Tuesday, 26 April 2011

3D Zen and Sex - the Hong Kong porn movie in cinemas

Without a doubt in my limited cinematic experience, 3D Sex and Zen, the first ever porn film in 3D is the most... erm, what’s a euphemism for “fucked up”? Well, it’s the weirdest film ever. And it is on at mainstream cinemas throughout the city.

This is a spoiler alert. I am basically going to explain this movie to you.

We start with the love shared between a scholar called Wei Yangsheng and his lovely bride Tie Yuxiang. At their wedding they meet an old couple and Wei asks them how they can still love each other even though they are too old to have sex. The old man kisses his old wife and says something along the lines of how true love doesn’t need sex. And this is the premise of the storyline.

The newlyweds begin boning in the first few minutes of the film, but there is a problem. Wei doesn’t satisfy his wife – he is a premature ejaculator and he has a miniscule penis (of which we see a full frontal shot). Seriously, it’s slightly girthier than a toothpick and about as long as a standard padlock key. One could play hula-hoops on it with a CD. You see him and his wife banging in all sorts of positions before he decides this is not on and goes to see Prince Ning in the Pavillion of Ultimate Bliss. Yes, such a place exists in 3D Sex and Zen.

Now, Ning’s Pavillion of Ultimate Bliss is a massive enclave built into a mountain which contains all kinds of treasures from around China, as well as a good collection of hookers, whores, beauties and so on who pleasure and are pleasured by a mass of naked men running around the place. Every scene in this Pavillion has a backing track of giggling and ooh-ooh ah-ah as the rampant pleasure is seemingly unstoppable.

To stop Wei biffing too quickly, he is given some special hooker who can maintain a man’s erection for 24 hours with her special talents. Wei trades in 10 years of service to Prince Ning for a day with this woman whose trick is to perform acupuncture on him... erm, by sticking a needle up his arse. It works though. Believe it or not, that is one of the most normal scenes in the movie. As Wei is stuck in the Pavillion of Ultimate Pleasure for 10 years, he divorces his wife, even though he is very much in love with her. She is then raped by someone who works at her palace. Then some people try and drown her. Twice. Then someone buys her. She winds up at the Pavillion of Ultimate Pleasure, but we’ll get back to her later.

Wei, meanwhile, meets an androgenous person who has a penis which is about 3 metres long and spins a wheel on it. This person,whose name escapes me, is like the sexpert of the world and Wei asks him/her how to become better at sex. Turns out, Wei needs a new penis as his tiny one just will not do. He goes for a transplant, has his penis removed and replaced with a donkey’s. When he returns to the Pavillion of Ultimate Pleasure, he has an orgy with 10 women who all seem to just love his new cock which is not about 60cm long. However, his fortunes change considerably when he tries to steal one of the treasures belonging to Prince Ning, and this is where things get really and truly fucked up.

Ning shoots Wei in the leg (with a gun) when he catches him and we are treated to the sight of him using a piece of broken ceramic to scrape maggots out of his leg. Tei, his ex-wife, sees this going on and offers herself to Prince Ning in his place. Ning accepts and, in one of the most heinous scenes I have ever seen in a movie, has her sit on some metal horse which basically drills up her vagina, removing her sex organs. (It was at this point that I walked out of the movie, the rest of this is hearsay from people who stayed in for the whole film.)

When Wei sees this, he offers himself to Ning for Tie, and in doing so he loses his donkey penis as Prince Ning cuts it off. The couple then get back together, leave the Pavillion of Ultimate Pleasure sex-organless, decide they are still in love, and that sex is unneccesary for their happiness, just like the old people at the beginning.

And that is why it is the most fucked up movie I have ever seen. Watch at your own peril.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Waterford Estate

The highlight of living in Cape Town is not the mountain, as some would lead you to believe. It is not the sea which is too cold in which to swim. It is not even the way it conveniently manages to keep poor people out of the lines of vision of rich people. It is undoubtedly its proximity to the Cape Winelands – as good a reason to live there as any. In fact, if I were to start a city I would ensure that there was a plethora of possible vineyard sites within spitting distance beforehand.

While living in Cape Town, I visited plenty of farms in and around Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellebosch, and they are all so good that it became tricky for any one of them to stand out. Until I won a prize at a press conference to spend a night at Waterford Estate (Note: I was/am under absolutely no obligation to write about it).

