Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goodbye Hong Kong...

... And hello Vancouver!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

There's no "i" in Christmas... Oh wait.

So... This trip went well.

I think Hong Kong holds a grudge against all the technological things I have. No joke. In the span of two months, one of the lenses for my camera went bust, my iPhone stolen, my external hard drive (along with some files and photos) was rendered useless after a harmless (or so I thought) drop, and just today -- on Christmas day no less -- my iPod got corrupted and died.

For the first time ever in a couple of years, I am i-less -- free of any Apple products.

Riding on the bus would not be the same again. Taking a walk on the street would not be the same again. Hell, being in my bedroom would not be the same again. There is no music to my ears. And this is only the first day -- imagine what it'd be like in Vancouver, where people actually have to wait for buses that never seems to come. In the words of Colonel Kurtz, "the horror... the horror..."

Thinking about it now, it's rather staggering how Apple has managed to conquer my daily life. Although the same can be said about music in general -- without the sheer volume of the iPod, it's quite unlikely that I would be listening to most of the songs I listen to today. (and if you're wondering, it mostly consists of boring old tunes nobody listens to ever again -- who in the hell at the age of 21 would listen to Simon & Garfunkel, Ray Charles or Édith Piaf for petessakes?)

How has this happened? Nobody even seems to remember how it was like back when iPods were Walkmans; back when people used to have to lug albums of CDs around everytime they wanted to change from Backstreet Boys to N'Sync (those were the days...) The cassettes, the mixed-tapes... Remember that laughable / pathetic attempt Sony did less than 10 years ago with the MD player? No? Well probably because the MD player was SO PATHETIC.

Then along came the iPod, which provided became the solution to all the inconveniences of the previous technologies, all wrapped in a body with the user-friendliness that puts Volkswagen to shame. Like the black hole, the iPod has sucked us all in and there's no getting out. Once you're in, you're hooked.

You have to give it to Apple -- they have managed to change the way people listen to music with this music player. This music player that changed the way I listen to music. This music player that expanded my taste in music. This music player that provided me so much entertainment every time I was on the road. And this BLOODY MUSIC PLAYER THAT STOPPED WORKING BECAUSE THE CABLE GOT KNOCKED OFF MY LAPTOP WHEN IT WAS PLAYING THE ROLLING STONES**. [expletive deleted] HELL [expletive deleted][expletive deleted]DAMN [expletive deleted] IPODS THAT DON'T WORK FOR [expletive deleted][expletive deleted] *&%^*(*@!(&&%$!.

Okay, calm down...

At the end of the day (or this year, perhaps more appropriately), when I come to my senses again and become less murderous than I am right now, I am very likely to return to the remedy, the poison, the evil spell -- or, to put it in one word, the pharmakon that is the Apple iPod.

When I do, it will be a long and painful process for me to re-download the 3200 songs that went KIA along with my iPod. If I can remember half the artists in the first place. Plus all the sorting and the organizing.

Man, I am dreading this already.

**"You can't always get what you want". Coincidence much?

PS:Another update coming in a couple days -- before I leave Hong Kong back home to Vancouver!
PPS: Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hong Kong Diary, #2.

Who would've known that mid-October to early-November is midterm exam season in Hong Kong? (well... ignoring the fact that this time of the month is usually when midterms happen) So I have found myself venturing into the unknown territory a.k.a this-is-what-retirement-must-feels-like kind of life... a.k.a. the two-week break between every semester. Only this time the break lasts for about a month and a half before I go back to YVR.

This past two months or so, I had a stint working at my parent's office, met up with some old friends, and numerous photo-outings I had have turned up some decent shots around. (although I am too lazy to do any photo editing...) Still, me being in Hong Kong for over two months now have been more than sufficient enough for me to gather some thoughts and observations about life in Hong Kong as an ex-honger.

So here below, mesdames et messieurs, are my findings:

1. Hong Kong is not as hot as I previously anticipated. Now, this could be both good and bad -- right now, this weather of 17-ish degrees feels a lot like summer in Vancouver, which is perfectly comfortable. The flip side is, everybody's already wearing thick jackets while I still go out wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Talk about looking like a freak.

2. Of course, the canucks t-shirt I wear (the one with the big VANCOUVER on it) when I go out doesn't really help me blend in with the locals. But what else can I wear on the day when the game is on?

3. More signs that separates you from a true honger: if you bother to buckle the seat belt when you're on a minibus that's doing 200km/h down a hill, you're not a honger. Worse, locals will look at you funny and secretly think that you're a pussy.

