Here is an interview I did for Radio Lantau a couple of weeks ago, with Edward Bunker from Mui Wo. Every single person I told this to said the same: “Oh, he’s lovely!” Not a →
Can you learn Cantonese from a book? I would say no, not least because of the crazy spelling that bear little or no resemblance to the sound of the words. Can you indeed learn any →
It’s so much fun to have friends visiting Hong Kong, especially when the day they arrive kicks off a week of unprecedented beautiful weather! I shouldn’t say unprecedented; the weather was probably like this every →
I’m just about to write my last column ever for South China Morning Post; ever! When I was told the page would be discontinued, I was so sad. How now would I be able to →
Hello everybody, welcome to my roof! I normally arrange Sichuan dinners and lunches there, but this time it doubled as a recording studio for the best Cantonese news currently available on cassette! (And telex.) Talking →
A couple of weeks ago I interviewed the beautiful and delightful Zein Williams, mother of three and tireless champion for the Nepali people about her life and work – with the earthquake victims especially – →
Oh Cassette! Two weeks ago we went up to Guangzhou to see him live in his stand-up glory at a place called… Panda something? No! Paddyfield, an Irish pub right behind the Garden Hotel. Cassette →
I’m not a property owner but even if I were,I think I would still find it difficult to fathom how, when someone looks at the above vista, he thinks: I can dump a lot of →
Just for the record, in the first sentence of this column I wrote “.. black family that has – gasp – managed to become middle class and live in a posh neighbourhood.” I think the →
Above: BEFORE. Halcyon days of yore, etc. A part of the interlinked Pui O wetlands in 2012. A lovely, lush vista scattered with grazing water buffalo, egrets, starlings and other creatures, even fish have seen →
Guangzhou used to be my favourite city with its leafy streets, car-less alleys and languidly flowing river whose name, Pearl, also gave itself to an excellent beer, 珠江啤酒 (jyu gong beh jau – Pearl River Beer-alcohol, in Cantonese normally known as 珠啤,(jyu beh).
I especially loved the narrow little lanes with their beautiful white-washed one- or two storey houses with particularly spectacular doors:
This weekend I did a lot of walking around these back streets just north of 沙面島(Sa Min Dou – Sand Face Island, which was the only place foreigners were allowed to live in the late 1800s) and although the houses haven’t yet been razed to the ground and turned into a six-lane highway, almost all the wooden doors are gone, replaced by the kind of metal doors that a high security prison in North Korea would drool with envy to even look at.
And most of the walls, with their distinctive white contrasting the brown wooden door-and window frames, have been tiled with crap brown and orange tiles. It hurts me in my eyes and heart!
Meanwhile high-rises and highways are eating their way into the beautiful centre of Guangzhou. What a metaphor for what they are doing to Cantonese, right here in the very cradle of the Cantonese language. But more about that tomorrow.
騎樓 (keh lou – riding houses, traditional small Guangzhou buildings.)
By the way, talk about metaphor: This time the real Pearl River Beer was nowhere to be found; only its weaker, less tasty ‘lite’ cousin with a boring label and boring taste. There was no real 青島(cheng dou – green island “Tsingtao”) either. Just the ‘lite’ stuff. I hate the ‘lite’ stuff! Metaphorically and physically!
The other day, one of my Cantonese students said to me (no name; in fact there are depressingly many people who now have the same mindset, which helps the misconception to become true) “Well, it’s →
Saturday night! What a brilliant night. Above is the table just before the hordes (12 people) started pouring in. I hosted, cooked Sichuan food for and expressed my life through the medium of dance (optional) →
Interview with Chris Riley, owner of the excellent Water Buffalo restaurant in Pui O. Now you don’t have to travel to Inner Lancashire to experience real English food, and ale, and pale brewish ale and →
Last weekend a group of three ecstatic revellers hopped on the ferry to Jung Saan (Zhongshan) and got straight in a taxi at the ferry pier and darted into the hinterland. In the lovely, slightly →
Guangdong is the best province in China, and not because of Cantonese! It’s got the friendliest people and the best hovelage. And today I’m off to savour her charms again! I just thought I’d share →
Last night I had a wonderful time in Central with my friend formerly known as J. Yes, I said ‘formerly’! For that was her name in the many South China Morning Post columns she appeared →
What does this photo of an excellent and ridiculously inexpensive haircut have to do with CantoNews? Nothing! I just like it. In this segment, the venerable Cassette and I visit the Garden Cafe in Pui →
I always have a good time in Shenzhen’s famed Lo Wu Shopping Centre, even after several hours of “missy missy looking, you buy sunglass okay.” Still, I could really do with less nagging. My student →
As I was looking through my old columns from South China Morning Post trying to get some other newspaper gigs (do newspapers even exist anymore?) I found the above story from Norway. Allowed only 450 →
Listen to the interview with famous Lantau author Jane Huong who isn’t Vietnamese or Malaysian, but married to a Hong Kong guy who wanted to spell his surname (Hung) differently from the herd. And talking →
IMPORTANT!!! When you click on the link, scroll down to the alphabetical archive and click on C. Then you’ll see both my programmes. This isn’t strictly about Cantonese and it certainly isn’t about me, but →
All good things come to an end, apparently. Even life! Yes, compared to dying, losing a twice-monthly column in an increasingly obscure Asian newspaper is certainly a small thing. But oh! I loved that column. →
It’s up and running on Radio Lantau – CantoNews 2! The sequel! No, just the second programme in Cecilie and Nick’s Cantonese course, the finest course currently available on cassette. http://radiolantau.com/programme-archive/cantonews/C/7-cecilie-gamst-berg/4-cantonews/60-cantonews-2 This time we discuss →
I must write about Lantau again, because yesterday I interviewed Merrin Pearse, the leader of LIM (Living Islands Movement) whose introduction to the government’s “vision” for Lantau’s and therefore the people of Hong Kong’s future →
Ohhh this has been a long time coming! I didn’t realise how much I’d been missing Naked Cantonese and ah-Sa (mine co-host of yore) before I started to make podcasts – properly – again only →
Have you had it? Who hasn’t? Shitty province. But I kind of love it!
In the column below I bemoan the fact that my first Inner Guangdong town, (where I coined the phrase ‘hovelage’ – excellent traditional Chinese architecture made to last but a little careworn) has become a →
Ever since my friend suggested I should teach Mandarin (NEVER!!! Down with simplified characters and cultural imperialism!) new Cantonese students have been pouring in. There was something about making a decision, having a goal in →
Are you a woman? Caucasian or Caucasian with benefits? Do you live in Hong Kong? Then you may have referred to yourself at some point as “Gwailou”. Guess what, you’re not. Only men can be →
Last month I was feeling a little down in the dumps; I felt that life was a cruel joke and nothing was going my way. For a while I didn’t even have that old chestnut, →