Tea-se Me

Afternoon tea in Hong Kong, also known as ‘high tea’, is a long running tradition. Hong Kong’s elite have spent their days sipping passion fruit tea at the Peninsula and savouring rose petal jam at the Mandarin. Any form of activity that makes it acceptable to eat non stop for 3 hours is a culinary experience I am interested in.

Some of you may be unaware that I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to planning activities, especially food related ones. The disappointment of ordering a dish at a restaurant and discovering it tastes like the inside of a homeless mans shoe can only be matched by buying a new top only to find you resemble a squashed jacket potato. So I spent most of my ‘school prep time’ googling which afternoon tea we should go to. I am now extremely knowledgeable about every single establishments’ high tea menu, information I can now file away under ‘realistically useless’ alongside number of people killed in tornadoes in 2012.

Hong Kong has been delivering the goods with some luxurious bank holiday weekends recently. Not that I don’t love my kids but I love them more the less I see them, distance definitely makes the heart grow fonder. Like the adults we are, we used this extra day off as an excuse to go out and get absolutely spangled on Saturday. We then spent Sunday firmly rolled in the foetal position, watching Britain’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer Moments and sobbing quietly into a bag of crisps.

After many hours spent not doing what my employer pays me to do, I decided on the afternoon tea at The W hotel. The restaurant is called Woobar and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed when the hostess did not say “welcome to WOOOObar”. I made this decision based entirely on the certainty that we could eat as much as we like. Some of the more expensive and refined afternoon teas seemed to only provide one plate of finger sandwiches, all of which I could have slot into my mouth simultaneously.

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Before we ravished the buffet like hungry locusts

Together we consumed enough food to feed the entire population of the Vatican City. Big Libs had 6 mini burgers. A personal favourite of mine was the cauliflower and truffle oil shooter than looked like a shot glass of pus but was, in fact, incredibly tasty. After this light spread of 6 slices of pizza, 8 mini melba toast, 4 bowls of mozzarella and a bucket of goats cheese, we realised there was a sweet section and after a quick stretch, mental pep talk and 30 second break we started up again, like soldiers returning to battle. I may have quit every team sport I’ve ever participated in but failure was not an option. Big Libs and I are very competitive eaters. We considered suggesting for the hotel to incorporate a vomitorium on trip advisor. We also evaluated if it was socially acceptable to sneak some pizza home in my clutch. It was a no from me.

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Fun Fact: I hate tea

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What a Pair of Losers

The titular question that is still demanding an answer is: what can actually go wrong in Hong Kong? As our time here slowly comes to an end, I will attempt to answer, pulling from our wealth of experiences.

You know that feeling when you suddenly can’t remember the location of your phone? Before I hear the aggressive judgement of anyone born before 1975, I’m certain you can’t relate to this experience as your phone probably cost the same amount as two Meatball Marinara foot long subs. Anyway, your jeans back pocket is feeling alarmingly flat, you didn’t bring a bag out and suddenly all rational behaviour goes flying out the window as you inform everyone within a 10 metre radius “have you seen a white iPhone in a pink case with a picture of 2 girls in bikinis sucking in hard enough to potentially cause a small aneurism?”. Well this is a feeling we have come to know well since landing in Hong Kong. I know from the nature of the anecdotes we have shared with you, some of you must be thinking

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Now even though we are essentially children playing house, we are also semi responsible adults (ironically I just misspelt responsible even the internet knows I’m full of shit).

Not including our dignity and the will to live, here is a compact list of things we have managed to misplace/lose in the past 9 months.

Libby’s iPhone: Approximately five days after we landed, this loss was a big one. It resulted in a very hungover trip to the New Territories where we stood outside a 20 storey building with an A4 sign saying ‘Please give me my phone back I’ll give you $1000’. Unsurprisingly, the phone was never located.

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The £160 text message: After the fiasco above, we contacted the HK taxi company and they told us they could send out a text message to all the drivers in the area to check their cabs for Libby’s phone. What we thought would cost $160 was in fact $1600, the price Libby paid for a brand new phone a few days later. It’s still a very tough topic for Big Libs.

