Archive for December, 2006
All the newspapers are doing it, even Eating Media Lunch is doing it, so it must be time for me too. Some parts of this are a bit self-masturbatory — but, hey, that’s the nature of a blog.
In 2006, I have travelled, worked, lived, and got drunk in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand, England, and Hong Kong. I have acquired one girlfriend, disappointed a couple of hopefuls, and reached a quarter-century in years. I have worked at two Hong Kong magazines, interned at a New Zealand newspaper, been published in two New Zealand magazines, a Canadian newspaper, a Canadian scene rag, and a newsletter for a Cancer support network in London, Ontario.
I lived with seven different people, including four ardent Christian girls, a tree-hugging journalism student, a lady’s man, and a cellist who hails from the village at the centre of the Suffolk serial murders.
I’ve been to two ping-pong shows, one Cantonese play, a strip club in Toronto, a DJ Shadow gig, an NBA basketball game, two jazz gigs, and countless parties at various hotels, restaurants, and bars in Hong Kong.
I subscribed to the New Yorker and read my first business-related books, in Freakonomics and Blink. This is the first year since 1999 that I haven’t made a written contribution to Critic.
I wore a suit exactly one time.
I’ve written about: Chinese bloggers in Hong Kong; Cantopop fan culture; the first made-for-internet movie (a flash film from China based on Stephen Chow’s A Chinese Odyssey); a 17-year-old Harvard student from Hong Kong who signed the Brian Jonestown Massacre to his record label; a Chinese Karaoke Idol contest; a scheming Kiwi who convinced a good number of North Americans he would make millions from converting trash into electricity; student magazines in New Zealand; and Hong Kong’s public toilets.
I’ve had my first hot-pot, my first Korean BBQ, my first durian, my first fresh lychee, my first jackfruit, and my first street pad thai. I watched a dreadlocked man eat a live tarantula, and later I rode an elephant.
I’ve slept in a hut in a Thai jungle village, in a friend’s attic in Aro Valley, Wellington, on the floor of a New York City apartment, and on a concrete ledge just round the corner from my flat in Wan Chai.
I’ve attended one wedding as a groomsman, and been asked to be best man at another.
All in all, a pretty damn enjoyable year.
Favourite stories I wrote this year:
Energy to Burn, New Zealand Listener, May — an investigative expose on an enterprising Kiwi whose grand scheme to convert trash into electricity sounded too good to be true
The Cult of Cantopop, bc magazine, September — a glimpse at the unbridled fanaticism that characterises the talent-starved pop industry in Hong Kong
Favourite story I read this year:
My Date With Suzi Suzuki (written by a friend a few years ago)
Favourite films I saw this year:
Dave Chapelle’s Block Party
Favourite music I listened to this year:
Favourite food of the year:
Penang prawn noodles
Hongkie Town (old and new)
People of the Year:
A guy called Tanya who lives in Kanchanaburi, Thailand (near the border with Burma). He sold me a meal for 20 baht (approx. NZ80 cents) , then shared his whisky with me as I sat with him and his two mates and shot the shit. Tanya, who the next morning also cooked me a free breakfast (much too large for normal humans to consume), wanted to travel to New Zealand to work on an orchard and earn a little extra money so he could fix up his very simple restaurant. Visa problems have prevented his visit thus far.
Gaye Stanley, a Canadian from London, Ontario, who has fought back two cancers and is facing down another. Gaye is a woman with enormous strength and determination, which I hope I can one day emulate. I profiled her in March for my journalism class’s website.
It’s taken three flights, one lost bag, one power nap on a couch in Sydney airport, and a five-hour drive down the middle of the southern South Island of New Zealand, but I’m back home.
Now you might get some blogging from me. After all, I should have some spare time. I’m in a town about as far removed from Hong Kong — geographically, physically, economically, and culturally — as you can get: Alexandra.
- Population: 5,000
- Median age: 64
- Hippest new restaurant: Subway
The hot topic of conversation round these parts is whether or not traffic lights — a would-be first for the town — should be installed at a busy intersection in the centre of town. It is a topic that has raised passions at both ends of the political spectrum; this is a town divided between those who crave the glory and mana that traffic lights and their associated trappings bring to urban areas, and those who prefer a simple round-a-bout to solve the vehicular quandary. My father has been sufficiently moved into submitting a Letter to the Editor of the local newspaper. “If Alexandra gets traffic lights, I’ll see red,” he quipped awkwardly.
It’s been a nice change from the choking debate on Hong Kong’s worse-than-shocking air quality, and the even more detestable lack of government action to address it. A breath of fresh air, should I say?
Speaking of which, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to breathe without feeling as though I’m drinking diluted tar. The big blue skies of Central Otago’s summer have already had something of a cleansing effect on my lungs. The clean air and open spaces will be the first things to draw me back here to live one day. And just to prove it, here’s a photo of me taking a slash at the peak of the Lindis Pass.