It is one of the few vineyards in Stellenbosch at which one can spend the night in a large, beautifully furnished room on the second floor of its main building. Breakfast and six or seven bottles of wine are provided and the view out of the bedroom is so wide guests can see sunrise and sunset from the bed.

The lounge - contemporary decoration (apologies for it being out of focus).

The eye-watering view out of the bedroom window.

What the vineyards do offer, generally, is beauty, and Waterford Estate doesn’t disappoint. Although I arrived in a crap mood because the sign for the vineyard had fallen down and I’d covered most of the roads of the Western Cape finding it, the way it was set up from the gate to where guests park was incredible. I could describe it, but rather just look at these.

Both pics are of the main building at Waterford Estate. This is what is immediately presented to all visitors here. Pretty damn decent, I'd say.

That being said, prettiness is not something which necessarily differentiates one farm from another - you’ll rarely see an ugly one. There are two stark criteria which push Waterford Estate’s notability ahead of most others.

The first is the idea of a wine safari. I am not sure of other farms do this, but Waterford boast a concept in which you taste the wine while sitting sitting by the orchard in which (at least some of) its grapes were grown. Our guide (whose name escapes me) was involved in the whole wine production process from seed-planting right through to putting the cork in the bottle, so we were given a thorough explanation on every part of the farm which we drove through (and drank near). We were regaled with tales of how crops had been affected by massive winds and fires, how grapes are selected, how the quality is maintained and so on. All the while in a stunning setting.

This is a proper wine safari - this truck having arrived at Waterford for safari purposes from Singita.

The highlight of the safari was sampling Waterford’s signature wine, The Jem. This creation of this wine was a nine-year process with a plethora of concoctions attempted before Kevin Arnold, cellar master, and his team gave it the ok. We sampled this sitting on a hill with a view that stretched nearly the whole way to Cape Town.

The wines on the safari were matched with food – we sampled olives and nuts with the white wines and droewors and biltong with the reds. It all paired up beautifully, but it post-safari that Waterford surprised us again.

Three of Waterford's top red wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and it's premier product, The Jem.

I am sure most of you who have traversed wine country will have sampled the nectar alongside food. Well, Waterford Estate pairs up wines with chocolate. Usually putting two things people like together is a decent recipe for popularity. Well, how’s about two things people absolutely adore? The secret is in the high-quality chocolate provided, flavoured beautifully. A deep dark chocolate, a brown rose-water flavour and a milk chocolate accompanied with four of Waterford’s high-quality wines. I suppose the message is that wine is not just a meal accompaniment, it is a leisure pursuit too – not something wine-producing countries like South Africa need to know, but the rest of the world could be taught a thing or two.

The chocolate-pairings and the wine safari do make Waterford stand out within the region. However, and most importantly, it still provides the main top-quality aspect that one would expect anyway: superb, well-thought out wines.

It certainly gets my stamp of approval.

This is a Simon travel pointer.

Monday, 21 February 2011

One of my favourites: Wan Chai

We live in Central Hong Kong – behind us is Victoria Peak, to the west is Sheung Wan and to our east is my favourite part of Hong Kong, the district of Wan Chai.

Wan Chai is a great mix of everything Hoingkongish. It comes with the shopping centres which this city is known for, but also creates a link between this city’s western and eastern communities. While Central has a plethora of British pubs, and Kowloon (the portion of Hong Kong which sits on the Chinese mainland) has very few, Wan Chai manages to host the most mixed crowd you’ll find here – local Cantonese, local British-sounding folks, tourists, long-term residents, people who work in banks (from executives to tea servers), those creepy old men with young Filipino girlfriends and so on, and it is because of what this district offers.

Although it is peppered with 24-hour strip clubs and a plethora of drinking establishments, the real charm of Wan Chai lies in its small cheap restaurants called cha chaan teng (which loosely translates to “tea restaurant”) where great Asian food can be found for only a few Hong Kong dollars escaping one’s wallet. There is also western food available but it is mostly of the chain variety – Subway, McDonalds etc.

