Category Archives: Hong Kong

A Walk In My Old Neighbourhood

There are 9000 high-rise buildings in Hong Kong.  I photographed these in the spring of 2009.  Dave had just bought me a brand new camera for a trip I was going to make to Israel with my students.  I was setting off on my Sunday morning walk and I decided to bring my new camera along and experiment with it by taking photos in my Hong Kong neighbourhood. The area of Hong Kong where we were living at the time was called Tai Wai.  In my neighborhood bikes were very popular and there were designated cycling paths. See the scaffolding over the biker’s head? Bamboo scaffolding is the main method used to build skyscrapers in Hong Kong.  It only takes about a day to put up a 1000 foot tall scaffold.  Bamboo is so much cheaper, easier to transport, safer, and faster to build with than iron rods.  You only need bamboo rods, scissors and plastic straps to build a scaffold. Hong Kong uses about 5 million bamboo rods a year. You will see folks exercising together in almost every public space in Hong Kong. In order to beat the heat the early morning is very popular with senior Hong Kong citizens who faithfully congregate sometimes by the hundreds to do exercise routines and socialize with one another. 

As you can see they take their exercise very seriously. Ever since the SARS epidemic in 2003 Hong Kong has worked hard to become a cleaner looking city. Heavy pedestrian areas are manually swept and hosed several times a day. Street sweepers must be able to pick up 50 kg. of garbage and carry it ten meters before they are hired.You can read more about Hong Kong’s street sweepers in an article I wrote about them for a travel website called Things Asian. Most apartments in Hong Kong don’t have clothes dryers and so people hang their bedding out to dry wherever they can.  This bridge across a waterway just outside my apartment building was a popular place to air sheets and carpets and quilts.  No one seemed to worry about their laundry being stolen. One in seven people in Hong Kong may be a millionaire but the city is also home to nearly one and a half million people who live below the poverty line.  You actually are supposed to register to sleep on the street or in public places in Hong Kong and some 2000 people do so every year. Hong Kong has more than 600 temples for Buddhist worshippers. Although Hong Kong is considered one of the safest places in the world to live, many apartment buildings have fences topped with barbed wire around them and all of them are patrolled by security guards who monitor everyone entering a building. Especially on a Sunday morning it was not at all unusual to see men taking their pet birds out for a walk. Often they are headed to a neighborhood meeting place where they will take the covers off their birds’ cages, hang them up on poles or trees and then settle in nearby to play mahjong with their buddies. This is a mini bus and they are a mainstay of Hong Kong’s excellent transportation system.  Trains and double decker buses take you between major points in the city but it is the 4350 mini buses that can transport you virtually right to your door.  The drivers aren’t known for their caution so when we lived there a mini bus ride could be something of an adventure.  I have read however that just after we left speed alarms that activate at 80 kilometers an hour were installed in these buses and there are now speedometers on the interior ceiling, adjacent to the driver’s seat, facing passengers, so they can monitor the driver’s speed.Hong Kong is home to more than 50 museums and the The Hong Kong Heritage Museum was not far from our house.  It was an excellent place to visit and I can recall any number of memorable exhibits I toured there during my years in Hong Kong.  You can read another article I wrote for the Things Asian travel site about a Cantonese opera workshop I attended at the Heritage Museum.

I am currently combing through my photo libraries and deleting pictures and it is proving to be a very rewarding task especially on days like this when my weeding process takes me back for a nostalgic walk in my old Hong Kong neighborhood. 

Other posts…………

Hong Kong Inspiration

Memories of Sai Kung

Should We Visit Hong Kong?

New York Reminded Me of Hong Kong


Filed under Hong Kong

A Cumulative Christmas Story By My Hong Kong Grade Five Students

In 2004 my fifth grade students in Hong Kong created this illustrated story for the school Christmas concert. We had been writing poetry based on The House That Jack Built poem pattern. A student Charissa Chan wrote the poem and all the students helped illustrate it.

