Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Meet the New Superfood

Credit: Ecozine

For those health-conscious among you, the new kid on the superfood block is something you’d want to stock up on.

Called baobab, this superfood is derived from an ancient African tree known as The Tree of Life, which is celebrated for its health benefits and healing properties. As a fruit that is eaten cracked open and ground into powder, the baobab is 100% natural, vegan and gluten-free, and is free of additives or processed ingredients. What’s more, baobab has also six times more vitamin C than an orange, six times more potassium than a banana, twice as much calcium as milk, more soluble fibre than psyllium, and more magnesium than coconut water. True to its title as the new superfood, baobab is not just an ideal food ingredient, but in its oil form baobab also has a velvety feel to it, meaning it can easily serve as a skin hydrating product while preventing wrinkles and signs of ageing with its plentiful amount of vitamin A and E.

We know you must be wondering where in Hong Kong the baobab can be had. You may order online at Nice Things, or buy it at Anything but Salads (Sai Ying Pun), Healthy Chicken (Central), Organic Footmark (Ma On Shan and Mong Kok), Spicebox Organics (Sai Ying Pun), Maya Café (Wan Chai), IFC Foodlab (Fanling) and many more! 

Freelancing in Hong Kong

Credit: Fast Company, The Hive

In a recent survey done by online resource Contently, only 30.2% of the 643 freelancers interviewed said they would take a full-time job with identical pay and benefits, while 31.9% said they would decline the offer, and 37.9% replied with a ‘maybe’. It seems that freelancing is preferred as the mode of employment the world over, not least because of the flexibility it offers, even though that may mean unstable income.

In Hong Kong, there’s even the Hong Kong Freelancers Network which connect employers and freelancers, and freelance jobs have come to acquire its own categories at major recruitment sites the likes of Recruit.net and Careerjet.hk. As a response to the increasing desire for freelance job, work spaces where people can work, create and collaborate have also popped up all over the city. From The Hive, The Loft, 8080 Space to Hong Kong Commons and The Good Lab, freelancers in Hong Kong now no longer have to resort to cramped coffee shops to get their work done.

What are your thoughts on freelancing?  

Friday, 26 June 2015

Affordable Accommodation for Foreign Students in Hong Kong

Credit: Campus Hong Kong

Back at my previous job I was entrusted with the task of recruiting interns from overseas every summer. While most of the potential candidates, also HKID-holders, had their accommodation issue sorted by staying with their families and friends, there were occasionally those second or third culture kids in foreign countries, whose previous visits to Hong Kong were at least a decade ago, and who have not even distant relatives to speak of in Hong Kong. As the person who had to give them a vague inkling of the average rent for a 'shoe box', which the interns would be calling temporary home for three months, I was invariably on the receiving end of dropped jaws and faces that looked just incredulous.

But that’s about to change, for a bit at least, with Campus Hong Kong. With priorities given to foreign exchange students at local universities, foreign students employed as interns at local companies, as well as local university students, Campus Hong Kong offers a total of 48 well-equipped and furbished rooms, each spanning 660-square-foot, offering plenty of space for four, and complete with en-suite bathroom, fully fitted kitchenette, refrigerator, high-speed Wi-Fi and many more. From the individual lockable drawers, study desk with chair, hanging rail, storage shelves and multi-socket and USB hub that come with each bed, to free access to the fitness centre, sauna and swimming pool, HKD190 per bed per day (HKD1,200 weekly and HKD4,000 monthly) is more than justifiable, considering the astronomical rents in Hong Kong.

And no, Campus Hong Kong is not located in some far-off places in the city where nobody speaks English. Just seven minutes away from MTR Tsuen Wan Station and Tsuen Wan West Station, Campus Hong Kong is fairly well connected by the city’s integrated public transportation. Oh, and as residents at Campus Hong Kong, you’ll be entitled to special benefits at designated stores at Discovery Park mall, such as discounts or complimentary gifts. 

Lamma Pet Nanny

Credit: Lamma Pet Nanny

If you’re anything like me, you’d be thinking about your pets at home every time you travel. It doesn’t matter how much good food you get to satisfy your insatiable appetite with, and it surely doesn’t matter how many great people you meet. So you may be awe-struck by the spectacular landscape but as you return to your space of accommodation at night, thoughts for your fur babies will always fill your mind. You’d find yourself wondering about their well-being, knowing that they’re thinking of you too.

Of course, you can always get a friend to drop by your house but that’s only if you’ve got an animal-loving friend who doesn’t mind spending hours playing and petting your pet; normally though, that charitable friend would only feed your pet, take it out for a walk, or clean the litter box and be gone.

As pet parents, you’d be envious of Lamma Island residents for they have the Lamma Pet Nanny, who has years of professional experience as a clinical veterinary nurse, and is experienced with taking care of animals with special needs. As a member of both Pet Sitters International and Hong Kong Veterinary NursingAssociation, Bee is also a Lamma Island resident, and owner of two cats, a dog, and a hamster. To put pet parents’ mind at ease, Bee also provides daily updates, medical support, grooming services, and complimentary simple housekeeping alongside professional pet sitting. The best thing of all? She charges only HKD150 per day, and HKD50 extra for each additional pet per day!

