That’s hello in Cantonese from your intrepid Far East explorer! Here I am, back in Hong Kong, for another 5 weeks of work and fun.
I first came out in 1997 just before the handover and this is my 6th visit. I am one of the English adjudicators at the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival. This amazing competition (which also has a music section in February & March) has nearly 200,000 entries each year from schools and individuals who want to improve their English.
The full-time staff process the entries throughout the year and arrange a separate timetable of judging for each adjudicator. There are 19 of us this year: 4 who live in Hong Kong, 2 from Australia, 2 from America, 2 from France (but British by birth), 1 from Ireland and 8 from the UK. We are all based at a hotel on the island but each day we travel to our venue.
At this moment I am having a coffee and a gooey cake in Starbucks at Kwai Fong Metroplaza. I am in the New Territories between Hong Kong and China and I am the only Western face around. I have been judging a couple of poetry speaking classes this morning and I have 2 more this afternoon. Then it will be back over Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry to a Mahler concert at the Cultural Centre. Stewart joined me last week and I think he has planned a walk somewhere interesting today. Hong Kong is not just a city – it also has 1000’s of acres of country parks and excellently marked walks.
We do work pretty hard, 6 days out of 7, sometimes with 3 x 3-hour sessions a day but the surroundings are fascinating and there’s always something interesting to see and do. Just now I am sitting on an outside balcony overlooking the street in the centre of Kwai Fong town. The shopping centre behind me has 6 floors of shops and cafes. Ahead I can see 8 buses moving in every possible direction. there are eight 30 storey blocks of apartments over the road and in the distance, up a forested hill, another 20 in a row on the slopes (see photo). People are rushing everywhere and the tannoy system is playing ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree’!
On Saturday the opening ceremony of the East Asian Games is taking place on Victoria Harbour and they are expecting several hundred thousand people to line both sides. We saw part of the rehearsals last night – amazing line up of boats all covered in coloured lights – 20 with Christmas lights – 20 with silver lights and moving seagull statues and another 20 authentic Chinese Junks, each with their 3 sails covered in red lights. Of course there are the dancers, drummers and lazer lights too. At 9.30pm on Saturday night off go the fireworks – we’ll be there!!!
It really feels like home from home now when I get to Hong Kong as I know most of the adjudicators personally and it is a lovely lead up to Christmas with a rather old fashioned feel. Oh how I wish that in England we could put up beautiful trees and lavish ornaments within touching distance and find them still there the next day! Nothing is stolen or vandalised here so that everyone can enjoy the amazing displays in every shopping centre, mall and hotel.
Ladies – this is a shopping heaven! From wall to wall designer shops to cheap sample outlets and huge markets – Hong Kong has it all. Unfortunately the baggage allowance puts a stop to lavish spending but looking is fun!
I didn’t come out here until the middle of November so before that I had time to run two more of my ‘Voice Matters’ days at Leicester & Solihull. They were again full with attendees from as far away as Liverpool so the word is spreading! If you haven’t tried one of my sessions yet I am now booking for Leicester on 3rd February and Solihull on 26th February. Details are on the website here or just drop me an email to book your place.
*STOP PRESS* If you have already worked with me or attended a ‘Voice Matters’ day and want to develop your presentation skills with a filmed session look at your diary. Due to a cancellation I have 1 place available on my ‘Dynamic Speaking’ day at the Leicester Marriott on 26th January. Look here for details of what is covered on the day and testimonials showing what people have gained from taking part. I promise you won’t be disappointed. So, first come first served!
It just remains for me to wish you all a fantastic Christmas and a rewarding new Year. I look forward to chatting to you again in 2010. In the meantime:
Speak Wisely, Speak well, Speak Loud & Clear!
Tel: 01455 230317