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In which Tats gets excited and feels a bit smug for no good reason - Tactical Ninja

Jan. 20th, 2011

01:37 pm - In which Tats gets excited and feels a bit smug for no good reason

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Every morning I wake up to the sound of traffic from the street 9 floors below, and I think “Gosh, it's windy!”. You can take the girl out of Wellington I guess..

So I guess the big news from yesterday is that the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework people got back to me pretty quickly and want to meet me on Friday for lunch. They stressed that this is a casual meeting, not a formal interview. To which I went *phew*. Apparently I will be lunching with their GM somewhere in Wan Chai, which is conveniently right next door to Causeway Bay.


My vow to make my hair brown had to be brought to fruition. tyellas suggested a wig - it's definitely cool enough for one here but I'm not sure I'd be able to pull it off and have it look real without spending big bikkies. So I ended up using a box dye - my hair is still an unusual colour but it's not businesspeople-horrifyingly hot pink. It's a sort of half-pink-half-brown. I also need a business type skirt and some shoes and stockings. I had the forethought to bring a jacket with me in case I ended up meeting people, so I'm sussed for that.

We will discuss my experience and skills and hopefully I'll learn more about the HK Framework and how I might fit within it, and I guess my almost complete inability to communicate in Cantonese will come up too.

I can now recognise the pictogram for 'please'. It looks like this: At least, it does when used as a verb.

Hi, I'm Tats and I learned all my Chinese from menus and signs in the train station.

So, um, yeah. Wish me luck and not too many cultural faux pas. It's been nearly 6 years since I did anything getting-a-job related. *MEEEEEEP*

Anyway, before I found out about that and collapsed in a whimpering heap, I went to Prince Edward and wandered around in search of markets. I found them! They are full of things, particularly Chinese New Year related things, all red and gold and resplendent. It seems that decorations are important enough to warrant at least four or five stalls per market, all selling the same stuff at ridiculously low prices.

However, I was in search of fabric, and interesting things that weren't red and gold dragons and fish. Speaking of gold, here's today's (somewhat blurry) gold thing:



Goldfish! In the goldfish market! Yes, they have one. It smells like the bottom of a fish tank. It's actually a general pet market that focuses on fish - there were baby hamsters and rabbits (oh so many rabbits) and mice and kittens and everything seemed to have fleas but CUTE OVERLOAD. I felt kind of sorry for them as I do all pet shop animals, but still cuteness.

The fish seemed to have about as much personal space as the people here do - the fish in that tank up there were about the size of the palm of my hand and there were literally hundreds in there. I felt weird about taking a photo - I don't know if it's me projecting my Western values but I halfpie expected someone to come running out of the shop and start yelling at me in case I was from the SPCA or something. Thus, I was surreptitious and didn't try to get a better shot. Naturally, nothing of the sort happened.

Also, baby tortoises the size of beer bottle tops! CUTE. Dr Wheel should right now be counting himself lucky that I didn't buy him some for his new flat because they were pretty irresistible..

There were also clothes, and I successfully spent a grand total of $15NZ on these, because I couldn't resist the randomness of the words:



I'm educated. Does this make me a magic beauty woman? Also, this:



I can't even begin to figure out what this is a literal translation of. But it gets +1000 Random Points and damn right I'll wear it. This was my first purchase made without using any words - the vendors had no English and I have no Cantonese, but we successfully exchanged money for goods and it gave me a great deal of pleasure.

After that I wandered the streets of Mong Kok, looking for nothing in particular and finding a community of folks-who-were-not-Asian. Mostly consisting of men who looked like they were from Eastern Europe or maybe the Middle East, they were very friendly in that 'I don't know if you're actually friendly or scoping me out for something dodgy' kind of way. A couple of them started conversations with me, always by asking where I was from. New Zealand is, apparently, a nice place full of nice people. It's good to hear that from someone in a seedy part of town in a city half a world away, and I actually mean that.

I made a point of telling these people I live here, luckily I know enough names of places to be convincing. I suspect letting on I'm a tourist might not be a good idea in such a neighbourhood.. anyway, they peeled off shortly after finding out I'm *cough* a local, and all ended well. It's the first time I've felt unsafe-ish here and might well have been completely unfounded, but I remember South Africa and how friendly approaches can't always be taken at face value. I also trust my gut.

I am now an old hand at riding the trains. Not so much at finding my way out of the mazelike warrens that are the train stations. *cough*

While in the market I overheard a family of English people who were looking at some Domo Kun stuff, trying to calculate the HK money back into their own currency to see whether it was a bargain (top tip - in those places everything's a bargain). The snippet I heard was "They don't like us very much do they?" from the wife. "No they don't" from the husband. I found myself wondering if the people realised that the majority of folks around them could understand every word they said, or if they cared. I also thought.. OK OK, I judged them with my Judgey McJudgerson hat on. Sue me.

On my way home I found a sheep!



It was outside a shop selling New Zealand imported skin and beauty products. I wonder at the wisdom of using a sheep to represent skin products, but hey it worked on me! Again with the surreptitious photography and the ready excuse: "I'm a Kiwi far from home and I couldn't help myself."

