Category Archives: Lan Kwai Fong

Don’t worry – I’m not a carjacker or anything

In South Africa I have read it is estimated that around 40 percent of the population live on less than USD$2 / day – when you have an official census figure of 49 million and an unofficial one of much more – that’s a lot of people that are living well below the poverty line and in need of extra support and income.

Here it is very difficult to go through any day without seeing some of these people, even though we live in what could be called the equivalent of the lower north shore in Sydney and perhaps Pokfulam in Hong Kong (although some people who live here would probably rather compare it to the Peak -its really not – Repulse Bay without the beach maybe ;-) and so you may expect what we see is barely scratching the surface of what is out there in the rest of SA.

It has also opened my eyes to what can be done –even a little that doesn’t cost you anything but can help others. All restaurants pack up leftover food for you – which everyone does, initially I found this strange – every time you went out always seeing take away containers come out at the end of a meal to all the tables, but then I realised many people that ate in restaurants pack the rest of their meals and then pass them straight onto the car guards or security staff at their complexes or take them home for their domestic helpers who take them home to their family– I have even seen people wrap food in fast food restaurants and place it on top of the bin so that someone will be able to eat it rather than have to go through the rubbish bin later. My own fridge at home no longer has old leftovers that need to be thrown away or rotting vegetables in the bottom crisper (I have to admit we were great wasters of food) – as I just bundle them up every few days and offer them to our helper, who takes them home with her, win win! I feel that I should get some environmental points there as well – but not sure exactly how, its just a feeling (Less waste?).  I do feel the need to add the veggies are passed on in an edible state – I don’t wait until they are rotting (just to be clear)

I appreciate the above may sound like a ditzy expat chick with no experience at all of poverty trying to be deep and meaningful thinking handing over a few scraps of food can solve worldwide hunger – but that’s not what I am thinking or trying to do.  I certainly don’t pretend to have any particular or in depth knowledge of the poverty issues in Africa, but after being caught up in the excesses of Hong Kong for the last six years (where very real poverty also exists – just not sure where I was looking all the time) the excessive visible poverty here is an eye opener for me, a slightly grounding one I hope. 

In Asia there are people on the streets asking for money – some people especially children will sometimes chase you for blocks looking for some money, especially if they think you are a tourist, I guess tourists have deeper pockets. In Hong Kong I often heard it speculated that many of the beggars are ‘run’ by the triads – who pick them up each morning, drop them off at their appointed places and then pick them up at the end of the day, might be true who knows?  The one thing I do know about Hong Kong is the best place to go if you are asking for money is Lan Kwai Fong (the central downtown drinking area  – frequented by the ‘gweilo’ foreigners) any night after about 9pm – when the drinkers have had plenty to drink and think someone tapping on their shoulder is asking for payment for the round of drinks they have just got. Those dressed as monks in particular have this one down pat and I have observed much cash being handed over in this way late into the evening or early in the morning.

Regardless of the amount of times I have been approached in Hong Kong and other Asian countries while visiting it didn’t quite prepare me for South Africa. In Asia in my experience I would say the asking is more passive, people tap you or make eye contact and then wait for you to do something – you may or may not and there appear to be no consequences to that, sometimes you may give some money sometimes you may choose not to.  Here the people that have approached me have often given me long and exhaustive stories about why they need the money, and then don’t really move away until you pass it over.  They also seem to be able to spring upon you at inopportune times for you – when you are sort of stunned and have to either respond or appear incredibly rude and walk by them to move on.

Twice last week I have had the ‘springing on your from nowhere’ experience instances and handed over cash accordingly.  The locals here tell you – never get your wallet out, safety and security etc but sometimes its just too tough.