This is the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God

This is the young faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted dutiful angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
This is Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
These are the tired, hungry people who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God.
This is the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted angel Gabriel, who delivers messages from God.
This is the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages from God.
This is the tiny, but warm manger that was in the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem, with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful, virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
This is the beautiful, loving baby Jesus, who slept in the tiny, but warm manger that was in the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper, who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God.
And that baby grew up and became a Light to the World!

Other posts……….

Five Star Hotels For The Holy Family

Christmas in Hong Kong

Puzzling- A Christmas Family Tradition

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Filed under Art, Holidays, Hong Kong

Historic Churches Continents Apart

We have been visiting our friends John and Barb in Florida.

tao fong shan
John was the pastor of Tao Fong Shan the Lutheran church complex where we attended services in Hong Kong for six years.  Tao Fong Shan was founded in 1929 by Norwegian missionaries. Tao Fong Shan translated means Mountain of the Christ Wind.  The name of the church building on the Tao Fong Shan campus was Christ Temple. 

Christ Church Episcopal Fort MeadeNow John is leading services in a small church in Fort Mead Florida. It was founded in 1886 by immigrants from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Canada. The name of the church is Christ Church Episcopal. tao fong shan front of churchThe front of our church in Hong Kong looked like this.  The altar table had been rescued from a Christian Centre in Nanjing during the 1930s Civil War in China. john church in floridaJohn does a ‘pastoral pose’ for the camera at the front of his church in Florida. Note the Christ the King emblems on the altar cloths. tao fong shan mountain of the christ wind church hong kongDo you see the octagonal windows on either side of the front door of Christ Temple in Tao Fong Shan? octogonal window church in floridaThe church in Florida features an octogonal window as well. This was the bell on our church in Hong Kong. You had to hit it with a mallet to make it ring.  Members of the congregation took turns doing this each Sunday. This is the bell tower on the church in Florida. The bell was cast in New York in 1891.  It is the only church bell in the community of Fort Meade. Russell the  hospitable man who opened the church for us showed us the bell rope in the small room off the sanctuary. Dave is checking out the hymn books in the church in Florida. Here is our family singing a hymn in our Hong Kong church on Christmas Eve in 2004. Christ Temple has a second entrance that you reach through a lovely courtyard and a rounded doorway. The Tao Fong Shan complex in Hong Kong was designed by missionary Karl Reichelt and Danish architect Johannes Prip-Moeller who wanted to create a place where the Taoist priests, Tibetan lamas and Buddhist monks who came there to study would feel right at home. Christ Church in Fort Meade Florida has a second entrance as well at the side of the church. It was designed by architect Rev. J.H. Weddel in a Carpenter Gothic style which was familiar in Florida.  The architect also wanted however to maintain the essentials of the Anglican tradition as found in English churches. 

We felt fortunate to attend Christ Temple in Hong Kong served by our friend John who was a caring and compassionate pastor as well as a thought provoking and interesting speaker.  I am sure his parishoners in Florida at Christ Church Episcopal  feel equally blessed. 

Other posts………..

 A Christmas Carol Saved Our Lives

Ubi Caritas

Do Buildings Have Souls?



Filed under Florida, Hong Kong, Religion

Should We Visit Hong Kong?

hong kong landscapeDave and I have this ongoing debate about whether we should visit Hong Kong again, the place where we spent six years teaching.  He’d like to go back. I’m not so sure.  Don’t get me wrong I loved Hong Kong.  I loved living there and working there and I especially loved all the wonderful people we got to know there who enriched our lives so immeasurably. 

chestnuts roasting hong kong In some ways a visit would be great- we could walk along the harbour in Man on Shan, ride the crazy little buses that careen down smaller streets, take the tram to the top of Victoria Peak, go for fresh fruit shakes and won ton mein soup and Thai food at all our favorite little neighborhood street places, enjoy the noise and life and beauty of the wet market, take the ferry across the harbour, have a foot massage, buy some roasted chestnuts from the vendors on the street, visit our beautiful church at the top of a mountain, watch the swimmers in Tolo Harbour, spend a quiet hour or two at the Chi Lin Nunnery or the Sai Wan Cemetery and………………..