My HKID: I discovered one of the most important pieces of identification I own as a Hong Kong resident had gone missing as we sat on the beach at Mad Monkey waiting to board a 5 hour bus back to the airport. Typical me, I acted super calmly and emptied the entire content of my bag onto the floor like one of Santa’s elves who’d realised he’d mislabelled a present and sent a 5 year old a glow-in-the-dark dildo instead of a lightsaber. I also didn’t sleep the following night from scary visions of being locked up in the HK airport jail. At least I would’ve been tan in my mugshot.

My English Debit Card: This bad boy can be located somewhere in Koh Phangan, another last minute escapee as we waited to board the boat back to Koh Samui. The actual loss itself wasn’t too bad but you don’t know the meaning of pure anger until you’ve been on hold with HSBC for 20 minutes, knowing fully well how expensive this phone call is. I apologise to whoever answered my call, the holding music was extremely agitating.

$2,000 in cash from ATM: Cash machines in Hong Kong are a bit odd. They will give you a piece of paper, your card and then, approximately 20 minutes later, eject your cash. A bit like that housemate who needed to be nagged on the group chat before finally coughing up the cash for the communal wifi. A very flustered Libs took her card and only realised after walking 5 minutes down the road that she had forgotten to pick up her money. Her mother was not impressed.

Libby’s international debit card: This was a particularly annoying loss. Libs FairFax card (which was rinsed following the £160 text message) went missing, causing Libby to panic and cancel it. A few days later, we found it underneath an empty packet of Cheetos.

My Birkenstocks: I won’t blabber on about the shoes, if you’ve read the blog before you know the heartbreak I encountered in the Philippines. Turns out I’m a bit of a sandal slut and I thought I’d miss my old pair a lot more.

Lib’s passport: I left this little hiccup until the end as it is currently being resolved. After discovering her passport was not in the junk drawer next to her bed (where the corpses of many suitors lay to rest), we tore apart our entire apartment trying to find it. Today Lib has spent the entire day at the British Consulate trying to find a way for her to go travelling in approx 6 weeks with a passport. When asked to comment on the experience Big Libs said ‘I’d rather have my pubes tweezed out one by one by Donald Trump’.

I have no doubt we will manage to lose many more things before we land safely back on British soil in late September. Hopefully it won’t be one another.

To summarise: The Lost List

3 house key cards
2 Octopus Cards
2 Bags 
2 Debit Cards
1 FairFax card
1 English Sim Card
1 Pair of Birkenstocks

1 Hong Kong ID Card
1 Passport
1 iPhone
All of the will to live

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I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here

On May 22nd 2018, Hong Kong celebrated the birth of an inspirational visionary, whose teachings and wisdom have been passed on for many years. Some of you may be in disbelief that I’ve made such an impact on an entire nation in my short time in HK, I’m just as shocked as you are but am glad that my status as an exemplary teacher has been noticed. Can someone drop Buddha a message and tell him there is a new spiritual leader in town whose birthday is on the same day as his? Because of this public holiday, I wouldn’t have to spend the day watching Fiona try and put her entire fist in her mouth. Thanks Buddha you’re the real MVP.

So to celebrate turning the big 22, Libs and I headed to the beach to continue my quest to become ethnically ambiguous and for Libby to finally stop resembling an unopened jar of mayonnaise. There are so many beautiful beaches in Hong Kong but we decided to go to Repulse Bay as my hangover could not quite handle a 1 hour bus ride into the New Territories. The prospect of throwing up on public transport just wasn’t very appealing.

The beach was busy, as expected for a public holiday, filled with all the usual suspects aka locals in ski jackets and sun visors large enough to land a helicopter on, hiding in the shade of the palm trees like Edward Cullen and his clan of vampires.

When you originate from a country where people sit out in their back gardens topless if the weather jumps above 25 degrees, it is always a bit of a shock to see the clothing choices made by beach goers here. It was 34 degrees yesterday and we saw several people in jeans strolling up the beach like they were off to Tescos in autumnal Surrey.

We started to notice there were several tour buses coming in, decorated with the Chinese flag. Hoards of people swarmed the beach, selfie sticks floundering in the air like the legs of a cockroach stuck on its back. A group of women, dressed appropriately for a trip to Lapland, approached us and asked to have a photo and, due to Libby’s inability to say no to strangers, we obliged.

