Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bookspotting: Week 53

My mom left yesterday after a terrific week-and-a-bit in Hong Kong. We spent a lot of time doing touristy things, so I spotted quite a few people carrying Hong Kong guidebooks. The final total was two guidebooks in English and three in other languages (most likely Chinese). Throughout the week I passed three people walking down the Soho Escalator reading books whose titles I couldn't see. One cover was purple, one was dark grey and one was white. We spotted someone on the Lamma Island ferry reading Bossypants by Tina Fey. I saw a boy reading what looked like one of the Christopher Paolini books in the MTR. I picked up the new edition of The World of Suzie Wong at Swindon Books, and my mom was reading various things on her new Kindle Fire.

This week I'll be heading back to work after the holiday and getting back to my normal posting  schedule. You can look forward to more book reviews and walking tours of Stanley, Ngong Ping and various parts of Macau in the near future. Have you visited any interesting places this week? Spotted any interesting books?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Writing Video: Revision

As you all know, I've been having a busy week as I show my mom around Hong Kong. I'll update you all with pictures from our adventures soon. In the meantime, here is my next writing journey video about some important tools I discovered as I got into the best part of writing: revision.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bookspotting: Week 52 - Year of the Dragon

I have several good things to say in this post. First, it is officially the Year of the Dragon, which is the best year of the Chinese zodiac ;). Second, my mom is visiting me in Hong Kong, and so far we are having a great time sightseeing, relaxing and eating. Third, I've now been blogging for one year! Thank you all for reading.

Now on to the bookspotting: this week I spotted a woman in McDonald's reading a yellowed paperback copy of Joyce's Dubliners. When she put her book away I noticed she had three other yellowed paperbacks in her bag. I spotted a Western man carrying a John Grisham book and a Chinese man carrying a Stieg Larsson book (I'm pretty sure it was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest). On our way home on the Airport Express yesterday the girl in front of us was reading on a Kindle, and for once I could see the title of the book: Everyone is Hanging Out Without Me. I spotted eight Chinese books this week, mostly in the hands of people on the MTR. Eight is a lucky number, so I'd say it's an auspicious start to the new year.

Have you seen any New Year celebrations in your area? Are any of you fellow Dragon babies? What are people reading in your town this week?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Writing Video: Post-it Organization

Here's video I made a few months ago about one of the early stages of my writing journey. My book has come a long way since then, but I wanted to document the process.

Friday, January 20, 2012



A free-spirited older woman teaches English around the world.


This is a memoir of the infectious love for travel of a woman who is determined to get the most out of her life. Unlike the majority of ESL teachers, the author began teaching English abroad in her fifties and has spent over ten years wandering the globe in search of adventures to have, beers to drink, and students to love. Unlike many travel memoirs, she isn't running from anything and runs toward as many new experiences as possible. The author clearly loves people and this book is full of quirky characters and funny, personal stories. This book is unique among backpacker tales because of the way Morang's age affects her relationships with people.

Morang spends most of her time in Mexico and various Central and South American countries, with jaunts to Southeast Asia in between. Adventure and hilarity ensue because she is not afraid to try anything. She doesn't mind working for low wages and living in uncomfortable conditions as long as she can visit the beach and enjoy meals with her many friends. It was inspiring to read about someone with seemingly inexhaustible enthusiasm for new places and people. She is the type of person I would want to meet on my travels.

Morang's writing style is personable and funny. However, this is a self-published book, and unfortunately there are typos and occasional errors. This isn't necessarily a reason not to read the book, but it was noticeable. I also found some inconsistencies that made it feel like journal entries that had been compiled rather than a cohesive narrative. However, the interesting stories and the author's sheer optimism prompted me to keep reading. I have no hesitation recommending this book to travelers and aspiring ESL teachers in need of inspiration and a good laugh.


Donna Morang's blog


I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. The Kindle edition is $4.95.


How do you think being an older traveler would differ from seeing the world as a 20-something?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Walking Tour: Hong Kong Park

Today's walking tour overlapped with my day job. My students had a field trip to Hong Kong Park, so I took the opportunity to snap some pictures before my responsibilities began. It was unseasonably sunny and warm, a perfect day to capture this pleasant oasis in the middle of the city.

I was stationed by the lake for much of the afternoon, where I waited for each group of students to make their way to me.

