Traditional Chinese Medicine offers natural relief for mature women

September 22, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

HONG KONG Thanks to those of you who let us know you enjoyed reading our Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) articles.   Most of us know that life is all about balance. TCM believes that as we age, our life force, or ‘qi’, weakens due to inefficient kidney or liver function. TCM thus uses a balanced approach by combining herbs and minerals that fortify the qi with those that ease the transition into ‘middle’ age. With more and more women entering that uncertain age of womanhood when hot flashes followed by profuse sweating may become an everyday nuisance, TCM can offer natural relief. One friend over 50 recently showed me her concoction of nearly 20 different herbs and minerals prescribed for her ‘condition’. She faithfully visits the TCM doctor weekly and swears she feels better seeking some proactive relief. Her TCM doctor normally asks her some probing questions before sagely announcing that her symptoms are due to women’s issues caused by deficiency in kidney function. The combination varies with each visit depending on the state of the tongue, the pulse and answer to questions such as the following: 1. Do you sweat a lot? What time of day? 2. Does your […]

Students of Zhangxi Elementary School pose in front of their school deep in the mountains of Ningpo, Zhejiang Province. The school only has 18 students and 9 teachers in all grades as many families have moved to the city.

China’s photographers capture the all-important first day of school

September 08, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

The beginning of September means the start of school for young people around the world. This is an especially proud moment for parents in China with its one-child policy. From birth, the single child has tremendous pressure and high expectations placed on him or her by the family to excel at school in a highly competitive education system. Some Chinese parents have also taken the initiative to ensure the best education for their children. Appropriately named “monster parents,” they will do whatever it takes. In one extreme example, a father in Yingkou, Liaoning province thoroughly scouted out a good kindergarten for his 4-year-old daughter. After she enrolled, he was worried that she might be mistreated by the teachers or bullied, so he bought the school. When later interviewed, he commented that his acquisition was also a good investment for his RMB10 million (USD1.7 million) ‘spare’ cash. Photographers in China were busy taking photos in dorms and schools to capture the spirit of education and family involvement in school life. Scroll through the photos to share the first school day experience:   Source: [xinhuanet] [6park] [QQ] (Chinese language)

Hello Kitty dressed as a sailor for the Star Ferry

Kawaii culture and nostalgia: Hello Kitty visits 1960s Hong Kong

August 25, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

HONG KONG The world needs less talking and more cuteness.  That seems to be the message from a cartoon female cat named Hello Kitty, who incidentally is speechless because she has no mouth. Originally from Japan, Hello Kitty has a become a cultural and global marketing phenomenon that attracts billions of dollars. So why is an expressionless doll with simple features such a big deal? In a luxury shopping center located in one of Hong Kong’s most densely populated districts, Hello Kitty meets 1960s in an expansive marketing display. Crowds of photo-crazy people of all ages jockey for the best spot to pose with the larger-than-life Hello Kitty figures dolled up in various costumes. This is a testament to her enduring patience without complaint. Since her creation in 1974, Hello Kitty has come to represent “kawaii” culture, or “cute” in Japanese. Produced by the Sanrio company, Hello Kitty has become one of the most successful marketing phenomenon with an annual worth of $5 billion USD per year. Her success comes despite a lack of characterization and little back story. The kawaii culture represents innocence and promotes non-threatening behavior and appearance. Be seen but not heard. No talking back. A whole generation […]

Arts and crafts style - a mix of architectural styles

Exclusive: Restoring a piece of colonial-era Hong Kong

July 28, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

HONG KONG The 16th anniversary of the formation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has come and gone. July 1st has become somewhat of a tradition in that Hongkongers take to the streets to protest about things that irritate them, such as no jobs, no democracy, no freedom of speech, high property prices, big businesses with vested interests in the government (see our article). Some believe, rightly or wrongly, that life was better as a British Colony. It seems timely to write about a symbol of the British Colonial era in Hong Kong that was inaccessible to the public for over 100 years up and opened up to all just a few months ago. To many Hongkongers, this symbol is a reminder of the colonial days when Europeans were privileged and ruled the city. The symbol is the old clubhouse of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in North Point District. It was built in the Arts and Crafts Style and includes elements of Chinese architecture such as the tiled roof. The building was well-preserved and now has been restored to its former glory by the government. Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) was formed in 1908 by Europeans to promote sports […]


Taipei Zoo welcomes baby panda Yuan Zai

July 24, 2013 / by / 1 Comment

Taipei, Taiwan It’s a girl! Yuan Zai was born at Taipei Zoo on July 6th. Yuan Zai’s parents TuanTuan, YuanYuan were given by the Chinese government to Taiwan as a gift in 2008. Their names put together mean “reunion”. Yuan Zai will belong to Taipei Zoo, and will not be returned to Mainland China.   Sources: [6park] [VOA] [Chinanews]  

Taj Mahal, Agra, India.