On our recent visit to Ontario I chatted with a woman who had just returned to Canada after decades in Hong Kong and she said we would find the city unbelievably changed from when we left in 2011.  

hong kong farewell

Farewell party for us by friends when we left Hong Kong

And that’s exactly what I’m worried about.  I have great memories of Hong Kong and the people we knew there. But Hong Kong has changed and when I look at photos like this one of a farewell party of friends for us in Hong Kong I know that most of the people in the photo no longer live in Hong Kong and the ones that still do have new friends and new interests and are incredibly busy with work and family life. 

I’d like to leave my memories of Hong Kong intact.  I’d like to remember it the way it was. There are lots of interesting places in the world I have yet to see, have yet to make memories in.  I already have wonderful memories of Hong Kong. 

Other posts………..

Tears for Hong Kong

Chi Lin Nunnery

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbour 

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Filed under Hong Kong, Reflections

Dave in the Classroom

dave teaches grade oneLooking through some old photos I came across this one of my husband Dave taken in 2010 when we were teaching in Hong Kong.  A new athletic field had just been built at our international school, made possible by a large donation from a wealthy patron.The day the new field was dedicated many high-profile friends of the patron gathered for the ceremony. Part of the agenda was a tour of the school so all the visitors could see our teachers and students in action. Dave was taking a year off from regular classroom teaching in the high school, but he was doing lots of substituting. That day he happened to be substitute teaching in a grade one class. Don’t you think the visitors chose to pause at his door and watch the class in action. The photographer covering publicity for the day photographed Dave and it was his photo that was featured in all the media associated with dedication of the athletic field at our school.  

 It is sort of like the day he was substituting for the very first time in the three-year old class on the kindergarten campus, when the door opened and in walked four Hong Kong Education Institute student teachers to spend the day with him and learn about teaching kindergarten. Non-pulsed Dave put them to work at various activity centres. I wonder if they even knew he’d never taught three-year olds before?  

dave with advisory

Dave with his highschool advisory group in Hong Kong

Perhaps the key to Dave’s success in the classroom at any grade level could be attributed to something he said when he was being interviewed for the school paper just before we left our jobs in Hong Kong.  One of the young journalists asked Dave, “And what are all the different subjects you have taught Mr. Driedger?”  Dave replied, “I don’t teach subjects- I teach students. “

Other posts………..

Dave’s New Chair

A New Sport for Dave

Davey at the Bat


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Filed under Education, Hong Kong

Memories of Sai Kung

Last Sunday at our church’s neighborhood festival I sat beside a young woman who has been in Canada only nine months and has been taking English classes at our church. She told me she was from Hong Kong so I asked in what area of that city she had made her home.  “Sai Kung”, she replied.  Well that got a great conversation going. Dave and I loved the Sai Kung area when we lived in Hong Kong.  Located right on the ocean with some of the best seafood ever, it was a great place to go hiking and golfing and junk boat riding.  Our encounter with the woman from Sai Kung had me looking through my picture files for memories of Sai Kung. 

Our Hong Kong visitor Michelle Sawatsky picking out sea food for dinner in Sai Kung

With our sons at a Buddhist Temple in the Leung Shuen Wan area of Sai Kung

Hiking in Sai Kung County Park

At the Kau Sai Chau golf course on a island just off the Sai Kung coast

Dave picks out his supper at a Sai Kung restaurant

Men playing Mahjong in the Leung Shuen Wan area of Sai Kung

Tai Long Wan Beach – Photo taken just before we hiked down to this gorgeous beach on the east coast of Sai Kung

Our family on a junk boat in Sai Kung

Doing a beach clean up in Sai Kung with my high school students

Golfing with middle school students in Sai Kung

On a  boat in Sai Kung with friends

Hiking through Ma On Shan County Park to Sai Kung

rudy and sue at anthony's ranch sai kung

Our friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel outside Anthony’s Ranch Restaurant in Sai Kung

Other posts…….

