The Weekly # 7: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas? Sexy Santa, Next Level Bling, and the Dangers of Google Translate

Snow Bunnies

We had our first proper cool front come through Hong Kong over the past few days. Today is the coldest day we’ve had since we arrived. It was 57 degrees Farenheit this morning, but it will be getting up to 64. I wore a sweater. People around me were in full-on ankle-length down parkas and beanie hats.


I actually do understand the cold affecting people a bit more here because most places (including my home) do not have heating. So while walking around outside with temperatures in the 50’s isn’t terribly cold, it is pretty chilly when your apartment is 57 degrees.

Nevertheless. This extent of bundling up seems unnecessary. But I guess I now understand why the stores were selling the equivalent of ski gear over the past month. People actually wear it!

Christmas Decor

Since Hong Kong does not celebrate American Thanksgiving (why would they?), the transition to the Christmas season came early. I know there is a lot of debate about when the appropriate time to decorate for Christmas is, but here it was October 31st when the lights went up downtown and the mall I live above had wrapped all the railings with garland. This felt especially strange because the temperatures were still warm enough to swim at the beach.

Yes, this is at Disneyland Hong Kong. You caught me.

Of course, I realize that people in the Southern Hemisphere always experience Christmas as a summer holiday, but we are above the equator, so December is actually “winter” here, just for a part of the world with very mild seasonal changes.

Some of the decor was a little…less conventional.


There was a ball pit full of pink and white balls at the bottom of this into which many adults had climbed to take selfies. Sadly, I did not get a picture of this phenomenon.

The Dangers of Google Translate

I shared this on my Instagram, but I went to a small local restaurant with some coworkers recently and was absolutely baffled by the menu. Since they read Cantonese, they didn’t notice at first how bizarre the translations were.


To me, this is a classic example of popping something into Google Translate and getting a word for word literal translation of the characters. After some discussion with my coworkers, I was able to make some sense of the cuisine.

D. “Sign Card Bonnie.” The characters translated as “sign card” is some way of saying it’s a top pick or chef’s favorite or something. Bonnie is a weird translation of bolognese. It’s spaghetti bolognese.

E. Sicilian juice field snail angel face. Best guess is Sicilian juice refers to the sauce, field snail is maybe a mussel, and angel face is angel hair pasta.

F. Vanilla fried seafood spaghetti. Seafood spaghetti with a cream sauce.

I. Cheese juice baked dragon li liu rice. Your guess is as good as mine.

Moral of the story – don’t trust Google translate. Always ask a native speaker.

 A New Level of Bling

There are several chains of jewelry stores all over the city with window displays of the most over-the-top jewelry I’ve ever seen. I have never seen anyone on the street wearing anything remotely like this and I can’t imagine who the target demographic is. (Maybe the people who buy these keep them in display cases in their homes? Or use them as investments like buying gold bouillon?)


I do know that the coming year will be the year of the pig in the Chinese Zodiac, which at least explains the theme of these pieces, if not their size and gaudiness. Like all traditional Chinese things, I assume it has something to do with good luck. All I know is that Jonathan refused to buy me one for my birthday. How rude!



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