Sustainable Seafood Week

Credit: WWF-Hong Kong

So you knew Hong Kongers are mad about seafood, but did you know we also are the second-largest per capita consumer of seafood in Asia? From lobster served with e-fu noodles in cheesy sauce to the ordinary home-steamed fish, there isn’t a dearth of seafood traces in our staple diet. But as overfishing and overconsumption is pushing many marine species towards extinction, it’s about time we started thinking twice about what we put on our dining table.

As an attempt to promote and encourage a more sustainable seafood consumption habit across the city, WWF-Hong Kong has announced its annual Sustainable Seafood Week, held from 27 June to 5 July this year, partnering with over 100 restaurants scattered all over Hong Kong, just to show that a sustainable seafood menu can – and should – be had anywhere in Hong Kong, by people from all walks of life. From all 32 Tsui Wah Restaurant’s outlets to 44 Maxim’s MX outlets, Congress Plus at HKCEC to Steakhouse at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Plat du Jour to The Continental, you’re literally spoilt for choice when it comes to a seafood feast matching various budget concerns.

Go on, check out WWF-Hong Kong’s list of partnering restaurants and do your bit as a responsible global citizen!  

Thursday, 25 June 2015

MTR’s Green Fingers

Credit: MTR Corporation Limited

As you pass by the resident properties atop MTR stations, how often do you stop to appreciate the well-groomed greenery and flowers? Maybe you should next time, after reading about the story behind the beautiful landscaping work.

Meet Chan Yin-chun, the eight-year Gardening Supervisor at Caribbean Coast for MTR, who has been planting thousands of flowering shrubs, trees and plants in an effort to transform the initially bland area into a green paradise. Her works get compliments every day, according to Chan, and apparently a man who used to live at South Horizons moved his family to Caribbean Coast because of the exquisite landscaping. What Chan doesn’t say is that she is also the recipient of the 2014 Grand Award for Individuals, the highest honour granted to staff at MTR, partly because she was the developer of a self-fertilisation method that utilises recycled flowers and plants to replace chemical fertilisers, therefore helping to create a more sustainable environment for Hong Kong.

Chan gets asked about tips on growing houseplants quite often, in case you’ve got a question or two about your pot of something at home too. 

Now You Can Undo-Send Your Gmail

Credit: Fast Company

Fed up with the cringe-worthy moments of mis-sending your emails, exposing unspeakable content to undesirable recipients? Now you get to undo your sent Gmail with a few clicks in the ‘General’ tab.

But your email can only be unsent provided that you haven’t navigated away from the page, meaning your boss is still going to receive that hateful email if you’ve already left the page, with the email already on its way. Also, the effect can only be done within five to 30 seconds of clicking the ‘send’ button.

How do you like this new tool which Google has been testing since 2009? 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lobster Bites with a Twist

Credit: Lobster Bobo by Eddy

If you’re a fan of lobster and if you confess to be an adventurous foodie, then your luck is in, because a restaurant specialised in lobster dishes has just opened.

Nope, it won’t be your favourite lobster bisque or risotto that Lobster Bobo will be serving, what it does have on its menu is a variety of local Hong Kong street snack such as ‘woon jai chi’ ('poor man's shark fin soup), rice rolls, rice in soup, as well as Southeast Asian cuisine the likes of laksa, topped with succulent lobster meat. If you like, you may also order a pot of whole lobster udon, served with a five-hour soup, cherry tomato confit, and semi-boiled egg.

The lobster, by the way, is flown in fresh daily from Canada, its shell used to make a flavoursome soup base and its meat used for the restaurant’s dishes.

Location: Shop A, Haleson Building, 1 Jubilee Street, Central
Phone: +852 3971 0933
Opening Hours: 11am to 9pm daily, closes on Sunday and public holidays 

Recipe: Popsicles for Brekkie!

Credit: Allrecipes

My mum would have never allowed this ("Cold food on the stomach first thing in the morning will give you weak kidney and grey hair!") but apparently fruit and yoghurt breakfast popsicles are a thing! Don't you just want to make these as the obnoxiously hot and humid Hong Kong summer is returning with a vengeance?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pee, Poo, Fertilise

Credit: Peepoo

Did you know that over 2.6 billion people in the world lack access to basic sanitation, and up to 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to even the simplest latrine?

To tackle the issue, Peepoo, a personal, single-use, self-sanitising and fully biodegradable toilet was invented to prevent faeces from contaminating the immediate area and the surrounding ecosystem, while solving the problem of scarce water supply by saving the need to flush – water is only needed for washing hands afterwards.

Weighing just 10 grams, Peepoo is really a slim biodegradable bag with an inner layer that unfolds to form a wide funnel. It’s designed to be easy to store, handle, and use in complete privacy. With the ability to remain odour-free for at least 24 hours, Peepoo can be stored in the immediate environment without endangering it. What’s more, it also transforms the faecal matter into high-value fertiliser to benefit the local organic farming industry.

Don’t you just love innovative, green and community-driven inventions like this? 

