Friday, December 31, 2010

The right one or the left one?

My collegue B shared this story with me.

B: So...what did you do yesterday?
Student: I played with my nipple.
B: you mean "nephew".
Student: Ah, yes! I played with my nephew.
B: That's nice.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not herpes.

I've been in and out of the hospital since November time. First with pneumonia, then with disfunctioning kidneys (as a result of the pneumonia). Apart from the hospital bill, it hasn't been an altogether unpleasant experience. I've felt pretty good throughout and it was mainly boredom that bothered me.

Curiosity is the cure for boredom, as Dorothy Parker said (although adding that there's no cure for curiosity), so one morning I decided to take a little walk through the hospital ward. Passing the other private rooms, I tried to peak through the doorways at my fellow patients. I couldn't help but wonder what they were in for.

"Room M04, Syfilis. Room M05, Warts. Room M06, Compulsive Overeating. Room M07, Penis Envy". I found it amusing to come up with highly embarrassing conditions that might or might not land you on my ward. Just as these thoughts were running through my head, a sudden realisation made me stop dead in my tracks. If I could think up embarrassing conditions for other patients, perhaps they were doing the same for me?! I forced myself into a coughing fit and struggled back to my room, making sure every room was aware that my ailment was in some way respiratoral.

When I got back to my bed, I felt quite pleased about only having a very respectable dose of pneumonia. I thought to myself: "Well, I might be bored but at least I haven't got constipation, hyperhidrosis, irritable bowel syndrome, menorhaggia, trichotillomania nor any version of an STD. I'm a lucky, lucky girl!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Honker Hobbies #3

The third most popular hobby in Hong Kong is EATING.

The venue of choice for this activity is the Hotel Buffet - a scrumptious, bacteria-infested spread that every self-respecting hotel offers to the public for the reasonable prize of $100-$600, depending on the time of the day and the food on offer.

To participate it's important to follow certain guidelines:

1. Focus on the most expensive foods first. Oysters, lobster, crab, sashimi and smoked salmon are all good value for money so make sure to fill your plates with these.

2. The hotel might not re-stock the items mentioned above so make sure you RUN to the seafood section as soon as the buffet opens. Cut in line if you have to.

3. A plate is not full unless food threaten to fall off the sides. You don't have to finish everything on your plate but the more you take, the more value you're getting for your money!

4. Don't worry about taking breaks in the eating to talk to your friends. You can talk and eat at the same time. Speak up! They might not hear you even though they're right next to you!

5. When the buffet is finally running out of food - get out of the restaurant as fast as you can. No point hanging around chatting with people - you went there to eat - mission accomplished!

Marie Swede isn't a great fan of this particular hobby. She sulks around the buffet thinking to herself "...and they haven't even got meatballs".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cat Power

In class today:

If you had to be stranded on an island for a month, who would you bring with you and why? You can choose between The Queen, Hu Jintao, E.T., Leonardo Dicaprio, Hello Kitty and the Dalai Lama.

Student: Hello Kitty because she is interesting.

Me: ....and the others are not?


Me: What would you talk to her about?

Student: I would say Hello!

Me:....Kitty? For a whole month?

Student: Yes.

Ok then!


Mother likes to remind me that I'm getting older. She often starts her arguments with:
Marie, you're almost 40!

I'm pretty sure last birthday was only my 34th so that one doesn't fly! It's merely an attempt to stop me from having fun.

The truth about relationships.

One of my students told me he was saving up money to get a girlfriend. I obviously asked him if he was buying one. The truth wasn't far off.
Girls in Hong Kong expect the guy to pay for absolutely everything. Ok, so this is a country where it's fine to have a dinner date in McDonalds, but with a national average salary of HK$12,000, even that can get costly for a young guy in his first job.

It's not just dinner, he told me, it's bus tickets, cinema, and then all the presents. To keep a girlfriend happy, he expected to be spending at least HK$800 a month on gifts for her. More at Christmas, birthdays and Valentine's. In order to afford this in the long-run, he'd made a plan to save up around HK$5000 before making his move.

What will she bring to the relationship? I wondered.
She should be pretty...and kind, he replied honestly.

I was a bit horrified at first but I've now started to appreciate the simplicity of the matter.
He will buy her presents; she will be pretty and kind. Why complicate things?

A while back a different student asked me:
Marie, you're really highly educated, why are you not married?
I didn't really know what to reply then, but now I know what to say:
I don't really like McDonalds.

Hello again.

I've not visited here for almost a full year. You started to bore me, dear blog, and I found that I enjoyed painting and...sleeping more than updating you. The year's almost up though so perhaps I ought to tell you what I've been up to.

First I ended a terrible relationship. Entering into it in the first place was the only big mistake I've made in my life. I don't think one should go through life without making a few mistakes so it really was about bloody time. I learned that I can hold a grudge.

