Loving and Leaving HK -Reflections

I’ve started this blog entry several times. Wrote a little, tried to write a lot, Grrrrr. Instead of packing everything in at once, I’m going to break it down so I can deal with content and my love for Hong Kong over the last 21 plus years. So this is a series of reflections, an attempt to remember a space in time so Danal and I will have it when one of us can no longer retain our memories.

Fuscia is the new Red: It was everywhere this Chinese New Year. I wonder if this is a continuation of Western influence. I certainly hope we don’t see a rainbow of colours associated with CNY in the future. RED is basic to all things Chinese. Let’s keep it that way.

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Graffiti is all around but NOT in the MTR – yet.  Nowadays there is interesting graffiti in the Western district. (Sheung Wan, Sai Wan Ho, Kennedy Town)  When I first moved to HK, (eons ago now) I never saw Graffiti.  Maybe local artists are determined for others to see their work;  perhaps it’s just another attempt to insure freedom of speech for Hong Kongers, or maybe this is just another way the Western world has infiltrated the universe.

I’ve taken some pics around the city, but my friend, Veronica Tan has documented this phenomenon through a series of “Walls” photos on Facebook.

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photos from Veronica Lee Tan’s Facebook album, “Walls”

Sheung Wan was considered the armpit by some when we first moved here, now it’s all the rage.  Tiny restaurants are amazing and I hope they stay- A few to look up over time to see if they make it:  Brew Bros, Nosh, 238, The Mixing Bowl to name a few. However, restaurants come and go so quickly. Many shops are moving after 2 years as rents soar.

Dan Ryan’s closes after 27 years of catering to Westerners and then gathering a local clientele.   This was one of my first hang outs for a burger when I arrived in ’94. Fed my U.S. craving and got a free keychain to boot!


“Swire Properties is looking to replace many of the retail units in the group into “high-end food and beverage malls.” from afoodieworld.com

I was wondering how long Pacific Place was going to keep a “middle of the road” restaurant.  Dan Ryan’s wasn’t the greatest, (after living in HK) but it was certainly affordable for many.  Can’t wait to see what upscale restaurant comes in – look out, Grappa’s Ristorante 

…..to be continued



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Chatuchak Gourmet Treasures – Phrik Yuak (aka Green Chilli) Restaurant (Part 3)

I want to make sure I remember this restaurant that Ashley Benusa took my cousin, Robin, and I to! Was awesome. #IloveAsia

Happy Maruko


Many people flock to Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market for a dose of good shopping while having some authentic Thai food on the side.

Maruko is different. I go to Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market for a dose of good Thai food, while shopping on the side.

If you are in Chatuchak, do remember to check out Phrik Yuak, a genuine and sincere Thai restaurant near Kam Phaeng MRT Station.

The eatery was a very homely looking eatery, and I was a bit suspicious of its well-done Public Relations (with an article even in Singapore’s very own 8 Days), with copies of articles nicely framed up on the walls.

It is owned by Chef Ann, an ex-Thai Airways public relations officer (I guess that explains all those media connections)

Chef Ann Chef Ann

I’m really wary of such media because they usually raise my expectations up high only to have them fall from…

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Business Cards – All About Connections

In cleaning out/up during our move, I found lots of business cards from our many years in Hong Kong. When I first moved to HK, I quickly learned you must have a card, some kind of card, any kind of card, with your name, address, telephone and fax number if you had a machine.   Of course companies provided employees with business cards.  However, if you happened to be a “trailing spouse,” (one who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment) it was even MORE important!  This was the lifeline to adjusting to huge new digs and the connector to expat social life. I soon found out I was not “with it” and discovered the school would pay for business cards.   I decided on a rich cream linen card with HKIS in gold.  Many faculty did their own thing in the ’90’s so that’s what I did.  I remember Dean Lea had the coolest cards.  His were translucent!    (Several years later that changed and the school began charging you for your business cards, taking it out of your professional growth fund,  and they were all uniform in color, font and design. Ode to the creative and free ’90’s.  I was annoyed at the time, but soon I couldn’t believe the school ever allowed us to be so free with their logo in the first place.  That was in 1994.  Now cards include websites,  email addresses, social media profiles, QR codes, and  telephone numbers in possibly several countries. I wanted to remember some of my favourite shops and also share them with other.  This may serve to remind me when my memory slips. (if I can remember this site)  – sigh…. As I find more cards, I’ll update the media in this post as I find more cards.  Happy Shopping/Eating/Wandering in Asia! Hong Kong/China Cards

New Zealand Cards/Info


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Death of a Sofa

This post is dedicated to anyone who has visited us, hung out with us for an afternoon, evening or had any contact with our beloved SOFA.

