Category Archives: Hong Kong

Kindle and PSF7

Guess who got a Kindle! (Finally. I don’t know why it took me this long.) It’s a Touch and I got it for a really good price from the Wan Chai Computer Centre. (Yes, from an authorized reseller. Wan Chai is losing its notoriety and going all legit.) This thing is brilliant.

And right on time for the release of Philippine Speculative Fiction 7, which includes my story “The Likeness of God”! It’s on Amazon right now and will be available in other venues soon. Congratulations to everyone and thanks again to Kate and Alex Osias!

Excerpt from “The Likeness of God”:

Aaat murmurs that my madness is a bigger hindrance than he had expected; he regrets not having approached me with greater care. When Maat asks me if I’m frightened about getting lost again on the road, her smugness makes me sick of the entire business and I don’t answer. But I can’t resist watching her walk to the car and lean against the hood, licking the corners of her dry lips while she crosses one slender leg over the other. She catches my gaze and pats the door of the truck, coaxing me to come over and be reasonable.

I bristle at her ridiculous superiority but the heat is unbearable. I return to the car, start the engine, and pull out of the bar. I tell them we’re going back home. A look of defeat crosses Aaat’s face and Maat consoles him, saying they can always find a more competent guide to take them to the Godmen. I beat the steering wheel with my palm and shout I’m the Godman they want and the two of them fall into whispers between themselves.

In other news, Philippine Speculative Fiction 6,which includes my story “Hollowbody”, has been nominated for the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards! Come and vote!

Hong Kong Book Fair!

The Hong Kong Book Fair runs from July 18 -24, 2012 at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Spoils!

Ghetto at the Center of the World is a nonfiction book about Chungking Mansion in TST (yup, of Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express, and the place Ani Ashekian was last seen before she disappeared), one of the places in HK I’m most fascinated with. Sort of place you hear about all the time but when you’re living in HK, there’s really not much reason to go there even though (or maybe because?) I pass by it all the time. I’ve been there once, for a curry; I’ve had a more extensive walk with a friend around Mirador Mansion, its less notorious sister, to get jazz tickets from the Filipino Musicians’ Union.

(The other place I’m really fascinated with is the Kowloon Walled City, because really, how can you not be.)

As usual, the book fair is in full swing even on the first day. The HKCEC takes a bit of time to get to; it’s not close to the train but it’s too close to bus or cab.  Crowd control began from the train station already and the entrance and exit routes were really far apart!

530 exhibitors, 16 of them English, not counting the university presses. I really wanted to see local English publishers like Haven or Blacksmith represented but none of them were there, understandably and most likely because renting a booth, LIKE RENTING ANY SPACE IN HONG KONG, is crazy expensive.

ALSO: I did not know there were so many teenage vampire books. I wish I never knew.

ALSO ALSO: I stood next to two teenage boys reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Talk about expanding target demographics.

Wedding Pics! (In which everyone is gorgeous!)

Two months late but it always takes a while for the pictures to come in.

May 6, 2012! Stan and Daisy at the Hebe Yacht Club near Sai Kung! The gang and I were sort of the errands people for the event!

Manning the reception table. Is it hot in here? YOU BET IT IS.
Photo by T

Staking seats before most of the guests arrived. Took me 12 hours to get that red packet to Daisy.
Photo by Anna Yeung

Mid-reception but not half as boozed up yet! L to R: T, Dickson, Annie, me!
Photo by Anna Yeung

We realized only later that we never got proper photos with Stan and Daisy; too much running around!
Photo by Anna Yeung

Daisy’s dress is AMAZING. As much as that ventilation duct is not.
Photo by Anna Yeung

Didn’t get the memo this was supposed to be pucker-up shot, sorry!

T and I playing bodyguards to Annie’s playboy bunny.
By the way, that whip is still in our office cubicle.

My story at World SF + other matters

Waiting with Mortals” is up at World SF! Much thanks to fiction editor Sarah Newton!

Excerpt!

