The Book of the Week is “Hong Konged” by Paul Hanstedt, published in 2012. This ebook recounts a year of experiences of a specific family in Hong Kong, as seen through the father’s eyes.
The Hanstedts were living in Virginia when the author was granted a Fulbright scholarship, “working with general education” around 2009. He describes the reactions of his three kids (ages two, six and eight) to their new environment.
As is still common in many parts of the world, expatriates are pressured to hire household help. In Hong Kong, 98% of the help is comprised of Filippino and Indonesian women. The family declined offers of assistance, as the author’s wife was available to take care of their two sons and daughter during the day.
In Hong Kong, only about one sixth of high school students are deemed fit for university, pursuant to their grades and scores on entrance examinations– for which they spend oodles of money on test preparation for more than a decade. There is so much hysteria over the exams because a degree guarantees the job of one’s choice.
The Hanstedt family’s day-to-day existence consisted of the kids’ commute to school, buying food, struggling with the Mandarin language and household chores. The author largely details their behavior during their leisure time– eating in restaurants, visiting attractions and their transportation woes.
As an aside, this blogger was appalled by the author’s ignorance of science in an episode in which a painful, rash-producing resin from a berry from a tree got all over his daughter’s skin. While erroneously thinking that hot bath water would wash off the irritant and splashing the water over her, he said, “Those seeds… were filled with oils that irritate your skin… You need hot water to cut through the oil. It dissolves it.” He might have been trying to simplify the explanation for his seven year old, but this blogger thinks that was a misguided approach.
Nevertheless, read the book to vicariously taste the food and see the sights in Hong Kong, and find out everything you ever wanted to know about the Hanstedt children’s temperaments.