How North Koreans are coping with uncouth neighbours

How North Korea is coping with

uncouth tourists from China

North Korea’s tourism workers may look down on their
boorish northern visitors but they also appreciate their big-spending ways
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 2:07pm
When hordes of Chinese tourists descend on Pyongyang, there’s a
mixed reaction from North Korea’s tourism workers: they are
pleased their No 1 visitors will be splurging on everything from
souvenirs to casinos, but then there’s a furtive sigh of:
“Here we go again.”

Just Breathe (Part 2: Peng Chau island)

Had I known this existed, I would have come sooner. But it’s that un-rushed, nonchalant, exquisite emptiness that makes Peng Chau island so special.

It’s a 20-minute ferry ride from Central’s Pier 6, about the same time it takes to get the lay of the land.

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Just Breathe (Part 1: Cheung Chau Island)

It can get to you. The daily grind, the pollution, the cars, the jackhammers when you wake up in the morning, the blinking neon signs, the race to make more more more money, the living in an expensively shitty apartment, the people, the chaos, the life, the pace, the pulsating energy-guzzling monster that is the city of Hong Kong.

But 30 minutes away, life is drastically, languidly, gloriously different.

I am standing alone in the middle of the ocean on a platform – used as a rest stop for swimmers or simply a place to relax like blubbery black seals on a rock, away from the busy shore – looking at the sky turn this shade of tangerine. Joe is swimming just below, content at having tackled me into the ocean twice. And I wonder why I don’t live here, on Cheung Chau island.

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You Had Me at Highly Repressive Nation

Growing up, I thought fantasizing about reporting from a conflict zone was pretty noble and brave. Also, bad-ass (Read: The Girls at the Front).

I still nurse that dream – even if my frivolous wardrobe screams otherwise, less loudly than my mom when she says I’ll probably end up jailed, dead or in labor camp.

But given how I get really excited, heady and ego-drunk from trips to places associated with the terms “regime” and “isolated” and “fledgling democracy,” I probably would make a better disaster tourist than I would an earnest, thoughtful and humble conflict reporter and peace journalist.

The “news” channel in our hotel room at Yanggakdo. The anchor sounded like she was always about to cry, and it’s pretty close to the Tumblr,
Kim Jong-un Looking at Things. Photo from me.

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Life’s a Beach

It was on holiday in Penang, Malaysia, that my boyfriend and I put our year-long (give or take) relationship to the test.

This was our first out-of-Hong-Kong vacation together and I was worried that we wouldn’t get along in the end, although both of us said we were pretty easy travel companions.

Funny enough, we argued the moment we set foot in our hotel and were faced with an extremely beautiful receptionist at the Shangri-la Golden Sands, Continue reading

Ducks for Dummies

Like IKEA for cooking, Secret Ingredient, a DIY cooking service in Hong Kong, comes up with gourmet recipes for you to replicate at home by delivering carefully marked ingredients and an instruction manual. But no guy with a power drill.

It comes in handy when you want to impress somebody but don’t have time to chop, skin or marinate, let alone follow that original recipe. It’s also good if you’re lazy or don’t trust yourself in the kitchen.

A friend of mine said this was failsafe (although I’m sure someone’s fucked it up once or twice, not for lack of detailed instructions). Continue reading