Cha chaan teng generally look a bit grubby and cramped, but I am yet to be disappointed by one. There’s no fucking around when it comes to eating in these spots – no one has hung fancy tapestries all over the place or has a leatherbound menu. The menu is either a laminated piece of paper or a giant poster stuck to the wall – with a whole lot of complicated combinations (always in Cantonese, sometimes in English, often in a hodge-podge of both) which can allegedly save you money.

Usually there is enough English on the menu to work out what is going to come, but often a little understanding of how cheap restaurants work here is required – and I am not expert yet. Do not expect a vegetarian meal. Even if you order a meal without meat, it has probably been cooked in some sort of animal fat. Those of you that hate fish? Some random dishes are cooked in XO sauce. In fact, there is one cha chaan tang restaurant we often pass in Central which keeps beef brisket and some kind of sea sponge thing warm in the same pot. If a dish says “offal” avoid it like the plague - it means entrails (you may know it as innards). Outside these few points, one can eat great food for not much money.

Cha chaan teng have sparked off similar kinds of restaurants – same set up, different food. And our discovery in Wan Chai this last weekend – this post’s Serious Travel Tip – was a Filipino eatery set up like a tea restaurant in Jaffe Street, right near Wan Chai station called Mang Ambo. We had no idea what Filipino food would taste like, but for $30 each we got a grilled beef kebab (sosatie, not schwarma) with some amazing (kind of like basting, but with something awesome added) sauce on it, two kinds of beef curry, chicken and beans cooked in a peanut satay sauce, and two portions of steamed rice. If I was more of a foodie, I would be able to tell you what was in this delicious concoction of morsels. All I can tell you is that the food was superb, the waiter/chef/maitre de spoke English and talked us through another set of (labyrinthly-construed) combos which bypassed the usual guesswork involved. And did I mention that the food was good?

A stroll around the district afterwards revealed the largest and cheapest sweet-shop which I have seen in Hong Kong – a splendour of candy, chocolate, little fragments of goodness all over the place just waiting to be forced through my greedy jaws. Cafes, furniture shops, knick-knacks, some dodgy clubs and allsorts lined the streets all the way back to Queens Road before we began strolling home.

And towards Central, the roads became cleaner, the shops became classier, the buildings got higher and shiner, there was English everywhere and we couldn't afford things anymore. I missed Wan Chai from when we were about thirty metres out of it...

If you visit Hong Kong, Wan Chai is easy enough to get to. From the mainland you can take underground trains (MTR) to Central or Hong Kong Station and then change to the Island Line (the blue one) to go two stops to Wan Chai. A ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui will also bring you to Central and if you don’t fancy trains, trams or buses, it is only about a fifteen minute walk eastwards to Wan Chai, down Queens Road.

PS. Also available in Wan Chai: western egg.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

An interesting... fight with the temperature and queue-jumpers

It's been a wild few weeks. After escaping the snowy USA where my heart actually started beating slower because of the mid-winter freeze-fest, I was looking forward to getting back to the lovely, tropical, humid Hong Kong to defrost. Well, Simon Gear, Derek van Dam and their bunch of pointy weathertwit cronies played a nasty trick on me. Hong Kong is freezing. The temperature has hovered around 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit) which may sound warmer than the fortnight we pranced around northern Pennsylvania, but America actually prepares for winter.

Turns out, this city is not equipped for anything below the temperature at which you'd serve soup. Our house is as airy as a fat man after a meal of beans, but without the required warmth thereof. The wind sweeps through here and the house in its totality provides about as much protection from it as a sieve would. As we arrived back here loaded with Christmas presents but with hardly any money, a heater was a luxury in which we could only invest come pay day. So there was a three-week freeze in this house where you couldn't sit comfortably without donning a jersey, jacket, beanie and scarf while sitting beneath a duvet. I am being dead serious.