Thursday after picking my three year old daughter up from school she demanded the ‘special treat’ mint I had promised her if she brushed her hair in the morning and was a good girl at school – as soon as I picked her up – Where’s my mint mummy? I’ve been a good girl, I didn’t hit or push the children today (note the today, there have been incidents!).  I checked with the teachers that this statement was in fact factual and then checked the box of mints I keep in the car – alas my cupboard was bare. I placated the distressed princess by saying we would stop at the service station on the way home to pick up some new mints.  As soon as we arrived at the busy service station (ie lots of people there) and were out of the car a guy ran up to me (it must have been the flashing sign on my face – ‘Ask me for money’ – its strange that I never see it when I look in the mirror) and the first thing he said was ‘I was wondering if you could help me, don’t worry I’m not a carjacker or anything’.  Nice start – not a carjacker! I was then kind of stuck to the spot gripping my daughter’s hand scanning the area, I still had my car keys in my hand and coincidentally my wallet – not a carjacker – what then could he be?  He went on to explain that he was in between contracts at the moment (I’m not sure what that means) and was looking for some money for food and a bit of medicine but mostly food – could I possibly help him? His explanation ran on for about a minute but there was a lot of repetition of ‘I’m not a carjacker’ and ‘I need some money for food’.  As I was standing there with my wallet and my car keys in my hand and my three year old in the other hand and he was standing between me and the door of the service station I didn’t think I had a lot of choice – I opened my wallet took out the first note I found and handed it over, was blessed by God – and whoosh he was gone. There was nothing threatening about him at all really but you are told time and time again to always be alert when approached by people you don’t know for any number of reasons.

The day before I was window-shopping on the street just outside our local mall and a lovely little boy came over to talk to me (hint all other children were in school – this should act as a warning).  His mother and father were out of work and his father didn’t have an ID card (there are a lot of issues in South Africa with ID cards and there has recently been a lot of publicity of a young man that committed suicide when he couldn’t get an ID card as all government support services seem to be blocked to you without one – it is quite a serious issue, you can have a birth certificate and sometimes even a South African passport but if you don’t have an ID card you can’t open or close a bank account, get any kind of legitimate employment, register for school, get a drivers license, apply for any kind of social welfare, get a mobile phone or vote. It seems to be a very lengthy process and can be quite difficult to prove you are who you say you are in some circumstances) I think this particular youngster’s parents also had asthma and it cost 40 Rand for his family (himself his two younger sisters and his parents) to stay in a shelter per night – some people had given him some food that he was holding but it was freezing cold so it wasn’t going to help much he told me – if I could just give them some money it would really help so much. Again – shop window behind me, boy right in front of me. I got my wallet out handed cash over, was blessed by God and then he was gone running down the street screaming Mummy Mummy Mummy! Again I checked the window for the sign that must be in flashing lights on my face – there were at least 10 other people that looked similar to me in the immediate area – but again I couldn’t see it.

Oh well – I have been blessed by others on behalf of God twice this week and on several other occasions in the time I have been here in SA and still not met a carjacker (which I am happy about and don’t ever expect to do in my time here).  Perhaps I should start keeping a tally and see on average after 12 months how much such a blessing costs? I know my husband certainly wants to know as he has been to my wallet on some occasions ‘post – blessing’ looking for money that is no longer there. In any case now whenever there is no money there, I have the excuse – I have been out gathering blessings.

What to miss, What not to miss – Hong Kong

During the Festival of Farewells I did a fair bit of thinking about once I left Hong Kong what I would miss and what I would definitely not miss.  As you can imagine the lists for each are fairly long – I hoped at least equally so, I always wanted the ‘What not to miss’ one to be longer but when you are reminiscing, especially with champagne, I think you tend to reflect on the better things so the ‘What to miss’ list may take the honours for length.

As I was mid-Festival, I couldn’t rely on my own memory skills to recall all that I loved and loathed about Hong Kong so I got my buddies in on the act.  A lot of the following is taken directly from emails that I solicited from them and that had me in stitches for some time. A lot of the feedback covered the same ground as others and my own list but there were some individual ones as well, which were so hilarious that I have reproduced exactly as written to me. Some are of course very serious, others more light-hearted and reflect the expat experience of living in Hong Kong between 2003 and 2009 for me.

Thank you for taking the time to send, text or talk me through them my fabulous friends – Ali H, Ali L, Amanda H, Amanda C-M, Andrea (now in Seoul), Bek, Emily (now in Shanghai), Gen, Georgia, Helen, Katy, Keri, Kerry, Kylie, Lynette, Margaret, Olivia, Paula (now in Singapore), Phoebe, Raffa, Rachel, Sarah D, Sarah F, Stefanie, Vanessa J (now in Sydney) and Vanessa L. In the words of Jeff Fenech and possibly many other Aussies after a few bevvies – I love youse all.

You all asked to see the finished product – well here it is, only a few months and another continent away from when you first asked.

Things to Miss

Goes without saying my friends are at the top of list to miss – but there is also heaps of other stuff!

