to having Hong Kong in Montreal.

at17 were very cool on stage. They corrected the crowd on the pace of the clapping for instance, poking fun simultaneously. They started with 始終一天, and there was 三分鐘後, and The Best is Yet to Come, and some song from Sing Sing Sing (我們的序幕), their September 2006 show at the AsiaExpo.

I believe that it is a rare thing to have Hong Kong artists perform in such intimate venues, as the Cantopop stars that we do hear about always do at the HK Auditorium and the like. It is an observation that needs exploring. We know after seeing Beijing Bubbles that a Chinese city could have a music scene. Hong Kong does have one, but if I read about it in a English-language newspaper, is it only geared towards expats, or a "certain slice" of the population? Question en l'air.

Green Life had a kiosk during the singing contest.

South China Morning Post

The South China Morning Post is published in Hong Kong, and is a newspaper that I am very fond of. So fond of that I took photos of the copy that my parents bought at the HK International Airport on the day that they came back from their four-week trip to China. September 27th also happens to be my birthday, being one extra reason to spend time on a petty newspaper copy (albeit one that comes from the city I love the most outside of Montreal, written in the one language spoken in Hong Kong that I am most familiar with)...

at17 in Montreal on October 28th

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Here at Smurfmatic, we ruled out the possibility of Cantopop stars ever coming to Montreal (although, when one mentions Montreal, it is always always associated with Brossard-native Christy Chung), even if my childhood memories recall some of them showing up in Place des Arts for occasional concerts.

So, perhaps to renew my confidence in Montreal as a world city, it was announced last week that the special guest to a Montreal Chinese singing contest would be at17, a Cantopop girl duo, whose music deviate (just a little) from the mainstream mold of other popular singers, and are in my mind, bordering on the indie (they write their own stuff), very popular with a certain teenager crowd.

The concert will be on Sunday, October 28th, 2007, at the Club Soda. The tickets are 40$ apiece - for a singing contest (b/c the Montreal Chinese beauty pageant - whatever they call it - fetches way above 100$), it is a lot of money, but if it's to breathe the same air as Hong Kong music personalities (they are big on promoting environmental awareness in the Greater China), then it changes everything!

At17, on Sunday, October 28th, 2007, at the Club Soda. (And also, I know where to get tickets, so just e-mail me!



The memories that I had about the Handover, now ten years ago tomorrow, was that I was all very excited about the whole thing, and as certain as ever that it would mean the end of civil liberties for the people of Hong Kong.

Our family (both sides) is not strictly-speaking from Hong Kong, but rather from the nearby province of Guangdong. My paternal grandparents emigrated to Madagascar in the 40s, and had my father there; it was the same for my maternal grandparents, but to Vietnam. The latter grandparents transited by Hong Kong and stayed there for around a decade before coming to Canada in the early 80s. My mother's younger brothers and sisters all grew up in Hong Kong, and some of them went back there to live. My father's family is also connected with Hong Kong, as all of his first cousins (sons and daughters of his father's brother), except one, emigrated and made their life there. We call Hong Kong home, because we speak Cantonese at home, and culturally-speaking, Hong Kong still shines the brightest.

The pre-香港回歸 year was perhaps one of the first periods where I did more to know about the culture "back home", without the help of my parents. I was in my last year of high school, and the Internet was starting to make its way into our classrooms. Very naturally, it seems, I surfed the web, and browsed English-language newspapers like the SCMP, became very interested in the politics, in understanding the simply put slogan/concept of "One Country, Two Systems", and knowing the political characters of the time, such as Deng Xiaoping, Martin Lee (who I walked next to during a 7/1 march in 2005 in HK) and Tung Chee Hwa. It was a very important period for me, and a starting point for the interest that I have for what I tend to consider as my homeland.

