October 2013
October 2013
Budget busters
Where’s your money going?
Food fights
Exorbitant grocery bills
Managing your estate
Halloween spooktacular: Check out our scary, but sweet, treats inside!
Tracey Starr
t: 2201 9710
e:[email protected]
PUBLIcations director
Jo Allum
t: 2201 9719
e:[email protected]
Florence Choy Wan
t: 2201 9721
e:[email protected]
Narelle Edwards
e:[email protected]
Vanisha Khem
t: 2201 9724
e:[email protected]
Zara Horner
Zara is a true survivor. Born in the ’60s to parents
who smoked, had never heard of seat belts
and believed brandy really was the answer,
she grew up in London in the ’70s, danced to
Wham and Spandau Ballet in the ’80s, and
was fearless enough to go to a university in the north of England despite
being a southerner. Various PR and marketing jobs led her to journalism
more years ago than she cares to remember. Having proved her mettle
in the UK, she moved to Australia in the early '90s, living and working in the
best part: Brisbane. In 2002, she moved to Hong Kong and continued to
work as a journalist, but added personal trainer and fitness instructor to her
qualifications. Zara now splits her year between Hong Kong and Brisbane.
Art Director
Charlotte Chandler
senior Designer
Leon Fok
Graphic Designer
Eman Lam
Layout Artist
Tania Ho
David Tait
t: 2201 9727
e:[email protected]
Marie Teather
Marie grew up in a former industrial town in north
England and, after graduating from university,
had a choice: Go home and do what? Or, join
the so-called rat race in London. Instead, she
packed a suitcase and moved to Japan for “just
one year,” which became seven. Following her
love of news, Marie pursued a career in journalism, which has seen her hold
editorial positions at the South China Morning Post and Haute Living, and been
commissioned for The Telegraph, Daily Express, CNN, Quintessentially Asia
and numerous luxury lifestyle magazines. She has moved 11 times in the last
12 years, in places including Japan, the UK and now Hong Kong. Marie is now
mum to eight-month-old Milo, and lives with her husband and their incredibly
timid but jet-setting cat, Elbe, in Discovery Bay.
FOR Subscriptions & Distribution t: 2201 9716
CONTRIBUTORS: Melanie Adamson; Belinda Bath; Orla Breeze;
Brooke Chenoweth; Rennie Fensham; Zara Horner; Sonia
Jackson; Gillian Johnston; Annabel Karmel; Ingrid Keneally;
Rachel Kenney; Elle Kwan; Katie McGregor; Jill Mortensen; Nic
Parker; Melanie Potgieter; Marie Teather; Nury Vittachi
Published by:
PPP Company Ltd, Unit 713, Level 7, Core E
Cyberport 3, 100 Cyberport Road
Cyberport, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2201 9716
PRINTED by: Paramount Printing Company Ltd. in Hong Kong
ISSN 1726-183X
Published by PPP Company Limited. The publication is sold on the understanding that the publisher, advertisers,
contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors or omissions taken
on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their
employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a purchaser of the publication or
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will result in immediate legal proceedings.
October 2013
Tracey and models Tara
and Nuala
as getting back into the swing of a post-summer routine been as difficult at your house as it
has been at mine? After a few
lazy, playful weeks, everything suddenly seems a bit
manic and important. Perhaps I haven’t made things any easier for us by opting to focus this
issue on finances – a topic that’s certainly caused more than its fair share of stress for families!
But, as stressful or unpleasant as thinking about finances can be, money matters, and we’ve
done our best to bring you stories that are particularly relevant for families in Hong Kong. Do you have a
will? Does it spell out the exact guardianship procedures for your children in the event of your and your
partner’s untimely passing? Without one, you’re leaving your kids’ fates in the hands of the state! Do you
know exactly how much money’s coming in – and going out – each month? There are easy ways to start
budgeting better. What do you want your kids to know about money? And when’s the right time to
start discussing it with them? You’ll find expert advice on all of that inside.
On a much lighter note, the Playtimes family has grown a bit over the summer. Writer Angela
Baura and her husband welcomed baby
boy Dhilan into their family on 30 August. Mum, Dad, and his
two big sisters couldn’t be happier. Chef Priscilla Soligo and her husband brought baby girl Mya into
the world on 20 August. Big brother Luca is already proving to be a great caretaker and playmate. And
we’re delighted to welcome new art director Charlotte Chandler – a mum of three herself – to our team.
Good news all around!
Thanks for reading,
Tracey Starr, Editor-in-Chief
How do we look?
Do you love the mag? Do you have ideas for topics that you’d like to see us cover? Now’s your chance
to tell us what you think by taking our reader survey. Visit
Thanks in advance for sharing your time and opinions with us!
reg_letter from editor.indd 2
24/09/2013 7:29 PM
October 2013
mini money
Going it
Readers’ thoughts on timely topics
A look at what’s going on this month
Stop your spending, implores one mum.
Stylish and safe carriers for wearing your
Hip new shops, services and products
Relevant news from around the world
Ideas and products for greener living
Belinda Bath
23 BEAUTY 101
Top tips for looking your best
If your baby seems to hold her head to one
side or have limited neck movements, a
common condition might be to blame.
Toys that teach and amuse
Perfect picks for reading together
baby about town
Want to be a travel writer? Here’s your chance!
See something you like? We’ll tell you where
to get it.
Toy Box
pg 31
pg 33
Eco Hero
pg 21
October 2013
and share alike
more care
less cash
Tackle the family budget, once and for all.
Set your kids up for financial freedom
by getting them thinking about money
early on.
If you have a big family, then you surely
know the pain of exorbitant grocery bills.
Is it possible to feed a tribe in Hong
Kong without breaking the bank?
Writing a will doesn’t have to be a painful
experience, and the peace of mind it
brings is well worth the time and effort.
Are the glory days of the high-paying,
all-inclusive expat package behind us?
Just about 100,000 of Hong Kong’s
children are growing up in a singleparent household. What's it like for
parents who fly solo?
In a city known for high prices, a
mother’s crucial postnatal health
services are – surprisingly – free.
From accommodation to cars,
the internet is turning us from
consumers into providers and
challenging established
business models.
In the right hands, sound waves and
radiofrequency can enhance looks
without ruining the canvas.
This month, the world will celebrate
International Babywearing Week. We
examine the burdens and bonuses of
travelling with a baby on board.
Amid China’s incredible forward
propulsion lies a peaceful corner that
fuses the country’s past and present.
This Halloween, we’re dressing up as
ghosts and making some ghoulish goodies.
Peek inside one Hong Kong family’s home.
All through the year, legendary figures
keep society’s cash moving, writes
father-of-three Nury Vittachi.
T h e
h o tt e s t
Chiropractor Michelle Zhou explains
how to choose the right baby carrier to
properly support your baby’s spine, at
Tiny Footprints,
h a p p e n i n g s
IMI presents a free
seminar about
vaccinations, by Graeme
Bradshaw and Dr Barry
Decker, for parents in
Discovery Bay. To book,
call 2523 7121, or email
[email protected]
a r o u n d
t o w n
Caroline Rhodes, physiotherapist,
craniosacral therapist and founder of The
Body Group, explains the importance of
proper alignment of the pelvis, spine and
cranial bones in babies, at Tiny Footprints,
Playtimes columnist and parenting
coach Orla Breeze presents her popular
workshops, Mommy 101 and Daddy
101, for expectant parents, at The
David de Lacy Staunton from Capstone
Financial Group will discuss wills,
guardianship and insurance needs for
families, including a new website for
comparing your options,
At Tiny Footprints in Central,
SHK Private and Top Schools
host a seminar on education
planning, including finding a
place and paying for it. To book,
email [email protected], or click
Halloween disco
Join the candy hunt with live music,
dancing and creative parent-and-child
activities, all at RockAbaby’s Saving the
Candy World Halloween disco party.
Email [email protected]
2/11School Fair
This year’s Hong Lok Yuen School Fair
promises to be bigger and better than ever,
with new stalls and entertainment for the
whole family. Click
Pitter patter
Looking for a unique gift for the grandparents or a precious
keepsake from your baby's early years? Cindy Lam is delighted
to share her enthusiasm and passion for bronzed baby shoes
with you. The baby shoes are bronzed in the UK and, with
good care, can last many years. Is there any better way to
capture and cherish unforgettable memories of your baby’s
first walking experiences, for generations to come? Email
[email protected], or call 9389 7190 to learn more.
Brilliant beanie
Tortle is the only medical beanie patented and US FDA-cleared to
help prevent flat head syndrome. This beanie is a simple solution
that travels with the baby from car seat, bouncer, swing, stroller and
bassinet. Dr Jane, a Colorado-based paediatrician and mother
of four, invented the cost-effective and stylish Tortle, which is best
used from birth to six months. Stockists include Bumps to Babes and
Rainbow Care Centre. Three lucky readers will each win a Tortle
(worth $179) for their wee one. Email [email protected] by
31 October and include “Win Tortle” in the subject line.
hot off the press
Pamper & play
We all know that looking after children can be exhausting,
and mums often forget to look after themselves as well.
Rainbow Pamper House has come to the rescue! Take a
break and have an organic lymphatic hand/neck/shoulder
massage while your child has fun exploring their three-floor
playhouse, including a play structure designed to develop
hand-eye coordination and encourage role playing
and imaginative activities. It is also the perfect place to
hold your child’s birthday party. Call 2389 6963, or email
[email protected]
Bang for your buck
Seedling’s new Pocket Money Collection is an ethically
sourced assortment of quality toys. The hand-picked
collection offers children a choice of affordable ($10 to $95),
fun toys to buy with their own pocket money. Parents will enjoy
old favourites including Dominos ($45) and Magic Spring
($50), while the Amazing Spitting Frogs ($75) and Monarch
Butterfly Ring ($35) are sure to delight. This range, appealing to
kids and adults alike, is ideal for party bag gifts and Christmas
stocking stuffers. Find them at Bookazine and Indigo for Kids,
or online at
Refresh & recharge
Children are back into the hustle and bustle of school, often with jampacked schedules. Optimise their precious time with Touch2Learn
Education Centre’s Montessori, highly interactive and fun, yet relaxing
and calming, learning approach. They’ll help your kids learn, but won’t
wear them out so much that they can’t cope with everything else on their
little plates. Playtimes readers can call 3996 8738 to book a free trial hour.
Learn more at
Bang for
your buck
Peaceful play
The Sai Kung Playhouse, conveniently located in the heart of
Sai Kung, was set up with both children and parents in mind.
Little ones can socialise in a bright, airy play-space that’s
packed full of new, quality toys guaranteed to keep them
occupied for hours. For mums and dads, there’s a cosy corner
with comfortable couches, tea/coffee facilities and Wi-Fi
to relax whilst children enjoy the supervised play area. The
Playhouse holds regular mum and baby groups, as well as “drop
off” sessions when you can leave your kids and go indulge in
some “me time”. Check out
My Happy Sunflower is celebrating their fifth
anniversary by offering a ten per cent discount
on all jewellery items. And, if you meet any of the
following criteria, you can take an additional five
per cent off, for a total of 15 per cent.
1) Five friends all order a piece of jewellery;
2) You were born on the fifth of a month;
3) Your mobile number begins with five;
4) Your child is five years old; or
5) You purchase five or more pieces.
The promotion runs from 5 October to
5 November. Learn more at
Little Milly was born after two friendly sisters-in-law were inspired by their exciting
new surroundings, having following their husbands to Hong Kong. Both of their young
daughters love all things naughty and nice, so they established a business offering
treasures for boys and girls. The globally-sourced, quality products include soft toys,
dining wear, accessories and storage. The founders hope children have as much
fun receiving the gifts as they did creating them. Select items are available from
Babushka in Sai Kung and Bizzie Lizzie in Mui Wo. Discover more at
keepsake treasures
October 2013
& buy
A Mother’s Touch has recently launched a
new fast-track antenatal course designed
especially for parents-to-be with busy
schedules and work commitments.
Essentials4Birth is made up of three two-hour
sessions, covering all the must-knows for birth
and beyond. Parents will learn about the
birth process in a fun, relaxed environment,
along with natural and medical comfort
strategies (including relaxation and
breathing techniques), breastfeeding, and
newborn care. Courses run monthly. Learn
more at
Fashion-forward babes and tykes are
snapping up their duds, gifts and more
at the newly launched, Hong Kongbased online company Olive and Moss.
There are loads of international brands
to browse, from Korea to Denmark,
by simply clicking away. Even better,
Playtimes readers can take off an
additional 15 per cent when purchasing
goodies online until 30 November (offer
excludes discounted products). Please
enter the promotional code Playtimes
upon checkout. See the fashions at
stick 'em up
Each Monster Factory, Cloud Factory and Robot
Factory sticker activity pack by Jam & Soda comes
with more than 150 sticker components, which kids
can mix and match to design their own creatures.
Stickers are removable, so children can stick them
on lunch boxes, sketchbooks or anything they
think of. Buy them now at Hong Kong Book Centre,
Dymocks Sai Kung, selected Page One stores, and
at CitySuper and Bookazine in the near future.
Check out the collection at
Read and Learn
All About Me – Hong Kong is a newly launched company that creates personalised
children’s books all about Hong Kong. The books combine a unique personalised story
with informative facts about our city. The first publication, Dragon Hunting in Hong Kong,
received excellent feedback. Children said they loved seeing their name in the story,
and the books enabled them to learn about Hong Kong at the same time. The second
edition, The Search for Snow, is available in time for the festive season. These books
make great gifts or keepsakes of time spent here. Visit
premium products is an online shop that delivers premium foods to
your doorstep. Jett Foods' motto is “Value, Premium, Easy”: “value”
because their prices are incredibly competitive but fair for quality
products; “premium" because it’s the same premium quality you’ll
find at high-end supermarkets, including USDA prime steaks, Spanish
Duroc pork, US organic chicken and a selection of seafood; and
“easy” because there’s free home delivery for all orders $500 and
above, and if you order before 10am your package can arrive the
same day. Find the food at
Lun Tang is an international award-winning photographer
who specialises in family, maternity and neonatal
photography on location. According to Lun Tang,
“Love, bonding and intimacy are the soul of our photos”.
She adores capturing the human bonding between clients
and their loved ones, and telling their stories in a natural
way. She believes natural things are revealed in a natural
environment, which is why she enjoys shooting sessions
outdoors. Book a session before 30 November and receive
a complimentary canvas for all packages (20” x 30”).
Learn more at
Get Your
Skates On
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-loved, long-running musical on
roller skates, Starlight Express, explodes onto the Hong Kong
stage this month, direct from a sell-out tour in the UK. This
futuristic musical is about love, rivalry and hope in the face
of adversity, and features 3D spectacles, daredevil stunts,
award-winning costumes, exciting roller-choreography and
a high-voltage soundtrack. Learn
more at
One lucky reader will win six tickets
to the 13 October performance!
Email [email protected] by
9 October and include
“Win Starlight Express”
in the subject line.
Sporty celebrations
To actively celebrate your child’s birthday, try a RugBees fun-packed sports session,
where the kids will be entertained and get a workout. Prizes, treats and piñatas add
magic to the day, with each child receiving a RugBees ball, stickers and stamps at the
end. Choose from a jungle-, space-, underwater- or farm-inspired theme, and leave it
with RugBees to provide party bags at a nominal cost. What’s more, you’ll soon be able
to invite Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse or Iggle Piggle to drop in to your child’s party to make
it extra-special. Email [email protected] for party package details.