We've had three guests this year already. Michelle was the initial visitor, and her first night here - you know the one where you are supposed to be jet-lagged and tired after a 13-hour flight? Well it was an absolute shit-show. She brought two bottles of wine as a thank you present for inviting her to stay here - we chugged them down by 10.30am. The two of us then set off to explore the city and after a stroll around one of the largest shopping centres I have ever seen (I am convinced that there are more square metres of shopping space than housing in this city) we ended up on the roof of IFC which is a building (containing yet another shopping centre) on Hong Kong island - right next to a bar serving gluhwein, with a view of the skyline on Kowloon. There we sat, beneath a heater powering through our warm drinks and Peter Stuyvesants when right next to us plonked two people we'd never met before. Within three minutes the four of us had started chatting merrily away and one of the new folks, a Hongkonger who has lived in Australia for everish ended up spending the whole evening with us (and the next night, come to think of it) - she's our first proper friend in Hong Kong. The already swirlish afternoon became a cocktail-infused chaotic evening in which I distinctly remember us having our arms around each other while belting out any song we could think of. How the neighbours haven't kungfu-d us yet is beyond my comprehension.

(L to R: Michelle, Donald Duck, Me, Mike)

As all of our visitors will undergo, we dragged Michelle to Disneyland which is probably my favourite place in this city. We also dragged our second visitor, Mike's best friend Nikki, there as well and spent a night in a Disney hotel. I don't really need to describe Disneyworld to you - it's pretty much exactly what you expect. I can't do the justice that the marketing promos do. But I do find that I have way more fun there than actual children. It was even more special when we visited with Nikki as one of the rides (a slow one thank god) broke while we were on it and we had to walk through the whole thing. It's way cooler than it sounds.

We also visited Macau (some people spell it Macao) for the first time while Nikki was here and stayed over on one of the casino hotels there called The Venetian. Turns out it is the largest casino in the world, in the city that makes the most money out of casinos. Yep, Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling spot - largely due to bans on gambling in Hong Kong (where only horse-racing betting is legal) and China. And The Venetian is quite simply the biggest, brightest, over-the-top building in which I have ever found myself - it's like the size of a major European airport and makes Monte Casino seem like a dirty 5-cent coin. Even the garishly lit-up Sun Coast Casino (the second ugliest building in the world, after the SABC HQ in Jozi) can't compete with what the electricity bill for The Venetian must be. We listened to a live band, then watched the Aussie Open (which, now that I think about it, must have been a replay as we saw it at something like 2.30 in the morning and we're only 3 hours off Melbourne time) and then ate meat and noodles (the Chinese equivalent of a petrol station pie or greasy London kebab) before retiring.

The following morning we ate the best dim sum I have come across since we made the move to this part of the world. Dim sum is basically Chinese tapas (although I am sure a proper foodie could provide a better explanation than that) - lots of little morsels which are shared around the table. It does get a bit hit and miss, but you have to try to find out. Pork and cabbage dumplings - good. Stewed offal - not so much. Whoever comes to Macau with us gets dragged to this superb restaurant.

Milla, another one of Mike's buddies (but I have adopted her too) was our last guest - she was only here for two nights on her way to Bali - but we managed to squeeze in a visit to Lama island. Yadda yadda it was lovely and food was good, but one of my favourite Hong Kong experiences happened here. Now, people who live in this city have a severe inability to queue. It is a complete cluster-fuck every time any semblance or order is required (although strangely enough, not regarding queuing for buses) and as we waited to board the ferry to return back to Hong Kong island we were shunted each and every way by locals trying to get to the front of the line. Well when the gate opened and everyone tore through as if there were only three seats on the boat (there are actually about 200), officials suddenly realised they had opened the wrong gate and we all had to turn around and go the other way. So all the pushers and shovers whose manners live up their own arse got stuck at the back of the queue. Call it incredibly small and pedantic - I do not care. It is the day I got one over on Hong Kong and I very publicly and verbosely let them know as we got onto the correct ferry. However, none of them shouted back so it was far less gratifying than the commuter-rage in which I engaged back in London and Joburg, when other people let you have it in return.

Other than that, I am currently job-hunting which is going about as well as, and at the pace of, the State of the Nation address. The annual Christmas waistline increase is also yet to be conquered, but it's progressing, albeit at the pace of a blood clot.