Also in the pic is my pounamu, which I've been wearing since I got here. It makes me feel a little bit grounded in all this crazy to look down and see the colour of New Zealand bush, and know that even when I'm surrounded by the beautiful blue-green Chinese jade, I'm wearing some that's completely different. Call me a fluffy crystal hugger, but the belief goes that pounamu absorbs part of the wairua of the wearer, as well as carrying some of the wairua of the land it comes from, and I've had this a few years* so this feels like my connection to home.

* Another belief I've run across is that pounamu will only stay with people if it chooses them. They have a habit of going missing, falling off accidentallly, and the like otherwise. I have known people who have been given pounamu who have lost it the very next day. I know one person who lost two pieces in this way. Hmm..
[/hippie]


Today there will be yum cha with Joel's team. This may be an opportunity to have another go at chicken feet, this time done Chinese style - which I'm told is tastier than the Vietnamese I had the other night.

Then I will flap about trying to sort myself for tomorrow. *MEEEEEP*

Oh, and I bought a bamboo backscratcher. Extendable. Did I mention my back is itchy?

And among all this I've been reading about the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Based on my lernins so far, I think yes it is in breach of the Treaty - the Maori version by arbitrarily assigning land to the Crown, and the English version by the way it breaches the BoRA (according to a report written at the time) in terms of discrimination against Maori, which implies the 'full rights of citizens' may not have been extended.

I need to read more to speak with any authority though, because I'm not clear on the exact nature of the discrimination and what the arguments for and against are. 2 articles a day, I will get there!

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
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It's actually a kind of pinkish-brown. I like the shade but I'm not sure about the hue. I'm so used to being hot pink, but Joel says this is a nice compromise that won't scare businesspeople but still has me showing through it.

Pics when I can be arsed.
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From:clashfan
Date:January 20th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
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D'you mean 'bated' breath? Just how much do you hardcore heart engrish?

Just how much of a pedant jackass am I?
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From:rivet
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)

chicken feet

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The Thai approach (to this and many other things) is to season with chili and deep fry the beejeezus out of them (and then sometimes eat them bones and all, which is a good source of calcium).
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From:tatjna
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)

Re: chicken feet

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I had congee last night. It had meatballs which (I think) consisted of fish and pork mixed together, and also some spring oninony type thing. The congee itself was pretty bland but the addition of meat and vegies added just enough flavour for it to be palatable. And a very tasty dipping sauce.

Also, just about everything that can be dipped seems to be really hard to pick up with chopsticks. Especially once it's coated in congee!

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From:tyellas
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
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Good luck tomorrow!

I've bought pounamu and been completely unable to wear it and given it away to friends. And then there's one piece that I've had since my first trip to NZ, bought in Wellington, that I've feared was lost time and again, but has always been found.

NZ pounamu is nephrite - a lot of the jade you are seeing is jadeite from Burma. And the mines that it comes from are some of the cruelest in the world.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
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I don't know much about jade other than pounamu, but from looking at google pics it seems to me that the blue/green jade I'm seeing in the street markets is of quite low quality. It's still a beautiful colour but perhaps not as sought-after? There must be a reason it's being sold so cheaply compared with what I see in upmarket shops.

I certainly haven't seen any the same colour as my pounamu, although when I googled 'jadeite jade' there was some that colour.

Do you know if there's a standard that shows jade that has been mined in a humane way? I would like to buy a piece for someone I know but I'm not going to support such practices and will buy something else if necessary.
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From:tyellas
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
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You have a good eye - the street market jade is probably dyed.

Unlike diamonds, rubies, and gold, I'm not finding anything on the Net about "ethical jade." The best, costliest jade/jadeite is the stuff that comes from the hellpits of Myanmar. Maybe an older/used/vintage/antique piece, mined back in the day? Finding something that's a "real vintage" as a gwailo will be challenging, though. Sorry!
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From:whatifitworks
Date:January 20th, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)

no good reason?

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I think all smugness here is completely justified.
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From:victoria7
Date:January 20th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
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Pics! Of new hair! Please!
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From:tatjna
Date:January 20th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC)
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Gosh. That person has a knack for incomprehensible charts. But yeah, the message comes through loud and clear, and there's no denying it's true. Good food for thought for tomorrow's 'lunch'.

Mostly I'm hoping they don't order food that's hard to pick up with chopsticks, and that I don't get food all over my face. I kick arse at what I do and can impress people when I try, so I'm less worried about that bit. ;-)

(i also have referees that will tell the mortals to cower down before my trumpet*)

* not a euphemism
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From:nimblenimbus
Date:January 20th, 2011 10:47 am (UTC)
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Reading these entries is intriguing. Mr Xan is going to be spending almost 2 months in HK doing some work, and it's a place I've always wanted to go. I'm jealous :) but it's infinitely interesting to see some of the stuff he may get up to.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 20th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
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I'm really amazed that people are finding my holiday ramblings interesting. I keep thinking these endless long posts about what I ate in Hong Kong must be really tedious to read through, but I'm a habitual blogger and can't help myself.

Hong Kong is very cool and like no other place I've been. You should definitely pay it a visit some time - I might even be living here!
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