4. I have invented a whole-new activity called Honger-spotting -- it consists of traveling to the nearest MTR station and watch 40,000 people trying to jam themselves into a subway car.

5. For a bonus, after you've managed to make your way into the train, look for the ones that can maintain a zen-like perfect balance without holding onto anything while the train travels at warp speed. Those, my friends, are the 100% authentic Hongers. Note to Vancouverites: do not attempt this on the skytrain. People will topple over like a pack of dominos.

6. Living in Hong Kong really isn't as cheap as I thought. I came with about 2500 HKD and now I am on life-support. Transport really is not as cheap as everyone make it out to be. My trip to Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui usually drains 30 bucks out of my wallet. A decent dinner costs about 70 dollars. A good movie is about 80 bucks. I suppose all that is nothing really... Once I paid $450 million for this roof that can't block the rain. I may have been drunk when that happened.

7. Plus, where else can I complete my Stephen Fry novels collection? (and no, not Canada -- Chapters seem to have a hatred for British books for some reason) All the novels I bought probably took away 700 bucks alone. Damn you Stephen Fry, why do you have to be such a good writer?

8. I managed to track down some of my old elementary school teachers -- which is nice because I get to see how everyone is doing after 10 years. However, they are only available after school hours so I often have to stand outside school gates with a giant black SLR camera waiting for kids to come out. In other words, I am more suspicious than the grassy knoll.

9. Walking through Mong Kok during the day would be quite some challenge -- not because of the sheer number of people there night and day, but because of the amount of coffee's-for-closers-type marketers out on the street and grabbing you by the scruff of the neck to see if you're interested in a new internet plan. Solution? a) Avoid eye contact. b) Pretend to be deaf. Or, if they are really aggressive, then c) Stab your own eyes 100 times and listen to a Justin Bieber album for 10 minutes, which will give you the effects of a) and b).

10. Seriously though, someone should print t-shirts that has "no soliciting" in big black bold font specifically for walking around Mong Kok. Often with all the crowds and these damn marketers getting in the way, it's just impossible to get from one end of the street to another.

11. Checked my facebook wall today and Teresa thankfully jinxed my holiday by mentioning something about a 20-page essay and all nighters. I am starting to worry about how I'll get to study mode again once I get back to SFU. Speaking of SFU, my registration date for next semester is at 9:30am PST on November 15. Which means I have to register at 12:30am on November 16 Hong Kong time. Crap.

12. Two weeks ago I went on a trip to Guilin, China for 5 days. The views were spectacular with the mountains and lakes. The experience was further enhanced when we were mooned by a woman defecating into a lake we were traveling on.

13. If you embark a trip to China, do keep in mind that most caution and warning signs made by the Chinese government are not to be taken seriously. When you see a sign that says "Carefully Slipping" or "Care Meet", the proper reaction is to go ahead and laugh your ass off.

Who can take this seriously?

14. God bless Playstation and NHL 11. Thanks to Sony, I have managed to resurrect the Winnipeg Jets and win like 10 Stanley Cups for the Vancouver Canucks... Which is coincidentally 10 more than what the real team has achieved. Sigh.

15. Speaking of the Canucks, as CBC video streaming doesn't work in other countries, my only way of keeping myself updated is through the boxscore on the NHL website and Passittobulis (thank you for your awesome updates by the way). There isn't a bigger slap in the face knowing that Vancouver beat Detroit 6-4 but not being able to watch the whole game. I feel like a fat kid nobody wants on their sports team watching the action from behind a fence. 2000 miles away.

16. Ahh, yes. I also went to Disneyland with Sonia. The park, despite its ridiculous small size, has some impressive features -- for instance, in keeping with its Main Street, USA theme, the entire park closes early at 8 pm.

17. Bohemian Rhapsody + Karaoke = Most epic singing experience ever.

18. My new HP laptop is awesome. And it's even more awesome when I discovered its ability to extend the desktop to a second screen -- which means I can go home and pretend that my bedroom is the control room from the Matrix.

19. On a serious note, Remembrance Day is near and surprisingly they have donations available at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Central. Go make a donation and get a poppy if you haven't already -- although the only ones they have are the British ones. So for now I'll just pretend that I am British.

20. Next time when I come back home to Vancouver, watch for me on the news as I will come as a 60-year-old British lady.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Apart/Start Again

"Nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day. There's genocide, war, corruption. Every fucking day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save somebody else. Every fucking day, someone, somewhere makes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ's sake, a child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can't find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don't know crap about life. And why the fuck are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don't have any use for it. I don't have any bloody use for it."
- Brian Cox as Robert McKee in Adaptation.