Fit for LIFE
Flex’s new classes can help if your tween or teen slouches,
lacks energy or isn’t getting enough exercise at school due to
increased academic pressure. Flex’s co-director Heather Thomas
Shalabi believes regular exercise is critical to children’s physical,
emotional and intellectual well-being, and also helps optimise
academic performance. Classes for tweens and teens include
Capoeira, yoga, Zumba and even aerial Pilates. Great deals are
on now for the new term. Learn more at
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Language learning
The recently rebranded Little Champs Academy has nurtured confident kids since
2002. Their speciality is language enrichment, and programmes include English
phonics and reading, Chinese reading and writing, Mandarin pinyin, and speech
and drama. Their courses are designed for children from pre-nursery to Primary Six
and aim to develop confidence, self-esteem, social skills and conversational ability.
The Academy obtained a 78 per cent distinction rate in the recent Trinity Exams and
their students have received numerous awards from speech competitions through
the past years. Click
Fly high
Local low-cost carrier Jetstar Hong Kong launched the Dream
High Program, a partnership with Social Ventures Hong Kong and
the Youth Arch Foundation. Children can be inspired to Dream
High, Fly High through student-orientated education campaigns
about aviation. The Fly High Experience Workshop lets students
participate in role plays with Jetstar pilots and cabin crew, and
experience a flight simulation. The Dream High Students Award
will grant eight outstanding students a sponsored study trip. The
competition (running from September to December) will judge
students on their academic improvement and contribution to
society. Learn more at
Dinky hampers
Posh pastries
A Little Pastry Chef’s Adventure enables budding
young chefs to enter the magical world of The
Peninsula Hong Kong’s Pastry Kitchen, with
hands-on tuition by the hotel’s expert pastry
chefs. Donning their very own Peninsula Academy
apron, little chefs will revel in the delicious
culinary secrets that are revealed in this Peninsula
Academy programme. Priced at $880 per child,
the class is available for a minimum of four
children, with a maximum of ten per class, with an
age range of four to ten years. Booking must be
made three days in advance. Find more details at
If you’re looking for the
perfect present for a
baby shower or tot’s
birthday party, Pamper
Hamper has the answer.
Sonali Piyush Baid, owner
of Pamper Hamper,
recently launched an
exclusive line of usable,
fun and innovative gift
hampers in different
shapes (including a
train, cradle, cake
and bouquet). Each
layer of the hamper
is decked with baby
towels, napkins, clothes
and other delightful
goodies, which can be
customised to taste.
This is a unique way to
celebrate a baby’s birth,
baptism or birthday. To
see the designs click
October 2013
Lascal Buggyboard
Yu Fruit Bars & Snacks
(available mid October)
Mamas & Papas
Chamberlain Oak Cot/
Toddler/Sofa Bed
Mustela Bebe
from $45
New for Autumn at
from $325
Usborne Books
Maxi Cosi Rodi Air
Protect (15-36kg)
(Special edition Vintage Football or
Magic available mid October)
Sono Vaso Viola
Kiddylicious Fruit &
Vegetable Snacks
Ergobaby Urban Chic
Boo! Centrepiece &
Cupcake Stand
Pedder Building Store 5/F Pedder Building,12 Pedder Street, Central T: 2522 7112
Horizon Plaza Store 21/F Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau T: 2552 5000
Stutter study
Sleep matters
Late nights and lax bedtime routines can blunt young children’s minds. The
findings on sleep patterns and brain power come from a UK study of more
than 11,000 seven-year-olds. Kids who had no regular bedtime or who went
to bed later than 9pm had lower scores for reading and maths. Lack of sleep
may disrupt natural body rhythms and impair how well the brain learns new
information, say the researchers. But they also say it’s possible that inconsistent
bedtimes were a reflection of chaotic family settings and it was this, rather than
disrupted sleep, that had an impact on cognitive performance in children.
source: BBC News
Stuttering may be more common than
previously thought, but pre-school
stutterers also fare better than first thought,
according to a new study. A study of more
than 1,600 children, which followed them
from infancy to four years old, found the
cumulative incidence of stuttering by four
years old was 11 per cent – more than
twice what has previously been reported.
However, the study refutes the longheld view that suggests developmental
stuttering is associated with a range of
poorer outcomes in the pre-school period.
Interestingly, the study found the reverse
was true, with stuttering associated with
better language development and nonverbal skills, with no identifiable effect on
the child’s mental health or temperament
at four years old.
source: MedicalXpress
finger on the pulse
Similar traits
Kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are 20 times more likely
to exhibit some traits of autism – such as slow language development, difficulty
interacting with others and problems with emotional control – than children
without ADHD, according to a new study. Fewer than one per cent of kids in the
non-ADHD comparison group exhibited any traits linked to autism, according to
the study published in Pediatrics. “These children are not having the full diagnosis
of autism, but they have symptoms of autism,” one of the researchers says. “It may
be important to screen children with ADHD for autistic traits because they may
need more support, particularly in the educational and interpersonal domains.”
source: HealthDay
Dip dip hooray!
Researchers have found that by offering a dip flavoured with spices, children
were more likely to try vegetables – including those they had previously
rejected. According to a recently published report, researchers worked with
children between the ages of three and five years, who tasted and rated six
different vegetables. After tasting each vegetable, the children were shown
three cartoon faces and asked to pick which one best showed how they felt:
“yummy”, “just OK” or “yucky”. The researchers also noted if the child refused to
try the sample. In the next session, the children were introduced to five different
dips. In as few as four tasting sessions, researchers found that pre-schoolers
consumed more of a disliked vegetable when it was paired with a spiced dip
than when it was eaten alone.
source: Penn State Newswire
October 2013
Crazy quilts
We all have those well-loved items of clothing that aren’t being worn any more, but
still carry too many memories to toss or give away. That scarf you were wearing when
you met the love of your life; the outfit your baby came home from hospital in; the
band t-shirt that followed you all the way through university – now they just live in the
bottom of a drawer. La Polka to the rescue! They’ll help you up-cycle those items into
beautiful, one-of-a-kind items, like blankets, cushions, bags and more. Using fresh
twists on traditional techniques – saving a bit of that pocket, the button of that shirt,
the knee of those trousers – the stories of your past are woven into one single heirloom
piece you can keep for ever. Visit to find out more.
Cath Kidston offers an abundance of sweet-smelling floral-inspired fragrances in
their range of skincare and toiletry products – why not find your favourite among
these cute, nappy bag-friendly, mini hand cream sets? All Cath Kidston toiletries
are eco-friendly: no parabens, no sulphates and never tested on animals,
and they are perfect for soothing chapped or sensitive skin as the drier season
approaches. Prices start at $130 for a set of three 30ml hand creams. Check
out the full range at one of Hong Kong’s six Cath Kidston stores, or visit them on
Facebook at
eco hero
Hong Kong’s classic tourist photo
opportunity involves a trip to
Kowloon, where you can capture
your travelling companions
against the panorama of Hong
Kong Island. Sadly, the view of late
is often obscured by the severe
hazes we experience, thanks to
trapped pollution, much of which
wafts in from the factories and
power stations of neighbouring
Guangdong province. The
solution? Tourists have started to
pose in front of a fake backdrop –
complete with dazzling blue sky.
source: The Guardian
Established right here in Hong Kong in 2010, Charlie Banana offers modern
cloth diapers and eco-friendly baby products. Cloth diaper industry
experts themselves, the team at Charlie Banana brought their love for
eco-friendliness, quality and design to all of their products – products that
mums and dads can feel confident to use on their babies. See the whole
range of cool colours and interesting prints at
One lucky reader will win a Charlie Banana prize pack from Tiny Footprints.
The pack, worth about $400, includes: a reusable diaper, swim diaper,
tote bag, reusable cotton wipes, a disposable insert, disposable liners,
and laundry detergent. Email [email protected] by 31 October and
include “Win Charlie Banana” in the subject line.
With Every New Arrival
a Brighter Tomorrow
Holistic Childbirth Care
Experienced and dedicated professionals provide you with allround care from the moment you begin planning your pregnancy,
birth and delivery – we stay with you on your amazing journey. Our
range of luxurious rooms offers you a five-star experience.
Visit our hospital website for details on our maternity packages.
• 4D ultrasound monitoring
• Pre-natal classes
• Well-equipped and comfortable
delivery rooms
• Experienced obstetricians,
gynecologists and midwives
Post-natal – In-room Support
• Holistic care nursing
• 24-hour breastfeeding support
• Parentcraft teaching
Enquiries: (852) 3651 8991
Address: 40 Stubbs Road, Hong Kong
Post-natal – Baby Follow-up Service
• 18-month baby vaccination package
Beauty on a budget
You could spend a fortune
buying every product
you see. But, with a
few tips and some
smart shopping, you
can save some money
without sacrificing
your style.
Multitaskers: Look for
products with multiple
functions, like tinted moisturisers that
contain sun protection; two-in-one
cheek and lip balms; and eye shadows
that, when wet, can be used as liner.
From the kitchen: Some great beauty treatments
are hiding in your kitchen. Did you know you can use:
• pure honey for a hydrating mask?
• olive oil for conditioning your hair?
• coconut oil and sugar as a body scrub?
• baking soda as a face scrub?
• milk to tone down your skin’s redness?
• eggs as a firming mask?
• lemons – which provide a
natural source of alpha hydroxyl
acid – to smooth your skin
after a scrub or mask?
Grandma’s favourite: Cheap
and cheerful Vaseline works as a
lip gloss, or to tame flyaway hair. You can
even tame your eyebrows – just put a tiny bit on a
cotton bud and smooth your brows for a look that’s
polished and lasts all day.
beauty 101
Kong Kong
GHD Eclipse
We’ve already talked about the Brazilian
Blowout in this column. For those of you
who have opted out of that or other
chemical straightening treatments,
but who still crave smooth, straight
locks, I recommend the latest Eclipse
straightener from hair care brand GHD.
This is truly a ground-breaking new
styling tool. It can handle any hair
texture quickly and easily – even very
thick, course, or curly hair – using a new,
patented technology from GHD. It can
also style larger sections of hair at a time
than most straighteners, making styling
significantly faster.
hair stylist and
make-up artist
Rennie Fensham
is well-known
for her passion and skills.
Her glamorous background spans 30
years of working in beauty, fashion
and TV, in South Africa, the US and,
for the last seven years, in Hong Kong.
Check out her salon, Hollywood Hair,
at 23F, 1 Duddell Street, Central.
Fashion magazines are filled with
gorgeous ads featuring gorgeous
models with gorgeous skin, all
designed to convince you to
buy the products that allegedly
created their looks. Who wouldn’t
want perfectly smooth skin, and
if all it takes is shelling out a few
bucks for a product… Don’t be
fooled! While different products
will make your skin look better,
it takes a team of stylists and
professionals to get those models
looking picture-perfect. Lighting
and photography experts use
light and shadow to show the
models’ best features. Then, after
hours of carefully applied makeup and professional hair coiffing,
graphic artists digitally remove
pimples, freckles and any other
visible imperfections. It can all
lead to a beautiful ad, but also to
a look that’s utterly unachievable
in real life.
October 2013
feature_Treating Torticollis.indd 25
25/09/2013 11:21 AM
If your baby seems to hold her head
to one side or have limited neck
movements, a common condition might
be to blame, writes Melanie Potgieter.
orticollis is a common
condition where the head
is tilted to one side with the
chin turned to the other
and there is usually difficulty turning
the neck. It can happen in adulthood,
but it’s more common in babies. In
fact, it occurs in about one out of every
250 infants, and although present at
birth, it can take up to three months
to fully develop. In the vast majority of
cases, it’s reversible, and most babies
don’t feel any discomfort.
No one really knows why some
babies develop torticollis and others
don’t, though it’s thought to be related
to the position of the baby in the womb
or as a result of muscle damage during
delivery. It often results in tightness
in the muscle that connects the
breastbone and the collarbone to the
Less commonly, torticollis can be
caused by abnormalities in the shape
of the bones in the neck or by their
becoming fused. It’s important to know
the difference, as the treatment is very
different. In rare cases, there can be
other serious underlying conditions.
If you have any concerns, your baby
should see a doctor.
If you notice that your baby has
any of the following symptoms, visit
your doctor for a full examination.
Check to see if your baby:
holds her head to one side;
has limited neck movement;
has one shoulder that’s higher than
the other;
has stiffness in the neck muscles;
has difficulty breastfeeding on one
side (or prefers one breast only);
has an asymmetrical head shape or
a flat spot on the head (plagiocephaly).
Ninety per cent of babies with
torticollis also have this and it can be
present from birth or develop from
repeatedly lying in one position;
has swelling in the neck muscles.
Then your doctor can perform a
physical examination to determine
whether the baby has torticollis.
The doctor might suggest that you
take your child to a physiotherapist,
who will provide treatment and
demonstrate a programme of exercises
that you can do at home each day
to assist in stretching the relevant
muscles, including these:
Gently stretch and massage the neck
Gradually stretch and reposition the
baby’s head – this should be performed
several times a day for maximum
Stimulate and encourage the baby
to turn her head to her less-favoured
side. This can be done while bottlefeeding.
Place your baby on her tummy when
she’s awake, which is important for
developing the neck muscles.
When she’s on her tummy, position
your baby so she has to turn away
from her favoured side to face you,
and encourage her to look by talking
or singing. If this position is difficult
for your baby, place a rolled up towel
under her chest to slightly elevate her
Alternate the sides that your baby
sleeps on.
Reposition the cot or place the baby
so that her favoured side faces the wall.
This will encourage her to turn to
watch you or look out onto the room.
During play, draw your baby’s
attention with toys and sounds to make
her turn in the other direction.
Position foods or toys closest to the
weak side in order to encourage your
baby to reach with her hand.
Make use of a Tortle – a beaniestyle hat specifically designed by a
paediatrician to prevent or help with
flat head and torticollis. (See page 10
for more details.)
If torticollis is discovered early and
you follow the prescribed stretching
programme, improvement can be
apparent within weeks, and, except in
severe cases, the condition should be
fully corrected within one year.
Melanie Potgieter is a physiotherapist at
Island Health Family Practice.
October 2013
y children have learnt about money and finance since the
age of five. Even though we have a maid, my children do
chores around the house to earn beads, which we put into
a jar. The beads are converted into money at the end of
each day: one bead equals one dollar. My children then put the money
they have earned into their money box. After a couple of months, we
divide the money up in two: half gets deposited into the bank and half
they get to spend. –Julie
ntroduce it gradually when
they are four or five. Few
things build self-confidence
like walking 20 metres from
Mummy to buy your own ice
cream and receive change for a
twenty. –Andreas
in your opinion
We asked: At what age – and how – should kids start learning about money and finances?
y children started learning about
money around six years of age. They
have daily chores to complete and,
at the end of the week, they get paid
for their work. If they don’t do their chores on one
day, they lose half their pay. It seems to be incentive
enough for them to stick with it. By starting them
young, they see it as part of daily life. Each school
year, they get a pay rise and a different set of
chores. –Wendy
e started giving our
daughter pocket money
when she was almost
six. She spends a third, saves a
third and shares a third with the
less fortunate. –Naomi
ow we manage
money can mean
the difference
bet ween being financially
stable and stress-free, and
unstable and depressed.
Children should get
this training as soon as
they star t demanding
toys and snacks. Giving
them a budget early- on
means they can tr y and
think about managing
their money. Star t with
a jar of one-dollar coins
amounting to, say, $20 per
week. Children can then
accumulate the coins, bit
by bit, to buy a small toy or
snack they want. – Shari
oney cannot be taught overnight. I think
it’s best done in stages, progressively
getting more advanced as they get
older. Starting with basic money
concepts around six or seven I think is about right.
One thing I firmly believe is that they should be given
the opportunity to blow it all on whatever they want.
Better now than later. Savings is a more advanced
concept. –Mark
rom the time I was able to earn good
grades or do big chores around the
house, such as taking care of the garden
and mowing the lawn, my parents gave me
pocket money for it. Money was something that
had to be earned. At 12, I learned about the
value of money when my mom encouraged
me to take my first job at the library. When
she discovered I spent everything and saved
nothing, she sat me down for a serious talk.