Today is one more beginning and two more sleeps until our sofa is put down.  Yes, the famous tweed, striped, and now solid green sofa.   It has been loved by many and envied by all who parked, plopped, sat, lay, snuggled, nested, wept, and slept upon it. It has its own story.

Back Story

On July 27, 1994, a very hot, sweaty evening, Danal and I arrived in Hong Kong. Danal and I had dated eight months and flew with me so we could see HK for the first time together and so we could set up my new flat. I was assigned to 7B Scenic View. I didn’t realize it was primo faculty housing at the time, but WOW was it ever!

It was rainy season. We couldn’t stay at Scenic View because one of the used air cons I purchased didn’t work and there was no way we were suffering through the night without cooler air. Hong Kong is WET and HOT. Thankfully my cousin Sandy, and her husband Tony Satterfield, lived in the fabulous 109 (yat-ling-gau) Repulse Bay at the time. We spent the first several nights with them.

During those first few days we moved furniture Sandy graciously secured for me from another expat family. Mary Heron (Gallagher) moved just down the street to 56 Repulse Bay with her family and left her sofa and microwave for me. (probably a few other things too, but it’s been too long to remember!)   I took one look at Mary’s expensive custom drapes and we took those too. I’ll never forget how one person changed the quality of my life by giving me things to make my new nest. And I’ll be forever grateful to Sandy who made sure I had a few things to make Scenic View feel like home.

Below are some of the early pictures of the SOFA and where it resided in my flat during the early years.  Randall Davidson, Paul Greene, Lisa Solomon, Jen Holcombe (Soykan now) to name a few.  Randall spent many nights on the SOFA in the early days and continued to throughout the years.

Then came Danal when we were married in 1995.  We arrived in a number 8 typhoon.  Finally arriving at Scenic View, the typhoon continued through the weekend.  Randall took the MTR to Chai Wan, Danal and Pat Cusick picked him up and Rand stayed on the sofa for two days!  Weather was awful.  This was when they were building the Wellcome grocery store.

Book Club days. (yes, our name was BOOK CLUB – the ONLY one!)  The girls spent many evenings on the SOFA at Book Club and solved many problems of the world.

Mom and Dad visited 11 times so Dad slept on the SOFA.    LISA SOLOMON lived on the SOFA one summer!

Oh, my gosh if the SOFA could only speak!

2003 brought scrapping days around the S and SARS. (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)   HKIS Happy Hours and Pre-Faculty Prom cocktail parties.

We called Lisa and Randall when they were coming up from S’pore (Singapore) and we told them we had a new sofa.  They yelled at us at the same time – You WHAT!?  We didn’t understand the uproar, but then realized they were referring to THE SOFA – we are like, NO, we didn’t get rid of THAT SOFA!  We bought a love seat.  That love seat never went over very well and we got rid of it and added two chairs.

Visitors continued to arrive and hang on the SOFA:  Maribeth Yoder-White, her sister Melanie and Melanie’s daughter. Katelyn.  Tom Shelton, Johnny and Sharon Barham, Steve and Louise Coggins, the four cousins together, Ryan, Samantha, Adam and Will Barham, Jenny Reese arrived for Obama’s Inauguration in 2008.

In June 2011 I left HKIS and faculty housing.  Sigh!  The S was moving to 7D Rome Court.  It was decided she should be recovered the third time.  Our trusted Mr. Siu came to pick her up.  I told him I was afraid the SOFA wouldn’t fit through one of the rooms in our new flat. He insisted it would, assuring me he had worked in every floor plan at Realty Gardens.  However, when he brought the sofa over after recovering it, it WOULD NOT fit through one of the doorways.  Mr. Siu was due to go on holiday in three days.  Since he insisted the S would fit, he took the two pieces back and CUT it!    It was originally a 4 and 3 seater.  When he returned the S was in three pieces:  TWO 2-seaters and a corner. Instead of having a 4-seater and a 3-seater, we ended up with two 3-seaters in the end.  But it fit through the doorway – and Mr. Siu was paid and he departed for his holiday!

21CLHK presenters celebrated on the SOFA. – Fall 2011 (I think!)

Scooter and Ginger Barham share the sofa in 2012. (my first year after leaving HKIS)

Jeanette and Peter came for the birth of their first grandchild, Juniper Hardman (Juni) and we crocheted on the SOFA. – Summer 2014

HKIS teacher Alums had HH on the SOFA before going to dinner.

