Just plain funny

If you're looking for funny signs, odd translations and some articles that take you over to the lighter side of life in Hong Kong, this is the place.

How to hike, Hong Kong-style

The combination of SARS and sunny weather for the Easter holiday weekend meant an unusually large number of people out hiking in the countryside. If you've been invited to go hiking, here are a few guidelines on how to do it properly, Hongkong-style: Read more »


About five years ago Mr Tall went through a body-image crisis.

I woke up one day to discover I was well on my way to acquiring one of those impressively hyphenated surnames, i.e. Mr Wide-Tall.

Since then, I've dropped a few pounds, and I still frequent the gym in my housing complex's clubhouse to promote general svelteness. In my many hours of mindless cardiovascular exertions, I've identified a number of creatures who inhabit Hong Kong's Temples of the Body.

The Screamer. Screamers are the easiest type to spot -- you don't actually need to look, since you can hear them from across the room as they moan, gasp, shriek and occasionally whimper while trying to lift weights far too heavy for their modest muscles. Screamers are incapable of setting a barbell down; it must be dropped, with the maximum clanging of plates. Decked out in brief togs cut from the latest sweat-zapping fabrics, Screamers are often quite fit, but never as fit as they think they are. Despite their racy moniker, Screamers reproduce by sporing, because they're exclusively male. Read more »

Some expats you might meet in Hong Kong

In the spirit of our analysis of the gymrats, here's a rundown of some of the expats you may meet here in Hong Kong.

The 'Proper' Englishman: in the past, he was definitely a civil servant. Now, he's likely been sent out by his company to be a desk jockey in their Hong Kong operation. Immediately recognizable by his uncontrollable use of the word 'proper', e.g. 'Why can't the bloody Chinese do a proper . . . . (fill in the blank with anything from 'fish and chips' to 'parliamentary system of governance'. Can be spotted in any of a number of expat-dominated clubs, berating the bartender about beer temperatures. His wife is summarized perfectly here [scroll down to the bottom of the page], by Mr Hemlock. Read more »

The Batpo's Tale of Woe

What a tale of woe I have for you! I woke up today and the heavens were crying, the clouds were storming and something up there was having a hissy fit. Turned on the TV, and it's only an amber rainstorm warning. So I put on my all-weather gear -- cropped trendy trousers with too many pockets, trendy teva-type sandals, trendy Nike anorak -- and packed my work clothes into my ultra trendy backpack. Oddly enough, I didn't look uber-trendy -- only like I had finished work at the fish market. I then waded out of our village -- the irony being that the huge puddles in the road were caused by the building site where the governmentt drainage department are building a pump station to stop our village from flooding -- pah! Read more »

Funny T-shirts spotted in Hong Kong

A number of interesting shirt-based slogans spotted recently:

  • Embroidered on the pocket of a young man's otherwise ordinary-looking button-up shirt, one word: 'Bitch'.
  • 'Lord of the Funk-Dunk Underground', on a fifty-ish man with spindly legs and a sunken chest.
  • 'World's Greatest Mom', on another fifty-ish man with spindly legs and a sunken chest. I've also seen it on a teenage boy, and a gentleman so advanced in years I dare not hazard a guess as to actual age. I am still awaiting my initial sighting of this T-shirt on an XX-chromosomed life-form.

The Batpo vs the roach

Last night was seriously dramatic. There I was, cooking my spicy noodles, lost in my own little cookery dream state -- when something moved in the sink . . . . the hugest, most monster-like, genetically-modified giant of a cockroach had crawled out of the plughole.

Its body was easily 2 inches long, so that would be 4 inches including the antennae, and about 1 inch wide. Well, I tried to flush it back down the plughole, but it just sort of stood there, Moses-like, parting the water -- almost like it was enjoying the spa.

I was a screaming heeby-jeeby by now, and it was crawling up the side of the sink. Using my spring onion as a fencing sword, I managed to flick it back down, but it kept on coming back up! I couldn't find any bug spray and I didn't want to leave [well, I did but I couldn't] in case it hid somewhere. So it crawls out of the sink, towards my bowl, over the bowl [ohmigod], out of the bowl [which I have by now thrown away] and flopped towards the cooker. My trustee epee [the spring onion] only managed to stun it, and it crawled under the cooker. But because it was hot, it crawled back out and flopped onto the floor, where I did this funny polka trying to step on it but not quite managing. It then crawled under the plastic bags bag and then scuttled out towards me. WelI, I thought, it's now or never, and I did the deed with a nauseatingly loud crunch. Read more »

The Batpo takes a ride on 'The Ferry Without Mercy'

It's been said by someone in the long-gone past that travel broadens the mind. They obviously have never attempted to travel by public transport in Hong Kong. A simple one-hour journey with possibly one change of mode of transport can transform any sane person into a raving loon. Forget about those outward bound courses to rediscover yourself; travelling in HK is a true test of self and self-control. Now public transport schedules in HK are rather good compared with other European countries -- frequency of buses/trains/boats cut out a lot of stress. No, the main problem is the sheer volume of people deciding en masse to travel at the same time and quite often to the same places as yourself. Read more »

Red pocket fun

Chinese New Year is generally a time for rejoicing -- in three days of holiday from work, in the killer squid-and-pork, home-village-style dish my mother-in-law always makes, in seeing some of my favorite in-laws and in not seeing some not-so-favorite ones, and so on.

But there is a CNY problem that threatens to overshadow all of its joys: the dread red pockets, the scourge of the married man in a Chinese city. Read more »

Cowboy erhu

I was headed to the gym last night, at the Millenium City Club in beautiful downtown Kwun Tong. From the bus stop where I alight from Kowloon Motor Bus #17, I need to cross under Kwun Tong Road via a pedestrian subway. As I came down the stairs from the street, and turned into the subway tunnel itself, I heard the unearthly sound of an erhu, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument played with a bow; it looks like an anorexic cello. I spotted the musician, a blind man in his 60s, crouched up against the tile wall. This is pretty normal stuff in Hong Kong.

But then I realized I was singing to myself: Read more »

Two ringing moments

An old man walks slowly up the sidewalk in front of me. His steps falter, his shoulders drop and his back hunches over as he struggles on.

"There be the ravages of age!", I think, contemplating my own inevitable aging and mortality.

I stride past the old codger, then look back to make sure he's made it up the hill. But now he's ground down to a full stop -- so that he can devote the fullness of his attention to dialling his mobile phone, which he's clearly been working on ever since I spotted him!


On a tunnel bus. Across the aisle, a little girl of six or so, in a crisp school uniform, sits next to her family's domestic helper. The girl has a lunch box she's supposed to be eating before she goes to school. She picks up a spoonful, drops it back, picks up another . . . then whines "you feed me!" to the domestic helper. With a sigh, she begins spoon-feeding the girl. Throughout the process, the girl regresses to toddlerhood, pulling away from the spoon as it is offered, pouting, glaring. Finally, mercifully, the lunch box is empty. Read more »

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