Four hours later

Starting to feel like a killer whale at Sea World (if you haven’t watched Blackfish firstly, what is wrong with you and secondly, stop reading my poor excuse of a blog and get #woke), we realised we probably should’ve pretended to be asleep. The question that crossed my mind many times was ‘Are these people really going to look back on their family holiday to Hong Kong and want to see a picture of me squinting into the sun with my mouth open?’ There were even props, Libby held up a banner! It is the most famous I have ever felt in my life. I now finally understand why J Biebs can get a bit cranky during a meet and greet. Being famous is no joke, it’s exhausting. Naturally, I have also added ‘model’ to my Instagram bio and ‘public figure’ to my LinkedIn.

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Me and my new friends

After the last group of women walked away, I laid down and soaked up the sun, thinking what a great birthday it had been. Maybe 22 would be my year!

Narrator:

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As this positive mantra resonated through my mind, I discovered that my swimming costume had not been positioned in the most flattering of lights for the entire afternoon so over 50 Chinese tourists are currently heading back to China with a picture of my foof.

 

 

 

Happy Friday

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a pretty big sleeper. Big Libs has even referred to me as a ‘sleep nazi’ which is accurate. I value sleep over pretty much everything except really nice red wine and Grey’s Anatomy. I’m basically a terrible 21 year old as I have the sleep requirements of a new born baby. For this reason, I am not a mid week drinker. This is also because when I’m hungover, my patience disappears faster than my will to say no to that 6th glass of prosecco. Last night I made an exception to the rule and went out for Ladies night in LKF, thinking I could have a couple of drinks then head home.

Narrator: It’s a shame you have the self control of a horny teenage boy with unrestricted internet access.

After waking up at 7 and realising what a terrible error I had made and literally screaming ‘oh no’ to myself as I tried to find my only clean bra, I somehow made it to work.  Another fun fact about me is that for some unknown reason, I have picked up a low key addiction to pretzels. Whenever I am hungover I routinely manage to get through a family sized bag in a matter of hours. Some people want chocolate, some want bread, I crave salted pretzels and, if I’m feeling really fancy, some sort of dip. I decided I couldn’t sit at my desk eating guacamole (I got caught doing my make up a few weeks ago and it didn’t go down well) so settled for a big bag of glorious carbohydrates.

At 8:45 everyday I have to spend 15 minutes greeting the goblins children, this job is made significantly harder when you’re struggling to put words together in one coherent sentence. I’m stood there for about 5 minutes, smiling away to prevent anyone from noticing the 4 layers of make up I have on to hide my shameful alcohol face. The lady at 7/11, who has become my only friend near work, said I looked beautiful as I usually rock up resembling Lindsay Lohan entering her second stint in rehab. So I’m just starting to think I look presentable when my head mistress (who is probably starting to wonder why she hired an incompetent drunk) walks up to me and picks a fucking pretzel off my top. Not a crumb, an entire pretzel. If you’re struggling to imagine what it looked like here is a visual

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A pretzel took up a residency on the shelf-like structure of my boobs and no one thought to tell me until at least 20 children had come through the door. Happy Friday everyone.

My Protégé

In the short months that I have known her, my tutee Viann and I have become fast friends. The line between teacher and student has faded as we sit in her bedroom eating BBQ flavoured crisps and chugging cans of Coke during my weekly visits. She occasionally plaits my hair and covers me in stickers.

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Viann’s 7th birthday was this week so as her best friend and role model I decided to buy her a present and enough snacks that she’d be high on sugar for the majority of the 2 hour session. When choosing a gift, I was overwhelmed with how scary and nightmarish the selection of dolls in the Mongkok markets were, with several balding and suffering from jaundice. I decided to be extremely extra and buy her a pack of 6 Disney Princess dolls. She doesn’t seem to have that many toys in her room and I wanted this present to cement myself in her memory, even if she forgets how to spell the word ‘cow’ on a regular basis.

Watching her open that present was one of the happiest moments of my life, her joy was incredibly infectious and I felt a bit like Daddy Warbucks in the musical Annie when she rocks up at his mansion. The error I made was giving her the present at the start of the lesson as her attention was immediately gone and she practically laughed when I suggested we complete a worksheet.

So the first thing Viann did upon receiving her present was strip all the dolls down to their naked plastic birthday suits and give them a bath. During this time, I’m trying to contain myself from eating all of the snacks at once and videoing her every move like a proud parent at Sports Day. During the stripping process, two legs popped off and an arm came awfully close to being dislocated. That’s what you get when you pay $100 for 6 dolls at the Ladies Market.

