Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘languages’

A Walk through Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong

Whilst visiting my N2D (Number 2 Daughter) in Hong Kong as she recovered from hip surgery I finally worked up the courage to take a long walk and explore Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong.This area had been the home of N2D for the past 18 months. I’ve been meaning to put a post together to show everyone what Tin Shui Wai was like, but found time a little constrained lately. However, I have finally managed to put something together and for those who are interested, I hope you enjoy.

During my stay, I’d regularly visit the gym and learnt to use the treadmill, however, I was craving a good old fashioned long walk. The only problem was, and why I hadn’t gone sooner, was Tin Shui Wai is a concrete jungle, with high rise buildings that appear to all look the same. Until you’ve been there awhile and begin to slowly notice the differences, to the unobservant eye, everything blends in and looks the same. Everything, including street signs are written in Chinese and I did not know any landmarks to help me out.

One thing I had noticed though was the grey skies of Tin Shui Wai. In the 12 days I visited we got a total of 20 minutes of sunshine; no joke! Sunshine seemed scarce in this part of the world. Yes, it was winter, but gosh, you’d think it would be sunny for some of it. I’m not sure how I’d go living there for any length of time. I’m sure I’d miss my Brissy climate. Us BrisVegas folk are really quite spoilt when it comes to weather.

After Day 6, I decided that I just had to take a walk, no matter what. What the heck! It would be an adventure and a chance to feel vulnerable just like I know I will when walking through Spain. I procured a local map from reception of the hotel and began to study it. I would walk alone and hoped not to get lost. N2D gave me the hotel’s phone number to call if I did. I hoped I would not have to use it. Today’s post will be pictorial. I hope you enjoy.


The start of my walk began at a park close to where N2D lives.


I found some children blowing bubbles near the water fountain.


A typical view throughout the parkland


The gardens are well kept and clean


The backdrop behind the park


Identical bridges just like this one are built all along the canal at set distances


Locals stroll and ride their bikes along the banks of the canal


The walkway beside the canal


These bridges help locals cross from one side of the canal to the other and are all identical


 The grungier side of the canal


Contrast: Wall art vs neglect & litter



A sacrifice of thanksgiving


High rise apartment buildings like this one are found everywhere. People string their washing outside the windows.


Until the 1990’s Tin Shui Wai did not exist – it was totally a vast wetland and rice paddies


Many locals make use of this area – I even saw a man getting his hair clipped while sitting on a kitchen chair along this walkway


Little boxes full of people


Hong Kong Wetlands Park is a feature of this area


I ended up making a full circuit back to where I started by following my local map

(instead of retracing my steps as I originally planned – it seems I became more adventurous)


The electric trams are used to get the locals to the nearest train station – they are a fast and efficient mode of transport


I had to smile at this…


Here marks the spot where I begin to head away from my circuit and begin to navigate my way back to my starting position – into the jungle I go


The autumn leaves of winter


The colours of Tin Shui Wai


It’s a rabbit warren in there – there are tunnels and ramps everywhere – you really need to know where you are going


I had to chuckle


More traditional styles of signage


I wonder if this school has a playground?


It really is a jungle in there – a concrete jungle with a dash of green

In total I walked for nearly three hours exploring Tin Shui Wai. I enjoyed the walk immensely and I found the sights and people intriguing. I didn’t get lost, although a lovely elderly Chinese couple did stop and confirm that I was headed in the right direction after I paused at one of the intersections (for a wee bit longer than normal). I was trying to get my bearings and they could see me studying my map (maybe the way I kept turning the map around gave them a clue). They kindly came to my ‘rescue’ and set me on my way once again.

Buen Camino


Hola! A Little Taste of Spanish

One of the exciting things I decided to do this year to help me prepare for my trip overseas to France and Spain in 2014 was to learn two new languages – Spanish and French.

After our trip to Hong Kong to visit one of our daughters who is currently living there and dancing at Hong Disneyland, I realised the value of taking some time to learn the language of the country I intend visiting for a number of reasons. Whilst you can survive without the necessity to learn the native language, the locals love and respect you for at least having a go at attempting to communicate with them using the language of their country.

