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Archive for the ‘hong kong life’ Category

Remember the good ol’ days? We didn’t have much money, but hell, we were happy. In those years, post SARS (OK, not that long ago), when the economy was just trying to find its feet, we were all humbled by the experience of living through dangerous times, but flush with the promise of better times possibly ahead.

We lived simply, not sure if our jobs were secure, but we enjoyed things more. A day at the beach, a hike in the park. And we could afford things too, like a family meal, a bouquet of flowers, or, I don’t know: even, school fees and rent.

Store clerks were still surly (I wouldn’t have it any other way) but more willing to provide service. Restaurants remembered their regulars, even by name, and even offered complimentary drinks after dinner to show their appreciation for your patronage. If something wasn’t right with a service or product you were buying, a genuine effort was made to ensure your satisfaction. In those times, your business was important.

Well those days are gone. Businesses that I frequent regularly, barely take notice of me. If I make a small complaint about something, they look at me blankly. They don’t care if I never come back, they are busy busy busy. cha-ching!

Landlords are raising rents by 60% or more. They dont’ care if you have to move. There are prospective tenants with bulging housing allowances waiting to pounce. (I understand that there is a supply-demand thing going on here, but its a vicious cycle: too many employers are willing to pay housing allowances that meet the escalating rent levels. It’s a landlord’s market. And while this is going on at the top end of the scale it is putting downward pressure on housing all the way down the line.)

The ESF has raised school fees, and has even asked for September fees to be paid in June. They don’t care if you can’t afford it. There are children lined up waiting for the chance to get in.

The manager at the Pizza Express that ‘lost’ my daughter’s birthday party reservation didn’t care that 10 girls had no place to go for their promised pizzas. He really couldn’t care less. He was booked up. Why would he care?
So I’ll admit it and you can verbally abuse me all you want. I liked Hong Kong better when it was scrapping itself back up (I’m talking a recovering economy here, not an economic crisis). Without the cushion of endless supplies of cash and customers, nothing could be taken for granted. With a little less cash flying around, we all had a little more value.

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coco.JPGThe Peak Lookout deserves a big thank you from all the dog owners who, thanks to the management there, can enjoy a civilised lunch or breakfast in the company of their canine. But some dog owners are taking advantage of the restaurant’s largesse by forcing diners to tolerate the behavior of their poorly-trained dogs.

We hiked up The Peak on Sunday and enjoyed a leisurely lunch on The Lookout’s back patio. I was thrilled we could bring our dog in with us to the “dog section”. However, I soon wished we had tied her up outside so we could sit further away from the cacophony of dog barking and whining that we had to listen from the other dogs, throughout the meal. It was anarchy.

If the dog barking wasn’t bad enough, one dog had urinated under one of the tables. My advice to the restaurant would be to advise owners that if their dogs didn’t behave, they would be asked to remove the dog.

But I guess once you do that, you open the floodgate to other restrictions. “Sorry ma’am, your baby is too noisy — can you please leave it outside?”

But really, having a restaurant that allows dogs is a great thing in a city that is, for the most part, completely dog un-friendly. But even in The Peak piazza area, dogs were barking, and running around out of control. If this keeps up, it won’t be long before dogs won’t be allowed in there either.

As my husband often says “all good things in Hong Kong eventually come to an end” and I’m afraid that if this continues, it will spoil it for those of us with well-behaved dogs.

I’m not talking Lassies here, but dogs in public should at least be under control and not be nuisance to others.

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legend vs legend

360704351_a5bca4fda1_m.jpgTwo legends were in Hong Kong this week: rock and roll legend Eric Clapton and grammy award winning artist, John Legend. Both shows were amazing but in different ways.

Both performances took place in the Asia World Expo, which is really a poor set up for a concert. At Clapton’s concert, we were seated in the ‘bowl’ which was basically ground level seating. Luckily for us, we had great seats, butI can’t imagine how the people in the 50 or so rows behind us saw anything. And for the staggering ticket prices they charged, I was amazed they got away with it.

The whole venue was packed, yet there was very little energy from the crowd. We were all content to enjoy the show from the comfort of our seats. It wasn’t until the very end when Eric played “Layla” that we finally got off our asses.

I can’t say I blame the audience much. As amazing as Clapton was, he did little to communicate with the audience and encourage them to participate. He is the master – he was there to perform, and we were there to listen. This was a stark contrast to new comer John Legend.

john legend stock photoThe venue for Legend was about one third full, but since they curtained off the other two thirds, it felt surprisingly intimate. When John finally hit the stage the crowd was on their feet immediately. He spoke to the audience throughout his performance — he was extremely charming — and said he was very excited to have his first show in Hong Kong. He encouraged everyone to dance and sing along. And that we did. About three songs in, a group rushed the front and the security guards realised that any attempt at resistance was futile. The concert turned into a party which Legend enthusiastically plugged into, especially when he grabbed a girl from the crowd and danced with her onstage.

Like Clapton, Legend is an exceptional musician, so this show also did not disappoint on any level. His solo performance on the piano of “Ordinary People” was one of the best concert moments I have ever experienced. My only complaint was I thought the sound for Legend was not as clear and perfect as at Clapton’s.

Clapton, for his part, did not rest on his laurels, but instead pulled out all the stops and left no doubt as to why he is still one of the best guitar players in the world. He was accompanied by a band that was so good, it would have outshone him if he was a performer of less calibre and confidence. Instead, they matched him on every level creating a performance that rocked from start to finish.

Clapton left the stage after his encore with a wave. Legend, on the other hand, announced he would be at the Four Seasons after the show before he waved and bowed humbly on his way out.

Of course, we went to the Four Seasons, where we found Legend holding court in the back of the bar. I went to his table and told him how much I enjoyed his show. He asked what my name was, and despite his obvious exhaustion (he was drinking hot water, by the way, mixed with packets of Throat Ease), he was a real gentleman and stood briefly to shake my hand. I asked if he wouldn’t mind signing my ticket stub. “Of course,” he said. I pulled it out of my bag along with a pen. He looked at it briefly, then turned his sexy brown eyes up to look me deep in the eyes. He then said something I didn’t expect. “This is a ticket for Eric Clapton.”

I was, of course, mortified and frantically searched my bag for the ticket. He and his friends laughed and he good-naturedly offered to sign the Clapton ticket. “I love Clapton,” he said.

Instead I went and grabbed my husband’s ticket stub and got the autograph. Exactly where it belongs.

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