Our activity for the day was to find signs in English and talk about them (this was for 2nd graders).

Hong Kong Park is between Central and Admiralty, which means it's overshadowed by some of the city's most unique buildings.

While I waited for my first group of students I did some turtle-watching...

...and in the midst of the picturesque environment...

...there were some sweet people-watching opportunities too.

Many of the workers from the surrounding offices were taking their lunch breaks by the lake.

When you walk around the lake you can find little bridges...

...and a few small waterfalls.

Follow the path around the circumference of the lake past the benches.

On the east side of the lake you can find the lovely, free Museum of Teaware. 

Circle back the lake, where there are fish on your left...

...and lunching office workers on your right.

On the western side of the lake, near the colorful recycling bins...

...there are some steps leading down to Cotton Tree Drive and a sports center.

Take your time admiring things nearby...

...and further away.

When you're ready to explore more of the park, climb the steps ahead.

They'll take you up to a sculpture garden...

...beneath a striking observation tower.

The garden is unexpectedly quiet.

My students collected leaves along the path...

...but we discovered there was no way out.

Finally, we found a staircase beside the aviary.

We looked inside at the birds and people as we descended.

We found a wide brick path at the bottom of the steps.

It took us up to a playground and the road where our bus waited above.

There is more to see in Hong Kong Park, but this is a taste of what it's like on a lovely winter afternoon. It was considerably more charming with my students traipsing around in little groups and exclaiming over the turtles, but I don't feel comfortable posting pictures of them without permission. Take my word for it: they're adorable. 

Next week is Chinese New Year, so look forward to a walking tour in celebration of the Year of the Dragon!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bookspotting: Week 51

This week I spotted a young man reading The Windmill Book of 19th Century Short Stories. I was convinced I would forget that long title, so I typed it into my phone along with a few other books I spotted on the train that day. Unfortunately, I forgot to save the note, so the Windmill book is the only one of those titles I remember. I spotted a young woman reading a paperback bound in a blue cloth cover. I spotted a boy walking and reading one of the Percy Jackson books on my way out of Central station, but I couldn't tell which one it was. I saw two different Western women reading Kindles this week. Another woman rode the train near me with a guidebook to China in her hand. She was speaking French with her husband, but I'm pretty sure the book was in English. I saw three different textbook carriers this week, and at least one of them was reading a chemistry textbook. The only Chinese book I saw was in the hands of a little girl.

What are people reading in your town this week? What's the longest book title you've ever seen? I once read a book called All Shall Be Well, and All Shall Be Well, and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Writing Video: Inspiration

Here's the second installment of my new writing videos feature. I have been recording what I've learned on my writing journey so far, and I'm releasing the videos here and on YouTube once a week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Walking Tour: Early Morning

My latest walking tour will not show you a place in Hong Kong, but rather a time of day. I've done this before with my dusk tour, and I'm interested in continuing to explore new aspects of the city. If you visit the walking tour page, you will find 25 other tours of locations in Hong Kong. This tour will show you what one of the busiest corners of the city is like early in the morning.

I have to leave for work at 6:45 am, when the sky is lightening but the sun isn't out yet.

The street beneath my window, which was full of taxis the night before, is empty.

The floor of the elevator is still wet from being mopped (the building's amah has to go to work earlier than me).

A few other people outside are already hard at work.

The morning pita bread delivery waits outside the Lebanese restaurant.

The lights and shadows are different early in the morning...

...and the streets are quiet.

Most of the shops are still closed.

A few early risers go about their business with me.

Normally busy locations like Pottinger Street are still.

It's that strange time of day when the neon lights have been turned off, but the sunlight hasn't reached between the buildings yet.


The Tsui Wah Restaurant is always open and busy with breakfasters and subdued all-night partiers.

Those partiers have cleared out of Lan Kwai Fong by this time.

I like having the streets almost to myself in the morning.

I don't have to squeeze between huge crowds to cross Queen's Road.

The sky is getting brighter. It looks like it'll be a blue-sky day.

The free papers are stacked and ready for the commuters.

The mannequins are getting dressed and ready for the day.

I pass shuttered locksmiths, vendors and shoemakers.

I get one last glimpse of the growing sunlight before heading into the MTR.

It's the emptiest it will be all day and I get to enjoy the quiet ride.
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