She taught me to prioritise my
purchases and why I should
always put a little aside
for savings. At 13 or 14,
she had me maintain a
ledger of incomings and
outgoings. –Sherry
think at four years
old kids should start
to learn how to
manage money.
They can learn by
buying a hamburger
by themselves
or even playing
Monopoly. –Sonia
earning the value of
money has become
really impor tant
for children today. They
don’t have to struggle for
things and earn them as
we used to, so I feel the
learning needs to start at
a young, impressionable
age. –Tarana
reg_IYO.indd 27
25/09/2013 3:04 PM
reg_rated PG.indd 29
25/09/2013 11:30 AM
(rated PG)
Can’t buy me love
Stop your spending, implores Orla Breeze.
’m not typically one to spread
rumours, but I’ve been hearing the
same one for quite some time, so I
think it’s probably OK to share. I mean,
you guys aren’t the kind to gossip, right?
Great! Lean in.
So, I’ve heard it on good authority
that it’s OK to stop spending all that
money on entertainment for your kids.
Yup, you heard right. Nobody from the
Parenting Police will pay you a visit if you
decide right here and now to put your
wallet away when it comes to your kids’
entertainment needs. Seriously. Isn’t that
the best rumour ever?
Look, I know it sounds insane. I mean,
even I refused to believe it at first. But I’ve
tried it and it’s all true – although there
is an accompanying caveat: You can
definitely stop the spending, but you are
required to replace it with something
else – your time. I know, I know, time
isn’t something you have in abundance
right now; in fact, you barely have time
to even look at a clock. I hear you loud
and clear, but I’m telling you this deal is
worth taking. Think of the savings for you
and your family. No more spending on
phones, consoles or tablets. No need to
feel pressured into keeping your child
up to date with the latest and greatest
device. That stuff adds up!
But it’s not just about the financial
gains. Oh no! This little change in your
lifestyle could significantly increase your
happiness, too.
Think about your own memories of
childhood and the particular ones that
make you smile the most. Was it really
that bike you got one Christmas or that
outfit you got for your birthday? Or,
could it have been that time you went
for a walk with your dad and he told you
– and only you – the best joke you ever
heard? So funny that you almost peed
your pants? (Don’t worry, your secret’s
safe with me.) Or, that day when your
parents pulled you out of school on your
birthday to go and have ice cream? Or
possibly, all those times you sat on the
edge of the bath watching your mum
put on her make-up before she went out
for dinner?
OK, I confess that last one’s mine,
but my point is that our most treasured
memories are bound up with the times
that our parents had time for us. And so
it is for our own children. Yes, of course,
they want all those shiny new things in
the stores, but they want our time far
more. And if we offered them a choice
between all the toys in the world or some
guaranteed regular time with us, they
would choose us. Well, the vast majority
would. There’ll always be a rebel or two
out there.
So next time Junior appears to want
to add to his toy collection, try a new
approach. Offer him something far
more valuable than anything you could
buy anywhere: regular time with you. It
doesn’t have to be hours and hours of
time you don’t have; even a guaranteed
one hour a week playing football or a
short bedtime story every night will pay
dividends. The smallest amount of time
still matters to them. Plus, you will be
creating memories for your own child to
treasure when they’re all grown up.
Keeping your child happy really
doesn’t have to cost the earth or even
the price of a small car. Swap your
spending for time spent with them and
watch your investment grow in a way
that money simply can’t.
Orla Breeze’s parenting classes,
including Daddy 101 and Mommy 101,
offer tips, techniques and humorous
insights into life as a parent. If you’d like
to discuss what every parent thinks, but
seldom dares to talk about, and learn
other secrets to parenting success, visit
October 2013
toy box
1 Hape Checkout Register
3 Monopoly: Hong Kong Edition
Age 3 to 5 years
This wooden register has buttons to push,
a scanner, credit card processor, drawer
that slides out and pretend money for
hours of imaginative play.
Available from Toys Club
Age 8+ years
In this edition, properties are Hong
Kong locations and the railways are
MTR stations. This version also includes
the Speed Die, which makes the game
move faster.
Available from Toys“R”Us
2 Pocket Magic: Ultimate Coin Tricks
Age 5+ years
Entertain and amaze your friends with
simple magic tricks, including putting
a nail through a coin, making coins
disappear, and turning one coin into two.
Available from Tiny Footprints
5 Mercato Electronic-cash
4 Sevi Wooden Abacus
Age 3+ years
Teach your child numbers, counting and
colours in a fun, safe and colourful way,
with this old-school abacus from Italy.
Available from The Baby Shop
Age 4+ years
This flashy electronic cash register comes
with everything but the batteries: lights
and sounds, scales, a conveyor belt,
scanner, speaker, till, calculator, play
money and more.
Available from ItsImagical
October 2013
Raising Financially Confident Kids
by Mary Hunt
Learn how to talk to your kids about
money at each age, from pre-school
through to the teen years, including
savings and donations and avoiding
Available from Fishpond
The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars
and Sense
by Stan Berenstain and Jan
Brother and Sister Bear know some things
about money – it can buy baseball cards,
ice cream, candy, balloons and more.
What they don’t know is how to manage
their allowances.
Available from Pollux Books
National Geographic Kids
Everything Money
by Kathy Furgang
Kids can learn all about money in this
colourful, energetic and accessible
book, which includes a look at different
currencies, fun facts and amazing
Available from Pollux Books
by Charley Harper
Anne’s Disappearing Allowance
by Kevin Sullivan
Before they can understand money,
kids need to learn their numbers. This
classic board book is quickly becoming
a favourite among parents and teachers
Available from Tiny Footprints
Anne wants to be independent, and
to be independent, she needs an
allowance. But, when she gets one, she
can’t seem to control her spending and
the money begins to disappear.
Available from Amazon for Kindle
One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent,
New Cent: All About Money
by Bonnie Worth
The Cat in the Hat puts to rest any notion
that money grows on trees in this supersimple look at numismatics, the study of
money and its history.
Available from Paddyfield
Baby on board
Celebrate International Babywearing Week, 7 to 13 October.
1 Ergobaby Original Carrier
$990 to $1,090
Ergobaby Carriers are comfortable for parents,
ergonomic for baby, offer multiple carry positions
and allow you to carry your baby from day one.
Available from Bumps to Babes and other
leading nursery retailers
2 theBabasling
The hammock-style baby sling is perfectly
shaped to support a newborn’s developing
spine, while providing essential closeness and
bonding between parent and child.
Available from Bumps to Babes and other
leading nursery retailers
3 Hippychick Hipseat
This is a back-supporting belt with a padded
foam shelf, developed to allow adults to carry
their children naturally on their hip without the
usual strains on the back.
Available from Toys“R”Us and other leading
nursery retailers
4 BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One
Suitable for wee ones up to 15kg, this carrier
allows babies to face a parent’s chest or older
kids to face outwards and discover the world
around them.
Available from Mothercare and other leading
nursery retailers
Boba 3G
Safari Carrier
Front and back carry positions accommodate
newborns through to toddlers. One lucky reader will
win this carrier. Email [email protected] by
31 October and include “Win Boba” in the subject line.
Available from Tiny Footprints
1:31 PM
October 2013
You’ve taken amazing trips, regaled your friends and family with
the tales, and thought you could give Bill Bryson a run for his
money. Now, consider sharing your stories with Playtimes readers
in our third annual travel-writing contest.
Our January 2014 Travel issue is your chance to shine.
Think about a trip you’ve taken. What was special about it?
What made it so memorable? Why would other Playtimes readers
want to know about it?
Tell us your story and you might just see your work in print!
Past winners Jill Mortensen and Aquin Dennison-Mathew
have gone on to become regular Playtimes contributors!
Word limit: 900 to 1,200 words
Deadline: 1 November 2013
Format: Email a Word document to [email protected]
and include “Travel Writing” in the subject line.
Before you start typing, read a few other Playtimes articles,
especially those from last year’s travel issue, which you can
download at on the Playtimes link). We’re
looking for well-written pieces that fit the magazine in style and
tone. Take an extra moment to edit and proofread, and send
us your best effort. (We do reserve the right to edit entries as
needed, for grammar, punctuation, style and clarity.)
October 2013
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24/9/13 6:56 PM
June 2013
clubmed.indd 129
24/9/13 6:56 PM
It’s good to have money
and the things that
money can buy, but
it’s good, too, to check
up once in a while and
make sure that you
haven’t lost the things
that money can’t buy.
-George Horace Lorimer
October 2013
Tackle the family budget, once and
for all. Elle Kwan shows you how.
or many of us, the word
budget has more in common
with the word boring than
just beginning with the
letter B. By the time we’ve struck off
our daily to-do’s of feeding, bathing,
clothing, educating and entertaining
our clans, the only B we have in mind
is in Sauvignon Blanc. But experts say
budgets can actually enhance your
life in much the same way as wine:
relieving stress and inducing a good
night’s sleep. With your numbers
crunched, they say, your life will be
more relaxed.
Jessica Cutrera, managing
director with The EXS Capital
Group, says budgeting doesn’t have to
equal a lifetime of limitation. “Many
people equate budgeting to dieting
– having to give up something they
really enjoy. They see budgeting as
restrictive – limiting and no fun. But
properly done, budgeting provides
flexibility and freedom, and reduces
relationship conflict.”
With rent costs rocketing and food
prices following fast behind, most of
us would likely feel happier cutting
some costs. Budgeting, or simply being
aware of where your money goes, is
a good-sense path to spending more
wisely. It doesn’t seem to matter which
income bracket families are in, some
costs still come as a surprise. School
trips, flights home and even gifts can
be an unexpected drain on finances.
Although we might suspect large
sums are at stake, many of us don’t
realise the full extent of uncalculated
spending. “I meet a lot of couples
who are actually spending more than
they make – even with seven-figure
incomes – because they misjudge the
amount of taxes they need to pay,”
says Jessica. (As a guide, most financial
experts agree that putting away 15 per
cent of your wage will see you safely
through tax season, and in many cases
will leave a little additional cash to
play with.)
I meet a lot of couples who are
actually spending more than they
make – even with seven-figure
incomes – because they misjudge the
amount of taxes they need to pay.
Find the magic number
Do you know how much money is
actually coming in each month?
Figure that out first, so you know
what’s available for spending and
Now that you’ve got your total,
it’s time to start tallying up your
expenses. Budget breakthrough
number one is being aware of what
you are spending, and this means
getting real. These numbers show
what you actually spend – not what
you think you spend or would like to
spend. To find your magic number,
money experts recommend detailing
the family’s every expense until you
have an accurate figure. That means
getting nifty into note-keeping for one
to three months.
Hoard up receipts like they are
precious dollars, and write down
any other cash spends that come
without receipts. Some budgeting
apps, like Wally, allow you to scan
receipts, which it reads and allocates
to targeted categories. Plugging in
amounts electronically can make
budgets easier to do on the fly,
although a simple spreadsheet or
even a notepad and pen do the job
just as well.
As you calculate everyday costs,
attack that stack of bills and tot up
how much goes to rent, helper, gym
fees and entertainment, including
TV and phone, each month. Then,
enter both sets of numbers into
two lists: your fixed monthly costs
– those regular payments that are
the same every month, like rent – in
one column, and your discretionary
spending – irregular costs that
change, like your shopping bills or
eating out – in a second column. Tada! You have the start of a budget.
For some, just keeping this tally
is a source for satisfaction. This basic
tracking allows families to monitor
exactly where their money goes, and
to readjust month to month if they
October 2013
wish. “If what we spent on the kids
last month seemed high, we can just
go into the category on the computer
and see where the money went,” says
Samantha Harvey Saxena, who uses a
budget tracker app called Koku.
Samantha decided to implement
a budget about a year ago to monitor
spending. “Initially it was an exercise
to see just how much we were
spending, because we had no idea,”
she says.
Her financial reports revealed a
few surprises – like the extra $1,000
spent at duty-free while travelling.
Another discovery confirmed
suspicions on how much money
was spent on the children, between
school fees, “which we can’t do much
about,” to unnoticed medical costs, to
extracurricular activities and treats.
“A hundred dollars here and there
with two kids becomes a lot very
quickly,” says Samantha.
The tracking has helped them
tailor their spending in a number of
ways. Samantha says she discovered
vaccines were cheaper at private
hospitals than at a nearby practice.
She also fixed a sum for discretionary
spending on the children, easing her
mind quite unexpectedly. “If you have
a budget that you’ve decided is more
than enough, you avoid feeling guilty
saying no when they ask for more,”
she says.
Fixing the magic number
To implement a change in spending
habits, identify monetary goals with
your partner. Planning for children’s
education is high on many priority
lists, as is setting up financial security
for old age. But factor in the fun stuff
too, like how many holidays you want
to take each year. Work towards
compromise on both sides of the
marriage to stop resentment building.
Emily Baxter, a mum to twins,
saw flight costs boom once the
children were past two years old. She
wanted to make sure she could go back
home to the UK at least yearly, and
imaginatively readjusted her budget
to allow for it. “I realised how much
I spent in coffee shops and eating
lunch out,” she says. Trying to keep
the twins active and social came with
a hidden financial commitment. She
calculated that just reducing her coffee
habits for a year gave her enough for a
child’s ticket. “Which is mad, really,”
she says.
Big incentives, like Emily’s, help to
keep resolve high. But weigh carefully
what you can comfortably cut. A spalover who sacrifices every treatment
could become seriously de-motivated,
but that same spa-lover might be
happy to give up her lattes if it means
she can keep her facials and massages.
Richard Bolton, a senior
consultant with The Henley Group,
and a new daddy to a baby girl,
splits his spending into weekday
and weekend budgets. His weekday
spending is usually fairly fixed, while
his weekends are where he loosens
his purse strings on eating out and
entertainment. “You may budget
$2,000 for weekly expenses, like food
and transport, and $3,000 for weekend
expenses, like eating out, kids’
activities or treats, giving you a budget
of $5,000 for the week, or $20,000 for
the month,” he says. Richard takes out
a weekly allowance at the start of the
week, and then withdraws cash for the
weekend separately. “That way, if I’ve
run out by Sunday I know it’s time to
go home,” he says. He advises clients
to get into this habit to monitor money
and incorporate a budget comfortably
and successfully.
Making the grade
Staying home is a great money saver.
Take playdates in turns at home or go
to a local playground. It also pays to
shop local, says mum Eva Wong, since
premium costs on imported products
are high. The market is a great place
to begin. Often fruits and vegetables
from the same depots are sold at both
supermarkets and markets, but are
cheaper at the markets – especially
If you have a budget that you’ve
decided is more than enough, you
avoid feeling guilty saying no when
they ask for more.
October 2013
feature_Mind over money.indd 42
25/09/2013 12:14 PM
Budget it list
Not sure what to include in your
budget? Try these categories for
starters, advises Richard Bolton of
The Henley Group.
Fixed Costs:
(These should be the same, or almost
the same, every month.)
• Rent
• Tax savings
• Helper and/or driver wages
• School fees
• School transport
• School meals
• Fixed bills
(like broadband or phone contracts which are regularly the same every month)
• Transport
• Regular extracurricular activities
Variable costs:
(These are discretionary and variable
• Food and household shopping
• Eating out
• Additional kids’ expenses
(clothes, treats, birthday parties, new or less regular classes or activities)
• Lifestyle/Socialising
• Variable, but regular, bills
(like electricity)
• Holidays
• Unforeseen expenses/Miscellaneous
in the evenings when vendors are
looking to shift stock, says mum Jessica
Kuwata. Try replacing your boxes
of soymilk with fresh locally made
options, or even make your own.
Group together with friends on online
overseas purchases for discounted
bulk orders and shared discount
codes. And try putting the kids in one
or two locally run activities. Aside
from a reduced price tag, they’ll also
gain exposure to a new language and
Richard also stresses the
importance of paying yourself “a
wage.” Once you have decided on a
monthly spend, transfer any surplus
into a separate savings account.
