equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
12 May 09

Little Hong Kong Differences

I’ve been back from my trip to Hong Kong for a lit­tle over a month now. Here are some lit­tle dif­fer­ences I’ve noticed between there and here.

Parking

Space is at a pre­mium in Hong Kong, so park­ing spots are tiny. Most cars have fold­ing side-mirrors, and prox­im­ity sen­sors that beep faster the closer you are to some­thing when back­ing up. Vans and SUVs have mir­rors on the back win­dows that lets a dri­ver see the back bumper through the rear-view mir­ror. That way, you can squeeze into a space with­out any guess work, although it takes about three or four turns, Austin Powers style.

Parking sensors

Some park­ing lots also have these lights above the spots that let peo­ple know if a car is parked in the space — green means it’s avail­able. That way, you can see what spots are free with a quick glance, instead of dri­ving around and hunting.

Taking care of the elderly

Workout area

In the parks, there are work­out areas for the elderly. They include things like Gazelles, bench step­pers, and wheels you can rotate for flex­i­bil­ity. This is so awe­some. Canada should have some­thing like this. My grandma used come to this park to work out before she had colon cancer.

Bench stepper station

Fitness guide

How cool is it that the sym­bol they use is the sil­hou­ette of some­one doing sin­gle whip. I found this sym­bol in many parks actu­ally, and I think it means that it’s a pub­lic park.

There are also speak­ers that beep at the traf­fic lights to let blind peo­ple know when to cross, and sub­way esca­la­tors that click con­stantly, so they know where to get on.

Read the rest of this entry »

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27 Nov 08

Seasonal Cycle

It’s been snow­ing for three days now, the first real snow­fall of the sea­son. It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing to look out­side and see it falling1. Winter brings it’s own sort of cozi­ness, like the way sun is for sports and rain is for movies.

A lot of peo­ple don’t like the win­ter, whether it’s because they get tired shov­el­ing, they’re late from clean­ing the car, they don’t like deal­ing with the messi­ness, or they sim­ply hate being cold. To me, it’s all part and par­cel of liv­ing in the Great White North. The sum­mer brings as many unpleas­ant issues — burn­ing car seats, sti­fling heat, unavoid­able sweat. I wouldn’t be able to appre­ci­ate one if it wasn’t for the other.

I tend to get tired of the weather only at the end of each sea­son, because they seem to drag on for so long2. It’s a never-ending cycle of enjoy­ing the new sea­son, then miss­ing the next one.

There’s this great poem by Shioh T’ao I think of when try­ing to explain this:

Spring comes, and I look at the birds;
Summer comes, and I take a bath in the stream;
Autumn comes, and I climb to the top of the moun­tain;
Winter comes, and I make the most of the sun­light for warmth.
This is how I savor the pas­sage of the seasons.

My ver­sion would go some­thing like this:

Spring comes, and I admire the blos­som­ing fem­i­nine beauty;
Summer comes, and I go for a drive;
Autumn comes, and I fall in love with every­thing;
Winter comes, and I cher­ish the warmth.
This is how I savor the pas­sage of the seasons.

This is why I love Canada. I wouldn’t want to live any­where else.

For now, I’m enjoy­ing the snow.

  1. Admittedly, it’s been a mild win­ter so far; maybe I’ll feel dif­fer­ently when I have to scrape ice off my wind­shield at –40°C. []
  2. There’s a say­ing that Canada has only two sea­sons — win­ter and con­struc­tion. []
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16 Jul 08

Canada Day '08

Sarah looks up

Thumbnail: Cashew cookies
Thumbnail: Dog
Thumbnail: Peeling potatoes
Thumbnail: Orange juice in the grass
Thumbnail: Orange juice in the grass
 

For Canada’s 141st, Aaron had the reg­u­lar char­ac­ters over, along with some new faces, for the annual bar­be­cue. We stayed out­side this time, lawn chairs in a semi-circle while the burg­ers and dogs were being cooked, and took it easy while the sun bathed us.

It was a beau­ti­ful day; sunny, with a refresh­ing breeze blow­ing through the air.

I don’t get to do this often enough.

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02 Jul 07

Canada Day '07

Thumbnail: Brownies and oatmeal cookies

Thumbnail: Chaos stretches

Fresh veg­eta­bles and peanut but­ter on burg­ers. A low-key deal before leav­ing. I’m lucky enough to be one of the few.

It’s mad­ness out­side. Madness at the stops. Madness on the bus. People rowdy, drunk and drink­ing. People wear­ing Canadian, drink­ing Canadian, speak­ing Canadian, bear­ing the stan­dard on cheeks and arms and hats and bod­ies. Kids, kids throw­ing beer bot­tles out the win­dow, pour­ing Smirnoff ice in their empty water containers.

It’s passed mid­night, dark­ness out the win­dow, and reflec­tions press them­selves on me. She looks through me at him and I can see the love tri­an­gle in her smile.

Ambulances pass us by. People face-down on the ground. Police ques­tion­ing witnesses.

Everyone’s at the same party, but me.

Looking for some calm in this chaos, I turn up the vol­ume to drown them out.

you’ve got the lot to burn
a shelve of pig smoth­erd cries
is there a spirit that spits
upon the exit of signs?

is any­body there? (spines in a row)
these steps keep on grow­ing long (spite as an arrow)
bay­o­net tri­als rust pro­pellers await

no

nobody is heard

But my calm is no less chaotic.

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