Hong Kong Inspiration

Feeling Nostalgic

Chi Lin Nunnery


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Filed under Hong Kong

Good-Bye Lot Sze

Dave and I were so sad to hear this week of the death of Lot Sze.  He was a student at the highschool in Steinbach from 1976-1979 . Although we lived in Steinbach at the time we never met Lot.  When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Peter Dick e-mailed him to let him know some Steinbach folks were arriving in the city where Lot worked as a radio broadcaster, movie actor and documentary director. That was all Lot needed to know.  He rolled out the red carpet for us.  He told us people in Steinbach had been so kind to him when he lived there that befriending us was a way to pay that kindness forward. 

Lot orders ox tongue, sweet dumplings and souflee for us at a 150 year old eating establishment in Hong Kong called Tai Ping Koon Restaurant.

Lot took us out for gourmet meals at top restaurants in Hong Kong and gave us a tour of the radio station where he hosted a regular program featuring his legendary movie reviews. He gave us gifts.  He took us to movie premieres.  Lot  was a television director and had made two documentaries about Bruce Lee. He had acted in more than a hundred movies and served as the Chinese voice of characters like Robin Hood and Pinocchio in Disney films. Lot planned a weekend jaunt for us to the city of Guangzhou to see theater shows. He often talked to us about the kind and caring teachers he had in Steinbach and the many friends he made as he served as the organist for Husky hockey games and ran a judo club in town.

Visiting with Lot in our Hong Kong apartment

Lot’s parents encouraged him to move to Canada because they were fearful of the consequences of the takeover of Hong Kong by China. Lot had an uncle who was a minister in a Chinese church in Winnipeg so Lot headed there. His uncle recommended he study at Steinbach Bible College and live in the dorm but Lot chose to go to the SRSS and board with local families. He often talked fondly of Mennonite foods, like farmer’s sausage and vereneki.  He remembered especially the wonderful meals made by Margaret Friesen, the mother of his good friend Kevin.  It was Kevin who contacted us a few days ago to tell us Lot had passed away.  

Jim Peters and Lot enjoying Menonite food

When one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Jim Peters and his wife Bonnie were coming to Hong Kong to visit we told them how much Lot missed Mennonite food so Bonnie and Jim smuggled a couple rings of farmer’s sausage into the city in their suitcase.  Together Jim and Dave figured out a way to make vereneki using Dave’s Mom’s recipe and Chinese dumpling wraps.  We invited Lot for supper and after tasting Dave and Jim’s vereneki Lot provided an evaluation of their efforts using a Low German phrase he had learned in Steinbach, “Schmeckt Gut.”

Lot treats us to a night out at the gala movie premiere of the documentary Bruce Lee My Brother

After we returned to Canada in 2011 Lot continued to keep in touch with us periodically but we had not heard from him in quite awhile.  We knew his health was precarious already when we left Hong Kong and things were difficult for him because his entire family lived in San Francisco and so although he had a thriving career in Hong Kong he had no family support. 

This week Kevin Friesen e-mailed to tell me Lot had passed away and his sister Elizabeth was looking for any memories people might have of her brother.   I sent her the four Carillon articles I had written about Lot as well as my sincere condolences. 

We used to call Lot our Hong Kong Santa Claus because he was so incredibly generous to us during our years in Asia. Whenever we thanked him he said he was only repaying the kindness he had received during his three years in Steinbach. 

We were so sorry to hear of Lot’s death.  He was a talented and well known media personality in Hong Kong but we knew him as a kind and caring friend who made us feel at home when we were far from our home and family. 

Other posts……

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbor

Hong Kong Inspiration


Filed under Hong Kong