The next task was naming our new girl gang. These were some of the inventive names Viann came up with

  • Mo Mo
  • Zebra
  • Pizza
  • Billy
  • Susan
  • George

After hiding the bag of Doritos and Dairy Milk bars until she’d completed one academic assignment, we returned to the dolls 30 minutes later. Viann’s next request was we give them all haircuts. I remember mutilating many Bratz/Barbie dolls and even cut my sister a very unflattering fringe. It was the first time I understood the anguish a parent must feel and have decided this is a sign that I am ready for motherhood. I’ve also considered kidnapping Viann and raising her as my own but I am actively trying to avoid prison in China.

5 mins later: after convincing Viann that the dolls couldn’t go to the ‘birthday party’ naked (trust me Viann no one likes the naked girl at the party) I turned on my phone to start the dance party. The first song that came on opened with ‘keep on fucking me around’ and I swiftly realised that I was disillusioned about motherhood and was as prepared for it as Donald Trump was for his presidency.

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I honestly believe Viann is a superstar and will one day be Youtube famous or propel herself into stardom. I also believe our friendship would make a fantastic heartwarming comedy so if any aspiring movie makers are looking for some content, please do contact me as Viann is definitely screen ready.

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All jokes aside, Viann is one of the best kids I have ever met. She still doesn’t pronounce my name right and she sometimes forgets the alphabet but she has a heart of gold. I may have given her a low key sugar addiction and introduced her to the magic of Coca Cola but I think we can agree it’s worth it. At the end of our session last week, she told me that I’m her most favourite person in the whole wide world and I think she just might be mine.

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I Just Confiscated A Fidget Spinner From A Two Year Old

If that isn’t a Daily Mail style click bait headline, I don’t know what is. But fear not, I am not like that majestic publication where an article entitled ‘Mother of 6 Beats Children’ is merely about a competitive mum winning at a family game of Monopoly. Let me set the scene.

I had just started my last lesson before lunchtime, at this point I’m usually delirious with hunger and praying that it isn’t ‘mysterious fish day’. I’m on my 3rd round of Incy Wincy Spider when I see something black poking out of the corner of a little girl’s back pocket. Her name is Knanna and for the first 6 weeks that she was in my class I thought she was a boy. As I was bald until the grand old age of 2 (my mother spent those dark years sticking large pink bows on my forehead and manically shouting ‘SHES A GIRL’), I understand the struggles of being a girl with no hair but this is a reasonably accurate depiction of what Knanna looks like. Imagine that face on a 2 year old body.

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So Knanna is doing her usual impression of a sea lion, trying to join in the complex dance moves of the Hokey Pokey but ultimately looking like she’s wrestling an invisible ghost. I retrieve the object from her back pocket whilst she’s trying to remember which foot is which and discover it to be a metal fidget spinner. I was baffled and impressed, getting contraband like personal toys onto the school premises is a bit like smuggling a gram of cocaine into mainland China. We can all learn something from Knanna, if you look clueless but still manage to clap along in life, you can pretty much get away with anything.

The Hong Kong Sevens: Where The World Comes to Booze

So after 7 days of intense intoxication, 2 bouts of food poisoning and sleeping rough in a horrid Thai hostel, it would have made sense to have a detox and reminded my body what water tastes like. But no, the biggest weekend in the Hong Kong social calendar arrived so, as I say to my 5 year olds when they lose in a class game like the weaklings they are, ‘stop being a massive baby’. We had to accept that Sevens fever had begun. My family also came to visit, meaning I would have to find the time to be a local tour guide as well as ingest enough beer to sedate a race horse.

Friday: The first day was a good warm up to the weekend. We discovered that you need a passport or HKID to get into the South Stand which meant several trips back to Kowloon. It wasn’t that busy and we got to see our friends Tash, Izzy and Nathalie who all had the misfortune of forgetting their passports too. We celebrated Charlotte’s 20th birthday that night after drinking non stop all afternoon and not eating anything. Day drinking is an art form that I am yet to perfect as it usually results in me falling asleep or crying about something that happened 10 years ago. The biggest mistake we made during sevens weekend was not eating enough food which is a problem I rarely face in my day to day life. I have always been baffled by people who forget to eat meals as my entire day is motivated by the consumption of snacks and meals. But when you’re choosing between a cheeseburger and another litre of beer, it seems more practical to choose the latter.

