Thursday, 28 January 2010

Win a Trip to Learn Spanish in Argentina with a Friend!

Win a Trip to Learn Spanish in Argentina with a Friend!
These guys really, REALLY, want to help you learn Spanish.

The makers of Bueno, entonces..., the hot new Spanish language learning software, are trying to build their Facebook cred by reaching 10,000 Fans by March. If they get there, one lucky fan and a friend will win a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for 10 days of intensive Spanish lessons, a chance to meet the cast and crew, and of course, have way too much fun.
From now until March 12th, Bueno, entonces... is offering a series of contests on the Facebook Page, which offers free daily Spanish phrases, words and grammar lessons. 100 participants will be chosen as Finalists from the series of contests and will be entered to win the Grand Prize Trip. The complete contest details are posted on the Bueno, entonces...Fan Page.
Starting Thursday (January 28) there is an easy-to-do photo contest. To enter, just snap a picture of yourself holding a sign saying "I want to win a trip to Argentina" and post it to their Facebook wall. Then get your friends to 'like' and comment on it. The TEN finalists with the most 'likes' will be selected next Friday (February 5). So polish up your tango shoes and hurry and go check it out
About the program:
Bueno, entonces... is like Rosetta Stone meets The Simpsons - the program is comprehensive, but at the same time hilarious and really engaging. Just released last year, it has been already featured in the iTunes App Store and on the Daily Candy website. To see more, check out their Learn Spanish website.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Guangzhou, China

We did a quick trip recently to spend 2 days and 1 night in Guangzhou in mainland China which is less than 2 hours by train from Hong Kong and conveniently for us, the train leaves from Hung Hum where we live.

Apparently it has more assembly lines, mass production and factories per metre squared than any other city in the world.  Despite all that, there are sights and activities to make a visit worthwhile. 

The big activity is shopping and there are different areas of the city carved out for different products, most of which are fake.

We visited Watchtown which was 4 square blocks of watch shops selling every fake brand you can think of.

Then there was Bagtown where incredibly high quality fake designer brands sell for a fraction of the real thing.

Toytown where everything from simple dolls to electronics were on offer.

There were huge amounts of international casual tourist shoppers as well as wholesale buyers who were buying trolley loads of merchandise and had hired a local to push the trolley around.

If shopping is not your thing then there are plenty of impressive temples including the temple of the Six Banyan Trees built almost 1,500 years ago and a couple of interesting museums.

Shamian Island south of the centre is a good place to base yourself as it has a old colonial feel to it. More pics below.

Tags: ..Guangzhou, China..

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Friday, 15 January 2010

Yikes - I See DEAD People!

I wandered off to the back alleys of the local hood a few days ago and it suddenly became extremely morbid in a bizarre sort of way.  Suddenly I was in 'Deadsville' - It was basically 2 blocks of coffin shops and wreath flower shops. In Hong Kong there's an area call 'Sneaker Street' where every shop for 2 blocks sells sneakers. This was the equivalent for coffins and urns.

None of the fancy funeral parlors, that are common in the west.  These were tiny little shops, one next to the other, stacked from floor to ceiling with coffins of different shapes and styles.

The Chinese take death very seriously (as well they should) and people are traditionally buried on a hill.  This is typically in a coffin in a graveyard or ashes in an urn in an isolated tomb like the pic below.

Typically the corner shop of each block was a flower shop and they were busy creating elaborate ornate flower wreaths

This is the kind of Chinese takeout you don't look forward to ordering. 

I think this coffin was going to meet someone who met their maker - If you look closer, it's going the wrong way up a one way street - maybe towards the light?!

Tags: ..death Hong Kong dead Chinese coffins, urns..

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Underpants are EVIL!

There has been an unusually cold spell here in Hong Kong for the last few weeks but nothing approaching the Arctic weather bombarding most of the rest of the world e.g. Norway with sub zero temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius - WTF?

Since I arrived in Hong Kong back in Feb, I have been consistently donning my 'vagabond' uniform of shorts and tee-shirt for my day wear leisure attire ensemble.  I should clarify that these are shorts with netting i.e. no underwear as this just compounds my SAS syndrome.

However with such a cold front upon us, I've been forced to raise the BBC (Brass Balls Chill) Factor alert to 'BLUE' and adjust my whole approach to day wear fashion. The situation has escalated to such a serious degree that I have had to resort to drastic 'undercover' measures.  Much as I have enjoyed letting it all hang loose and roam free, I hereby declare 'Underpants' are back in season until further notice.

So tell me, how is the weather in your crotch o' the woods?

Tags: .Underpants..

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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

One Week itinerary in Singapore

We wanted to escape the dreary damp weather in Hong Kong for the Xmas vacation so were fortunate to be able to crash at my cousins place in Singapore while he and his missus braved the rain, hail, sleet, snow, ice and general transport chaos, on their trip back to Ireland. Here's a few of the things we got up to during a very chilled out relaxing week.

Botanical Gardens including the extensive Orchid Garden

Sentosa Island which is south of the city centre but connected by bridges has lots of beaches and touristy attractions

Pulau Ubin which is a small island off the east coast where you can explore on a bike and get a feel for how the locals lived before modernisation and the financial sector kicked in

Shopping at the numerous markets and HUGE shopping malls where there is little sign of a recession given the number of folks carrying bags of designer label gear

The National Museum has a great permanent exhibit of the history of Singapore and how it separated from Malaysia

Raffles Hotel and shopping plaza where you can fine dine or sip a cocktail in a historic setting

Food glorious food courts which are everywhere and as well as being super cheap, they feature cuisine from all over Asia.  It is truly food heaven!

The Zoo and Night Safari.  OK - I'm kind of cheating here as although I've been to Singapore 3 times and wanted to go I've somehow just not made it yet but someday I definitely will.....maybe

We flew back to Hong Kong on New Years Eve just in time to head out on a boat and see the fireworks on the harbour

All in all not a bad way to finish of the old year and see in the new one.  How was yours?

Tags: ..1 week vacation One Week itinerary in Singapore..

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