The buzz – Hong Kong is a vibrant exciting city to live in, there is always something happening

Staying in HK over Xmas and Chinese New Year – most people pack up and leave, it is a wonderful quiet restful time, no traffic, low pollution (all the factories in China shut down) and generally good weather

The fact that a weekend away – with girlfriends or partners is available and accessible fairly readily and usually involves an aeroplane. Miss miss miss Bangkok shopping trips with the girls

Never locking my front door or anything much and the overall feeling that no one wants to mess with the Chinese so the whole city feels safe from that perspective.

Public holidays – Hong Kong seems to have one or two just about every month

Fireworks – for any and every occasion

Finally learning to like Chinese food after about 5 years of not liking it (I still am very specific but slightly more open)

The Hong Kong trail and the Greenpower hike – I will return for my third and final year in February 2010! Also just generally out and about hiking over the island and the ‘dark side’ on a Saturday morning with my girlfriends and occasionally my husband.

Yacht Club Ball – everyone must do it once, if not every year! True patrons make it to the 7am hall of fame photo. (that’s you Ali H)

Festivals and in particular the sense of family that the locals have when they really celebrate these festivals, pick any one you want and there are always family visits and meals involved – the same way an Aussie may roll their eyes and say – ahhh I have to spend Christmas with my family – you never see a HK local complain the same way about Chinese New Year 

Hong Kong 7’s – Friday and Sunday with the family and Saturday adults only (which may or may not include the South stand)

Taxis – they are always there when you need one (unless its raining or after the HK 7’s), the magic door that opens on approach when your arms are full of bags or you are typing something very important on your blackberry and the entertainment value of not knowing which phone on the dashboard the driver will answer next (see also what not to miss)

Typhoons – day off work if they come through at the right time (see also not to miss list) and Typhoon parties

LKF – Lan Kwai Fong a fabulous area of bars in central Hong Kong

Sub section here for

  • Al’s Diner – great music and jelly shots
  • Ebeneezers – the only food to get either in LKF or Wanchai (see under what not to miss) after about 1am, perfect for the taxi ride home
  • Rat Alley – where you can go instead of SOHO to sample fare from any Asian country you can think of (name is not encouraging – food is OK if several beverages are consumed in advance)

SOHO – South of Hollywood road, the restaurant district (walking distance) that you may or may not make it to after drinks in LKF

Pokfulam market – a perfect Sunday jaunt with the family

Stanley markets – not for the souvenirs (although I do have some lovely Terracotta warriors from there) but for the kids clothes – all overseas friends and relatives always appreciate some of these items, makes for cute well dressed kids all round.  (see also what not to miss)

China Tee Club – a tai tai lunching venue of note

Ladies lunches in general – either of the tai tai kind or the working girl kind, I was lucky enough to have experience of both

M at the Fringe – one of my very very favourite Hong Kong restaurants, however mostly miss the fact that anytime you can choose any food you like and find a restaurant that can accommodate your fancy – the list is too long!

Bistro Manchu – serves the best Hong Kong ‘western’ Chinese food around and is an absolute winner at any time. Note – this is not sweet and sour pork and beef in black bean that you find in Australian Chinese restaurants – it’s the real thing – sort of.

Hutong , Yun Fu and Shui Hu Ju – much more upmarket versions of Bistro Manchu and well worth the visit

Wagyu – for people watching on Wyndham street

The Stoep – by junk or ferry on the weekend a restaurant on the beach on Lantau island. Email from Kezza says Go around 11.00 for lunch at 12 noon and spend the afternoon. Make sure you get a table on the beach!

 (yes I do miss it but it serves South African food – I can get all the bobotie, boerewors and malva pudding I want right here in Durbs!)

The Club – whichever one it may be (Aberdeen Marina, Hong Kong Cricket, Ladies Recreation, Hong Kong Football, Kowloon Cricket) the Club keeps you sane in summer and winter, a place you can go on the weekend and your kids are guaranteed to find several of their friends and play together away from their hungover parents – most of the time.  Swimming pools, bowling alleys, indoor and outdoor playrooms and pools, meals on hand – its all good.  Also the sport you play that is associated with your club – I miss my HKFC hockey team very very much – go the Fabulous ‘F’oxes team!

Lamma – by junk with a meal in one of the famous seafood restaurants and a walk across the Island

Junks – fun junks, family junks, weekday junks, weekend junks, dragonboat junks, party junks – any kind of junk really.