And there's beer in the fridge. So all's well.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Hong Kong's news 10 January

Monday's edition of Hong Kong's news is generally more entertaning than the other days because the whole weekend is packed into it. As mentioned before, there is not a MASSIVE amount that goes on in this city, purely due to the fact that it is small and has a population of only 7 million people - and has virtually no gory crime (which is 60% of news in South Africa). So here is today's edition. Enjoy:

Exchange rates:
R1=HK$1.13 (Hong Kong dollar)
R1=CNY0.97 (Chinese yuan)

On Friday Legco (HK's parliament) will vote on whether the city should bid to host the 2023 Asia Games which is expected to cost the city HK$6 billion. It is expected the bid will fail though as the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reckons that it contacted enough lawmakers (30 required in a sitting of 60 (the chairman, Mr Donald Tsang Yam-kuen does not vote) who will vote against the proposal. Tsang - who is pro Hong Kong hosting the event - has gone to great lengths to assure Legco and the public that no major budgets will be affected. He said to the SCMP: "The cost of hosting the Asia Games will have no impact on government spending in areas such as education, welfare and healthcare". Well, it seems as though Mr Tsang will have an extra HK$6 billion to throw in the direction of them budgets.

Hong Kong is the world's most expensive place to trade stocks because of added and hidden fees, says ITG, an independent global broker, and this adds up to costing about a third more than what it would cost you in London or New York. For uniformity, these numbers exclude fees levied by exchanges and any taxes which vary from country to country. Lawmakers are currently debating a bill to rein in price-fixing and market power abuse which, they expect, will make the market more competitive.

As with nanny-states and tax-grabbing where any opportunity is seen, Hong Kong is due to raise the tax on cigarettes again this year hiding behing the excuse of saving everyone's health. Since they do fuck all about the air quality here, that excuse is about as effective as a piece of dental floss is at holding up scaffolding. 47% of 382 Hong Kongers asked in a survey have said they will turn to illegal cigarettes. In 2009 the tax was raised 50%. What utter kak.

USA Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, is currently meeting with Chinese officials regarding the mass expansion of their army. This worries him because, from what I can see, he thinks that only the USA should be allowed to have craploads of guns and bombs and things. Last week it was reported that China's first stealth jet, the J-20, was being tested, something Gates had gone on record saying he didn't expect until 2020 (although this is when it is expected that China will be able to mass-produce the plane). The results of this chit-chat will make some very interesting reading, particularly regarding who (the USA) will do what (back off) to assuage who (China).

China's high speed rail growth is exceeding the supply of high-quality fly ash - a substance used to strengthen the tracks and give them life for up to 100 years. The suppply of this that China can create is around 100km of rail per year, and this year alone, it is expected to lay down 4500km of track. Unfortunately there are not many other substances that can take the place of high-quality fly ash, but low-quality fly ash is the next best, and it's shit... so safety concerns are springing up all over the place.

Of all items stolen on public transport in Paris, over half are iPhones.

Thailand's "red shirts", bedonnered by the army after massive and violent protests last year are back now that the protest ban in Bangkok has been lifted . The protestors have admitted that they have learnt their lessons and will protest more peacefully and effectively from now on. These are the chaps who support Thaksin Shinawatra, the bloke who owned Manchester City before these in-chargers who happen to think that Roberto Mancini is a good manager.

There is absolutely nothing of interest on the Hong Kong sports scene. Nothing at all.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Hong Kong's news - 6 January

In the second edition of Hong Kong's news this year I shall explain to you why I changed the name of this series of posts yet again. I am not reporting merely on news about Hong Kong, but news relevant to the city - which is why there is always a lot of news regarding China. As usual, I shall be looking at the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's top-selling English newspaper, for important events which make the residents of this city happy, angsty or sad.

Bear in mind that there are only 7 million people who live here, a parliament of 60 people running the show and not a hell of a lot of space, so there aren't news events every day here like there are in SA, the UK, the USA or China.

So, here we go with today's relevant newses:

Big shit uncovered by the media: the South China Morning Post busted a construction company last month of dumping rubbish on farmland. Due to the lack of space in this city, dumping is a strictly controlled activity and comanies get in huge kak if they don't do it properly. Chinachem, the company responsible has fired the subcontractor which dealt with its waste and will now deposit all into government controlled disposal sites which are far more staunchly regulated.

The greenies will love it: the environment minister, Edward Yau Tang-wah has warned that there will soon be a charge implemented for waste disposal (as in rubbish, not toilet contents) to encourage Hongkongers to recycle. This city is so rich that I would imagine it will only be poor people who will have to begin doing it. The wealthy will just pay the fee.