“People are very good at spending
exactly what they earn or what is in
their account, and need to develop
a habit of spending what they have
given themselves as opposed to what
they are paid,” he says. He favours
spending cash only, saying interest and
charges outweigh points schemes card
issuers advertise; however, Samantha
finds credit purchases easier to track,
and sets up auto-payments to clear
each bill as it arrives.
Budgeting doesn’t have to take
up a hefty part of your schedule,
but it responds to maintenance.
Samantha says tracking spends as
she makes them has become second
nature – compiling and filing any bills,
premiums or additional paperwork
takes about one to two hours per
month. In the past year, she admits to
letting a few months slip before getting
straight again, although it’s been fairly
easy, she says, to climb back on the
budgeting wagon.
Of course, this is always best done
with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
October 2013
capstone.indd 128
24/9/13 6:56 PM
Ad Artic
Protecting your Family’s
Financial Health
tarting a family in Hong
Kong is an exciting time, but
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There is so much to prepare
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top of your to-do list should be
making sure you have suitable and
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You might not want to think about the
prospect of not being around for your
children or being too ill to look after
them and we hope you are never faced
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parents we have a responsibility to our
children, not only to raise them but also
to protect their futures.
Capstone’s financial
checklist for parents:
Nominate Legal Guardians
Update Will
Review your insurance
Update beneficiaries
Most of the above checklist is easily
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alternatively you can visit our insurance
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compare medical and life insurance
online and getting you the best deals
from leading insurers in Hong Kong.
Different types of insurance that
can help protect you and your
Join us at our upcoming
Topic: Contingency Planning –
Are you comfortable that you have
everything taken care of?
Date: 22nd October
Where: Tiny Footprints
[email protected]
Life Insurance – protects a family from
the loss of income that would have been
earned and is needed to cover the costs
of raising children, paying off debts and
other expenses.
Critical Illness Insurance –
Critical Illness insurance can alleviate
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for health reasons. Typically income
protection pays a % of your salary until
you are able to return to work.
Medical Insurance – covers the high
costs of medical bills and allows you to
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not to be restricted by the public system.
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June 2013
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Set your kids up for
f inancial freedom by
getting them thinking
about money early on,
writes Brooke Chenoweth.
October 2013
ur three-year-old
recently posed the
question, “Daddy, why
do you need to go to
work?” We explained that the purpose
of work is to make money to pay for all
the things we need, like the house, our
clothes, school and, most importantly,
toys and graham crackers. That’s
when we realised that the concept of
money and its uses is quite foreign to
our son, and we’ve set out to change
that. Experts agree that kids are never
too young to start learning about
money, so if, like us, you want to raise
savvy savers, here are some simple,
age-appropriate techniques to get you
The toddler years
Children at this age should have a
basic understanding of numbers. Even
if they can’t yet add or subtract, once
they can recognise numbers and their
values, you can start to introduce them
to dollars and cents. “Play money”
and games involving the exchange of
money for items are a great place to
Involve them in the process and
play around with old bills, pretend
cheques and cash.
start. You can then draw their attention
to the same kinds of exchanges you do
on a daily basis, when you take them
shopping or out for lunch, for example.
Encourage early saving with a
piggy bank and a goal. At this age,
children need to be able to see their
savings and the money increasing
in size. Our son desperately wants a
particular type of toy fire engine, so
we have set up a jar with a picture of
the fire engine on it. We give him coins
when he’s being particularly wellbehaved or helpful around the house.
When the jar is full, we’ll take him to
buy the fire engine. Even if the amount
in the jar doesn’t correlate with the
actual cost of the toy, it still introduces
him to the concept of saving, and the
idea that sometimes you need to wait,
and work, for something that you want.
Primary school years
In the early years of kindergarten and
primary school, as basic mathematics
skills are introduced, children become
better able to understand that each
coin or note is worth a different
amount, and gradually they’ll be able
to add and subtract. Again, games
involving the exchange of money are
great, but you can increase the level of
difficulty by requiring exact amounts
– demonstrating the many different
ways to make a certain amount – and
then teaching them how to calculate
This is the ideal time to introduce
children to the concept of “needs” and
“wants”. Make a list of all the things
in the household that “need” to be
paid for each month. Older children
can then start to help with things like
them to
budget their
own money is
also crucial.
what they
need to pay
for their
expenses and
them to
spend wisely
and set
household budgeting. Involve them
in the process and play around with
old bills, pretend cheques and cash.
Simple things like creating a shopping
list together and looking at receipts
can prepare them for understanding
the real cost of running a house. Then
you can look at the things they may
“want” and show them how much
money is left each month to dedicate
to things like toys, entertainment or
family holidays. How you manage
money is going to build the foundation
for their own financial values, so it’s
important to set the tone and show
them how to spend responsibly by
doing just that.
At this age, many parents open
bank accounts specifically designed for
young financiers. Whether you choose
to hand them a cash allowance,
regularly deposit money on their
behalf, or simply encourage them
to save their birthday money from
Grandma, it’s a good idea to introduce
them to banking at a young age. As
part of its Premier Account services,
HSBC offers savings accounts for
children aged seven and up, in their
own name. Kids aged 11 and up can
also have an EPS card.
Secondary school years
If you haven’t discussed money with
your children by the time they leave
primary school, don’t panic: it’s not
too late. However, bear in mind that
at this age they may be less receptive
to your words of wisdom. The first
year of university is not a great
time for them to be learning about
managing their money, so give them
a head start and prepare them for the
real world before they leave home.
You can still follow some of the same
lessons as for younger children, but
adapt them slightly. Involve older
children when you’re paying expenses
for them. Getting involved in – and
understanding the costs of – buying
school books and supplies, and paying
fees for extracurricular activities and
uniforms will help them in the longrun and give them an advantage when
they’re out in the real world.
Teaching them to budget their
own money is also crucial. Determine
what they need to pay for their
expenses and encourage them to spend
wisely and set limits. One technique is
to negotiate how much you are willing
to contribute to the items they want.
For example, your daughter needs new
jeans and you offer to pay $150. If the
jeans she wants cost $300, she must
come up with the shortfall herself.
They’ll soon learn to be careful with
their cash if they have to pay their own
way, and this will, in turn, encourage
saving. Many children are able to take
on paid employment from the age of
15, and provided it doesn’t interfere
too much with schoolwork, children
can learn many valuable lessons
through paid work.
The later teen years are a
good time to introduce children
to the concept of credit, as they
can “practise” while still at home
under parental guidance. To start,
they should have the sophisticated
arithmetic skills required to work
out percentages, and you’ll need
to demonstrate to them how easily
people can get into trouble with
plastic. Explain the concept of interest
rates, and show them the effect that
compound interest can have on a
weekly budget over the years. A Visa
debit card or similar, which is linked
to a cash account, is a great way to
start out with teens. If they prove
themselves responsible spenders, then
they can graduate to an actual credit
card, with a low limit and fairly strict
repayment terms. Many parents find
that giving their children a loan, with
a rate of interest and repayment terms,
is another great way to teach them
about borrowing money. A degree
of transparency when it comes to the
household finances, including loans
and credit cards, is also helpful.
At school, children with an
interest in economics will learn
about the stock market and more
advanced financial concepts. There
are a number of online games that
are a fun way to introduce teens to
investing, and if they’ve followed all
your wonderful advice thus far and
been saving for a few years, they may
have enough capital to begin exploring
their options in the stock market with
your help. If you’re clueless when it
comes to investing, chances are you’ll
October 2013
find it difficult to guide them in these
lessons, so it might be a good time to
get more informed yourself.
Making allowances?
The decision of whether to give
children an allowance is often a
controversial one. Some parents
connect an allowance or “pocket
money” to household chores, while
others feel that payment shouldn’t be
given for something that should be a
standard contribution to the family
home. Financial guru Suze Orman
says that an allowance, or as she calls
it “work pay”, should be used as a tool
to teach kids about having to work for
money, since that’s how it works in
the real world. A regular allowance
may be given to some children with a
bonus given for things that you might
pay someone else to do, like washing
the car or mowing the lawn. However
you structure it, an allowance can be
used as an important teaching tool.
Here are some things to remember:
• Before giving your child an
allowance, they should understand the
value of each coin and note, and at
least be able to count money.
• Be clear about how much will be
paid and what they will need to buy
themselves. If you want them to buy
their own lunch, expect there to be
times when they will ask for lunch
money as the allowance has been
spent already on other things.
• Expect to negotiate. Children will
always compare notes with their
friends, and if someone is getting more
than they are, they may hit you up for
a raise. Jayne Pearl, author of Kids and
Money: Giving Them the Savvy to Succeed
Financially, suggests that you use this as
part of the teaching process. She says,
“Negotiation skills are an important
part of the lesson, which they’re going
to need for dealing effectively with
friends, teachers and, eventually, their
• Encourage saving. Give a certain
amount and agree on the amount that
should be put aside for a rainy day. It
helps if you give them their allowance
in denominations that make it easy
for them to put money aside, like
$50 in $10 notes. If they need help
understanding the concept of saving,
help them to set some goals – both
short- and long-term. Whether it’s a
new video game in a month, or a new
bike in six months, let them decide
what they want to spend their money
on. Remember that it’s their money
to spend as they wish. You can guide
them and discourage them from
wasting it, but give them room to
make mistakes.
• As further incentive for saving part
of the money themselves, offer a
contribution towards big-ticket items.
Providing a percentage of how much
is saved or matching them dollar for
dollar can really get kids motivated.
There are many fun and engaging
ways to teach your children about
money and how to use it wisely. But
ultimately the biggest lessons they’ll
learn will come from watching you
manage your finances.
here are a number of websites and apps available for children of every
age to teach them about money. Here are a few to get you started:
October 2013
the masses
If you have a big family, then you surely know the pain of exorbitant grocery bills. But,
is it possible to feed a tribe in Hong Kong without breaking the bank? asks Jill Mortensen.
ou know you’re a certified
Hong Kong expat when
you start complaining
about the cost of groceries
at dinner parties. For anyone feeding
a family from one of the international
grocery stores, after rent, surely one
of the largest monthly expenditures
is food. At the same time, we are
bombarded with scary reports about
local food scandals that make us
promptly remind our helpers not to
buy anything “made in China”. This
sometimes leads to paying more than
$300 for a melon that we can only
assume must have flown first class on
its journey from South America to
Hong Kong.
Families in Hong Kong can
be very savvy when they need to
accommodate more children in the
same living space. But, feeding those
extra mouths, including those of
additional staff who may be hired to
accommodate for more children, is
an unavoidable increased cost that
expanding families cannot avoid
Owner of Body Balance personal
training and a father of five, Mike
Maiers, estimates that approximately
50 to 60 per cent of his family’s
monthly budget goes on feeding the
family, which includes two live-in
helpers and a nanny.
“We all eat the same meal, no
questions asked,” says Mike. “And
we don’t cater for fussy eaters, so if
someone doesn’t want to eat, they
go to bed hungry. I know it sounds
harsh, but cooking five different meals
would be a logistical nightmare.”
To help reduce the stress of daily
planning and to organise shopping
trips, Mike’s family develops a weekly
meal plan, which is then displayed
in the kitchen for all to see so there
are no surprises at mealtimes. He also
sources meat from a wholesaler in
Hang Hau and produce from a local
fruit and vegetable truck that visits
some of the large apartment buildings
around Hong Kong twice a week.
“I spend approximately $1,000
a week on fruits and vegetables, and
I would hate to think what it would
be if we did all of our shopping at the
supermarkets,” Mike says.
Food fright
Conventional advice when it comes to
saving on groceries is to “buy local”.
But there’s an obvious reason most of
us don’t. More than 90 per cent of the
produce sold in local markets comes
from mainland China.
“I don’t ever buy local produce,”
says mother-of-four Fiona Johnson.
“You just have to read about the infant
formula debacle and the stories about
October 2013
farmers in China giving arsenic to
cattle to make them grow and prevent
them from being sick.”
But chef Priscilla Soligo, who also
is owner of Rawthentic Foods, says
that replacing the organic produce
sold in supermarkets with locally
sourced, fresh organic produce can
save a lot of money. For scandal-wary
customers, Priscilla says that the only
way people can be confident about
what they are buying is to do their
own research.
“Contact suppliers and ask them
how they grow their food and what
their certifications are,” she says.
“Growers, farmers and the smaller
organic produce delivery businesses
here in Hong Kong really enjoy talking
to customers about these things. If you
can make time, visit farmers’ markets
and talk to local growers. This is a great
thing to do with the kids.”
As a chef, Priscilla instantly notices
the unmatched quality and flavour of
local versus imported produce. She says
local, seasonal produce tastes better, is
more nutritious and less expensive. Fresh
ingredients require fewer preservatives
because they don’t need to be stored,
and eating seasonally is a great way to
teach children how different foods grow
throughout the year, especially when
cooking together as a family.
“Involve children as much as
possible when sourcing local foods,”
Priscilla suggests. “It’s so important
that we help them to understand how
connected they are to their food and
how much they can play a part in the
entire ‘earth-to-table’ process. Knowing
how to prepare nutritious meals is a
skill that will help them throughout
their lives.”
Field trip
Todd Darling, a ten-year Hong Kong
resident and owner of organic produce
supplier Homegrown Foods, founded
the company on the idea that having
safe, high-quality organic food would
help increase local consumption and
“We personally visit and have
relationships with our producers,” Todd
says. “And we test all of our produce
at random every quarter for heavy
metals and agricultural chemicals by
sending samples from deliveries to an
independent testing facility.”
Customers are welcome to visit
any of the farms that Homegrown
Foods sources from. Sometimes
helpers even join employers to learn
what is available. The company also
hosts school field trips, where students
have a chance to interact with the
farmers and then have a meal at one
of the restaurants that Homegrown
Foods supplies, such as Posto Pubblico
in SoHo or Linguini Fini in Central.
Stretching dollars
Vivian Herijanto, chef and owner of
Corner Kitchen and Heirloom Eatery,
says that Hong Kong residents might
need to give up convenience and
shop at several stores when trying to
rganic farmers’ markets in Hong Kong take place every week throughout the
year: Star Ferry Pier in Central (Pier 7, Wednesdays from 12pm to 6pm, and Sundays
from 11am to 5pm).
• Tuen Mun Farmers’ Market (Crossroads Village, 2 Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun –
opposite Gold Coast Phase 1 – Saturdays from 10am to 4pm).
• Tai Po Farmers’ Market (next to Tai Wo fire station, Sundays from 9am to 5pm).
• Starting on 15 September, Island East Markets will start running again, offering
goods from local organic farmers, as well as local restaurants and retailers. (Island
East Markets, Tong Chong Street, TaiKoo Place, Quarry Bay, Sundays 10am to 5pm).
minimise the cost of groceries. She
recommends looking for high-quality
imported frozen fish, poultry and
meat, which, if thawed and cooked
properly, won’t lose quality.
“You can find a variety of good
imported frozen fish fillets in some
shops that are much less expensive
than the same types of imported fresh
fish sold at CitySuper or GREAT,”
says Vivian, who prefers to buy fresh
fish at local markets. “We live in a
very crowded, industrial city with a
very busy harbour, so of course there’s
going to be some harmful elements
in the water that have gotten into fish
or fresh seafood. But I don’t think
it’s going to kill you. Countries like
the US and UK have cases of food
contamination, too. The local people
in Hong Kong have been shopping
and nourishing their families with
ingredients bought at local markets for
as long as we know. They trust their
food source.”
Stay-at-home father of four sons,
Andrew Suan, who is also president
of the Hong Kong Children’s Skin
Foundation, says he discovered an
economical way to prepare meat
dishes when his oldest son with special
needs started to require more iron
intake but has difficulty chewing
certain foods.
