Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Chinese movies float not the western boat

February 27, 2012

I was reading an article the other day which claimed that despite the robust growth of the movie industry in China, Chinese movies were still somewhat unpopular in the West. In a way, they haven’t ‘cracked’ the market like some other countries have – though what those countries are, I cannot actually guess. While we see a variety of movies from places like France, Germany, Japan and the like, they’re still usually only as part of film festivals – certainly not mainstream.

The problem with Chinese movies is that there are just plain and simple too many damned period martial arts epics! Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good martial arts epic as much as the next guy, but they all become a bit of a dime a dozen. If I see another movie with the word ‘Assassin’ in the title coming out of China…I’ll spit. Reign of Assassin’s, Empire of Assassin’s, Assassin’s Assassins Assassin’s!!

I have a keen interest in Mandarin movies. Not only are they a terrific study aid, but it also gives me a buzz whenever I recognize familiar words. It’s a challenge and a half finding Mandarin movies as is, considering so many of the international releases are coming from Hong Kong – which of course is Cantonese, to which I have absolutely zero interest. The biggest problem with most Mandarin movies; the big ones that are actually subtitled, is that they’re all period epics! While I loved the movie Red Cliff, I’d rather be watching current day dramas such as Beijing Bicycle.

I regularly check the Xin Hua bookstore in town, looking for new release Mandarin dramas, but unfortunately, many of them simply aren’t subtitled – or as I said previously, are Hong Kong cop movies in Cantonese.

I am also a big fan of these movie documentaries, such as Last Train Home. These are always depressing, but always offer a very familiar look into China, and always have me craving to return. These will pop up on the television from time to time, and always seem to be based around a migrant worker girl whose headed to the city to follow her dreams, and has instead ended up in a jeans factory.

Any other Mandarin movie fans out there want to share some title names?

 

Best food or atmosphere?

November 23, 2009

There’s a restaurant in Box Hill that we go to on a regular basis called Hong Kong Best Food. It’s located on Carrington Road which is home to many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. In particular there are several, very local Chinese, Sichuan restaurants which are simply superb for both Hot Pot or regular Sichuan food. In particular we like to eat the spicy Sichuan fried green beans, shredded potato and pork belly – all of which we first discovered in China and have since pined for – actually finding them locally was a win for the little people.

So getting back to Hong Kong Best Food, or HKBF as we affectionately refer to it. Here is a restaurant that is literally like stepping off a regular Australian street (well there is a distinct Chinese vibe to Carrington Road) and into a Hong Kong diner. Whilst I have not actually been to Hong Kong myself, I can imagine this would be an authentic experience. This is one restaurant that we distinctly do not go to for the food, we go here for the atmosphere.

Setup like a standard diner, there’s four flat screen LCD televisions (one in each corner of the ceiling) which play Chinese TV. On a good night, you’ll stumble into either Chinese period drama – China’s equivalent of Home & Away, or one of those kooky Asian gameshows. Decorated with photos of gaudy low quality photographs of Hong Kong and various other ornaments, it really captures a typical Asian eatery. The place is often filled to the brim with Chinese, where as a westerner, you’re back in minority again. In fact at one of the Sichuan restaurants, I even heard myself referred to as a laowai (foreigner), in my own country!

The meals in HKBF are cheap and diverse. Sweet and sour pork ribs sit beside spaghetti bolognaise, cheese friend rice and club sandwiches. The menu is in fact so ridiculously beyond any form of typical theme that it’s one of the best parts about going there. The food is cheap and well – of not a particularly good quality. Whilst I quite enjoy what I eat there, it’s definitely not something I would write home about. I enjoy ordering Chinese food with a side of French fries – they just don’t go together, but totally do at the same time.

Another highlight was the accidental discovery of Iced Green Apple Green tea. Here we basically have green cordial on ice yet made with either green or red tea. Think the potent sweetness of cordial on ice, with the distinctly tart undercurrent of tea – to me it’s just a completely winner combination. The Chinese love their milk and tea drinks and the drinks menu at HKBF is definitely full of options. There’s also free regular tea on offer to which the mostly inattentive waitresses will refill if you can catch their attention. There’s one thing about Chinese waitresses that’s always so consistent no matter where you go – they fluctuate from attentive to completely oblivious almost constantly.

