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Columnists > Ben Zabulis

Ben Zabulis
After graduating in 1982 Ben worked throughout the UK before an unlikely adventurous disposition led him to Nigeria, India, Japan and Hong Kong. Between each of those overseas assignments he had attempted repatriation with varying degrees of 'success'; the last of which occurred in 2004 when he and his partner returned from Hong Kong for what they considered to be a permanent move, only to return to Hong Kong years later. The exotic misdemeanours inherent in that first expatriate period (1984-2004) together with various Asian sojourns and activities, contributed to a series of travel journal scribbles which eventually morphed in to the book Chartered Territory – An Engineer Abroad.

Ben Zabulis

Carrie On Hong Kong

Posted by: gwaijai on Monday September 09, 2019 (08:19:27)   (184 Reads)
Seen in Kowloon: Liberate HK, revolution of OUR TIME
Protest march, rally, riot, violence, revolution of our time, liberate Hong Kong, democracy, f**k the po-po, are not the sort of words or phrases I ever thought it would be necessary to learn in hitherto peaceful Hong Kong, indeed my Teach Yourself Chinese book is starkly lacking in this area. But, with the past weekends, 14 and counting, spent scrutinising a phalanx of eagerly wielded placards and graffiti, I now find my Cantonese, revolutionary vocab lies greatly enriched.    more ...

Ben Zabulis

Umbrella Movement

Posted by: gwaijai on Sunday July 14, 2019 (13:04:24)   (463 Reads)
The Avengers with John Steed (Uncredited photo from internet)
Growing up in 1960s England, the term Umbrella Movement could only mean one thing: The Avengers TV series and its suave hero, secret agent John Steed, effectively disarming many an assailant with a swiftly yielded British brolly. Today, courtesy of Hong Kong spirit, the humble brolly now stands as a worldwide symbol of peaceful defiance in the face of government intransigence. Agent Steed I imagine would be duly impressed.    more ...

Ben Zabulis

The Road To Hong Kong

Posted by: gwaijai on Sunday May 19, 2019 (09:28:15)   (460 Reads)
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a teeming conurbation and wondered, somewhat despairingly, where on earth do all these people come from? Well, here in densely populated Hong Kong you can find yourself contemplating that little conundrum on a quite regular basis. And from where indeed is a wonder, for when the British first started sniffing around here, eventually taking up residence in 1842, it was little more than a barren rock as Lord Palmerston famously noted.    more ...

Ben Zabulis

Pigging Out

Posted by: gwaijai on Monday March 11, 2019 (14:04:55)   (445 Reads)
Chinese New Year lanterns at the Peninsula Hotel
One of the problems of living in Hong Kong, though not everybody would see it as such, is that barely four weeks after one’s Christmas bells have fully jingled along comes Chinese New Year and another sizeable dollop of festive gluttony. So this can literally prove a heavy time of year in which great discipline is required if body weight be maintained and the year of the pig greeted in a less than piggish manner!    more ...

Ben Zabulis

It’s All Greek to Me!

Posted by: gwaijai on Sunday December 30, 2018 (09:30:00)   (616 Reads)
Now, what ever does that mean?
Okay, maybe not Greek but the subject of Chinese had me spouting similarly when I first landed in Asia many years ago, especially the written form which has remained a source of fascination not to mention great torment ever since. At least the Greek alphabet is vaguely familiar via algebra and physics, so learnable methinks; even reading and writing French at school seemed manageable but as for those unfathomable Chinese characters, well, where the hell do you start?    more ...

Ben Zabulis

A Bad Case Of Wind

Posted by: gwaijai on Saturday October 20, 2018 (08:01:08)   (702 Reads)
Typhoon Mangkhut approaches (Photo by NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite )
No, I’m not talking about the unsociable aftermath of last night’s aloo gobi; I refer to an atmospheric disturbance, believe it or not, of an altogether more vicious persuasion: Typhoon Mangkhut, very powerful, you may have heard about it. Although we’re used to handling cyclones here, when experts start talking about the most severe storm ever known to man and an impending disaster of biblical proportions it gets you thinking that this could indeed be a bit of bother.    more ...

Ben Zabulis

I Saw You Coming

Posted by: gwaijai on Thursday September 06, 2018 (14:06:34)   (1024 Reads)
Hong Kong rents can be high so choose carefully
The most expensive place to live screams yet another annual report on expat living. Really? I’m not sure. In fact I sometimes wonder if these authors are referring to the same city in which we live. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Hong Kong’s cheap; it is of course a major world city with all the baggage that entails but whether it’s significantly worse than anywhere else of equal standing, especially after other costs are factored in, deserves discussion.    more ...

Ben Zabulis

Here Be Dragons!

Posted by: gwaijai on Wednesday July 04, 2018 (11:10:07)   (939 Reads)
And they're off!
In Hong Kong we know summer’s arrived when clothing sticks and dragons emerge, not real ones obviously but those wooden versions intended for the dragon boat festival. The saying, Don’t put your winter clothes away until it’s time to eat rice dumplings, a festive food, spells it out and you must admit, date considered, it bears an uncanny similarity to that British expression: Ne’er cast a clout till May be out. So strip off, grab a paddle and let’s race!    more ...

Ben Zabulis

Stretching Oneself

Posted by: gwaijai on Sunday May 27, 2018 (14:25:31)   (921 Reads)
Schematic for a special school in Idah, Nigeria
As a spotty-faced, teenage oik, I’d no idea engineering would take me halfway round the world. So in marking the 200th anniversary of the Institution of Civil Engineers, commemorations of which will align with the UK government’s Year of Engineering campaign to get youngsters thinking STEM, here’s my bit extolling the virtues of what’s on offer: jobs, locations and project diversity – of which, blowing up where I‘d worked, don’t be jealous now, is indeed a good example. Read on!    more ...

Ben Zabulis

All Change At Hong Kong

Posted by: gwaijai on Wednesday April 18, 2018 (06:38:38)   (972 Reads)
Cunard Queens in Victoria Harbour
With jumbo-sized poignancy an amusing thought struck me recently; and it was all to do with the very spot on which I stood. You see, had I been there during my previous Hong Kong life, I’d certainly have risked arrest for being a loony or, even worse, flattened by flight BA27 on its arrival from London Heathrow. But no more, the planes have gone and the site having undergone an audacious change of use now accommodates, would you believe, cruise ships!    more ...