“Look for cheaper cuts of meat,
such as beef chuck, short ribs and
lamb shanks, and use a pressure
cooker,” Andrew advises carnivorous
families in Hong Kong who are
looking for savings. “The pressure
cooker helps to slow-cook the meat
in less time than you would normally
need to cook it to achieve the tender
consistency when it just falls apart
and is so tasty.” Andrew buys meat at
Foodtalk, which offers customers a 40
per cent discount on bulk purchases of
strip loin, rib-eye and tenderloin cuts.
“I usually buy a huge amount from
them, and have them cut and pack it
into smaller pieces that we freeze and
then use for soups and stews.”
Vivian also suggests buying in
larger quantities and making as much
as possible out of each purchase. She’ll
roast a whole chicken for dinner and
freeze the carcass. When she has two
or three frozen, she makes chicken
stock. She turns vegetable trimmings
into vegetable stock, and stale bread
into croutons or breadcrumbs. She
suggests involving children in as much
of this as possible to teach them how
to be resourceful with food.
“It’s often difficult to involve
the children because they’re so
overscheduled these days, so try to
find a specific time each week and
get the kids involved,” Vivian says.
“If you’re buying local, trust your
judgment. If something looks fresh
and smells good, then it probably can’t
be that bad for you. The McDonald’s
across the street is the real enemy.”
Top Tips
Try these ideas to cut your monthly food bill.
1. Review your weekly receipts to
evaluate how much you’re currently
spending, and look for opportunities
to switch to less expensive brands or
substitute ingredients.
2. Evaluate what homemade food
your family likes, trying to avoid recipes
that require too many canned or prepackaged ingredients.
3. Make a weekly meal plan based on
seasonal produce.
4. Grow some of your own herbs and
produce, if space allows.
5. Visit local farms and markets to find
reliable sources for produce where you
can buy direct.
6. Reduce your weekly meat
consumption, and try to buy cheaper
cuts of meat and make large batches
of soups or stews that can be frozen in
smaller quantities.
7. Choose imported frozen fish instead of
fresh imported fish from grocery stores.
8. Replace sodas and pre-packaged
foods with water and homemade juices
and snacks.
9. Ensure that your helper knows how to
select the best ingredients at the best
10. Teach your helper how to avoid
wasting food by either freezing or reinventing leftovers.
where there’s a
It’s a task almost everyone puts off. But Zara Horner discovers that
writing a will doesn’t have to be a painful experience, and that
the peace of mind it brings is well worth the time and effort.
n alarming number of
people living in Hong
Kong do not have a will.
Did you know that by not
having a will, you’re leaving the fate of
your estate to the SAR’s intestacy laws?
To find out just how widespread
this problem is, The Henley Group
commissioned a study. CEO Mark
Rawson explains, “A shocking 70 per
cent of expatriates in Hong Kong do
not have a will. What is a surprise is
that expatriates, who are more likely
than the average man to have assets of
value, would be so unconcerned about
making a will.”
Most of us know we should
write a will, especially once we’ve
had children, but many still put it
off again and again. “Perhaps it’s
the fear of mortality, or that it will
cost a lot of money, or be overly
complicated,” Mark reckons, and adds
that complacency may be another
factor. “One assumption many people
make is that if you die without a will,
the surviving spouse gets the entire
entitlement. However, according to
Hong Kong laws, if the person has
surviving parents, they can [also] be
beneficiaries,” Mark points out.
If children are involved, then the
intestacy laws recognise illegitimate
and adopted children as well as
those who are legitimate, but not
stepchildren, unless they are legally
adopted.It’s worth noting that samesex marriages are not recognised in
Hong Kong, and are classified as
common-law partners, who inherit
It is often marriage or the arrival
of the first child that prompts a
person to finally draft a will. Even
so, 48 per cent of those parents The
Henley Group surveyed had not done
so, which Mark finds “particularly
alarming” because, in the event that
both parents die at the same time
and without a will, the state would
appoint guardians. “People assume
that a relative can jet in and pick up
the kids,” Mark explains. “This is not
the case. Until court formalities are
resolved, children may be taken into
[state] care.”
You can avoid all of these potential
landmines and ensure that your wishes
are fulfilled simply by drafting a will
now, before it needs to be executed.
For the children
Protecting children from possible
government interference is the number
one reason Asa Wilkins gives for
writing a will. Asa, the director of
Phoenix Wills, says, “The advice is
the same anywhere, but most expats in
Hong Kong are a long way from home
and their natural support group, which
makes things much harder.”
Phoenix Wills provides clients
with a list of things to consider when
preparing a will. Top of the list: Who
should be the executor? and, who
should be the children’s guardian?
This last one can be particularly
problematic if the parents have no
brothers or sisters, or have ageing
parents who are too old to care for a
child, and the instructions haven’t been
spelled out in a will.
“With intercultural marriages, the
couple may have very different ideas
on who should look after the children,
and it is not always easy finding a
compromise that both sides are happy
with,” Asa says.
Jessica Park, the managing
director of Professional Wills, says
making a will “should be a nobrainer!” She adds that if there are
competing family members, real
problems can arise.
When it comes to guardianship,
“It could take months for the family
court to reach a decision,” she says.
“And if a resolution can’t be found,
the children will enter the orphanage
system and be available for adoption. It
makes one shudder to think that some
parents have not appointed guardians
in a will.”
Simply put, a will is about control.
It legally binds a person’s wishes,
preferences and directives. Mark from
The Henley Group, adds: “Even with
a will, probate – the administrative
process – can take three to six months,
or longer, depending on the complexity
of the estate. But without a will to
provide instruction, the process can
take a lot longer and prove a harried
journey for dependents.”
A will can be simple, but it is
critical that it’s correctly structured,
names an executor, identifies
October 2013
beneficiaries, addresses assets in all
the countries where they’re held, and
is signed by two witnesses who are not
“The executor carries out the
terms of the will, applies for grant of
probate, and access to any safe deposit
box, and for funds from the estate
for the dependents while the will is
in probate,” Mark explains. Without
an executor, someone needs to act as
administrator, a role governed by some
elaborate rules in Hong Kong.
“Given the complexity of most
expatriates’ financial lives, even a
well-constructed will may not be
enough,” Mark warns. “Having one
will to cover multiple jurisdictions can
add significantly to the time it takes
to settle assets, and therefore costs,
in each location.” While Asa from
Phoenix Wills is quick to point out
that “it is no worse for expats than for
anyone else in Hong Kong,” she does
say an expat situation “can be harder,
especially if, as a surviving spouse,
you lose your visa and have to leave
before all the paperwork is finished; all
joint bank accounts might be frozen,
so there may be no cash for airfares...
Without a will, the courts need to track
down everyone who could have a claim
to the estate, and will then decide on
the final split based on intestacy rules;
a split that may or may not be what
you would have wanted.”
Having one will to cover multiple
jurisdictions can add significantly to
the time it takes to settle assets, and
therefore costs, in each location.
to pre-determine the circumstances
in which further treatment should be
withheld is very important, as well as
stating who should have the power to
discontinue treatment.”
A living will does not carry the
same legal status in Hong Kong as
a last will and testament, and must
be made at a time when the person
is in full possession of their mental
faculties. It may be revoked or altered
at any time prior to mental incapacity.
Living wills cannot be used to insist
upon specific treatments (for example,
Another document the experts
advise for is an enduring power of
attorney (EPA). A normal power of
attorney lapses if a person loses mental
capacity, but an EPA remains valid,
and often only comes into effect under
such circumstances.
“If you were in a coma following
an accident, bills would remain unpaid
and it would not be long before trouble
started because no one would be able
to use your bank account,” Asa warns.
“If your salary stopped, direct debits
and standing instructions would fail as
money ran out.”
In the living years
“Otherwise known as advanced
medical directives, living wills are used
to give medical teams and families
direction in the event you become
incapacitated through accident or
illness,” Jessica from Professional Wills
explains. “It is used not only in the
negative sense – ‘do not revive’ – but
also in the positive – ‘do all you can to
keep me alive’. One might think this is
not an important document or unlikely
to be used. But in such an eventuality,
it is of much comfort to family and
one’s medical team to know that when
you were compos mentis you carefully
laid out your wishes.”
Doctors may be reluctant to accept
the decisions of a seriously ill patient
because of uncertainty about his/her
rational state of mind, Asa explains. “A
living will gives healthcare providers
some legal protection. Your ability
October 2013
What are you waiting for?
your tax, mortgage/s,
It’s time to take action.
insurances and pensions,
be time-consuming.
• A guardian is needed
plus all necessary
for any child under 18
With professional help,
account numbers, PINs
years of age, unless they
drawing up a will is
and important contact
are married. With your
easier, quicker and
details into one easily
partner or loved ones,
cheaper than you think.
accessible, but safely
discuss who you want
stored, file.
to take care of your
• Stop procrastinating.
• Get your estate in
order. Don’t leave your
• Think carefully about
children, and be sure to
dependents with a mess.
who you want to act
check that the people
Sort out the shoe box
as executor. It is an
you select are happy
of receipts; organise
important job, which can
with the arrangement.
Bottom line
In theory, you can write your own will
at no cost, but it may not hold up in
court. “In this business you often get
what you pay for,” Asa says. “Going for
the cheapest solution may not always
be the best choice, especially if your
situation is slightly more complicated –
which is often the case for expats who
may have assets in several countries.”
Jessica agrees. “Local lawyers cost
as little as $1,500 for a single will and
some law firms start at $40,000. At
Professional Wills, we are very open
about our fees, which start at $8,000
for the main will, with $3,000 for
each additional country, if needed.
There are sometimes extra charges for
complex wills.”
Planning for death is not fun. But,
failing to plan, especially once you’ve
got a family to consider, is just plain
irresponsible. You know what needs
to be done. Now, get on with it so you
can get back to having fun with your
kids, confident in knowing that you’re
doing your best for them now, and in
the future.
Going for
the cheapest
solution may
not always be
the best choice,
especially if
your situation
is slightly more
– which is
often the case
for expats
who may
have assets
in several
October 2013
Hardship posting?
Are the glory days of the high-paying, all-inclusive
expat package behind us? Marie Teather finds out.
ong Kong often trumps the
lists of the most desirable
expat locations worldwide,
and foreign professionals
working here revel in the news. In a city
boasting great transport links to the
rest of Asia, a standard of living that’s
easy to adjust to, and the fourth-highest
expatriate remuneration packages in
Asia, it seems we have it all.
Yet take a closer look and you’ll
see a shift in the flow of expats arriving
and leaving Hong Kong – a shift that’s
reflected in the nature of remuneration
we are receiving. Quite simply, the
expatriate package in Hong Kong is
Yves Therien is the general
manager of sales and marketing at Santa
Fe Relocation, a company that often
assists in moving corporate teams from
the financial sector to and from Hong
Kong. Yves spent four years in his first
spell living in Hong Kong, then two in
Beijing, before moving back to Hong
Kong in 2007. He explains, “Companies
are realising it is expensive to move
people. It costs three to four times their
annual salary – especially if they have
kids. The whole thing is getting more
Diminishing returns
Across all industries, in 2013, it seems
only senior management, such as those
at director, executive director, managing
director and CEO/CFO/COO levels,
are moving to Hong Kong on full
packages. Today, without extremely
specialised skills and knowledge, there is
less bargaining power for expats to
negotiate packages. There are many
locals with experience, including those
who left pre-1997 and have returned
after acquiring foreign citizenship, and
the generous packages of 20 or 30 years
ago have been phased out for all but a
fortunate few.
“If you can get the traditional
expat package that pays for schooling,
housing, amenities and trips back
home, you are doing very, very well.
Some banks still have this, but many
are localising contracts,” Yves says.
“They are providing a much larger
salary which, although taxable, gives the
family the option to choose how they
want to spend it.”
In this new model, expat positions
might still include a housing or lifestyle
October 2013
allowance. If, for example, you’re
offered a salary of HK$1,800,000 per
year, you might receive an additional
HK$150,000 per month, along with the
freedom to choose how you’ll allocate
it to housing, schooling and utilities
That said, organisations understand
housing and schooling fees in Hong
Kong are huge factors in deciding
whether to accept a position here. But
it has also been suggested that media
and industry reports exaggerate rental
prices in Hong Kong by only factoring
apartments in Central. Regardless,
to help facilitate relocating an expat,
companies still often need to offer
a housing incentive to negate the
employee’s worries.
Not only is the number of highpaying packages dropping, but the types
of expatriate packages in Hong Kong
are becoming more diverse, with more
expatriates receiving compensation
packages close to that of local colleagues.
“Certainly, we are still seeing a
majority of executives from the banks
coming to Hong Kong, but in other
industries we are looking at more
junior placements,” says Yves. “These
days, many [expats who are] moving
to Hong Kong are often single or very
young couples.”
Beyond borders
So if they’re not coming to Hong Kong
in the high numbers of bygone days,
then where else are expats going? The
natural shift for many expats who have
been building businesses in Hong Kong
is often to move to mainland China.
Josh Ho, a financial analyst who has
lived in Hong Kong and Shanghai says,
“Hong Kong is billed as the gateway
to China, but it’s still not ‘real’ China.
Doing business with the major cities,
such as Shanghai and Beijing, is hard.
There is a cultural barrier of sorts. You
might as well just move there.”
Perhaps for the first time there
is a greater shift of expats moving to
other Southeast Asian destinations.
Singapore has long been a key market
for expats to transfer to. Yves from
Santa Fe explains, “Our biggest traffic
line is the Singapore-Hong Kong route.
We have 25 to 30 moves to Singapore
every month, with around 20 coming
back this way. Over the last few years
we’ve seen a number of head offices
move from Hong Kong to Singapore,
but we’ve also seen them move back. It
all depends on how much business they
have in China.”
The hotly contested debate of
“Singapore or Hong Kong?” seems to
shift backwards and forwards as much
as those who move between the two,
but for many expat families with young
children, the lion city currently seems to
be more appealing.
A lot of it has to do with schooling.
Stories of expat families pulling out,
even at the final stages of negotiating
a transfer to Hong Kong, when they
encounter the notoriously difficult school
enrolment system, are not uncommon.
With an educational system that easily
matriculates all your kids into the same
school, and the much-cited cleaner air,
Singapore is an attractive outpost for
those with children.
One such expat is Catherine
Freeman, who moved to Singapore
earlier this year. “I loved Hong Kong
dearly, but when an opportunity [in
Singapore] came up for my husband at
a comparative salary, we knew it was
time to leave,” she says. “I’d put up with
taking our two children to different
schools, both of which were not our first
choice, for long enough. Since we moved
here, I’ve wondered why we didn’t do it
Remote corners
It’s not just the big cities like Singapore,
Shanghai and Tokyo that are drawing
expats. Rather than returning to their
home countries where economies
may still be stagnant, once they feel
ready to move on or an assignment
has ended, many expat families are
looking into other options. Cheap flights
and improved technology are making
it possible to have a great quality of
life in cities once deemed remote or
James Incles is managing director
of ESG Search, a recruitment company
that places professionals in jobs across
the energy, natural resources and
environmental sectors. James spent
four years recruiting in capital markets
in Japan and two in London before
moving to Hong Kong to set up his
business in Asia.
“We are certainly seeing a shift
of expats who are not in the financial
services moving to countries not centred
on banking. If you look at the economy,
the Fortune 500 companies in natural
resources, gas, oil and manufacturing
are all based in Southeast Asia.
Economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia
and Thailand are growing quickly
and so, while a lot of the corporate
headquarters are still in Singapore, local
offices are opening across the region,”
he says.