In practice, things have not changed much for ten years in Hong Kong, while China kept leaping forward economically. There was 2003, with the SARS outbreak and Article 23, and 2005, with the emergence of Donald Tsang as CE of the HKSAR, and this year's CE election. Perhaps as a teenager, I was hoping for some sweeping action, but in Realpolitik, I feel that the most important notion is stability for economic prosperity, and Hong Kong in China has been fairly stable.

If people were not aware of this already, I am throwing a Hong Kong Handover party on Saturday evening at home, complete with mah jong tables, a HK flag (the bauhinia one), a menu which includes siu yok / bok choy, music from the Fragrant Port, cha chaan teng drinks, and more!


BBC News: Hong Kong Brits few but faithful | Audio Slideshow: Hong Kong memories.

The Economist: Special Report on Hong Kong.

Radio-Canada International: Reports by Bethany Or, in English as part of The Link, and a in French, as part of Le Courrier Mondial. Yvonne Lo, former volunteer coordinator and current board member at CFS, was interviewed in the reports.

Yan Lei

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"Kétaine au boutte", would be how you would describe the music of Jenny Tseng Yan Lei. If the retro-kitsch movement reached HK, then they'd certainly be playing that stuff among certain circles. My father says it dates from the 1980s, but it is reminiscent of 1960s music in the West.

After trying to (unsuccessfully) repair the old sound system controller, I guess that my father fell on some old music tapes, including that of Yan Lei, and is currently playing it in their room next door. What wasn't my surprise when I overheard it! Because, to tell the truth, I have been passively wanting to find such oldie-sounding music originating from a certain lost era between WKW's sixties and today. There was some of it all throughout Fantasia, the 2004 Cecilia Cheung movie set in the sixties, and one of those Asian uber-goofy mainstream flicks.The first reference that comes in mind is, what, Quebec's Robert Charlebois, or Beau Dommage? (It's the same era, for sure) The only explanation as to why I am fond of this kind of music is that I like to live in the past and feel nostalgic aout everything. As good as it might be, it's definitely not to be listened all day long.

Aiya, the Star Ferry

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Finally caught up with the news that they went ahead with closing the Star Ferry terminal, and reclaiming even more land:

(rant later)

National Pride in Hong Kong

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SCMP Chart on National Pride in HK, via Mask of China.

How you can change your mind about the totalitarian regime that took over your territory... For the general public, the totalitarian aspect of China seems pretty mild for regular working citizens from an external point of view. And as for these statistics, HK is still a island of relative free speech and free everything in a sea of relative restraint/censorship (I was reading how it is rather expected that you self-censor yourself in China, more than having a thought police run around hunting for dissidents).

In any case, I don't know. I am very interested in HK/China politics, and wish that the Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec wasn't two months late in receiving the SCMP (about the only reliable publication that I can *read*). I would go to 6/4 and 7/1 walks, but I am not the kind of person to press for democracy right now for real (but understand the idea that you ask for 200% of something, if you want to insure to have 100% of it). And, I generally think that things must be gradual, and that immediate opening of the political system will only lead to an USSR-like collapse. See South Korea, Taiwan (all former brutal dictatorships), and Singapore (practically a single-party-thus-dictatorship city-state).

In general, I am proud of the HKness of my Chineseness. Was not born there, and my mother didn't even live there for more than a few weeks/months, I think (she passed by Taiwan for a few months, to get her papers for Canada). But uncles/aunts from both sides of the family live there, and I do consume more than the incidental HK culture, and speak of going to HK as "going _back_ to HK" (faan heung kong). Proud of its modernity, cleanliness, although I think I really need to go back to Beijing (five years after, and a year before the Olympics) and wander around in SH, not as a mere Western-born/grown tourist. Etc. Back to work.

SCMP joy

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Man, my mother got me this morning's SCMP. It's so... fresh ._. (and is actually mostly made up of the weekly business classifieds, woaw).

Behind the news: "Political bombshells", a feature on the Lebanon war and political consequences in Israel.

Saturday Columnist: "Taking workers for a ride", by Albert Cheng. Labour-related stuff, low-wages despite HK's economic recovery.