I’m not doing it for the money, she says. I like it when they take you. You don’t have to decide, you don’t have to be in control. You take a break from the world and let someone else do your living. Your body becomes someone else’s and there’s no responsibility, no making mistakes, because it’s not you, it’s someone else with their own plans and you’re just there for the ride. A girl I had last month, she died on her fifteenth birthday. She had wanted to join her friends in the city but her parents wouldn’t let her out past midnight. She climbed out the apartment window and tied a bit of rope to her waist and tried to lower herself down. The rope around the window frame snapped and she fell from the fourth floor. She goes in me, and the next thing I know I’m waking up from a table in McDonalds with cheeseburger in my mouth and a milkshake in my hand. Tasted wonderful. Everything tastes better in a burger wrapper. Don’t you miss that?

The rest here.

In other news, I’ve also(sort of) finished moving flats so I’m alive to the world again. Watched Prometheus this afternoon and it was full of awesome and rightly so. Planning to watch Snow White and the Huntsman some time this week. Yes, full on SF and F for the week, but really, you and I both know I’m there mainly for The Theron.

8 Birthday Lessons

Lesson 1: The most comfortable way of turning a year older is to stretch your birthday parties into a month-long celebration. You may be constantly reminded that YOU’RE3YEARSAWAYFROM30!! but because it’s so frequent, you take it for granted, and it never really quite sinks in, thank God.

***

When: 3 April 2012

Where: Ruby Tuesday, Newtown Plaza, Sha Tin

Who: The Ostleys

No picture because we were too busy shushing the baby

Lesson 2: One of the best moments there is is when you sit down with your oldest friends here, the ones who call you part of their family, drinking tea in the quiet of their house, taking turns to hold the baby, looking back and seeing how you’ve changed and they’ve changed and how you will still all change, and realizing, as you do every year with them in April without fail, how lucky in life you’ve been so far.

***

When: 5 April 2012

Where: Al Pasha, K11, TST

Who: The work gang Friends who just happen to work together

Lesson 3: Seriously, I had no idea there’s so much you can do with birthday whistles! (Don’t read too much into that.)

***

When: 9 April 2012

Where: Lawry’s: The Prime Rib, Lee Gardens, Causeway Bay

Who: The parental units, in for a visit

No picture because we were just too stunned with the prime rib.

Lesson 4: Your parents will love you forever and ever.

Lesson 5: PRIME RIB.

***

When: 13 April 2012

Where: Full / Half, The One, TST

Who: The church gang

Lesson 6: If you can remember how old you were when you first saw Titanic in the cinemas, you aren’t old at all.

***

When: 20 April 2012

Where: Red Chimneys, Prudential Hotel, Jordan

Afterparty: Ozone, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, on the 118th floor of the ICC, West Kowloon

Who: The girls

No picture because come on: 1. I am there 2. Makiko is there 3. It’s a buffet.

Lesson 7: Some of the coolest and classiest friends you have are the older ones.

Lesson 8: TAKE ME BACK TO OZONE PLEASE NOW THANK YOU

Lost in Tai Long Wan

So I was wrong in thinking that my last misadventure in hiking (i.e. lost in the dark with no flashlight, no food, hills away from the nearest road) would be the one that had involved Nell and Lion Rock and all-around silliness five years ago.

Tai Long Wan feeds into the MacLehose Trail, from which people get airlifted out all the time, as we found out much too late afterwards. (25/03/2012)

The best beach in Hong Kong, Tai Long Wan. Inaccessible by road.

If you're ever going to be lost hiking, let it be with these people and the one holding the camera. It's that kind of smiling that leads to silliness.

Because when it gets dark and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE HAS A FLASHLIGHT, you want to be with people who don't get cranky when they're cold, hungry, and HOLDMEI'MABOUTTOPASSOUT tired. I'm still impressed by the fact that no one hit someone else with a rock.

To 2011

You dog, you, you were more eventful and memorable than you had appeared to be. Here’s to new beginnings!

Hi there, 2012.

