31 March 2009

Bangkok Story - Part 1 曼谷物語- 上卷


I hopped on to the purple-tailed Boeing 747 and let Thai Airways whisk me away to one of my favorite cities in Asia. Just a little over two hours from Hong Kong, Bangkok is a ready playground for vacationers of all ages. A passport and a change of clothing were all I needed for a three-day getaway. For everything else, there is the credit card.




March and April are the hottest months in Bangkok but that was little deterrence to this ardent visitor…
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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.



23 March 2009

The Secrets of Self-Preservation 保身祕訣


I have had this stubborn, persistent dry cough for about a month now. Multiple visits to the doctor’s office have been paid and a cocktail of anti-allergic drugs, cough syrup and inhaled steroid has been prescribed to little avail. Cold drinks and sugary food tend to irritate my windpipe and I have summarily cut them from my diet. But one irritant remains as unavoidable as April showers: the sooty air from rush hour traffic in Central.




It was a déjà vu of what happened three years ago when I first moved to Hong Kong. The dry cough was just one of the host of health issues that beset the early months of my repatriation...

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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.



07 March 2009

Laws of Nature 大自然定律





Back when I was still living in Toronto, my family and I used to spend a lot of time in front of the television set. If nothing good was on, we would flip to the Discovery Channel by default and watch ferocious felines rip apart an innocent zebra or a helpless gazelle. I often wondered why the camera crew would just stand on the sidelines and let the film roll, while savagery unfolded before their eyes. Would a successful rescue upset the order of the jungle and threaten the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem? Perhaps it is best not to interfere.
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One afternoon I found myself shopping at City Super, a high-end grocery store in Hong Kong that sells mostly imported foods...


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




02 March 2009

What's in a Cup - Part 2 杯中乾坤-下卷



My earliest memory of coffee was my father’s large ceramic cup with Chinese inscriptions, an unlikely choice for a coffee mug. Before he retired a decade ago, my Dad was a freelance illustrator for a handful of local newspapers in Hong Kong. For four decades, he worked his paintbrushes and black ink every day at home in his snug corner, stealing noisy slurps from his signature coffee cup buried somewhere on his perennially cluttered desk. Every day I would hear the familiar noise of the rattling teaspoon as he stirred granulated instant coffee with powdered creamer and condensed milk. This explained why growing up we always had a sticky jar of yellowish curd in the fridge.

It wasn’t until many years later that I found out instant coffee was something coffee drinkers scoff at because the powder is made from the lowest quality beans. Indeed, instant coffee has lost much of its popularity in Hong Kong since my early childhood. These days discerning consumers demand authenticity and opt for a fresh brew. Unwilling to sacrifice precious countertop space in their kitchen for a bulky coffee machine, drinkers have all but given up preparing their own coffee at home. It also seems far more debonair to walk into a Starbucks and walk out with a decaf double venti non-fat latte macchiato. All of that has all but sealed the fate of the decidedly unsophisticated instant coffee.


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




What's in a Cup - Part 1 杯中乾坤-上卷


People who have just moved to America enjoy ranting about their cultural shock in the Land of the Free: the rude U.S. customs officers, the broken health care system and the way families load up on junk food and frozen dinners at the grocery store every weekend. But few subjects stir greater emotion than the Godawful American coffee.



For a country that puts a Starbucks in every corner of the world and where the Morning Joe verges on a national addiction, America seems decidedly incapable of brewing a decent cup of coffee...
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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.