Our last Thanksgiving at Rome Court with dear and local friends!  They will visit in Raleigh, NC!

My cousin, Robin Baker came to help us organise the move and enjoy HK with us and Thailand with me.  This was a special time.

And now – time has ended for the famous tweed, striped, and now green sofa.  We spent the last few days on her last weekend.  Tuesday, March 10, was packing day.  Thursday was D-day.  Workmen came and dismantled the SOFA into its three sections.  It was a sad day. BUT, we decided to take the corner with us to our new temporary flat on Glenealy. (Just above the FCC – our new kitchen/dining room!)

The next chapter is going to reveal itself in approximately 4 weeks.  I will fly to the states where I’ll collect all our worldly goods from 20 years in Hong Kong.  The SOFA corner will reside at Gleanealy for the next 9 weeks when we have to MOVE.  NOT good!  We found out two days before moving to Glenealy that the building is going to be demolished beginning June 1. Our fingers are crossed that it will “fall through” and we’ll have several more months at there. I need a kitchen/dining area and the Foreign Correspondents Club is providing that now. I’m sitting here in the Quiet Room (isn’t quiet -it’s Friday night!) and Danal is meeting me here for dinner, second night in a row. So there is a piece of the SOFA with us. Will update you when the final rites are said. This may need editing, but Danal is arriving from work so I want to dash and have drink with him. out two days before moving to Glenealy that the building is going to be demolished beginning June 1.  Our fingers are crossed that it will “fall through” and we’ll have several more months at there.  I need a kitchen/dining area and the Foreign Correspondents Club is providing that at the moments.  I’m sitting here in the Quiet Room (isn’t quiet -it’s Friday night!) and Danal is meeting me here for dinner, second night in a row.  So there is a piece of the SOFA with us.  Will update you when the final rites are said.

This may need editing, but Danal is arriving from work so I want to dash and have a drink and dinner with him in “the bunker” of the FCC!

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Saving Hong Kong

Sent to the The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong

So I read online where the FCC was asking for our photos of the Umbrella Movement. My first thoughts – oh, that’s great, I have been down four times and taken photographs trying to preserve my memories of Occupy Central; I have lots of photos; I wanted friends to know more about what is currently happening in HK. Then I thought, Oh crap, the FCC asked for photos – that is THE journalists’ club of Asia; I can never submit my photos! But why not, my perspective may be a bit different as an associate member. So here we go.

Arriving in Hong Kong July of ’94, I had little knowledge of the city, its culture or history with China. That was to quickly change. I took a teaching position at the Hong Kong International School as an adventure and it being the “right fit” for me. The contract was for three years. I thought I might stay for one.   After settling in I began taking a bus or tram every Saturday in an effort to understand the local culture. Teaching in “Qiǎn shuǐ wān” (Repulse Bay) was not going to give me an authentic Hong Kong experience for sure.  Living an expat life on the south side of HK Island hindered that process.

The summer of ‘95 I married my beau of a year in Raleigh, NC, moved to Hong Kong and began singing with the Cecilian Singers.   (We met in a choir – long story!) With the upcoming handover, members of the group were given two opportunities to participate in the ceremonies. One was a private mass given by Sir David Tang for Governor Chris Patten. The other was to perform with the combined Hong Kong Philharmonic and Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. These celebrations were both somber and celebratory for many.   During this time, I became more knowledgeable about the Sino-British Joint Declaration with the “one country, two systems” agreed between the UK and the PRC.  I was excited and honoured to be a part of this historic event. Hong Kong was now in my blood, and its people and I had become  kindred spirits.  Even as an American I felt a loss as the HMY Britannia pulled out of the harbour on its last foreign mission, July 1, 1997 with Chris Patten and his family.

It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since what became the “Great Hangover” for many in Hong Kong. That leads me to the taking hundreds of photos I’ve taken over the last three weeks of Occupy Central or The Umbrella Movement/Revolution.  I believe some of the best political art to come out of Hong Kong was being created and I was seeing very little of it online. So I took to the streets with Canon and iPhone in hand to capture a piece of history for myself and hoping to preserve some important artwork before it was ruined by natural causes or human behavior. Four times to date I’ve been to Central and I noticed something different each time. I love that the students are demonstrating through peaceful and artistic expression. It’s a side of Hong Kong I have never seen. “Hong Kongers” are well known for their passion concerning wealth and work but it is exciting to witness students so passionate about the rights promised to Hong Kong before they were even born.

