Old Hong Kong Money

I’ve been saving up some old Hong Kong money for a while and today I finally decided to photograph and post them here. First up, we have a $10 bill from 1994, printed by Standard Chartered:

Hong Kong $10 - 1994

Hong Kong $10 - 1994

In Hong Kong, different banks can print the same denomination bill with different designs. Generally, the color is the same, but it can sometimes be confusing (i.e 50s and 20s are similar in appearance and people often mix them up). Anyhow, I noticed this bill because it is green (the old color for $10 bills) and because it is paper. Today’s bills are purple and plastic.

Next up, we have some coins, all minted with Queen Elizabeth’s portrait on them:

Hong Kong QE 50-Cent Coins

50-cent coins – heads

Hong Kong QE 50-Cent Coins

50-cent coins – tails

I seem to encounter the old 50-cent coins the most. 20-cent coins are pretty common as well, to the point that I’ve stopped collecting them:

Hong Kong QE 20-Cent Coins

20-cent coins – heads

Hong Kong QE 20-Cent Coins

20-cent coins – tails

Lastly, we have the 1-dollar coins. In my experience, these are few and far between:

Hong Kong QE 1-Dollar Coins

1-dollar coins – heads

Hong Kong QE 1-Dollar Coins

1-dollar coins – tails

These are the coins I remember from my childhood. By the time we came back to Hong Kong in the 90s after first moving to America, the decommissioning of these coins had already begun. Obviously, a special administrative region of China cannot have Queen Elizabeth’s portrait on its currency, so they’ve replaced it with Hong Kong’s flower, Bauhinia blakeana (it’s also on Hong Kong’s flag).

I’m trying to get lean again so I’ll be putting these coins and the bill back into circulation. Now that they’re in the museum, I’ll just view this post whenever I need an old HK money fix. Hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post.

Rice Cooker Roast Chicken

Rice Cooker Roast Chicken

Rice Cooker Roast Chicken – September 16, 2013

The rice cooker is a versatile appliance. We squeezed in half a small chicken, a potato, and a carrot and set the cooker to “cake” for 30 minutes, putting the skin side down for the final 10 to get a nice browning. The veggies got a nice roasting in chicken fat and juice. Health-wise it’s not something I’d eat every day, but every so often it’s a super delicious meal, unbelievable with rice.

11 Patience-Challenging Commuters

After almost a month of taking Hong Kong public transportation to work, I’ve encountered my fair share of fellow commuters. Below are eleven that have challenged my patience these past four weeks. Please note that some of these challenges might only apply to Hong Kong, one of the densest cities in the world, where even walking space becomes a premium at times.

  • The Swordsman – swordsmen (and swordswomen) hold their umbrellas at an angle like a sheathed sword, effectively increasing the foot-space they occupy. Sometimes the sword is behind, sometimes the sword is to the side. Particularly challenging when trying to walk past them on an escalator.
  • The Cloud – these are the ladies and gentlemen who olfactorily determine the amount of fragrance they use. What they’re unaware of is that they’ve become desensitized and end up using much more than is necessary, thereby creating a noxious cloud around themselves.
  • The Enforcer – these people start off standing on the right side of the escalator (kudos to them for that), but then they inexplicably cut into the left side and walk slower than through traffic, like a traffic cop enforcing the limit.
  • The Ashtray – these poor saps can’t get through a day without smoking multiple packs, and they advertise this through their clothes, their hair, their breath, and maybe even their pores. Some are so bad that I actually cough when I’m near one. Strangely, in HK it’s usually men.
  • The Rubbernecker – these folks crane their necks to look at something behind them while walking forward (remember that in Hong Kong, it’s barely possible to walk two feet without coming into contact with another person). The ones who continually look down at their devices while walking are a related species.
  • The Procrastinator – they walk up to the turnstile, stop, hold up the people behind them, keep a straight face, and then pull out their ticket/Octopus. Because they actually entered the station, went down multiple flights of stairs/escalators, and braved the crowds without planning to actually take the train.
  • The Senior – one day it’s going to be me, I know, but I hope that at least I’ll be aware enough to know that I’ve slowed down. Nothing wrong with talking on the cell phone if you keep pace with everyone else, but if you’re old and already walking at half-speed, talking on the phone brings you down to quarter-speed.
  • The Blocker – blockers get on a semi-crowded train (with plenty of room inside the compartment) and inexplicably stop right in the doorway. Meanwhile, those trying to get on have to choose between pushing their way past or waiting for the next train.
  • The Sitter – there’s no rule that says someone must get up for someone in need, but it sure would be nice if otherwise able-bodied people ceded their seat to pregnant ladies, seniors, or the disabled. The worst is when they look up and see someone in need, then go back to their device.
  • The Contrarian – in areas of clearly marked directions of traffic, contrarians take the opposite route. On escalators, they stand on the left.
  • The Ombrophobe – in case you didn’t know, ombrophobia is the fear of rain. No disrespect meant to real ombrophobes, but the ultimate in selfish, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-my-fellow-man behavior is when it’s raining and you’re both walking towards each other close to a building and under a ledge, and the person with the umbrella forces you, clearly without one, into the rain.