We saw for ourselves the positive difference it made, watching our daughter, who at the time had not been living in Hong Kong but a few short months, communicate in basic Cantonese with taxi drivers, shop keepers and sellers at the markets to name but a few instances. The change of expression on the locals’ faces was impressive. Their expressions changed from the usual glazed over-not that interested look of having to deal with another foreigner to one of delight when familiar words and phrases were uttered. Some actually did a double take to look at our daughter more closely. And the smiles…for here was a beautiful young blonde-headed foreigner who had taken the trouble to try to communicate on their terms. Colleagues of our daughter fromDisney had kindly offered to teach her Cantonese when dressing her for her performances. So, whilst she had no formal lessons, she was still able to learn enough to make her life in Hong Kong a whole lot more easier and it no doubt helped her to assimilate in her new cultural experience.

Next year when I travel to Europe and visit France (briefly) and Spain (for a significant number of weeks), I want to try to speak conversationally with other pilgrims and locals, as well as anyone else I happen across. I’ve never felt the need to learn another language before this, but once I made the decision, it changed my perspective on things. I initially felt daunted and overwhelmed with the thought of learning not one, but two languages at my age, but after having had six weeks of lessons (so far) I am excited and it’s fun. I am also meeting many other like-minded people who are intending to travel and I listen with interest to the many others who have stories to share of the travels they have already undertaken.

I’m so glad that I decided to give it a go. I have three weeks left of a nine week course – Level 1 and I have enough basic understanding of things to practice with while I wait till later on in the year to tackle Level 2. My plan then will include a refresher course before heading off to Spain next year. During the time from now until I leave I will try to find other Spanish speakers to practice with. Other good tips are to watch Spanish movies and listen to what is being said while watching subtitles, listening to music, language CDs and Spanish news, etc. Recently I watched a Spanish cooking show and recognised my first word, other than the basic greetings. The word was poquito meaning little and has since become my favourite word so far.

For homework after Lesson 5, we were asked to write a short presentation using espanol about ourselves. Here is what I wrote:

Hola amigos,

Mi hombre es Debbie. Soy australians. Yo vivo en Chandler, Brisbane.

Estoy aprendiendo espanol porgue tengo la intencion de caminar en solitaire como peregrino en 2014 a lo largo de la ruta del camino Frances de St Jean Pied de Port hasta Finisterre, los extremes de la tierra.

Disfruto de las class de espanol y aprendo todo lo que puedo sobre el pais de Espana, su cultura, su gente y sobre todo la comida.

Estoy muy emocionada y espero el ago que viene

Saludos cordiales


I have posted a link to Youtube to show a couple having a conversation in Spanish. He is mucho better and further along than I am…but watching this I can definitely pick out words and phrases that I have learnt.

Click on the link and see how much you know…

A friend of mine who speaks fluent French is helping me with some conversational French and I am meant to be trying to learn French at the same time as I learn Spanish, which sounds all well and good, however, it is proving to be a little challenging time wise. Learning Spanish is not fast for me and I have to stop and look up words and phrases most of the time. As time  progresses, my speed and comprehension will develop. One thing I can’t afford to do and that’s beat myself up about it. I need to work at my own pace and the rest will follow.

So until next time, amigos…

Buen Camino

Take off in Spanish

Hola friends…

As well as setting up this new blog on the 1 January, I began to explore a CD package: ‘The complete language-learning kit, which one of my lovely daughters kindly leant to me (thanks babe) for the purpose of learning my new language. I listened to the first CD (one of a series of six) to get familiar with the way they tackle the process and what will be expected of me, as the student. I will endeavour to practice every day (well at least most days, considering how everyday life has a way of interrupting – positively, that is).

I have also been exploring Teaching 123 a free website that I’ve found useful. Some other useful websites that were kindly shared with me by a teaching colleague (thanks, Mary) include: mansionspanish lessons (, BBC Spanish MI VIDA LOCA ( and ( Also, YouTube – destinos – An Introduction to Spanish ( prove entertaining as well as helpful. I haven’t explored all of these sites yet, but over time, I will gradually work my way through them.

A few people that I work with have volunteered to speak conversationally with me once I get started, so that should prove helpful. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to pick up once I get the basics…getting the basics may prove the challenging part, or maybe it will be retaining all the information in my head that might prove more challenging. Have faith, Deb! I’ll update occasionally on my progress over time.

Because I will be travelling throughout France and starting my pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port, the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains, I hope to be able to learn some conversational French as well. Oh my goodness…really! Have faith in yourself, Deb. Be realistic, but have faith! Okay…she thinks, smiling wryly…okay…I can do this….

I have approximately 17 months to learn two languages, loose weight, get fit, find all my necessary equipment, book flights, accommodation and learn as much as I can before I board the plane bound for Spain. That should be plenty of time…yes, it will be plenty of time…

Buen Camino



%d bloggers like this: