Fiction: Once, I Saw an Elephant.

We stood at the taxi stand before day-break as the lower part of the sky began to lighten. As the white mist burnt away, the buildings across the harbor began to show themselves as night became day. The sounds of early morning surrounded us—the sparse whoosh of passing cars with long intervals in-between. The beeping of rubbish trucks as they backed towards the rubbish bins. The rustle of newspapers as the men who ran the newsstands assembled and folded them up.

I rested on Tai-Men’s shoulders as we stood at the front of the taxi line. The morning air made us shiver even if it wasn’t that cold. The heat from the club had saturated us through the hours of dancing until dawn. We didn’t speak. In our silence we shared the knowledge that we must be home before our parents woke up so they didn’t discover we had snuck out the night before.

The other tightly packed bars and clubs began to close as well, and the patrons spilled out and headed towards the taxi queue as well. Most of them were western men, wearing crumpled collared shirts. They looked like a blur of thinning hair, punch stomachs, and wrinkles deepened by a night of drinking. Young Filipino women, attired provocatively, accompanied some them. Those men I knew, were the same men we saw in the business districts wearing suits and respectability, or playing tennis at the LRC exposing their rarefied existence in the last British colony of Hong Kong. My boyfriend and I, happened to be there because police didn’t like raves, so clandestine promoters held them at the red light district where the bar owners and the police had an understanding—the former not being too open with their girls, while the latter didn’t look too hard— and in-between DJs and electronic music slipped unobtrusively in the middle of it all.

“Don’t move,” I said to Tai-Men. “Don’t speak.” I slid behind him and turned him towards me, so his back faced the end of the queue.

“What’s going on?” he whispered. I furtively glanced behind him, and he quickly figured out we needed to hide from someone. “Who is it?”


Read More @ Five on the Fifth

Shirley Kwan's "At All Costs" Video. [English Subtitles]

My old friend #MadeOfWaterHK created a beautiful video essay on the Hong Kong police and their loss of respect to Shirley Kwan's "At all Costs." He had hundreds of thousands of views in the first week, and asked me to translate the lyrics into English. I found this video emotional and thoughtful

Ms. Kwan jeopardized her career by endorsing this video. Her songs have been pulled from all music platforms in China. 

I find it interesting in all the years we hung out, #MadeOfWaterHK and I never once spoke of politics. We went to ballet instead of protests, and only now, more than a decade later, I found out we shared this passion for Hong Kong freedoms. 


Shirley Kwan's "At All Cost" Controversial Video. (ENGLISH Subtitles)

This is the English translation of, Hong Kong Pop Diva Shirley Kwan’s, controversial video; supporting the Hong Kong Democratic Movement. It garnered nearly 200K hits, across social media, in a week. This new video by Made Of Water for her newly rerecord 1991 hit “At All Costs,” expresses the betrayal many Hong Kong people feel about their—once respected—police force. By endorsing this video, Ms. Kwan jeopardised her future contacts and opportunities. She, once again, stayed true to her artistic vision and stuck by her beliefs.

Sexual Violence in China and My Emerging Hong Kong Identity.


Hong Kong People Add Oil!

One of the most controversial concepts to come out of the new generation of Hong Kong young people is that unlike the previous generations, they do not see themselves as Chinese. This has upset people from China and the older generation most of whom subscribe to the idea of One Chinese Nation.

They see our race as our identity.

I never subscribed to the Greater Chinese Nation, but did see myself as Chinese, so during the Umbrella Movement, when I started hearing people talking about a Hong Kong identity outside of being Chinese, I held onto it and decided to change the way I view myself.

Last week I started researching sexual violence against women in prisons in China after rumors of sexual abuse in San Uk Ling Holding Center in Hong Kong came to light.

I started thinking how people conflate the CCP with being Chinese and questioned how those people can accept systematic sexual violence and accept it as part of our 4000 years culture.

The more I thought about it, I realized violence against women have long been part of Chinese society and is systemic. Starting with the most obvious example of foot binding, then, the more internationally universal, sales of young girls as indentured servants and sex slaves, child brides as concubines, and femicide for sexual agency and expression. In fact what’s going on in the prisons is ingrained into culture of denigration of women.

Adding the other aspects of Chinese cultural life: expectation of subservience from women, poor, & young, income inequality, and historical political oppression.

I’m not that excited with our 4000 years of culture to begin with, despite I love the glaze in the pottery.

Let me be a 香港人 only & always.

Hong Kong Independence Signs...

Hong Kong Instant Noodles: Cook Everywhere, Eat with Anything..


  1. Helping People Cook (Nearly) EverydayInterior of a Working Kitchen
  2. Sunday: 

Who knew a rice cooker could be used as a pot? Just fill it with hot water, click the on button, and once it boils, it cooks lettuce, eggs, and Dolls instant noodles (separately by the way). 

My girl, and designer Fahmina had suggested instead of buying lunch, I could bring something and use her small kitchen at her store in Topanga Canyon.


She texted, "Where r u from? Singapore or Hong Kong? I am obsessed in loove w that side of the planet food." 

A small kitchen, something local, easy to cook.Cook Anywhere

Dolls instant noodles of course. A staple in Hong Kong for every occasion. Something to have late at night after going out or a long game of mahjong. Something to have when friends were over, and everyone want to stay in. Something to have when there was nothing left in the kitchen or someone had never learned to cook. 

But for me, it was the one thing I had to have while catching a boat to Cheung Chau, an Island off Hong Kong, on it an old fishing village, with no cars, and a pirate cave. 

It took an hour on the slow ferry, and my cousins and I would go over to the food counter, and ask for the noodles, and think we were so grown up, ordering food ourselves.

Those were Fook/Lucky Brand noodles, not Dolls, but just as good. 

The sailor, with his blue uniform and white trim, doubled up as the tuck shop keeper, turned on the electric burner and placed a kettle on top (it was on a boat!), heated up the water, and poured it into a styrofoam bowl where the noodles had been placed.

He would then put a piece of ham or pre-cut spam on top, and if we asked, an already fried egg with the edges brown and crispy that he kept in a red plastic box.

When it was done, the white opaque plastic lid would be pressed on tightly, and we walked back at a speed that was specific to balancing noodles on a boat. We had to be quick so not to burn our hands, but not run because the boat was moving, and we didn't want to spill or drop our bowls. It was always a relief when we reached the tables. We sat, waiting for it too cool, and when it did, our  treat complete. 

Cook Anywhere In Fahmina's very small kitchen, we too had to improvise. There wasn't a pot, but there was a burner.

There was a rice cooker that she said we could cook in, despite being slightly skeptical, I tried. 

We picked the beef flavored, and the sesame oil noodles. 

Once the water in rice cooker heated up the water to boiling point, the lettuce cooked as fast as in a pot. The noodles softened, and the eggs which we poached, worked out fine as well.

In fact, the eggs came out at the optimum consistency so when the egg yolk was broken, it covered the noodles. 

Then I discovered we had no bowls and no chopsticks. 

We found two glass jars and two forks.

That would work. 

I scooped up the noodles, waited for the eggs, and when they were ready, I placed the ham, pushed them into the soup, so they warmed up. We took the jars out to a small table, where the already boiled lettuce with a side of oyster sauce were. Unlike on the boat, we walked at a normal pace, then poured ourselves some San Pellegrino, with a twist of lime. 

We had a picnic outside the store by a tree. 

Had she not suggested it, we would have had another coffee, another sandwich.

But instead, we chose to cook with a little imagination.  


All Posts: Interior of a Working Kitchen

Goodbye Glutter, and I did not help Hao Wu Out of Jail.

Glutter's Hong Kong

I have been really disillusioned by the whole democratic movement after the march in July. The march didn't empower me or educate me in anyway. It didn't seem to have a real point. I seemed to be walking like I am always walking for a goal that is diminishing all the time. I didn't learn one new thing because there wasn't really anyone talking. There were a lot of really smart people there who showed their face but since I was moving along as I marched I never had the time to truly know what they were saying. No one was really making speeches, as they realized everyone was just passing through. I just thought it was really hot and found all the fund raising by different parties and causes to be extremely tiring.

I mean, really ever since Hao Wu was put in jail. I felt a lost of interest in speaking out. Not so much because it scared me, as we were on the same panel on the same side but because really, spending all that time getting him out was a futile exercise, he landed himself there all by himself. Not because he wasn't released eventually, but I kept thinking of all the different people who were in jail  at this time who didn't have a load of foreign friends to fight for his cause. Who didn't go to the US for schooling and didn't have American permanent residency. Not to mention, what about all the people he put in jail? He said, "I am doing interviews with free speech activists for my documentary," on a BBC World Service. Yes, the Chinese government is listening. When he said it, I just wanted to scream, "What are you doing? You just landed a whole lot of people in trouble." I should have. I was part of the panel,  I was on the other line. I could have pointed it out to millions of people who were listening that’s what he did, he was showing off completely irresponsibility, and much like China itself, and all over the world, who you know matters most. I know saying it at that moment it would never have changed the outcome, at least I feel better about myself. I don’t know why I stayed quiet. I guess attacking another guest would be rude, I thought the moderator would mention something. He didn’t, radio goes quickly, a minute is long, and by the time I gathered my thoughts, we were onto another topic.

I have no doubt the government got all his tapes, and now those people are in jail. And those people will stay there because of his indiscretion and because they don't have foreign contacts. And although fighting for him was a good cause, and I appreciate people for doing it. I wanted no part in it. Except my blog got quoted in an article about how bloggers helped him be released. No fault of the journalist, she did her job, but really I wished I wasn't mentioned because I don't really forgive people who play with fire when it burns others. And I am sorta not so sure who I am trying to save anymore. I am not sure that each new "dissident" deserves to be mentioned, that the people who spent days and hours lobbying truly understand the situation in China, and what is all means. I am not sure if I do myself. In fact no one does, China is huge, and the inners workings of the government is not transparent, not even to those within it. I find a lot of people I talk to, seem more invested in June 4th and the kids who died in Tianamen square than the freedom for themselves and a billion people. They clutch at their hearts the death of a few because it's an emotional memory and not a political cause.

There are days when I still believe, I talked to someone who was really appreciative of the work I did, and how he said he could never do it because he has so much business interests in China. At those moments I think I should continue because I know he would if he could and I can. But then there are days where I think, I have choices. I can and will leave. I don't have to look at China or be part of China, or care about China. I can go windsurfing all weekend instead. In fact I get a lot more satisfaction and joy out of it. I meet equally interesting people and learn a new skill and find out what I am made off in the open waters.

And the beauty of it all is that I can, I don't feel so invested in the political situation anymore. There is no one who tells me I have to, nor do I have to listen. I know some people have told me it's a shame, while others said I should do what feels right. Most of all I know what I did do, and I am pretty proud. I am glad I did what I did, and I more than astounded by the results.

I always saw the blog as a journey. It used it as something I was looking for, and then in the last few months I started to look for something new. Something more personal, more physical, more connected to real life. There is nothing more real than doing an hour and a half of yoga, or hitting a ball against the wall. There is nothing esoteric about the sweat and the fatigue. Nothing unpredictable about the changes of my body. There is something so nice about being able to sleep.

But I suppose that's the nice thing about this blog. It's always been mine. I do what I please. If tomorrow I start writing about politics again, I can. If I don't want to, I don't have to. I thought about it on and off for a few months now, even considering closing it down and starting something new. But more importantly, it's 2am. I am off to sleep.

Artists under censorship and contemplating that I am free.

Glutter's Hong Kong

As I am about the leave to put up the banners and T-shirts at the destination point of the protest. I thought about what I wrote last night and what I wrote tonight. I realized the crux of all my beliefs both personally, professionally and politically, I treasure my freedom. I treasure my need to be able to change my mind. I really treasure the feeling that I can explore and express, develop and muse. I treasure the idea that I can read what I want, say what I need, and know that it is safe to do so.

Without freedom of speech, without the fear of persecution you cannot.

I think of all the Chinese artists, writers and poets I have met from Mainland China, how each time I am at a talk or in a meeting or just privately, we are obsessed. We are obsessed with the ability to say what we need and how to they go about avoiding censors. I think of the times when you meet Chinese artists who have left China and they talk about the freedom they feel, the weight that is lifted of them, the sort of creative freedom that they have never experienced. They do not have to worry about hiding what their thoughts are behind metaphors, that they are pushing the boundaries or crossing the line. They feel that they can say or do what they want. It can be daunting. That void of restrictions has ruined many an artistic soul when they leave China because for the first time in their lives, see the blank sheet of paper and it overwhelms. But no one ever complains. Only an expression of relief.

Juxta position that with those artists and writers in the mainland. Hiding their thoughts, speaking about how they don't mind censorship. How it's okay to be banned. How they know which line to tread or call obviously political work, "simply fiction."

"I am only telling a story. I am not saying anything more. You can read what you want in it."

"Life is what it is. We bring our own stories. I try not to lead my readers into thinking a certain way."

But you go through the pages and you can feel the pulsing ideas and ideals that run through the work.

I wonder what it must be like to have to hide. I think it's a shame these creative minds, these intellectuals must lie.

It's the exact opposite of creativity or at least the need for it.

The feeling of making something out of materials and the mind is an innate want to share one's vision. To comment on society, to create a feeling and thought and transfer it to others. What happens when it is dampen by the knowledge that it can land one in jail?

Some say, but it creates good art.

I say good art is created despite it. Which denotes a mental strength and ability to withstand the threat of physical punishment. Going to jail is as physical as being beaten. One is confined. One's body is confined fully, totally, Submitted to the system. Those people are strong enough to withstand total freedom where the only limits in oneself.

I think that a lot. I wonder what can I create in the future? If I mediate on my art and writing for life, then the difficult periods, the dry periods, the moments of doubt will merely be small moments in a long career. Those simply gets wiped out as the need to tell compresses time. The openness of life can be overwhelming, but I know I will have it for the rest of my life. Mainly because I have a choice to leave China and go elsewhere. But even that choice I am grateful for.

I just think about how it's a gift that one can think, feel and express without the government's intervention. It helps to lose culture and propriety as well. In order to say things that no one has said before, one needs to say something other people have not, cannot, cannot bring themselves to.

That is hard in itself.

It's good to have a day once a year that I have to think about these things. A day a year where we devote the times to contemplate what it means to be free.

July 1st 2006. Hong Kong. 1:19pm.

May freedom prevail......

July 1st 2006. Why I shall walk for Democracy.

Glutter's Hong Kong.

I am going to go the protest today. The reason I am going out there is partly because it's a beautiful day and it's a good day to walk with a few hundred thousand people who believe in freedom. It's a good day to go out and be with people who I agree with and people committed on a day off their holidays to stand out in the hot sun to make a point that politics do matter and we are sick of a government who does not have to answer to the thoughts and feelings of the people. Who believe in the rule of law, free speech, and that the rich and powerful do not know better simply because they are rich and powerful. It will be a pleasant experience to be able to stand in a crowd of people who are not so stupid to believe in propaganda. So hateful to themselves that they believe they are not unready to make choices about their own fate. Who is not so arrogant to believe that normal Hong Kong rens need a guiding hand by people who only have their own and their friend's profit in mind masquerading at "Doing the best for the city."

They do not.

I keep thinking of the guy last night who said the "Right Wing" is going to make Hong Kong poorer and how I couldn't even be bothered to engaged him in conversation. He grew up in the UK or at least was educated in the UK and somehow missed the point of what it means to live in a democracy and why it is important. If someone can miss the point that much, I can't be the person to change him. But I have no respect for him because he doesn't have enough respect for me and the people who believe that the power shouldn't be arbitrarily given to people who tow the party line and will do what they are told to do by a even more power force somewhere in China who got their power through questionable circumstance that he said "I would be out there protesting against the protesters if I was on the streets today." 

Why are those people more equip to run a country? Why assume those people have our best interests in mind? If they do, then they should not be afraid to be criticized and discuss their policy instead of banning websites, putting people in jail and censoring information that they deem to be "subversive" or "Sensitive."

What has to be covered up so badly that one will be jailed for dissent?

I was listening to the radio last night and the hosts were saying that "We live in a free society and that's why people have the right to protest."

We do not live in a free society.

We live in a society that has some of the trappings of freedom that is held together by a small constitution that was hammered away by our old colonizers, that is obvious our government don't respect and the Chinese government has on one too many occasions "Stipulated" that it can change.

We live in a society that our rule of law and our independent courts is constantly being eroded and our free speech is threatened.

That's not a free society.

Something that is free has those things guaranteed.

We live in a place where our freedom is precarious.

We live in borrowed time of a time before.

Last night I wrote about how it can always be 1997 because it's a code between my friend and I that we were young and having fun. But that is only in our minds and perception of reality.

We don't live forever in 1997.

We live in a time and place where not only the year is fading but the reality of our freedoms is also further away than ever before.

Getting democracy means that Hong Kong can be in some aspect 1997 forever. It means we know our courts are safe. That our speech is protected. That we can gather.

But getting democracy means we hold that shield on our own and not through a foreign colonizing power.

That's something we should have, but first we must fight for.

Today I will spend an afternoon in the hot sun contemplating that.

And you can count us person to person as well.

It would be so much more pleasant if I could just go to the ballot box in an air conditioned room for a few hours every four years where I know the counting is fair, that it is secret, and my voice is heard.

It is not the case. So I shall walk.

A funny thought. I am standing in the hot sun so I can go back into the airconditioned room one day with the power of a pen, a piece of paper, CHOICE, privacy and respect.

But when that happens the comfort of that action goes far beyond the physical. It's mental.

It's a comforting knowledge that in four years time. What I have on that day remains the same forever.

My Next (Yummy) Encounter With a Jellyfish

Glutter's Hong Kong

This is a Cyanea Capillata better known as a Lion Main Jellyfish. At certain times of year, it can be found in the deeper waters of Cheung Chau. (Don't worry it won't get you if you're just chilling on the coast)

On the Honduran Dive Island called Utila where I got my divemasters, the local vernacular for them are: "those muthaf-ing stingers"

Over in Hong Kong, this is my arm in two places, four days after I fell off a windsurf and got friendly with this particular island strain stinger. It is a shame you can't see the pin-size burn marks scabs in its fully glory as my camera phone isn't very good but they may be the smallest scabs you will ever have a chance to see. ( I won't show you my thigh as that's a even more friendly in every which way..)


I kept windsurfing afterwards and will return probably next week..

As the boat captain in Utila Hoover would say, "You can't come running up and complaining of a little burn, otherwise we will take your mutha-f-ing licience off you," or as a much nicer and cleaner mouth Olympian Gold-Medal coach Uncle Gai who owns the wind surf center advices, "Part of collateral damage of wanting to have fun, you're have to be able to suffer a little."

But first I feel the need to make a plan to ensure my next encounter with a jelly will be far more pleasant.


This is how the next Jellyfish I come across is going to look like...


Then I am going to eat it.

And I am sure it will be the best tasting Jellyfish I have ever had in my whole life.

Best $4 I have ever spent...

Glutter's Hong Kong


Recently, I was hanging out with the girls I used to play with as a kid we mentioned all the games and toys we used to play. One of which was the airplane chess. A few days later I found one in a jep for pao for four dollars and got a few sets (emptying out the whole shop) and gave it to the girls. The thing was about a size of a mini ipod with a plastic sheet.

Although we have now graduated to our weekly Friday Majong Games, (which is strange because that's why our parents met up on the weekends and why we grew up playing together) I have taken to carrying the game around in my gym bag and taking it out everytime I find myself at a bar that's pretty chilled out. So far we've probably played seven games, and once we were so loud we were asked to calm down. Ha Ha.

The best part of the game is that you can "hit" your opponent back to home and they can't leave the station until they roll a six, not to mention you can double, triple of quadruple your pieces so it can really hurt and emotions can run wild (sad but true).. Not to mention, since we are all adults no one gets (too) upset being sent home and you can play some really mean strategy. Everyone I have played this with has had a good time, even people who have never played it before and didn't grow up with it.

It's a bit of a surprise and every time I put in back in the box, I see the little $4 tag (about 50cent US) and think, it's probably the best four dollars I have spent for quite a while.

17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre

Date: 4 June, 2006 (Sunday) Time: 8:00 p.m.

Place: The football fields in Victoria Park (Google Map)

Theme: The candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate those who were killed in the June 4th Massacre in China and express our eagerness for democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law. More than 44,000 Hong Kong people full up 4 football filed join candlelight vigil to remember June fourth massacre in Beijing 17 year ago.



More Photos HKDigit

Back to Bitching about the HK Government...

Glutter's Hong Kong

Lately, I have been thinking how much I hate what's happening to Hong Kong. To the point I just avoid the news, don't read the papers. It's like every time I read or listen, there is something about something that bugs me so much that I feel like I need to do something. Except I am reminded that there isn't much i can do outside of go down and hold up a few placards. Complain on public radio, write on a blog. All of which is what everyone in Hong Kong is doing all the time anyway, and it doesnt' seem to make a difference. Each time I think about the things I don't like about my government it reminds me I am powerless. There is nothing anyone can do because we can't lobby, we can't let our views be known to our representative, we can't even sit there and think, "Next election, I am sure not going to vote him/her in again."

Powerless as I watch things that has everything to do with my life take place, but I have no say. The courts have no say. The people have no say. The few elected legislators have no say. Which if I take a few seconds more to think about it really comes down to us not having the vote.

I hate the fact they will reclaim the star ferry and queen's pier and shove a highway right in what used to be public space. It's the most important landmark with historical significance it's a beautiful place, it's something that has always been there since I was a child. It's just one of those things and places that really should be kept. It's the mainstay of Central. It's the launch pad of our sky line, and without it, what is Hong Kong?

I hate the whole west Kowloon thing. I hate the way the government and the press made this whole deal about the "canopy" when it wasn't the canopy but the fact whose "friends" were going to get a large chunk of public land to build private buildings for as long as they put up a "cultural" district which would have ended up being a giant mall anyway.

I can't stand the way the whole KCRC thing went down. Fire top management and keep a board member. Write warning letters to 11 of the remaining management for speaking pretty much the truth, just so that one measly, annoying legislator/business person would have face. I mean the man will be leaving the post at the end of the year. Why keep him on? Maybe they were always planning to fire the KCRC guys because of the merger, but the whole thing that was played out in the press was more of the same. Whipping the public into a frenzy over something that is part and parcel to how things are run to justify whatever the government and their cronies want.

My government takes no account of morale of the people, the morale of an organization, the cultural mainstays of this city.

But how can it be any other way?

It's the fact you have a bunch of people who are willing to work for a government that has no real power, who at the "right" moments are effective puppets and because of that, do not and cannot think for themselves. They just defer to power at any given point, and money, the businesses, the tycoons are in effect the shadow government because they have power. More power than the central government in fact. I mean someone in the city must have the power, if it's not the people than it must be the elite and like all elites, they don't really have to care about what every day people think or care about. China may run the over all political structure, but big money runs the rest of Hong Kong. And the thing is, those guys don't catch the star ferry, they don't catch the train, they don't need a public space to walk on in the weekends. 

Concept: Chinese Writers Don't Write For a Western Audience in Mind

Hong Kong.

As much as I thought I was not going to do this Glutter thing for a while, I find it impossible not to make something really clear for the "Western" audience out  there in Hong Kong and the world (and everyone else who didn't know this).

Chinese writers don't write with "The WEST," in mind.

As the Hong Kong literary festival unfolded, I realized how continually frustrated and displeased with the moderators and the majority of "Western" question asking audience's attitudes towards Chinese authors, as they often were obsessed with how the writer's word interact with "The West," "As I western reader, when I look at your book, I think it reminds me of Christainity even if you might not know." "Do you try and tell the "Western" audience something? And what are they?"  "What do you do differently in your book because you have the western audience in mind now you have been published internationally and how do you say things differently? What do you feel about the "Western" way of seeing your the book because you know, we see it very different from the Chinese audience, what do you say to that?"

Can anything be more self referential and arrogant about the question especially if the writer already said, "Not much. I can't control how people read it, and anyway I wrote the book with Chinese people in mind. I wrote the book for Chinese people."

I didn't think Su Tong should have to answer that question in the same form in a little bit different context THREE times in an hour.

Like, his book wasn't translated for 15 years. I really don't think he was thinking about the "western" audience when he wrote it.

A western author would never be asked, "So when you wrote this book, how did you feel the Chinese audience would see it in mind? Do you write for the Chinese audience?"

I didn't hear it once in any of the talks by western writers not by the western audience and surely not by the Chinese audience either. Why? Because it's a preposterous question to begin with. Why would someone in America or Australia write his book with how someone from another culture view it. "Oh my, I really need to add this bit about the beach in the book so I can explain what the sea looks like for people in Inner Mongolia, I really want those people who don't know anything about California culture to have an understanding of how we think over here."

I mean, really how rude can the audience and the moderators be to Chinese authors?

Why do these people think that an author should spend time placating a few hundred thousand readers of translated text instead of a billion plus potential readers in the Chinese language?

In the end Su Tong said, "I think Chinese people know a lot more about western civilization than people in the west knows about China," which I would think is a big enough hint, about the narrowness of the topic but the same question kept coming.

Anyway, I still have five more lectures to go and I am starting to dread the whole festival for the most part because so far, as the questions asked isn't about the book, the content, or the stories at all. The majority of the hours is spent with the audience bombarding the author with questions about how the west sees the Chinese authors, or how the west should see Asia, or how hard it is to talk about Asia to the west.

Which is like the biggest reason I don't read most authors in English who writes about Asia, because the book is hardly ever about the characters or the plot or psychology. It's always about ASIA. It's about how some western author sees Asia, think about Asia, the people they met in Asia and how they are going to tell their readers back home about Asia.

All those books are the continuation of the legacy of  western adventure novels and travel books from the 18th century that helps the west exoticize Asia and Asian people. (If it's not bad enough that writers in Chinese languages books is used to exoticize Chinese people as well by the "west.")

And what I also don't like is when Asian writers in English try to "explain," their culture to the western audience and that's part of the motivation behind the book. One shouldn't write to be a tour guide and one shouldn't write to enlighten a people about your "people".  That's just playing into being "the other," it's bad enough have it done to you but it's pathetic to do it to oneself. It's as if that the author feels they are bestowed "special" status because they feel they are the "bridge" across cultures. The focus is all wrong. If one is to write a book, the glory is in the words, the stories, the ability to capture others attention, imagination, and emotions. It's not in what context you write in.

And in the vein of discussing how Chinese writers are treated differently in this festival than their "western" counter part. I still haven't gotten over how the moderator said in the Mian Mian talk, "I don't believe you when you say you are not partying and having sex. I mean you are not like the people in the book having Panda Sex (Title of new book, where the people have sex twice a year like the Pandas), are you? How much sex are you having?" One would NEVER consider asking that question to a female "western" author or a male author, not to say it was utterly inappropiate to begin with.

As well as for about ten minutes the moderator pretty much obsessed about "SEX" (he would shout it so excited he was.) "So.. was the SEX you write about the book real? Did you have sex like that coz you know.. I mean, I can't get over how honest you are in this book about SEX. I love the way you are talking about Shanghai girls having SEX with western boys, and Shanghai girls having SEX with Shanghai boys, and writing about how much SEX you were having. I mean at that time in Shanghai we were all having SEX. But it was hard to even get a hotel room.. etc. etc. etc." By this time I honestly considered walking out because I wanted to know more about her book and really nothing what-so-ever about her or the moderator's SEX life.

It was a bit painful because Mian Mian said a few times, "This is me six years ago. It's not me now. I wrote that book when I as a girl."  And I felt if she knew the phrase in English, she would say, "I think I want to be considered a serious writer now that I am older."

And the whole repeated question thing occurred here as well. Mian Mian was asked what she wants to say about Shanghai, what it is about Shanghai, what's so special about Shanghai, Shanghai in the nineties, and her reply was always, "The book is not about Shanghai. It is only a setting. I am interested in the story and the characters."

I think it's really rude to assume that writers write about their own country to tell the western audience about their own culture. Most writers write because they want to tell a story and are not thinking of the off chance someone might translate the book for them in a foreign language. Which is what all the writers kept repeating but it seemed to just fly over the "western" audience's head.

It's really incredible to watch how an audience can make a talk of a world famous author all about themselves rather than about the book or the author.

Actually, it was embarrassing because I think some of the authors looked quite annoyed by those questions as anyone would when they are posed the same question over and over again.

I think I will trek to Chinese U to see Su Tong speak in Put Tong Hua, leaving a mostly Chinese audience who might actually find what he writes, and who he is far more interesting than how he sees the west seeing him.

This is something i have always said about this blog, I don't write it for the westerners of Hong Kong, not matter how much they seem to think. I don't write it so some people in Europe can know about Asia, I surely don't write it because I want to tell the world about my culture. I do want more people to understand the issues of free speech in China and democracy in Hong Kong, but those things are not about a people or a culture. It's about rights and idealism, it's about something bigger than ourselves and really I do it because I want to. I am still never quite sure why people read it.

Otherwise everything else I write outside of that topic is because I want to explore these ideas or thoughts and not because I need to do any "translating" for "westerners" about China or Hong Kong. If people get something out of it great. I write this because these are the thoughts and ideas I have in my head and want to express irregardless of the "exact" audience. If I was forced to choose some group, I write for the other Chinese readers in English, abroad and here, hoping that I may speak something that resonates with them or interest them. I write because that's what I have to do for myself and I think that can be said by the majority of Chinese writers if not most writers in any culture as well.

Take what one can from the written word but do not expect it was written for you or with you in mind.


Hong Kong Literary Festival 6-15 March

Glutter's Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Literary Festival starts this Monday.

It features an incredible array of authors, from Chinese Writers Su Tong, Mian Mian and Ma Jian, Asian-American author Gish Jen, Australian Aboriginal author Doris Pilkington, as well as Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heanly and this year's Booker Prize winner John Bantville. Authors

The talks ranges from the very affordable $80 to the more pricey $350, plus there are free lectures also. Remember to reserve seats for the free lectures because some of them are nearly all reserved.

The time table completely makes no sense because most of the events are in the day when people are at work, not to mention it's a big chunk of my time out though out this week.

I really prefer if they had a once a month or even twice a month reading for a specific amount of time throughout the year, so Hong Kong can feel like more of a major city where there are literary or art events consistently instead simply during festival times. It's always a rush, and a flurry of activity, too much money spent, followed by a really dull period with nothing much to do. It's good to have festivals but Art and culture really should be intertwined into every day life as a habit as just another activity. It's more enjoyable that way.

Not to complain coz we even have it. I love going to readings.  I am looking forward to it.

Be Part of History. The Fringe Club Time Capsule

You have been invited by the Hong Kong Fringe Club to contribute to their 
Memory Capsule during the City Festival 2006!

What should we tell our great-great-great grandchildren about the good old
days of HK?  Email us a photograph of your HK heritage choice(s) (it could be: a building, place, food, family, religion, object, music…NO
restriction!) that you would choose to show and, most importantly, explain why it is important to you and HK. You should include: a story, an
important memory and if you know something about the history of your chosen item.

Your contribution will be compiled to create a Memory Capsule that we will
seal until our building’s 200th birthday celebrations in 2090!

We are online for 6 weeks to collect photographs for the Memory Capsule
at: -

Come along and contribute this future heritage project for HK 2090!  Look at everyone else's contributions, debate the favorites, discuss the stories and
invite your friends to do the same. The debates, discussions and
information about HK’s culture are the most valuable part of the Memory Capsule.

If you would like to contribute an actual item that cannot be emailed,
such as a music CD or a film as your heritage choice, bring it along to our
Box Office, along with your story.

***Memory Capsule is a part of “The Excavation Project”

Fix not kill the WTO, Support the G20, Make Trade Fair.

Socio-political rants

I have been reading... it seems to me that I am not quite sure why people want to dismantle the WTO as from the talks it seems there is much discussion on the farm subsidies as well as giving LDN (least developed nations) a different kind of quota system. It seems that part of what was happening on the last few days was developing nations as well as the G8 taking turns to say their piece. EU nations has pledged to reduce their subsidies although the US is being difficult as per usual. There is much talk about improving the standard of living for the poorest nations, and if the WTO is truly so awful for countries why do they keep wanting to join it? Foreign investment is important for development. Developing world simply do not have the capital to do so. What I do know is places that have money thrown in has roads, and slightly better conditions for the workers (yes, ohh, companies can afford that 2 extra cents per shoe). Foreign companies do give jobs if they start out companies in developing nations and train people. It seems that with that, it improves the lives of those in the middle, as well (as usual) the richest people in a country. But I suppose what those anti-wto say is true, it makes the rich richer and poor poorer but are they not talking about the most extremes of the situation, and that globalization helps create a larger middle class? So the very truth of the matter is just making sure the interests of the poor is taken care of while trying to improve the economy as a whole?

When I look at the Korean farmers trying to make their way into the Convention Center to say their piece, it seems that they are already discussing those issues and it is on the table. So really is the WTO the monster or the fact it needs improving? There is no doubt there are issues. But really should we not be supporting the needs and wants of the G20 instead of trying to disrupt the procedures? Should people not be truly aiming for making trade fair because on the flip side of being in the WTO the nations can ship cheaper goods into developed nations, and if it was truly free trade then there should be no quotas something that the G8 is very far from allowing to happen.

On this issue I am truly trying to find some answers. I don't want to be a knee jerk activist or a knee jerk capitalist as having traveled some of the poorest nations in the Asia and Americas, the conditions some of our fellow human beings exists in is simply atrocious and there really needs to be a change. My friend Ming wrote me an email saying it was brave of me to admit in public that I do not have the answers, I wanted to tell her that it's got nothing to do with me, it has far more to do with the conditions of people I have seen. I am really sick of the decisions each day I make as a first world citizen unwittingly oppresses people around the world, but I am pretty sure that trying to dismantle the institutions we already have to be nowhere in sight all the while people are starving and dying, and living in slums and being paid nothing.

As usual I think everyone should take a deep breath before we all start screaming and shouting on both sides, because right now we are all looking stupid. Everyone of us are that way because we can't justify the way the world is considering the resources and technology advancement we have and how unequal it is. I don't like looking stupid, I don't like being wrong, and I know each day as we live as we do, that's what we as humans are being, stupid and wrong. Us as entities by nature are always striving for progress and that's what we need so much right now, personally I don't care which way.

From Behind the Police Line, The Dehumanizing of both side by the uniform and photographs

Glutter's Hong Kong

I wanted to try something different which was to document the police instead of the protesters. I simply thought they would make interesting photos. What I found was from where I was standing, what turned out to be drums for music to dance, clapping and shouting, along with speeches from microphones far back from the action, looked and sounded like a full scale war cry from a distance. It wasn't until I swapped sides to the protesters that I realized it was quiet genial, there were more journalists than people causing trouble and the police seemed completely react disproportionally to the reality.

You always feel it as a protester, "We were just standing there, nothing was going on," but for some strange reason, if you stand on the other side somehow the crowds simply look menacing, the mass of heads look by default threatening, the drums feels like it's urging the protesters to attack and each cheer a preparation for a charge. It was so very strange. I can so understand how things get out of hand, where it only takes a few protesters in the front to cause trouble, the police to react in a heavy handed way for it to get violent.

And it was so very strange when after it was over, and the helmets and gear come off, the police were on break all these men and women seem so desperately normal, eating, hanging, and joking about me taking photos of them. I am not sure if they came out, but from robocop looking humans, within minutes the police were just a bunch of smiling people in green uniform.

What I really felt from the whole thing was that is the whole "violence" and confrontation is such a farce. On one side there were policemen who was making fun of their messy hair from the helmets, or trying to chat me and asking for my number, and the other side were a bunch of farmers and hippies dancing, singing, waving banners.

Is it the press? Is it the angle? the photographs? I am really not sure how it can look so frightening from the outside, and even from the inside sometimes. Looking at my photographs of both side they seem to dehumanizing to everyone. I want to start taking a different kinds of photographs, something that's not like the ones we see every day. Something that tells a human story of events such as these... how I don't know.. yet.


Korean Protesters in the Water



My Photos of the WTO protests from behind the police line. (more to come)

Go By G.O.D.

Glutter's Hong Kong



G.O.D (ju ho dee "better living" in Canto) is truly the first shop to bring out a branded, recognizable "Hong Kong" identity in it's clothing and lifestyle line, making all of us late 20s to 40 somethings' home and wardrobe just that much sexier and local.

I love their designs and respect the brand's ability to give me something that's all ours (not to mention the first people to successfully pull it off in a consistent ever growing manner). 

The bottom floor of the Hollywood Road G.O.D  has had a bit of a makeover. It's now showcasing both their new line and well as the old, and just looking a little bit more hands on and hopefully inviting.

I thought it was so pretty, I put it here. So go visit. Play around, explore the space and take a bit of the best Hong Kong design and signifying pieces  back to your home so you can live better as well. 

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Yumla is Two

Glutter's Hong Kong.

My cat is really sick so I have posponed by first "proper" holiday since my 29th birthday over two years ago. So I am here, still working, (and crying over my kitty a bit) so all these people who need me to do stuff is in luck.

In the meantime you might want to go down to Yumla and celebrate the coolest little after hours basement bar in HK where there is a mural I painted on the outside wall.