I’m proud to say that my patience has mostly remained intact despite encountering many of these commuters on a daily basis. I realize that these are just people being people, and that it’s easier and more natural to think only of ourselves. But maybe, if we just thought about others a little more, our commutes as well as our daily interactions with each other would be a lot more pleasant.


Friday morning’s torrential rain reminded me of staying at my father’s house back in the summer of ’96. Relative to most other homes in Hong Kong, my father’s was remote and close to the woods. It was like a rainforest, and hearing the rush of the rain that morning I pictured the hot and steamy mountainside behind his house.

Recently I saw my father’s home on TV. It appeared on one of the nightly dramas. In its current form, the place is now a senior home, and I was reminded that if my father were alive today, he’d already be well into his 60s. It’s kind of hard to fathom. The picture I’ve had in my mind of my father for the past 18 years is how he appeared before he died, how he appeared when we spent those summer nights at his place.

As I watch my mother, grandmother, aunts, and uncles age, a selfish side of me thinks that it was fortunate that my father died before his 50s. Because he did, I don’t have to watch him grow old, watch him deteroriate, or watch him lose his marbles. Although it is a part of life, it is difficult to watch loved ones getting old, knowing that one day they’ll probably leave this earth before you do.

That’s one way to look at it, of course. Another way to look at it is that I’ve missed out on having my father be a part of my life for the past 18 years. Graduating college, getting a job, buying a car, getting married – these are all things my dad would probably have been happy to see. I probably could have used his guidance over the years, and my life probably would be different today if he had been alive.

As humans, our destiny is to be born, to live some duration of time, and then to die. Everybody gets one turn. I wonder if the world would be a happier place if this fact was continually hammered into each and every person. Knowing that I could die tomorrow, maybe I won’t waste my time finding fault with others. Knowing that I could die tomorrow, maybe I’ll skip typing that last email and go home to JC.

Since I can’t control how others behave, I’ll live my own life in this manner. We each get one turn, and what we do with it today will determine what we think at the end. I’ll continue to do what I want to do without infringing on others, and hopefully at the end, regardless of when it happens, whether it’s inside the flash of a split-second or a long, drawn-out departure, what I think will be that I’m glad I lived my life the way I wanted to.

Birds of a Feather


Following the flock – June 26, 2012

After a long day of cleaning my room and throwing shit out, I went up to the roof to relax a bit and enjoy the last vestiges of the day. That was just a little over two years ago. I had some fun following the birds with my camera. They flew with much speed from right to left, then left to right, over and over. I wonder what they were doing?

Homecooked Meal – June 15, 2007

This is a meal from 7 years ago that I remembered after going through some videos from that time period. 2007 was the first time I came to Hong Kong on my own, and I spent quite a few evenings at my aunt’s house eating homecooked meals. This one was a four-disher:

Chicken Wings Braised with Carrots and Potatoes

Chicken Wings Braised with Carrots and Potatoes

Choy Sum with Fish

Choy Sum with Fish – I thought it was chicken at first!

Steamed Pork Cake

Steamed Pork Cake – the old standby

Steamed Chicken Eggs with Preserved Duck Eggs

Steamed Chicken Eggs with Preserved Duck Eggs

And finally, the full ensemble:

Family Dinner

A nice family-style dinner, the only kind of dinner at my aunt’s house

I get hungry just looking at these photos. Enjoy!


Garlic Spinach

Spinach lightly sauteed with garlic – February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day, 2012: we had a really fancy dinner with steak (grass-fed beef), wine, mashed potatoes, and this, a lightly sauteed baby spinach. This photo has always caught my eye when I’ve seen it, so when it went past on my slideshow just now, I finally posted it.