Even though city coffers are full and surpluses are above all expectations, no tax breaks or freebies are expected to be handed out at the budget announcement next month. An expected deficit of HK$25 billion has become a surplus of around HK$17 billion and annual predictions are aiming at a HK$60 billion surplus. (Exchange rate today: R1=HK$1.15)

In the modern age, propagnda is slightly harder than it used to be as the Chinese government found out recently. President Hu Jintao went off to visit a single mother, Gua Chinping, in Beijing on 29 December to highlight the government caring for the poor and needy - you know, like Jacob Zuma walking through Sweetwaters. Well, the broadcast of this woman in her government-subsidised flat went out on 30 December and was immediately met with controversy and outrage. Gua informed the cameras that the flat only cost her 77 yuan a month (similar flats cost between 2000 yuan and 2500 yuan (similar value to rands) and online audiences claimed she worked in the Chaoyang District traffic police. As far as the population is concerned, the entire episode was staged.

A rumour is being thrown around Beijing that a law may come into effect granting neglected elderly folks the right to sue their children if they don't visit a minimum number of times. There are 167 million Chinese people over the age of 60, so the lawyers could be kept quite busy.

A clampdown on bigamy in China has begun. The paper doesn't say how widespread this issue is, but Shanghai, Beijing and Shaanxi provinces are going to pool their records this year with the intention of having a national database by 2015. According to the ever-reliable Durex Sex Survey, only 15% of Chinese folks have extra-marital affairs which is 7 percentage points lower than the international average of 22%.

North Korea has told anyone who will isten that it is ready to talk and mend ties with the people it shot rockets at a month ago.

China's top female tennis player, Li Na, lost in straight sets to World Number 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Hong Kong Classic last night after stuffing a 3-0 second set advantage. She lost the second set 6-3 so she duffed six consecutive games.

Ian Botham has accused Phillip Hughes of being a cheat after he appealed for a catch off Alastair Cook yesterday which the third umpire ruled not out - which has happened about 300 times in cricket in the past few years and is really a storm in a teacup (or wineglass for Beefy).

Far East fakery - that can kill.

Outside property prices (also known as the inability for poor Hongkongers to live anywhere) a major social problem in this city is the prevalence of fake medicines. While the Far East may be better known for its region-wide plethora of counterfeit DVDs and handbags, dodgy pharmaceuticals are a far more lucrative industry with up to 100 times the profit to solve erection and obesity issues than films and fashion accessories – so says the South China Morning Post (SCMP) with some facts backed up by (South Africa's) The Daily Maverick.

Unfortunately, counterfeit pharmaceuticals carry a higher risk than other fake products as they can directly or indirectly kill people, yet the sentences for the trade of both sets of goods are pretty similar. Hong Kong, usually, does not screw around when it comes to prosecution sentencing: for example, shop lifting will earn you a ten-year trip to Lantau Island, which is lovely, but not from the inside of a cell housed in one of the three city jails there.

According to the SCMP, neighbour China is a proven producer of such fakery and unfortunately, Hong Kong is a transit point (it is the third largest shipping port in the world) and destination for these. Between January and the end of November 2010 Hong Kong customs confiscated over 55 000 pieces of merchandise valued at over HK$5 million and dished out fines and sentences to 24 companies (fines ranging from HK$1000 to HK$200 000 and sentences from 30 days to 2 years). Public opinion decrees this less of a deterrent than required, as the money to be made often exceeds that of drug shipments, with less risk.

The article from which I gleaned this info also says that people affected by fake drugs will struggle to sue as the law has set up a legal minefield with everyone able to blame someone else. It’s going to be like trying to get money back from an airline who cancelled your flight who blames the airport which blames the weather who blames the CAA for deciding when planes can and can’t take off. So legal recourse to nail the people who swing you fake drugs is virtually impossible.

(This is where I get to smile and brag now.) On 30 July last year, Mandy de Waal, writing for The Daily Maverick put together a piece about a Nigerian innovation through a company called mPedigree which helped patients to differentiate between fake medicines and real ones using an SMS-based system. While this may not nail perpetrators, forcibly stop the influx of fake medicines or offer compensation to victims, it does offer means to prevent false drugs from being ingested – thereby removing the problem entirely, should the solution be spread far enough and wide enough. If this SMS system is spreads successfully, everyone should be able to check their medicines against it and the market should therefore disrupt the success and profitability of illegitimate medication. The success of this system in Nigeria got to the point where now all medicine sold in the country must comply with this system. de Waal’s article says that it is now spreading into neighbouring countries with Ghana looking like the next to adopt it.