I used to love writing.

I really did. Back in the high school days, I used to have a blog which I regularly updated for a couple of years, mostly about... well, from the typical teenage rant-slash-snobbery to absolutely nothing. Especially in grade 12 (back in 2006), I often had the urge to update my blog as I wanted to document my transition from a Honger to a Vancouverite. This was the age just before Facebook exploded -- when everyone's primary hang-out place were still blogs. It was the age when, back then, you write about something on xanga, and then you rally your friends over on MSN or ICQ or whatever-it-was to have them comment on it -- even if it was absolute shit. It hardly served any purpose.

At the same time though, it was fun. I had total control over what I wanted to write about, the style I wanted to apply to my post, without any time constraints. Sure, you probably don't give a toss about what I've been up to or what I have been thinking, but -- in the words of modern teenage girls -- "whatever". To me, writing was fun and stress-free and nowhere being academic... That is, until my writer's block came about. And University.

You see, with the exception of me graduating from high school and somehow miraculously making it into a decent (... somewhat) University, 2007 was a horrible year for me. I found myself consistently in a bad mood and somehow I no longer found the joy in writing. It got worse when I made it into University, where I was constantly spanked by my courses in order to cough up some decent material for my academic essays. I have been a Communications major and a Political Science minor for well over three years now, and when you have mountains of essays and presentations and midterms and take-home midterms every single bloody semester, writing is less of a pastime and becomes more like a work-out exercise. Sure I hear you say -- "exercise is good," -- but so is cod liver oil.
Alas, I eventually stopped updating my blog, only very occasionally going back for a sloppy attempt to revive it.

Nevertheless, during the first year and a half of University I still had the satisfaction of finishing an essay. Gone were the days when I had the energy to polish up my essay and feel good about them before sending them out to make sure they're at least good enough for a B+. From second year on, I often find myself hastily researching the topic I have dreamed up two days before the deadline, then spend the night before the deadline vomiting and bleeding and coughing out the essay in the most unsatisfying fashion in a 24/7 coffee shop somewhere in Downtown. The goal was no longer to get a good mark, it was to finishing it in the first place -- considering how rushed a lot of my essays were in the past year or so, I may as well just typed "I don't give a flying fuck about this anymore" as my conclusion for the essays and click the submit button -- which was usually a few minutes before the deadline. I want my sleep, and this lame writing exercise is getting in the way.

Yet, and here is the most screwed-up part: I still got similar grades for my essays, if not better. Two of my most-hated essays in the summer actually turned out to be my best ones yet in terms of grades. I apologize if I seem like I am gloating (and I am not... okay maybe a little bit), but it seems like despite my difficulty in writing blog posts, I am still doing okay in the academic department. Still, writing became such a dreadful activity for me to the point that
I am no longer sure if I want to still be a journalist anymore in the future. If I have so much trouble writing my own blog and in University, what happens if I have to do it as my career? Have my own expectations skyrocketed over the years and caused my dissatisfaction; or have I lost confidence in myself somehow? Maybe a bit of both.

From 2009 onwards, sitting me in front of a laptop to fill up an empty blog is like having me to sit through the Twilight saga -- I can't do it without flinching and moaning and ultimately diverting my attention somewhere else instead.

University life has become so woefully dull that there simply was nothing for me to write about -- which is ironic considering the amount of writing I usually do at school. I have been thinking about this a lot recently, why can't I write anymore? Then I remembered that scene in the movie Adaptation, where Charlie Kaufman (played marvelously by Nicholas Cage) was seeking help from the seminars of Robert McKee (played by Brian Cox), who responded with the quote above with the most fantastic rage. It was one of the most outrageously hilarious scenes in the movie, and yet it holds the truth -- it is simply impossible to have nothing to write about when there is so much going on in life. If you can't find those things, then maybe, just maybe, you really "don't know crap about life."

So, here I am with a fresh account, finishing a complete blog post for the first time since as long as I can remember. Has it been easy? Not really. This took me much longer than a blog is usually meant to be written. But hey, at least it is not painful. When I started this, I had the feeling that if I kept typing it will eventually take me somewhere. To you visitors, consider this new place a rather useless collection of
my own thoughts on everything and nothing at all -- chances are, it'll probably be about movies, bands, tv-shows, video games, Stephen Fry, politics, cars, the Canucks, or anything else that strikes my mind in the most randomest moments.

To me, hopefully, with this much time in Hong Kong (with the absence of school), I can find my joy back in writing again.