If there’s one way to sum up HKBF it’s something that turned up in a local review. You’ll love HKBF..as long as you’re Asian and I couldn’t agree more. Unless you have some fond attachment to Asian culture such as myself, an Asian partner, or are in fact Asian, you’re not going to particularly enjoy HKBF. To me it’s like a brief time-out in another country. The fact that most local Australians would not go in there, or if they did, would completely turn their nose up at what’s on offer, is all the more reason for me to dine there.

 

Laoshi hao

May 12, 2009

Tonight we have our first lesson with a Chinese tutor of whom we met briefly last Tuesday night. Her name is Ying (said: Ing) and she is a mother living in Box Hill North who has been in Australia for approximately 1 year. Her english is good but she was quick to point out, not that good. To us her english was completely fine. This was precisely the type of person we were looking for.

To date we have had really no trouble communicating with non-english speakers – particularly when they are trying to teach us Chinese. It can be difficult getting a point across sometimes, or explaining something intricate, but when it comes to language learning we would rather someone who actually has a true to life Chinese accent and is sometimes difficult to understand as it makes the learning experience that much better.

So tonight we have our first lesson and I am keen to see what we are taught. I often think back to a lesson we had with Mr Pan where he tried to teach us a few simple phrases. The funny thing about that lesson was that both Courtney and myself remember what he taught us perfectly to this day. Thanks to Mr Pan we can say, “Is that your pen?” “That pen is mine!” which we adapted into, “Is that your cat?” As you can see, highly worthwhile knowledge! In return for him teaching this, we taught him the word ‘Short-cut’, and how and when to use it – to which he must have used it at least once every time we saw him from that point forward.

I wish to continue learning Chinese as I feel I already know enough to form a platform from which to learn more. I am highly interested in foreign languages, and while I find it considerably hard to stay focused and motivated, I have a real desire to be able to hold a conversation. I find myself constantly wanting to be around Mandarin speakers, my ears pricking up at each and every recognisable word. I find myself in shopping centre massage stores more intent on listening to them speak than the actual massage.

Courtney likewise has a keen interest but also the additional factor that she is returning to China for several weeks in August and in order to impress her bosses with her language ability, wishes to build on that. She’s going to primarily Cantonese speaking areas – such as Hong Kong and Macau, but they’ll also be visiting GuangZhou on the mainland, where Mandarin is freely spoken.

Swine denial, denied

May 4, 2009

China has been accused of discriminating against Mexicans as the rest of the world runs around panicking about Swine Flu. A number of Mexican nationals have reputedly been held in quaratine as China fights to protect it’s overwhelmingly large populace from this months latest medical fad. One particular individual, a 25 year old Mexican flew from Mexico to Hong Kong to Shanghai. The Chinese then quarantined him, everyone on his plane, and everyone who happened to be in the Hong Kong hotel to boot. I swear to god if i had been staying in that hotel in HK and been yanked in my jammies into quarantine…i’d be pissed!
The Chinese have a right to be somewhat paranoid of large scale infectious spread – they’re not exactly the world’s most hygenic country. Several years ago they largely blamed foreigners for the SARs epidemic – and of course, it wouldn’t have had anything to do with fact they cough, piss and snot rocket nonstop while not washing their hands would it?

Clear the Calendar

January 7, 2009
So your social calendar for the month of May is looking a little dull.  What to do?  Why not indulge in your love of steamed buns and head to Cheung Chau in Hong Kong for the annual Bun Festival?  

The festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth moon in the Chinese calendar, coinciding with the celebration of Buddha’s birthday.  The festival encompasses traditional Chinese culture, with the highlight being the Bun Snatching event.

Competitors race to collect the highest number of buns from bun towers.

Competitors racing to snatch buns from the tower.

 

 The bun snatch was banned back in the 70s after one of the bun towers collapsed (no surprises there).  However, with renewed safety precautions, the race is back and is becoming one of the most popular parts of the festival.  Competitors race up the towers to grab as many buns in an allocated time frame.  The higher the bun, the greater the  fortune (and points) received.  The person with the highest number of points wins.

I’m assuming, although cannot confirm, that on top of the great fortune, you also win the buns.


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