CHILD: “Can I sneak into bars at IFC tonight with my under-aged drinking friends, Dad?” ME: “WHAT????” CHILD: “Sorry, Dad. MAY I sneak into bars at IFC tonight with my under-aged drinking friends?” ME: “That’s more like it.”

Most kids are out partying just now, as it’s exam results season. And what do they reveal? Hong Kong has the best teachers in the world.

Last year, this city’s IB students won an astonishing 10 percent of global perfect scores. Educators worldwide waited agog: Would Hong Kong repeat the miracle this year?

Nope. This year they DOUBLED their score to 20 percent of the entire world supply of perfect IB scores.

Even more amazingly, half the Hong Kong winners came from a single chain of schools, the English Schools Foundation, which runs a non-selective system. (Other international schools have entry exams and check systems to make sure they start with only the brightest, richest, most heavily diamond-encrusted kids, but ESF just has to make do with whatever classroom-fodder it’s given, like my kids).

But ESF does have occasional teaching disasters. This writer’s wife is an ESF teacher who has been trying for years to teach me to behave properly, but has failed spectacularly.

ALMOST ONE OUT of two people in Hong Kong (46 percent) speak English now. So how come we still get shops popping up (this one is in Causeway Bay) with names which make puerile, easily-amused guys snigger and take photographs? Like I just did?

YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR was at a writers’ festival in Byron Bay, Australia, last week—and watched every arriving scribe cringe at the fact that all the municipal road signs (see pic) had the apostrophe after “writers” missing.

A few meters down the road, next to the festival itself, was another problematic sign, which showed why commas matter (see pic). Had there been a comma after the first two words, it would tell drivers not to park there because they will be fined if they do. But the comma is missing, so it actually says the exact opposite, indicating that drivers may as well park there, as there aren’t any parking fines which apply at that spot.

I FEEL SORRY FOR my Sri Lankan brethren in this city. Hong Kong people have short, neat names like “To” and “So” while we have ludicrously long names.

This is a problem in Starbucks.

STAFF: Grande latte, $36. How do you spell your name?


DID YOU HEAR that a woman has started Hong Kong’s first suitcase rental business? You can get a Rimowa designer suitcase for HK$68 a day. I am going to hide this news from a landlord I know who would instantly get stock from Rent-A-Suitcase and sublet them as “studio apartments” for $20,000 a month.


*Hong Kong woman runs down aisle of business class cabin*

“Excuse me, everybody: is there a doctor on this flight?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“Are you single?”


“Excuse me, everybody: is there a doctor on this flight? My very pretty single daughter will be meeting us at arrivals.”

Nury Vittachi

Nury Vittachi failed to win the Man Booker Prize this year. He also failed to win the Pulitzer Prize. He hopes to make it a clean sweep by failing to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He does not live on The Peak with 20 cats and a parakeet called Trixy. He is not strange.