Hong Kong airport – yes it is possible to miss an airport when it is the most efficient one in the world! 80 mins from when you land to when you get home. The thumbprint that lets you in and out of the country no silly passports required when you have an id card & the airport express train that gets you to town (although do love a car to take you straight to Pokfulam – a luxury when traveling with kids who don’t like waiting for taxis once off the train in Central).

Airport Express – can check in for your flight 90 mins before departure – IN TOWN before you go to the airport and all your bags as well.  Unbeatable!

Foot & Happy Foot and other reflexology venues – a relaxing evening not complete without a bit of foot reflexology, or perhaps go before a night out or after a tough afternoon of running around town on your way home – by yourself or with friends, one of the most flexible forms of entertainment and relaxation around.

Shenzhen – or Lo Wu shopping centre to be more exact, Mike the tailor, Betty and the gang – I don’t know what will become of me without my access to the latest Jimmy Choo bag

The top of the 1000 steps – because being at the bottom is not much fun. It’s a great feeling (although not the end of the hike) and amazing that the trail exists in the middle of Hong Kong island

Dragon’s Back – on a beautiful day on the top looking over Shek O, there is no better place to be, especially if you are hiking down for lunch at the Thai restaurant

China Shop in Kowloon bay – a visit to the dark side and retail therapy all in one!

Wines and pizzas in the playground at Scenic Villas (where we lived – very scenic) on a Sunday afternoon (or any day really) and parties for every occasion in the playground – Halloween, Easter, Christmas, Lantern festival etc etc etc

Bookclub & American Idol party nights 

Vegemite – because they do have it in HK and not in SA (please note all guests bring with you)

The view from One Peking place at night – AMAZING!

The above list is of course not complete without listing the people that make the above lifestyle possible at all times – the wonderful helpers.  We all miss Gina so much; she was with us for five and a half years and even came for a few months with us to SA.  Gina became a part of our family and we did a farewell trip to Aus so she could say goodbye to all our extended family as well, who were just as upset as we were that she wasn’t coming with us (well maybe not quite as much but they were still upset). Gina taught me how to clean the house and keep it tidy (if only I could remember how), she taught my kids their abc’s and numbers as she felt their learning reflected on her and wanted them to be smarter than all their peers (obviously) and if I remember nothing else it will be how to make a Gina spring roll – the best!

My dear friend Gen once said to me – my helper (hers is appropriately named Love) is like my wife – and I would have to agree. What working woman or busy mother doesn’t need a wife (or two or three as the case may sometimes be in HK) to make sure that all the washing, ironing, shopping, odd job management, cooking, cleaning and child wrangling is successfully done on a daily basis? How can you do it without a wife’s wife? I wouldn’t know really anymore as I am soft and weak, I still have someone who helps with the cleaning and washing and ironing here in South Africa but have taken on the shopping and cooking again now – slowly does it for me, but I am winning back the trust of my family in the kitchen, it is a rare night now when we get the commentary – but this isn’t how Gina did it.

You have to live it to understand it but I can tell you – I miss it!

Things not to Miss

Pollution – the buzz is it generally comes from ‘over the border’ but pretty sure Hong Kong makes its fair share, some days you can’t see across the harbour or across the road without a haze you need to squint through

Rules – there is a rule for everything and the subsections of those things generally, many involving not walking on the grass in most of the public parks

Cannot! – Enough said, if you have lived in HK you will understand

Fireworks for any and every occasion

Mooncakes – need I say more?

Eight months a year of 90% plus humidity

Not having a backyard

Not having much or any personal space

The door shimmy – where people slide sideways through the door with arms by their sides so they don’t have to hold it open for the person behind them leaving you to smack right into them (I am still at a loss why there are not more automatic sliding doors)

Having to carry your stroller up and down steps anytime you take it out the front door – into town, into an MTR station, just outside really

Grave sweeping festival – not that I object to it (its another lovely family occasion), but when you live beside the largest cemetery on the island you tend to get ‘locked in’ for the duration the traffic – human and motor is too overwhelming to go out for a couple of days

Queues – it seems that people in Hong Kong love to queue for anything and everything and will wait patiently in any of these queues for quite an amount of time

Sometimes convoluted customer service from large organisations – direct email excerpt as follows (thanks to Amanda C-M)

Welcome to xxxxx, press two for english … press 6 to hear another list of buttons none of which will help … press 437 to speak to someone who won’t understand a thing you are talking about … press 512 and remain calm until the person you are speaking stops talking nonsense and goes to find someone who really speaks english … oops I’m sorry there is no one to take your call at the moment, please try later…

Typhoons – day off school if they come through at the right time – and can be scary sometimes

Walking in a zigzag motion – skill acquired by local people that blocks everyone’s way when they are in a hurry to get past – also can be done while talking on one of several personal mobile phones

Lift etiquette – persons entering the lift before persons are able to exit the lift and as soon as they enter pressing the close door button – you can always tell which one that is on a HK lift as it will be the one that has faded away!

