how to dance funky

When I first moved to Hong Kong, I was eager to find a place to continue my dance lessons, which I had taken regularly in NL with the one and only, amazing Eszteca! Unfortunately, I quickly found out that Hong Kong had taken dance lessons and packaged them as yet another weight-loss fad, just like they had done with yoga (grrrr!).

Take a look at the Hong Kong Funky Dance Centre, founded by a lady who proudly advertises that she lost 25 lbs of baby weight in 8 weeks by simply bustin’ a (funky) move.  The centre strongly emphasizes the fat-burning power of funky dance, using extreme success stories complete with graphic imagery here and here (nice pose, eh?).

You might be wondering, what is ‘Funky Dance’ anyway? I’d never heard of it before coming to HK, as it certainly wasn’t a type of dance that Eszteca taught… In my mind, the term made me think of a bunch of nerds doing the Funky Chicken dance… but thanks to YouTube, I now know that funky dance is done by gay men (and women who want to dance like gay men) dressed in bright, neon colours who bounce around doing group aerobics with giddy smiles plastered on their faces, thinking that they’re actually dancing.

Exhibit 1:

Uh…yea. That is definitely not my style. (To see what real dancing looks like, watch THIS – 2:30~3:45 is absolutely dope!!)

Anyway, during my search, I also came across Dancing Fit, another one of these dance-for-weight-loss centres. Here’s a look at some of their class names and descriptions (thank you Google Translate):

Hip Hop with YIP  (-Pio and Yippy Yay)
The use of heavy beats of Hip Hop music, out of street style. Focused abdominal movements (ABS), focus on abdominal and thigh fat burning, increase exercise capability, and wishing to tighten the abdominal line, the effect is particularly noticeable. YO YO YO, Let’s Come!

Latino Jam with TAKKO (and his sidekicks Nacho & Burrito)
Mainly through a variety of Latin dance steps, in a warm and relaxed rhythm of Latin music, freely swinging the body, strengthen the confidence and training of memory.

Slim Punking with MING (cuz punks can’t be fat)
It is vibrant and a dynamic rhythm-based dancing, focuses on the waist and hand movements, Kawaii style, it is time to say “bye bye meat”!!!!

House Sweating with SOYA (purse egg is optional)
Interesting, lively and light, the use of disco beat dance music, with foot-based action, may tighten the buttocks and leg lines, the high amount of exercise to help quickly sweat, heart and lung function. You will find that he had never been so light.

Boy, do I miss taking real dance classes… *sigh*

Hong Kong Beggars: Wanchai Parma Ham Leg Beggar

This beggar has got to be one of the most graphic, gruesome and gag-inducing guys in Hong Kong. Usually seen on the bridge going towards the Immigration Tower from the Wanchai MTR Exit A5, I had almost forgot about him since I hadn’t seen him in a long time. However, one look was all it took to get his image emblazened into my head again.

You see, the Wanchai Parma Ham Leg Beggar is aptly named because he has a huge, rectangular raw flesh wound on one of his legs, which he displays proudly by extending it into rush hour human traffic. One just can’t help but stare at how deep, red, wet and fleshy it looks (not to mention painful)! Apparently, he (or his pimp) makes a new cut every morning so that the wound is fresh and bloody. Today, the wound is around 1-1.5 inches deep and sometimes, it even looks like he’s been cut to the bone.

At times, the Wanchai Parma Ham Leg Beggar can be seen with a piece of old cloth hanging near him on a makeshift clothesline, which has been stained multiple times by his bleeding wound.

To be honest, with the wide range of beggars in Hong Kong, it’s really a shame that this guy has to endure so much physical pain just for a few bucks. I mean, I don’t think he makes any more money  than the old lady down the street who’s only kneeling down and pretending to be homeless. If I were him, I’d stop the painful cutting, but of course, it’s probably not his decision to make.

Anyway, do pay our latest beggar a visit and see whether you still have your HK-sized appetite afterwards. I, for one, have lost all my cravings for parma ham

Picking your battles

A couple days ago, an innocent HK lady was attacked on the MTR by a psychotic Mainland woman. After making eye contact, the Mainland woman thought she heard the HK lady cursing her, so she walked up to her, took out her knife (which she normally used for self defense, she said) and started slashing. Even after the knife broke in two, she picked up the blade with her bare hands to continue her attack!