A Reggae Kind of Morning

I think these moments come more frequently than we think; we just forget because they can be easily overshadowed when you start doing something as small as reading the news or sending emails. You’ve woken up to a crisp, bright morning, sweater and PJ’s still on, tea boiling in the kitchen, and reggae playing.  Term just ended the day before and revision week has begun. Your students are going insane with the amount of work they still have to do and you’re not off the hook either – there’s still make-up classes,  an infinite number of papers and tests to mark, an entire affair of exams, grades to submit, and you’re going to the office in fifteen minutes. But this calm right now, you don’t just pass it by. Another semester has come and gone and you punctuate it with a big breath. Good job, one and all. The next semester is peeking around the corner of another month, there are news to read, emails to send, and another hundred things to worry about once you open shop, but right now there’s this, there are people who care about you, and everything’s all right.

Couple of Things

Tonight’s soundtrack is Herbie Hancock’s Takin’ Off (Grooveshark is awesome if you want to have a listen), served with a small dollop of plum wine drowned in water because tomorrow’s a work day.

My short story “The Likeness of God” has been accepted for publication in Philippine Speculative Fiction 7! A snippet from the email from Kate Osias, who’s editing the anthology with her husband Alex:

There is something brutal and honest in this piece of work; it made Alex and I uncomfortable, at times disgusted. But it is because you were able to make us feel this way that the story succeeds.  Not all stories could be about love, or longing, or bitterness. Yours was a different journey, and all the unpleasant emotions we felt along the way led us to think about our humanity.

Thanks, Kate! This year’s PSF will be published digitally for the first time to reach a wider audience.

I’ve also gotten an account in LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/crystalkoo. Because it seems to be the professional-looking thing to do. And you can look up old acquaintances without the politics of Facebook.

I’ve also signed up with InterNations, the biggest networking site for expats from all over le world, where you can find info and advice about your city and connect with others expats. Membership is invitation-only and its founder, Philipp von Plato, emailed me an invitation after he bumped into my blog while looking for information about Hong Kong. They have around 5000 members of 89 nationalities in the HK community alone,  which is pretty sizable. I’ve still to fully check out all its functions but it’s been looking really interesting so far.

This Is a Bowl of Pho

This is a bowl of pho. I had one nearly everyday when I went to Vietnam this August. I had this particular bowl one morning in Hoi An. And I’m putting it up here because a bowl of pho is one of those rare dishes I give due aesthetic consideration to before wolfing it down. While most dishes elicit the thought process “Food!!! NOM!” a bowl of pho gets the much more sophisticated “Food!!! Oooh, pretty. NOM!” This is very rare, as anyone can see from my becoming visibly agitated when my food arrives and my companion insists in taking a picture of it, and then another because the first one was blurry.

This particular bowl isn’t even one of the most primped up I’ve seen; Hoi An is sort of in the middle of nowhere. The real reason I put up this picture here is because I tried the pho (specifically the “Raw Beef, Soft Tendon, Tripe, Muscle, Beef Meat Ball and Brisket Rice Noodle” variety) in the Hong Kong branch of Pho24 in TST this evening and was unsurprisingly disappointed it couldn’t match the one I had (same variety) in the same restaurant in Ho Chin Minh City. (For my entertainment though, I was seated next to an Australian mother-and-daughter who mulled over the menu and announced they couldn’t make any sense of it, so it wasn’t a total loss.) The soup wasn’t strong or oily enough and was overwhelmed by the meat and I did Unspeakable Things to the basil to compensate for it. But now that I think of it, maybe the original bowl of Pho24 I had in Vietnam grew so delicious only in that dark little corner of my brain way after I had already had it simply because I haven’t had it for a long time, much like a lot of things in life, 90’s music for instance. And now that I’ve spent so much time talking about a bowl of pho, I want another one quite soon, so I’m gonna see if I can go back there on Sunday and treat the basil a bit better.

(Yes, like most, if not all, the posts in this blog, this one is written merely for self-indulgence with no effort to be morally edifying nor educational. It’s Friday night.)

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