Grow Your Own Algae and Eat It

Credit: Fast Company

Read on if you’re the adventurous type that is curious about what the future brings in terms of food. While meatless meat is beginning to sound a good idea, we’re not quite sure what a green sludge of matter sounds to you.

Our world faces uneven food distribution, and more sustainable food production methods are constantly called for. In sight of this, architectural designer Jacob Douenias has created a conceptual line of photosynthetic furniture, which includes custom glass bioreactors that use waste heat, light and carbon dioxide from a home to feed the spirulina inside what resembles a fish tank. The resultant food is a green sludge of matter that is, according to the designer, “super nutritious”. And he’s right, because apparently the blue-green algae is used as a supplement at health food stores.

So what you need to do is pretty much live life as usual, and let the bioreactors collect your waste energy to provide food. If you come to think about it, Popeye also survives on algae-like matter too, so why not? 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Eat Cruelty Free, with Beyond Meat

Credit: ecozine, Beyond Meat

Despite the drastic increase in vegan and vegetarian dining options, Hong Kongers are constantly looking for options that enable them to eat cruelty-free, without compromising on food quality. So good news to those of you, as Beyond Meat, the top brand of plant-based food that has attracted investment from Bill Gates and the likes, is available in Hong Kong.

Free of antibiotics, hormones, cholesterol and gluten, Beyond Meat’s products are rich in high-quality protein and are cooked and pre-seasoned, meaning all you need to do is to add them to your recipes. From Italian Meatballs (HKD64) to Beefy Beef Crumbles (HKD59) and Beyond Chicken Strips (HKD59), Beyond Meat makes sure its products can fool even the most fastidious foodie by recruiting food and chemical experts to realign the molecules of plant proteins, so that they would have the same texture as meat.

And the best thing of all? These cruelty-free products are available at Green Common, Green Monday’s organic, healthy living store in Wanchai!

Green Common
Location: 222 Queen’s Road, East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2263 3153
Email: info@greencommon.com
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 8:30pm Monday to Saturday, 10:00am to 8:30pm Sunday

A Plate that Stops You from Overeating

Credit: Fast Company

Just when you snigger at the recent healthy living revolution, wondering what we have done to land ourselves in an era where our eating habits defy common sense, Dutch designer Annet Bruil launched the ETE Plate, which graphically illustrates a balanced meal by sketching out the portions deemed suitable for different types of food, into pie chart-like sections. From salad, meat or tofu, noodles or rice, vegetables to an overlapping ‘mix’ section that enables you to combine different types of food, the plate is designed to help people get the right portion sizes and eventually be able to eat healthily without it.

It will be a great idea, especially if the plate is used for catering at schools, so students will learn to get a grasp of the right eating habit from a young age, and apparently that’s what the designer has in mind too. What makes this plate that extra bit special is that it is made of bamboo, which absorbs CO2 as it grows and can grow in drought-prone regions. The plate is long-lasting but also biodegradable, in case you want to throw it away. 

Fashion with a Conscience

Credit: L plus H

The more we learn about the waste and human hardship the fashion/textile industry creates, the more we are inclined to source conscientious brands that does little harm to the environment, and better still, helps create equal opportunities for the community along the way.

Hong Kong’s own L plus H does precisely that. Founded by five bold and socially driven industrialists and entrepreneurs at the peak of the global financial crisis in 2008, L plus H, a social enterprise, intends to bring manufacturing back to Hong Kong while creating meaningful job opportunities for displaced skillful workers, so that these craftsmen can regain their dignity by applying and passing on their skills.

As a brand specialised in high-quality knitwear, L plus H hires artisans with an average of 20 years of experience in knitwear-making – most of whom started their career in their teen, and have so much to offer in the labour-intensive manufacturing process, complemented by cutting-edge machinery. Oh, and they have an annual charity sweater project where they’d give out 10,000 pieces of sweaters to the unprivileged – a project where yarn mills donate raw materials, some donate HKD100 per sweater, and L plus H itself donates part of the production cost and all administrative cost. Their community contribution aside, L plus H also ensures energy efficiency and environmental conservation wherever possible: their energy-saving air conditioner provides a comfortable and quiet work environment, and the factory is lit up with environmentally friendly fluorescent tubes, for instance.

There, you’ve got a local, conscientious garment brand to shop with.

Location: 17/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2923 2288
Email: marketing@LplusH.com
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 7:00pm Monday to Saturday, closes on Sunday and public holidays 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Take Your Kids to the Eco Paper World

Credit: hk.on.cc

When it comes to raising an eco-conscious child, nothing beats instilling the values of environmental conservation and exposing them to eco solutions when they’re still young. If you’re stuck for places to bring your children this weekend, try Korean Corner in Kowloon Bay.

As both a mini playground and a shop that sells eco toys and furniture pieces for the little ones, Korean Corner appeals with the giant four-metre-tall dinosaur made of cardboard, which is complete with a slide and a mini maze inside its ‘body’. From mini houses to bookshelves, Korean Corner has stocked up on creative furniture pieces that are made with eco-friendly materials, such as wood sourced from eco forests.