I hope people like Wen Yau and Sampson Wong Yu-hin, who have organized the Umbrella Movement Visual Archives and Research Collection, and Kacey Wong, initiator of the Umbrella Movement Art Preservation on Facebook, will be supported in their efforts to save current and future iconic protests artworks on behalf of Hong Kong’s democratic future. Let us not forget the Umbrella Man, the Lennon Wall, and the many banners, posters, and origami umbrellas.

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

As an associate member of the beloved FCC, I encourage everyone to get out with cameras, iPhones, iPads and help preserve part of Hong Kong’s history that could easily be forgotten by future generations who didn’t “live this.”

Submitted by Marcia R. Barham
Associate Member, 1999-Present

Artwork by Simbie Yau http://simbieyau.blogspot.ckong-umbrella movement.html

Artwork by Simbie Yau from Hong Kong currently living in Thailand. http://simbieyau.blogspot.ckong-umbrella movement.html

Where the 260 used to run - but has been rerouted at the  moment.

Where the 260 used to run – but has been rerouted at the moment.

IMG_2106 IMG_2050

Yes, where the 260 bus used to go - now it's been rerouted.

Yes, where the 260 bus used to go – now it’s been rerouted.

Detailed Drawing - Anonymous

Would love to know who this artist is…


Home away from home.

Walk this way.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.50.04 am

another unknown artist

Origami Umbrellas by the 100’s


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China Visa

I want to begin this post by saying I’m going to try to blog more often.  How many times have you heard that? *#!

I’m an expat living in Asia for over 20 years and making the transition over the next year back to the U.S.  Scary!  That’s all I can say.  Don’t know where home is, but on this day it’s in Hong Kong and in the hearts of its people with the Umbrella Revolution.

Backtracking a week ago:

I began my day by going to the China Resource Building to apply for another three-year visa.  The line was surprisingly short.  I say this gently, but Asian people were breaking in line, acting as if there wasn’t one.  It came my time to show my passport to get passage into Big Red and the officer checked it.  As I entered and was thinking about putting my bag(s) through the X-ray, he called, “Lady, Lady.”  I was sure he was talking to the woman who had just broken in line ahead of me. He kept calling out, “Lady, Lady” over and over again.  I felt badly for her and got her attention to go back to him.  When I looked back at the officer, he looked angrily at me and said, “YOU!”  I don’t want to put in print what I thought.  He had JUST CHECKED my passport!  Before going down to Big Red, I make sure my attitude is adjusted because of this kind of response from BR personnel.  I honestly believe he called me back because he realised I’m a U.S. citizen.  I’m not a fan of Embassy’s, Consulates as I’ve seen foreigners mistreated at my own embassy.  So my intention is not to be biased.  After checking my passport once more, I was in and out within 30 minutes.  (my personal best ever)  Now I have to wait till Monday and see if my third three-year visa comes through.  Fingers crossed.

Update – Tuesday, October 28 
Picked up my new 3-year visa; MTR to Shenzhen, stayed at the Shang with a great friend, bought new reading and sunglasses, passion fruit, (soooo cheap) local peanuts, and a pomegranate  in Lowu Centre, all in less than 24 hours!


Our friend, Randall (China expert) and me with Shenny glasses


new reading glasses – you can’t beat Shenny prices!


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July 4th – Rhythm and Blues of Summer

Love, love Summer! And North Carolina!

I associate Summer with family, friends, beach trips, sunny days, biking, fireworks, and generally staying outside till it’s time for dinner or until dark, whichever comes first. This fourth is no different, or is it?

For the past 19 years I’ve been in the U.S. most of the summer months. This year it began with my flying in Monday, June 30, from Hong Kong – my second home for the past 20 years and heading to the beach on the 1st. My parents, a favourite cousin, Robin, a niece and nephew, convened at 64 Ocean Greens for the occasion. Anytime there are friends/family at the beach we have meals together (sort of) and everyone does their own thing during the day.

But there is something missing from all the celebration – Danal! This is the 19th year we’ve been apart on July 4th – and it’s getting old. In the past I was teaching, came to NC exhausted after the school year so summers were spent recharging my soul, taking courses for professional development, and spending time with family and friends. There was little time to think about anything missing. I decided to blog about the changes occurring in my/our lives.

Which brings me to – I WANT TO COME HOME! That’s what I “think.” I have many mixed emotions about moving since Danal and I have spent our entire marriage life abroad. (I can not believe it as I write this. How did I end up in Hong Kong and how am I going to make the transition back to NC? – I ponder this every day.)

So over the next months/years as I/we transition, I’m going to write about it – the ups and downs of it all. It will probably be filled with cliches, but hopefully over time, my writing will improve as well. For now….here goes.


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