Exclusive: Searching for a piece of peace, one Lego wonder at a time

July 08, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Hong Kong In its first exhibition outside of Japan, “A Piece of Peace,” Lego builder Tazuyoshi Naoe’s interpretation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is a vision not only of beauty but also fragility. What other medium would give such a sense of familiarity, so that the viewer would appreciate both the labor and the delicateness of the structure? It’s easy to imagine putting together the little Lego blocks, but also easy to imagine it crumbling and falling apart completely. Housed in City Plaza in Tai Koo Shing, the exhibit takes up most of the sky lit second floor and a small section of the basement. Many of these big scale exhibitions that come to Hong Kong make their debut in climate controlled shopping malls. With little real estate offered elsewhere, the use of a patented plastic building block to give a message of peace was not lost in the shiny slick environment of the mall. The number of people crowding around to take pictures of the structures behind plexiglass protection mirrored what might be the scene at the actual UNESCO sites. Naoe, a giant in the Lego building world, passed away suddenly in June 2013. His unique approach to Lego […]

Dried gecko in the TCM shop

Gecko population declines due to popularity as Chinese Medicine

July 03, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

HONG KONG When I first moved to Hong Kong, I was initially freaked out by geckos that snuck into the house and stayed motionless sticking to walls for hours.  Upon finding out they ate bugs and were generally harmless, I soon warmed to the little creatures and found their chirping sounds somewhat comforting. We found gecko eggs stuck behind picture frames and door jambs, as these interesting inhabitants seemed to flourish despite us. I was therefore disconcerted a few days ago to notice a jar of dried geckos at my local Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shop. It seems to me that too many animals and plants have some health benefit under TCM practice. I wondered what ailments geckos are used to treat. Turns out a lot. The Tokay Gecko, in particular when boiled in soup, is used as treatment for asthma, coughs and colds, and nourishes the kidney in the case of diabetes. Seeing the price of the dried geckos at a comparatively inexpensive HK$80 (US$10) per pair, I thought that perhaps geckos are being bred in captivity to meet the demand for use as Chinese medicine. Not so. According to the wildlife trade  monitoring network TRAFFIC, only a small […]


“I was fed up”: My day at the July 1 protests

July 01, 2013 / by / 2 Comments

Hong Kong Typhoon Signal 3 had been hoisted and I was on my way to the July 1st protest at Victoria Park. Rain was buffeting the bus stop where I waited, the wind howling and whipping at my hair. It was Tropical Storm Rumbia moving northwest from the Philippines and it was putting a damper on things. Despite the weather, I was excited to attend the protests and partake in Hong Kong’s rapidly growing vibrant civil society. The July 1 protests in Hong Kong have become a tradition of sorts. Led by the Civil Human Rights Front since 2003, an organization comprised of several non-profits and pro-democracy political groups, the protest has been a platform for airing grievances with the government. The largest protest happened in 2003, in response to Article 23 and post-SARS woes. An estimated 500,000 protestors showed up, although numbers vary depending on the source. This year, organizers hoped that the numbers would exceed the 50,000 estimated attendees at last year’s rally. In preparation for the rally, I watched Newsline host Michael Chugani interview rally organizer Jackie Hung. It was clear that Hong Kong, similar to my experiences in the US, was becoming increasingly split between two […]

China , Jiangsu province, Jiangyin, at the Yangtze River, a city 130km stright from Shanghai. Area of heavy industry and shipping / port industry at the Yangtze River.

“Crazyland”: China’s urbanization in pictures

June 30, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

China of the 21st century is speeding up its process of urbanization. Here are some facts behind China’s rapid change in rural and urban landscapes: In some places, the land direct tax and urbanization indirect tax makes up 40% of the local government budgetary annual incomes. 60% of outside budgetary incomes are from land transfer taxes. As a result, more and more land developments have become the main source of  income for the local government. Over the past 10 years, 900,000 villages have disappeared. This means that every day there are 80-100 villages disappearing for many different reasons. The rise of real estate prices in China gives land developers huge amount of profit and also bring the local government revenue from land taxes. According to official government figures, there are 169 cases of infringed contracts happen everyday nationwide, with 440 acres of farmland being seized illegally. So far, 10% of China’s total farmland has been destroyed by mining. The demolition of existing buildings comprises 40% of total construction work in China. The average expected lifespan of each building is only 25-30 years. This number in the US is 74 years and 132 years in UK. China’s total land area is about 7% of the world’s land area, but […]

Mad Men star January Jones admitted to eating her own placenta in pill form.

Eating human placenta: Traditional Chinese medicine, not just a celebrity fad

June 26, 2013 / by / 159 Comments

HONG KONG Celebrities Gwenyth Paltrow and January Jones did it. TV reality star Kim Kardashian plans to do it. Eating their own placenta, that is. The press are having a field day that these well-known women have or will be eating their own placentas after giving birth to their precious offspring. Shocked fans have expressed disgust and disbelief. But, hey, the Chinese have been practicing it for thousands of years. Why am I writing about this? Well, while waiting for my latest concoction of Chinese herbs to be carefully weighed and packaged a few days ago, I noticed dried and packaged human placenta for sale in the display case. My increasingly regular visits to a traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shop have been eye opening and at times a bit shocking to my Western upbringing. The upside is the visits have inspired me to write stories on TCM, fish bladders and bird’s nest.   “Human placentophagy” is the practice of eating human placenta and is accepted in traditional Chinese medicine. The placenta is eaten raw or dried or cooked in soup.  January Jones had hers dried and put into pill form, which was probably easier to choke down. Revealing that she ate her […]