Goodbye fake medicine.

It’s nice to see Africa a step ahead, eh?

South China Morning Post: Action on fake medicine does not go far enough (paywall)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Hong Kong's news 5 January

After a disruptive month where I have been flitting around the world at my own bankrupting expense, it's about time I get stuck back into good old Hong Kong affairs, so here is your first edition of Hong Kong news in 2011, courtesy of the South China Morning Post (paywall).

This is the lead picture on the front page. Hurlworthy.

It is indeed what you think. This pic was taken of a beach in New Zealand. Those shadows are sharks. Between the bathers and the shore. Vom.

Onto news:

Hong Kong officials are struggling to stave off an imminent waste disposal crisis. Basically, there is no space in this city to throw away the rubbish. A few months ago Legco (HK's parliament) decided to reduce the size of one of the parks to develop a waste disposal site, but this was overturned without a new solution being mooted (well done, greenies). So more stuff is being thrown away by Hongkongers with nowhere for it to go. In a city with no space, that's problematic.

Hong Kong has a new police chief called Andy Tsang Wai-hung. This appointment is notable because he actually has a long and respected career as an investigative officer. Weird how sometimes is it experts in the field, rather than politicians, who are elected to top jobs. The appointment needs to be ratified by Beijing but this is expected to be a formality.

China's new stealth fighter jet, the J-20 will undergo test flights within the next few days in Chengdu, if weather permits. This is earlier than the Western World expected (much like the conquering of the economic world by China - do no politicians read the newspaper?), with US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, going on record previously saying that China would have "no fifth-generation [military] aircraft by 2020". Although it is expected to take at least ten years until China can mass-produce the plane.

2000 university students were asked to select China's top cultural symbol. The top five picked were Chinese characters (as in writing) which was voted number one, followed by (in random order) Confucius, calligraphy, the national flag and the Great Wall.

The Chinese economic planning agency has outlawed "price-fixing by monopolies" - so now we have yet another country in which these laws will be ignored. The words used in the SCMP seem to indicate a distaste for big business. Saying "monopolies" in that glib quote I used above seems to be incorrect - they should have said "businesses" or "industry-leading companies" methinks. The language indicates bias.

If you wonder whether the shitfest over the Victory Mosque built at Ground Zero was the type of ridiculous incident that only went on in the West, think again. Confucianists who live in the former philosopher's home town of Qufu are up in arms because a Christian church is being built there, allegedly disrespecting/insulting Mr Confucius. Confusianists insist that if a temple of their own was built in Jerusalem, Mecca or the Vatican the local governments and people would not allow it. Truly conservative religious people... well there's not much to pick between them, is there?

Iran has invited a whole lot of countries around the world - including China - to come and inspect its nuclear sites (which it insists are for energy and not weaponry) before a meeting with the UN Security Council next month. From what this article says, it looks as if the USA, Britain, France and Germany have not received invitations. (Probable reasons include the fact that the USA and Iran don't smaak each other for shit, Britain agrees with everything the USA does, France hates burkhas and Angela Merkel refuses to wear one.)

Australians affected by the flooding in Queensland are being warned to stay out of the ubiquitous water for reasons other than being swept away: snakes and crocodiles which usually inhabit the river outside the city have been swept into it. As if normal flooding doesn't cause enough problems. More rain is expected tonight.

A swimming pool and sports track (which I take to mean athletics) in Wan Chai will be moved for the new high-speed rail between Hong Kong and the closest Chinese city of note: Shenzhen. The government says that these will be rebuilt but I would like to see where in Hong Kong the leftover space for these two facilities is.

Mitchell Johnson, the Australian cricketer, is pissed at the UDRS (Umpire Decision Referral System) because Alistair Cook, caught at mid-on after skying a shot off Michael Beer was given not out after the TV umpire reversed the decision because Beer had bowled a no-ball. Yes, Johnson hates the system because a player was correctly given not out. Huge failing of the system, isn't it? Idiot.