Go on, let your little ones explore the fun of eco-friendly furniture pieces!

Location: Room 17, 2/F, Metro Centre (I), 32 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3976 2976
Opening Hours: 10:30am to 6:00pm Monday, 10:30am to 8:00pm Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6:00pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays  

Matcha Pound Cake for a Good Cause

Credit: weekendhk.com

In case you didn’t know about iBakery, it’s a social enterprise by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals that is dedicated to training and hiring people with disabilities, so as to equip them with the cooking techniques and production of safe and quality bakery products.

Their cookies can easily be mistaken for those sold at boutique patisserie that cost an arm and a leg, and I speak as I find. So imagine the joy I felt when I learnt that iBakery is launching the Kyoto Matcha Pound Cake, using premium matcha ingredients provided by Hyatt Regency Kyoto, and the quality Uji Matcha from the long-established matcha brand Gion Tsujiri! As if that’s not enough quality guarantee, know that the making of the Kyoto Matcha Pound Cake was supervised by the chief patisserie of Hyatt Regency Kyoto, who was also responsible for the training of the iBakery staff.  

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bon-chan the Tortoise

Credit: Barcroft TV

You can practically walk any kind of pets these days, and people putting a leash on cats or walking their tortoise on the Sheung Wan end of the Victoria Harbour don’t faze me anymore. But an old man walking his tortoise, while carrying along a bag that is made out of the same fabric used to make the tortoise’s clothing, surely is a duo that garners attention.

Sixty-two-year-old director of a Japanese funeral business Mitani Hisao first spotted the tortoise when it was still its five-centimetre self at a pet shop in Tokyo. Childless, Mitani and his wife fell in love with the tortoise, and soon made it their new family member – they decided to call the tortoise ‘Bon-chan’. Never did the couple think Bon-chan would grow into a creature whose shell measures two foot five inches, but that didn’t stop the couple from loving Bon-chan. In fact, Mitani considers Bon-chan his son and calls him exactly so. The duo can be seen taking a two-hour walk two to three times a week, attracting attention with their matching outfit: Bon-chan’s clothes and the bag in which Mitani carries some carrots, bok choi, and a bottle of water to wash off Bon-chan’s pee.

According to Mitani, Bon-chan is a good listener and his confidant, who would come over at the call of his name. “Bon-chan knows the route and is very head-strong, so all I do is to follow. If a cute girl comes along, Bon-chan would start following her though,” said Mitani. Apparently, Bon-chan is very helpful at Mitani’s workplace too. “I run a funeral business and people who come to me are usually sad, but they would always smile whenever they see Bon-chan. I’m very proud of the positive influence my son has on people.”

Friday, 12 June 2015

Green Tuk Tuk

Credit: Fast Company

Have you ever travelled in Thailand or Cambodia, wishing your home city could introduce something like the good tuk tuk?

Apparently a design student at RMIT University has, and has created Lindo, a sleek, electric, app-connected version of the tuk tuk, which could offer city dwellers a new means of transport in the bustling city, and address ‘the current stress of population growth and congestion within our cities’ while helping to combat carbon emission.

Literally everything inside the vehicle can be controlled through an Uber-like app, from playing music to changing the lighting in the passenger compartment, and instantly paying for the ride. Understanding that the vehicle would need to be something that people actually want to ride in, Kyle Armstrong has fitted the tuk tuk-inspired vehicle with a curved carbon fibre frame that resembles modern motorcycle – the lightweight materials mean the vehicle consumes much less energy than a conventional electric car. Meanwhile, the photovoltaic skin of Lindo helps charge the lithium batteries inside the vehicle.

Would you ride in this concept car? 

Zero Energy Home with One Kit in One Week

Credit: Fast Company

It’s almost too good to be true: a group of innovators in the Netherlands have created a device that could turn an old house into net-zero energy homes in just a little over a week. How neat is that?

The device was invented to show that you don’t have to be loaded or extremely environmentally conscious to be able to own a net-zero energy home, and the point the project is meant to start will be the mid-century, low-income rental houses that all share similar layouts. What the kit includes is a system of prefab parts that can be easily installed on existing properties, from a roof covered in solar panels to facades onto old walls without the need of demolition, and a cube-shaped energy module that holds everything necessary for the generation of sustainable heat, hot water, power and ventilation.

The best thing of all? The kit is also designed to ensure that the retrofits will cause the least disruption to the lives of the renters. According to Linda van Leeuwen of the BAM Group, one of the construction companies behind the project, residents won’t have to move out; if anything, they’re only required to move the sofa or television a bit for the removal of window frames to make room for the installation of new front and back façade.

With the advancement in technology and increased support from material suppliers, the cost of the project has dropped drastically from USD144,000 two years ago to USD45,000 per townhouse today. Needless to say, utility bills for the renters will drop just as exponentially, for now their houses will be able to create renewable energy by themselves.

The system is said to work in many different world countries, and we in Hong Kong can only hope the engineers could come and make the net-zero energy houses a reality here! 

Hit the Market this Weekend!

Credit: hk.ulifestle.com.hk

Happy Friday! Guess you won’t be able to get much work done today, as always, so why not spare a minute to plan for the weekend?