Bob Knight and his family moved
from Hong Kong to Vietnam in 2012
when he accepted an offer to lead the
operations of an oil and gas exploration
company. His expat package provides
schooling for his two teenage daughters
at an international school, flights back to
the US every year, a 400-square-metre
villa with a pool, a nanny, a helper and
a driver. “The cost of living is very low
and yet the standard of living here and
lifestyle we lead is a joy. I first visited
here in 2000, and I am still amazed
by how quickly things are changing,”
he says. “We have a lifestyle that, as a
family, we couldn’t enjoy elsewhere,
and [the villa] is very different to the
apartment we had in Hong Kong. My
only complaints since moving here are
the traffic and driving, but, thankfully,
we have a driver to ease my concerns!”
It’s not just Vietnam where
foreign professionals are being
attracted by improving standards of
living and the possibility of a full expat
package. Foreign investment has been
very good to Indonesia which, during its
current business boom, has developed
a nearly US$1 trillion economy that’s
growing at six per cent each year.
With huge oil and gas reserves, and a
developing infrastructure to serve the
population of 243 million, there are
increasingly significant opportunities
for expats.
Yves says that Santa Fe has also
assisted moves from Hong Kong to the
Philippines, where a new government
has become more attractive to foreign
business; Thailand, another country
creating opportunities for growth in
natural resources; and India. Two newer
additions to the list are Mongolia, which
is opening up its vast mining reserves,
and Myanmar.
The only Southeast Asian country
that seems to be bucking the trend is
Malaysia. While a senior manager may
still be offered a full expat package, the
Malaysian government has set a quota
on the number of foreign nationals
allowed per number of local workers.
So what does the future hold for
expats in Hong Kong and the packages
they may be offered?
“It depends on what China does
with Hong Kong,” says James from
ESG Search. “The biggest danger is
how many professionals in Hong Kong
work in the financial services industry. If
the downturn goes on, or the financial
industry moves to Shanghai as is tipped,
what industries are going to be in Hong
Kong? When a country is so reliant
on one sector it leaves itself vulnerable
should there be a crisis of some kind,” he
says. “That said, I still think Hong Kong
will be a great place [for expats].”
Going it
Just about 100,000 of Hong Kong’s children are growing up in a singleparent household. Marie Teather finds out what it’s like for parents who fly solo.
f you’re a parent and single in
Hong Kong, you’re not alone.
Today, with one in ten children
in Hong Kong being brought
up in a single-parent household, look
around any subway, bus or restaurant
and you’re certainly sharing glances
with parents who, for a number of
reasons, are bringing up a child alone.
Tracey Wan, an editor who grew
up in Hong Kong, became a single
mum in 1999 when the father of her
son left her for another woman he
met while working in China. Her son,
Aaron, is now almost 14 years old, and
Tracey thinks attitudes and support for
single-parent families have changed
a lot during this time. “These days,
everyone knows a single parent. It’s
very much the norm,” she says. “When
I first became a single parent, there
weren’t so many others. The couples I
knew would tend to invite only other
couples to social occasions, while my
single friends were still busy being
single. It was very lonely at times.”
So what has changed? At the 2011
census, just over 81,000 single-parent
households were recorded in Hong
Kong. With an increase of almost 25
per cent since the last count in 2001,
single-parent households are now very
much a part of Hong Kong’s societal
The figures also reveal something
else that’s interesting. While it’s
easy to assume that single parents
are divorced women, that would be
missing the increasing segment of
October 2013
parents who choose never to marry
(almost 5,000 at the last count),
mothers and fathers who choose to
adopt and have no partner, and those
who have been widowed.
All by myself
Regardless of what brings a parent to
this point in his or her life, they find
themselves in unfamiliar parenting
territory. As a single parent, you’re
doing the work of two people. You are
responsible for making each and every
decision for the well-being of your
child and home. No wonder you’ll
often hear the phrase, “I don’t know
how single parents do it”.
“You have to cope. There is no
choice. I am not the kind of person
to fixate on it [being a single parent].
I got up and got on with it,” Tracey
It’s a sentiment shared by Caroline
Coombs, owner of Good as New Baby
sales events, a personal trainer and
founder of Single Mums Hong Kong.
Caroline became a single parent in
2012 after a “whirlwind romance”
that she chose to break off. Two weeks
later, she found out she was pregnant.
Caroline remains truly positive on
her outlook as a single mum. She
remembers how she felt as she left her
family support and flew back from the
UK (where she had returned to give
birth): “Coming back to Hong Kong
on that plane, with my baby girl Lily,
I was so excited. I knew my life was
going to be very different from when
I left almost a year ago. Until then, I
didn’t really have any friends with kids
and so I knew I would be starting over
again to make a new group of friends.
I was also setting up my business.”
Work/life balance
Of course, in a country where the
average employee works 48.7 hours
per week, rents are high and part-time
jobs few and far between, trying to
maintain a balance of family life and
generate a supportive income is not
easy. For most single parents, working
is the only option. Perhaps it is Hong
Kong’s work-hard mentality, or that
the Comprehensive Social Security
Assistance (CSSA) of $3,500 only
applies to permanent residents, but
more than half of all single parents
were working at the last census.
However, what is perhaps
promising and indicative of single
parents’ voices being heard is that
the single-parent tax allowance has
been increased twice since 2007, from
$100,000 to $120,000, and, after a
certain amount of campaigning, set
at exactly half the married person’s
allowance of $240,000.
Talking about her financial
situation, Caroline, who is running
her own business, says, “There is no
option for failure because there is no
other income for me. It will hopefully
make my business a success.”
Tracey went back to work just
three weeks after delivering her
daughter. “Until that point I had
not been working full-time. I was a
freelance writer and tutor, which gave
me just enough money to pay the bills
and a helper,” she says. “Going back
to work was so hard, but after a week
or so it did get better. I had no choice.”
But what of child maintenance
when divorce or separation is a factor?
Mandatory child maintenance was
only brought into action in 2003, and
– inspiringly – it was single parents
like Tracey who helped bring about
change. Before that, while a court
could instruct a father to make child
support payments, there was no law in
place to force him to do so.
Tracey jokes she was “like a
broken record” and wouldn’t stop
campaigning until the situation
was changed. With the help of her
network, which included governmentlinked friends and people of influence,
Tracey helped change the law. In
2003, a law was enacted that meant a
father could be stopped from leaving
or coming into Hong Kong should he
not be up to date with his maintenance
October 2013
payments. And that’s what happened
to Tracey’s ex-partner. In 2004, when
Aaron was five years old, they started
to receive the first child maintenance
A village of one
While the majority of single parenting
advice suggests reaching out to your
extended family members for support,
for those whose extended families
live in a different country, finding a
support network can be all the more
Single parents in Hong Kong
often say the reality of bringing up a
child alone hits at the weekends when
the helper may be off, other families
are spending time together, and they
are alone to change the nappies. For
a single parent there is no respite – no
kicking back in the bath while the
other parent prepares dinner or takes
the kids out for an hour. Caroline also
jokes she misses being able to just pop
to the shops for five minutes.
There are organisations to
help, such as the Hong Kong Single
Parents Association and Mother’s
Choice. These days, thanks to social
media, there is the added benefit that
unofficial groups can also be easily
assembled. In an effort to make more
single-parent friends, Caroline set up
Good As New Baby and Single Mums
Hong Kong. “It’s great to share the
load, and not feel like the only single
parent in Hong Kong.”
That’s not to say that making time
for yourself or going out without your
child is easy. For many single parents,
it’s those important moments of “me
time” that are sacrificed. “When
Aaron was young, I would only stay
out if it was work-related. I didn’t have
a social life for a very long time,” says
Tracey. “I chose to have this baby.
I took it very seriously. I knew right
from the start that someone has to
love this baby and, as his father wasn’t
around, that someone was me.”
And that brings up another
inevitability for single parents:
the day your child asks about the
absent parent. Tracey has some
compassionate advice: “Make sure
you don’t turn your kids against the
other parent. I think the worst thing
is, no matter what has happened, to
let any resentment fall over to the kids.
Always be fair to them.”
Caroline agrees. “I’m going to tell
her the truth – without the unfriendly
bits, of course. Daddy lives in the UK
and he has his own life. Hopefully
I’ll bring her up with so much love,
attention and knowledge, it won’t be
an issue and she’ll happily accept it.”
Being a parent has been
described as life’s biggest lesson, and
yet, for those who don’t have the
traditional set-up we may have been
taught to believe is best for all, it can
be a scary ride, too.
Ever the optimist, Caroline offers
this advice to other people facing single
parenting: “Stay positive, be strong,
have faith and confidence in yourself
as a mum. Don’t fear going it alone.
As long as your babies know they are
loved and you are open and honest
with them, you can’t go wrong. They
will help you get through this time and
there is always light at the end of a dark
tunnel. It just may take some time to
get there. As for being a single mum, if
I can do it, anyone can!”
In a city known for high prices, a mother’s critical postnatal health
services are – surprisingly – free, writes Katie McGregor.
here’s no such thing as a
free lunch, right? While
it’s true that few things of
value come free, in Hong
Kong, if you have an ID card or are
a resident aged 11 years or younger,
you can participate in the Health
Authority’s postnatal mother and
childcare programme absolutely free.
At no cost to you, the programme
certainly presents excellent value! It
includes initial baby monitoring for
conditions such as jaundice, check-up
and removal of stitches, breastfeeding
advice, family planning, a schedule
of immunisations that cover
baby from newborn to Primary
Six, developmental and growth
monitoring, diet assessment and
hearing screening. Cantonese
speakers can also attend parental
education classes.
Most of the care and services take
place at one of the city’s 38 Maternal
Child & Healthcare Centres (MCHC).
If you’ve registered and received your
antenatal care at an MCHC, your free
care will start a week after the baby’s
birth and can continue at the same
MCHC location. If you’ve received
your antenatal care elsewhere – at a
private hospital, for example – you can
still use the free MCHC programme.
If any problems arise at check-points
throughout the free programme – for
example, if your baby has a low birth
weight or jaundice sets in – mothers
are usually referred to a specialised
clinic within their local hospital. Visit
the website (
to find an MCHC that’s convenient to
you and call to make an appointment.
Differences of opinion
Hong Kong is a leader in governmentsponsored postnatal care, and boasts
one of the lowest infant mortality rates
(the number of deaths before one year
of age). Since, in developed countries,
infant mortality rate is directly related
to postnatal care, you can be assured
that the care you receive will be of a
high standard. However, the “vibe”
that you get will vary among centres,
with some being more regimented
and others having a more nurturing
touch. The MCHC system allows you
the freedom to choose a centre, rather
than being forced into the one closest
to your home, so you can find the one
that best meets your needs.
The Health Authority’s
guidelines regarding breastfeeding
are reasonable and straightforward.
They say that all Department of
Health employees should “encourage
breastfeeding as the preferred method
of infant feeding”, “participate in
efforts to promote, protect and support
breastfeeding as the cultural norm,”
and “create a positive and supportive
October 2013
environment for breastfeeding”. And
some MCHCs offer excellent support
regarding breastfeeding; however,
staff at other centres have scared new
mothers into balls of nerves if their
babies are not achieving charted
weight goals. Rather than addressing
the root of the problem when the baby
is not gaining weight, in some clinics,
the goal becomes “fixing” the weight
issue itself, typically by giving babies
formula powder, despite the Health
Authority’s own guidelines. I’ve also
heard of cases where mothers receive
headmistress-like tut-tutting because
a baby isn’t eating his congee for
If you find that you’re not happy
with the first centre you visit, try
another. I’ve heard good reports from
patients of the MCHCs in Sai Ying
Pun, Sai Wan Ho, Wan Chai and
Tseung Kwan O. But, that doesn’t
mean you should restrict yourself to
these few centres. Different patients
will have different expectations and
Precious time
While your postnatal care is free, you
will pay with your time. The typical
government appointment system
works in two-hour blocks, where a
certain number of mothers are given
an appointment time of between, say
9am and 11am. Within that block of
time, patients will queue to be seen,
first-come first-served. Your best bet is
to book the first block in the morning
or the first one after lunch, when you
won’t encounter a backlog. Your next
best option is to arrive early for your
block and get the first appointment in
the queue. Or, if you find yourself with
a wait on your hands, settle in and
enjoy snuggle-time with your baby.
Some centres have a separate and
comfortable breastfeeding room that’s
usually quieter than the waiting room.
Some mothers are able to go
with the flow with the government
system, just relaxing while they wait
and thinking about how they’ll use
the money they’re saving for a really
nice family outing… or ten. Especially
if you supplement the free offerings
with other help when you need it –
regarding postnatal issues that are
specific to your culture, for example –
you can enjoy a positive experience.
Those supplemental services
might come from private clinics, such
as Annerley. Their patients often
use the free government system for
If you supplement the free offerings
with other help when you need it, you
can enjoy a positive experience.
services like immunisations, while
topping up with a bit of private
care for the more holistic aspects of
babycare, like breastfeeding, sleep
support and general advice. Private
clinics also offer a greater degree of
convenience, with services such as
home visits for weighing the baby and
removing the stitches. Mothers who
are looking for a second opinion or
even affirmation that they’re doing
the right thing and that their baby is
perfectly healthy and normal, often
find the support they’re looking for in
private clinics.
Because the focus of the
government system is to provide the
best care, at the best price, for the
majority of the population in its care,
if you fall outside the curve and need
extra services or support, sometimes
the only option is to go to a private
midwives’ or doctor’s practice.
We’re very lucky that Hong Kong
provides such an excellent healthcare
system, at a great price, that more
than covers the basics for postnatal
care. And we’re also lucky that we
have options – both public and
private – that mothers can mix and
match to get the best care to suit their
family’s needs.
feature_More care Less cash.indd 81
25/09/2013 12:23 PM
&share alike
From accommodation to cars, the internet is turning us from consumers into
providers and challenging established business models, writes Sonia Jackson.
he world in which we live
does not have an endless
supply of resources and there
has to be a more effective
way of using what already exists, right?
Why should everyone own a car that
sits idle most of the time? How about a
marina full of boats – how often do they
get used? Why own something outright,
only to have it sit unused for most of
its life, when you can rent it for brief
periods of time instead?
Dubbed “collaborative consumption”
or “the sharing economy” – where
people share things like cars (Zipcars),
skills (oDesk and deviantART), homes
(Airbnb) and even chores (TaskRabbit)
– sharing is a hot trend amongst
entrepreneurs. This movement towards
rental and sharing represents the new
intersection of online social networking,
mobile technology, limited resources
and heightened penny-pinching brought
on by lingering economic uncertainties.
October 2013
Hardly a new idea, the sharing
economy has been much discussed
amongst entrepreneurs and the media
since the global recession of 2008.
But when Avis announced it would
acquire the car-sharing service Zipcar
for US$500 million earlier this year, it
became clear that this was not a passing
In her June 2012 TED Talk,
Rachel Botsman, the social innovator
and author who popularised the idea
of collaborative consumption in her
book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of
Collaborative Consumption, suggested
that trust is the currency of the
sharing economy and that our online
reputations will become the tool for
measuring trust. Through sites like
Airbnb, people are becoming what she
calls “micro-preneurs”. They’re finding
a way to create markets out of the latent
value in their homes, cars, and through
using the power of technology to build
trust between strangers.
There’s an app for that
The emphasis is now on access rather
than owning. For a product or service
to function in the sharing economy, it
must have various essential qualities:
durability, adjustability, “share-ability,”
and a classic design. Rental systems
and redistribution markets both require
products that are made to last, will fit
a variety of users, and won’t go out of
style. Forbes estimated that people will
earn more than US$3.5 billion this year
through the sharing economy.
In California, drivers can easily fill
their cars with paying passengers using
Lyft’s on-demand ridesharing app. An
unused driveway in the UK suddenly
produces income via ParkatmyHouse.
Around the world, homeowners are
earning extra cash by renting out rooms
through Airbnb.
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2012,
EatWith connects diners with home
chefs and homeowners who are willing
to lend out their home to host supper
club-style meals. The company vets
potential hosts and allows them to list
menus and photos of their homes online.
Guests – who must be approved by
hosts – reserve tables and pay online.