Chinese men in high pants (which also equates to high swimsuits at the beach) with not so nice teeth

Having to go to a minimum of 3 usually more supermarkets when hosting a dinner party to ensure you can get all the ingredients you require

Wanchai – after any event really, a slightly more seedy part of the island with many unpleasant bars that seem fun at the time but open you up to a mountain of regret the next day – bright spot here being Ebeneezers on your way home.

Local Chinese restaurants – like where the locals go and eat things that I am just not prepared to swallow

Stanley markets – when you whip in for something quickly just as busloads of tourists alight – not good!

Taxis – the smell of many of the taxis, the accompanying personal hygiene habits of the taxi drivers and the stop start stop start stop start stop start method of driving learnt who knows where? The thing most NOT to miss is closing the door and finding a bunch of tissues squished in the door handle you just put your hand in to close. 

Some snorting and spitting that may occur in public places – western sensitivity I know but was never able to get used to it.

Peak hour traffic

Cockroaches jumping out at you from the cupboards or just wandering around your kitchen anyway – cheeky buggers

Smells that waft around the streets – particularly in summer and always when in wet markets

Smell of mothballs and / or mould on your clothing 

An art gallery on the harbour with no windows

Having to empty dehumidifiers (who am I kidding I rarely did that but it’s the principle that they have to be emptied)

Bad television options even with the full pay tv package (but have to tell you South Africa is actually worse – visitors please also note bring dvds)

Probably hundreds if not thousands of photos of my very blond son taken by mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong park and the Big Buddha bedecking walls in Chinese homes

The smell of Durian in the supermarkets – ugggh

Peak hour traffic on the island – especially that bit on Queens road just before Pedder street (and that’s any time of day)

After six years only being able to give basic directions in a taxi in Cantonese – hopeless at a language with nine words for the same thing, especially when I am tone deaf (mind you my Zulu is not off to a great start)

There will of course be glaring omissions, in fact I already see some but am a tad tired after putting the above together – so please feel free to add commentary to remind us all of what they are.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder indeed – I miss these things more with time, particularly all my wonderful friends, Gina and even remembering the high panted men can bring a smile to my face. In a few years time when I make a similar list about South Africa I am sure it will be just as long and bring just as many happy memories.

Festival of farewells

When you leave somewhere you have lived or even just stayed for a holiday there are usually regrets.  I wish I had just spent one more day doing that, I wish I had seen that, I wish we had gone back to that great place.  When there is five months between when you know you are going and when you will actually leave – especially when for four of those months you will be work free with time on your hands, there are not many excuses to have any regrets.

I have a few – would have loved to have done one more girls weekend in Bangkok, would have loved to visit Foot one more ‘last’ time, have one more ‘last drink’ with lots and lots of people, finally go to da Domenico after many aborted attempts (Feb 2010 I am there), done more travel in China / Asia while I was living there but that would be a given no matter how much I had already done.

By and large though I don’t have too many regrets – as soon as I knew I was going I started writing lists of things to do before I leave. Well more post it notes that went up on the wall in the study – so I could review them whenever I passed by.

I have thrown them out but I wish I did keep them, I can only remember some of the things now but there was a good 15 post it notes in at least three different colours (that’s the important part, different colours ;-) with 5-10 items on each. Fair enough, a lot of them were the names of restaurants and bars to go to for either the first time or the last but they should count right up there with some of the other items

-       walk one stage of the McElhose trail – lets not get excited and do the whole 100kms – doing the 50kms for Greenpower for the last two years is enough but I couldn’t leave without trying just one one section, luckily or not it was a monkey rich environment, excellent preparation for South Africa. Tick

-       hike Dragon’s Back one last time to admire the view, which is all I did as I forgot to pack the camera that day. Tick

