A Travellerspoint blog

Week 5 - Teaching

Fifth entry of my year in Hong Kong. Stressful but rewarding week of work and a day at the TST Waterfront.

sunny 32 °C
View Bham->Dam->HK on David Zhao's travel map.

Posted on 30th August 2020

Huge thanks to Dr and Mrs Holliday for awarding me the Nick Holliday Travel Scholarship, in memory of their son Nick who was a geography teacher at KES. He was an avid traveller, explorer and climber, and died tragically in a climbing accident doing what he loved. The Scholarship helps fund the travels of KES students who aspire to travel, which I am sure Nick would be very proud of.

Turns out being a teacher isn't easy after all. Spent Mon-Fri helping Year 1s and 2s with their work from 8am-4pm (school still closed, but teachers living onsite have kids who need looking-after). Physically and mentally exhausting, physically due to always being on our feet as well as how much energy they somehow have. Mentally because of the type of problems we have to deal with - trivial and yet exhausting - such as five kids clicking 'Join without audio' before all putting their hands up and asking why they can't hear anything on their Zoom meeting. Each day we had a break at 2:30pm where the six of us Gap Tutors would have fifteen minutes to ourselves. On Friday the Head of Sport came into our classroom to ask us something, only to find us all passed out at our desks. Very stressful running about and attending to trivial problems every few minutes, though extremely rewarding and a good learning experience. Highlight was being an officiator of Splat; one of the Gap Tutors clearly wasn't very successful when he was younger, having to win a round against the Year 2s to address his childhood trauma.

Saw a praying mantis on school campus, first time I'd ever seen one. Bright lime green and the size of a slice of bread. Didn't understand why they'd included an insect as one of the Furious Five in Kung Fu Panda, though seeing it in person has answered that question for me; they look seriously dangerous. Saw a much smaller one a few days later that was ridiculously quick and could hover. Yikes. Slowly getting used to local wildlife, a key part of becoming one with the locals. Mini geckos, frogs and dragonflies are everywhere which are cute. Can't say the same about the cockroaches unfortunately.
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Local insects and animals in HK

Didn't do much on Friday or Saturday due to exhaustion. Went to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on Sunday. Most of HK is connected to mainland China, but there are numerous islands off the coast, one of which is Hong Kong Island. Central - the place I went to last week and the most expensive in HK - is on HK Island. The area on the mainland closest to Central is Tsim Sha Tsui [see map]. Along the TST waterfront there are many restaurants, bars and shopping malls, and the view looking across at Central is beautiful.
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Tsim Sha Tsui and Central location

Had a quality meal at a seafood restaurant, serving fresh crab, clams and salmon. Pints were £6, which is actually cheap for HK. Then went to a shopping mall called K11. Similar to the Ministry of Magic or Lothlorien on the inside; don't really know how else to describe it. Most expensive mall I've ever been to. Shop called DrivePro selling weird stuff like a full-sized metal astronaut and an old fighter-jet seat with a functional eject handle, both selling for over £5000. The fact they are renting a store in that mall selling luxury jewellery, watches and clothing shows they actually have customers, which baffles me considering the stuff they sell seems completely useless. Also found a drinks store selling old bottles of Chinese whiskey, with the most expensive bottle going for around £28,000.
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Outside and inside of K11 mall, located along TST waterfront
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Drivepro products and £28,000 whiskey, K11 mall
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Lads at the TST waterfront

5% of HK's population is comprised of Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs). 200,000 Filipino, 200,000 Indonesian and 4,000 Thai helpers reside in HK. They are essentially full-time nannies; they cook, clean and look after children. People - especially parents - hire them because they are cheaper than childcare and cleaning services. The main reason so many people apply to be an FDH is because of the work permit, allowing them to stay in HK for two years, though people can renew the contract at the end of this period meaning they often stay for longer. They are also looked after to an extent, with legislations such as minimum wage, free accommodation and free food/food allowance provision in place. FDHs collected at least half of the kids we looked after from school this week. They have every Sunday off, and congregate and relax in TST and Central, usually in the same place each week so you can find sheltered walkways and underpasses fully occupied by FDHs. Just a little cultural anecdote.
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Overpass in Central where FDHs gather

Watched the lights show in Central in the evening. Many of the skyscrapers have coloured lasers and beam lights, and they put on a show every evening. Can't imagine what the electricity bill would be. Very cool though. Good thing about HK is public transport is ridiculously cheap. Fifty minute train journey to TST costs £1.70 whilst the bus is around 60p for as many stops as you want.
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Lights show in Central, watched from TST

Some good news and certainty finally. Government announced that schools will reopen on 23rd September. Means we only have to plan our own meals and cooking for three more weeks, and also we'll be doing the jobs we signed up for sooner rather than later. Only just announced today [Monday], so if I posted yesterday like I was supposed to then this wouldn't have been included. Everything happens for a reason. Very excited for things to go back to 'normal' in three weeks (temperature testing, masks and social distancing will still be required in school). Hopefully this means that travel regulations will be loosened before long as well. Ideally want to spend October half-term outside of HK.

Dave

Posted by David Zhao 13:27 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged work

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