EatWith, with 11 employees and US$1.2
million in venture capital, originally
aspired to offer tourists authentic local
meals. In less than a year, the company
has expanded across Europe, South
America and the US.
And take TaskRabbit, an online
and mobile marketplace that allows
users to outsource small jobs and tasks
to others in their neighbourhood.
Users name the tasks they need to have
completed (such as assembling Ikea
furniture, for example), name the price
they are willing to pay, and then a
network of pre-approved TaskRabbits
bid to complete the job. Launched
in 2008 and headquartered in San
Francisco, the company has received
funding totalling US$37.7 million to
date and now has more than 13,000
background-checked TaskRabbits in
14 US cities, with a London launch
Not only are household chores being
tackled, but TaskRabbit is expanding
into business: small businesses seeking
vetted, temporary staff, particularly
in events, office administration and
customer service functions, now account
for 40 per cent of their revenue. As Leah
Busque, founder of TaskRabbit, says,
“Providing people with the tools and
resources to set their own schedules,
be their own bosses and say how much
they want to get paid is incredibly
empowering. This has huge implications
for the global workforce.”
Hired in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is picking up on this trend,
too: handbags can be rented for a single
evening (Icon Lady); you can rent
the latest clothing for every occasion
(Mariée); luxurious yachts are for rent
(Elite Charters); caterers can be invited
home to prepare meals and parties
(Gingers). Why not opt to rent a toy
from the toy library (Hong Kong Toy
Library)? There are neighbourhood
clothing swaps and co-working spaces
(The Hive). How long can it be before
we can car-share, task-share, landshare, tool-share… And what about
tapping into the boundless skills of
professional mums who have opted to
stay at home to raise their children? Or
empowering senior citizens who have
retired with a wealth of knowledge
ready for sharing?
And perhaps it goes beyond access:
With the global population expected
to reach nine billion by 2050, and our
supply of natural resources on the
wane, it is ever more important to find
ways to curb the waste inherent to the
modern consuming world. When we
commit to owning less, sharing more
and making the most of the unused
capacity of the goods already in
circulation, it’s better for us all, and for
our planet.
feature_Share & share alike.indd 83
25/09/2013 2:25 PM
freshen up
In the right hands, sound waves and
radiofrequency can enhance looks without
ruining the canvas, writes Ingrid Keneally.
hen it comes to ageing gracefully, we know
we can’t go wrong by eating a healthy diet
that includes red berries and leafy green
vegetables. Wearing sunscreen daily is a
simple, yet startlingly effective, way to preserve a youthful
appearance. On smoking, the message is clear: give up.
On stress: less is more. Drinking water regularly can help
maintain a hydrated, fresh look.
We are bombarded with stories about the ageing
process – especially that any visible sign of it is a wretched
blight to be avoided. On television shows such as Extreme
Makeover and Bridalplasty, where brides compete against one
another for the chance to win a plastic surgery makeover
before they walk down the aisle, the endless search for
perfection runs an irrational race to a ridiculous finish line.
Extreme transformation is in; subtle is out.
Closer to home, in Thailand, many of our friends
and acquaintances have their breasts augmented, teeth
whitened, noses reshaped and tummies tucked, all in the
hope of bringing youth back into their looks. That quest
for rejuvenation, particularly in our skin’s appearance,
can be an all-consuming project – and one with a nearly
unattainable goal.
But trying to look your best doesn’t have to be a bad
thing, if we keep the expectations reasonable, realistic
and age-appropriate. There are tools at our disposal that
allow us to age gracefully, without trying to look like
teenagers and without radically overhauling our parts
beyond recognition. We don’t have to leave everything
in the hands of gravity and nature, but can instead let a
touch of maturity and elegance come to the fore. Relatively
straightforward, non-surgical procedures simply freshen
up our looks and skin tone, without losing the intrigue and
character that comes from experience. It’s about finding a
balance between youth, desire and reality.
A subtler approach
In the late nineties, injectables such as Botox and dermal
fillers came on to the scene, making facial wrinkles more
of a choice than an inevitability. The Cosmetic Physicians
Society of Australasia – which represents doctors from
Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore – says
that Australians spent more than HK$4 billion on these
types of “non-surgical” cosmetic treatments between April
2011 and April 2012, almost 15 per cent higher than the
previous year. This was a huge jump from five years ago,
when those consumers were spending HK$2 billion.
When you’re battling mild to moderate signs of ageing –
which often include skin laxity – these and other less invasive
ways can help freshen your look while avoiding the six- to
eight-week downtime a surgical procedure would require.
Thermage (radiofrequency skin-tightening treatment)
and Ultherapy (ultrasound energy treatment) are fast and
relatively pain-free options. Thermage uses radiofrequency
technology to heat up the skin, penetrating specific areas
with a focused energy to help kick-start the body’s own
natural renewal process. It has been on the market for
about 12 years, and seems to have been improved over
October 2013
that time. New technology makes for a more comfortable
patient experience. A face or eye treatment takes about 45
minutes; treatments on larger areas of the body require
about 90 minutes.
Ultherapy, which has been available for several years,
uses ultrasound and the body’s own natural healing process
to stimulate the deep structural layers of the skin without
disturbing the surface of the skin. One Ultherapy treatment
will take about 60 to 90 minutes.
Plastic surgeon Dr Cheung Wing Yung, who works at
the Pedder Clinic in Tsim Sha Tsui, says Thermage and
Ultherapy are generally safe for the face and body, and
most patients can head straight back
to the office after a treatment. It is
all about working below the surface
imperfections and remodelling collagen
to help skin achieve that smooth,
youthful look we all crave.
seemed lifted. She’s happy to wear eye shadow again and
says, “I just look better … I felt more confident again.”
How much will these treatments hurt? Some patients
experience discomfort, but most say it is minimal. Kristen
remembers tingling around her eyes during Thermage,
but says she didn’t find it overtly painful. Elaine admits
that, “The treatment was a bit painful,” but says the doctor
can give you pre-treatment pain medication if you both
think it’s necessary. Ultherapy is specifically indicated
for eyebrow lifting, but not for eyelid treatment, and this
procedure can be slightly more painful than the Thermage
eyelid and face treatments, especially on the sensitive areas
close to the bone and nerves.
The complications for these procedures
are rare and Dr Cheung says plastic
surgeons are always trying their best to
ensure patient safety and high satisfaction
by minimising risks. Some patients
experience reactions such as redness and
swelling, which usually subside within 24
hours. During Ultherapy, the ultrasound
machine monitor allows the physician
to control heat waves without disrupting
healthy fat layers in the skin.
With any aesthetic treatment, both the
procedure and the satisfaction regarding
the results are personal and individual; there is no one-sizefits-all treatment or result. Dr Cheung says that while these
treatments can help correct the signs of collagen loss, skin
laxity and fine wrinkles, they cannot reverse the normal
ageing process, which includes fat- and bone-loss. And they
cannot offer the dramatic changes that surgical or more
invasive procedures can. “Laser skin resurfacing is still the
most effective single treatment for facial rejuvenation and
really is good at correcting all signs of ageing,” Dr Cheung
Growth and change in expression is inevitable. Lines
add character, and beauty can radiate from a glimmer in
the eye of a confident woman. Thermage and Ultherapy
build a little bridge to lift unwanted sagging and add to lost
tone and definition. We are works in progress and, with the
choice of a range of simple, non-invasive procedures, we
can present our best face to the world without losing our
individual expression.
We can present
our best face
to the world
without losing
our individual
Smooth operator
Heather Ryan, 44, a graphic designer
and mother of two, had Thermage
on her face and found a gradual and
natural improvement. Elaine Chan, 38,
a nurse and mother of three, swears by
her treatments. She had Thermage to
tone up her post-pregnancy stomach after her third child,
as well as on her face. Elaine says, “Thermage helped iron
out the creases. I don’t have the lines around my mouth
anymore and my skin has changed: it is smoother. For
anyone concerned about their wrinkles, I would definitely
recommend Thermage.”
Though the treatments are quick and you can typically
return to your normal activities right away, the results
might not be immediately apparent. Dr Cheung says,
“Overall tissue changes are subtle and can take two to
three months to evolve and develop.” Kristen Smythe, 43, a
journalist who had a Thermage treatment on her eye area
says that, although she was pleased with the process, “I
didn’t notice the change around my eyes and on my eyelids
until I saw the before and after photos at the doctor’s a few
weeks later.” She says her eyes looked brighter and less tired
than before the treatment. Karen, 42, a mother of three,
had Ultherapy around her eyes and noticed her eyelids
October 2013
This month, the world will
celebrate International
Babywearing Week.
Katie McGregor describes
the burdens and bonuses
of travelling with a baby
on board.
s residents or natives of
Asia, we certainly don’t
need to be told that
babywearing – wearing
or carrying your baby in a sling
or other form of carrier – is a very
traditional practice. But, traditional
doesn’t necessarily equate to good.
When pushchairs and prams promise
an easier life for mums and dads – not
only saving parents’ backs from the
strain of carrying a baby, but also
providing a useful trolley for carrying
shopping and baby paraphernalia
– you might think twice about
babywearing. And yet it is becoming
an increasingly popular practice.
Bonding bonus
“Keeping baby close is one of the
fundamentals of attachment parenting,
a style of parenting where close
parental bonding with the child as it
grows is thought to lead to confident,
happy and empathetic adults,”
explains Hulda Thorey, head midwife
and founder of Annerley. “There
is much research that supports the
theory. For example, at the most basic
level, we know that babywearing
makes it easier to breastfeed, and
there is a great deal of research about
the benefits of breastfeeding in child
development and health,” she says.
“The immediate benefits of
babywearing include an easier bonding
between a mother or father and
baby, which helps prevent postnatal
depression and develops the paternal
bond; and increased mobility for a
mum, so that she can get tasks done
and/or take care of older children,”
Hulda continues. “And babies who
are carried tend to be calmer and
sleep better. Research also suggests
that these babies are socialised sooner
because they hear language and see
more human interaction from their
special vantage point.”
In Hong Kong’s stroller-unfriendly
streets, babywearing also offers an
easier way to get around. Therese Tee,
a passionate babywearer, says: “We
rarely use a stroller, as I find it too
cumbersome in Hong Kong… Even
when we travel on vacation, we always
carry the little one and leave the
stroller behind.”
Another babywearing fan,
Liz Chow, also vouches for the
convenience: “I didn’t intend to
practise attachment parenting;
it just sort of came naturally and
babywearing was a big part of it. We
didn’t have a helper, so I brought my
baby with me wherever I went, naptime, all the time. It was convenient
and really nice to just always have her
so close.”
October 2013
A fine art
If you have tried babywearing using
a sling, you will already know it’s
not easy at first. The Babywearing
International organisation suggests
that babywearing is best viewed
as a skill to be learned, rather
than the result of the product you
buy. Useful tips on their website
org) include practising with a doll,
practising “loading” the baby while
seated on the floor, and if you are
back-loading for an older baby,
practising with someone to “spot”
you and catch the baby if necessary.
The site also provides lots of
common-sense tips on safety.
Another concern is the possibility
of musculoskeletal damage that
babywearing may cause both baby
and parents. Dr Michelle Zhou, an
Australian-trained chiropractor who
practises in Hong Kong, advises
that there are three key stages of
development for a baby’s spine, and
the ideal manner of carrying and
carrier type depends on the baby’s
stage of development.
“As a newborn, the whole of
baby’s spine is in kyphosis (concaved
towards the abdomen) with very
little neck control. A sling made of
breathable fabric that holds baby in a
horizontal or diagonal position with
head and bottom curved inwards
provides the best support. And with
baby held across Mum’s tummy, she is
in a perfect position for breastfeeding
and keeps nice and warm, and Mum
can keep an eye on her,” she says.
Around three months of age,
when a baby has better neck control
and is able to hold her head up, her
first adult spinal lordosis (convex
towards the abdomen) in the neck
region starts to develop. Michelle
advises that a vertical carrying
position becomes more beneficial,
strengthening baby’s neck muscles
and also developing and training
her inner ear balance mechanism.
However, care should be taken to
ensure that the baby’s lower back,
which is still in kyphosis, is supported
in its inward curving position.
“As the baby is gaining weight
quickly, the pelvic support of the
carrier needs to be broad so that the
baby’s weight is spread over a wider
area, rather than concentrated onto
a small point – often the crotch. A
carrier with a broad-based ‘seat’,
ideally extending all the way to his
knees, is ideal. At this stage, the baby
should be carried facing Mum or
Dad,” says Michelle.
“I have always advised against
wearing baby facing outwards, as
this places a tremendous amount of
strain on baby’s pubis, the smallest
and weakest part of the pelvis. Many
parents are concerned about hip
dysplasia from the wide spread hip
position when baby faces inwards,
but, in fact, when well-supported
by a broad-based ‘seat’ carrier, the
open hip position is a very normal
movement for the hip, especially in
babies,” she says.
The second and final lordosis
in the lower back starts to develop
once the baby starts crawling and
sitting. As she approaches her
first birthday, a baby may
have outgrown her
benefits of
include an
easier bonding
between a
mother or
father and
broad-based carrier and at this stage,
Michelle recommends a strap-on
hip-seat that allows Mum or Dad to
maintain a neutral upright posture
while carrying baby.
If done right, parents can choose
to continue carrying their baby well
into baby’s second year, but there is
some concern that so much carrying
can result in an overly clingy baby.
Hulda responds: “Of course, all
babies are different, but if a baby is
clingy then it probably is insecure
and the best cure is more closeness,
not less. In my experience, when
your toddler is ready to leave the
nest, she will, as fast as her legs will
carry her. You’ll be yearning for the
time when she was safely strapped in
and you were in control. But that’s
another story.”
June 2013
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October 2013
feature_Carried Away 94
25/09/2013 5:25 PM
Amid China’s incredible forward propulsion lies a
peaceful corner that fuses the country’s past and
present. Sonia Jackson sets out to explore Yunnan
province with her husband, her children, a bicycle,
some horses and some very warm clothes.
Photography: Sonia Jackson
o travel in China is to
experience a country
where nothing is standing
still. Roads are being
carved out of the mountainside in
every corner of this vast country.
China’s progress is apparent in
every building rising into the sky, in
every city sprawling into the rural
countryside. To find peace amongst
the chaos, where one is able to sit,
enjoy and watch, is very hard to do.
But hidden in the south-west of
the country, China’s Yunnan province
is opening up to a new kind of tourism
– a more cultural, experience-led
kind, be it luxury or local, a pleasant
change from the tourism of old. With
Myanmar and Laos to the south, and
the vast Tibetan Plateau to the north,
subtropical villages break into highaltitude towns in the foothills of the
Himalayas, where yaks, prayer flags
and monasteries abound.
Fifty-two of China’s 56 minority
ethnic groups live in Yunnan; tribes,
dialects and beliefs are so varied
that groups from one valley speak a
language foreign to their neighbours
in the next. Taking advantage of this
fascinating geographic and cultural
mix, we ventured into what – to us –
felt truly like “real” China, linking its
past and present.
In the Yunnan province, Lijiang
has been well and truly discovered.
But four kilometres to the northwest of the old town of Lijiang, at
the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow
Mountain, lies a spectacular village:
the old town of Shuhe. Once famous
for its leatherwork, Shuhe is now a
fascinating peek into old China. Like
Shangri-La in the north, Shuhe was
a stop on the Tea Horse Road over
which Tibetan horses and Chinese
tea were traded for centuries. Today
that heritage is still in evidence, with
dozens of horses still carrying goods
through the ancient village. Their
clomping hooves and jangling bells
provided a backdrop to all we did.
A recognised area of the Lijiang
UNESCO World Heritage site, and
one of the earliest settlements of the
ancestors of Naxi people, Shuhe was
far less crowded and much more
charming than its higher-profile
neighbour, and boasted wide lanes
lined with weeping willows and
women washing laundry in the natural
springs just as they have since the 13th
century. The town is alive with the
deep culture of primitive simplicity.