Your luck is in if you’re all for supporting up-and-coming designers because Handmade Hong Kong Market Day, a platform for the showcase of local designs by budding designers, will be held for the first time in Wong Chuk Hang from 11am to 6pm tomorrow! From fine jewellery, mind-blowing photography, fashion items to eco-friendly stationery and leather goods, the locally made items at over 35 booths will make sure you’ll be ooh-ing and ahh-ing all the way.
But hang on, that’s not just it. Ovolo Southside, the location sponsor, will be giving you a complementary welcome drink for a minimum of HKD300 purchase at the market between 2pm and 8pm, and by all means stay behind for their wine tasting session, and enjoy the best of wines with delicious nibbles.

Location: Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Time and Date: 11am to 6pm, 13 June 2015

Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Too Much Tofu is Bad for You

Credit: First to Know

Yes, we know, tofu has been the substitute to meat for vegans and vegetarians lately. And to be honest I am a fan of the tofu burger too, but apparently too much tofu can be bad for you sometimes, and a 55-year-old man in China speaks as he finds, when a CT scan revealed over 420 kidney stones – like the pebbles you put in the fish tank for decoration purpose. Initially appalled, the doctors believe the stones could be the result of the man’s tofu-heavy diet.

As it turns out, the man loves his tofu so much that he eats it on a daily basis, but what caused the severe stomach ache that would later lead him to seek medical help is his lack of water intake, which resulted in the painful accumulation of unprocessed kidney stones, as tofu is a rich source of calcium and kidney stones are caused by a buildup of calcium.

So watch out for your love of tofu, moderation is key. 

Recipe: Raw Vegan Strawberry Short Cake Bites

Credit: www.hotforfoodblog.com/

It's raw. It's vegan. And it's strawberry shortcake! Bet you'd want to make these right now ;)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

That Good Old Qipao

Credit: Classics Anew, lifestyleasia.com

If you’re a fan of the traditional Chinese dress called qipao, you’d want to meet Janko Lam, a fashion designer and also founder of Classics Anew, a brand that began with upcycling end-roll fabrics into qipao. It all started with her job at the costume department of a local television station, where she fell head over heels in love with the traditional dress.

What makes Janko’s qipao different, so much so that it won an EcoChic Design Award in 2010, is the contemporary touch. From patterned fabrics one would easily associate with qipao to denim, Janko is a master of creating qipao of various cuttings and styles to meet the fastidious needs of fashionistas. But if you wish to jazz up your normal office attire with a hint of qipao-style too, Classics Anew is where you’ll be spoilt for choice.

How many ‘likes’ for this young lady’s respect for and preservation of the quintessential Chinese culture? 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Unternship: Do you Need One?

Credit: Fast Company

As an employer, what kind of qualities do you look for in a potential candidate? And, as a job applicant, what, other than your academic excellence, do you have to nail your dream job? Of course, if you’re applying for the job as a security guard then you’re not likely to be asked about your most adventurous stunt yet, but the truth is, with the change of time, employers are increasingly trying to dig deeper into applicants’ personalities to figure out their problem-solving skills, world knowledge etc.

Which is why Fred Cook, CEO of global communications firm Golin, has launched an ‘unternship’ programme to recruit entry-level applicants. A man with a one-of-a-kind career path that led him from being a chauffeur to a rock band manager, Cook believes the straightforward path tends to cause a person to miss out on interesting experiences that could enrich one’s life.

Following the launch of the unternship programme in October 2014, the top three finalists were brought to Golin’s Chicago office and given a challenge: go get an unlikely experience in the city with USD40 and a video crew. The winner was a 22-year-old Howard University graduate named Akinbola Richardson, who spent his time and money panhandling with a homeless man and driving a taxi around town, because he believes the homeless and taxi drivers are the two groups of people you need to talk to in order to understand a city. As a reward, Richardson was given the opportunity to choose what he wanted to do with his unternship, and he created an itinerary of skydiving in Georgia, living with an Amish community, and wrestling alligators in Texas, just to name a few.

You’ll be able to read about Richardson’s adventures on his blog soon, but that aside, how do you like the idea of an unternship, and what kind of itinerary would you want to fulfil? Now that reminds me of how I wished I could spend a day with the transvestite community… 

A More Dignified Employment Experience

Credit: SCMP, HelperChoice.com

Growing up in Hong Kong I’m no stranger to the locals – my family and relatives included – complaining about the noise migrant workers make in public spaces on their one day off every week, and talks of thefts and child abuse by these migrant workers. From a household where the mother looked after the children and did all household chores, I was never able to verify the complaints against migrant workers; the domestic helpers I met at friends’ places were invariably nice, however. So for the dissertation for my master’s degree in international journalism, I decided to visit Victoria Park and shopping malls to talk to domestic helpers coming from the Philippines and Indonesia. Along the way I also met people at NGOs fighting for migrant workers’ rights, from Indonesians and Filipinos to a British lawyer who offers pro bono legal services. From people at the employment agencies I learnt that employers are normally advised not to let their domestic helpers have their day off on Sunday (when most domestic helpers get their day off), in case they learn ‘dirty tricks and pick up thieving tendencies’. I learnt the two-week rule and the exponential sums of money the domestic helpers are required to pay – to both agencies in their home countries and Hong Kong – an amount of money that the domestic helpers struggle to repay over a period of one to two years, if they’re not fired within two weeks and therefore repatriated as a result, that is.