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Charlotte on Day 1 full of hope and completely unprepared for the events that would come

Saturday: I woke up at 6:30 after about 6 hours of sleep to prepare for the carnage that awaited. I was surprised to not hear Libby pottering about sorting her make up but I let her sleep, she surely would have an alarm set. She had stumbled in with my sister at 4am, doing exactly what everyone says not to do by getting spangled on the first night and potentially ruining yourself for the big day. When we decided to get tickets, we were told one piece of worldly advice ‘to get into the South Stand, you need to be there before 9am at the very latest’. Once the South Stand is full, it is a one in one out process, so time was of the essence. There was a zero percent chance I was spending the day with people who had gone to the event to actually watch the rugby. The Saturday also coincided with my sister Charlotte’s birthday.

Side note about my sister (who is pictured above for your reference): for most of her late teen years Charlotte refused to consume any alcoholic beverages with me or our family as she considered it wasted calories. Her body is a well looked after temple whilst mine resembles a monkey conquered shit heap. Luckily for me, Charlotte has entered the debilitating experience that is university and her diet of salads and dust has evolved into cheese, chocolate and shame. With this dietary change, a new Charlotte has risen from the ashes. This Charlotte was the person who suggested the first pint at 8:25am on the Saturday. I’ve never been so proud.

We arrived at the stadium and the South Stand luckily wasn’t full so we walked straight in, realising we wouldn’t be leaving all day if we wanted to get back in. Sitting down in our seats and comprehending there was nothing else to do but get pissed was quite a harsh reality before 9am. Dress up is one of the key aspects of the 7’s and Libs and I decided to go as 60’s groovy chicks. I think I probably got more compliments on our fancy dress outfits than I will get on my wedding day. The only issue was if we lifted our arms above our heads, the people behind us could read the label on my thong.

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This picture gives off the false impression that we were truly engaged with the sporting abilities of the players as opposed to their overall physical attractiveness. 

My only criticism of the event was the toilet system. As a member of the fairer sex, I really struggle with the fact that I will spend a large proportion of my life queuing to go to the toilet. I could probably be fluent in Italian, be able to recite 100 numbers of Pi and read the entire literary works of William Shakespeare in the time I have spent queuing for the toilet. It is extremely stressful, especially when you’re boozing, to know that you will have to wait for 45-60 minutes to relieve yourself. The queue wrapped round the entirety of the South Stand. The line for Stealth at Thorpe Park was shorter. The look of horror in every girl’s eyes when they realised this was their solution to pissing can only be matched by someone whose been told their family are relocating to North Korea. It’s amazing how chummy you get with your female companions in these situations, but also how quickly mob mentality sets in. A girl dressed as a bowl of spaghetti tried to cut in and the entire queue started charting “CUTTER CUTTER CUTTER”. Another girl cried ‘wait your turn spag bol we’ve been here for hours’. Queue friends are a bit like speed dating partners, you have 2-3 minutes to find out weird and wonderful information before you go your separate ways, probably never to be seen again.

My mother texted us from her seat in the other stand just after when we should have eaten lunch. My original plan was to bring my parents into the South Stand but I was immediately overcome with images of my mother having a pint of piss thrown over her head and decided this would result in me being written out of her will. As parental figures come, mine are reasonably cool. One of my mother’s greatest qualities is her ability to celebrate absolutely everything. For example: when I came home for Christmas after 8 weeks in HK she not only got Libs and I balloons but they were personalised with our name on in glitter. So as you can imagine she’s a pretty low key person. This is the picture she texted me.

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As I said, she doesn’t normally make a fuss. We somehow managed to miss this spectacle mostly because we were facing the wrong way and also because Charlotte was in this state at 1pm.

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Then at 4pm after she long armed an entire pint over her face and attained a wig similar to little orphan Annie.

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Then again at 7pm in a lovely local Chinese restaurant approximately 20 minutes before I stuck her in a cab.

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Meanwhile I’d discovered that I should definitely go blonde no matter what the haters on my Instagram poll (that I have no recollection of posting) say.

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As you can imagine, we didn’t make it to the Sunday due to me curling up and dying like an unwatered house plant. It was definitely worth it. I may have lost the full capacity of my liver but life’s too short to not drink extensively just because you know you’ll spend the following 5 days in an alcohol based depression, contemplating drinking a bottle of paint in the arts and crafts cupboard.

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