But enough with my boring commentary. Watch this action-packed video (courtesy of Apple Daily) to see how it all went down! This has gotta be one of my favourite things about Hong Kong: serious events (usually gory and violent) turned comical thanks to silly comic strips and in-house animations. I mean, imagine the delight of the team who had to make these visuals overnight!

“OK, who wants to draw the crazy lady?”
“Me me me me meee!”
“Who wants to do the voiceover of the girl getting attacked?”
“Ooo, me me me! I’ve got an amazing shriek!”

The soundtrack to the video is just awesome and I love all the irrelevant details. I mean, maybe I’m missing something but why did they mention that the guy who picked up the knife in the end had just bought a cake (is it an attempt at irony, or simply an ad for Maxim’s!?)?

Anyway, this incident has made me rethink all the battles I usually pick in the MTR. From staring competitions to the ol’ push and shove (and occasional kick), I wonder if it’s just best to put on your coldest stone face and act like no one around you really exists. Hmm…sound familiar? So if you’re still wondering why HK people never make eye contact, you now have your answer!

Awkward moments with my foot masseuse

After a long day of hiking/walking/shopping (or just plain sitting, hehe), there’s nothing better than getting a good ol’ Chinese foot massage. Newbies may feel some pain at first, but I personally *love* getting my toes cracked! 😉 By the time you get off your plush leather sofa and walk out the door, your feet will feel brand new and ready to take on another 8 hours of stomping round HK.

Since moving here, I’ve indulged in my share of foot massages, giving rise to some pretty awkward conversations. Here are some highlights:

Masseuse: You don’t exercise much, do you? Your calves are so tight.
Me: What? I work out regularly! Around 2-3x a week! What about you…do you like to exercise?
Masseuse: This IS my exercise…(heaves a bit harder as he rubs my calves)
Me: Oh…

Masseuse: What do you do here in HK?
Me: I write stuff (I say 寫工 – not knowing that I just said I’m a social worker 社工)
Masseuse: Oh woooww…you must be able to handle a lot of stress…what kind of people do you work with?
Me: Huh…? What? Err…(oh sh*t)…usually…old people?
Masseuse: Wooowww… Social workers earn a lot, don’t they?
Me: Um…sure… :\

Me: Please try to avoid touching my right knee, I fell during soccer a few weeks ago and I still have a scab there…
Masseuse: You mean this? (smiles triumphantly as he holds up my scab)
Me: 😮

An oven for your stool sample

One of the things I love about Hong Kong is the amount of freebies that get thrown around, some of which seem just a tad random. Take for example the recent campaign by ESDlife, where you can choose from a free toaster oven, massage machine or hair dryer depending on the type of Body Check you purchase. For those who don’t have a need for the three gift items above, there’s always the easy, no-fail option of taking HK$150 worth of Park n’ Shop coupons instead.

I never knew that so many varieties of Body Checks existed, nor had I ever imagined that companies would need to throw in freebies to attract customers. Silly me thought that Body Checks were just something people had to do once a year no matter what, gift or no gift.

Here in Hong Kong though, choosing a Body Check is more confusing than ordering an 8-course banquet dinner. First, there seem to be a myriad of tests that are identical to each other (plus or minus a few tests), so you really have to choose the specific body parts that you’d like to have checked. Next, certain services are treated as add-ons instead of the ‘main course’, such as a pelvic ultrasound, liver tumor or breast tumor markers.

So, if you decide to have your breasts checked (which is kind of important, wouldn’t you say) you’d have to forgo the Cervix Test (aka Pap Smear), which is also pretty fundamental! In comes the ideal option – buy the comprehensive Body Check and add one Breast Check on the side for “ONLY HK$490 more!!”

I have to admit that their marketing is pretty darned extensive, offering special deals for “Two People Together (二人同行)”, “Urban Diseases Health Check (都市病健康檢查)” (a MUST for HK dwellers I’m sure :P) and “Buy more save more” percentage discounts (spend over $2,500 and get 5% off, etc.)