I’m not denying cases of thefts and child abuse by domestic helpers, I only think that society also needs to acknowledge the hardship many domestic helpers suffer while working in Hong Kong. There’s not a reason to lump them together and brand them as thieves or good-for-nothings, because they are individuals too, and their help has enabled local mums to join the work force to support their families.

Which is why my eyes lit up when I came across this SCMP interview with Laurence Fauchon, who founded HelperChoice in the wake of the ‘unfair and painful selection process’ she underwent when trying to hire a domestic helper to help take care of her newborn daughter in 2012. To quote Fauchon, “When we went there on a Sunday afternoon, 10 to 15 helpers were sitting on a bench waiting for someone to employ them…Everybody looks at you, like ‘Please, choose me.’ It felt really hard.” She would later learn about the fees the domestic helpers need to pay just to come to work in Hong Kong.
And there, she wondered, why isn’t there something like a LindedIn for domestic helpers? So as Fauchon was learning the new responsibilities for a new mum, she started HelperChoice, an online service that connects domestic helpers and employers. Fauchon, on the website, stresses that HelperChoice is not an employment agency, and it remains to today a platform that charges domestic helpers nothing but employers a monthly membership fee of HKD290 for both parties to upload their profiles on the site, and use the platform to search for possible matches. It works just like LinkedIn, except that HelperChoice also refers matched clients and helpers to partner agents that offer competitive prices for assistance with visa applications and other paperwork.

It’s no surprise that HelperChoice is able to sustain its finance: as a platform aimed at providing fair employment matching services while uplifting domestic helpers’ sense of dignity, the platform has successfully helped over 3,000 employers find the perfect matches, meaning more than 3,000 domestic helpers have been able to find a suitable job, without having their bank accounts dented, to support their families back home.

Spot Cancer Clues in your Feline Babies

Credit: ViralNova, Cole and Marmalade

I’ve always been a dog lover, way since I got the hang of things. I’d make a ‘dog’ by stapling pieces of paper together, and with a piece of string tied through a punch hole I’d drag it with me everywhere I went. It wasn’t until my last year in primary school that we got the call from SPCA, telling us that they finally had the dog with the right size and temperament for our family. And I’ve been bonkers about dogs since, so much so that I don’t think human beings deserve the dog’s unconditional love.

Having moved in with the boyfriend, however, I knew that we can’t afford to have dogs – that we both work full-time means we have very little time to spare for the dog, not to mention the microscopic space we manage to rent as a temporary home. So cat it is. I had no idea what to expect from cats but I welcomed our first adopted black cat home with open arms, and she’s come to side with me and snuggle up to me at night, or over the weekend, or when I lie down on the sofa like a flat plank.

There are two things that strike me about cats, the first being that cats can be very much like dogs, like how our black kitty would welcome us home at the door. The other thing about cats is that they are experts in hiding diseases or discomfort. From stories told by my cat-loving friends, I learnt that it could be very late by the time you suss out something wrong with your cats. While I’ll still need to find out the mentality behind this ‘secretive’ behavior, I thought I’d share with you this video created by the owner of the two cats called Cole and Marmalade, in the wake of Marmalade beating his cancer. Apparently there are telltale signs here and there that could prompt you to take your feline baby to the vet for a check, such as abnormal smells, lumps and bumps, or wounds that won’t heal. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Your Pets Can Help with Recycling Too!

Credit: Ecozine

As a devoted pet parent I’m all for sustainability education for my fur kids. No, I’m joking. I reckon my babies are doing pretty well already: they leave no food waste behind, and clean the bowl with non-chemical ‘agent’, like they do with their bodies. I can’t complain. The only thing they can’t do is to take the packaging of their food to the recycling bins.

Now, I normally take the cans to the recycling bins but if you’d like to make this act more meaningful, BeWell, a charity project is planning to give new life to used pet food cans by making them containers for the bead wax refills they provide with every BeCandle Beads purchase. Anyone that donates used pet food cans will be entitled to a complimentary refill of BeCandle Beads in a glass bottle that is recycled by Green Glass Green, and a free pilates class with BeWell project leader Elisa Fu. If you wish to give more, BeCandle is offering a special pack (HKD180) of BeCandle Beads that includes a recycled glass bottle, a sachet of wicks, and a recycled pet food can filled with wax sand made of natural palm wax – know that 100% of the profits from the special pack will be donated to the SPCA.

You’ll find the pet can collection station at BeCandle’s GLUE Associates (S402, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central), and the special pack can be bought online here. There will be a launch party for this project at 6pm on Saturday, 13 June, at Panevino, so bring your pets! 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Hello Kitty Train

Credit: Oriental Daily, Sina News

Hello Kitty fans rejoice, as, following EVA Air’s back-to-back Hello Kitty-themed jet, the Taiwanese are back at it with their love of the mouth-less kitty again, this time on the Taroko National Park-bound train by Taiwan High Speed Rail.

