Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Amazing Macau

I was in Macau for a workshop.  In the evening, after dinner, I went out to jog around the block.  

It was a humongous block.  

Even more amazing was that the whole area was reclaimed from the sea. 10 years ago I would have been running in the sea.

The hotels were brightly-lit in the night.  

Many buildings are knock-offs of grand buildings in Europe.  

All these fantastic buildings, hotels, restaurants entertainment, etc., even the land itself, are all built on the foundation of gambling.  

In 2013, it was said they brought in US $45 billion, 3 times the GDP of Cambodia in 2013.  What is better: Being poor, or filthily rich?

Monday, December 05, 2016

Benefits of Service-Learning

One of my former students, and current staff at the Office of Service-Learning, got married a week ago.  Practically our whole office went to his wedding.  The bride was in fact also a former student who participated in some of our service-learning projects.  

At the wedding banquet, he told the hundreds of guests that they “met” at the service-learning project.  In fact, there were several other such couples that “resulted” from service-learning.  It seems finding your better half can also be one of the benefits of service-learning.   

Saturday, December 03, 2016


On Thursday, 1 December, we opened our Second International Conference on Service-Learning. 230 people were registered, and 160 showed up for the opening.  Over the 2 days, 200+ people participated, coming from 20 countries/regions.  This was much beyond what we had expected.  

Together with the conference, we organised an exhibition of photographs of our students in action. 

We also published 2 books.  One on the experience from 2010, when we decided to require our undergraduates to take at least one credit-bearing subject in service-learning, to 2016, when we graduated our first cohort of students who have fulfilled this requirement.  

The other reports on a selection of overseas projects, written by 3 student journalists from Brown University.  

All these are part of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of our university. It is a 5-in-1 bargain.  Here are some notes I have written from the conference.  

A lot of people seemed to be quite happy with the conference. 6 years ago, I did not anticipate that we would have done as much.  It was certainly God’s blessing that made it happen.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fei Ngo Shan (飛鵝山)

For the first time in my life, I ran 11.5 km in the morning, and then hiked for another 11 km in the afternoon with my wife and our second daughter.  Towards the end, all my toes were hurting.  But it was worth it.  We hiked up Tse Wan Shan and then Fei Ngo Shan.  This was a rare clear day, and the views were fantastic.  

We climbed up Shatin Pass Road and turned to the east.  Along the way, we got a full view of Kowloon.  We saw the old runway at old Kai Tak Airport.  We could even identify the building in Hung Hum where we are living in.  We saw the Stonecutter Island Bridge.  We saw the landmarks on both sides of Victoria Harbour.  We could see Hong Kong Island from end to end.  We could see Green Island off the western tip of Kennedy Town.  

Continuing on Shatin Pass Road towards the east, we got to the junction with Jat’s Incline and Fei Ngo Shan Road.  Since the weather was so good and we were feeling good, we decided to tackle Fei Ngo Shan Road.  Soon we turned towards the north side of Fei Ngo Shan Road and saw Cheung Kwan O (Junk Bay), as far east as the garbage dump. 

At one point, we could see both Junk Bay and Sai Kung at the same time.  

For the first time, I could see the boats moored in Sai Kung, the Islands in the area, and as far as the West Dam of the Hing Island Reservoir.  

Turning our eyes to the north, our daughter pointed out that we could see Tai Po, even the big white statue of Kwun Yum.

There were other interesting sights too. But I have to take a break now.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Maokong (猫空)

Does "Maokong" mean civet cat in the sky?  Or it is simply the sound of the words describing the pothole formations in the area?  

I couldn’t quite figure out.  But the gondola ride was very pleasant and gave us really nice views, even though it was raining lightly.  

Through the see-through glass bottom of the gondola, we could see how we glided over the tree tops, bamboos, …, as well as tea farms.  

Taipei 101 was visible from about 6 kilometres away.

There are many tea houses and restaurants with tea-themed cuisine.  We had some tasty bamboo shoots and deep-fried tea leaves dipped in batter. 

Later we found some bamboo shoots coming out of the ground, and wondered whether those were the same as the ones we ate.  

Maokong is a pleasant place to take a break from the city.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Excellent Beef noodles

My wife and I went looking for a legendary beef noodle shop in Taipei in the rain - it was highly recommended to us.  On the way we saw a crowd milling around in front of a book shop.  We could not help but marvelled at the strong reading culture of Taiwan.  

Upon closer inspection, we realised that the crowd was actually waiting to enter the eatery next-door.  It was not actually our destination.  So we pressed on with our quest for the perfect beef noodle.  

When we finally got there, we were not disappointed.  We ordered one big bowl to share, because we wanted to try some steamed ribs as well.  

After taking our almost half of the contents from the bowl, there were still enough left to fill one stomach.  The beef were tender, flavourful and plentiful.  The noodles were just right.  The soup was clear, tasted of beef, and did not make us thirsty afterwards.  Perhaps the best we have tasted for quite a while. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Taiwanese Church

My wife and I are here in Taipei to attend our nephew’s engagement.  This morning we worship at the church with the newly-engaged couple and both sets of parents.  

The church has two services, one conducted in Taiwanese and another in Mandarin.  We attended the one in Mandarin, but I did take a look at the Bible translated into the Taiwanese dialect.  I noticed that in certain places, it has some similarity with Cantonese.  

The preacher, 張德麟牧師, taught in a university.  He is obviously very familiar with the history of Taiwan.  He used the missionaries' contributions to the development of Taiwan to illustrate the teaching “… you are the salt of the earth, …, the light of the world …”  

One of the missionaries from the United Kingdom paid the rent for 10 years for a church in Taiwan; when he went back to the United Kingdom he could not afford his own house.  Another found that in a certain place most of the new borns were boys.  Upon investigation, he found that many of the girls were thrown out when the parents found that they have given birth to girls.  And these are the lucky ones.  Some of the girls were killed at birth; someone had actually written instructions on how to drown them.  The missionary setup a shelter for those who survived.  He taught me something about the history of Taiwan.  He made the words of the Bible come alive and practically applicable. And he challenged us.  

The preacher asked the congregation to ask ourselves: am I the light of the world?  Am I making the world a better place?  Indeed, am I?

To conclude the worship, we sang one of my favourite hymns: “I keep your word in my heart,  so that I won’t offend you, and I won’t ever be far away from you. …”