Where to go, what to do
We went with our friends, and stayed
in a delightful guesthouse in Shuhe,
basic but comfortable and clean.
Breakfasts at the Vanilla Café set us
off nicely for the day as we watched
the buffalo tending the land. There
are plenty of local places to stay, but
if you’re looking for a bit of luxury
mixed with authenticity, that’s easy to
find in the Banyan Tree, the Anantara
a little further up the mountain, or
the Aman and Grand Hyatt, both
scheduled to open in 2014. Good local
food is plentiful, and the markets have
an abundance of delicious fruits and
vegetables. Bring your own nappies,
though – I ran out and found that
sanitary towels were the only local
option for my poor nine-month-old,
besides the split pants trousers the
locals prefer.
We rented bikes for the duration,
and each day packed a picnic and
went exploring – two couples and six
children (aged from nine months to
seven years) all perched in various
positions upon the tandems. Ambling
through the area by bike is to pass
steep gorges and stunning lakes, an
extraordinary setting with staggering
views and eye-wateringly bright
snow-capped mountains. There are
gorges and waterfalls, parks and
mountainsides, wind-blasted and
timeless scenery all around – days
of exploration and adventure for the
One particular favourite of mine
was the remote village of Baisha – one
of the oldest villages in the area and
far enough removed that we were
the only tourists. Baisha was the first
Naxi minority ancestor stronghold
and you’ll still find the Naxi women
selling vegetables on the well-worn
steps in the village square. Much of
the architecture and frescoes built in
the Ming Dynasty are well preserved
in the village. Baisha also plays home
to Dr Ho Shixui, an expert in herbal
cures and regularly featured on
the BBC and National Geographic
Channel, whose philosophy is simple:
“Optimism is the best medicine.”
But something that beats all
of this is a small Baisha post office
that sends letters “into the future”.
Unbeknownst to me, my husband
ventured in and wrote a beautiful
piece of prose and chose a date. Sure
enough, three months later, on a wellchosen house-moving day, I received a
perfectly timed pick-me-up note with
everything I needed for the task that
lay ahead!
Unique adventures
Our friends had made contact with
the local village school and our fiveyear-old daughter Georgia joined
her two friends, Romi and Tara, for
a few days at the school – total pupil
count 15 – eating duck egg and jelly
with soy sauce, napping with the other
October 2013
feature_Time travel.indd 102
25/09/2013 2:29 PM
kids, and being spoken to entirely in
Mandarin as they endeavoured to
teach the children English. Each day
we would drop them off by bicycle,
well wrapped up against the fresh,
but chilly, mountain air, and every
evening collect a very happy trio
bursting with their new discoveries.
The head teacher was the only English
speaker and she was delightful, and
clearly thrilled with the three new
Another favourite – especially
for our horse-mad three-year-old
Ollie – were the local horses, available
for rent for HK$20 per hour. The
children rode horses way up into the
mountains as we followed on foot
through a landscape where I totally
expected civilisation would run out,
where timeless and wind-blasted views
abounded. Each evening the children
would delight in playing “Pooh
sticks” in the streams, watching the
indigenous people dressed up in their
bright colours dancing to the local
music. The fresh mountain air and
constant exercise meant the bedtime
routine was perfectly brief.
It is an extraordinary setting, as
remote and wild as any I’ve been to.
And yet it’s difficult to fathom that
less than an hour down the mountain,
the construction continues to boom.
Old and new ways of life rub so closely
together here that it’s almost shocking
to witness. But that’s what makes
Yunnan such a compelling place in
which to travel. Up on the plateau
with the snow peaks and lush green
plains, where the yaks travel by road
and the laundry is washed in streams,
China’s forward propulsion feels very
far away indeed.
October 2013
ssing up as g
This Hallowee
ulish goodies.
and makin
Words & Styling Ingrid Keneally | Photography & Styling Belinda Bath | Models Oscar, Nuala, Tara and some friendly ghosts
Get industrious
and paint a large
piece of plywood
with blackboard
paint. You’ll find
the plywood at
Lockhart Road in
Wan Chai. Put some
chalk colours out
and let the children
go wild.
There are a lot
of delicious pies
at Tai Tai Pie Pies
– including the
ultimate Halloween
flavour: pumpkin.
For extra-sweet
party bags, fill them
with treats from
Saffron Bakery and
A&M. Meringues
and spooky jelly
cups made by
styling team.
October 2013
Tara wears black singlet,
$99, H&M. Orange nail
polish, and plastic spiders
from Toys“R”Us will amp
up the Halloween style.
Quench the thirst of every guest with vanilla
milkshakes in lovely clear melamine glasses,
available from Franc Franc. For simple
decorating, grab some black sticky paper
available from Happy Valley and cut shapes
for masks.
White singlets provide a simple starting place
for dress-up costumes. Then, go to Yu Chau
Street in Sham Shui Po for embellishments. We
picked up black and white butterflies there
and worked them into our theme.
Oscar wears an orange Halloween costume,
and Nuala wears an orange tutu, both from
Pottinger Street in Central.
For cupcakes all ghosts and ghouls
will love, call on the experts, like
Party Mate Cakes, who will work
with you to develop a theme.
Sheeting fabric from Shenzhen makes for an easypeasy ghost costume. Just be sure to cut eyeholes
so your little ones can see all that candy they’ll be
collecting. Ghost meringues were created by the
stylist, and the melamine tray is her own.
October 2013
Ghost cake pops by Party Mate Cakes.
Melamine box is stylist’s own.
Nuala wears black
singlet, $99, H&M.
Lucan wears white collared shirt, $700, blue
and white seersucker shorts, $750, both from
Ralph Lauren; blue cardigan with detail, $380,
Chickeeduck. Monty wears white collared
shirt, $330, blue check shorts, $350, and grey
cotton vest, $320, all from Chickeeduck; blue
patterned bow-tie, $580, Ralph Lauren.
Skull-ful carving: carve it,
paint it, prod it – fashion a
pumpkin into your child’s very
own trick-or-treat bag. Ours
is filled with sweets and treats
from Saffron Bakery and A&M.
Colonial style
One family moved from South Lantau to
Hong Kong Island, and managed to bring
tranquillity along to their city life.
Words & Styling Ingrid Keneally | Photography Melanie Adamson
hen Zimbabwean-born couple Lauren and
Bob Ward decided to swap their country life in
peaceful South Lantau for Hong Kong Island,
it was in pursuit of a life a little closer to urban
amenities for their three children, Andy, five, Katie, three,
and Daniel, 18 months. Yet, finding an apartment in a quiet,
peaceful location was still a priority.
“Our friends showed us this apartment with the little garden
and all the greenery. We knew we’d found the place. We love
being close to the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir; it’s great for walking up
to the Peak and accessing some beautiful trails,” Lauren says.
The apartment’s style feels old-colonial, a reminder of
Bob and Lauren’s childhoods spent growing up in Zimbabwe.
“We enjoyed lovely old homes with high ceilings and parquet
flooring. This old apartment reminds us a little of home,” says
Lauren. A self-confessed lover of an old-fashioned look –
“modern” and “minimalist” are not in her style vocabulary
– each piece has a history, its own story to tell. There’s a
Moroccan folding tea table with a brass tray that belonged
to Lauren’s grandparents – who bought it on their honeymoon
in Kenya just weeks before her grandfather was called up for
WWII. Even a hot pink, shabby chic chair sits and waits rather
September 2013
regally in the guest bathroom.
The interior is child-friendly, yet warm and inviting. Many of
the objects are fun and pretty; nothing is showy or contrived.
Detailed decorative displays and exquisite ornaments serve
as a creative showcase of the couple’s love of travelling. With
parents in South Africa and England, they are on the move a lot.
Lauren has taken inspiration from her mother’s style. When
she visits, “she usually moves things around and it looks better,”
says Lauren. Bowerbird in Ap Lei Chau is her go-to store for
interior buys. “It’s everything I love about home furnishings,” says
Lauren. Although a lot of her ceramics and soft furnishings have
come from homeware stores in China, she also searches online
at Not On The High Street and Etsy for unique pieces.
It is a focus on relaxation – the sense of the carefree – that
this home emotes. And throwing back to their childhood
homes, the couples’ favourite place in their home is the sun
room, where classic plantation shutters open out to fresh
greenery in a garden the children love to play in.
reg_subscriptions.indd 116
25/09/2013 4:52 PM
reg_subscriptions.indd 117
25/09/2013 2:30 PM
1310_YWA.indd 118
25/09/2013 3:32 PM
“Without words,
without writing
and without books,
there would be no history,
there would be no humanity.”
Hermann Hesse, Swiss author
The Hong Kong
Young Writers Awards 2014
P3, the publisher of Playtimes magazine,
reminds schools to register for HKYWA.
Thank you to all the schools that have already registered for
HKYWA 2014. If your child’s school has not registered, it’s not too
late. But hurry: the deadline is 30 October.
Budding authors and artists must register through their school teachers who can send a
completed registration form to [email protected] The form has been sent to every
international and local school in Hong Kong but you can always find this and further details
on our website
For those of you who have registered, it’s never too early to get started. Students can start
brainstorming ideas for their Fiction, Non-Fiction, Cover Art and Poetry entries under
this year’s theme – New Tales of the Gobi Desert. With the chance to be published in a
professional anthology, this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss! We have some
fantastic prizes, trophies and certificates that will be awarded to the 100 top students at the
HKYWA awards ceremony in April 2014.
Calling all sponsors!
If you or your company are interested in sponsoring
the Hong Kong Young Writers Awards 2014, we would
love to hear from you. On initial contact we will send
you a copy of our sponsorship kit, which shares our
vision and goals created to support charities and
enrich the educational community of Hong Kong.
Supported by
Please contact [email protected]
now for more details.
A&M |
B006-009 Shun Tak Centre (Macau Ferry Terminal), Sheung Wan
209 Stanley Plaza, Stanley PETIT BAZAAR |
9 Gough Street, Central
80 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
9 Stanley Market Road, Stanley
2101, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau Unit 2114-18, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau
2552 5000
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2522 7112
G/F Block A Dairy Farm Building, 100 Peak Road, The Peak
Shop G04 Ground Floor, Stanley Plaza
Shop G120, Repulse Bay Shopping Arcade, 109 Repulse Bay Road
Shop F3, GF Gold Coast Piazza, Tuen Mun
24 Square Street, Sheung Wan
H&M |
30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
3521 1171
Elements, Kowloon Station, Tsim Sha Tsui
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Pies are also available at Great Food Hall, LG1, Pacific Place, Admiralty.
Langham Place, Mong Kok
3580 7621
Cityplaza, Tai Koo 3101 4463
Plaza Hollywood, Diamond Hill
3102 9143
TMT Plaza, Ph 1, Tuen Mun
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2606 7708
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Metro City Plaza, Tseung Kwan O
3427 9470
Shop 7-12, Mega Box, Kowloon Bay
2116 4240
Olympian City 2, Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon 2273 4230
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Shop 209, 2/F, 311 Gloucester Road, Windsor House, Causeway Bay
2808 1773
3/F, Citiplaza, Taikoo Shing
Harvey Nichols, Level 1, Pacific Place, Admiralty
3968 2566
Man Yee Building, 67 Queen’s Road Central, Central
7/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Shop 23, 2/F, Aberdeen Centre, Site 2, Aberdeen
Unit G29-G34 G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui 2375 6020
Shop OTG23, Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui
Shop 209, 2/F, 311 Gloucester Road, Windsor House, Causeway Bay
2808 1773
Shop G01, Olympian City 3, West Kowloon
Harvey Nichols, Level 1, Pacific Place, Admiralty
Level 1 of Commercial Centre, Discovery Park, Tsuen Wan
Tuen Mun Towne Plaza, Phase 2, Shop 2196, Tuen Mun
New Town Plaza III, Shop A198-A199, Level 1, Sha Tin
Festival Walk, Shop L2-02, 80 Tatchee Avenue, Kowloon Tong
MegaBox, Units 2 & 5, Level 8, Kowloon Bay
Shop B24A-B33, Site 11, Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom
Metro City Plaza 2, Tseung Kwan O, Kowloon
2548 8200
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Editorial Deadline: 9 October
Booking Deadline: 17 October
Artwork Deadline: 18 October
Coming in November
& Baby
Safe sex
Can you do it during pregnancy?
Comforting or crazy?
Many mums are co-sleeping
A little garden grows
Pregnancy-related hair-growth
Mega morning sickness
What is hyperemesis?
Dad’s duties
Helping Mum in the delivery room
For more information or to book advertising space, please email [email protected]
October 2013
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25/09/2013 12:04 PM
October 2013
October 2013
Want to reach over
50,000 affluentparents
in Hong Kong?
Contact the Playtimesadvertising team to find
out how. e
mail:[email protected]
October 2013
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25/09/2013 2:00 PM
Money secrets
of mythical beings
All through the year, legendary figures keep society’s
cash moving, says father-of-three Nury Vittachi.
alk about a worrying metaphor. On the day of
writing this, I saw a picture in the news in the
Chinese God of Wealth protesting in Guangzhou
over unpaid wages.
Of course I realised that it wasn’t the REAL God of
Wealth, since I saw Cai Shen down at my local shopping mall
yesterday, and it seems unlikely he could have got to the
protest in Guangzhou the same day, given the difficulty of
moving in ankle-length red robes.
Anyway, the whole idea is screwy. No one expects to
PAY Cai Shen. The God of Wealth is an astonishingly large
one-way OUTWARD cash delivery conduit (the exact
opposite of my daughters).
Actually, I’ve always
thought that the God of
Wealth’s operation felt like
a tax-reduction dodge,
possibly arranged by
some sort of association of
mythical characters.
The topic of tax and magic came up at a lunch I had
with two small businessmen (that’s the official phrase,
but one was medium-sized and the other was doorchallengingly huge) who were discussing staff bonuses.
One said that he planned to give them out as personal lai
see packets because staff would not be taxed on them. The
other said that if this was true, all bonuses would be given
out as lai see packets.
A third party at the table said that he had looked up the
relevant Hong Kong ordinance and there were references
to bonuses and “dim yung”, which is a Cantonese term for “a
little off the top”, but no mention of lai see packets.
I did not contribute to the discussion, but quietly
resolved to invest in the production of extra-large lai see
envelopes massive enough to receive the sort of multimillion-dollar bonus that investment bankers get. I shall call
them Lai See Buckets.
Talking of mythical characters, that Santa Claus clearly
runs some sort of highly suspect operation which involves
no known sources of income and yet has massive flows
of outgoings. This is a ludicrous business model used by
nobody at all, except for YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter,
Instagram, and a thousand more of today’s best known
Note that Santa lives in the Arctic, which is a totally taxfree jurisdiction, and visits 200 countries on a single night,
thus spending too little time in any of them to be classified
as a taxable resident. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that
Santa is running some sort of loss-leading programme
designed to increase
turnover for retailers.
As a Hongkonger, I’ve
always wondered about
the connection between
Chang'e, the Goddess of
the Moon, and the snacks
sold at vast expense in her name: moon cakes. How much
of this cash is repatriated to the Moon? Not a cent, I am
reliably told. Why not? If profits were “repatriated” to the
Moon, they would attract a zero tax rate, since there is a
curious shortage of inland revenue inspectors up there.
Once moon cake makers realise this, they will surely move
their head offices to the Sea of Tranquillity with immediate
Meanwhile, there’s only one mythical person I know
who actually insists on getting something for her money.
And that’s the Tooth Fairy. She doesn’t pay a lot of money
to her customers, yet she ends up with a supply of highgrade ivory. Smart lady.
The topic of tax and magic
came up at a lunch I had with
two small businessmen.
Nury Vittachi writes a regular humour column at
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