Scheduled to be launched end of this year, the Hello Kitty-themed train will ensure the much-loved character to be seen throughout the compartments and exterior, while incorporating elements of iconic sightseeing spots the likes of National Palace Museum and Alishan National Scenic Area.

If you’re about to work on the itinerary for a ride on the Hello Kitty train in Taiwan, pencil this down too: there will be limited-edition Hello Kitty train bento.  

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Meet Hong Kong’s First CGS

Credit: www.info.gov.hk

If you’re still griping about the insufficient government effort in battling environmental pollution, it’s perhaps time you stopped and take a serious look at Hong Kong’s first Community Green Station (CGS), just opened in Sha Tin less than a month ago.

Run by non-profit making organisations, the CGS’s, expected to acquire a presence in each of the 18 districts to promote environmental education while serving as a spot to collect different types of recyclables, are designed with aesthetics and practicality in mind, and have therefore incorporated elements of sustainable development and green buildings. The Sha Tin CGS, for instance, is now a public place composed of container modules, reformed from the temporary parking space it previously was. A quick tour at the Sha Tin CGS reveals the multi-purpose rooms and ancillary facilities built for exhibitions, seminars, workshops and other kinds of educational activities.
Now, although there are already existing recyclers (with whom the Sha Tin CGS will be working closely with to provide a better recycling solution), one thing you should note about the CGS is that it will focus on the provision of collection services for recyclables of lower economic value, such as electrical appliances, compact fluorescent lamps and tubes, glass bottles and rechargeable batteries. The materials will then be delivered to trustworthy and qualified recyclers to turn the waste materials into useful resources.

The operator – Christian Family Service Centre, in the case of Sha Tin CGS – has already established collaboration arrangements with over 70 housing estates, institutions and schools in the district as we speak, and the network is expected to expand further in the future. For so long we have been wanting more government subsidies and support for the local recycling industry to ensure more waste materials are recycled, and it looks like now that the government has done something conducive to a sustainable future, as a response to the hitherto unsatisfactory recycling situation. Surely the CGS initiative deserves some applause? 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Goldfish in a Wheelchair

Credit: ViralNova

I don’t know how your day has been but in case you’re losing faith in humanity, here’s a story to store it.

Apparently goldfish could see its health deteriorating when it suffers bladder infections, and they could die as a result because of the inability to swim up in the water. While some may choose to let the fish go – flush it down the loo, even – some kindhearted owners have recently started to create fish wheelchairs, using all kinds of components available.

So just like a human made more mobile by the wheelchair, the goldfish put in a fish wheelchair will be able to swim freely again! How cute is that? 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

When the Context of the June 4 Incident Matters

Text: TC Li           

I was born in a time when Hong Kong’s economy began to take off, enabling a better quality of life for its citizens. The primary school I went to had double glazing windows to mitigate the noise from the constant air traffic high above – the city’s airport was still that one with the awe-inspiring runway in the middle of the city. It was a time when children were allowed to be children, roll in the sands if you wish, do your homework while watching the telly if you wish, with impunity. Most of us, adults and children alike, had English names alongside our Chinese ones. I never questioned why I was also called Heather Li, because the particular political status of Hong Kong was status quo.

It was also the time when news footage of tanks sent down Tiananmen Square captivated everyone, and a disconcerting silence loomed large. My mum went ballistic, and my dad offered to try applying for emigration to Canada again, after letting go of the successful application a couple years prior. “But what if you can’t find a job as an engineer there?” asked mum. “Even if I can only find a job washing dishes at a restaurant, that will have to do,” replied dad.

We took to the streets and sat under the sun at Victoria Park for as long as our stamina would allow. For a long time the only tunes that blasted from our car’s audio system were from the collection of songs, composed especially in memory of the June 4 Incident. Songs of heartbreak for the demise of one’s country, songs that best described the feelings that were brewing inside my dad.

We could have relocated to Algarve, Portugal, where dad had bought a house in a quaint little villa by the sea. We would have grown up speaking Portuguese and Cantonese, writing to friends and relatives scattered all over the world, before the Internet came along. But none of that happened because my parents decided to stay, from the faith they had in a better future for Hong Kong. For a decade or so my dad was happy that reality proved he made the right decision.

And then the extreme pan-dems came along. Instill the city with unsubstantiated fear, they did, and atomise the people, they did. They claim they want the best for Hong Kong and the people, but really it’s their individual and political parties’ interests they are after. With staged stunts of fortitude they manage to fool the mass – the mass that fails to see it’s heroism the politicians are seeking.

It’s as if we’re back to square one, or even worse. And the Central Government doesn’t have to do anything. But really, how do you educate a crowd that has decided to commemorate the June 4 Incident with China taken out of the context? How do you talk to the people and groups that organise annual mass gatherings on this very date, more for publicity and less for remembering the lives that were perished and the cause that was lost? 