-       go to the China Shop – on the ‘dark side’ and fossick through the rooms of china piled up so high and so deep and snap up some never to be repeated bargains. Tick

-       visit Shenzhen again and again – picking up all the essentials,  copies of all my favourite clothes, R4 chips for the DS’s to enable ongoing game upgrades, a collection of designer handbags to impress my possible new friends to be, sort out some viewing activity as apparently television in South Africa is worse than HK (you were right there people). Tick Tick Tick

-       wander through the streets of HK taking photographs to capture my memories forever – OK well I mainly did this on the island side so my memories may be biased, but there were a couple of visits to the other side. Tick

-       Take a ride on the Big Bus that is a staple sight in Hong Kong, the open topped bus with the tourists and their enormous camera lenses to capture the world of HK that way – all very nice until you find out it is USD37 / @ HKD290 for one adult ticket – for someone who pays HKD5 to get home from town on the green minibus this is sacrilegious (come on people I definitely caught that mini bus once or twice). I had lived there for six years, I didn’t need the Big Bus to drive me around the streets, so what if it had digitally recorded commentary in eight languages – I would rather spend it on jelly shots at Al’s Diner (you can get at least five jelly shots for that) and I probably did. Not ticked

Make a list – check it twice, stick it on the wall and update it regularly –saves disappointment and grief – you may overdo it but you won’t under do it – that’s for sure. There is really no such thing as too many ladies lunches, quick drinks, dinners with friends, big nights or foot reflexology sessions in my opinion – or at least there wasn’t between March and July 2009 for me. My friends were always fabulous and active participants – willing to accommodate any and all of my ‘last’ agenda items.

2009 may have been the year of the farewell in Hong Kong – the GFC hit the Asia financial centre hard, in the past when people were made redundant they would generally take the risk and stick it out for 3-4 months, pick up another job and then kick on from there.  This time it seemed different – there were people who had been out of work for much longer and HK is not a cheap place to live when you are generally a well-paid expat.  Rent for starters, add to that school fees (if there are children involved) and other living expenses and the uncertainty of what was happening financially in the world, people weren’t as willing to take a risk and use some savings to stay a bit longer and find a job.  Hong Kong wasn’t doing as badly as financial centres elsewhere though – those from London and New York visiting couldn’t believe that any night of the week all the bars and restaurants in the SOHO and Lan Kwai Fong areas were still packed reservations still required! However by Hong Kong standards it was quite tough for the expat community who were used to quite a cushy life. As well as the people who were made redundant leaving – there were those who took this as a sign that it was time to start thinking about moving home – being settled and stable in their own home countries, as well as the normal churn that happens every 2-3 years when people move roles within their organisations – it made for a lot of change. Every week there was someone new who you would know who was moving away or going ‘home’ wherever that may be. I was a fan of this process – all these people leaving that weren’t me – yet. Yay! However as more and more left and more farewells were made the date for our move came ever closer and we had to plan our own farewell drinks the reality started dawning.

The best thing to do in this situation was ignore it – which I pretty much did.  However we did need to find our very own special venue for drinks, which my husband left in my hands, as he was already in SA. I decided the best thing to do was trial a few bars.  If I was in my 20’s this would be known as a pub crawl – however as someone in their 30’s this was more a bar review event.  One Friday night two of my wonderful friends and I set about very seriously reviewing the bars that we attended that evening, sampling drinks in each one and even requesting sit downs with the managers on call to discuss the prospect of a future function at their establishment, after the fourth venue I’m not even sure they were taking us seriously- really!  The photos from that night are well – under lock and key for the most part, there are quite a few lovely ones of us sipping champagne and interesting looking cocktails that we can show and even a few of us in the Balalaika freezer, mangy fur coats and all, but from there on – not so many to share.  I think the final number of bars reviewed was around 10 with the final decision being the second one we went to – those other 8 were just for fun!

The night of our farewell drinks came and we had a great night – husband flew into town for a week so we had scheduled it so he could attend – it’s just the polite thing to do right?  Inevitably as is the case in HK some of our nearest and dearest couldn’t make it – and while disappointing on the night and I still wish they could have been there, in the big picture it didn’t matter so much as we had a chance to farewell these friends on a number of other occasions, quite a number.  Planning is key!!

The final result of the festival of farewells? Lots of wonderful memories, very few regrets and an amazing amount of photos as well – some that may never surface in public.