However, what worries me is their disclaimer at the bottom of each test description page that says: “*All tests are not for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment.” So, what the f@#$k are they for then?!

Support the seniors!

We’re used to seeing them bulldoze through crowds and hobble around MTR exits in hopes of collecting your free used newspapers, but there’s a new kind of senior that’s been spotted around several MTR stations (including CWB).

This time, they’re the shaky, near-death seniors with goggley glasses, spotted skin, missing teeth and a bright red bag of boxed cookies slung over their sloped shoulders.

“Please buy my cookies,” they repeat, one after another in toad-like croaks. Although I’m usually immune to their tactics, I just couldn’t walk away this time from one severely hunchbacked granny.

It took me a few cries of ‘por por’ before she noticed me, but she eventually (read: in slow motion) turned around and extended a box of cookies towards me. Turns out that they were raising money for the Helping Hand society, which runs several old folks home here in HK. Seeing not only that was she old, tired but missing her right thumb as well (sob!), I decided to buy a box for 35 dollars and wished her a good rest of her life.

When I got home, I did some research on what kind of organization would put these frail, old seniors (that they had vowed to protect) in the middle of rush hour traffic only to feel the harsh sting of rejection 100x over. I discovered that I’m probably not the only one who felt that this was ‘cruelty to seniors’ because Helping Hand themselves had already posted several videos of their star cookie sellers, including:

I was surprised to see that many of them actually seemed quite happy to be out there selling cookies (that or Helping Hand neglected to post any footage of the bitter and resentful seniors). Watching these videos made me smile, and I’m so proud of all the seniors who are brave enough to get out there and sell those cookies with no fear of being rejected, knocked over (or even killed, shhh!). You go, Grandma/pa! 😀

The wonder of wood

I’ve walked by what I used to call the ‘silly comb store‘ between Hong Kong and Central station almost every day on my way to work, but never thought to go in until last weekend.

“Look there,” I said to my friend visiting from Tokyo, pointing at the comb store, which sells super niche Chinese combs made of sheep horn and various types of wood. “I wonder if they ever get any business, HA!”

Funny enough, my friend went in and within 5 minutes, she had bought a comb. Who knew that ancient Chinese wooden combs were in demand?! Little did I know, wooden combs:

  • Are smooth, non-static and won’t snap/tangle hair
  • Can promote hair growth by effectively massaging the scalp
  • Distribute oil from your scalp to the hair tips, keeping hair healthy
  • Can give you better sleep by combing 50x before bedtime
  • Prevent fainting, “adjusts the guts” and keep your hair black

Okay, I admit, the last one was a little far-fetched. But you get my point!

I was shocked that most people (including myself) didn’t know anything about the history and benefits of wooden combs. Needless to say, I bought a small comb for myself for morning and night combing and so far, it feels like my guts have fallen right back into place! 😉

Beware of Pervert

O-M-G. My colleagues just enlightened me with this video today, and all I gotta say is… I ain’t touching no MTR poles no more!!

Note: Disturbing content below…

Another A**hole

Last week, I was waiting for the lift in my building when I encountered yet another a**hole. They’re everywhere, I’m telling ya!

Anyway, what happened was, the elevator doors opened, a woman came out, and a dorky-looking HK business man stayed inside. I stepped in, asking him whether the lift was going down (as I only needed to go down 1 floor), and he hastily nodded his head while pressing the ‘Close’ button repeatedly.

Within a second, I felt the floor RISING beneath me and realized he was on his way up to the 49TH floor!!?!! WTF!? I looked at him and exclaimed,”I asked if you were going down!!” to which he had no reaction whatsoever except looking down at the ground.

At this point, I started pressing every button in the lift in an effort to try and stop it, but didn’t succeed until I had already reached ’30’. The door opened, I got out, and needed to wait another 5 looong, unnecessary minutes to catch a lift going down again.

What an A**!!!!!! I totally regret not being able to push more buttons from 31-49!!! ARGH!!