Sports: Hum, a glossy paper calendar for the upcoming Premier League season. Looks so awesome, and so not into football anyways.

City: "Activists take aim at child-sex offenders". Woaw, I was thinking about the JonBenet Ramsey case during the last month, and just this week they apparently found who did it - just a few months after the poor mother died of sorrow / cancer.

City (also): "Summer of Love". Five steps for a happy fling: 1- Don't believe in everything they say, 2- set goals, 3- don't over-commit yourself, 4- protect yourself, and 5- have fun.

Sports (also): Hum hum, news about Evgeni Malkin. XD

Business: Air China is not doing as well as it thought it would. Developer SHKP sets new low in mortgage rates.

For the next HK trip

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i should start planning, especially with things like this.


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My brother failed to completely un-pack from Hong Kong (he's been merely using the luggage, left in the entrance hall, as remote drawers), but I discovered in one of the side compartments, two copies of the SCMP dating from July 18th and July 26th, for me.

In the Economist this week

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There was a very interesting story in last week's issue on the Suez Canal Crisis, one of those historical events we know about, but then don't know much about in details, like the Tian'anmen square massacre. It was fifty years ago - and in it, a dramatic recounting of how the old Europe tries in vain to re-assert itself, how political characters tragically cause their own failure, and how the Americans sided against Israel for the last time (so we'll see, as the Lebanon crisis/war evolves). I guess I see the appeal of long historical and political essays which I don't have the patience to read, and thank magazines for providing at least a bit of the entertainment.

Also, in this week's issue, Hong Kong public housing crumbling into shambles (on the culture of defenestration).

In the lineage of silly HK flicks, A Chinese Tall Story is the latest to score at Fantasia. Two years ago, there was another film called "Fantasia", which featured possessed chopsticks (played by the Twins), big green monsters related to Andy Lau, etc. Now I am missing more than half the references, caught that it made fun of Independence Day, Return of the King, and Star Wars, not to mention Spiderman, along the mish-mash of Chinese legends, and a particular HK flick that we cinema snobs like so much. Whether it was good... was Scary Movie good? ... You got your answer. XD

The computer-generated stuff is worth mentionning. There's a trend for cheap CG in HK cinema, as of late, exemplified for instance in Fantasia, or more well-known in the two most recent Stephen Chow offerings Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. It's bad, everyone watching those movies knows that. Last year, they also made a human/CG children's hybrid with characters recycled from a lost and found devel matrix of A Bug's Story. Plenty of examples to mention - just that in Western cinema, the effects are so much more well-done, that it is to wonder whether in Asia it's how it is because of low budget, or because it's just the way things are to blur the line between cartoonesque and reality. In Japan, I assume they have budgets, and they still do it.

(The Love HK Film Review)

And why is Joe Hisaishi behind the soundtrack of that sillyness of a film?

HK Magazine has a website. I've known about it for just a few months, but still... quite my favourite read, with the SCMP Sunday Magazine.

Half my family is leaving for HK tomorrow morning.

Patrick Masbourian is now hosting the 9-11:30AM show on Radio-Canada's Première Chaîne, and on Monday, he interviewed Miss Vicki Ng-Wan [asx clip - between the 27th and 40th minute], Miss Chinese Montreal 2006. The story was that after winning the contest in Montreal, she went to HK, did not agree to the terms of the contract (where she was legally bound to stay in HK for three years, she said), didn't sign, obviously got kicked out of the contest. She reports that another girl, from Malaysia, also went back home before the end of the contest.

Never followed beauty pageants, but it was nice to hear about something Chinese in the local medias (besides how the Mainland is crushing the world, etc - which was incidently a segment of today's show...). Most notably, Christy Chung was a winner of the Montreal contest in 1993, and went on to win HK's and become a big Canto-star in the mid-90s.