I made a triumphant journey to Nepal, where I trekked up a mountain, hang-glided off another mountain, rafted through rivers, camped out on a river bed, rode elephants, wrestled with rhinos and got drunk with a local band in Katmandu.

I moved again. This time I left Hong Kong Island for the quiet surroundings of Tai Po. I found a tiny little village without shops or regular bus services, right on the waterfront with a gorgeous mountainous backdrop. There I am the only gweilo and an object of much curiosity. People smile and nod when they see me, and push their kids forward hoping for free English tutoring.

I found a new local with lots of decent people. I also found another local where people are not so decent but the food is. I started singing karaoke on a frequent basis. I discovered that I'm a really terrible singer. I found friends that (also) think it's perfectly reasonable for a party to go on until lunchtime the next day.

I managed to squeeze in a short trip home to see my Granny, and a weekend trip to Vietnam to see the Vietnamese.

I caught pneumonia and had to stay in hospital for a week. It was boring.

I messed up the Christmas meatballs again this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A visit to the doctor's

Doctor: So do you want me to give you rabies?
Me: Eum...yes! (desperately hoping she's referring to the vaccine against it)

I'm being vaccinated against everything in Nepal.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


In Japan it's supposedly NOT illegal to hit someone with chopsticks.

This feels strange. Surely it's illegal to hit people, chopsticks or no chopsticks??

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No, NO - I pressed the WRONG BUTTON!!

There's a new (?) Swedish website dedicated to text messages that were sent to the wrong person

We've all done it.

My favourite is one that reads:

"Have you seen Linnea's baby? I was almost scared. You could see the veins through the skin on its head. A bit like an alien. And then he looked like his father and that's not exactly good news either."

Let's just say that Linnea was not impressed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chinese Style Conservation

The sad part of the story is really how long it took me to draw, scan, rotate and upload this flowchart!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Me: we have any endangered animals here in Hong Kong?

Class: (blank faces)

Me: We have one.

Class: (blank faces)

Me: It's pink.

Class: (blank faces)

Me: It lives in water.

Class: (blank faces)

Me: No? You don't know of any endangered pink animals, living in water, in Hong Kong?

Student: Ah, ELEPHANT!

Me: Yes, that's right. The pink, swimming elephant of Hong Kong is indeed endangered!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Loony L

I have a new American co-worker - L. I say American, but I actually think she immigrated there from Loonyland!

From Loonyland she moved to Kalihi, a small town outside Honolulu, Hawaii. I know this place very well as I’ve also lived there once upon a time.

L: Oh, so did you ever see the ghost of that Japanese woman who used to stand by the petrol station?

Me: No, I never saw her.

L: Really, you never saw her? She was there all the time.
(This should be read in the same tone as I would ask someone: Really, you didn’t know that grass is green?)

Me: Must not have been paying attention.

L: Oh, but what about on Pali Highway, did you ever cross over?

Me: Yes, yes. Many times.

L: So did you see the ghosts of the 100 Hawaiians up there.

Me: Hmmm…no I don’t think so…and that’s strange because I used to hike up there.

L: My father worked for the IRS and there were lots of ghosts in their offices.

Me: This I can see.

She’s completely bonkers – I love her!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Alternative Hobbies

Athletic teenage boys in my hometown of Kalmar (Sweden), are being harassed by a man the media has named "Kick-in-the-Balls-Johan". Kick-in-the-Balls-Johan has been contacting a number of boys offering money in return for being kicked in the balls. One 17-year-old told the papers that Kick-in-the-Balls-Johan had requested no less than 15 kicks in his balls. In addition, he has shown interest in facebook photographs, particularly of feet.

I'm not judging- we all need to get our kicks somehow!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tippex Air

I'm booking my flight to Nepal today. I'll be flying Nepal Airlines. Nepal Airlines used to be known as Royal Nepal Airlines but since Nepal is no longer a monarchy, the "Royal" bit has been dropped.
I'm not sure, but I would imagine that most airlines would undertake an airplane re-painting following a name change. The Nepalese are far more pracitcal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working hard or hardly working.

I haven't got the toughest job in the world. I prefer to think of it as a job with lots of time for creative activities - like watching TV, reading, talking rubbish...

...or as my co-worker so elegantly put it:

-"Well, I suppose I have to get on with not doing anything"

Call me again in February.

The Queen of Lalaland phoned me up on Saturday evening. I was in bed.

Q: You're sleeping? At mightnight! On a Saturday!

M: Yes, I know it's unusual but I'm not drinking this month so I haven't really got anything to do.

Q: Still doing the January white month then?

M: Yep. Trying my best at least.

Q: You know, NOT drinking AT ALL for a month matters little when you drink every day for the rest of the year.

M: I'm happy in my delusion. Please go away until next month.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making progress...

Three years in to my stay in Hong Kong, I can now proudly announce that I have finally learned to recognise my first Cantonese squiggle. My lunch time escapades will be so much easier from now on.

雞 = Chicken