Grow a Book Tree

Credit: Fast Company, Pequeño Editor

If you need one more reason to get your children to read, Pequeño Editor has come up with a solution to make reading not just intellectually beneficial, but also environmentally educational.

Titled Mi Papá Estuvo en la Selva (‘My Father was in the Jungle’), the book – which has been made available in its standard format for quite a while – has recently been given a redesign to remind readers of resource conservation. The ‘resource’ in this case is trees, which are cut down to make books.

With each page printed with non-toxic inks and sown with seeds of the jacaranda tree, readers of the children’s book are encouraged to water the book cover to help the seeds germinate, before planting the book in a garden once the seeds have sprouted. To quote Raquel Franco, editorial director of Pequeño Editor, the book is a metaphor that “everything we read also takes root in us and is part of our mental library, our culture, of who we are as people”. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Go Matcha Crazy!

Credit: weekendhk.com

So it’s official. The prestigious matcha (green tea) brand, hailing from Kyoto, Japan, has opened an outlet in Hong Kong.

Known for its meticulous method and stringent quality-control of green tea since its establishment in 1854, the NakamuraTokichi tea brand has made it easier for its Hong Kong fans to get their fix of quintessentially Nakamura Tokichi matcha – both the tea itself and matcha desserts.

From daifuku in matcha and red bean paste, a dessert of matcha ice cream with matcha jelly and dango, to matcha soba noodles set, complete with rice and pickles, Nakamura Tokichi is simply a matcha heaven. The catch? You’ll need to queue up for hours just to have your palate matcha-pampered now, since the Japanese dessert and tea house has only just opened, and…you know how Hong Kong reacts to new openings.


Location: 18/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2426 6111
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm daily 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Hola, Kwun Tong!

Credit: Mex Kitchen

You’d have heard about the revitalisation of industrial buildings in Hong Kong, but did you know about this new Mexican eatery that also runs a delivery service, tucked inside one of the long-standing industrial buildings in Kwun Tong?

Opened by a bloke who used to live in California, the US, and would make regular trips to Mexico, Mex Kitchen has recently decided to bring his passion for the country and its food to Hong Kong. Complete with quintessentially Mexican-style décor and a menu of authentic Mexican flavours, including tortilla taco, quesadilla and burrito bowl that you can custom-make according to your personal preferences, Mex Kitchen stands out from the crowd of food delivery services in that area by having the delivery boy donning the country’s clothes and a sombrero.

Best thing of all? Their food is about half the price of what you’d need to pay elsewhere in town.


Location: Unit E, 11/F, Selwyn Factory Building, 404 Kwun Tong Road, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 5901 6046
Opening Hours: 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday

Top Jobs a Decade from Now

Credit: dornob.com, Fast Company  

When yours truly was at college, my fellow students were scrambling for a piece of the hospitality business: from hotel management to catering, there was not a dearth of aspiring managers and chefs, hopeful that the booming hospitality business would bring in more than enough to put bread on the table. And soon, there was the MBA boom. But what does the future hold for our millennials and the generations that follow?

According to Fast Company’s interview with TomorrowToday Global’s futurist Graeme Codrington, most of the much-sought-after jobs today will become obsolete by 2025, and that ‘nearly 25% of today’s fulltime employees will be working on demand’, including top-end professionals who are currently hired to solve critical problems for companies. What that means is that more individuals will need to learn to market themselves, giving rise to the demand for experts who have the know-how on self-management, self-promotion, relentless marketing, administration, and self-development. These professionals, according to Codrington, are called ‘professional triber’. In addition to personal coaches like the tribers, professors will likely to be working on demand as a result of the increased demand for online courses and distant learning.

Not surprisingly, urban farmers will be among the top jobs of the future, not least because of the global sustainable movement and elevated environmental awareness, thanks to the revelation of environmental impact from industrial farming. And that is what leads Codrington to believe that small artisan farmers will continue to grow in numbers, and companies and individuals will take up the opportunity to teach and assist amateur urban farmers lead a healthier and more eco-conscious lifestyle.

Global population ageing has also led Codrington to predict end-of-life planner, senior carer and remote health care specialists to be among future top jobs. 3-D printer design specialist, apparently, is somewhere up the top too, but we’re ambivalent about this, seeing the lukewarm interest the general public has displayed about this technology so far.

So, what are your predictions for future top jobs? If you ask us, we reckon environmentalists will really make it into the mainstream. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Type with Your Greasy Fingers

Credit: designboom

If you’re a fan of KFC and if you have the tendency to type away on your smartphone with your greasy fingers, your luck is in, as German advertising company Serviceplan has invented something that could save the need for wipes to rid your mobile’s screen of grease afterwards.

Called ‘tray typer’, the thin, rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard that will arrive with your food tray will allow you to connect with your nearby smartphone, so that you can type away on the tray, be it to reply your WhatsApp messages or comment on Facebook. In case you’re wondering, it’s conductive inkjet technology that makes the tray typer workable.

The best thing of all? KFC is seriously contemplating introducing the tray typer to one of its chains in the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if KFC Hong Kong could do the same, so you can leave the cleaning up of greasy fingerprints to the cleaners?