Shopping by proxy

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My brother and mother are both leaving for HK next Saturday for 3 and 6 weeks respectively. It means... A two-people household for most of the summer. It also means shopping by proxy. Probably more intense this time, since I now know all about the goodies you can get from HK and not anywhere else. Mostly, it's the clothing: a bargain is to be found all the time. Another thing is consumer electronics, especially what's called "seuil fo", goods that some HK companies import from other markets and sell back without warranty or some minimal store warranty, but at a much reduced price (if you bargain right) and no taxes, b/c HK has no sales taxes.

Combined with a super favourable exchange rate (thank you Alberta), everything is cheap cheap cheap. A combo at McDonalds is about 3.50CAD (20-25HKD), as a reference, and has been the ruin of many visiting CBCs, ABCs. Curiously, a mezzo latte at Starbucks is also 20-25HKD, which is about the same price as in Canada. Foreign magazines and English newspapers (the SCMP) are particularly expensive - the SCMP is 7HKD, but then it caters to expats, visiting CBCs/ABCs. Obviously, one of the free weeklies in English has an upper-class yuppie feel to it (ads for expensive restaurants, beauty salons for men...).

I've been also shopping at Uni-Qlo, b/c I know they make cool designed tees. My first visit to a Uni-Qlo was in nowhere Iwate town Ichinoseki, on the Tohoku Shinkansen line between Sendai and Morioka, where Uri picked me up to drive me to the village where he teaches English. The store looks and feels like a Gap, and yet, I am not very used to the type of clothes they sell. Maybe it's trendier, per Western standards? Or simply, the different styles makes me feel as if it's trendier. In any case, the HK prices are about like in Japanese stores, which is more affordable than in NA or Europe for nice nice clothes. I looked at prices, and while I think Uni-Qlo in the Chinese market (another Uni-Qlo I've been to was the one near Xintiandi in Shanghai's old French Concession) positions itself as more higher-class, even if it's about the equivalent of Old Navy in Japan, just like the usual HK shops (Giordano, Bossini, Baleno, etc) sell at about their HK prices on the Mainland despite the different standard of living.

But still, shopping at Uni-Qlo is probably still cheaper than shopping at Gap... You get the trendiness at a bargain, what an easy win-win situation...

blah blah Hong Kong blah blah

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A cool photo exhibit on Wah Fu, Hong Kong, and the high-density living, from the Urban planet exhibit on the BBC News site.

Afternoon at the beach

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Waves reaching beach

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

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A museum you have to visit if you are in HK is certainly the Heritage Museum. Located in the tranquil suburb of Shatin (also known as the first "new towns" of HK), the Heritage Museum was completed in 2000 and houses a number of permanent and temporary exhibits. It's considered one of the main museums in the HK SAR and for some reason retain better memories of the exhibits I've seen there versus at the Museum of Arts and other ones in TST.

In 2002, there was the Baihua Qifang exhibit of selected works from the 9th Chinese National Art Exhibition (my photo), with what seemed like deliberately propaganda art (one painting with a Zhou Enlai portrait at the front of steam train).

Since then, the KCR built a new train line called the Ma On Shan Rail, which is right across the bridge from the Heritage Museum, but when I went last year, we took what was a pleasant walk proposed by the HK Tourism board.

That time, there was an exhibit called redwhiteblue, after the tricolor fibrous plastic fabric ubiquitously used in HK to cover things (from rain, etc) or used to make bags for blankets and other bulky things, but now used in an artistic context. Really a "cool" exhibit. I feel sorry to have missed Spaces and Places, despite still being around.

A lady approached me with a marketing questionnaire as I were about to leave the museum. With the CCA exhibit Les années 60 : Montréal voit grand in mind, I wrote in the comments section that some sort of exhibit on HK in the 60s or 70s would be very very interesting (at least that genre of exhibits seems to attract crowds in Montreal - why wouldn't they be just a wee interesting in HK?). Both of the upcoming ones, megARTstore and Hong Kong's Popular Entertainment are definitely must-see.

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