Sunday, 10 January 2010

Going for a slash in the park

Decided to tackle tai chi again – tackle being the operative word is this case. Found an instructor who taught a number of styles, including sword form which I wanted to learn here, so I popped along with a friend. After numerous phone calls and 20 minutes roaming the park, we eventually found the class. It didn’t seem particularly like tai chi to me, although the instructor had said that he doesn’t teach his classes in the usual manner of a tai chi class. After practising some moves in pairs about how to deflect a punch to the face, the instructor then pulled some knives from his bag. They were blunt training knives, but looked enough like the real thing to freak me out a little. Then we put the deflecting moves into practise armed with the knives.

“Aim with intent” he kept encouraging us. “Don’t aim for the side of the head, aim for the middle of the face.”
“Great”, I thought to myself. “With my slow reflexes, I’m bound to get stabbed in the face.” Thankfully, I didn’t.

However, I did manage to keep tangling my arms, so I asked the instructor where exactly I should be positioning my hands on my opponent’s arm to deflect the attack. “It doesn’t really matter. In the heat of the fight, you’re not going to have time to check that your hands are in precisely the correct position.”
True, but then in the heat of the fight, I’m more likely to kick my opponent in the nuts and scarper than try practising some new martial arts moves. And what’s the point in learning the moves if you don’t learn how to do them properly in the beginning?

He then whizzed through a sequence of moves for the sword form and asked me to repeat them on my own. All I could think was – if I was doing this with my class in the UK, what you’ve just sped through would take at least three classes to teach properly. So it wasn’t the class for me, which was a pity. I think the instructor is probably quite accomplished, just maybe not suited to teaching people. Well, not suited to teaching me anyway. Although I do now know how to stab someone in the face with a knife. Which is bound to come in handy back in London…

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Explore, explore, explore

So as I enter my final month in Hong Kong, the race is on to make sure I have seen all the key sites before I leave. Today I ventured to Kowloon for two reasons: The first was because there were a number of markets I had yet to visit, Apliu Street Flea Market in Sham Shui Po and the bird, flower and goldfish markets in the Prince Edward area. The second reason was because some contractors are doing work in my building and it sounded like someone was standing beside me with a Kango hammer, so I needed to escape. The flower market was pleasant enough and featured the ubiquitous bunches of roses with each flower wrapped in polystyrene.

The bird market wasn’t that big – possibly due to the old bird flu issue – but it did have a lot of bugs for sale, which was pretty squeal-inducing for a wimp like me. I also enjoyed watching the local birds nipping in and out around the stands, hovering up the spilt grains of birdseed.

Then to the goldfish market, which for some inexplicable reason stank to high heaven. As the fish were already packaged in plastic bags like funfair prizes, I’m not entirely sure where the whiff was coming from. However, with prices starting from $10 a fish (80p), I know where I’ll be coming should there be a food shortage in the future...

New Dan Flavin installation?

Or stall in Sham Shui Po selling a variety of light bulbs? You decide...
You can read about Dan Flavin here.


The original inspiration begind cheerleaders' pyramid formations?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happiness is...

…self gifting. Turns out the Americans were right all along. I decided not to give or receive Christmas presents this year because (a) the thought of posting loads of packets from Hong Kong was a headache and (b) I had no way to bring anything back from here as I had already exceeded my luggage allowance on the way out. So, having saved all that money, I decided to self-gift and spend £30 on a small box of chocolates and three pieces of cheese. Rock and roll. And so bloody Western too. Oh and the crackers are from Shanghai. Yes, I went all the way to China for Tuc crackers.

Luckily some people took pity on me and did hook me up with some amazing prezzies. Thanks to my dad for The Sunday Times (real journalism…how I have missed thee), to my mum for the mince pies (well it wouldn’t be Christmas without them) and to T for the card (although I’m not sure I approve of violence against pandas).